Reflections from the On Animals North American Book Tour

by David Clough

The On Animals North American book tour is complete! In numbers: 31 days, lectures and seminars at 21 venues, combined audience of over 1000, 9 institutional food policy meetings, well over 100 books distributed.

I'm most grateful to hosts for the warm welcome received at each stop: Yale Divinity School, Boston University School of Theology, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Law School, Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville MD, Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, University of Virginia, High Point University, Duke Divinity School, Wheaton College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Notre Dame University, Santa Clara University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, University of San Diego, Regent College Vancouver, Vancouver Humane Society, and University of Victoria. Thanks too to Ilana Braverman for her expert coordination of the tour, and my CreatureKind co-director Sarah Withrow King who co-directed and accompanied.

Remarkably, in every venue, across a very wide range of theological perspectives and convictions, audiences responded enthusiastically to the argument that Christians have strong faith-based reasons to reduce consumption of animal products and move to higher welfare sourcing, and showed willingness to make practical changes in response. This gives me a great deal of hope that CreatureKind can be successful in catalysing change so that it becomes routine for Christian institutions to attend to their consumption of animal products as a faith issue. If you know of institutions interested in getting help from CreatureKind to engage in this area, please get in touch.

Excitingly, the positive response to this tour has helped confirm plans for a follow-up speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand in June 2019, which will take me to Brisbane, Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, and possibly Hobart. If you live in Australia or New Zealand and would like to assist with book tour events there (set-up, sign-up, book donations), please send us a message with the subject line: Book Tour Help.

If you're interested in seeing or sharing the lecture, here’s the recording from Notre Dame. Please do share widely!

Video: Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing at the University of Notre Dame
 

Reflections from the Road

by Sarah Withrow King

CreatureKind spent the latter part of December and the first week of January on the road, exhibiting and talking to attendees of Intervarsity’s Urbana Missions Conference and the Society of Christian Ethics annual meeting (held in conjunction with the Society of Jewish Ethics and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics).

For me, these two very different events highlighted both the success and deep need for the work of CreatureKind.

At Urbana, we spoke with hundreds of college students, the vast majority of whom had never thought about the connection between faith and animals. Throughout the event, it was clear that there is a profound need for CreatureKind’s work to encourage Christians to recognize faith-based reasons for caring about the wellbeing of fellow animal creatures used for food, and to take practical action in response.

A small number of students were thrilled to see us. One vegetarian said she, “thought I was the only one!” Another student gestured at our table and said, “I’ve never seen this as a Christian thing! But it’s something that I’m interested in.”

Other students, many of whom were studying animal science or agriculture or who hunted for food, approached our display with a bit of suspicion, thinking we might be there to condemn farmers or insist that every Christian must be vegan. These were extraordinary opportunities to demonstrate that CreatureKind’s primary goals are to raise awareness, build bridges, and help Christians make food choices that reflect their values.

From Urbana, we headed straight to Louisville, Kentucky for the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE). Four years ago, CreatureKind held our official launch at SCE. We’re now in conversation with nearly 50 schools and organizations, encouraging these institutions to adopt more animal-friendly food policies driven by Christian values. I am able to work full-time on CreatureKind, and we have a growing team of partners, many of whom are a part of an increasing number of religious educators who include animal ethics in their teaching and preaching. Most of the professors we spoke with at SCE recognized the urgency and importance of helping their students think about factory farming and animal welfare, and the connections between these issues and climate change, food security, immigration, worker justice, environmental racism, and more.

In addition to our table at SCE, where professors could talk with us about our institutional food policy program, CreatureKind held our annual reception (we hosted around 30 people this year, our biggest event to date). David Clough gave a paper called, “Eating More Peaceable: Christianity and Veganism.” And we attended a panel on “Christians and Other Animals: Book Symposium on David Clough's On Animals, Vol II: Theological Ethics (2018), during which Maria Teresa Davila, Eric Gregory, Jennifer Herdt, and Darryl Trimiew offered their responses to David’s new volume. If you are sad that you couldn’t be there in person for this incredible panel discussion, have no fear! The Syndicate Network will be releasing the papers, David’s response, and an introduction by CreatureKind North American Advisory Council member Candace Laughinghouse. Sign up here to stay in the loop. And be sure to check out David’s upcoming North American book tour dates.

So on the one hand, we are in touch with an extraordinarily engaged community of scholars and practitioners who are deeply committed to helping the church re-engage with our call to care for the whole of God’s creation. On the other hand, there is still much work to be done to help Christians make connections between God’s other creatures and our faith. If you want to help us in this important mission, please don’t hesitate to reach out, donate, or share our work with others.

Friends House in London Signs Up to CreatureKind

We were delighted to be at Friends House in London, the centre for Quakers in Britain, to celebrate their signing up to be a CreatureKind institution. Friends House have been leaders in the ethical sourcing of food products, and were the first religious organization to be awarded Compassion in World Farming’s Good Egg and Good Chicken awards. They were enthusiastic about CreatureKind because of our focus on getting institutions to commit to a cycle of identifying strategies to reduce overall consumption of animal products and identify opportunities to move to higher welfare sources for remaining products.

Photo: Friends House / Quaker Centre Cafe

Photo: Friends House / Quaker Centre Cafe

At the launch event, we were joined by Quaker Concern for Animals (QCA), an organization with its origins in Christian opposition to vivisection in the late 19th century. Thom Bonneville of QCA expressed his warm appreciation for this commitment of Friends House and their previous hosting of QCA World Animals Day events.

Friends House provided samples of new vegan items from their menu, which included cashew nut curry, falafels, sausage rolls, and snacks and chocolate. The catering staff at Friends House were recently able to enhance the organization's plant-based offerings with help from a chefs’ training event provided by Humane Society International. The results were quite delicious. 

Photo: Friends House / Quaker Centre Cafe

Photo: Friends House / Quaker Centre Cafe

Photo: Friends House / Quaker Centre Cafe

Photo: Friends House / Quaker Centre Cafe

In his remarks, David described how the current unprecedented extent of livestock farming was bad for humans, bad for animals, and bad for the environment. He noted that in 1900 the total biomass of domesticated animals was around 3.5 times that of all wild land mammals, but by 2000, a fourfold increase in domesticated animals together with a halving in wild animal numbers meant the biomass of domesticated animals had grown to an astonishing 25 times that of wild land mammals, with dramatic effects on increased land use and environmental problems. Unlike many other global problems, David noted this was something we can act to address immediately, as individuals and members of institutions, by reducing consumption of animal products and moving to higher welfare sourcing.

David gave an enthusiastic welcome to the commitment Friends House have made to reduce their consumption of animal products by 20% over two years and look for additional opportunities to move to higher welfare sources for remaining animal products. As part of their commitment, Friends House will also launch a new vegan CreatureKind menu for their events catering.

CreatureKind is in conversation with a number of other institutions and organizations in the UK and North America about signing up to CreatureKind. If you belong to one we should be talking to, do let us know!

CreatureKind Partners with University of Winchester in Groundbreaking New Program

How do you stop factory farming? Reduce the demand. Today, the University of Winchester became the first institution internationally to sign the CreatureKind Commitment, meaning that they have pledged to: 1)  reduce their purchase of animal products; 2) source meat, dairy, and eggs from higher welfare farms for its catering operations on campus; and 3) educate the campus community about why they decided to make these important changes.

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