We are Sentientists

Why are these people considered ‘nearly’ sentientist?

These are people who have been nominated as a Suspected Sentientist, but don't seem to be Sentientist (yet). This is either because they don't seem to have a naturalistic worldview (committed to evidence and reason, rejecting supernatural beliefs) or because they don't seem to grant meaningful moral consideration to all sentient beings.

Thank you for nominating people. If you have further input I'd love to hear it in the comments for each person. If you are one of these people, feel free to correct things and post yourself on our Wall of Sentientists!

Susan Blackmore

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Susan is a writer, lecturer, sceptic, broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. Her fields of research include memetics, parapsychology, consciousness, and she is best known for her book The Meme Machine. She has written or contributed to over 40 books and 60 scholarly articles and is a contributor to The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

She has a naturalistic worldview and is a patron of Humanists UK. In this article, she recognises the strong evidence that many non-human animals are capable of experiencing suffering, but refers to "vegetarians" in the third person, saying "Many people become vegetarians because of the way farm animals are treated".

Susan on Wikipedia
Susan at Humanists UK

Dick Gregory

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Richard (Dick) Claxton Gregory was a comedian, civil rights and animal rights and vegan activist. Gregory became popular among the African-American communities in the southern United States with his "no-holds-barred" sets, poking fun at the bigotry and racism in the United States. In 1961 he became a staple in comedy clubs, appeared on national television and released comedy record albums. Gregory was at the forefront of political activism in the 1960s, when he protested against the Vietnam War and racial injustice. He was arrested multiple times and went on many hunger strikes. He later became a speaker and author. He said: " Because I'm a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn't be a part of it."

While he was described as a religious skeptic, it doesn't seem that he held a naturalistic worldview. He said "I am god, you are god." He often talked of spirituality and supported a number of poorly-evidenced conspiracy theories.

Dick on Wikipedia


Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Lawrence "Kris" Parker, better known by his stage name KRS-One, an abbreviation of "Knowledge Reigning Supreme Over Nearly Everyone", and Teacha, is a rapper and producer. He rose to prominence as part of the hip hop group Boogie Down Productions, which he formed with DJ Scott La Rock in the mid-1980s. KRS-One is best known for his hits "Sound of da Police", "Love's Gonna Get'cha (Material Love)", and "My Philosophy". Boogie Down Productions received numerous awards and critical acclaim in their early years.
KRS-One is politically active, having started the Stop the Violence Movement. He's also a vegan activist, as expressed in songs such as "Beef":

"So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket"

While KRS-One has turned away from traditional religions he doesn't have a naturalistic worldview. Referring to his book, The Gospel of Hip Hop, he has said: "this book will be a new religion on the earth ... I think I have the authority to approach God directly, I don't have to go through any religion..."

KRS-One on Wikipedia

Andrés Roemer

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Sean Carroll

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Sean is a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum mechanics, gravity, and cosmology. He is a research professor at the California Institute of Technology Department of Physics. He has been a contributor to the physics blog Cosmic Variance, and has published in scientific journals such as Nature as well as other publications, including The New York Times, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. He has appeared on the History Channel's The Universe, Science Channel's Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, Closer to Truth and Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Carroll is the author of Spacetime And Geometry, a graduate-level textbook in general relativity, and has also recorded lectures for The Great Courses on cosmology, the physics of time, and the Higgs boson. He is also the author of four popular books. He began a podcast in 2018 called Mindscape, in which he interviews other experts and intellectuals on a variety of science-related topics.

Sean is an atheist and describes himself as a "poetic naturalist". While he does recognise that needlessly causing suffering to sentient beings is morally negative, he considers it acceptable to kill a sentient being without causing suffering if we think it lacks an ability to plan for or conceive of its own future. He uses this perspective to justify his continued use of animal products although remains open minded on the topic.
Sean on Wikipedia

Charles Darwin

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Charles Darwin was a naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science.
While he seemed to recognise the moral worth of sentient non-humans, there seems to be little basis to the suggestion that he was vegan or vegetarian, but his great-great grandson is confident he'd be vegan if he was alive today. Darwin had a naturalistic worldview and considered himself agnostic.
He said: "We have seen that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention and curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes in a well-developed condition, in the lower animals.", "There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties ... The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind", and "The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man."
Darwin on Wikipedia

