Join Dharma Voices for Animals in Conversation with Thomas Wade Jackson – Saturday 31st July

Register now and join Dharma Voices for Animals on Saturday 31st July 2021 for a special DVA Speakers Series event, In Conversation: With Thomas Wade Jackson, director of the award-winning, feature-length documentary, A Prayer for Compassion, and Bob Isaacson, President and Co-Founder of Dharma Voices for Animals.

When you register, you will be given access to a free screening of A Prayer for Compassion to watch before the webinar.

Further information here

AIA writes Open Letter to AstraZeneca and Glaxosmithkline urging the use of Non Animal Testing Methods

On 2 July 2021 the Animal Interfaith Alliance wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive of AstraZeneca urging the use of non animal testing methods instead of relying on outdated animal models. They sent the same letter to the Chief Executive of Glaxosmithkline. The letter is reproduced here:

2 July 2021


Dear Pascal Soriot, 

We, the Animal Interfaith Alliance, a group of 17 faith-based animal advocacy organisations (listed below), write to you in your capacity as CEO of AstraZeneca to ask you to engage in a genuine dialogue concerning some of the corporate practices of your company.

We appeal first and foremost to your corporate social responsibility, generally defined as the self-regulation of a business model that helps a company be socially and morally accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the public.  

The specific issue we wish to raise is the use of animals used to develop and test new pharmaceutical products intended for human use. We fully realise that the use of animals is currently a legal requirement, based on national and international regulations. These regulatory requirements can be traced back to the Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg at the end of the Second World War, 1946 (1).

Science has moved forward since then by 75 years, but the laws have not yet caught up with the science. The result of this legal inertia is a continued reliance on outdated and unreliable animal testing, which can be summed up in the following paragraph:

“In 2004, the FDA estimated that 92 percent of drugs that pass preclinical tests, including “pivotal” animal tests, fail to proceed to the market. More recent analysis suggests that, despite efforts to improve the predictability of animal testing, the failure rate has actually increased and is now closer to 96 percent. The main causes of failure are lack of effectiveness and safety problems that were not predicted by animal tests” (2).

Not only is the continued use of animals responsible for an enormous amount of avoidable animal suffering but it is also responsible for a significant incidence of human adverse drug reactions (3). This is not surprising in view of our current knowledge of inter and even intra-species differences, based on genomics, complexity theory and evolutionary biology (4).

The following paragraph makes the connection between animal testing and shareholder expectations:

“Pharmaceutical firms seek to fulfil their responsibilities to stakeholders by developing drugs that treat diseases. We evaluate the social and financial costs of developing new drugs relative to the realized benefits and find the industry falls short of its potential. This is primarily due to legislation-mandated reliance on animal test results in early stages of the drug development process, leading to a mere 10 percent success rate for new drugs entering human clinical trials. We cite hundreds of biomedical studies from journals including Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Medical Association to show animal modelling is ineffective, misleading to scientists, unable to prevent the development of dangerous drugs, and prone to prevent the development of useful drugs.” (5).

The pharmaceutical industry is best placed to make the paradigm change needed to replace outdated and unreliable animal tests with human relevant test methods, including human 3D cell culture, organs on chips, pharmacogenomics, and similar 21st century technologies that were previously unavailable.

Only the pharmaceutical industry has the resources to scientifically validate human based test methods and steer them through the regulatory framework.

The development, manufacture and mass marketing of the COVID-19 vaccine was achieved in just 10 months instead of the normal 10 to 15 years. The pharmaceutical industry has already had 75 years in which to replace animal tests. Now is the time to invest some of the profits made from the COVID-19 vaccine and to improve Big Pharma reputations by using the non-animal tests that are currently available, whilst establishing a group of committed scientists dedicated to the creation of new non-animal methodologies. We are sure you will agree that this would represent a win-win situation for your company, for human health and for animal welfare.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Gardner

CE Animal Interfaith Alliance



Animal Interfaith Alliance – Member Organisations:

Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals

Bhagvatinandji Education and Health Trust

Catholic Concern for Animals

Christian Vegetarians and Vegans UK

Christian Vegetarian Association US

Dharma Voices for Animals UK

Institute of Jainology

International Ahimsa Organisation

Animals in Islam

Jewish Vegetarian Society UK

Mahavir Trust

Oshwal Association of the UK

Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals

Quaker Concern for Animals

Romeera Foundation

Sadhu Vaswani Centre

Young Jains

Peter Singer Prize Award to Dr Richard D. Ryder – See the video!

