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Celebrating Coretta, Who Celebrated Nonviolence - and Stopped Eating Animals
By Stephanie Ernst
This is the day when we annually celebrate the life, spirit, contributions, and philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. But I'm not going to write about MLK today. I'm going to write, just briefly, about Coretta. Those opposed to the idea of animal rights, those who consider the fight for animal rights to be distinct from and lesser than other social justice movements, and--most clearly--those who consider veganism extreme could learn something from Coretta Scott King.
For more than the last decade of her extraordinary, compassionate, and passionate life, Coretta Scott King was a vegan. Really. Not an "extremist," not a "fanatic," not a "one-note," "single-issue" zealot - just a vegan.
In addition to fighting against racial injustices, Coretta Scott King fought openly and loudly for LGBT rights. She opposed war and violence and championed peace. And for the last 15 years of her life, she improved her own health and life and saved hundreds of animals' lives by refusing to eat their bodies or what came from their bodies.
On her health, she said in Ebony in 2003, "I feel blessed that I was introduced to this lifestyle more than 12 years ago by Dexter. I prefer to eat mostly raw or 'living' foods. The benefits for me are increased energy, a slowing of the aging process, and I have none of the diseases like hypertension, heart disease and diabetes that many people my age seem to get." And Coretta and Martin Luther King's son Dexter, also a vegan and, as noted, the one who introduced his mother to the lifestyle, considers veg*nism the "logical extension" of his father's philosophy of nonviolence, reported Vegetarian Times in 1995 in the write-up of the magazine's interview with him.
Every time someone remarks or implies that vegans are nothing but animal rights "fanatics" or health-obsessed neurotics who care about nothing else, who are vegans to the exclusion of caring about or fighting against any other injustices, one of the many people who comes to mind as proving this wrong is Coretta Scott King. So today I remember and honor not only Martin Luther King Jr. but Coretta Scott King as well. If I must be an extremist or a fanatic simply because I am a vegan, then I am at least happy with the company.
Martin Luther King taught us all nonviolence. I was told to extend nonviolence to the mother and her calf.
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?"
Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?"
Vanity asks the question, "Is it popular?"
But conscience asks the question, "Is it right?"
And there comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
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