Kat Dennings

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Kat Dennings (Katherine Victoria Litwack), is an actress. She is known for starring as Max Black in the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls and as Darcy Lewis in the Marvel superhero films Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Since making her acting debut in 2000, Dennings has appeared in films including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Big Momma's House 2, Charlie Bartlett, The House Bunny, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Defendor, and Suburban Gothic.
Kat seems to have a naturalistic worldview, having said that Judaism "is an important part of my history, but, as a whole, religion is not a part of my life." In late 2020 she said she was adopting a plant-based diet, although primarily for environmental rather than ethical reasons.
Kat on Wikipedia

Massimo Pigliucci

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Massimo is Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He co-hosted the Rationally Speaking Podcast, and was editor in chief for the online magazine Scientia Salon. He is an outspoken critic of pseudoscience and creationism and an advocate for secularism, science education and Stoicism.

Massimo argues that people, particularly Stoics, should be either vegetarian or vegan. Personally, he remains vegetarian. He says: "I’m going to redouble my personal efforts to follow this path and further reduce my intake of other [sentient animal] foodstuff. I hope you will join me, to reduce both suffering in the world and our carbon footprint as a species. And Seneca adds, you’ll also feel better and think more clearly."

Find Massimo's Sentientist Conversation with me here on the Sentientism YouTube and here on the Sentientism Podcast.

Massimo on Wikipedia

A. C. Grayling

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

A.C. or Anthony is a philosopher and author. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He frequently appears in British media discussing philosophy and public affairs.

Anthony is the author of over 30 books on philosophy, biography, history of ideas, human rights and ethics, including The Future of Moral Values (1997), What Is Good? (2000), The Meaning of Things (2001), The Good Book (2011), The God Argument (2013), The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind (2016) and Democracy and its Crises (2017). He was a trustee of the London Library and a fellow of the World Economic Forum, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts.

Anthony has a naturalistic worldview. He is a vice-president of Humanists UK and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

Anthony has been vegetarian since around 1980, saying in this interview "The kinds of animals that people eat – cows, chicken, sheep and so on – are capable of fear and suffering, and experiences of pleasure. They’re sentient to that extent, and I don’t think there’s any argument about that. There is an argument about fish, and certainly an even bigger argument with shellfish, about whether they’re having a pleasant time or can be afraid or suffer – but I’m rather inclined to draw the line well beyond where it might need to be drawn, just on as-it-were safety’s sake. I can eat healthily, pleasantly and well, and enjoy myself without being involved in too much killing of sentient beings capable of suffering and fear. Now, I wear leather shoes and a leather belt and people point out this is inconsistent, and I tell them they are right. Moreover vegetarianism is actually an illogical position, because if you actually were going to take all this very seriously you should really be a vegan, but I find veganism takes up time and thought and attention and is a bit of a struggle, and there are other things to do with one’s life – so being a vegetarian is really a halfway house where you’re personally self-minimising the involvement you have in factory farming – in the slaughter of sentient beings."

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

A.C. Grayling on Wikipedia

Brian May

Nearly Sentientist
Discussion and points of difference

Brian is a musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and astrophysicist. He is the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen. He is vegan. He has described himself as an agnostic, but has also said that, at times, be believes that some sort of a god does exist.
Brian on Wikipedia

Latest work

Headshot of MIchael Hauskeller

Dogs and pigs have meaningful lives! - Philosopher Michael Hauskeller - Sentientism Episode 155

Michael Hauskeller is head of philosophy at Liverpool University. A conversation about Sentientism's "evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings".
Upper body picture of Dhruv Makwana smiling

Should Effective Altruism Take Abolitionism More Seriously? - Dhruv Makwana - Sentientism Episode 150

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

Dhruv is a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge. He has interests in psychology, philosophy and animal advocacy.

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
01:33 Dhruv Intro
02:25 What's Real?

