How did you, as a Christian, become involved in animal protection?
I have a unique story compared to a lot of people involved in the animal rights movement. I grew up in a Southern family full of hunters who valued the idea of family, living off the land, and hunting for our own food. From a very young age, I learned how to separate the emotions that I felt toward the animals I saw on the side of the road or at a park from the animals I looked at down the end of a rifle barrel. I played around with the idea of going vegetarian for a long time as a result of a few videos I had seen on the Internet, but I justified my meat-eating with affirmations that I hunted my own food and that I was carrying on a tradition of self-sufficiency. In high school, I was hog hunting one afternoon and shot a hog in the stomach and had to track him about a mile into the woods. When I finally got to him, I was confronted with a squealing pig who had the most disturbing look of fear in his eyes. After putting him out of his misery, I had to drag him out of the woods. It was a certainly a life-changing experience. When I told my girlfriend, who was vegetarian at the time, what had happened, she convinced me to stop eating meat. As soon as people found out, they would justify their support for these industries by saying things like, “That’s what animals are for” or “God put them here for us to use.” This constant backlash against my act of compassion for animals is what propelled me to start informing people about the truth of animal exploitation and to dig deeper into understanding why people, especially those within the Christian community, continually justify such an abuse of power.
How has this impacted your relationship with God?
Since I have included animals in my sphere of moral concern, it’s greatly affected the way that I view God’s relationship with the world. I have begun to understand that God wants to be revealed in the world continually and that it is our duty as people of faith to resist all forms of violence so that God may be manifested through our acts of love and kindness, no matter how big or small. Through this understanding, I have come to know that God is constantly dancing all around me, and it is up to me to have the eyes to see and appreciate that.
There are a lot of Bible verses that demonstrate God’s love for animals. What is your favorite?
Though it does not reference animals specifically, Romans 8:18-21 is my vegan battle cry:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
What is your favorite food?
Mongolian tofu at Tan’s Asian Café in Tallahassee, Florida. I also like anything sweet!
What would you tell a fellow Christian who is thinking about going vegan?
Keep your head up and remember that there is no right or wrong way to go vegan. Some people go vegan over night, and some people have to take their time. Whether your transition is slow or fast, it should be a fun and exciting experience. Bake vegan goods for your friends, try new restaurants, and figure out how to make some of your favorite foods vegan. You are changing a significant part of your life in response to the exploitation of billions of animals a year—you should be very proud of yourself!