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Article: Christianity & Vegetarianism Print E-mail
Christianity and Vegetarianism


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Christianity and Vegetarianism: Some thoughts...

Compiled by David Ogilvie

Animals are God's creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God's sight. ... Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God's absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.
- Rev. Andew Linzey, Professor of Theology, Oxford University
(For more information about Rev. Andrew Linzey's writings, please refer to the Further Reading section below.)

Many Christians seem to turn a blind eye to the suffering of animals that is inflicted by humans. Sure, they are generally kind and caring people, who may love their dog or cat, but they do not seem to be at all concerned about the plight of the pigs, chickens, sheep and cows that they themselves eat.

I find it difficult to understand why these people, who generally consider themselves to be compassionate and caring, are not concerned about the suffering of these animals. That these people who teach about a loving, compassionate, merciful God, contribute to so much unnecessary misery and suffering in their own lives.

I aim to explore the issues of Christianity and vegetarianism on this page. To me, vegetarianism is fundamental to compassion, and I personally believe that a loving and compassionate God would prefer humans to be vegetarian, especially these days, and especially when it is better for our health, is less wasteful of resources, and is more sustainable for the beautiful planet that He has created.

Any feedback about the ideas presented on this page is encouraged and most welcome. Please send your comments to webmaster@vnv.org.au. (As I often receive comments or questions that are already covered on this page, please read the page in its entirety first!)

As a priest of the worldwide Anglican communion I openly accuse each one of its branches of falsely portraying the love, mercy and compassion of God by making them far too small... to the leaders of each major denomination I would equally say: "You take the God of the Bible and by your theology you shrink Him and His love as only embracing humanity! My God is concerned about the beasts of the field and the birds of the air (Psalm 50:10-11), whereas you have limited His love and all embracing compassion to your own motley species"... So lacking in vital moral issues has Christendom become that its not been unknown to tuck into veal at a religious retreat, or crack open battery eggs while an extract from some devotional work or the bible itself is being read.
- James Thompson

Index to this page:
          My Thoughts
                    In the beginning...
                    The Lord's Prayer
                    Would Jesus approve of meat eating in today's world?
                    Mercy on the Day of Judgement
                    The Golden Rule
                    "Animals eat other animals. So it's ok for us to eat them too."
                    "But farm animals don't really suffer"
                    Helping animals doesn't prevent people helping humans
                    Animal sacrifices
                    Common sense
                    Conclusion
          Relevant Links, Churches, Groups and Organisations
          Relevant Sermons
          Further Reading
          Articles reproduced from other websites:
                    - What Would Jesus Eat...Today? Questions and Answers About Vegetarianism for
                      Christians
  (opens in new window)
                    - The Value of Life
  (opens in new window)
                    - Another Look at Christianity and Vegetarianism 
(opens in new window)
                    -
The Split in the Early Church  (opens in new window)

 


What about Islam & Judaism and Vegetarianism?

Islam and Animal Welfare

The following articles by Richard H. Schwartz have been reproduced from
Tikkun Magazine:
    - 18 Reasons Jews Shouldn't Be Vegetarians (And Why They're Wrong)
    - Vegetarianism: Essential for Jewish Renewal?
    - Do You Eat Fish?



CHRISTIANITY AND VEGETARIANISM


My Thoughts

In the beginning...

In the Bible, it states that in the beginning, after God had created the heavens and the earth, He created human beings:

Then God said, "And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small."
- Genesis 1:26

Although this passage seems to imply that God intended humans to dominate the animals (have power over them), the next few verses seem to convey that the human-animal relationship was to be more of a guardianship. Humans were to be in charge of the animals, and were to eat plant foods:

He created them male and female, blessed them, and said, "Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds and all the wild animals. I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat; but for all the wild animals and for all the birds I have provided grass and leafy plants for food" - and it was done. God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased.
- Genesis 1:27:31

So in the beginning, it seems that God intended that humans (Adam and Eve) as well as the animals would be vegetarian. And that humans would live in harmony with the animals.

Permission to eat meat?

Later on in Genesis, after God had attempted to purge the world of sin with the Great Flood, it seems that He 'changed his mind' on what was ok for humans to eat:

God blessed Noah and his sons and said, "Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth. All the animals, birds, and fish will live in fear of you. They are all placed under your power. Now you can eat them, as well as green plants; I give them all to you for food.
- Genesis 9:1-3

So now it seems that God had given humans permission to eat meat.