  • Born in India, moving to Scotland "A mix of two cultures"
  • Hindu temple at home, outside was "classic western materialism, science…"
  • @OfficialDerrenBrown 's "Tricks of the Mind". Magic, charlatanism, #homeopathy , #religion, #GMO scepticism (e.g. Golden Rice)
  • Reading Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things" at 12 yrs old
  • Finding school academically easy but socially hard "immigrant children willl know… feeling like half and half and the halves don't really mix"
  • Culturally universal values: "There was this value of transcendence that was just missing… it would be really nice if god was real… I switched back and forth"
  • Celebrating #diwali when visiting India "I could see the appeal… but I couldn't see any reason or logic"
  • "It's not like the western materialists have any really great answers on how to live…"
  • Experiencing clinical #depression at Cambridge University
  • Discovering #stoicism & #nietzsche "a very positive nihilism"
  • The @philosophizethispodcast and @theschooloflifetv "self-directed, exploratory learning"
  • Existentialism "I couldn't really follow the continental philosophers". Camus' "The Plague" made more sense during #covid19
  • A personal situation "which just did not seem amenable to being logiced out of"
  • A talk by @akalamusic
  • Going back to Indian religion & philosophy "there might be something here"
  • Reading the #mahabharata to understand the context for the #bhagavadgita
  • #arjuna , #krishna roles & responsibilities "why should I act if the fruits of my acts are not my own?"
  • Encountering #buddhism Graham Priest's "Paraconsistent logics"
  • 2 weeks at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland "everyone had their own story… so much suffering… worse than mine"
  • Values of patience, generosity, loving
  • Practising #meditation & #mindfulness
  • "Let me just try things that seem to work"
  • The wisdom of hunter-gatherer cultures
  • Not dismissing or reifying any culture
  • "I accidentally moved to New Zealand"
  • Going #vegan (after growing up #vegetarian ) mainly for environmental reasons
  • Trying vegan pizza "this is fine"
  • @SimonAmstellNumb 's #Carnage documentary
  • @ed.winters Watching #EarthlingEd
  • Ethical & epistemological journeys developing in parallel
  • Meeting an activist community
  • Reading Peter Singer's "The Life You Can Save" and #effectivealtruism
  • Sam Harris' "Waking Up"
  • Identity & Derek Parfit
  • Physicist Carlo Rovelli's "The Order of Time" & intepretations of quantum physics
  • "I have 4 extremely diverse points of view pointing to this very strange thing about notions of identity… the Buddha takes things one step further… this is one of the reasons you're upset"
  • "Being troubled by open metaphysical questions is not because you don't have an answer… it's because you expect the answer"
  • A local #yoga group
  • "I stopped being bothered by these big existential questions"
  • Exploring from the outside & the inside (e.g. via meditation)
  • Cravings & suffering
  • Philosophy of mind: functionalism, materialism, #illusionism , #panpsychism
  • #dualism & non-dualism
  • Are fictional characters "real"?
  • Time as an abstraction of a gradient of #entropy
  • The movie "Tenet"
  • Consciousness as a statistical macro-phenomena?
  • P-zombies
  • #bayesian epistemology vs. Deutschian / Popper #CriticalRationality: putting reasons & explanation at the foundational level
  • St. Petersburg Paradox

53:00 Who & What Matters?

  • Inconsistency arguments re: moral exclusion
  • "Consistency seems like a good thing to aim for"
  • "Clearly animals count"
  • Kinship & transcendence "they are literally related"
  • "I use sentience… a fuzzy line"
  • Artificial or alien sentience
  • Plant sentience?
  • Blamelessness if we're making good faith efforts to attribute sentience
  • Risks of ethical flattening if consciousness is all-pervasive "everything matters so nothing does"
  • Buddhism's "ultimate reality & relative reality"
  • Pain vs. suffering & human capacity to mitigate suffering even when experiencing pain

01:03:03 A Better Future?

