Why I've Chosen Veganism As A Christian

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Some people, even if they are convinced that they should change their own practices to avoid speciesist and unjust treatment of animals, will nevertheless argue that they should not impose this belief on others. They may say 'It is wrong for me, but who am I to judge another's behavior?' But if we have a Christian conception of justice, this will not do...When we retreat into our own lives and do nothing more to change our social structures, vulnerable and marginalized populations get "othered"- especially when justice runs counter to the interests of the powerful."
 -Charles Camosy

"Nowhere in the Bible does it say to be nice. It says to be kind, to be gentle. to be respectful, to give careful instruction when someone is messing up. Nice is way below all those things, because nice gets used as an excuse to never stand your ground and never have the courage (a virtue the Bible does call us to exercise) to say something that needs to be said."
-Glen Fitzjerrell

DISCLAIMER- This post is in no way criticizing your food choices. I have said it before and I will say it again- what someone eats will not be a defining factor in my relationship with them. This post is in hopes that it will open eyes and inform those who may be feeling a tug toward the same thing or simply want to know my reasoning for going vegan. We are told from a young age to stand up for what we believe in, but the second that belief is veganism, we are told to sit down and shut up. The quotes above are a reflection of my reasoning as to why I feel I need to share this. I kindly ask that negative comments are kept to yourself, but I do encourage respectful discussion, and would love to hear your thoughts, questions, or simply just talk further on the topic if you are interested. I hope to talk about veganism in a kind and gentle way, but never in a way that makes God's commands or the reality of what is happening to animals smaller. 

I had wrote in a post a couple months back that "I have always been a firm believer that certain animals are intended for our agricultural needs", which is essentially, the common excuse that God created certain animals for our use. Nothing like playing the God card right?! But by the grace of God, people can change and their hearts can be changed, which is exactly what happened to me.

A few months back, I was really comfortable with where I was in my food choices. I ate all organic meat. Sometimes pasture raised/grass fed/humanely raised, sometimes. Something that's a common misconception is that organic animal products means the animals were treated better. If they are organic they aren't given antibiotics or chemical filled feed, but organic animals can still be factory farmed. Something I ignored or refused to admit for a long time. At that time, I truly felt no personal conviction about eating meat- much like a lot of people in society today.

The reason I felt no conviction was because I hadn't made the connection. Have you ever wondered why people are so so so defensive about animal products? We all have our beliefs, but there's no denying that the vegan debate is an extremely touchy topic. I truly believe that people are automatically on defense mode because they already have a sense of guilt or conviction inside of them that has been deeply buried by society. It's human nature to be compassionate, and we know that animals are dying in terrible ways simply so we can have something we think we need to eat. And when we feel a pull on that topic we don't want to face, our first reaction is defensiveness.

I used to hate vegans, I used to make fun of them, I never in a million years thought I would be one. When I decided to go vegan I was like "Okay... I'm vegan, I'm just going to be quiet about it...I don't want to be one of those vegans" You know, one of those vegans. Like Charles Comosy said in the quote above, that's a dangerous way to go about this when I now know the truth. So alas, here I am, hopefully not being one of those vegans, but still being a vegan that speaks out about compassion and what is right.

Let's get back to "God put these animals on earth for us to eat" argument.

As I said above, I was a firm believer of this statement. But once I made the connection and started really digging into how veganism relates to the Christian way of life I had to take a step back and really think about this.

Our God

our loving God

the same God who has called me to a life of kindness, compassion, and nonviolence—

created a life

a living, breathing, feeling, loving life 

on this earth

just for us to take?

That's not my God. 

In Genesis 1:29 God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in it's fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life I have given every plant for food." Bam. Right there. God's first gift to us was plants to eat. Only after sin enters into the world does God say in Genesis 9:3 "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything." Freewill now exists, but it's important to note that "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up" (1 Corinthians 10:23). We can do whatever we want, but not everything will further His kingdom and not everything will be beneficial to us. Yes, we have the freedom to do as we please, but we must be mindful of how it affects others, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and this earth.

Some may say that by not eating animal products, we aren't "making good use of what God gave us." Yup, I used to think that too. As a society, we have this ingrained notion that everything is for us. Our lives to take, our animals to eat, or earth to use and destroy. But was it really created just for us? This mindset completely disregards the fact that these creatures and this earth was made by the breath of God and are created through goodness just as much as we are. All in all, no matter the reason for creation, it was created by God and therefor we have to treat it for what it is- God's. By not eating animal products, we aren't rejecting God's gifts, we are honoring and respecting them. What we are rejecting is man-made factory farming, unnatural breeding of God's creations, abuse, and the detrimental effects that eating animal products has on the earth God created.

