059 Atheism & Veganism: an Interview with Kim Socha

VWPA welcomes honorary Vegan Warrior Princess Kim Socha to the show to talk about atheism and veganism: why atheists should be vegan, why they aren’t, and overlapping problems in both movements.  

In This Episode

Kim Socha blew the doors off VWPA industries with her stellar interview. We talked about atheism and veganism, veganism and religion, sexism in the atheist and vegan movements, and many other big topics. Kim published Animal Liberation and Atheism: Dismantling the Procrustean Bed, a book that inspired many of the topics discussed during the episode. If you enjoyed this interview with Kim, we highly recommend purchasing her book to delve further into these, and other, fascinating subjects.   Kim Socha, Ph.D., is a community college professor, animal advocate, and social justice activist. She has written multiple books, including Animal Liberation and Atheism: Dismantling the Procrustean Bed, Confronting Animal Exploitation: Grassroots Essays on Liberation and Veganism, and Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde: A Paradigm for Animal Liberation ; and has been published in several publications on the topics of atheism, critical animal studies, veganism, feminism, and radical pedagogy. Find out more about Kim Socha on her Amazon page, or email her at [email protected].

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    • Regarding pain being “reason enough” to opt out of childbirth: why does anyone need “enough” reason at all? Any reason at all is reason enough to make decisions about one’s own body imo.
    • I was so glad to hear an episode that related veganism and atheism, since I’m a vegan atheist. A lot of vegans I know are atheists, but NOT the other way around. So many atheists (at least on podcasts I listen to) ridicule veganism. That being said, I do see a lot of “woo woo spirituality” in my vegan circles. For example, someone who I met in my vegan meetup group was telling me about a farming technique he learned that is even better than organic because the plants are grown in the “correct” spiritual way. I belong to a facebook group called “woo free vegans,” which was created in response to the prevalence of pseudoscience in vegan communities. Have you two addressed that at all? I would love to hear your take on it. I think that when people associate veganism with reiki and other pseudoscience, it discredits our arguments.
        • I totally agree that some vegans make the woo too much a part of the movement, when it’s not. But, I also get frustrated with atheists who are so afraid of the woo that they label *everything* woo. Drugs were developed from plants, initially, so why is it so crazy that something like essential oils might be useful in certain situations? Why is it acceptable to use aloe for a sunburn, or drink ginger ale for a tummy ache, but using lavender oil for a sunburn or a digestive blend (with ginger in it!) is “woo”? Lots of people use tea tree oil for things like canker sores and acne, is that woo? I hope more studies are being done to show that some alternative treatments (that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years) have validity. I think there’s a definite difference between using woo to “pray cancer away” and using, say, acupuncture to relieve pain (only thing that has ever worked for my back, including chiropractic care and heavy drugs). I have also had great luck with Chinese herbs for menstrual issues after several doctor’s visits did nothing to help. Since atheists are critical thinkers, it would be nice if, as a community, as a whole, they could step back and separate the woo from reasonable, logical arguments to the morality and efficacy of a vegan lifestyle, and stop rejecting the movement outright because of some pieces that they don’t like, that don’t actually have anything to do with the movement itself. Sigh, we’ll get there! I think both groups are working on being more open and accepting, I hope that new waves of both movements will bring us all closer together 🙂 Thank you for listening and thank you for commenting!!!
        • PS – that farmer sounds ridiculous. That definitely is the type of woo that needs to go!
            • Thanks for the feedback! I didn’t know that people consider essential oils to be “woo.” Of course plants have medicinal properties! Personally I see nothing weird about putting lavender on a sunburn. I put lavender oil on bee stings, and I drink chamomile tea for its calming effects. I’m sick of the word “woo,” but since people use it maybe we should all get more on the same page about what we even mean by it. I think you’re right that more studies are needed, and if people are more open-minded on all sides it will bring the movement(s) together.
    • I just listened to the second half of the episode, and “woo” was addressed a lot, so disregard my question about whether or not you will address it. 🙂 I am a scientist, and I’m on the skeptical side of things, but yes there should be more conversations.
    • Culturally, you don’t talk about religion and politics at the dinner table. I think this extends to gender norms as well as ethics of diet. For many people, it seems like it’s not really acceptable to have an in depth conversation about these things anywhere. I am uncertain of the source of this stigma. At first, I thought it was that people did not feel confident in their beliefs, so they didn’t want to risk a crisis of faith. Now, I think this is granting too much credit, and people are just raised in a culture where they’re taught not to discuss and by extension think about these topics. I believe this is one of the main factors making it so challenging to have a conversation about any of these topics with people. It’s like getting a kid to try vegetables. They already know what they think about vegetables, and so even when they “taste” a vegetable they do not fully consider that experience to inform their opinion of the vegetable. I’d been thinking about this a bit lately and expected this episode to touch on this relation (although it was a very good episode all the same). It is somewhat related to woo in the sense of atheists cherry-picking explanations to fit their current norms, but that doesn’t really address the source of the barrier. I also think atheism is more common because it is a more comfortable concept to question in the sense that the result of not having to go to church or perform some positive behavior might be convenient whereas totally changing your diet/lifestyle is not so convenient. What do you both think?
    • I just listened to this podcast. Totally amazing, as all your shows seem to be. Even my husband enjoyed it and was saddened when it was over. Granted he got home about 2/3rds of the way through it and was almost done with his chores when it ended. He said, “It needs 10 more minutes” before scurrying off to vacuum. There was a mention in the earlier portion of the podcast about the VWPA having their own atheist group. I would be interested in joining if it is still active. Please advise on how to find the group.

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