How can we align the Christian Church with the values of Veganism?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  msredzinski 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #9441

    Barry
    Participant

    I myself am a vegan, and a Christian. I certainly respect your choice if you are not. For those of you who would like to take part in this conversation, this is what I am hoping to accomplish and would love to hear your take on the matter:

    How can we align the Christian Church with the values of Veganism?

    I am frustrated at times because many outreach programs and fellowship opportunities that the Christian church runs are focused around animal flesh.
    It bothers me because I recognize that the realities of animal agriculture, the immorality of it, the harm it causes to our planet, and the deleterious health impacts do not align with the character of God.

    From reading the bible you could make an argument for both eating meat or not depending on how you view things. In Roman’s it also talks about not judging your brother and sisters for eating meat or not because salvation does not rely on our dietary choices.

    However, just eating meat or not is not the only problem here. We don’t live in an early biblical time where cows, goats and sheep where led out to pasture, where babies grew up with their mothers and drank their milk.

    We live in a time of cruel mechanized practices that result in a lifetime of misery and pain for these animals culminating in barbaric slaughter. In addition, the industry and its practices are responsible for a health crisis, antibiotic resistance, soil degradation, insane greenhouse gas emissions, ocean dead zones, deforestation, political corruption, etc.

    If there is anything we learned from the lessons of Jesus it is that God wants us to value honesty, integrity, compassion, love, and kindness.

    The church is suppose to be an embodiment of Christ. The purpose of the church is to represent the character of God and in doing so spread his message throughout the world.

    For that reason it is hypocritical for the church to support animal agriculture.

    I feel like the issue of Veganism is taboo in the church. It is looked at much the same way as politics.

    I would like institute change but I’m not sure the best way to go about it.

    Has anyone had any success in their church? Does anyone have any advice for me?

    #9443

    BitPuffin
    Participant

    Yo I’m not a christian or religious at all but I think it would be a good thing to try to convince the church to get on board with it. But I suggest you should try to talk to the people who run your church and make the case for veganism. Two ways that I’d suggest that I know you can make the case for within the scriptures is that in the garden of eden eating meat was obviously impossible and I guess the state of the garden of eden is what god intended for humans, so by extension, did not mean for humans to eat meat.

    Second way is that quite clearly, killing an animal for food violates the golden rule, if you were put in the animal’s position, you’d not accept being killed needlessly for food (or for testing cosmetics, turning into clothing etc). And since you can’t choose what animal you are born as (human, pig, deer, whatever) you should obviously try to treat the misfortuned ones with compassion. Just like you’d do with people who were born into severe poverty and such, because just as well you could have been born as one of them.

    And obviously also good to argue with it from a perspective of ecology as well, and maybe health. The usual stuff.

    So yeah start with the higher-ups in your church that you go to, see if you can get them to agree with you and make changes to their lives, and then maybe they’ll start talking about it to the congregation. And maybe eventually they’ll also talk to their own superiors about it.

    Who knows, it’s probably not gonna be easy but I guess it’s not impossible.

    Good luck!

    #9448

    Barry
    Participant

    Thanks for your reply BitPuffin!

    I certainly agree with your arguements, and there are many more in the bible to boot.

    I have just started an email conversation with our associate pastor yesterday. I’m hoping that in time, perhaps he will understand our point of view and be open to taking action with me.

    I’m not sure what that would look like but I’m hoping for something! Perhaps the church could begin a dietary or ethics group, maybe we have a sermon on animal agriculture, perhaps I could provide some guidance when it comes to the menus at kids camps and outreach programs. I don’t quite know yet but there is a lot of room for possibilities I guess.

    Getting people on board with any of this is the struggle. I’m hoping someone out there in Internet land might have already been through a similar circumstance.

    #9691

    Mywildlove
    Participant

    Hey Barry,

    I’m not great at quoting the bible but since my husband and I just want vegan a month ago along with all the health benefits we are both seeing I do feel much closer to God and/or more spiritual. I have been trying to get my friends and family to go vegan as well. Some of those closest to me are Christian so I thought perhaps a more Christian view of veganism would help sell them. With a quick google search I found this page:

    http://rawfoodthoughts.blogspot.com/2011/02/biblical-support-for-veganism_25.html

    That listed a few bible verses supporting veganism (for ease of reading I copy and pasted below)

    “Biblical support for veganism

    DISCLAIMER: this article is not about “why the Bible demands veganism” or “why the Bible says humans are designed to be vegan”. Both of those are not true. This article is about why, if you are eating a vegan diet, you should feel comfortable continuing to do so. Also, if you aren’t eating a vegan diet, you should whole-heartedly consider doing so. Finally, if you read the Bible yet discredit veganism or vegetarianism, then you should put any bias aside as best you can and re-learn what the Bible really says about it.

    The Bible supports veganism in the following ways:
    Humans were initially vegan for at least 1,550 years (from Adam to Noah)
    Many holy people of the Bible practiced veganism
    God calls people to treat animals well

    Humans were initially vegan for at least 1,550 years

    Yes! Adam and Eve were vegan their entire lives. In fact, according to the Bible, in the garden of Edan all living things were vegan (nothing killed each other):

    Genesis 1:29-30
    Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

    After being exiled from the garden, Adam and Eve continued being vegan and so did their descendants. It wasn’t until after the flood that any of God’s people ate animals:

    Genesis 9:3
    Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

    In case you were skeptical about Genesis 1:29 really constraining the human diet to plant foods, Genesis 9:3 makes it crystal clear. The key phrase is “Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.” This reiterates that, up until this point, humans had been surviving on a vegan diet. Also, they probably would have continued to live on a vegan diet except that the flood (i.e. our sin) wiped out all life on the planet.

    So humans were allowed to eat animals, not commanded, because the Earth lacked abundant resources. It wasn’t because of any physiological demand of the human body. But even after this change, God gave his people specific instructions on how to eat animals:

    Genesis 9:4
    “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

    Leviticus 3:17
    “‘This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.’”

    This doesn’t exactly describe the way KFC and Burger King prepares their menu, does it? If all of the blood and all fat was cooked out of meat, most of the flavor would be cooked out too. Then people really would only eat it for survival purposes. I won’t even get into other Biblical law, such as how to raise and slaughter an animal.

    In summary, humans (those following God) were initially vegan for at least 1,550 years. The only reason they started eating animals was because of the flood, and even then they were given strict instructions on how to minimize the damage to health. They only ate animals for survival purposes. While we aren’t commanded to still follow these guidelines, shouldn’t we be passionately concerned with God’s efforts to keep us as healthy (and disease-free) as possible?

    Many holy people of the Bible practiced veganism

    The story of Daniel was the first ever case study for veganism!

    Daniel 1:11-14
    Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

    Granted, this is a short-term trial. But even so, the results are impressive.

    Daniel 1:15-16
    At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

    We are allowed to eat animals, but we don’t have to, and in fact sometimes we are encouraged not to.

    Romans 14:21
    It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

    Our option of eating animals is so insignificant that it is easily overshadowed by our need to love each other and to be unified. Holy people are often called to transcend their own habits or preferences for the greater good.

    In summary, many holy people have practiced veganism. Also, overcoming old-life habits and practicing self-restraint, specifically by abstaining from meat, is specifically mentioned in the Bible. This was not done as a behavioral change in vain, but rather out of love for one another and devotion to God.

    God calls people to treat animals well

    There are many scriptures calling us to treat animals well. In America, our “meat industry” hardly comes close to living up to this calling. Rather, animals are cruelly manufactured, tortured, and slaughtered for habit and profit. This should be honestly and open-mindedly researched by everyone. We should make conscious choices and not prefer to live in ignorance. We should live out what we learn to be true regardless of how difficult changing may be. We should believe that we can change. Here are a couple scriptures that show God’s concern for how humans treat animals:

    Deuteronomy 25:4
    Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.

    In this scripture, God protects the rights of an ox. Apparently, he thinks its cruel to disallow an ox from eating while it works. More interestingly, Paul expounds on this in his first letter to the church in Corinth:

    1 Corinthians 9:9-10
    For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.

    What’s Paul saying here? God does in fact offer protection to animals, but why? Paul says it is not for the animal’s benefit, but for our own benefit. God knows the hearts of people. He knows that if someone has the spirit to be be cruel to an animal, that same spirit will act against a human. So God protects the animal in order to protect the human, to protect our own hearts. In our society, people would rather choose to turn a blind eye to what’s really going on than to take action. We would rather turn a blind eye to what’s really going on in slaughterhouses, factory farms, broken homes, and impoverished neighborhoods, and sin in our own hearts than to take action. We choose ignorance and indifference. We do it with animals and we do it with each other. We do it with ourselves.

    Proverbs 12:10
    The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
    but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

    In summary, God has many regulations for us to treat animals well. However, these aren’t simply for the sake of the animals, but more so that we will treat each other well too. If God stands up for an ox working a field, how much more do you think he would stand up for a cow, pig, or chicken in an American slaugherhouse? What would he say about our attitudes towards that? By comparison, what would he say about how we treat our fellow human, our level of compassion for one another, our level of eagerness to selflessly love and serve one another? We are called to an extremely high standard!

    Summary

    I hope this article has shown the Bible accurately. There are many other scriptures that support vegetarianism and veganism, these are just a few. Being vegan is not about living less, but living more: more health, more knowledge, more compassion, more love! As Christians, we should not follow any particular diet in vain to suit our own purposes, but as a desperate attempt to answer God’s call for our lives – a call to stand out from the world, to be disciplined, to be outward-focused, to surrender to him every area of our lives and do whatever it takes to be like Christ. Veganism is by no means a command from God, but in this day and age it is so easy and practical. It can be a powerful tool used to grow in discipline, focus, compassion and love – the beginning of an amazing journey.

    Spread the love!
    Go Vegan”

    Here is some more mental food for thought on the topic, (once again coping and pasting)

    “On October 13, 1884, after Pope Leo XIII had finished celebrating Mass in the Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:

    The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasting to Our Lord: “I can destroy your Church”

    The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”

    Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”

    Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?

    Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”

    Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”

    That was copied and pasted from http://unveilingtheapocalypse.blogspot.com/2011/10/prophecy-of-pope-leo-xiii.html
    However it is very easily found with the simplest Google search.

    Since going vegan I’ve been feeling more and more that between the support the bible gives to vegans combined with the conversation between God and Satan and the destruction the consuming of animal products has on one’s health, the environment and the mass animal cruelty and when the time line of the higher amounts of animal products consumed began during the 100 year period this must be how Satan is going about his plan. Also the increased power the meat and dairy producers gained was also during that 100 year period it only seems fitting that the best way for Satan to destroy us is using the very foods we consume.

    Also if your still on board with my crazy way of connecting the dots here watch this video The Secret Reason We Eat Meat ( https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ao2GL3NAWQUnd ) and think how Satan is the ultimate trickster.

    My next statement may be a little out there for most Christians but it is surely something to think about. The four horsemen of the apocalypse can be tied to the consuming of animal products. Pestilence which is illness, need I explain this one? War, humans are waging wars over lack of resources because so many of earth resources are going to animal agriculture. Famine, people are starving yet we are feeding and killing more animals than people. Lastly, Death, eating animal products leads to an early death or for a more apocalyptic scenario the fact that the over use of antibiotics in animal agriculture will lead to a lot of death… yes I know some sources sighted conquering as a horsemen and not pestilence so fine it still works for conquering in that we are conquering animals in return they are conquering us with poor health.

    Also as many Christians like to say “Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we don’t have to worry about what the old testament says about eating animal products” however Jesus dying on the cross did not magically change our anatomy from herbivorous to omnivorous. That also does not mean we get a “blank check” to knowingly sin all we want and receive forgiveness.

    Lastly, for those that might say “but Jesus wasn’t a vegan or even a vegetarian” my personal response is Jesus wasn’t eating for longevity. If you are planning to die in your early thirties go ahead and live it up and eat all the animal products you want because there will be a lot you won’t end up eating in the 40 to 50 years you will be dead that the normal human would be alive to consume.

    I hope any of this helps you.

    #9723

    carla
    Participant

    I’m a Christian, though not very well bible versed, and I’m transitioning to veganism for health, animal and environmental reasons.

    I can’t quote where it says in the bible but I know God does not approve of animal cruelty.

    Today’s animal agriculture is just that, animal cruelty.

    In order for cows to produce milk, they have to be impregnated. Farm factories don’t wait around for a cow and bull to mate; cows are forcibly impregnated against their own wishes (rape? borderline bestiality?) then stay in one position for the rest of their lives to continuously milk to be sold on a shelf. When a cow gives birth to their calf, that newborn is forcibly taken away adding to their suffering. The cycle repeats.

    In farm factories, chickens are debeaked, a very cruel and painful procedure, and are raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

    Chickens, pigs, turkeys are taken to slaughter houses and then packaged and make their way to the refrigerator sections of our supermarkets.

    By purchasing animal products whether it’s milk, eggs, meat, fish, the consumer is approving of this horrible and cruel system. The animals that are caught in this system suffer, they feel pain and I can’t imagine God being okay with that.

    To answer your question though, about how to align the Christian Church with the values of veganism: I think the best way is just being an example. People by nature start asking questions and being ready to answer them is a great way to get other curious about veganism.

    #9748

    Barry
    Participant

    Hey Mywildlove and Carla,
    Thank you for your replies. I think if people where honest about what they think God would want us to do based on his teachings you would find everyone goes vegan. However, people are not honest about it, they pick and choose single bible verses, often out of context, to support their current view. It’s like a religious confirmation bias. It is not just the matter of Veganism either. I’m sure slave owners did the same and we are guilty of it as vegans as well.

    For instance, Mywildlove quoted a verse from Romans saying:
    “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall”

    Which out of context supports Veganism, but when you read the entire chapter you’ll find that it talks about how our dietary choices (specifically mentioning meat intake) will not be what keeps us from entering heaven.
    It says that for those who believe that meat is unclean, for him it is sinful. For he that doesn’t it is not.

    There could be a case made for Veganism or for carnism by plucking select verses throughout the bible. However, when we look at the overlying themes of Jesus’ teachings you’lol find compassion, love, patience, kindness, mercy, forgiveness. You would be hard pressed to find a Christian who would disagree with that sentiment. If you can get them to realize that supporting factory farming is none of those things then you might get your foot in the door.

    The question is, how do we do that? The church is an institution. One that hypocritically takes part in something against gods will. From an underdog position, how do we spark change in the church?

    #9765

    carla
    Participant

    Hi Barry!

    You are right about people picking and choosing bible verses. Before my initial post, I went ahead and googled “veganism and the bible” and found a website with quoted verses. But I didn’t feel right posting them here and saying that this is proof that God wants his people to follow a vegan lifestyle.

    When I was living in Florida, I attended an awesome Megachurch. In the beginning of each year the church as a whole does the Daniel Fast which involves basically eating a vegan diet. Not everyone does it of course, I sure didn’t, though I wish I would have. But I remember the pastors saying how much better they felt and how they can hear the voice of God better.

    Maybe you can propose something like that to your church Barry? I don’t know if you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, but a lot of Christian churches facilitate his Baby Steps program, which is a 9 r 10 week course that meets once a week. I don’t know if it exists but maybe it can start from the grassroots level and creating a course where people can do something like the Daniel Fast in groups at church? I would totally be interested in being part of something like that. Though I no longer live in the states.

    #10928

    robin
    Participant

    Hey Barry!

    I’m Robin. I’m a seminarian to become a pastor in the ELCA (some of my classmates are also vegan!). I think you’re right in asking this question. I think that veganism could be more widespread among Christians in a few ways, and that these both involve focusing on environmental protection and the negative impact that animal farming has on human life (ie, answering questions like: who kills the animals for people to eat? who packages their dead bodies? what is the impact of this on their psyche and well-being? what are they paid? are they protected from harm?)

    I think these issues can act as a gateway for people to then begin to care about animal suffering, and that this is what many Christians will need, as the New Testament has so much about eating animals (think of Peter having the vision of the “unclean” animals coming down to him in Acts). People have a hard time calling our ideas extreme after some of them appeal to them. 🙂

    #11919

    Mywildlove
    Participant

    I came across this YouTube video https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L8vPTULzKVY called The Garden of Vegan. It is about how veganism is on the rise in Israel. The maker of the video cites that 8% of the country are vegan and the Israeli military now offers vegan food rations.

    The video also goes into how both the Christian and Jewish beliefs are part of what is driving so many Israelis to go vegan. I thought it might have some useful information for you.

    #12803

    Blackie
    Participant

    I realise that this post is almost a year old, but I just wanted to add that both my husband and myself are vegans, and Christians, and as is to be expected, we have never met another vegan in the three different churches we’ve been a part of over the years. To be honest, it’s probably just the same as in the real world – vegans just aren’t that common. I understand that church barbecues/picnics etc are very meat-centric, but you have to remember this is the way people are, this is the way they think – they can’t separate meat from being food. Just the way you and I were before becoming vegan, no doubt. So therefore, it only makes sense they most of the food they bring along would be a no-no for vegans like us. It is unfortunate, but nothing unusual.
    I understand your desire for change. We feel the same. However, the bible cannot be used to either support or defend veganism as a diet. As a case of conscience, I know that there is Corinthians 8:13, but that only talks about causing another to fall into sin. For example, if your Pastor were to invite you over for dinner, knowing you were vegan, and served up a gravy made with animal fat trimmings, that would be wrong. It would be better for him to serve a vegan meal, gravy and all, so as not to cause you to fall into sin by violating your conscience and eating animal-based food. As far as the legitimacy of an omnivorous diet though, in Mark 7:19 it says that God made all foods clean – they are fit for consumption. Therefore we can’t make the argument that they ‘can’t’ eat meat. The bible says they can. And obviously, as you’ve said in your original post, we are told not to argue about diets because what we eat has no influence on our salvation.
    However, the animal cruelty argument is a compelling one I think. Having had our eyes opened to the industry and seeing the cruelty, we could not in good conscience continue to consume animal products. Therefore, feeling it is against our conscience, eating it would be sinful for us. If however, we were to change our minds about being vegan (maybe we wake up one day in the middle of the desert and have to eat a desert mouse to survivie or something, I don’t know haha) then it would not be sinful – if our conscience did not dictate that it was wrong at the time. (Note: For any non-Christians out there – please don’t misconstrue this as a ‘if you feel it’s wrong it is, and if you feel it’s right it is’ argument. There’s no subjective morality in the bible. This is a tricky subject and goes much more deeply than I am explaining here. However as the OP is a Christian I’m certain he knows what I’m referring to).
    I think that God does care about animals suffering needlessly, and at the hands of cruel people. However it must also be remembered that God tells us to make use of animals. He clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins when they were kicked out of the garden. It was the first animal sacrifice.
    Now, I know that animal sacrifice is a picture of the gospel, and I’m not saying that its okay to sacrifice animals (today, it would be wrong because God no longer requires animal sacrifice), but being Christians, we’re all too aware that humans have used animals, with implicit permission from God, since he first put us on the earth. He doesn’t specify ‘how’ they are to be used – in the sense that they are used today. And I feel that today’s use of animals is a bit of a departure from what God was saying we could do with them, but there’s no specific biblical argument to make for this so I suppose we’d just have to leave that alone.
    The only thing that can change the way we look at animals, is our conscience. Therefore, I’m afraid the church animal fry-ups will continue for as long as our fellow Christians are not personally convicted by their animal consumption. And it is, very importantly, up to their conviction. We can’t shame them for it.
    Therefore I suppose we can seek to educate them on the cruelty, and the health benefits, but at the end of the day, they will only change the way they eat if they feel it is wrong.
    I guess it’s a tricky thing.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by  Blackie.
    #15405

    msredzinski
    Participant

    Hey guys.

    I know this is a really old thread, but I really wanted to add something. I’m a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian, and our denomination is strongly focused on healthy eating and overall health consciousness. Some are vegans, some vegetarians, and some do eat meat, because we don’t forbid it. But we do try to entice everyone towards the Edenic ideal diet, which is veganism (frutarianism before the fall of man, and all other plant-based foods added to the diet, after man was expelled from Eden). I won’t go too much into details, since that’s well documented and easy to research, but I just really wanted to share with you.

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