• High Street Methodist Church

Why I'm a vegan

Updated: Apr 4

Check out the blog below where Minister Jason shares why he's vegan.

I said earlier this month that I would write a blog on being a vegan. Now obviously I am not a trained scientist, biologist etc, so these thoughts are my own, and if you are curious to some of what it is written, then I invite you to research further yourself. I also want to state that this blog is not intended for children as some of the details may be upsetting. The reason for writing this blog is that a number of people ask me why I am vegan, many of whom are Christians. Now this blog isn't for Christians but being a Christian myself I will include some of the biblical reasons I am a vegan. I first became Vegan around 3 1/2 years ago I guess. At this time, I had just joined theological college so I guess was already in a state of change, but prior to this I had never thought about giving up meat, eggs or dairy. In fact, I used to work out regularly and was adamant that every meal required protein, so my consumption of meat, dairy and eggs was way above average, it was an essential part of my life. In fact, I remember being slightly outraged at Theological college when I heard that they were considering introducing ‘meat-free Mondays’. How dare they!

Yet here I was, meeting for the first time these unusual people called Vegans (I had no idea what that was). So, I made the fatal mistake, I started to ask them why they were vegan. I think one of the first conversations I had was around milk. The person I was speaking to me pointed out how weird it was that we readily drink the milk from another species, yet ironically, we'd think it very weird for an adult to drink human milk. They then went on to tell me about the acceptable levels of blood and pus that is allowed in milk....now the dairy industry argue that this is not true. I'm not a farmer so I can't tell you for sure, but I do know my next latte made me gag a bit. Again and again I used to meet vegans and now my curiosity was on the up I kept asking each of them why they became vegan. Over the last 3 years I've developed my own main reasons and I'll list them below.

Health reasons Firstly I think a plant-based diet is really good for you! Our bodies have many traits, such as our teeth, jaws and size of our intestines that show that we are mainly designed to eat plant-based foods (some suggest we are 97 percent herbivore). When you start to look into diet, you will soon realise that many of the 'truths' that we are told, come from research that is sponsored by the meat and dairy industry. There is now a wealth of research that shows how good a plant-based diet is for you. There is also plenty of research that suggests meat, poultry, eggs and fish are not and can indeed be very harmful. Many elite Athletes are now turning to a plant-based diet because the results can be quite extraordinary. As I say, I am no doctor, but I can tell you that I definitely feel better on a plant based diet, better than ever. Let me give you a biblical reason as well. Yes ok, I get that Jesus ate fish etc, I've heard that argument before, but Jesus did not eat factory farmed food on the scale it is today, that makes a huge difference, both environmentally and in ways of animal welfare. So all I'll point out is that in the Bible we were vegan first, it was only after we are some way into the fall, indeed after the flood narrative, that God says to Noah that we can now eat meat. The Bible also tends to suggest that in heaven/the restored world we'll be vegan too. So it wasn't in God's original plan and it doesn't seem to be in His final one, we might as well get practicing! Environmental reasons I think this has now been widely publicised, but meat and dairy industries are one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Have a look at this article from the Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth If we think about it logically, how much water and food do we need to feed a cow so that it can grow up and then we can eat it? Surely economically it makes better sense to just eat that food ourselves? Agriculture is dominated by meat and dairy, or crops that are grown as meat and dairy feed and this is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation. Now one of the rebuttals here that meat eaters love to throw back at vegans is that large amounts of deforestation is taking place to create land to grow soya (a staple of the vegan diet), yet what they fail to recognise it that actually around 70 percent of soya is fed to animals, and only around 6 percent is consumed directly by humans. (https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/why-tofu-consumption-is-not-responsible-for-soy-related-deforestation/) There is then the methane and carbon dioxide problem produced by cows and other livestock, and it is a real problem, producing more greenhouse gases than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together (https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/cow-emissions-more-damaging-to-planet-than-co2-from-cars-427843.html); 3.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide annually (https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190806-how-vaccines-could-fix-our-problem-with-cow-emissions). You've then got to think of all the bodily waste produced by animals and that needs to go somewhere too or be sanitised. I could go on about the environmental factors, but I think I'll leave it at that. I think it's commonly accepted now that the meat and dairy industry is one of the problems affecting climate change. Our diets have become so protein heavy that we consume more than ever, and it is changing the landscape of the world. As a Christian I'll just say that I believe we are called to steward God's creation and improve it rather than destroy it. The Bible I feel is quite clear on this. Animal Welfare Now this is the one that really gets me, the way we treat animals, just so that we can get pleasure out of eating them. I do accept that many people around the world need to eat animals and consume dairy to stay alive, but this isn't the case for us in the western world and there is no requirement for most of us to eat these products (except some may need to for allergies or other medical needs). Eating a plant based diet can be cheaper as well as healthier. The first thing that made me really pay attention to veganism were chickens. Ever wonder where the male chickens are? Well, there is a reason you can get paid £30-£40k a year to be a chicken sexer! Male chickens are not needed by the industry so are mainly gassed or put in a blender after birth. What does that say about the sanctity and the gift of God given life? The living conditions are more than disturbing too, particularly battery-farms, where chickens are in some cases forced to live pretty much on top of each other and their own urine, which can cause burns and blisters to their skin from the ammonia. Free Range in the UK isn't even 'free' as you'd imagine, for example, for egg-laying chickens there can be up to 9 hens per square metre, and for poultry chickens, up to 13 per square metre.

Cattle brings its own problems with many calves taken away from their mothers just after birth and the mother in effect loses her baby, and typically within 3 months are artificially inseminated again to be able to produce more milk. I think one way to cope with the trauma we know we are causing is to detach from what we are eating and compartmentalise one type of animal from another i.e., ones for eating and ones for domestic pets. Yet consider that pigs have been shown to be more intelligent than dogs, even outperforming 3-year-old children on cognition tests, yet we cage them up in small spaces and deprive them of a free life just because we like the taste of bacon. Fish farms well just google some videos and you'll see why they are not something to contribute towards, I could go on and on, but in all honesty I just want to ask you to do the research yourself. I've barely scratched the surface. We have made meat and dairy production a commercial process on an industrial scale. Now I don't want you to think I'm having a go at farmers, actually from the farmers I've spoken to I have huge sympathy. They care for animals greatly, but to stay in business means being competitive, because we, the consumer, keep demanding more for less. Let me summarise.

For me the decision comes to this, do I want to contribute to an industry that causes the suffering of animals, just because I like the taste of certain foods? I decided that I don't. For me each Christian will have to decide which battle against injustice they are being called to be in, but there are some general principles that I would hope we would all follow, and that is to try and live a life that doesn't rely on or cause suffering to other living, sentient beings. Now of course there are some areas in life that we may be ignorant of the consequences of our choices, but I don't think we can say that any more about food. For me, I think animals deserve respect and dignity in life. They do not have a voice so it's up to us to speak for them. Now by now I’m still expecting you to be reading this say, “yeah, but I just like cheese too much, I can’t give it up”. I’ve had so many people say that to me. Well, my fridge was full of the stuff, trust me I loved it more than you do. In addition to this, I used to eat meat with every meal, milk in my coffee and eggs for breakfast most days, but for the last 3 years no animal has had to suffer to allow me to live and that is a great thing to know. I still get asked "why are you a vegan", one day I'll respond with what I want to actually say, "why aren't you?"

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