Kevin is a community vet, based in Ontario, Canada. He grew up in East Africa & Goa, India & then moved to Canada. He has held leadership roles, originally in Catholic community organisations &, more recently, Humanist community organisations.
In these Sentientist Conversations we talk about the two most important questions: “what’s real?” & “what matters?”
Sentientism is “evidence, commitment & compassion for all sentient beings.”
- Growing up in a Roman Catholic Christian, meat-eating family in Goa, India and in East Africa
- The centrality of Catholicism to the community
- Praying for exam success
- Moving to Canada and becoming deeply embedded in the local religious community (inc. The Knights of Columbus)
- Discussing animal ethics with a priest “do they have souls and an afterlife?”
- Rejecting the homophobia of the Knights of Columbus & Catholicism
- Considering the impossibility of “souls”
- 9/11 as a trigger for re-considering Kevin’s religion, morality and purpose
- Telling Kevin’s story in the book “Faith beyond belief”
- Studying science and evolution as a vet, but keeping it separate from faith
- The social challenges of leaving religion (leadership roles, social circles)
- Most friends are still friends. They pray for Kevin’s soul and his return to Catholicism 🙂
- Rejecting not just religious, but all supernatural beliefs
- Lacking atheist role models IRL, getting past the militant atheist groups, but finding connections re: Humanism online & then in person
- Leading a Humanist group for over a decade
- People returning to religion because of a wish for simple ethical standards and a comforting community and roadmap of rituals for their family
- Vet school is oriented towards non-human animal agriculture where harming & killing animals is normalised
- Vet training reduces empathy for non-human animals!
- Realising what a Rumenotomy involves after having seen it as “normal” through vet school
- How humans categorise non-humans for our own ends (farmed, wild, companion, vermin…)
- The average human wants charismatic wild and companion animals to live but farmed animals to die. It’s all about human interests
- Going vegetarian / vegan, initially because of health, then because of ethics
- Starting with one day without animal products…
- Luna the puppy contributes to the discussion
- Taking the perspective of the “other”, regardless of species
- Atheists are more often vegan than average. Vegans are more often atheist than average. Sentientism brings naturalism & sentiocentric ethics together
- Some atheists/humanists are militantly “carnist”, despite supposedly being committed to evidence, reason and compassion. Blind to another form of dogma and indoctrination
- Religion and non-human animal ethics as “kryptonite” for otherwise careful thinkers
- Humanist organisations are starting to mention non-humans
- The inertia of social norms
- Climate & health as additional factors that might help us help non-human animals
- Breaking the dangerous causal link between economic development & animal consumption (vs. Veganuary in the UK/US), using the deep cultural histories of plant-based living as well as advanced tech options
- Adopting a vegan diet might change your whole philosophical worldview!
Sentientism is “Evidence, reason & compassion for all sentient beings.” More at Sentientism.info. Why not help Kevin to normalise rationality and compassion by joining him on 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