A bit further into the Bible, in the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, it is clarified further:

"Do not eat anything that the Lord has declared unclean. You may eat these animals: cattle, sheep, goats, deer, wild sheep, wild goats, or antelopes - any animals that have divided hoofs and that also chew the cud. You may not eat camels, rabbits, or badgers. They must be considered unclean... Do not eat pigs... They must be considered unclean... Do not eat any of these animals or even touch their dead bodies. You may eat any kind of fish that has fins and scales... You may eat any clean bird. But these are the kinds of birds you are not to eat: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buzzards, vultures, crows; ostriches; seagulls, storks, herons, pelicans, cormorants; hoopoes; and bats." [Yes, bats are listed here as a type of bird, when they are in fact mammals!]
Deuteronomy 14:3-18 (also Leviticus 11:1-47)

These passages do quite clearly state that God now permitted certain animals to be eaten. Bear in mind that this is an account of God's dealing with his people in a desert rather than dealing with us in a bountiful 21st century Western country.

Some Christians I have spoken to even think that animals were created by God specifically to be eaten. To me this is inconsistent with a loving and compassionate God. Why would a loving, merciful and compassionate God create sentient animals for us to eat, and give them a highly developed capacity to suffer and feel fear and pain like we do? That just does not make sense to me. When you really think about it, creating sentient animals for this purpose is a horrible thing to do!

The 'new heavens and new earth'

Later, in the book of Isaiah, the 'new heavens and a new earth' are described:

Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats. Calves and lion cubs will feed together, and little children will take care of them. Cows and bears will eat together, and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace. Lions will eat straw as cattle do. Even a baby will not be harmed if it plays near a poisonous snake. On Zion, God's holy hill, there will be nothing harmful or evil.
- Isaiah 11:6-9

So it seems that the 'new heavens and a new earth' will see a return to a paradise where animals and humans will live in peace, and the animals will again be vegetarian.

Compassion

Considering the above passages, in my opinion the most appropriate way for Christians to live would be the way God intended originally, or the way He intends it to be in the 'new heavens and new earth' (i.e. be vegetarian and live in harmony with animals). This would be more appropriate than what was permitted after Adam and Eve disobeyed Him and when 'all hell broke loose into the world', and the world was 'full of sin'.

But even if it is acceptable to God that Christians eat meat today, is it a bad thing to abstain so as to live a more merciful and compassionate life? Is it a bad thing to strive towards the peaceful world Isaiah envisions and be vegetarian now? Surely not. Especially when there are health benefits of a meat-free diet too. I think God would think it was wonderful that people show more mercy than He requires.

The Lord is loving and merciful... He is good to everyone and has compassion on all he has made.
- Psalms 145:8-9

"To shut your mind, heart, imagination to the sufferings of others is to begin slowly but inexorably to die. It is to cease by inches from being human, to become in the end capable of nothing, generous or unselfish – or sometimes capable of anything, however terrible."
- John Austin Baker, Bishop of Salisbury (1928- )

The Lord's Prayer

If Christians say the Lord's Prayer ("...thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."), they are stating they would like God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. If heaven is a place of harmony where humans and animals live together in peace, as Isaiah envisions, then shouldn’t it be the intention of Christians to try to live in harmony with animals on earth?

Would Jesus approve of meat eating in today's world?

If Christians believe that Jesus would approve of their eating of meat, could they picture Him working in an abattoir? Could they see him shackling the animals or slitting their throats? And if not, could they believe that He would delegate to them the task that he was not prepared to do Himself? And would they themselves be comfortable working in an abattoir? Or would they just prefer, as they currently do, that someone else does that work behind closed doors, and out of sight and out of mind? Leaving them to simply buy the camouflaged body of what was once the living creature, that is now nicely packaged on a convenient polystyrene tray at the supermarket? Hmmm... I wonder...

-----

Dr J. Keith Akins is Director of Criminal Justice-Graduate Studies and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Houston-Victoria. Dr Akins attained his MA and PhD in anthropology and religion from the University of Florida, and his BA in history from Florida State University. Following is the last paragraph of his article on whether Christ was a vegetarian:

"Jesus believed in simple living and nonviolence, and felt that this was part of the law of God. Jesus was undoubtedly vegetarian, since this was the original teaching of Jewish Christianity. Jesus did not bring a new theology, but rather a radical understanding of the law. For Jesus, the law commands nonviolence; we are not to shed blood, whether the blood of humans in warfare or the blood of animals in meat consumption or animal sacrifice. Jesus risked and gave his life to disrupt the wicked and bloody animal sacrifices in the temple. But the religion of Jesus has been lost from modern Christianity."

