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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 065. | February 01, 2024
065: The Ethics of Veganism with Dr. Lisa Kemmerer
065: The Ethics of Veganism with Dr. Lisa Kemmerer

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“All sentient beings share a profound interconnectedness,” serves as the guiding principle for Dr. Lisa Kemmerer. In a captivating conversation with Dr. Frank Sabatino on the latest NHA Health Science podcast episode, Dr. Kemmerer delves into her life’s work.

Explaining that she prefers “anymal” to convey inclusion of all sentient beings, it is obvious that Dr. Kemmerer is willing to take a stand on issues others shy away from.

As a distinguished figure in the realms of anymal ethics and social justice activism, Dr. Kemmerer shares a journey marked by diverse experiences, academic accomplishments, and a steadfast commitment to hands-on advocacy. Her insights offer a deep understanding of the complex relationships interweaving anymal welfare, environmental concerns, and broader social justice issues.

Early Influences and Childhood

Dr. Kemmerer’s affinity for anymal ethics traces back to her childhood in Conway, Washington. Growing up surrounded by a menagerie of anymals, her connection with nature and compassion for all living beings took root. Family values and her sister’s early activism ignited the spark that would fuel her lifelong dedication to anymal advocacy.

Academic Pursuits and Travels

Embarking on an academic journey, Dr. Kemmerer pursued International Studies at Reed College before delving into Comparative Religions at Harvard and earning a Ph.D. in philosophy, specializing in anymal ethics at the University of Glasgow. Her extensive travels, including a two-year Watson Fellowship exploration, exposed her to diverse cultures and shaped her global perspective.

The Evolution of Veganism

Dr. Kemmerer’s journey into veganism unfolded in her early twenties when a PETA flyer from her sister shed light on the treatment of anymals in the meat industry. Embracing a vegan lifestyle presented challenges due to limited alternatives at the time. However, her commitment deepened, recognizing the interconnected nature of dietary choices with global issues like poverty and resource allocation.

Academic Exploration and Research

The decision to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy with a focus on anymal ethics marked a pivotal moment in Dr. Kemmerer’s academic trajectory. Her research delved into the works of influential ethicists, connecting the dots between ethics, religions, and environmental concerns. This academic exploration laid the groundwork for her future activism.

Social Justice Activism

Retiring from a 20-year teaching career in 2020, Dr. Kemmerer transitioned to full-time social justice activism with Tapestry, the vegan educational organization she founded. Her advocacy extends beyond anymal rights to encompass broader social justice issues, addressing the interconnected challenges facing humanity, anymals, and the environment.

Pondering the Moral Boundaries of Anymal Confinement

Dr. Kemmerer dug deep into the moral complexities of anymal confinement, even within sanctuaries. She highlighted the challenge of determining what truly serves the best interests of anymals, emphasizing the complexity of decision-making on their behalf. Her experiences in sanctuaries across Africa and Asia reinforced the notion that, like humans, anymals have individual preferences, and some may find confinement distressing.

Personhood for Anymals

Addressing the evolving concept of personhood for anymals, Dr. Kemmerer emphasized the uniqueness of each being. Recognizing individuality and sentience in anymals, she questioned the ethical implications of making decisions for other beings without a true understanding of their preferences and needs.

A Call for Awareness and Change

Dr. Lisa Kemmerer’s journey from childhood in rural Washington to the forefront of anymal ethics and social justice activism is a testament to the transformative power of personal experiences and academic exploration. Her call for a deeper understanding of oppression, recognition of individuality in anymals, and ethical decision-making in the pursuit of social justice resonates as a powerful message in a world facing interconnected challenges.

As Dr. Kemmerer continues her work with Tapestry, her holistic approach to advocacy serves as an inspiration for those seeking meaningful change in the realms of ethics, compassion, and justice. Tapestry’s unique philosophy, commitment to knowledge accessibility, and collaborative efforts stand as pillars in building a more just and compassionate world.

Episode Highlights

[02:30]             Three types of vegans.           

[03:30]             Animal compassion started on a farm in rural Washington.

[05:45]             Learning struggles create a catalyst for world travel.

[08:00]             Experiential living is the foundation of Dr. Kemmerer’s life’s work.

[15:45]             A perspective on social justice.

[18:20]             Animal rights for incarcerated sentient beings.

[25:25]             Animals and world religion… advocating for a vegan world.

[33:00]             Transforming social injustice.

[36:15]             Everyone has their place and their part in compassion.

[39:00]             We owe the world hope.

About Dr. Lisa Kemmerer

Internationally known for her work in animal ethics, Dr. Lisa Kemmerer is the founder of the educational, vegan umbrella organization, Tapestry. With a Master of Theological Studies in Comparative Religions (Harvard) and a Ph.D. in philosophy (specializing in animal ethics at Glasgow University, in Scotland), Kemmerer taught for 20 years at the university level. She has written more than 100 articles/anthology chapters and 10 books, including In Search of Consistency, Animals and World Religions, Sister Species, and Eating Earth. Dr. Kemmerer retired in July of 2020 to become a full-time social justice activist with Tapestry.

Dr. Kemmerer’s sense of wonder in nature, smallness of self, and simplicity of lifestyle were enhanced by climbing and backpacking, month-long kayak trips, a bicycle trip from Washington to Alaska, and several close brushes with an early end.

Travel abroad also shaped her worldview. She worked as a forest fire fighter and nurse’s aide in a nursing home to buy a ticket to the South Pacific, where she hitchhiked around, listening to the views of hundreds of diverse locals. She also traveled parts of Asia, where her understanding of time, “necessities,” and community were altered by rural Burma and Bangladesh and in little villages on the high ridges of Nepal.

Dr. Kemmerer earned her undergraduate degree in International Studies at Reed College, where she founded her first anymal activist organization and earned a competitive Watson Fellowship that took her on a two-year journey to explore the place of women and anymals in religions. She ventured to remote monasteries and temples in northern China, spent a month at the Dalai Lama’s school in north India, visited holy sites in Israel, stayed with Palestinians and visited patients at a West Bank hospital, and traveled to remote hermitages in mountain ranges of Egypt and Turkey.

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About Dr. Frank Sabatino

As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr. Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr. Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.

Dr. Sabatino’s passion and life’s work include raising awareness about the benefits of whole-food, plant-exclusive nutrition (without added salt, oil, or sugar), health rejuvenation and stress management.

About NHA

The National Health Association (NHA), founded in 1948, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet. The Association provides educational materials, educational events, and services to thousands of people around the world.

The mission of the National Health Association is to educate and empower individuals to understand that health results from healthful living. The NHA recognizes the integration of all aspects of health: personal, environmental, and social.

The NHA also provides travel experiences around the globe through the NHA Plant-Based Travel and cruise division.

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A unique benefit of the NHA Conference is the selection of two medical students who receive a full scholarship to the conference.

Contact Wanda Huberman for more information on how to apply for the scholarship.  [email protected]

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For a very nominal investment, you can enjoy incredible benefits of the NHA membership.

Members of the NHA enjoy a subscription to the award-winning quarterly health journal, Health Science, access to the “Members Only” section of the NHA Website (which contains all 43 years of back issues of the magazine),  the ability to download for free many classic out of print eBooks on the history of the Natural Hygiene Movement, including Fasting Can Save Your Life and The Greatest Health Discovery, discounts on books, and early notice of the NHA events.

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