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Episode 493: Aysha Akhtar on the Neurology of Empathy

By Jasmin and Mariann — June 22, 2019

This week, Mariann talks to Aysha Akhtar about what empathy is and how empathy for animals helps us recognize the interconnectedness of all social struggles against cruelty and injustice; how her background in neurology has lead her to these discoveries and guided her writing; and the dog that changed her life, led her to a life of greater animal empathy, and gave her the courage to stand up to her sexual abuse.  

Akhtar is double board-certified in both neurology and preventive medicine and has a master’s degree in public health. She is the Deputy Director of the Army’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program. Previously, she worked for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the Food and Drug Administration. She is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, in which she deploys to assist with national public health emergencies. She is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and is a consultant editor for The Journal of Animal Ethics. She is the author of Animals and Public Health and lives in Maryland.

In the intro to this episode Mariann eats vegan chili on Broadway, Jasmin directed a TONY Award winner, and we discuss the reaction around Billie Eilish’s plea to her fans to go vegan. After the interview, Mariann brings us some Rising Anxieties. More info in the show notes!

As always, the award-winning weekly Our Hen House podcast is hosted by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.

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This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.

You can listen to our podcast directly on our website, or subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher! Also, if you like what you hear, please rate it and leave us a comment on iTunes! Of course, we would be thrilled if you would also consider making a donation, or becoming a member of our flock (especially if you’re a regular listener). Any amount is hugely appreciated, and Our Hen House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so it’s tax-deductible! Thank you for helping us create quality content, and for helping us bring you a new podcast episode each week!

The Our Hen House theme song is written and sung by the incredible Michael Harren, who is also OHH’s Director of Communications! Don’t forget to tune into Our Hen House’s other two podcasts: The Teaching Jasmin How to Cook Vegan Podcast, and The Animal Law Podcast.






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