Award winner U-M Law graduate honored for her work on animal rights

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Michigan Law graduate Annie Sloan, one of two recipients of the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section Wanda Nash Award for animal advocacy, gives a belly rub to a pig at SASHA Farm (Sanctuary And Safe Haven for Animals) in Manchester, the Midwest's largest farm animal sanctuary.

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Recent University of Michigan Law School graduate Annie Sloan first became interested in animal law via studying the food system. 

“This area doesn’t get a lot of attention but each year around 80 billion land animals—and up to 3 trillion fish—are killed to feed humans,” she says. “I’ve spent over 15 years thinking about and working in food and have long believed humans can eat without wreaking havoc on other humans, animals, and the planet.”

One of two recipients of this year’s Wanda Nash Award from the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section—presented each year to a student(s) at Michigan's law schools for outstanding contributions to animal law—Sloan says she is honored to receive the award.

“I admire Wanda Nash’s courage to start something new and find a lot of inspiration in her kind but steadfast advocacy,” she says. “This honor is the highlight of my law school career. The award and the lovely award ceremony really energized me. I want to use my law degree to change human-animal relations and our food system. 

“How we treat others and other animals says a lot about our humanity. Expanding our moral circle is critical—it’s not a zero-sum game. Animals are ends in themselves—I want to learn as much as I can so I can attempt to include the voices of animals in animal law, and I want to make sure these conversations are happening outside of law review articles and conferences,” she adds. “I have long believed food is a right and that food justice includes workers, animals, and the environment.” 

In undergrad at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., Sloan focused on Food Studies. Before and during undergrad she went to culinary school, worked in community gardens, and managed some of the country’s finest restaurants, in New York City and Chicago. 

In her final years of undergrad, she studied the horrors of CAFOs—Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations—the environmental consequences of modern agriculture, and the many inequalities permeating the food system.

“But I also studied alternatives to industrial agriculture and my restaurant and travel experience grounded my academic work in the belief that food ought to be social and stimulating,” she says. “This thinking inspired me to devise tasting seminars and multi-course theory-based meals, which included serving my interpretation of ‘The Companion Species Manifesto’ to its author, Donna Haraway.”

During undergrad, Sloan worked as a legislative liaison for the Washington Student Association, an experience that provided the opportunity to work with attorneys. 

In 2020, she fulfilled her dream of law school, heading to the University of Michigan Law School.

“I believed that law and policy could actually improve the food system in ways that would empower workers and consumers and benefit animals,” she says. “Besides the people—students, alumni, professors, and staff—I really enjoyed courses with talented lecturers like Legal History with Professor Bill Novak and Evidence with Professor Sherman Clark. I also really enjoyed productive discussion-based courses with my peers. For one mini-seminar course, nine other students and I were able to sit outside Professor Nico Cornell’s tiny house, in his meadow, and discuss books like ‘Silent Spring’ and ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ while listening to the hum of insects and the honks of geese flying overhead.” 

Sloan served as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Journal of Law & Society; Gayla co-chair of Outlaws and helped organize and run the annual Kevin E. Kennedy Fellowship Gala; was a member of First-Generation Law Students; and worked with the Workers’ Rights Clinic during 1L and the Environmental Law and Sustainability Clinic during 3L.

As president of the Food Equity & Ecological Diversity Society (FEEDSoc), she hosted vegan food-filled gatherings that brought people together to discuss an array of topics including “sentience,” obstacles to food sovereignty, and Proposition 12’s alleged violation of the dormant Commerce Clause. She will co-present with Professor Paul Szynol at the Oxford Animal Ethics Summer School in August.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in FEEDSoc and I’m really excited to see where next year’s leadership takes the student organization,” she says. 

Sloan ran the organization during her 2L year and co-ran the organization in her 3L year with fellow student Amy Jiang; and, along with fellow student Anjali Baliga started a collection of vegan resources—recipes, blogs, books, local restaurants—for MLaw students.

During internships with Farmworker Justice, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, she worked with people who were deeply invested in changing the food system, and experienced a variety of possible legal careers and perspectives.

A native of Asheville, N.C., Sloan currently lives in Ann Arbor with her partner and two cats. She and her partner have been replacing their non-native turf grass with native plants that support wildlife.

“Our yard currently hosts a groundhog, and lots of incredible birds and insects—and occasionally skunks, possums, raccoons, ducks, and toads,” she says. 

Sloan is grateful for the support of her parents and her partner, and partner’s entire family.

“My mother is an incredible person, mother, and friend; she has always given me space to be the person I am in a world that does not always respect vulnerability and honesty,” Sloan says. “My father fully supports challenging the status quo and has brought animal ethics up with resistant friends and neighbors. 

“And my partner, Anna Gill, has been tremendously supportive throughout the past three years of law school—and the year before that of the LSAT and applications. I feel so lucky to have such a supportive group of people to call family, none of whom give vegan food any side-eye.” 


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