LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Almost Vegan: It’s Not Always All Or Nothing January 9, 2019


We’ve been vegetarian for around 12 years now.  We didn’t just wake up one day and say “Let’s be vegetarians.”  It was just a process that happened.  It mostly started with me doing a 30-day juice fast.  After that we both started eating better.  At some point we cut out beef, chicken and pork. Eventually, we stopped eating fish as well.


Recently, my wife proclaimed she wanted to “go vegan”. She would have done it on her own, but I wanted to join her in that journey, as she did on mine.  When we became vegetarians, it was mostly a dietary/health decision.  More and more, it became an ethical/moral choice. And it is ethics and morality that are at the core of my wife’s desire to eat vegan.


I grew up on a farm.  We killed and ate animals.  It’s what we did.  And yet, if my dad saw anyone abusing an animal, well, he’d make it very clear that that was unacceptable.  If my brother or I were involved in such abuse, our backsides reaped the results.
I know. Many will say killing and eating animals is the ultimate abuse.  Believe me, when you look at the meat industry, there are things much worse than death.  Animals are literally tortured to provide food for the masses.  It all boils down to money and greed.  And, of course, it’s not just food.  It applies to cosmetics and much else as well.  There are many people who would rather remain ignorant.  Those who will refuse to watch videos like THIS, or THIS One, because they want to live as they do without accepting the responsibility for their actions.  The same principle applies to buying things made by slave labor.  Buy whatever you want, but OWN your actions and acknowledge their consequences.  FYI, according to US law, animals are allowed to be burned, shocked, poisoned, starved, addicted to drugs, and brain damaged without requiring the use of any painkillers.
Still, having grown up on a farm, I do believe that if you’re going to kill animals to eat them, you can still be ethical about it. Many vegans will likely disagree. That’s OK. We can do that.


However, the food industry and cosmetic industry, (with some exception) is certainly not ethical in it’s treatment of animals.  That is the motivating factor behind my wife’s decision to transition into being vegan.  I say transition because we decided not to throw out everything in our pantry/refrigerator/freezer.  The money was spent, so since our vegan eating is not about diet, the damage was already done.

Since ethics, and not diet, is our primary concern (although being healthier is a definite benefit) at home we still eat eggs (for now) that are locally produced and ethically sourced at farms we can actually visit and see how things are done.


Some people are very concerned about labels and legalism.  Yes, I get it.  If we eat eggs, we’re not vegan.  OK, then let’s say this: : We eat a vegan diet, except where we know that eating eggs is not a violation of our purpose in eating a vegan diet.” (The same principle applies to mild cross-contamination.)

On the PETA site (and they’re certainly the “go-to” for millions of vegetarians and vegans), they have some great advice:

Following a vegan lifestyle isn’t about purity—it’s about helping animals and doing the best that we can to reduce their suffering and avoid exploiting them while still living a normal life.  [And] Don’t grill restaurant servers about micro-ingredients (e.g., a tiny bit of a dairy “product” in the bun of a veggie burger). Doing so makes being vegan seem difficult and annoying to your friends and restaurant staff, which discourages them from going vegan themselves—and really hurts animals. We don’t need the “vegan police” making it seem as if vegan living is a chore. Snapping at the waiter sends the universal message that all vegans are, well, assholes.

There’s a great little book about going green.  It’s called “Do One Green Thing.” People who see all issues as “all or nothing,” often end up opting for “nothing.”  If you’re still a carnivore, try joining the “Meatless Monday” movement. Do something to help the planet and the creatures who live on it.


As I started off saying, people love labels, and they love excluding those outside of those labels.  Just as there is judgment in the LGBT community from the L and the G towards the B and the T, I often see judgment from vegans toward vegetarians.  The kind of toxic legalism that is seen in fundamentalist religions, sadly, isn’t exclusive to religion. Would I like to see all carnivores become vegetarians or vegans? ABSOLUTELY.  And we can certainly encourage others to do so.  And, of course, we MUST stand against the cruelty and abuse of animals. We use our voice, our vote, our money, our signature; whatever we can to end those atrocities.


