Rachel is a multi-award winning journalist (Daily Beast, Bustle, Mercy for Animals, Vox…), podcast host and media consultant. Her memoir, “Open – An Uncensored Memoir Of Love, Liberation, And Non-Monogomy” was published in 2022. She is on the advisory board for Sentient Media and the board of directors of Our Hen House. Rachel does nonprofit media consulting, especially for vegan organizations and brands.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
01:34 Rachel’s Intro
- Journalism, writing memoir “Open”, normalising veganism & liberation
06:12 What’s Real?
- Growing up culturally Jewish. Parents wanted to leave behind the stricter ordinances (e.g. gender)
- Jewish school (daily prayers, dress codes) “I was not having it”
- Moving to a more liberal Jewish school
- “Tikkun olam”: helping the world as an ethos. What you do in this life – not an afterlife. Giving back
- Immigration lawyer dad working w/Catholic charities
- Trip to Israel w/a religious group. “I was very disillusioned… they didn’t talk about Palestinian people… didn’t address the conflict at all”
- Stark contrast w/parents’ sense of Jews as: “we’re liberals, we’ve suffered… so we care about other social minorities & discrimination”
- “The oppressed becoming the oppressors”
- Proud to be culturally Jewish but “I identify less & less w/religious aspects… the more I examine them the more there’s speciesism or sexism baked in”
- Always sceptical of a patriarchal god
- At 9 yrs, trying to make sense of the death of a cousin. Bargaining w/god & praying to protect loved ones
- Realising bad/good things happen for no reason & interrogating the idea of god
- Agnostic now. “As sceptical of staunch atheism as I am of staunch religiosity.”
- Humility, interconnectedness. Meditation, dancing with trees
- Limits of knowledge (now or ever)
- Credence & probabilities vs. binary beliefs
- Psychedelics: the science & the experience. The comfort of universal interconnectedness
- “I’m not convinced of any afterlife or a soul that will go on”
- Terror management. Coming to terms w/the fear of death (maybe a next book!). We know we’ll die but don’t want to! Coping via religion, group continuity as a response…
- “Can I confront this reality [death] & make friends with it?… what would that open up in terms of freedom?”
- Susana Monso’s “Animals & the Concept of Death”
- “I love being alive”
- Aging & loss, cryogenics, mind uploading?
- “A lot of human suffering comes from denying our animal nature”
- Rachel’s “Open” memoir explores that re: sex & relationships
- Monogamy as patriarchal, capitalist enabling idea proposed by white men in the 1800’s “A contract to ensure paternity”… “I’ll trade my daughter for your cow” in the agri revolution
- The link between seeing women & animals as property
- Less than 3% of animals pair bond & even fewer monogamous
- “So much suffering from… trying to fit ourselves w/in this system that is at odds w/our animal nature”
- Options betw. monogamy & “no-rules” polyamory
37:36 What (& Who) Matters?
- Naturalism vs. naturalistic fallacy
- Ethics w/out religion
- “What matters to me are love & compassion & freedom”
- “My life is not more important than a cow’s”
- “I believe in the abolition of cages”, including human (prison-industrial complex, bodily autonomy)
- “Consensual cages are fine” 🙂
- Struggling w/inevitability of causing harm. Buddhist/Jain/Effective Altruist perspectives
- Anti-racism, privilege, participation in racist systems
- Ethical humility
- Ethically uncomfortable as a kid w/eating animals but people framed it as squeamishness
- Adam on 1st date: “do you think you have the moral right to consume another life for your pleasure when you don’t have to?”
- Earthlings. Going vegan was “a relief… a weight lifted”
- “My empathy grew… my connection to animals… dismantling this hierarchy”
- Plant intelligence/sentience? Feel a connection w/trees. Do plants want to be eaten?
- “I’m about to publish a book & books are made of trees!”
- Ecocentrism: “If everything matters, nothing matters?”
- Self-compassion! “Put your own oxygen mask on first”
01:12:01 Making A Better World
- Bodily autonomy vs. control re: racism, sexism, speciesism
- Vegan, env, respect, non-harm, love, psychedelics
- Break regressive social norms
- Balance hedonism & “greater good” meaning
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info.
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook. Rachel and I are already there!
Thanks Graham for the post-production.