“Why are you vegan?”
It’s one of the first questions people ask when they discover that I don’t eat or wear animal products, buy products that are tested on animals, or pay to see animals used in entertainment. And while there are more and more Christian vegans (look for the guy at the church potluck with a plate of raw vegetables, hovering over the dish he brought that has a little vegan-friendly protein), we’re still a bit of an anomaly in the church.
Because we church folk like to eat, the question often comes up around a meal. And, honestly, I feel a little awkward telling you about how that chicken leg you’re eating belonged to a bird who was raised in filth, had her beak hacked off when she was a baby, was probably crippled before her six-week-birthday, and then died a terrifying and gruesome death.
So, here’s “why vegan” in a nutshell. If you’re like me and have already adopted a more compassionate lifestyle, but aren’t sure how to talk about it to your church friends, this list can help you, too.
- Eating meat and dairy products supports cruelty to animals, and I don’t want to do that.
- Expanding on that—when it comes to using animals to satisfy human desires or to feed human greed, animal welfare will always lose to profit.
- The Bible tells us that Eden was vegan and paints a portrait of a new Jerusalem where death and crying and mourning will be no more. If we were vegan then and will be vegan again, why not begin to live into that Kingdom promise now?
- The movement of God is towards reconciliation—reconciliation of humans to God, to one another, and to the rest of creation. I want to move with the Spirit of God.
- Jesus’ life demonstrated again and again that we were to reach beyond what was comfortable and love the ones who were least like us. Given the systemic way we use and abuse animals today, I think that charge of neighborly love should apply to the furry, finned, and feathered as much as it applied to the leper, prostitute, and Gentile then.
- Eating meat and dairy is bad for the environment. This is especially damaging to our brothers and sisters in rural communities and in the global south, where the brunt of the effects of climate change (of which animal agriculture is a main contributing factor) are felt.
- Eating meat and dairy is a terrible waste of resources. We use far more than our fair share of grain, water, air, and land when we consume diets that include animal products.
There are a number of excellent resources for Christians who want to learn more about how their use of animals impacts the whole world. You can start by checking out ESA’s articles on animal protection.
This article originally appeared on EvangelicalsforSocialAction.org.