"We'll look back on this era of humanity as barbaric" - New Sentientist Conversation video with campaigner CEO Naomi Smith

Naomi is the CEO of Best for Britain, the UK's leading non-partisan advocacy group upholding internationalist values. Before her campaigning and political career she worked in the corporate world and chaired a number of voluntary groups. She describes herself as an internationalist, xenophile, humanist, vegan. She co-hosts the Oh God What Now? (formerly Remainiacs) and The Bunker podcasts.

In these Sentientist Conversations, we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”

The audio from this conversation will also be on our Sentientism Podcast - subscribe so you don't miss it - on Apple & most other platforms.

We discuss how Naomi’s personal philosophy has evolved, including her experience of religious sectarianism in Northern Ireland, being excluded from a religious education class and feeling a deep affinity for non-human animals from an early age.

We also discuss:

  • Internationalism, international co-operation, peace, politics and nativism
  • Political apathy vs. activism
  • Standing for the UK Parliament as a Liberal Democrat
  • How ethics intersect with politics
  • Growing up in multi-cultural, multi-cultural London and going to Anglican Sunday School
  • Getting Christened for the dress and the jewellery 🙂
  • Religious sectarianism in Northern Ireland
  • Being removed from Religious Education class for calling out the teacher's explicit homophobia
  • Being threatened with eternal hell by a born-again teacher
  • Being an atheist but preferring Humanism because it adds ethics, experience, evidence
  • "Humans aren't as bright as we seem to think we are". We're always looking for a simple answer and can't bear "not knowing"
  • Good ethics are good for us (e.g. zoonotic diseases caused by animal farming)
  • Being an animal lover because of spending so much time with them
  • Compassion for those that can't speak out or resist
  • How it took time to apply that through vegetarianism and then veganism
  • How quickly veganism is getting easier, particularly in big cosmopolitan cities like London
  • Personally debunking the health myths re: veganism + the challenge of "veganising" everything to show it can be easy
  • Humanism's natural (but too slow) extension to take non-human moral consideration more seriously. The challenge of making Humanism anti-speciesist too
  • The twin kryptonites of religion and animal ethics to otherwise careful thinkers
  • Environmentalists that still participate in animal farming, leaving farmed animals and non-charismatic wildlife excluded from their moral "doughnut"
  • Veganism as a win-win-win for humans (regardless of worldview), non-human animals and the environment
  • A Sentientist Politics?
  • How future generations will look back on our era as barbaric
  • How groups that have suffered oppression are sometimes quicker to empathise with those subject to other forms of oppression
  • How extending our compassion for non-human animals will enhance our compassion for human animals
  • The physical (e.g. COVID, injuries) and mental health impact of harming and killing animals on slaughter-house workers
  • "Killing animals hurts humans too"
  • How change for environmental, health and availability reasons might free people to improve their ethics
  • The role of evidence, reason and fact in politics vs. narrative, story, lies and slogans "We've had enough of experts"
  • How 2020 might prove a corrective. Reminding ourselves of the value of evidence and reason. Reality as a harsh teacher
  • Getting Sir David Attenborough to brandish a vegan sausage roll
  • Hoping that we're slowly moving towards a more Sentientist future.

You can follow Naomi on Twitter here @pimlicat.

Naomi is on our “Sentientist wall” – why not join her there in helping to normalise compassionate, rational thinking? Fill out this simple form.

Sentientism is “Evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings.” You can find out more at

Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our community groups. Our main group is here on FaceBook.

Many thanks to Graham Bessellieu for his post-production work on this video. Go follow him (& maybe work with him!) at @cgbessellieu.

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