Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

ARZone Podcast 85: Kim Socha - Animal Liberation and Atheism

Episode 85 features advocate, educator, and author Kim Socha.

Kim Socha, who holds a PhD in English Literature and Criticism, is an English professor working in the US. A grassroots animal liberation advocate, Kim is also active in drug policy reform, and transformative justice.

Kim is the author or editor of 4 books relating to animal rights and veganism including her most recent from 2014, Animal Liberation and Atheism: Dismantling the Procrustean Bed. Prof. Socha joined us to speak about that book, in which she makes the case that adherence to any of the world's major religions is antithetical to an animal liberation perspective and practice. Audio podcast, approx. 52 minutes.

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Tim, you have it almost exactly right. I say "almost" because you could accurately express the idea in even stronger terms. Many leading rabbis have said that the kosher laws were meant as a temporary concession, and that we should have already matriculated ethically to vegetarianism or veganism.

Tim Gier said:

Hi again Jeffrey,

Among other verses, I take it that Isaiah 65:24-25 speak to the ideal you've mentioned? (I'm including the KJV version of those verses here, for anyone who hasn't read them)

24: And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are not speaking, I will hear. 25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock; and dust shall be the serpent's meal. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,saith the Lord.

I have to say that Isaiah contains some beautiful imagery and much powerful prose. After reading it, it's easy for me to remember why the Bible is such an influential work. I'm happy that our discussion caused me to look at it again, so thank you for that.

If I'm getting what you're saying and what's being said in Isaiah, then the idea is that humanity, because of it's imperfect condition, has always been missing the mark with respect to God's plan, however well or poorly humanity may have aimed. So, while it may be permissible, given humanity's imperfection, for it to act in some ways, it's only because of the imperfection that it is permissible. One of the permitted actions, since after the Flood, has been the killing and eating of other animals, but humanity ought to aim away from that, not towards it. Have I got it somewhat right?

Jeffrey Cohan said:

Hi Tim,

Yes, there have been rabbinic disagreements recorded throughout history, but each argument must remain within certain theological boundaries to be considered valid.

A very circumscribed form of meat-eating is permitted within Judaism, while the entire plant kingdom is available to Jews without restriction. 

Further, meat-eating, while permitted in limited form, is described as a concession to human lust, while a plant-based diet is presented as God's design for humankind. 

Among rabbis as a demographic group, you will find a higher percentage of vegetarians and vegans than you will among the general population, for religious reasons. And several of the most influential/famous rabbis over the past 100 years have espoused vegetarianism. 

Everything I'm telling you is mainstream Jewish thought. We're very careful as an organization to hew to a solid theological base, which is why I was so disappointed with Kim's remarks. 


very interesting but when she says that even in a vegan world our government and corporation would still make it impossible the problem is capitalism, not speciesm I think.

It is sad that the author thinks that the nature of living beings is not good. There are a lot of examples that shows that reel altruism exists, and I am sure that she could continue the conversion  with a buddhist such as Mathieu Ricard who do believe in the goodness of living beings.

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