“This is a critical decade… the calm before the storm” – Anita Krajnc & Nicola Harris – Plant Based Treaty – Sentientism Ep:157

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

Anita is Executive Director of the Plant Based Treaty initiative & the Animal Save Movement, a worldwide network of Save groups bearing witness to farmed animals & promoting veganism & love-based, grassroots activism. She describes herself as an animal rights and an environmental activist. She is the co-author of the book “The Secret Lives of Pigs“.

Nicola is Director of Communications for the Plant Based Treaty initiative and works on the Animal Save Movement‘s communications team. She has over 20 years of experience in pressure campaigning in the UK.

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 on our Podcast here on Apple & here on all the other platforms.

We discuss:
00:00 Welcome
02:22 What’s Real?

  • NH:
  • Raised #atheist with strong values & morals “be open-minded & critical & follow my heart & dreams… encouraged to find my own way.” “My journey to #veganism has led me to question everything.”
  • Being told a cow is “beef”… “I was horrified”. “You’ll have to eat it or you’ll die… we only eat the animals when they die of old age… no harm done.”
  • Becoming #vegetarian then #vegan… breaking the brainwashing
  • #Punk, #hardcore & DIY “You can’t go to a punk gig without coming hope with some pamphlets.” @moby ‘s Punk Rock Vegan Movie
  • #Paganism & earth based religions
  • Grounded in own experiences (e.g. taking people on excursions to chicken farms & bearing witness)
  • AK:
  • Dogmatic #Catholic household “my journey was always trying to rebell against that… it didn’t seem very authentic… the same performance every week… I didn’t find it interesting or convincing”
  • Parents from the former Yugoslavia
  • Seeing “The Animals Film”
  • Discovering #CarlSagan and #Cosmos “that rang true with me”
  • Rejecting the sexism / discrimination often found in #christianity
  • “We had very different worldviews from my parents”
  • “I sort of like to think that animals have souls” #leotolstoy ‘s “Calendar of Wisdom”
  • “Treat others as you’d like to be treated… we all know it applies to animals… also love thy neighbour… they’re universal principles… if there’s life on another planet… they apply”
  • “I don’t believe in the dogma of religion… or miracles… but there’s something very special about life”

19:26 What & Who Matters?

  • Regan Russell’s Anglican upbringing
  • “It wasn’t difficult to move away from the [Catholic] world that I was living in”
  • Peace & conflict studies, environmentalism, animal ethics at university
  • “I was human centric… it didn’t even occur to me to think about other animals”
  • “When I saw the [Animals] film… it completely changed my world-view… it became a core value for me”
  • #feminism & animal agriculture
  • Studying environmental thought: “Does a tree have standing, does the Grand Canyon matter?… it opened my world”
  • Going beyond sentience. Protecting trees for their own sake “Nature is incredible – it’s such a gift… trees and this forest have rights in and of themselves – they’re not just a utility to us or animals or sentients”
  • “Sentience is absolutely important”


  • A human-centred upbringing but “my mum used to take me over to the animal rights stalls… sign the petitions against fox-hunting & fur…”
  • Family time in nature
  • “The Hidden Life of Trees” – “It’s blown my mind… they work as a community… you want to protect them”
  • “I do absolutely extend my moral scope to the environment around us – we are all connected”
  • AJ: “an opportunity to build bridges with the environmental community”
  • JW: “We [UK] did our #deforestation really early”
  • 90’s environmental movement “a lot of the people in that movement… were vegetarian.” The Clackett Sound peace camp
  • AJ: “Sentience… deserves some special consideration – you’re absolutely right”
  • NH: “I do think that we should give a special consideration to sentient animals but I feel like we have to protect everything because we are all interconnected… trees & forests – those are the homes of the sentient animals we are trying to protect.”

37:40 How To Make A Better World?