On Saturday 29th May 2021, Dr Richard Ryder (AIA’s President) was awarded the 7th Peter Singer Prize for strategies to reduce the suffering of animals. The video of the event can be viewed here.

The prize was founded by Dr Walter Neussel who sadly passed away just days before the event and we would like to express our deepest sympathies to his family and our sincerest gratitude to Walter for the work he has done to promote animal rights through the foundation of the Peter Singer prize.

Peter Singer was the keynote speaker and had been the winner of the first Peter Singer prize. The ceremony was introduced by Udo Neussel (Walter Neussel’s son) and moderated by Prof. Edna Hillmann, professor for Animal Husbandry at Humboldt University in Berlin. It included talks from key players in the animal rights movement including:

Dr H.C. Dieter Birnbacher of the Institute of Philosophy at Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf on “Speciesism – a Re-Evaluation”;

Prof Dr Bernd Ladwig of the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, Berlin on “Why the Critique of Speciesism should not be based on the Argument from Human Marginal Cases”;

Dr Colette Vogeler, Chair of Comparative Politics and Public Policy, Technical University at Braunschweig on “The Role of Farm Animal Welfare in Agricultural Policies in International Comparative Perspective”; and

Marlene Thleme, Founder of the Dutch Party for the Animals on “Why the World Needs a Political Party on Animals”.

Further information about Dr Ryder and the prize can be read here.

World Day Against Speciesism and World Environment Day

As we celebrate World Environment Day on June 5th, we should not overlook the significance of its connection to the World Day Against Speciesism, also on June 5th. So much of our environmental damage is the result of our disregard for our fellow species with whom we share the Creation. Because we eat them, we destroy natural environments and burn down virgin forests to create land to grow crops to feed them. We may think that by putting them in factory farms we are saving space, but we need significantly more space to grow crops to inefficiently feed farmed animals than we would need simply to feed ourselves directly.

Speciesism is the irrational prejudice that puts humans on a pedestal. It assumes humans are superior to all other species and have the right to exploit them and make them suffer for our needs and wants. It is a prejudice similar to sexism or racism. The term was coined by the psychologist, ethicist, writer and political animal lobbyist, Dr Richard D. Ryder in 1970.

For those looking for a way to help the environment on World Environment Day, consider the way we treat our fellow creatures. By extending our circle of compassion to include them, we will do much to end their suffering and save planet Earth.

Save The Asian Elephants: A New Law Beckons – by Duncan McNair KHS

“Don’t bother – elephants are finished.”

“You must be joking. Anyway it’s India’s problem.”

“It’s big money talking, and you’ll never change that.”

“Surely the travel industry will sort it out if you ask them?”

These were amongst the unpromising responses enjoined on me after returning from my first trip to India, in 2014, to assess for myself the horrors to Asian elephants in modern tourism of which I had started hearing and, appalled, urging that something must be done.

The sad refrain had some truth: the species is indeed in desperate peril. Yes too, vested interests like the UK travel industry could do so much, and so could India and the other range states. But these are not policies if nothing is being done. And the UK cannot compel a mighty sovereign State like India, less still Sri Lanka, Thailand or Myanmar, to adopt our own ideals of elephant welfare – aside from the UK’s own cupboards rattling with skeletons like brutal industrialised farming or a legacy of trophy hunting.

India has excellent animal welfare laws, according elephants the highest degree of protection, but they are widely circumvented by political interference and protection of vested interests.

But, I thought, surely the world’s most revered species, the Asian elephant, need not – should not – meet its end under the cruellest of all animal abuse, babies screaming and crying under extreme torture to break their spirits (known as “pajan”) for easy use in tourism?

Back in London I tramped and trailed round many animal welfare organisations searching for a star to hitch my wagon to, but received reproofs. One charity urged me to be realistic and not waste time. A Government minister charged with animal welfare issues told me she had far better things to do than help elephants.

But I started receiving encouragement too, and exhortation. It was so plain that public awareness of the horrors was so low yet when people heard of them, they were as appalled as I. So in early 2015 Save The Asian Elephants was born, with an immediate strategy by every means to drive up awareness of facts omitted from all travel brochures and websites, draped over for years with a mantle of secrecy. After all, in a functioning democracy a proper cause constantly advanced, linked to coherent, credible policies, should prevail over time.

Without funds STAE developed an ethos of voluntary, unpaid help – no wages or perks for anyone, and working off the lowest cost base. Just passion and commitment.

A wonderful team of eminences and experts soon emerged from every quarter, and many others of all ages and specialisms. My childhood dreams of a veterinary career (I had spent forever in libraries poring over the lives of famous vets then seeking them out via the telephone directory hoping for inspirational meetings) were dashed when my ineptitude at sciences became evident. But later I could see my life as a lawyer having worth far beyond fighting for my clients. I was thankful others of my profession came forward to join STAE.

Policies were developed that were not contingent on concurrence of vested interests or governments of indigenous states, but on what we in the UK could achieve by relentless exposition of the facts and proper pressure upon government.

A landmark policy of STAE’s (alongside those previously outlined in Animal Spirit) is new law: to ban the advertising, promotion and sale of unethical Asian elephant-related venues. Self-regulation by the travel industry having failed, and endless promises of change broken, compulsion of law is essential to stem supply (and then demand) of the vast trade in such abuse. Shockingly, to date STAE has identified over 1,000 tour companies promoting 210 venues where extreme brutality is committed to baby and adult elephants to hundreds of thousands of UK tourists. Abused elephants regularly attack and kill. These fetid places are also a storm of risks for tourists to acquire deadly airborne viruses like Covid 19 as well as TB that broken down elephants readily transmit through coughing, sneezing and spraying water.

STAE has been in ongoing negotiation with the Prime Minister’s officials and government departments on our Asian Elephants (Tourism) Bill, drafted for Lord Zac Goldsmith. Hopes of new law soon for the UK are running high based on government assurances. Polls show STAE’s Bill is backed by 90% of Britons, confirmed by STAE’s petition and others aligned to it running at 32 million signatures, and 100 people and organisations of influence including all the major faiths of SE Asia.

STAE considers this law transposable to other countries across the West and beyond. Together they can stem this tide of abuse. And although Asian elephants suffer uniquely from abusive tourism, such law can stand adapted for other species too.

Who knows the destiny of this ancient species, denizens of the Earth long before Man? But what Man has done so wrong, he can put right. Whilst Christian precepts apply to the protection of all of God’s creation, no religious faith is needed to believe that we should stand and fight for these gentle creatures, “megagardeners of the forests” on which we all rely. We hope and pray there is time for the elephants.

Duncan McNair KHS

Duncan McNair KHS is a lawyer and founder and CEO of Save The Asian Elephants (07852 416696).

STAE’s petition for change can be signed at:

Suggested cut and paste letters of support to Minister Zac Goldsmith and to your MP are at: and

Peter Singer Prize Awarded to AIA President Dr Richard Ryder

Congratulations to AIA’s President, Dr Richard Ryder for being awarded the 7th Peter Singer Prize for strategies to reduce the suffering of animals.  This will be awarded on Saturday 29th May 2021.  We would also like to congratulate Maneka Gandhi who is being awarded the 6th Peter Singer prize.

Why is Richard Ryder Being Honoured?
Dr Richard Ryder is an English animal rights advocate, psychologist and writer. He has a special place in the history of the Animal Rights Movement. With the term “speciesism” he described the exclusion of nonhuman animals from the protections available of human beings and created with this word a central idea in the movement.

Richard Ryder first became involved with animal rights in 1969. As an animal researcher he criticized experiments on animals based on his own experiences in universities. Together with other postgraduate students at Oxford he reconsidered our attitudes and practices regarding animals. An important part of this new way of thinking about animals of the members of the so-called “Oxford Vegetarians” or the “Oxford Group” was that there is a parallel between the attitudes most of us have towards animals and the racist and sexist attitudes being rejected nowadays by almost everyone. Jeremy Bentham’s (the founder of utilitarianism) famous footnote “But the question is not, Can they (the animals) reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?” was not famous at all at that time. The question, how the suffering of animals could be less significant than the suffering of members of our own species affected also the young Peter Singer, who approached Richard Ryder and asked him to co-author with him. Ryder turned down this offer, but his term “speciesism” was popularized by Peter Singer’s most important book “Animal Liberation”, published in 1975. In coining the word speciesism, Richard Ryder achieved a very important contribution and refocused an entire debate about the relationship of humans to their fellow animals, with greatly beneficial consequences both to the debate and to the animals everywhere.