  • Criticisms of #effectivealtruism
  • Welfarism vs. abolitionism… end goals and tactics
  • #Greenwashing & #Humanewashing
  • Jeff Sebo and the psychological intuition re: rights
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Ex-vegans: “something leads them to eat some animal products and then their moral opinions change… that seems suspicious”
  • Not just ending animal exploitation but preventing it re-emerging
  • The wild animal suffering imperative
  • Welfarism is “unnecessary… and risky”
  • Logic of the larder, the myth of death without suffering, the intrinsic wrongness of killing?
  • “I believe in person-affecting views but I don’t believe in persons”
  • Individuals as “macro-phenomena”
  • Is existence better than non-existence?
  • “In the EA animal advocacy community it seems like people have said yes to welfarist approaches and no to abolitionist approaches (as tactics) – my conjecture is that… it should be ‘unknown’ to abolitionist approaches rather than ‘no’”
  • The limitations of welfarist tactics: high income countries focus (now changing); cultivated-meat optimism (also changing); over-scepticism about individual change advocacy (esp. elimination / veganism)
  • Reducetarianism: “More people will respond to the ‘reduce’ but they’ll do it by less – whereas fewer people will respond to the ‘eliminate’ but they’ll do it by more”
  • Outdated unfortunate caricatures of abolitionists
  • Risk of excuses & dead ends: reduction, “humane” animal farming…
  • Ideas for effective abolitionism: international rights based approaches to animal law (a Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights?); animal farm transitions;
  • “At some point all the pieces need to come together”
  • #transfarmation “one of my favourite ideas… often farmers are trapped in this industry” “There’s a win-win situation for everyone involved”
  • Economically self-sustaining interventions
  • Institutional land-holdings re: agriculture
  • Measuring human welfare via QUALYs and DALYs “well-intentioned but empirically and philosophically terrible”
  • Objective list theory
  • Biases re: loss and getting used to good or bad changes e.g. returning to hedonic set-points
  • A better approach: “I could ask you”
  • Happier Lives Institute “how bad is death and who is it bad for?”
  • Could helping people cope with suffering be an excuse for not fixing the problems (e.g. poverty, health) causing their suffering?
  • Trauma, stress and growth
  • Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics “Economies that are required to grow regardless of whether or not they make people thrive… we should be aiming for economies that make people thrive whether or not they grow”
  • The risks of environmentalism and degrowth movements “I’m comfortable, now everyone else needs to stop growing and find a different way to be happy”
  • Working with communities
  • Low-cost group therapy as an intervention can be highly cost effective “That’s a very surprising result… so illuminating… something that only the Effective Altruism movement could have produced”
  • The wellbeing and economic arguments for helping people suffering from depression “great if you care about the people but also great if you just care about the money”
  • Population life satisfaction as an indicator of whether a politician will get re-elected
  • Psychedelics and meditation “the science really needs to catch up” “clinicians will need to be able to take an ontologically neutral point of view” (re: seeing fairies, for examples)
  • Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium
  • “I had no idea if that was working… but it did make me feel better”
  • “You need a really finely tuned bullshit detector”
  • The Aurelius Foundation, stoicism and previous guest Massimo Pigliucci

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

Join our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

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

Andrew Knight headshot

"Vegan pets... They're enjoying their lives more & they're living longer" - Dr. Andrew Knight - Sentientism Episode 148

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

Andrew is Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics and Founding Director of the University of Winchester Centre for Animal Welfare, Adjunct Professor in the School of Environment and Science at Griffith University, Queensland, EBVS European and RCVS Veterinary Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law, American and New Zealand Veterinary Specialist in Animal Welfare, Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and Principal Fellow of Advance HE.

Ever since helping launch Australia’s campaign against the live sheep trade to the Middle East in the early 1990s, he has advocated on behalf of animals. For nearly a decade prior to 2012 he practiced veterinary medicine, mostly around London. In 2013 – 2014 he directed the Clinical Skills Laboratory and taught animal ethics, welfare, veterinary practice management and surgical and medical skills at one of the world’s largest veterinary schools in the Caribbean.

Andrew’s books include The Routledge Handbook of Animal Welfare (2023) and The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments (2011). He has around 150 academic and 80 popular publications and an extensive series of social media videos on plant-based companion animal diets, climate change and the livestock sector, invasive animal research, educational animal use, humane clinical and surgical skills training, and other animal welfare issues. His papers have been published in leading scientific and medical journals, such as New Scientist, the British Medical Journal USA and PLoS One. He has delivered over 200 presentations at conferences and universities internationally, and has organized or chaired seven conferences and seminars. He regularly works with animal welfare charities to advocate for animals and is often interviewed by the media. Andrew has been honoured with 14 awards and 22 research grants, including the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics Shomer Award, a University Values Award and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association Humane Achievement Award. He also received a University Student-Led Teaching Award in 2017.

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
01:33 Andrew's Intro

03:57 What's Real?

  • Questioning his life after being unlucky in love
  • Following the tradition of "gurus going to mountain tops"… hiking up a mountain & fasting
  • A beautiful mountain view at dawn… "Please god - if there's anything out there - let me know now!"
  • "The sun came up… I got my answer clear as day… there was absolutely nothing… I had to go back down the mountain… carry on and do the best I could… without any advice or clues from above… that's been my guiding inspiration since… what are we going to do with this opportunity?…"
  • "I was very pleased because I could finally eat some food" 🙂
  • Australia's secularism
  • Veterinary education focused on science & evidence.

11:11 What Matters?

