Why Being Vegan Is Not ‘Like a Religion’

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Why Being Vegan Is Not ‘Like a Religion’

From Free From Harm
June 2013

Just believing in a faith or atheism is a personal decision that does not necessitate harm to others. Any belief system — secular or religious — can become either an impetus for living a compassionate life or justifying a violent way of life. Yet eating animal products always necessitates — at the very minimum — enslavement, violence and death to animals for food products we have no biological need for.

Recently a Facebook fan commented on our page (after many other comments had already posted) in response to a post we published about Edith, our latest rescued chicken. I decided to publish this exchange because it was a good example of the misguided yet all too common notion that veganism is like a religion.The implication is that vegans proselytize like evangelicals and try to convert people to their beliefs.

I could also sense in his comment the frustration of a non vegan person confronting what they perceive as the stereotypically indignant attitude of vegans. And I think this discussion brings to light the fact that sometimes we need to take a more encouraging approach with people, that is, if we want to open their minds and hearts to animals. And in doing so, we can debunk those negative stereotypes.

Comment: “So are all non-vegans ignorant and uneducated? I don’t believe that you are right to judge and label people based purely on your own beliefs. Does that mean that Christians, Catholics, Muslims, etc., are ignorant and uneducated because they do not share my beliefs as an atheist? I appreciate you are all passionate about this, but it’s unfair to criticize others because they are not.”

Free from Harm: “Alan, I agree to the extent that I wish that all of the comments here were focused on Edith, the 12-week-old chicken hen who was rescued from a trash bag, literally thrown away as trash, because our society regards these birds as such. I wish this fact disturbed people enough to seriously question why we continue to participate in this atrocity to 40 billion “meat” birds every year, rather than making this about our own egos and our own differences.

I wish there were hundreds of comments from non vegans saying what a beautiful and gentle baby bird Edith is and how horrific the poultry industry is that uses these innocents as commodities. My hope is that Edith can help people denounce what they know in their hearts is wrong and find the empathy they lost and maybe from this realization cultivate a change in their own lives.

And on your analogy between food choices and one’s choice of faith, I’d like to point out just how vastly different is the choice to eat animal products from one’s choice of faith. Just believing in a faith or atheism is a personal decision that does not necessitate harm to others. Any belief system — secular or religious — can become either an impetus for living a compassionate life or justifying a violent way of life. Yet eating animal products always necessitates — at the very minimum — enslavement, violence and death to animals for food products we have no biological need for. We should categorically reject animal exploitation for all the same reasons we categorically oppose the same for humans.