“Us humans are slow learners” – Kim Stallwood – author & scholar – New conversation on the Sentientism YouTube and Podcast

Kim is an animal rights author, independent scholar, consultant, and speaker. He has 45 years of personal commitment as a vegan and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organisations. The Kim Stallwood Archive is held by The British Library. He wrote Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate with a Foreword by Brian May (Lantern Books, 2014). He is currently working on the biography of an elephant called Topsy. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse and a vegan in 1976. You can find Kim at​, @grumpyvegan​ and​.

In these 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 – subscribe on Apple here & all the other platforms here.

Kim and I discuss:

  • Growing up in Surrey in a working class, Church of England community
  • Joining the RSPCA and being against animal cruelty as a family
  • Working in a chicken slaughter-house in 1973. An experience that changed everything
  • Going vegetarian in 1974, only knowing 2 vegetarians
  • Arguments with mum about going vegetarian + her going veggie without Kim noticing
  • Going vegan (with mum, then family) in 1976
  • Being the 2nd employee at Compassion in World Farming, then a lifetime in animal advocacy
  • Theosophy’s themes of connectedness and opposing animal cruelty
  • Learning philosophy as an animal advocate
  • Making a clear break from Christianity
  • Having a personal belief system: 4 key values, but not labelling with any spiritual system
  • Camberley Kate’s care for non-humans and feeling outrage over how we treat other animals
  • Compassion as the first key value. Identifying with the experience of other sentient beings and being motivated to help
  • Ideologies can be good but are often dangerous. No one ideology addresses everything. Beware of anyone who says “this is the one true way”
  • Animals matter because we are animals. What we do to them we do to ourselves. What we do to them is unacceptable
  • We exploit animals simply because we have the power to do it
  • We need legislation and education to stop us exploiting
  • Is sentiocentric morality almost tautological (once we’ve rejected supernatural ethics)? Surely all suffering should matter?
  • “For all I know rocks may or may not be sentient in their own way – we might just not be aware”
  • “Everything is connected”, so even insentient things can be important
  • There might be worlds or things of which we’re not aware
  • The need for humility in a naturalistic/scientific worldview
  • How and why sentience might have evolved
  • Sentience as a class of information processing
  • The human tendency to think that we’re at the pinnacle of evolution
  • The need to constantly learn – scientifically, philosophically and even spiritually
  • “A river is a being of its own kind that deserves our respect and compassion – we need to have an honest and non-violent relationship with it”
  • How much environmentalism is really just another form of anthropocentrism?
  • Extending our compassion more broadly doesn’t have to be a competition – “There is no competition in extending our compassion”
  • Everything is related so “there is no moral circle”. Those inter-relationships matter
  • Eco-feminism’s focus on inter-relationships and equality
  • Sentience existed long before humans
  • The risks of relational thinking for those without power (e.g. humans defining our relations with “farmed” animals to excuse us causing needless suffering/death)
  • Moral concern for sentient beings as a bulwark against those relational risks?
  • “We need to make animal rights a mainstream political issue” e.g. working with political parties
  • Learning from the Coronavirus crisis. Breaking our arrogance and recognising that humans are the problem
  • We need to wake up! Less selfish, more altruistic, less consuming, less material
  • Updating the SDGs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all sentients?
  • In 100 yrs: the industrial exploitation of animals is over (farming, research); animals with moral and legal rights – properly enforced
  • Seeing animal liberation in the context of human liberation
  • Sue Coe and other creatives helping us imagine the future
  • “Humans are slow learners”.

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Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu

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