  • "Try to do the most good you can and the least harm that you can."… without letting that turn you into a grim and uninspiring person
  • Enjoying your life & not burning out (tough for caring professions & activists)
  • "Don't forget to look after ourselves"
  • "That's why it's [doing good, avoiding harm] such a good baseline principle… It's a simple clear message… something we can all aspire to"

15:32 Who Matters?

  • Helping with the @RedCross soup patrol, @AmnestyInternational and banning land-mines
  • Realising how many more non-human animals were suffering & dying in animal agriculture
  • "There are millions more animals being impacted & their capacity to suffer is not millions of times less… it is a more important issue"
  • Continuing to support human causes but prioritising animal causes (e.g. live export)
  • "Then I've had a 25 year career as a professional animal advocate thereafter"
  • At 8 yrs old reading a book about baby animals "These animals are wonderful. I'm not going to eat these animals any more… I marched up to my parents and declared I was going vegetarian"
  • "They smiled & thought to themselves 'no worries this will only last a week' but it didn't last a week - it lasted a lifetime and I became vegan at 23"
  • "A really important criterion for moral consideration is whether a person or an animal can suffer… and indeed more broadly whether they are #sentient "
  • Negative & positive experiences of others both matter "If we want to consider ourselves ethical agents"
  • “It’s a no brainer isn’t it… we should care about creatures if they’re sentient… the criterion that makes the most sense”
  • Bentham & Al-Ma’arri's sentiocentrism
  • Are Sentientism and sentiocentrism discriminating against non-sentient entities? (art, geologic formations, rare things?)
  • “Living creatures are the rarest phenomena across the known universe” temporarily resisting the 2nd law of thermodynamics
  • Is most environmentalism really still #anthropocentric in excluding moral consideration for farmed and wild sentient animals?
  • Moral considerations beyond sentience?

29:46 How Can We Make a Better Future?

