How did you, as a Christian, become involved in animal protection?
I really feel no differently as a Christian with regard to animal protection than anyone else who does not want to cause suffering to his or her fellow creatures. The fact that I am a Christian simply makes me more acutely aware of my duty to defend the innocent and protect those who cannot protect themselves. Saint Francis of Assisi stated it perfectly, in my opinion, when he said, “All creatures are created from the same paternal heartbeat of God. Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop here is a complete misapprehension of the intentions of providence. We have a higher mission. God wishes that we should succor them when they require it.” If you are asking what caused me to become a committed vegan, I would have to say it was when I saw the film Earthlings. My little sister was already a vegan at the time, as was my mother. They suggested I watch the film one afternoon. It was the turning point for me. I walked into the room as a person who believed in, and solicited, “humane” meat, and I walked out of the room a committed vegan, and I have never looked back. That was four years ago, and it was the best decision I have ever made.
How has this impacted your relationship with God?
Basically it has made me more humble as I now realize what an incredible responsibility rests on my shoulders in regard to the treatment of animals. I know that one day I will answer for my actions and, more importantly, what I didn’t do to ease suffering in the world.
There are a lot of Bible passages that demonstrate God’s love for animals. What is your favorite?
There are so many such passages in scripture that it’s hard to choose one in particular, especially since the most powerful quotes are not only from the Bible but also from many different saints, popes, and 2,000 years of Sacred Tradition regarding animals. If I had to pick, I’d say that Isaiah 11:6-9 really strikes me:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This particular verse is my favorite, in this sense, because it demonstrates how the world should have always been—that is, Eden, and that it will return to such a state again. There is realism, an acknowledgment of the suffering in the world, but there is also the promise of justice. Isaiah exemplifies hope.
What is your favorite food?
Without a doubt, I would say that the Tofurky Italian Sausage is my all-time favorite vegan food item. It’s primarily tofu and seitan, is loaded with protein, tastes amazing, and is great on the grill!
What would you tell a fellow Christian who is thinking of going vegan?
I would say that going vegan would be the best possible thing that you could do to grow closer to God and to fully appreciate the wonders of creation. I remember specifically one afternoon, I was standing outside, and I looked up at several birds flying in and out of a tree next to me. It was then that I realized, I am finally, truly at peace with nature. I remember thinking to myself that I do my best to no longer cause pain and suffering to my fellow earthlings, no matter the species, but rather respect and defend my nonhuman companions. Veganism is very spiritual because we live in a spiritual world, and when we live with respect for animals and nature, you cannot help but feel closer to the Spirit of creation—that is, the spirit of God.
Many Christians will claim that when God gave people “dominion over the animals” that this was automatic permission from God to use animals however we saw fit. This could not be further from the truth, especially since it has been proved time and time again that we do not need animals for food, clothing, science, etc. Dominion does not mean enslaving and butchering millions of sentient animals every day. On the contrary, dominion over the animals is a responsibility given to us by God to take care of creation here on Earth. In the words of Blessed John Henry Newman:
Now what is it that moves our very heart, and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes? I suppose this: first, that they have done us no harm; next, that they have no power whatever to resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their suffering so especially touching … there is something so very dreadful, so Satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power.
For one of our greatest Christians to refer to animal slaughter as “satanic” should make every Christian stop and think and err on the side of love.