Online Summit

The 2nd Annual Humane Hoax Online Summit

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Join us for the second annual Humane Hoax Online Summit! We have an awesome line-up of speakers this year, and the best part? You can attend in your PJ’s!

Faced with growing cultural criticism of large-scale animal agriculture, corporations, manufacturers, and consumers alike are turning towards so-called “humane” methods of animal farming and seeking out alternative labels on their animal products. These falsehoods and myths–the Humane Hoax–range from large farms with thousands of animals to your neighbor’s backyard, yet exploitation and suffering are omnipresent in every method of husbandry. The Humane Hoax Online Summit brings together experts on a wide variety of topics in order to expose the Humane Hoax in all its forms.

For our second conference, we will delve deeper into The Humane Hoax with speakers from a range of different perspectives. We will have an activist attorney who has dedicated her practice to pushing for farmed animal justice through false advertising lawsuits and a rescuer who saves male goats destined to die as kids from the goat dairy industry. Regenerative grazing is now the darling of the locavore meat movement touted as the answer to all the problematic concerns of animal agriculture. We will explore this topic with a critical eye and challenge this supposed cure-all. Also joining us will be a religious scholar who will contest the notion of spiritual by-pass in do-it-yourself slaughter where we often here contemplations like, “we prayed for the animal before…” or “we released the animal’s spirit” as compensation for the act of cruelty.

Please join us in January for this inspiring event as we further the needed and necessary conversation of The Humane Hoax!

Saturday, January 18, 2020 (EST)


1:00 – 1:15 pm – Introduction with hosts Hope Bohanec & Justin Van Kleeck

1:15 – 2:00 pm – “Humane Myths and Media: The Reproduction of Speciesism in Mainstream News”
with Lisa Barca, Professor at Arizona State University

2:05 – 2:50 pm – “Fighting Humane-Washing: How to Protect Animals Through Consumer Advocacy”
with Kelsey Eberly, Animal Legal Defense Fund

2:55 – 3:40 pm – “Honor Killing: Spiritual Bypass in DIY Slaughter”
with Cogen Bohanec, PhD Candidate

3:40 – 4:00 pm – BREAK

4:00 – 4:45 pm –”Living In Goatlandia: Stories of ‘Humane’ Farmed Animal Rescue”
with Deborah Blum, Goatlandia Sanctuary

4:50 – 5:35 pm – “The Sustainable Animal Agriculture Hoax Exposed”
with Sailesh Rao, Climate Healers



Lisa Barca: Humane Myths and Media: The Reproduction of Speciesism in Mainstream News”

In accordance with its tendency to promote the status quo and values that align with consumerism and capitalist profit-making, mainstream media play a major role in championing the “humane” exploitation of nonhuman beings (and animal-product consumption generally). This presentation analyzes excerpts from high-profile news outlets such as the New York Times and NPR to show how speciesist ideology and the objectification of nonhuman animals is perpetuated in mass-media sources. It also offers recommendations for journalists and others writing about nonhuman animals.

Lisa Barca is a lecturer in the honors college at Arizona State University, where she teaches humanities and seminars on the ethics of humans’ relationships with other animals. Her current research critiques representations of veganism and nonhuman animals used for food in journalistic media, exposing how speciesist ideology and the commercial interests underlying capitalistic media obscure truthful representations of animals and those committed to protecting their interests. She holds a Ph.D. in romance languages and literatures and has published on topics ranging from modernist poetry to news media coverage of gender-based violence. She is a contributor to the volume Meatsplaining: The Meat Industry and the Rhetoric of Denial, forthcoming from Sydney University Press, and her writing appears in academic journals, anthologies, and popular publications such as Ms. Magazine. She also writes and sings alternative rock songs on animal rights and related topics with her band Scarlet Rescue, whose debut EP, “Animals and Other People,” was released in October 2019.

Kelsey Eberly: “Fighting Humane-Washing: How to Protect Animals Through Consumer Advocacy”

When companies try to persuade people to buy animal products by making false promises that the products are “humane,” “natural,” or cruelty-free,” advocates have a variety of tools at their disposal to stop this humane-washing, including civil lawsuits and regulatory advocacy to combat false advertising and deceptive practices. Kelsey is a staff attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund and will explain these tools and show how advocates can help expose the cruelty—protecting animals suffering in agriculture by holding companies accountable for deceiving consumers.

Kelsey Eberly is a Staff Attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. As a member of the organization’s Litigation Program, Kelsey works to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals using civil litigation and regulatory advocacy. Her practice centers around combatting false advertising and illegal and unfair business practices by animal industries, including the meat industry and pet stores. Kelsey has litigated numerous cases against animal product and puppy sellers, resulting in resolutions that have helped protect animals and stop humane-washing. Kelsey’s commentary has appeared in national news outlets including NBC News, Bloomberg, and The New Republic, and she has written about and presented on diverse animal protection subjects at legal conferences, roundtables, and symposia nationwide.

