PCRM Research Scientist Takes Pleasurable Kingdom to India
Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., an animal behavior expert and research scientist with PCRM, spent three weeks in India on a 10-city speaking tour on animal sentience and other topics from his book Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good. He lectured at 15 medical colleges and veterinary schools and conducted five press conferences.
Balcombe’s lectures generated keen interest from both students and faculty, and he spoke to more than 1,700 people. He was welcomed at all venues and received many gifts, including fresh flowers and commemorative plates and plaques.
In addition to new findings on animals’ capacity to experience their lives, audiences also learned for the first time about PCRM and its work. Large stacks of PCRM literature were displayed and the supply had run out by the tour’s end. The tour also generated at least 15 articles in such prominent national papers as The Hindu, The Tribune, The Indian Express, and The Times of India.
While there are many more vegetarians in India than in the United States, Balcombe often encountered the misconception that the earth could not sustain a world full of vegetarians. He dispelled this belief by explaining why and how we could feed many more vegetarians than meat-eaters.
The way animals are treated is often more visible in India than in the United States. Dogs and cattle were commonplace, less so pigs, goats, buffalos, and monkeys. Mules and cows are often loaded down with cargo and must share busy streets and highways with modern cars, trucks, and bikes. Dr. Balcombe also saw several young boys with tethered macaque monkeys offering to have them perform tricks for money.
“India is a rich, colorful nation of stark contrasts,” Dr. Balcombe said. “Like everywhere, there is much to be done before social inequalities are resolved and animals get just treatment. But India has the potential to be a world leader in these areas.”