Ancient Futures
Ancient Futures
Compassion in Action – Panel Discussion

Compassion in Action – Panel Discussion

An event at the Oxford Literary Festival, titled "Religion and Animal Welfare"

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It’s not often I get asked to speak before a former archbishop, so I was honoured to join this discussion at the Oxford Literary Festival.

Discussing animal welfare at Pusey House Chapel

The event was co-organised by Compassion in World Farming, whose former chief executive Joyce D’Silva has written a book about the treatment of animals in major world religions. It’s a comprehensive guide to some inspiring ideas – as well as to why they aren’t always observed.

Joyce spoke first, aiming “to challenge and encourage religious leaders and followers to reexamine their teachings and put the welfare of animals back on the agenda”. She was followed by Dr. Amir Khan – a wildlife advocate and Muslim who works as a GP, author and broadcaster.

Then it was my turn – in theory, presenting a Hindu perspective, but as I explained, I’m not a Hindu myself. So I focused on ideas about non-harming that have influenced yogis, Buddhists and Jains, while quoting from texts such as the Bhagavad Gītā.

Last up was Lord Carey of Clifton, archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, who spoke about critiques of Christianity’s focus on humans, and how things are changing. We then had a broader discussion chaired by Francine Stock, a former presenter of the BBC’s Newsnight. Scroll down for a video.

I’ve since become a signatory of the CIWF Vision for Fair Food and Farming, which covers the following:

  1. Good health by ensuring universal access to sufficient and nutritious food.

  2. Sustainable farming methods, which support rural livelihoods and relieve poverty.

  3. Protection for the planet and its precious resources: soil, water, forest and biodiversity.

  4. Reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from agriculture.

  5. Humane farming methods which promote the health and natural behaviour of sentient animals and avoid causing them pain and suffering.

  6. Reduced consumption of animal products in high-consuming populations to meet environmental, health and sustainability goals.

We also talked about the Charter for Compassion – see here for more details. And to explore how philosophies of yoga alleviate suffering, join me for a course at

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Ancient Futures
Ancient Futures
Timeless wisdom for modern dilemmas, combining critical thinking with yoga philosophy and practical insights. Hosted by Daniel Simpson.