Find our conversation here on YouTube or here on Podcast.
Henry (@henrymance) is the chief features writer for the Financial Times newspaper. He is the author of “How to Love Animals in a Human Shaped World.”
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.” In addition to the video linked above, the audio is on our Podcast here on Apple and here on the other platforms.
1:27 Henry’s Intro
- Studying environmental policy
- Photography and the natural world
- Working for a biodiversity think tank in Colombia
- Journalism at the Financial Times
- Writing “How to Love Animals…”
- “It hasn’t really been about changing my values… it’s been about trying to align my behaviours.”
3:25 What’s Real? Anglican Christianity
- Keith Thomas’ “Man and the Natural World”
- Different Christian perspectives on non-human animals
- Is the Noah’s Ark story one reason why we find zoos acceptable?
- “Noah’s Ark is not a particularly good model for conservation”
- “We think we’re Noah but in fact we’re the flood”
- Interviewing the Archbishop of Canterbury “Pets do go to heaven!”
- Animal Interfaith Alliance
- “Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom or compassion”
- Talking to Mongolian Buddhists about eating meat “if you don’t see the killing it’s less of a sin”
- How distance means we allow animal farming to continue
- JW: “The Dalai Lama isn’t vegan and he has no excuses”
- How Anglicanism focuses on compassion & love rather than dogmatic rules
- Obedience vs. compassion in religious ethics
- The church has often been behind the curve in ethics
- “Iris Murdoch’s idea of love helped me more than any direct religious underpinning”
13:00 What Matters?
- At first “I wanted animals to be OK because I liked looking at them.” Polar bears and orangutans
- The impact of humanity on wild animals
- Shifting to take the animals’ point of view
- Being forced to think about animal farming in Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens
- How viewing species of animals as “eaten” reduces our assessment of sentience
- We spend money on our pets medical bills that could save human lives
- “If it happens like this it must be tolerable”
- “Sentience is a pretty good starting point”
- Are bivalves & insects sentient?
- The richness of bee behaviour & the risks of insect farming
- “Surely people can see for themselves – that is a conscious animal”
- Edge cases vs. the core issue of animal farming
- “There is something really special about consciousness” vs biocentrism & ecocentrism
- Whether you care about sentience or ecosystems what you have in common is “Factory farming is a complete disaster”
- Invasive species, hunting as more challenging issues
- Fishing. From “sustainable population levels for human food” to concern for sentient fishes. Seaspiracy
- Darwin and David Attenborough. From collecting samples to recognising individuality
- Zoos: “These giraffes do not belong in this very expensive shed”
- Taking the perspective of “the other”
- Would our non-human animal ethics work for humans? If not, why not?
- Breeding deer, then “culling” them blaming overpopulation & selling their bodies for money
- Working on a pig farm for the book & realising “even on a ‘decent’ pig farm” life isn’t worth living
- Farming human toddlers for food?
- People are willing to have the debate. They have views. That’s exciting because they can be changed
40:25 A Better Future
- “Love for animals is one of society’s core values. Rationality is another.”
- “The book I wrote was partly inspired by having kids”
- Storybooks pretending that we know how to live alongside animals
- Lynda Korimboccus‘ “Peppa Pig Paradox” (previous guest!)
- Change has to happen because we can’t feed ourselves this way
- “The evidence all points one way”
- Improving welfare in animal farming can be worse for the environment & vice versa, so let’s just “cut it all out”
- The “West” spread its love of meat around the world
- Individual change is really crucial. We need to reject animal farming, not just feel uneasy about it
- Parallels with smoking
- Political & corporate change starts with personal change
- “If you ask a cafe owner for oat milk – the 3rd time you ask they’ll have it”
- #JustTransitions for animal farmers
- Thoreau: “Do the things which lie nearest to you which are difficult”
- Purity, perfection & journeys
- Greenwashing & ethicswashing
- Effective Altruism & Peter Singer. Obligation or opportunity?
- Tipping the system & switching the default
- The role of journalism.
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