Aditya (soytheist.com & @Soytheist) is an animal rights advocate from Assam in India. His @Soytheist YouTube channel focuses on taking a straightforward & rational approach to animal rights, identity politics & occasionally religion & atheism.
In Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
1:17 Aditya’s Intro – rational animal rights
- Having the “luxury” of being able to take a direct approach
3:10 What’s Real?
- India as a religious country
- Growing up with religious parents who didn’t push religion
- Asking deep questions as a child & being handed Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”
- Never believing in god “There is not sufficient evidence to support the claims.”
- Criticising religion requires more caution than discussing atheism
- “A straightforward reading of a lot of religious scripture leads to conclusions & worldviews that are completely at odds with what a regular person would consider to be moral”
- But “No matter what the scripture says you can bend it” so “the vast majority of religious people are perfectly moral people”
- The mental gymnastics of adapting religious ethics (e.g. rejecting homophobia)
12:00 What Matters?
- I can ground my morality as well as a Christian or a Muslim can. But not in a perfectly objective way
- Every sentient values it’s own suffering & flourishing
- If our suffering & flourishing matters, so does that of others
- Growing up in a “heavy meat-eating culture” in North-Eastern India
- In Western countries the slaughter is hidden away. That’s not the case in much of India
- Visiting a market at age 14 to buy goat meat. Seeing the terror in a baby goat’s eyes as it was picked up & seeing another trying to hide. Thinking “that’s exactly what I would do.” “Don’t kill him.”
- Discovering animal rights philosophy online
- “This is the greatest moral emergency of our time & I have been contributing to this horrifying atrocity”
- Going vegetarian then learning about dairy & going vegan
- “What happened to you? – you’ve become like those ‘mainland’ Indians”
- “There’s a notion that veganism requires economic privilege – That’s nonsense” – “The only people claiming that are those that think a Starbucks latte is a basic need”
- The cheapest foods in the market were plant-based
- “Pure veg” & caste purity – can hinder the fight for animal rights. It’s about purity, not compassion
- Caste discrimination is another hierarchy of oppression. It is oppositional to Sentientism
- Religion hasn’t been great for human ethics. Looking to it to help with non-human ethics might be naive. Religions are largely concerned with explaining how special humans are.
- Religions will have to adapt
- Biocentrism & ecocentrism
- Equal moral consideration but different rights based on needs & interests
- PragerU’s “secularists think humans & trees have the same value” video
- People don’t understand how many sentient beings exist now
34:51 The Future
- Being more direct about animal rights advocacy
- “We would not accept someone saying ‘let’s solve the problems for white people first'”
- “Social progress is ultimately inevitable”
- Arthur Schopenhauer. Three stages of change: ridicule, question, look back & shiver
- The Bengal famine of India under British rule (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_famine_of_1943) & Winston Churchill’s racism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_views_of_Winston_Churchill)
- The condemnation of future generations
- Veganism is fast becoming accepted
- Transparency & global comms as agents of change
- LGBTQ movements were helped through contact “they’re people just like me” & through the oppressed speaking out. That’s harder to achieve for non-human animals
- Non-human animals speak in the language of terror but can’t talk our language
- Advocacy approaches. Earthling Ed, Gary Yourovsky. Individual & institutional change
- Lincoln ran on an anti-slavery platform. Someone who ran today on a pro-non-human animal platform wouldn’t have a chance
- Animal product alternatives will help but no one should wait. “What will you say to your grand-kids?”
- We don’t accept “waiting for the system” re: racism. So why for speciesism?
- The diary of Anne Frank “I still believe people are really good at heart”
- Countering the “veganism is colonialism” message
Everyone, Sentientist or not, is welcome in our groups. The main one is here on FaceBook.
Thanks Graham for the post-production.