Karen Davis speaking at a lectern

“I relate directly to other creatures – I don’t need any belief system” – Karen Davis – United Poultry Concerns President – Sentientism Episode 133

Find our Sentientist Conversation here on the Sentientism YouTube channel and here on the Sentientism podcast.

Karen is an animal rights advocate and president of United Poultry Concerns. UPC is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 to address the treatment of domestic fowl in farming – including chickens, turkeys, and ducks. Karen also runs an animal sanctuary. She is the author of several books on veganism and animal rights, including Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry (1997) and The Holocaust and the Henmaid’s Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities (2005).

We discuss:
00:00 Welcome

01:23 Karen’s Intro

  • @United Poultry Concerns
  • Meeting Viva the chicken
  • “A lifelong affinity for birds”
  • Seeing a friend’s father killing a hen

05:05 What’s Real?

  • Growing up in Pennsylvania
  • Catching & killing wildlife “my parents never objected”
  • Everybody went to some kind of church “that’s what we did then… respectable people go to church”
  • Sunday school “for parents to have some time to themselves”
  • Parents not very religious
  • “God didn’t make rats, the devil made rats” to rationalise killing
  • “I was never a believer”… “If I joined the church… I could wear stockings instead of socks”

13:08 What Matters?

  • “I was always directly affected by others whether they were human or other than human”
  • Childhood distress: a duck being run over, baby birds falling from nests
  • #empathy & #compassion as a moral core

21:02 Who Matters?

  • Father & brothers hunting pheasants, squirrels & rabbits
  • Realising what father was doing in the cellar
  • Arguing at the dinner table “I wasn’t thinking about who was on my plate”
  • Father: “Everything hunts the rabbit”
  • “I relate directly to other creatures – I don’t need any belief system at all”
  • Reading “The First Step” by #leotolstoy . Giving up animal products as the first step of #nonviolence … “that was really it – I didn’t want to eat animal flesh any more… that was in 1974”
  • #Animaltesting . #EdwardTaub ‘s primate research #SilverSpringmonkeys
  • Nurses having to do animal experiments to qualify
  • Do you need to have a psychopathic detachment to be a vet/doctor?
  • Being a juvenile probation officer
  • Being traumatised by SPCA literature on #harpseal slaughter “This was my eye opening experience of institutionalised animal abuse”
  • Witnessing seal culling in Canada in 1974
  • National Geographic asking photographers to damage Beaver habitats to get a good story
  • Brian Davies’ book “Savage Luxury”
  • Lisa Kemmerer https://youtu.be/Txivq_2DIdE
  • Cultural/traditional/religious justifications for causing harm… “I don’t think anything justifies causing harm” beyond self-defence / defending others
  • “There is a lot of violence within the human psyche.”
  • #ThomasHardy . Seeing the worst of humanity clearly
  • #rodeo cruelty “rooted in people wanting to eat cows” & hog roasts
  • Almost all cultures, modern & ancient have animal abusive aspects, “The West” industrialised it
  • #deforestation
  • The roles of religion & animal agriculture in #colonialism “we’re on a mission from god”

49:00 A Better Future?

  • Peace activist & animal activist #ColmanMcCarthy “don’t worry about being successful – just be faithful”
  • “If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.” Thomas Hardy
  • #KimStallwood https://youtu.be/5-8vYRhJvaU
  • We can’t control our success but we can control whether we “keep faith” with a cause & those we’re committed to help
  • “I have a job to do here & I’m going to do it”
  • “You have to craft an argument… it’s showtime now”
  • “These animals matter!”
  • “We have an obligation to know what we’re putting them through”
  • “It’s your journey… take your time” is a betrayal of animals… “this is an urgent matter”
  • “They are experiencing themselves from within as intimately as you and I are” “They are not other”
  • #evolution , #neurobiology & behaviour connects us & gives us many common experiences
  • “These are facts… The case is clear… the question is what are we going to do about it”
  • #ArthurKoestler ‘s work to end the #deathpenalty “this is not just an issue of statistics”
  • “Facts are the basis of your values… what are your values if they’re not rooted in facts”
  • “I’m totally committed to doing what I can do to try to make the world a better place” – Rupert the rooster agrees!
  • UPC: “Treatment, not just compassion” “The lonely counterpoint to the chicken industry” “We’ve stolen their earth rights”
  • The paranoia of human supremacy
  • Could humanity play a positive role for #sentientity ?

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

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Thanks to Graham for the post-production and to Denise for funding this episode via our Sentientism Patreon.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Jamie Woodhouse, for this incredible opportunity to speak at length about the birds and United Poultry Concerns’ activities on their behalf. It was such an enjoyable Interview. You ask[ed] the right questions comprising facts, attitude, and philosophy.

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