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Animals in Criminology

Kenneth Mentor J.D., Ph.D.
Department of Sociology and Criminology
University of North Carolina Wilmington


Other than research regarding environmental crime and the link between violence to animals and humans, criminology has shown limited interest in non-human animals. Animals find their way into criminology through examinations of corporate crime, wildlife crime, food crime, farm crime, and the use of animals in correctional settings. In nearly every example, animals are treated as property. The Vegan Criminology website was developed to provide an overview of animals in criminology, summarize current research, organize links for those wanting to learn, and encourage criminologists to consider the scope and range of violence against animals. For example, the current food industry imposes massive, yet nearly invisible, violence on animals. This industry protects corporate interests in a variety of ways, including using the courts to criminalize efforts to advocate on behalf of animals. Vegan Criminology focuses on the rights of animals and those attempting to protect them, the legal status of animals, and the widespread acceptance of animals as food. We also question the use of animals for entertainment, sport, and experimentation. The website includes a range of teaching materials, both open-access and peer-reviewed, including online courses for the general public and educators interested in teaching about animals in criminology.


Round two. Goals for 2018:

  • Open Access/DIY/Multimedia
  • Add RSS Feeds/Journal Summaries
  • Document Animal-Related Work at ASC
  • Teaching Without Borders
  • Vegan Criminology Website:
    • Traffic
    • Facebook
  • Two courses:
    • Kitchen sink version
    • "Scholarly" version


  • Not the first criminologist to sugest animals should be a subject of interest to criminology, and certainly not the last.
  • Will try a different hook. Vegan criminology - catchy name, popular movement.
  • Do you have to become a vegan to learn this stuff? No. 100% nearly impossible, but a plant-based diet - 90-95% vegan is easy, with many personal and societal benefits.
  • Not moralizing about individual choices but perhaps about criminology as a whole. Curious about the morality of generally accepted choices and how our society and laws define animals.
  • As criminologists, how does veganism impact our understanding of victimization and harm?
  • Tool for learning - resources for educators and other curious travelers.
  • A unique way to connect criminology theory to real world issues, hopefully expanding one's understanding of theory.
  • Not creating new knowledge but there is value in organizing existing knowledge, especially to focus on new problems.
  • Contrast to critical criminology, green criminology, rural criminology, environmental justice, conservation criminology, environmental criminology,
  • Broad overview. Perhaps too broad. Happy to see more focused work being presented at ASC each year.


  • Syllabi search - most are not open, but found a few - SOC, Phil, Law.
  • Lots of links included in the open access course, which has become a bit unwieldy, but I hope this is a useful tool.
  • The "closed" syllabus is more focused. More "scholarly," but still a but unwieldy.
  • Would be fun to actually teach the class.

Show and Tell:

Thank you!

Animals and Crime at the American Society of Criminology 2005 - 2018

With a few exceptions among green and critical criminologists, criminology has not focused on violence against non-human animals. While there are several notable publications, and a few conference presentations each year, the theoretical foundation is limited and the boundaries of criminological study regarding animals are poorly defined.

In preparation for the 2017 Annual Meetings of the American Society of Criminology, the final programs for ASC conferences from 2005 through 2017 were searched for key terms related to animals, food, and farms. Environmental crime is also included, primarily related to advocacy on behalf of animals and the environment.

The same terms were searched in the 2018 program and results were added to the list. The number of animal-related papers has increased in each of the last two years, arguably with increased focus. Wildlife crime is an emerging issue, with panels in each of the last two years. We also see a recurring search for a theoretical home, most often focused on "green" criminology, with some (declining?) connections to rural criminology.

Papers appear on many unrelated panels, such as this one, with just a few thematic panels.

An annotated Excel file listing the number of presentations, categorized by key themes, and saved for the web, can be viewed here.

Search terms: animal, farm, food