  • #EffectiveAltruism “encourages us to… think strategically about our choices”: Severity/scale, tractability / solvability, neglectedness, our skill-fit
  • Treating cats & dogs for over a decade
  • Vegan companion/pet animal food as a cause area
  • “How do we guard against motivated reasoning? – even if they’re positive motives”
  • “It used to be the case that… meat-based pet food was mostly created using byproducts… that has actually changed”
  • “People are increasingly viewing cats & dogs as members of their own families… and wanting better standards of care and diets for them”
  • “Animals being slaughtered more directly for pet food”
  • The growth of companion animal ownership globally (particularly in fast-developing countries) – to ~3 billion animals
  • The environmental / climate opportunities of switching companion animal diets to plant-based
  • “Surveys of thousands of pet guardians… 35% - 40% of people would be interested in switching”
  • Top concerns: companion animal health; nutritional soundness; palatability; environmental sustainability (interestingly not price!)
  • Researching health outcomes & palatability
  • “It’s a matter of turning on the brain cell and thinking just for a second”
  • “Cats, dogs and all species have requirements for a certain set of nutrients – not for ingredients”
  • “Conventional meat-based pet food is supplemented with all sorts of nutrients because the natural nutrients are often destroyed”
  • “Vegan pet-foods also need to be supplemented… and the same supplements are used”
  • Avoiding the dietary hazards often associated with meat products
  • “You would expect health outcomes as good or better – and that’s exactly what the large-scale studies of thousands of animals are showing”
  • A recent systematic review of vegan pet foods: 1) Animal outcomes (blood tests, vet exams…) – smaller scale 2) Guardian reported (medication frequency, vet visits, vet and guardian assessments of health) – larger scale
  • 9 studies in dogs & 3 in cats just this year
  • “Certain specific types of health disorders seem to be less common in animals on vegan pet foods – dietary hazards which have been eliminated”
  • Exciting benefits: Recent study “On average dogs on vegan diets were living 1.5 years longer… on top of that the quality of life seems to be improved as well – less problems with obesity, mobility disorders and itchy skin”
  • Avoiding animal-sourced allergens & the hazards of over-nutrition
  • “Biologically there’s no difference between cats, dogs or any other species with respect to their basic needs… nutrients… palatable… digestible… If you formulate a diet that meets these criteria you should expect health outcomes to be at least as good or better”
  • More cat & dog studies coming with even more exciting results
  • “The focus needs to be… on getting the information out there… most of the pet owning world is not aware of it”
  • “Think what a difference it would make to everyone!”
  • #JustTransition elements: Consumers, retailers, producers, innovation, government, veterinarians…
  • “I used to have pet food companies coming to me… about once every three months… nowadays it’s every two weeks”
  • UK Pet Food Manufacturing body have just revised their fact sheet
  • British Veterinary Association will soon update their guidance
  • “A new disruptive pet food industry is emerging”
  • The vegan pet food sector is valued at $9 billion globally in 2020 going up to $16 billion in 2028 (7.7% CAGR)
  • “One of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry”
  • Concerns about pet health, environment, farmed animals aren’t going away “this isn’t a fad”
  • Vegans are more likely to choose vegan foods for their companion animals. But are people choosing vegan foods for their companion animals more likely to go vegan?
  • “If people were to adopt these diets for their dogs & cats… it might open their minds up similarly to consider the benefits of these diets… for themselves as well”
  • “People need to… not kid themselves that the meat-based pet foods… in any way resembles a natural feeding regime for dogs and cats… they’re being fed body parts from animals they would normally never consume”
  • “More important than asking the people is asking the animals themselves… we do by detailed study of their behaviour at feeding time…” A survey of thousands of cats & dogs “we found that… there are no significant differences [in palatability]”
  • The role of the veterinary profession re: animal agriculture. A caring profession enabling an industry that has suffering & death at its core
  • Previous guest Dr. Crystal Heath
  • “The vets that are opposed to the use of vegan pet food usually are vets that simply don’t know about all of the evidence… about positive health outcomes”
  • “Once you show vets the scientific evidence… most vets do come on board”
  • Farmed animals: “The paying client… wants processes to occur that are harmful to animals… for reasons of profit maximisation” (confinement, mutilation without anaesthetic…)
  • JW: “I’d also argue that being killed is a negative thing for your welfare… and that’s central to the industry”
  • The “massive conflict of interest between the best interests of the paying client and the best interests of the being the professional is supposed to be looking after”
  • Industry capture “there’s been capture of the veterinary profession by the interests of the industry”
  • “We have veterinarians engaging in and condoning procedures which are clearly contrary to good animal welfare because of money… It is fundamentally wrong and it fundamentally undermines the ethos of the veterinary profession and… ultimately the trust in the veterinary profession by wider society”
  • Ventilation shutdown, mass culling re: birdflu…
  • “When there is big money involved it can be hard to achieve change”
  • Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Animal Agriculture using the same playbook “we managed to push change back by a couple of decades”
  • “The solution has always been to shed light on the truth and to get the truth out there”
  • Sentientist Development Goals and a Universal Declaration of Sentient Rights…
  • Sentientist Politics? Running against Theresa May for election with the Animal Welfare Party “A way to remind politicians and indeed voters that we shouldn’t just be concerned about human wellbeing and human issues… animals are very much part of our society as well”
  • “These animals exist, their interests exist and actually you can formulate good policies… which often help people as well and there are votes to be won by doing so”
  • The Dutch Party for the Animals has elected representatives locally and nationally
  • “We have had some of the major parties seeming to adopt more animal friendly policies” e.g. fox-hunting
  • Lord Bucket-Head and the Raving Monster Loony Party
  • “I discovered to my shock… that it was remarkable how little many of them seemed to know”
  • “I’d encourage any of your listeners who thought politics wasn’t for them to perhaps think again… it’s not that hard and you might even enjoy it”
  • “Watch this space - the vegan pet food sector is at the start of a very exciting growth curve.”

… & much more!

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

Join our “I’m a Sentientist” wall using this simple form.

Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

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

Katherine Roe headshot

"Animal research... much harm with very little benefit" - Neuroscientist Dr Katherine Roe from PETA - Sentientism Episode 147

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

Katherine is chief of Science Advancement and Outreach (SAO) at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). SAO aims to change the paradigm of biomedical research by promoting the development and implementation of cutting-edge strategies in biomedical research and training and eliminating the use of animals in experimentation. Katherine earned her bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology and cognitive science from the University of California–San Diego. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, she went on to become a research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she stayed for eight years. Over the course of her research career, she studied the neural correlates of linguistic, spatial, and memory processes, working with children with early focal brain injury, adults and children with schizophrenia, and individuals with Williams syndrome and related genetic disorders. Katherine has more than 20 years of experience conducting brain and neuroimaging research with humans and is an expert at experimental design and data analysis. She has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has presented her findings at national and international industry conferences.

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:

01:29 Katherine's Intro - from neuroscience and the NIH to PETA

  • "About half of biomedical research… involves very invasive procedures with animals"
  • "It became clear to me that that assumption… that the harms we were doing were justifiable… fell apart… the harms were much greater than I realised but also… there's a lot of species differences that make data from these labs difficult to translate into benefits for humans."
  • "Then the question becomes… well what are we doing?"
  • "Trying to make sure people realise how sentient these animals really are… they have their own needs & wants & desires"
  • Previous episodes with Ingrid Newkirk & Aysha Akhtar

04:55 What's Real?

  • "Religious but not deeply religious" parents - Anglican, episcopalian Christians
  • "It never really took"
  • Not needing external reasons for "wanting to cause as little harm as possible and to live in harmony with the world around us"
  • Learning about animals through science "started to change the way I viewed them"
  • Starting with food - then questioning zoos, horse racing & much later scientific research
  • "I don't think of myself as religious today"
  • Unitarian if anything… the principles that are consistent across & beyond religions
  • "I would love for something more supernaturalistic to take place in my own life"
  • Open minded about things science can't (yet) explain
  • The comfort of believing there's someone out there that cares about us
  • Problems with science "scientists - all of them - are fallible… the pressure to publish"
  • Retractions, corrections, fraud, replication failures
  • "Many scientists have lost sight of their original goal… to get accurate answers"
  • "Scientific integrity is in a crisis"
  • "That's what science is - it's supposed to constantly evolve"
  • Denial, scepticism, gullibility (to grifters on YouTube)
  • Critical judgement & assessing sources
  • Polarisation
  • Science needs to be "treating the public as intelligent". Honest & transparent. Not over-simplifying
  • Provisional & probabilistic credences (vs. binary beliefs)
  • @dailymail 's awful "X causes cancer… X cures cancer" pattern

24:54 What & Who Matters?

  • "Increasing your circle of empathy to include everyone and everything…"
  • "Every animal who feels pain or fear or can suffer matters… every person matters"
  • "Humans… tend to consider ourselves the superior species… & that everything around us is here for us… instead of being here with us"
  • "There's always a consequence… every decision you make doesn't just impact you"
  • Compassion & thoughtfulness
  • JW Concerns about #teleology "we're all here for a purpose… us humans normally assume that we're the point!"
  • "Part of an intricate network… interacting with the purposes of those around you."
  • "Reject this notion that humans are the purpose"
  • "Our capabilities… may be different - but they're not superior"
  • Sentience as the justification "most people can understand… elicits an empathy… I’m not sure it guides my own behaviour"
  • “They don’t want to suffer any more than you do”
  • Reading the horrific methods sections of papers based on animal research “it can be devastating… putting ourselves in the position of another”
  • “The best way to go through life is to assume that what would hurt you would hurt somebody else”
  • Previous conversations with Frans de Waal, Walter Veit, Mark Solms on the nature of sentience
  • The most fundamental needs are the ones we care about the most and the ones we share most widely “we all want to avoid pain & suffering”
  • Evolution & natural selection “pain usually – not good”
  • Panpsychism, illusionism or “shut up and do the science”?
  • “I do think of it as a survival level drive”
  • Putting sentiocentrism into practice “A series of lightbulbs… starting out with vegetarianism”
  • “Just the visual imagery of what was going on in these farms was enough…”
  • Veganism, but no activism
  • The San Diego zoo. Thinking “is this OK?” Imagining a human zoo – needs met, but autonomy constrained
  • Horse-racing and hearing about fallen horses being “put down”
  • “That just started me thinking about anywhere that animals were being used”
  • It’s easier to condemn things we’re not complicit in “safe things to reject… and I started with the easiest things”
  • “Once I had to start about my own behaviours… that was where the challenge came in… animals exploited for science was the last frontier”

46:49 How Can We Make a Better Future?