  • “We all want the utopian world… built on mutual respect, appreciation, compassion… a veganic world, without war, without exploitation of anyone.”
  • “When you think about where we are now it can be a bit overwhelming – how can we possibly achieve that?… Rein it in – What can I do today to work towards that goal”
  • #Plantbasedtreaty “It has the potential to shift the planet to a #plantbased food system – this decade even if we all get behind it”
  • “The path we’re on at the moment is leading us towards… a climate apocalypse”
  • “We’re at a cross-roads – we need to make the decision now”


  • “It’s a question of values and worldviews… for us it’s so easy – we see the solutions because we hold these worldviews… think of a point when you didn’t hold that worldview – you wouldn’t have even thought about these issues”
  • Tolstoy’s “love thy neighbour”, The Golden Rule, non-violence… “he was an ethical vegetarian”
  • Being taught by Anatole Rapoport
  • Game Theory, iterated prisoners’ dilemma competitions… defection and co-operation
  • Rapoport submitted “start with co-operation and then ‘tit-for-tat’… that is ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘The Golden Rule’” and won
  • Robert AxelrodThe Evolution of Co-operation
  • Nuclear war risks & now “the runaway climate change effect… and it comes down to how we treat other animals (as well as fossil fuels)”
  • Tolstoy’s short story about a king being magically given the perspective of others (humans and cows) “When you wish harm to others you do harm to yourself”
  • “How do we change our basic morality?… that is part of our project”
  • “We don’t talk a lot about the values… but that’s important work – and not enough people are doing that work… how do we teach those values?”
  • JW: Co-operation & compassion (sorry – I misspoke!): “The reason it’s come to exist is because it’s evolutionarily adaptive”


  • 2 goals for the Plant based treaty: 1) global agreement to the Paris accords (relinquish, redirect, restore). Halt animal agri growth & shift to plant food systems. 2) institutional change (cities, schools, universities, care homes, hospitals) – plant based menus and defaults.
  • “We recognise that we need system change and individual diet change… they feed into each other as a loop”
  • “We don’t have time to just do individual change… we need a huge intervention… the plant based treaty… let’s start implementing the treaty now”


  • Early PBT focus was on gathering individual endorsements
  • Greta Thunburg’s “blah blah blah”
  • “Think globally, act locally” and the PBT Playbook 1.5: Sharing best practices from around the world for schools, cities, institutions…
  • NY Mayor Eric Adams’ “Healthy at Last” book about how going plant-based helped with his health & committing to help others… introducing meatless Monday’s “all of New York City had a million children participating in meatless Mondays”… then Plant-Powered Fridays. Lifestyle medicine & plant-based diets. Greener (vegan) by default in public hospitals: “60% uptake and high satisfaction”
  • “There’s a lot more focus now on system change, policy change”
  • Dr. Biruté Galdikas: “I love the PBT because it’s a big idea.” Menu change, but also about “no more animal farms, no more slaughterhouses” and also rewilding “eat plants, plant trees”
  • “Combines sentience & animal rights with the environment & rewilding”
  • JW: The neglect of and taboos around animal agriculture in the environmental movement


  • Signing up “is just the very first step”
  • Didim (vegan festivals, training restauranteurs…), Indian, New York, Edinburgh, Norwich city sign-ups… they are working on implementation
  • “We are fully committed to seeing it through… partnering with cities”


  • Many politicians saw little value in a pledge – “they want to make a difference”
  • “We have a method”… gathering support, targeting political parties & politicians, deeper engagement…
  • “Often cities are more responsive”
  • Building up from local levels to national/supra-national
  • “It’s both bottom up and recognising the importance of top down”
  • “We don’t have a lot of time”


  • “Lying in bed worrying… but I do actually feel hopeful”
  • “So many people said to us ‘you’ll never get a city to sign up’… we can do it and we are doing it!”
  • “The change is happening”
  • Country level changes: Ireland & Netherlands (reducing farmed animal numbers), UK/US dairy consumption dropping “we are starting to see these little signs…”
  • Tipping points “At some point there has to be a shift [e.g. from subsidies to funding transition]”
  • Lobbyist and industry push-backs “I feel we can overcome it”


  • “This is a critical decade… it’s like the calm before the storm.”
  • “It’s beginning to dawn on people”
  • “We really need to take advantage of this decade… [before risks of mass climate refugees, societal breakdown, fascism]… we don’t want to go there”
  • “We can create paradise on this planet… the re-enchantment of the world… but we’re at a cross-roads”
  • “It’s hard to appreciate the level of that crime… against nature”
  • “We don’t want to be this horrible species”
  • “Let’s do something with this decade… let’s get on with it!”


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

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