• ‘Sustainability’ ignores non-human animals because they are seen as a renewable ‘resource’. This has devastating consequences for individuals and the environment.
  • Religions should become veganised and truly realise their central premise of compassion.
  • If veganised, large religions that are still powerful in non-western societies could be influential in promoting justice for non-human animals.

Take Home Message

Sustainability ideaology consider non-human animals to be a renewable resource which means they are ignored by the field and religions could play a big role in reducing the oppresion of non-human animals.

Paper's Stats

Animal Status

No animals were harmed for this research.

Narayana argues that sustainability and religion are both found wanting in regards to action for non-human animal justice. This is unfortunately and somewhat at odds with the central premise of both ideologies.

Sustainability views non-human animals, specifically those we use in the animal agriculture industry, as a renewable resource that is practically infinite. This means that farmed animals do not fall into the field of sustainability because they are not scarce. By ignoring farmed animals in the field of sustainability we also ignore the substantial environmental and other costs associated with the practice.

Sign that says Hail Seitan, and tofu, beans and veggies.Religions claim to be compassionate but when it comes to compassion towards non-human animals there is very little to be seen. Narayana provides a critique of common attitudes and justifications held by Christian and Hindu religions regarding the use of non-human animals. The author suggests that for religions to more closely represent their central premise of compassion they need to become veganised and include animal justice within their practice.

Finally, the paper highlights the significant positive impact religions could have for non-human individuals if they became veganised. A majority of humans still follow some sort of religion and their behaviours can be strongly influenced by the religion.

This is not an argument I have seen so clearly presented before. I fear that many secular vegans ignore/denigrate the potential positive impact religions could have for non-human animals because of a dislike of religious institutions. Perhaps it is time we reassess such reactions and consider how animals might be benefited through vaganising religion.

Title: Where are the Animals in Sustainable Development? Religion and the Case for Ethical Stewardship in Animal Husbandry

Authors: Yamini Narayanan

Journal: Sustainable Development

Date Published: May, 2016


Paper Access

Behind Paywall

Research Type

Peer-reviewed research