But for me, I want to do what I can to reduce animal suffering while living in the real world.  I truly hate legalism. I’m wary of blanket labels. I’m definitely not big on following the law for the sake of the law*. All “laws” (including those we set up concerning vegetarians and vegans) are to provide a service.  When a law does not provide the intended service, I for one have no problem disregarding that law.  I want my actions to be purposeful and meaningful, and not blindly following any set of rules and laws.  That almost always leads to harm or disaster.


So for now, when we eat out, or at other’s homes, or at work carry-ins, we will tell other’s we’re vegan.  For in those cases, we truly are.  At home (or where we can verify our ethical goals are being met) we will be “almost vegan.”




*  Another example of not following the law for the sake of the law:
If I’m driving out in the country, and I come upon a 4-way stop, and I can clearly see there is no one or nothing in any other direction for miles, guess what; I’m Not Stopping! At that point, that law is providing no service to anyone.  Yeah, it’s still the law.  And if caught, I’m willing to pay the consequences without question.  I’ll own it. But I’m still not stopping. 🙂

 

A Walk In The Park April 16, 2010

We recently went to Headwaters park for a walk. It was our first time this season. We go there a lot throughout the summer. We try to hit various parks, but that’s one of our regulars.

I was enjoying the walk. Enjoying the view. I started thinking about the beauty of nature; of God’s creation. It’s easy, of course, to switch gears and start thinking about how we’ve messed up nature. Man has, with no doubt, had a negative influence on nature. We’re still messing up nature. But…

I started thinking about the park again, and how beautiful it was. I started to realize that the beauty of the park was, in part, due to man’s influence on nature. This park was created by professional landscapers. There are people who keep it mowed, trimmed, green and pristine. So, although we destroy, abuse, and trash the earth, we can, in fact, have a positive influence. This led me to recall God’s original intent for the interaction and harmony between man and the earth. And between one another.

In chapter 2 of Genesis we read, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

In Evangelical Christianity, I learned that the earth doesn’t really matter. We can treat it as we please, and God doesn’t really care. After all, it’s all gonna burn anyway, right? Part of the problem with modern Evangelicalism is the whole focus is “later.” Our lives are just a “waiting room,” and all we really want to do is leave. What a perversion of the gospel. What a perversion of what Jesus came to teach us.
As Greg X Voltz wrote in his song “Livin’ For The Bell,”
      “There’s a lot to get done before the end of the show,
       but it’s hard to get to it when you just want to go.”

I believe our lives do matter. They matter here. They matter now. I don’t think we have a clue as to how much what we do in our everyday lives will affect the rest of our eternity. I’m not talking about whether or not we “make it.” That issue is not in question for me. I’m talking about aspects of the rest of eternity that we can not yet understand. But, understand or not, I believe how we treat the planet God gave us, and put us in charge of caring for, matters.

The good thing is, it doesn’t have to be all negative. As my walk in the park helped me see, we can make it better. This applies, not just to our interaction with nature, but with each other as well. This is where the social justice of things like standing up for the oppressed and caring for the poor and needy comes in. I have a couple of friends who work with children in Haiti. They have done this long before the recent devastation happened. To me, this is a part of social justice. This is Christianity. I love that they do what they do.

I’ll probably never go to Haiti. It’s not something I’m very comfortable with. I can, though, support those who do go.
There are things I can do. We all have areas where God can use us to make things better. I don’t consider my wife and I fanatics. We don’t do everything “green,” but we do what we can. We can recycle, at least, some stuff. We can use organic and earth friendly products most of the time. We can’t give to all the needy, but we can go on the annual “Aids Walk,” and help raise funds for them. We can spend time with the lonely stranger that God has us cross paths with. And we can do this out of love, instead of seeing everyone as a “project;” as a “candidate for conversion.”

My life may not always be a walk in the park. But wherever the path leads, my walk matters. My life matters. What I do in relation to God, people, and the earth matters. This is my Life Walk.

 

 
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