Kelsey joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund as a Litigation Fellow in 2014 after graduating from UCLA School of Law, where she chaired the UCLA Animal Law Society. Prior to this, she earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Middlebury College, and a graduate certificate in Animal Policy and Advocacy from Humane Society University. Before joining the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Kelsey served as a legal intern with Compassion Over Killing, and a legal extern to the Hon. Justice Laurence D. Rubin of the California Court of Appeal for the Second District.


Cogen Bohanec: “Honor Killing: Spiritual Bypass in DIY Slaughter”

The term “Spiritual Bypass” is generally taken by psychotherapists to refer to ways that people use an appeal to spirituality to rationalize their avoidance of dealing with psychological issues. However, in the field of ethics and theology (aka “theo-ethics”), the connotative range of the term “Spiritual Bypass” might be broadened to include how people appeal to spirituality to justify unethical behavior or a lack of care for things that are not of the spiritual world, including (but not limited to) animals and the environment.

Increasingly people are turning to “do it yourself” (DIY) or “backyard slaughter,” that is, the killing of an animal oneself before consumption, for what they perceive as a more humane experience and often attach “spiritual” motivations and explanations. The result is a sort of spiritual “doublespeak” where by spiritual language is used to obscure the inherently violent nature of the act of taking an animal’s life. Unlike political doublespeak (the original meaning of the term coined by Orwell) that is intended to deceive others, spiritual doublespeak is employed to deceive oneself. Spiritual doublespeak allows the butcher to be the caregiver, the murder to be the savior, and the perpetrator to bypass the cognitive dissonance, philosophical contradiction, and irrational and untenable theology that lies within the executioner.

Cogen Bohanec is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Center for Dharma Studies (CDS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, CA. He holds a MA in Buddhist Studies from the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) at GTU. His dissertation work is on systematic Hindu theo-ethics, with an emphasis on environmental ethics and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. He is an adjunct professor in Sanskrit at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and also teaches World Religions, Dharma Studies, and Classical Humanities at American River College in Sacramento. Cogen has spent nearly two decades studying, practicing and teaching a variety of Eastern Religions (Yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, etc.). He has studied and translated Sanskrit literature for over eight years academically, with over five years at UC Berkeley, and has studied both Yoga and Sanskrit in India. He is the co-author of The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat? with his wife Hope Bohanec, with whom he has collaborated for fifteen years in the Animal Rights Movement.


Deborah Blum: “Living In Goatlandia: Stories of ‘Humane’ Farmed Animal Rescue”

From goats rescued off small-scale goat dairy farms to pigs saved from backyard slaughter, every resident at Goatlandia has a story. And most of their stories expose the terrible truth behind small-scale, “humane” animal farming, showing that there is no humane way to commodify sentient beings bodies and make a profit. Deb Blum has dedicated herself to creating a loving home for dozens of permanent residents and helps rescue hundreds more from the all too common fires now in Northern California. Join Deb and hear about her powerful hands-on work exposing the Humane Hoax.

Deborah Blum is the founder and Executive Director at Goatlandia Farm Animal Sanctuary in Santa Rosa. Deborah has lived an exciting life with varied careers having been a fashion designer, a commercial pilot, and a restaurateur, but moved to Santa Rosa to fulfill her dream of living with goats and enjoying a more relaxed, country lifestyle. After becoming vegan in 2012, she decided to rescue more animals; in particular, other farmed animals including chickens, sheeps, ducks and pigs. What started as a passion grew into a non profit rescue and education organization that also does vegan catering and food events, animal therapy, and much more. Goatlandia is a sanctuary and non-profit that is a happy forever home to 29 goats, 7 pigs, 50 chickens, 4 sheep, 3 ducks, and 3 dogs. Goatlandia has recently partnered with two young and talented organic farmers on a new venture. The three of them, along with Deborah’s new husband, just purchased a new property in Sebastopol where they will create a larger sanctuary and a working organic vegetable farm.

Sailesh Rao: “The Sustainable Animal Agriculture Hoax Exposed”

 Sailesh Rao is the Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, a non-profit dedicated towards healing the Earth’s climate. A systems specialist with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Dr. Rao worked on the internet communications infrastructure for twenty years after graduation. In 2006, he switched careers and became deeply immersed, full time, in solving the environmental crises affecting humanity. Dr. Rao is the author of two books, Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies and Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis, and an Executive Producer of four documentaries, The Human Experiment (2013), Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014), What The Health (2017), and A Prayer for Compassion (2019). Dr. Rao has promised his granddaughter, Kimaya, that the world will be largely Vegan before she turns 16 in 2026, so that people will stop eating her relatives, the animals. He has faith that humanity will transform to keep his pinky promise to Kimaya, not just for ethical reasons, but also out of sheer ecological necessity.