Want to stick out like a sore thumb? Go to a church potluck and fill your plate with nothing but fruit. Or veggies and hummus. Or, don't even bother with a plate—because, as a vegan, there may be nothing you can eat there.
"Why aren't you eating?"
"Because I'm a vegan."
A vegan is someone who eschews all animal products. Vegetarians don't eat meat, and vegans take it one step further. As a vegan, I don't eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy. No cheese, no ice cream, no omelets. I also don't eat gelatin or honey, and I don't buy leather. If it comes from an animal, I don't consume it.
I get that a lot. Why would a person voluntarily give up bacon, pumpkin spice lattes, and macaroni and cheese?
Believe it or not, it all comes down to my faith. I pursue a plant-based diet so I can better serve God's creation: the animals, our neighbors, and the earth.
The Toots of Veganism
Let's start from the beginning. In Genesis, humans were given charge or dominion over the animals. But what does that mean—to have dominion? Household pets are fed, walked, and cared for; our society is outraged over animal abuse. So why is it that we ignore our God-given dominion over animals when it comes to food production?
Most of us know only vague details about the cruelty of factory farming, but the suffering is impossible to ignore. Cows endure milking machines latching onto their chapped and infected udders multiple times per day, extracting milk produced by repeated forced impregnation. Cows and pigs both experience depression and anxiety from being trapped in too-small gestation crates and pens, and frequently develop sores and infection from standing in their own waste. Male chicks, useless to the egg industry, are discarded en masse in dumpsters, where they either starve to death or suffocate under the weight of the other babies.
These are the creatures created by God, the "livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals" (Genesis 1:24). These are the creatures over which God has given us dominion. God tells us, "clothe yourselves in tenderhearted mercy, kindness . . ." (Colossians 3:12). There is no compassion in factory farming, no kindness in the treatment of these poor creatures that God created. As Christians, we are called to reach out, to protest, to fight—not to affirm this practice for the sake of our own gain.