Monday, 31 August 2009

Making the Compassionate Choice

Veganism is all about choice. Far too often, veganism is painted as some sort of self-sacrificing stance that turns even the most reasonable of people into activists who spend all day standing outside fashion houses with buckets of red paint (whilst secretly growing resentful of the fact that they haven’t had ice cream for 10 years).

Yet the fact is, in many places in the world, the things that vegans choose to give up (like cheese, ‘oh I could NEVER give up cheese!’) are things that would seem trivial to most people, and no sacrifice to make at all. Having an evening meal consisting of no more than rice and beans is considered a great blessing in many parts of the world. We have been seduced into thinking that it's our right to have the amount of consumer choice that we do, and the idea of sacrificing any sort of pleasure (strangely enough, particularly when food related), is not one that most people are comfortable with. Veganism is seen by many as a threat to their way of life, and even proximity to a vegan has seen many a meat-eater cling to their chicken burger that much more tightly.

But sacrifice, however small, is a necessary part of change, and it is also a big part of the Christian faith. So much suffering in the world is hidden from our eyes (whether that be by large-scale cover-ups or by glossy food packaging) and we can go on acting as we were before we knew about it, with an ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality, or we can try and be part of the movement that changes it. Being a vegan does not mean that you can’t do certain things, it means that you choose not to, and there is a great significance in that distinction. One does not become a vegan and then have that choice taken away; rather, it is a conscious effort every day to attempt to live compassionately, with a consideration for the rest of creation.

Being a vegan is one of the most joyful things in my life, and when given the opportunity to make a compassionate choice, I hope that I continue to take it. God's creation is such an incredible, wonderful, awe-inspiring thing, and I believe we should tread as lightly (and thoughtfully) on this earth as we possibly can.


  1. I only discovered your blog a couple of days ago. I hope you'll start posting again soon, as being a vegan Christian can be an isolating experience!

    It seems completely logical to me that Christianity (and all other religions that preach principles such as compassion and justice) should lead to veganism, but so few Christians seems to agree - citing "dominion" over animals, and ignoring the fact that the Garden of Eden (God's perfect creation) was vegan, and that in Heaven "the lion shall lay down with the lamb" (so it seems that even the carnivores will be vegan!)

    By the way, are you sure that Stork margarine is vegan? All margarine contains vitamin-D which can be animal-derived. I'd recommend Pure (which carries the vegan trademark) or a look at what else is listed in the Animal Free Shopper:

  2. Hi Robb,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    I agree with you - the idea of stewardship does not in any way entail us abusing our 'dominion', but is rather an opportunity to act compassionately towards what God has made. We should be protecting creation, not exploiting it, and seeking to end the injustice of suffering inflicted for our gain (cheaper supermarket prices).

    I love biblical imagery that uses peace between animals to describe what the world will be like when suffering ends. I interpret the verse you mentioned as attempting to represent the significant change that a new order will bring. The natural world is full of wonder and beauty, but also suffering and death, and this tension is something felt by all of us in our experience of what it is to live in an imperfect world. The lion and the lamb, side by side, speak to me of a time when all is reconciled with God, and a new order is created. What a beautiful image!

    My friend also pointed me to Malachi 4:2:

    'But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.' (NIV)

    I love this depiction of freedom! This verse is also in the song 'But For You Who Fear My Name', and the lyric is 'and you shall go forth again, skip about like calves, coming from their stalls at last'. 'At last' - Amen to that.

    I look forward to many more discussions with you, and will of course get back to the blogging very soon.

    (Thanks also for your comment about the margarine - I wasn't sure, and have now corrected the original post.)

    Have a lovely (vegan, I'm guessing!) Christmas, and enjoy celebrating the light of the world.



Sharing thoughts on peace, love, and vegan cupcakes!