The health benefits of eating a plant based diet alone is enough for me to know that God never intended for us to eat meat, at least not in the way we do. Eating meat is no longer about sustaining ourselves, but satisfying the desires of the flesh- something we are to abstain from! Romans 13:14 states, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires." We live in a wonderful time where we have access to all the plant based foods that we need and can not only live off of plants, but THRIVE off of them. There's no denying that heart disease has risen to be the number one killer in the world, right along with our rise in meat consumption. There have been studies upon studies done linking animal products with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc.

Culture has engrained in our minds that we need animal products to live, when in fact, science is telling us we don't and are even better off without them. This world is not my home, and I will not conform to it. We must remove the idea that it's okay for Christians to follow culture and not think twice about it. This is something I've discussed before in terms of conscious consumerism and simple living as a Christian.

"We must remove the idea that it's okay for Christians to follow culture and not think twice about it."

I've preached and preached about conscious consumerism meanwhile I was consuming and buying meat, milk, and eggs from places I was purposely being unconscious about. When you see ripe fruit on a tree, your mouth waters. When you see a field of cows, do you become hungry? Your answer is most likely no, and the reason is because we are so disconnected from our food sources. If you were to walk into a deli and order a pound of bacon, and they brought our a living pig to kill and strip some bacon for you right in front of you, would you leave that store with a pound of bacon? Most likely, you would be unable to watch that happen. I guarantee that if people were exposed to where and how their meat ended up on their plate, no one would eat meat again. Of course the greedy animal industry does a very good job of not letting this happen. When we walk into the store and see a pound of bacon shrink wrapped with a logo of a farm with rolling hills and pretty barns, we think it's okay because we've been conditioned by our consumerist society to be unable to make the connection in our minds that the bacon or steak or chicken was once a living animal. But the reality is, those pretty pictures of farms on the packaged meat is not at all where it comes from. And no matter how "organic" or "grass-fed" or "humanely raised" the meat is certified as, it's still a life taken from something that still wanted to live. I wish I had realized this sooner. Now, consciously knowing what happens in these farms and to these animals, I refuse to consume.

"Now, consciously knowing what happens in these farms and to these animals, I refuse to consume."

Something that is a great factor to consider is the fact that many workers in these factory farms are immigrants and most likely cannot afford to quit their job simply because they are being abused in the workplace. The conditions for them are horrible, they are paid very little, and not to mention the disgusting things they have to do to these animals. I highly doubt that every person that works in a factory farm wants to be there and wants to be doing those things to those animals. Many of them have no choice. If I wouldn't be able to kill an animal with my own hands to eat, then how incredibly cruel for me to outsource the dirty work to someone else who is abused just as much as the animals are?

"If I wouldn't be able to kill an animal with my own hands to eat, then how incredibly cruel for me to outsource the dirty work to someone else."

I am called to live in harmony with God's creation. (Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another)

I am called to be loving, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and have self control (Galatians 5:22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.)

I am called to be compassionate and kind. (Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience)

I am called to turn from earthly ways (Colossians 3:5 Put to death what is earthly in you)

I am called to adopt values of the kingdom and not earth (Philippians 3:19-20 Their end is destruction, their god is in their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.)

I am called to a life of nonviolence. (Matthew 5:38-39 You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.)

I am called to help the vulnerable and those in need. (Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked)

I, personally, after seeing with my own eyes how God's creatures are treated, after seeing how my body can thrive better than it ever has without animal products, do not feel that I can live a life in the way I am called to if I don't apply those things to animals. I've always been an animal lover and I want this to actually be able to ring true. I refuse to live my life believing that certain animals deserve a life and others don't. I refuse to be disconnected from where my food comes from. I refuse to conform to the money and power-obsessed consumeristic world.

Something I never realized was that veganism relates to being pro-life. I'm very much so pro-life, and I would always say that I am being a voice for the voiceless. Meanwhile, all the animals that are hurting and suffering and who don't even get to see the light of day for their entire lives are thinking..."What about me? Will anyone be a voice for me?" It took me twenty years, but I am slowly realizing that maybe I didn't have all my values as down pat as I thought I did.

