The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973



Lenten Letter
By J. M. Gilheany

A vegetarian Lent will expose animal cruelty

In your letters page (Catholic Times, February 11), the question was raised "Has Vatican lost plot on meat?" The answer would naturally vary, depending on which particular Christian was asked of it.

Although a vegetarian, I can easily empathise with the economic pressures facing farmers, which I'm doubtless partly blamed for! Animal-based agriculture is indeed ancient and pervades much of our social and economic fabric. By comparison, the rapid increase in vegetarianism of the last few decades, is for the most part, based on comparitively fresh insights and ideologies.

I would suggest that it is the Holy Spirit, which is leading us away from animal use, for unnecessary food purposes.

The animal rights movement has, in a sense, been 'sprung' on those with a direct involvement in the meat industry, either as producers or consumers. It should be considered however, that it was a ruthless pursuit of intensively-derived profits, at any cost to the animals concerned, that led to mass revulsion at such vast exploitation.

At their rare best, abattoirs will "process" animals rendered unconscious, via electrocution, prior to having their throats cut. We have come to take the term "humane slaughter" as being the most appropriate description of this state of affairs.

Yet is this really a practice that religious adherents should wish to countenance, let alone contribute to?

There is little to be gained from attempting to deny that the whole process is pitiless and gruesome. Our otherwise widespread Christian virtues of love, mercy and authentic respect for life are being callously rationed, to satisfy a needless desire for meat.

I can only pray for the countless animal lives that our prevailing theology holds cheap. I pray also that fellow Christians involved in animal farming will increasingly discern the signs of our times. There exists a less violent way of living alongside the animal creation, which it would be wrong to resist.

I would accordingly draw the attention of your readers to this year's Vegetarian Lent initiative, which seeks to introduce Christians to a humane alternative to slaughter.

Catholic Times

Return to Lenten letters (2001-04)

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