  • “There was a protective bubble around animals used for science… I was part of that community.”
  • Most people thought “animals were treated well… minimally harmful… only if necessary… going to benefit humans”
  • Misinformation even within the scientific community
  • “Animals suffer incredibly in laboratories – and that’s just baseline… taking an animal out of the wild or buying an animal from a breeder and keeping them in a cage for their entire lives – it’s harmful”
  • Tumour grafting, cutting into brains, inflicted with diseases, given chemicals, neurological damage, tissue damage,
  • The use of “cute” animal imagery in the media to depict animal research
  • Science has demonstrated the psychological (fear, stress etc.) & physical harms
  • Scientists saying “how interesting!” about animal ethics, morality and emotions… but not caring
  • Gini the dog makes an appearance 😊
  • Scientists claim non-human animals are similar to humans re: research validity but ignore their similarity to humans re: sentience, emotion and social bonds
  • “The other myth I would like to debunk is that any scientific research that uses animals is benefitting to humans – that is flagrantly untrue”
  • Very high failure rates in drug development (92-95% of drugs declared safe in animals will go on to fail human safety tests. Nearly 100% failure rates for sepsis, HIV, Alzheimer’s, cancer)
  • Public relations and press re: “promising new result from animal experiments” without mentioning their almost inevitable failure
  • “Is it OK to hurt a few mice to benefit millions of humans?” – that isn’t the actual question. “The question is – is it OK to kill tens of millions of animals each year forcing them to live a life of misery & suffering… on the off-chance that this might benefit a human 20 years from now?”
  • Is there a spectrum of animal research from more to less justifiable? “Once you come to adjust your mindset that animals are not here for us… they are sentient… it’s not justifiable at all”
  • “However, when you’re working to change a system… sometimes you do need to work along a gradient”
  • Much research is purely curiosity driven & has no possible justification re: helping humans
  • Risks of motivated reasoning even when our motives are good!
  • “If you’re using animals in harmful procedures for science you’re going to convince yourself that it’s going to benefit somebody somewhere… the people who can’t do that are the ones who get out…”
  • “Are there non-animal, non-harmful ways to answer some of the more important questions? – there are.”
  • Developed because of animal ethics concerns but also purely because of the science “they’re concerned about the quality of the science… we’re so different from non-human animals… the diseases we’re trying to treat are often non-existent in non-human animals”
  • Imaging tech to see human biology, organs on chips, human organoids “often derived from the patients themselves…” so perfectly individualised
  • “We are wasting an enormous amount of time and energy and money – and harming… hundreds of millions of animals each year – on a paradigm that isn’t working”
  • “The ethics of the harm & the lack of benefit make it so important that we change”
  • Coalitions: patient advocacy groups, animal rights groups, the scientific community “People are starting to find this common ground”
  • Motivating law makers and policy makers: The FDA Modernisation Act now passed! The FDA can use non-animal methods now
  • “People need new drugs… faster… cheaper… ineffective animal tests make it costlier”
  • PETA’s Global “Research Modernisation Deal” evidence-based phase out plan “Our motivation is the animals… but the science supports it 100%”… “ending animal experiments where we know they don’t work…” training so scientists can transition, methods evaluation frameworks…
  • “It’s a win-win-win”
  • Can people working to transition animal agriculture and animal research learn from each other?
  • Transparency… “challenging people’s assumptions… engrained beliefs about these industries”
  • Using imagery “people don’t like it… but we will show them”
  • The biggest challenge is not just changing people’s mindset… but that a lot of the ways animals are exploited… have benefitted people monetarily.”
  • Breeders, animal importers, animal experimentation equipment, scientists… “There’s a lot of people making a lot of money off these industries. It’s important to make sure that the public knows that some of the messaging they gets is from those folks”
  • “Our motivation is questioned all the time… but we’re not making money off of this… but there are people who are.”
  • JW “Getting the facts straight and winning the ethical argument just isn’t enough… we need to find ways of presenting really attractive, easy opportunities for everybody involved… in their terms presenting a better way”
  • Livelihoods, identities and cultures are “generationally engrained” in these harmful industries. Need for a compassionate #JustTransition
  • “We’re not taking money away from the research community… we’re just moving it slightly… and the research community is very good at following that carrot.”
  • “Help them want to do it then help them actually do it”
  • Redirecting subsidies towards transitioning
  • “Questioning everything… whether it is harmful to anyone”
  • PETA Research Modernisation “PETA literally has more scientists on staff than any other animal rights organisation”
  • “Get the animals out of those labs, keep the scientists employed and get the patients the cures and treatments they desperately need faster and cheaper.”
  • Science Advancement and OutReach @SAOScience on Twitter
  • “Animals who are stressed out and lonely give bad data”
  • “I have no philosophical label for myself so if you want to give one to me based on this discussion… I think I like Sentientism”
  • Persuading 8 billion humans to agree with “evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings” through YouTube and podcasts 😊

… & much more!

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

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Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The biggest so far is here on Facebook.

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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