“You are going to offend people”
“Be prepared for the backlash, neither side will like this”
These are all things I have heard while preparing to write this blog post. Isn't it funny that when you are about to write something meaningless or funny, you just start typing, it comes easily and no one cares? But when I started discussing the serious aspects of my opinion with others, I was getting warnings from everywhere! As it often happens when I start writing, my path has been re-directed from my original intentions with this post.
What started out as me wanting to write a snarky, sarcastic piece about veganism, has turned into something entirely different. (I apologize right now to my vegan friends about the "snarky, and sarcastic" comment. Please keep reading because I'm not going to say anything bad!!) So against the will of many friends and family members, and with the deep desire to share my findings, here is my story about my journey into veganism…
Let the Journey Begin...
First off, if you are like me, you might need a little vocabulary lesson to navigate this journey. Take a self test, do you know the meaning of these words?
If not, it's ok, you are not alone, and I will define these terms as we go along. Why are they important? If you are involved in animal agriculture, you may be hearing these terms a lot more in the days and years to come. Let me explain...
Are You a Carnist?
Although I had never really thought about it, but I now know...
A CARNIST (I feel like I should stand up in front of a group or something).
As the video pointed out, due to my carnistic conditioning, I wouldn't eat my dog, so why eat a cow? Had I stopped there, I would have went on about my life and not given carnism a second thought. But I didn't, I kept watching, only to learn that people don't know what goes on in the "hidden world" of animal agriculture, and if you only knew, you would stop munching carcasses (my term, not hers. C'mon, I need a little sarcasm!) and anything animal related like eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Once you learn the horrors of animal agriculture, it is the only rational, humane choice you can possibly make. The maker of the video knows by her own admission that she is speaking to an uninformed audience, then (presumably out of the goodness of her heart?) shows the audience the "truth". Next comes the shock factor - we see some down right stomach turning images of animals in horrible conditions, being beaten abused and tortured. One thing was very clear, animal agriculture is presented as a villain that must be stopped. The narrator of the video explains that veganism is one of the fastest growing social justice movements on the planet, and that carnism is a system built on deception. Animal agriculturalists suppress awareness by intentionally keeping our industry hidden. Based on the comments, apparently it was enough to turn many former flesh eaters to be vegan.
Me, being me, I couldn't let it go. When someone insults my way of life, I get fired up - mad!! I really, truly wanted to know what was the main driving force behind the choice to give up ALL animal products, and to point out the hypocrisy of this lifestyle, as a true vegan will never be able to exist without harming animals in some way. On a mission, I ventured into a several vegan social media groups, pages and blogs to start asking questions, knowing full well that the only flesh they would eat would probably be mine (and only as a figure of speech, of course). I had something to prove! I would show vegans that most ranchers and farmers are just good people trying to make a living and do their part to feed the world. I had a wide variety of experiences in these conversations, But I came out with a perspective that I did not expect at all.
Dive into Vegan Vocabulary!
Questions lead to MORE Questions!
I never considered that veganism could be a spiritual issue, until I started asking these questions. Stay with me, and think about this… The Bible tells us “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:29
Scriptural support can be found for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian perspectives. I would never intentionally cause a fellow human to stumble in their choice by forcibly or deceptively adding animal products to their meal. I would also never try to CONVINCE someone to eat meat because of a difference of opinion.
A light bulb moment...
In some cases, anthropomorphism is used as a tool to promote animal rights. After all, the more "human" we perceive an animal to be, the more likely we are to relate to it and develop empathy. In fact, some animal rights advocates do not distinguish between human beings and animals at all.
As one commentator put it: There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights - A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.
Can we really treat animals with the exact same values and consideration as humans? Can we elevate animals to human status, while maintaining still our own value? To me, that concept is extremely difficult. If animals and humans are the same, we are all nothing more than accidental bodies, mistakes of evolution, mouths to feed, a burden on our resources. If this is true, our main question becomes how to keep that number to a minimum for the sustainability of life on planet earth. In fact, we can look at several pioneers of the vegan movement and see good examples. For example, Peter Singer*, who was quoted to me often by various groups, has some beautiful things to say about how we should treat animals based on our moral responsibility to do so, and he promotes charitable giving to the poor. But Peter Singer also believes that abortion for any reason and even infanticide of disabled individuals is perfectly logical and acceptable. Shocking right? If a baby is the same as a cat is the same as a rat, and it is ok to decide when to euthanize a pet based on its quality of life, then it makes logical sense that we can do the same for a baby. From this viewpoint, ableism, abortion and infanticide really IS a perfectly logical conclusion.
The Image of a Creator
God permits you to be a vegetarian or vegan, if you wish, but it is not required any more than it is required that you eat meat. Scripture clearly permits eating meat and using animal products. God told Noah, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you“ (Genesis 9:3). In short, we should be good stewards of the animals and the environment that are entrusted to human care. We are managers, not masters.
But Aren't Cattle Destroying the Earth?
We can be confident in God’s care and not worry constantly that our planet can’t sustain so many people. God knows our needs, and he provides plenty of resources. Can you dare to imagine the ways that human invention will find to use God’s provision? As more humans are born into the world, we will find ways of meeting their needs that we never dreamed were possible! Maybe that will be reduced numbers of livestock, I don't know. If turnabout is fair play, I as a Christian animal agriculturalist, must ask myself if raising livestock is my religion or my idol? If I truly believe that all earthly things are dust, then I must trust the fact that God just might take away the provision given to livestock in order to feed humans more directly. I really don't know, but I trust that God knows. Of all the resources God provides to help people survive and thrive, the greatest resource is other people!
Shaking Hands with Vegans
However we choose to nourish our bodies, we would ALL do well to examine the motives behind those choices. Whatever we eat, keep in mind why we do it and keep it for the Glory of God. Keep humans as exceptional, yet humble servants to God on earth. Without that, we slide down a slippery slope toward true Anthropocentrism, or world view that considers humans to be the most important factor and value in the Universe (even above a creator). Now THAT is scary!