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Christian Vegetarian Association Presents:
Take Heart!

A Condescending Carnivore

Paul Hansen, a CVA sustaining member, wrote this letter to us recently and I believe many of us might share some if his feeling and thoughts.

“Sometimes we vegetarians are accused—and guilty—of assuming the moral high ground and looking down upon our unenlightened, meat-eating friends. Of course, if we believe our food choices are intrinsically superior because of ethical, economic (land-use), environmental, and health reasons, it is hard to do otherwise. But I suspect some of us at least restrain ourselves by silently thinking "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Ignorance may or may not be excusable, depending on your tolerance level.

However, recently I was appalled at the blatant, in-your-face attitude of one particular restaurant owner, whose popular menu catered to mainstream American carnivores. While on vacation, some relatives of mine suggested we have a family reunion supper at "Famous Dave's Barbecue" in Minnetonka, Minnesota. After being seated, I soon noticed that all the waiters and waitresses were wearing black T-shirts with various inscriptions on their backs in white lettering. One read "WE DIG PIG". Another read "GET YOUR MEAT ON". Another read "WE WILL SERVE NO SWINE UNTIL IT'S TIME". Still others read "A RIB A DAY KEEPS THE VEGANS AWAY" or "A PIG A DAY KEEPS THE VEGANS AWAY." There may have been others I missed.

As I sat there trying to gage my own response, I couldn't help wondering what all those customers would say and do if they watched a few undercover videos taken at factory farms by PETA or the Human Farming Association. Many of them attend church on Sundays and sing the doxology, "Praise God ALL CREATURES here below", as well as other hymns that affirm the value of all life. Juxtaposing such words on the screen with images of animal cruelty done just to maximize profit would, I think, be a powerful way to show the incongruity of meat industry practices with genuine animal care. Some of the abuse is so repulsive it should be a turn-off even to those who lack a religious perspective.

Thankfully, many faith-based groups like CVA are paying more than mere lip service to the principle that "animal cruelty ought to be avoided." Sadly, however, most conservative churches have yet to see the moral "disconnect" between that principle and their food choices, which support an industry that reduces sentient mammals to the stature of mere material to be processed in the most efficient manner possible. Overturning centuries of culinary custom—much like ending the annual Canadian slaughter of harp seals or the illegal poaching of tigers, bears, and elephants—may require nothing short of a cultural revolution. And that revolution, if it ever comes, will be accelerated by the continuing efforts of groups like PETA and CVA to inform people about the sort of lives animals lead from birth to their arrival in neat, cellophane packages in supermarkets. Factory farms want the public to remain ignorant of "what goes on in there." It's time for the church to come out of the "dark ages", to re-evaluate the relation of humans to animals, and to shine a light on practices that subvert God's intention for creatures on this planet.

Keep up the good work!.

Your question and comments are welcome

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