Ellen Gould (Harmon) White and The Seventh Day Adventist Church
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Ellen Gould (Harmon) White and The Seventh Day Adventist Church

By Merritt Clifton, Animal People

The Seventh Day Adventist church as it exists today was largely created through the teachings of Ellen Gould (Harmon) White, 1827-1915, who was a staunchly vegetarian anti-vivisectionist, well known for her love of animals as well as for her religious inspirations and charismatic manner.

An early convert of Seventh Day Adventist Church founder William Miller (1782-1849), Ellen White along with the other "Millerites" prepared for the "Second Coming of Jesus" in 1844. When the Second Coming did not come, Ellen White and her husband James White built the remnants of the sect into a substantial vegetarian religion, which continued to emphasize vegetarianism and opposition to vivisection at least as late as 1962, when I attended a Seventh Day Adventist school in Santa Rosa, California.

The Adventists have de-emphasized vegetarianism in recent years, following the deaths of the last people who knew Ellen White in person, to the point that the majority of Adventists today are not vegetarian; but it is difficult for me to imagine that anyone familiar with Ellen White's teachings and personal example could possibly condone what this report describes.

It is as much a travesty of White's teachings as would be a plant producing kosher or halal pork sausages.

The following selection of Ellen White's statements about how humans should relate to animals all pertain to eating animals, not directly to vivisection, but make quite clear that preventing animal suffering was among her paramount concerns, and that if one should not cause an animal to suffer for food, one should not cause an animal to suffer for any other reason:

  • God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden was the food man's wants required. (1864)
  • The diet of animals is vegetables and grains. Must the vegetables be animalized, must they be incorporated into the system of animals, before we get them? Must we obtain our vegetable diet by eating the flesh of dead creatures? God provided fruit in its natural state for our first parents. He gave to Adam charge over the garden, to dress it, and to care for it, saying, "To you it shall be for meat." One animal was not to destroy another animal for food." (1896)
  • Let our ministers and canvassers step under the banners of strict temperance. Never be ashamed to say, "No thank you; I do not eat meat. I have conscientious scruples against eating the flesh of dead animals. (1901)
  • Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing.(1902)
  • Animals are becoming more diseased and it will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists. Foods that are healthful and life sustaining are to be prepared, so that men and women will not need to eat meat.
  • Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God's original purpose in the creation of man.(1903)
  • The moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills. Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul. Think of the cruelty to animals meat-eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard those creatures of God! (1905)
  • Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded into filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses. (1905)
  • It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make good blood. These elements are not so well or so fully supplied by a flesh diet. Had the use of flesh been essential to health and strength, animal food would have been included in the diet appointed man in the beginning. (1905)
  • Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and the vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct by eating the food that God provided for our use! (1905)

An Ellen White expert could undoubtedly find quotes explicitly addressing vivisection.


For more about Merritt Clifton and Animal People, visit them online.

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