In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?” Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.”
– John’s career in animal advocacy and vegan advocacy
– “It’s been the best change of my life
– it’s given my live a lot of meaning & I’ve made a big difference for animals.”
– Helping other advocates & organisations to be effective via social media
– Messages being seen by 10’s of millions of human eyes
– Growing up in the mid-West, but in a fairly non-religious context
– We generally assumed God exists, but it was rarely talked about
– Thinking at 14 “This doesn’t make any sense – I’m an atheist!”
– Going through a “militant” atheist phase – then softening to just being open minded… “I don’t rule anything out”
– The challenges of coping with family illness & death. Recognising the pull of the hope of an afterlife
– Given there are so many thousands of religions, amazing how someone can be so sure theirs is the right one. It’s just what they were taught as a child
– How the “golden rule” & broad themes of compassion pre-date, then run through most religions
– How naturalism needs to be humble & open minded (even to crazy ideas)
– Avoiding the arrogance of dogma even within atheist/skeptic/naturalistic worldviews
– Withholding belief until there’s evidence. Being comfortable not knowing until then
– “A Meaningful Life” and “The Animal Activist’s Handbook” by Matt Ball, founder of Vegan Outreach
– The meaning of life is about 2 things: The pursuit of pleasure and joy and the avoidance of pain and suffering (the latter being more important)
– Considering the visceral reality of suffering and the imperative of reducing it
– The mind-blowing scale and severity of farmed animal suffering
– Focusing on helping people align their behaviour (e.g. eating decisions) with the ethics they already have (not wanting to cause suffering)
– Veganism is easier than ever
– The rich range of flourishing and suffering sentient experiences – How supernatural ethics can see needlessly causing suffering/death as morally good!
– The good intentions, but the dangers of relativism
– Isn’t a naturalistic grounding for our ethics (sentience) more solid?
– Companion animal relationships already demonstrate how most people don’t want to cause non-human sentient suffering
– Just apply your companion animal ethics to the animals you’re eating!
– If I wouldn’t cut my dog or cat without anaesthetic, why would I pay someone else to do that to a pig
– “I considered myself an animal lover but I ate them, 3 times a day”
– A friend said: “If you consider yourself an animal lover you should probably stop eating them.”
– I initially thought farmed animals had a pretty good life with one bad day
– Watching “Earthlings” http://www.nationearth.com/
– Helping non-human animals will be good for humans too (AMR, zoonosis, climate)
– “If a being can’t experience pain, I don’t see why that matters” – Environments are important because of their impact on sentient beings
– Most environmentalism reflects human concerns, so ignores most farmed/wild animals
– “If you hand most people a knife they won’t stab a cow with it”
– “People don’t want to believe that they’re bad people”, so they have to convince themselves the things they’re doing aren’t bad
– “We have to chip away at the walls people have built up – we can’t demolish them overnight”
– Veganism is easier now than it ever has been. Socially and practically
– We need to make it as easy as possible
– Plant-based and clean meats will ultimately do the most for farmed animals
– New tech alternatives often render harms redundant quicker than moral development
– Things could be looking brighter for animals everywhere
– The practicalities of a #JustTransition for animal farming
– The answers are obvious, ethically and practically – so we just need to get on with it.
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our “wall” https://sentientism.info/wall/ using this simple form: https://sentientism.info/im-a-sentientist.
Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook.
Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu