Veganism is an ethical lifestyle in which one abstains from eating, wearing and otherwise using the bodies and byproducts of nonhuman animals. Since most nonhuman animal oppression results from human demand for ‘meat,’ eggs and dairy, and for clothing like leather and wool, becoming vegan is one way to begin personally disengaging from industries of oppression, abuse and slaughter. From a Christian perspective, becoming vegan is also one way to reflect the God’s ultimate purpose for creation as outlined in Genesis 1:29–30 (see also Theology and ethics).
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions that prevent people from seeing veganism as a viable, ethical option. Perhaps the most pervasive of these is that a vegan diet is deficient. Contrary to popular belief, a well-balanced plant-based diet can easily meet one’s protein, iron and other nutritional needs without the unsavory side affects of diets containing nonhuman animal flesh and their byproducts. Another misconception is that being vegan is costly. While it is true that there are specialty vegan goods which are often priced higher than ‘regular’ items, buying fruits, vegetables, grains and other vegan foods, and buying clothing made from non-animal fibers does not need to be prohibitively expensive. If anything one might not only save more by not purchasing meat–adopting a vegan diet may also prevent future health care costs. Another concern, particularly among people of color and/or people who are class conscious, is that becoming vegan is a ‘white’ or bourgeois thing to do. Not only does this reasoning ignore the fact that, most indigenous diets across the globe were primarily plant-based until recently, it also overlooks that 1) producing meat wastes potential food sources for the world’s poor; 2) that people of color within the U.S. are rapidly suffering and dying from diseases related to nonhuman animal consumption and 3) that there are many people of color and poor people who have already adopted a vegan lifestyle across the Two-Thirds World. Finally, some also argue that it’s not realistic to advocate a vegan lifestyle because not all people can become vegan. Although it is true that many people are unable choose veganism because of allergies and other medical conditions or, because of a lack of sufficient dietary options, it does not follow that people who are capable of becoming vegan should reject this lifestyle ‘on principle.’
Just as Christians do not wait for the world to give up war in order to practice peace and anarchists do not wait for the state to disappear before living out a different order, it is also not necessary to wait for everyone, everywhere to be able to live out this alternative. Veganism is one small but important sign of reconciliation with creation. It is a way to embody compassion for our fellow creatures who are made by God for God’s delight, and to personally oppose a system that treats nonhuman animals as mere things for human use (see also Factory farming). At this point in history, human domination of nonhuman animals and the related environmental damage it causes are too grave to ignore. It is time to personally respond to creation’s groan and veganism is one way to do that (see also Animal liberation).
ExtraVEGANza – www.g-rad.org/vegan
The China Study – www.thechinastudy.com
Veg for Life – www.vegforlife.org
VeganJoy – www.veganjoy.blogspot.com
Vegan Freak – www.veganfreak.com
Vegans of Color – vegansofcolor.wordpress.com
Why People Become Vegetarians – www.brucefriedrich.org