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 https://kimstallwood.com/, @grumpyvegan and https://www.instagram.com/kim_stallwood/.
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.”
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”.
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at https://sentientism.info/. Join our “wall” using this simple form.
Everyone interested, Sentientist or not, is welcome to join our groups. Our main one is here on FaceBook.
Thanks to Graham for his post-prod work. Follow him: @cgbessellieu