“As a Vet I Felt Helpless” – Vicky Bond, Humane League UK Managing Director – New Sentientist Conversations Video

Vicky is Managing Director of The Humane League UK . She trained as a vet and worked in the animal agriculture industry before leaving to focus on campaigning for non-human animals.

In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

The audio from this conversation will also be on our Podcast – subscribe so you don’t miss it: (most platforms including Anchor).

We discuss:

  • Feeling an early affinity with animals, volunteering at animal sanctuaries at 10 years old, always wanting to be a vet
  • Training as a vet, seeing the reality of animal farming & feeling helpless. How vets are caught up in the machinery of the industry
  • How broken animal agriculture is & how much suffering is caused
  • Leaving to advocate for animals, with CIFW then Humane League UK
  • Driving institutional change. Working with companies to reduce the animal suffering they cause at scale
  • The relief of meeting others that take sentience & suffering seriously
  • Questioning then leaving Christianity as a teenager & the death of a close family member as a turning point
  • Finding comfort in naturalism. “We have our time & then it passes”
  • Naturalistic wonder, awe, meaning & a sense of connection, enhanced through a silent meditation retreat (vs. “spirituality”)
  • Suffering/flourishing of others as the foundation of morality
  • Meditation as a practice of focusing on our own sentient experience and feeling gratitude
  • Relativism & supernatural ethics are arbitrary vs. grounding ethics in a naturalistic understanding of sentience
  • Going vegetarian (despite challenges from parents re: nutrition)
  • The shock of watching an artificial insemination unit operate
  • Fighting cognitive dissonance on the way to going vegan + how much it helps to have others around you to help ease the transition
  • Visiting Ghana as an eye opener re: global development & the history of colonialism
  • Considering the ethical impacts of our personal consumption
  • Cognitive dissonance as a way of protecting ourselves given the scale of suffering. Avoiding burn-out
  • The Diving Bell & the Butterfly
  • Taking the perspective of others, rather than just imposing your own assumptions
  • Wild-animal suffering & flourishing. Nature programmes as “snuff movies”
  • Categorising an animal as “farmed” or “wild” doesn’t reduce the animals’ experience of its own suffering
  • Why humans value red squirrels more than grey
  • Not knowing how to help doesn’t warrant excluding beings from our moral circle
  • Culling as the default for human intervention in the wild
  • Ending animal farming as an obvious win-win-win
  • Important problems are often the easiest (e.g. end animal farming)
  • Animal farming change is happening fast now (e.g. ending cages) & consumer consciousness is shifting
  • Veganism getting less “weird”, approaching a tipping point?
  • Concern for species is mostly about human interests
  • Economic & social drivers slowing change
  • “Lesser developed countries” leap-frogging past the mistakes made by “more developed countries” on both climate & animal agriculture, because of more compassionate values and more radical innovation
  • While you’re participating in something, it’s hard to think clearly about its ethics
  • Freeing our latent morality!
  • A more socialist future?

You can follow Vicky on Twitter.

Vicky is on our “Sentientist wall” – why not join her there in helping to normalise compassionate, rational thinking?

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at

Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook.

Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on this video. Go follow him (& maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu.

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