The Fellowship of Life
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.
Return to Lenten letters (2001-04)
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