On November 19th, Bernard Rollin, one of the world’s leading animal ethicists and a fierce advocate for animal welfare, passed away. Bernie has been on Farm Forward’s board of directors since our founding in 2007, and has been a mentor, advisor and inspiration to our founders and team members for decades. His contributions to the fields of veterinary ethics, animal ethics and animal welfare advocacy have been immense and foundational. We remember him for his sense of humor in the face of adversity, his intellectual integrity and pragmatic approach to social change, his generosity in supporting other animal advocates no matter where they were in their careers, and for the compassion at the core of his lifelong commitment to reducing animal suffering. You can learn more about his life and work in his autobiography, Putting the Horse before Descartes: My Life’s Work on Behalf of Animals.
Farm Forward’s team members have shared some reflections on what Bernie meant to us:
“Bernie taught me that even in today’s broken system of industrial farming, there are powerful opportunities to reduce animal suffering–and that these opportunities matter profoundly. Bernie’s presence on our board since our founding in 2007 helped ensure that Farm Forward always combines our strategies for longterm transformation of animal agriculture with incremental steps to reduce suffering. As Bernie would say, to do anything less is to forget what it is like to suffer.”
– Aaron Gross, Founder and CEO of Farm Forward
“Bernie has had a profound impact on my life that I can’t adequately put into words. I will dearly miss our conversations, and am grateful to have worked with him during my graduate studies at Colorado State University. Though he was one of the busiest people that I knew, he always made time to check in (often with a phone call), and highly prioritized his student mentorship. Bernie’s tireless and pioneering work on behalf of animals inspired my own dedication to advocacy and scholarship, and his blending of powerful storytelling with compelling empirical and philosophical arguments set a tremendous example for my own and many others’ efforts in animal ethics.”
– Joseph Tuminello, Program Manager Farm Forward, Asst. Prof. of Philosophy at McNeese State University
“I first met Bernie in 2004. He’s one of a kind. He’s this huge prominent academic who worked really closely with Temple Grandin for much of his career, yet he’d encourage you to call him on his cellphone. He was a fun person to know. He always told you exactly what he thought, and I always looked forward to talking to him. I reached out to him many many times.”
– Ben Goldsmith, Founding Executive Director and Senior Strategist of Farm Forward
“Bernie gave me a huge amount of guidance during my first few years with Farm Forward. He not only helped me accomplish projects I was working on, like building our Buyingpoultry site, but he also helped me develop my own moral intuition about complex issues. Bernie turned his attention as a philosopher to moral issues that most people ignore and in his advocacy work he pushed industry and policy makers to attend to the lives and deaths of non human animals. I will miss his guidance and humor.”
– Andrew deCoriolis, Executive Director of Farm Forward
“Bernie, you were a mensch. Despite your sometimes gruff demeanor you were a gentle soul with a heart of gold. It is rare to find someone who would talk and act compassionately, passionately, and thoughtfully about animal suffering. You will be missed.”
– Steve Gross, former Board Chair of Farm Forward
To hear more stories about the legend of Bernie Rollin, check out this blog we published twelve years ago on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography!