Yes, I intend to revamp this blog. It’s been over two years since my last post, and I’ve gone through many changes in that time. I’ve graduated from art school, I’m married and have a young son (I hope to go into more detail here later) and I’ve embraced a Reformed understanding of Christianity. In the past I’ve written on topics such as veganism, pacifism, anarchism, and environmentalism. Remaining in the situation from which I’ve been called, I intend to continue writing about such topics, but in the light of Scripture through which I’ve been reformed and in the grace of the Spirit through whom I am being sanctified.
Tag Archives: veganism
I should begin by saying that I am both a vegan and a Christian. There are compelling reasons to be both. Several Christian publications offer valid reasons for the Christian to consider the vegetarian lifestyle. These include the fact that God’s original intent was for human beings to be vegetarians (Gen 1:29) and Isaiah’s inspiring prophecy in which the lion will someday eat straw like the ox (Is 65:25). So it seems that, according to the Christian worldview, the order that has proceeded, and that which will proceed, this current state, will be peaceful and bloodless. Not much to argue with so far. But many Christian vegetarians are appalled by Luke 24: 42 & 43, “They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”
What can this mean? Some insist that this passage is a forgery, it can not be authentic. Others claim that this single verse makes vegetarianism completely incompatible with Christianity. But lets take a closer look.
If we take this verse to be an authentic account of Jesus Christ after the resurrection, and we uphold the belief that he was without sin, then we must deduct that eating meat is not inherently sinful. This point may seem like anathema to any vegan, Christian or otherwise. But once we analyze the politics of food, it becomes clear that the option to avoid meat is sometimes available only to a privileged few. For example, the impoverished and starving child hardly has the option to refuse any meal that is provided. The natives of extreme elevations or frozen tundras haven’t had the luxury of choosing a vegetarian diet (until recently, but which still remains highly unsustainable). And as any honest vegan will tell you, even we are not without blood on our hands. The vegan philosophy is not about the impossible task of eliminating any and all animal suffering in our lives, it is about minimizing it. Animals suffer and die in the process of farming and shipping vegetables. Animals suffer and die in the process of mining the metals, and harvesting the lumber, that is used to make the household objects that people use everyday. Hell, even people suffer and die in the process of securing the petroleum that is used to make the plastic used to build the computer you are looking at right now. There is no one who has lived without causing harm to another living creature, whether directly or indirectly. No one. Not even Christ.
So, in that simple act of eating a piece of broiled fish, Christ has placed himself in solidarity with the poor of world. He has removed the guilt from those who are without the luxury of being vegetarians. But my argument here is not that people should choose to eat meat. It is precisely the opposite. If offered the choice, people should choose to minimize animal death and suffering to the best of their ability. That choice, however, should not make them feel superior to any other human being. As in the words of the Apostle Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10).
I’m a vegan. An animal rights vegan. I have been for over three years. Before that I was a vegetarian for environmental reasons. Anyway, recently I’ve become more aware of some hostility toward my chosen lifestyle, particularly from a group called the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), and associated literature The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith, and Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig.
My first experience with this line of thought came a few years ago from a vegan friend who had just encountered the book Nourishing Traditions. She was ecstatic to share the “good news” with me, that meat is not unhealthy and that most of the health problems associated with the Standard American Diet come from processed fats and sugars. I think she was surprised when I whole-heartedly agreed with her, but my commitment to veganism wasn’t shaken in the least. I explained to her that I was not, nor had I ever been, vegan for health reasons.
Let me explain. I don’t necessarily think that eating meat and dairy is unhealthy, or that eating a vegan diet is necessarily healthy. I think that a person can be healthy or unhealthy either way, provided that they are getting a good balance of different nutrients.
The reason I became vegan was that I felt uneasy about the idea of animals being thought of as commodities, in the Marxist sense, or as objects that can be owned and sold, and function primarily to fulfill the needs and desires of human beings. I strongly disagree with this view, and think that animals have rights in and of themselves, just as people do. Now, here I suppose I should give the WAPF, and those with similar ideologies, some credit. They do afford some rights to animals, just less than the traditional vegan position does. They do advocate raising farm animals “humanely”, which means allowing them to be free-range. But that doesn’t stop these animals from being slaughtered whenever their “owner” decides it is time to do so. Nor does it stop dairy cows and goats from being impregnated once a year so that they can produce milk for human consumption at the expense of their young.
My real problem with this ideological attack on veganism is that it assumes a lot of things that are not necessarily true. It assumes that the vegan diet is largely based on processed corn and soy, which I know from my own experience is simply not true. The Price Foundation is critical of the overconsumption of soy. Contrary to the popular stereotype, so are a lot of the vegans I know, and many avoid it altogether. Honestly, I think that most committed vegans consume far less soy than people who eat the Standard American Diet. Many vegans are just as critical of processed and genetically-modified foods, monocropping and unsustainable farming systems as is the WAPF. An attack on the current food system is not an attack on veganism. Vegan thought, mostly, is also a critique of the current food system, which is more focused (I think too much) on the issue of factory farming. So why the conflict? Shouldn’t these distinct movements be working together to end factory farming and change the current food system? Personally, I would love to see Weston A. Price advocates win out over today’s multinational agribusiness corporations.