I desire to see heaven on earth. I want to live in a place where there is no death and no hurt and no suffering. A place where everyone is compassionate and lives in harmony with one another. And someday I will be there. And my God, I cannot even wait for that day. But right now I am needed here on this sinful, hurtful earth. I am needed to share this message. I am needed to live a life where I can say I'm doing everything I can to not contribute to the hurt and pain and suffering of this world. If I could go back twenty years and make the decision never to harm one of God's creatures, I would. But the good news is it's never too late to change. I pray everyday with all my heart that the animals that have had to suffer such cruel injustices and pain are up in heaven grazing in pastures without any pain.

I understand that this is a hot topic and I understand that you may never agree with me. I hope we can still be friends and be kind to each other despite. But most of all I hope this has tugged on the heart of at least one person. Not because I want to be "right" but because I want to help people be healthier physically and spiritually too. I have provided resources below that have helped me immensely in my transition to veganism. Even if nothing I said meant anything to you, I hope you would at least check out the resources. We all deserve to know where our food comes from. Thank you so much for reading.

Resources:
What The Health Documentary
Food Inc Documentary
Earthlings Documentary
Christian Vegan
For Love Of Animals Christian Ethics, Consistent Action by Charles Camosy
Dominion The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully
Why Vegan?

8 comments

  1. Beautifully said! -C. Camosy

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    1. Thank you so much! Your book has helped me tremendously.

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  2. This is one of my favorite posts by you! I'm definitely interested in the vegan lifestyle but I don't know how to start. Do you have any tips? Thanks! -Jacquelyn

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    1. Hi there Jacquelyn! Thank you for reading :) I suppose now that I've covered the "why" I should get into the "how"! I definitely want to make a more in-depth blog post about this soon, but basically I quit animal products cold turkey. I started researching and watching a lot of vegan youtubers and vegan documentaries. I was already eating a low amount of animal products so it was easy for me to stop all at once, but for some it may be easier to slowly ease into it! It definitely isn't an overnight process :) I recommend doing some more research and seeing what would work best for you! And definitely keep an eye out for more blog posts about my journey to veganism :) Thanks again lovely!

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  3. thank you so much!! i definitely will!! :))

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  4. hey, Kaetlyn!
    I'm gonna be totally honest with you. when I saw your pins on pinterest
    I was afraid that you were one of 'those' vegans, as you mention in your post. & I am so happy to see that your reasons & beliefs for going vegan are carefully thought out. I admire you for standing strong in your convictions.
    while I do believe that God gave us dominion over His creatures, we MUST be good stewards of them. & the way modern agriculture works is not good stewardship. in fact, it's horrible stewardship.
    my family & I live on a small hobby farm & raise our own meat. we literally watch them be born & we give them names & we love them everyday of their lives. & then we take that life. I believe that if you're going to consume animal products, this is the way it should be done.
    however, I still wrestle with the thought of taking a creature's life. I've witnessed it, I've been apart of it. I don't believe it is morally wrong & I even believe that God put them there for that (& other) purpose(s)- (as I said before, NOT in the manner in which animals are abused today- but a way in which you are personally connected with your food & respect them in such a way that Christ would). but it doesn't sit quite right with me. I believe it's an aspect of self-discovery & one that I'm going to delve into more. the encouraging thing is that God is there with us to guide us down our own unique paths. :)
    thanks so much for this post, dear! I look forward to hearing about your vegan ventures.

    xx, Clare.

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  5. kaetlyn, thanks for sharing, that was very insightful. it brings up the question, do animals go to heaven? is that biblical? what are your thoughts?

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    1. Hi Abi, thanks for reading :) Much like many topics, it seems that animals going to heaven is something the Bible doesn't really give us a clear answer about. Like I mentioned about veganism, animals were created through God's love and goodness just like us. They have feelings and thoughts and therefore I like to hope that they have spirits. I can't really believe that God created a being so intricate and beautiful and so similar to us and not accept them into His kingdom too. I like to believe that nature and animals already know God, even if it's in a different way than we do.

      There are also a few verses that make me believe and hope that we will see animals in heaven...
      Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 says, "I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust and to dust all return." but then the verse 20 states "Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast foes down into the earth?" So I suppose we just won't know until we get there. But the fact that the Bible states multiple times that animals are our equals, I like to hope.

      What are your thoughts on the topic?

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