From Dairy & Beef Farmer to Animal Activist – VeganFTA’s Jackie Norman – Sentientism Episode 122

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Jackie is a former dairy & beef farmer turned full-time animal rights advocate. She is head of communications and a founding board member for the global non-profit, VeganFTA (For The Animals). She co-hosts their podcast and live shows. Jackie is also an author and public speaker.

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

Sentientism is “evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” The audio is also on our Podcast here on Apple & here everywhere else.

We discuss:
00:00 Welcome

02:28 Jackie’s Intro

  • From beef & dairy farming to animal advocacy & veganism
  • Undercover investigator Erin Wing

04:20 What’s Real?

  • Growing up in a UK village in the 1970’s
  • Naturalist Gilbert White “England’s first ecologist?”
  • Christian community & school “If you’re good to go to heaven & if you’re bad Satan’s going to get you”… “Nobody ever questioned it”
  • Fitting in & FOMO “everybody went to church on Sunday”
  • Joining the church choir, but not being religious
  • Losing son Luke at 2 days old
  • “If god loves us all… how are all these bad things happening?”
  • “Any shred of belief I ever had… just went straight out the window”
  • Spirituality? Unexplained things… a clock starting without batteries… “things happening for a reason?”
  • “Maybe there’s something greater out there… not god”
  • Exploring Buddhism after going vegan “All you have to do is just be kind”
  • Meditation & Yoga
  • “There is such synergy between veganism & Buddhism”

30:38 What Matters?

  • Good: “Not being mean… not killing” vs. god compliance
  • “I don’t think there is a hell…” except for what we do to non-human animals
  • Sons coming home from Xtian school saying “god’s going to strike me down!”
  • Being most authentic & open at times when “I had nothing”
  • Buddhism “has taught me not to judge other people… I get a lot of peace from it… being kind.”
  • “Being compassionate towards yourself is the hardest thing to do”
  • Dairy farming: “What they are doing is evil… but you can’t write them off as being evil”
  • “Everyone’s got a reason for being the way that they are”

41:50 Who Matters?

  • Killing a spider, terrified, at 8 yrs old, then feeling “mortified that I had ended that life… that’s never left me”
  • Husband Gareth carries a card to rescue bees
  • IWAF leaflet about seal culling
  • Going vegetarian in 1987 after a Viva factory farming campaign
  • “I couldn’t believe humans could be so cruel”
  • Father loving nature but going shooting, being attacked by animal activists
  • Doing school presentations about animal rights “I couldn’t understand why my friends weren’t doing the same”
  • Running off with the local Kiwi barman at 19 yrs old to NZ cow farming country
  • “Dairy farming was the ultimate career for a person in New Zealand”
  • Learning to milk cows
  • Being lactose intolerant
  • Seeing a baby calf being bottle fed, with the mother on the other side of the yard… “I’m going to knock it on the head after”… “begging the farmer to let me keep her… she was my friend”
  • Uneconomic calves being killed at 4 days old
  • “Things just got buried… I ended up being in the industry for 18 years… I would always cry”
  • “Yes we know it’s sad, but it’s how it is”
  • “I never saw a happy dairy farmer… ever”
  • “You don’t get the time to connect with an animal”
  • Hating separating calves from their mothers
  • Even having lost a son “I still didn’t make that deep, deep connection that this is what we were doing to cows”
  • A 16 year old “pet” cow, Tilly, who had 14 babies taken away from her
  • “I never made the connection between dairy & death… but it’s so much worse”
  • Leaving the marriage & the industry
  • Being broke, growing own food, meeting Gareth
  • Living in a van, a vegan FB friend sharing info about farrowing crates, going vegan “I can never be part of anything like that again”

01:13:40 A Better Future?

  • CAFOs and “family” / “humane” farms “The same things still happen”
  • SAFE, VeganFTA
  • Receiving death threats
  • Building bridges with farmers “They’re also victims”
  • Milked documentary
  • Farmers transitioning. Many want a way out
  • “Vegans don’t see farmers as the humans they are”
  • “We’re so focused on the animals that we’re not always focused on the solutions”
  • Resisting oppresssion of humans too
  • Religion & animals
  • “Never underestimate your influence!”
  • “Everything that arises also ends… the suffering will end.”

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at

Join our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

Thanks Graham for the post-production.

Latest work

Headshot of Michael Levin looking towards the camera through a glass screen with red and blue measurement scales marked on it.

“Reductionism is well-named. It reduces what you can do.” – Michael Levin – Sentientism Ep:199

Dr Michael Levin is a developmental and synthetic biologist at Tufts University. A Sentientism conversation about what's real, who matters and how to make a better future.

“Reductionism is well-named. It reduces what you can do.” – Michael Levin – Sentientism Ep:199

Dr Michael Levin is a developmental and synthetic biologist at Tufts University. A Sentientism conversation about what's real, who matters and how to make a better future.

“We need to imagine a different world” – Emilia Leese – author of Think Like A Vegan – Sentientism Ep:198

Emilia Leese is co-author of the book Think Like A Vegan and host of the Think Like a Vegan podcast. A Sentientism conversation.

Hip Hop is Going Green – Keith Tucker – Sentientism Ep:197

Keith Tucker is Founder and Executive Director of Hip Hop is Green. A conversation about the Sentientism worldview's "evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings".

Join our mailing list and stay up to date


Handcrafted with ♥ by Cage Undefined