Ryder’s accomplishments in the field of animal rights are extensive. ln 1972 he joined the council of the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). ln 1977, he became its chairman and tried to get rid of reactionary and prohunting elements within the organization. In the early 2000s Richard Ryder established the Eurogroup for Animals, the major coordinating and lobbying organization in the European community in this field. In 1990, he described in his book “Painism – A Modern Morality” his wider moral theory.

Why is Maneka Gandhi Being Honoured?
Maneka Gandhi was and is doing for animals what Mahatma Gandhi did for the people of India.

She is the widow of Sanjay Gandhi, who was an Indian politician and the son of Indira Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi died in an airplane crash in 1980. At the time Maneka was only 23 years old and mother of a 3-month-old baby boy, Varun.

After this stroke of fate she singlehandedly paved the way for animal welfare in India with unprecedented energy.
She is the founder and chairperson of People for Animals (PFA), which is India’s largest welfare organization with about 250,000 members. The PFA runs a nationwide network of 165 units, 26 hospitals and 60 mobile units throughout India. Maneka Gandhi also revived and headed the Committee on the Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA).

She was responsible for the ban of cruel animal testing methods for cosmetic products in India and successfully initiated public interest ligations to protect animals in the Supreme Court of India.

Maneka Gandhi was Union Minister in Indian Cabinets four times:
1989 – 1991 Minister for Environment and Forests,
1998 – 1999 Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment
2001 – 2002 Minister of State, Culture and for Programme
Implantation and Statistics with additional charge of animal care (the first Animal Welfare Ministry in the world)
2014 – 2019 Minister of Women and Child Development

In addition to her political work Maneka Gandhi is a journalist, initiator of films and TV programs, as well as author of more than 20 books about plants, environment, vegetarianism and animals. She is also co-author of the renowned work “Animal Laws in India“. Among her more than 30 national and international awards, she was voted “Recipient of the Vegetarian of the Year 1995“.

About Peter Singer
Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics and one of the most highly regarded philosophers in the animal rights movement.

His book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, is considered a classic in the modern animal rights movement. It has been translated into more than 20 languages all over the world and has a total circulation of more than one million copies. In his work Singer primarily criticizes anthropocentricism (speciesism), which is the root of animal-abusive factory farming and unethical animal testing.

In his book The Most Good You Can Do, published in 2015, Singer promotes the targeted use of time and money to hit three essential goals:

  1. The fight against poverty in developing countries.
  2. The reduction of animal suffering, primarily in factory farming.
  3. Taking measures that are essential in ensuring the long-term future of our planet.
    Harvard professor Joshua Greene considers Peter Singer the world’s most influential living philosopher.
    On the 26th of May, 2015 Professor Peter Singer was the first winner of our award, which was named after him.

Goals Associated with this Award
After World War II, factory farming, with all of its animal abusive side effects and increasing brutality, managed to establish globally. Due to the lack of a global government with internationally binding laws, companies operating on a global level do not apply adequate regulation to prevent most severe human and animal exploitation. The result is the freedom to undercut every moral standard on the global market.

The demands for stronger growth in the gross national product are best accomplished by a rapidly expanding population. However, in a few decades this disastrous growth of population will lead to a collapse of civilized living conditions on earth if we don’t put an end to this.

The population is increasing by around 230,000 people daily. With them the number of animals kept under horrific conditions in industrial farming is going up, too. Around 65 billion farm animals are slaughtered and about 85 billion fishes and other sea animals are caught annually worldwide. The climate change is closely related to the increasing emission of gases, that impair our environmental conditions and our quality of life continually to a foreseeable point of no return. The excessive consumption of meat and the associated animal factory farming create more harmful gases than all forms of transportation in the world combined, including air, water and land.

Having in mind that one person alone can only do very little to help the animals, the “Peter Singer Association for Strategies to Reduce the Suffering of Animals” honours those, who have contributed by innovative strategies in philosophical, political, medical or legal publications or other activities to reduce these sufferings in a qualitative and quantitative manner. The award has an honourable and financial value.

This prize is meant as a powerful signal to encourage everybody to reflect and act in order to avoid and reduce unnecessary suffering not only for humans and pets, but for all sentient living beings.