The rest of Dr Akins' article can be found at www.compassionatespirit.com/was_jesus_a_vegetarian.htm.

Mercy on the Day of Judgement

Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!
- Matthew 5:7

On the Day of Judgement how can we expect God, who has power over us, to have compassion and mercy on us when we have not been compassionate and merciful to those that we have power over (i.e. animals)? How can we expect mercy and compassion when we are indifferent to animals that are killed for our food, indifferent to the suffering and misery in intensive farms and the slaughter of animals, all of which is completely unnecessary?

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule, 'treat others as you would have them treat you', is fundamental to Christianity, and in my opinion is applicable to all beings, not just humans. But how many Christians would want to be treated the way food animals are?

A good man takes care of his animals, but wicked men are cruel to theirs.
- Proverbs 12:10

"Animals eat other animals. So it's ok for us to eat them too."

Many Christians believe that because God has created some animals to be carnivorous that it is ok for humans to be carnivorous too. To me this is flawed logic. Yes, it is true that some animals in the wild kill other animals and eat them for food, but it is also true that other animals only eat plant foods. Why look specifically at the carnivorous animals as models on which to base our own behaviour?

Basically, to me, the fact that some animals kill and eat other animals is of no relevance to what I think I should be eating. First, physiologically I am an omnivore which means I can live very healthily on plant foods only, if I so choose. Second, as a human being, I have a highly developed capacity to feel empathy and compassion for others, including other species. Third, I am fortunate enough to have an abundant food supply that contains a very wide variety of different foods. So for me, being in a position where I am able to, I consciously choose those foods that minimise suffering and harm, i.e. vegetarian foods. I personally do not want animals to suffer and be killed simply because I like the taste of meat when I have an abundance of alternative foods available that are satisfying and healthy. What animals may or may not eat is of no relevance.

"But farm animals don't really suffer"

Some Christians think that it is ok to eat farm animals because they believe they don't really suffer. This is a complete delusion! In our current society, suffering and cruelty is unfortunately an inherent part of the animal industry.

If suffering and cruelty were not an inherent part of the animal industry, why then, for instance, can pigs and chickens in intensive farms be kept in such appalling conditions that if you kept your dog or cat in the same conditions you would be prosecuted under cruelty to animal charges? And meat animals, particularly pigs, have just as much capacity to suffer as dogs and cats.

To produce meat economically and in the vast quantities required to appease the human appetite for flesh, animals are not cared for much beyond the absolute minimum standards and there is often considerable cruelty. All meat eaters need to take partial responsibility for this because it occurs to put meat on their plate. It's that simple.

For those Christians who are completely ok with eating meat, I suggest they visit a modern intensive farm and an abattoir and then tell me whether what they see would be approved by a loving and compassionate God. I very much doubt that many would think it was ok. From the conversations I have had with many Christians, the suffering of these animals is something they just do not want to think about. And with it being out of sight it is conveniently out of mind.

(If Christians are unwilling to visit these places, we are more than happy to send them a copy of Meet Your Meat which is video footage of intensive farms and abattoirs. Let us know if you would like a copy, it's free for people living in Australia. If you say that it is ok for humans to eat meat and that it is what a loving God intended, then you shouldn't have any qualms about viewing the footage.)

"Now what is it that moves our very heart, and sickens us so much as the cruelty shown to poor brutes? I suppose this; first, that they have done us no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their sufferings 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."
- Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

Helping animals doesn't prevent people helping humans

Most Christians put the importance of animal welfare issues a distant second to human welfare issues. Which may be fair enough. But why not help humans and help animals as well? Christians can continue to do all the voluntary work they currently do to help humans, but also be a vegetarian at the same time. Being concerned about animal welfare issues isn't mutually exclusive to being concerned about human-related issues. Being a vegetarian doesn't have to detract from any other work Christians currently do, it's just that when they eat, which we all need to do, they make choices to help minimise unnecessary animal suffering.

I, personally, cannot understand why most Christians choose to eat meat, when it is so easy these days to be vegetarian.

"[W]hen non-vegetarians say that “human problems come first,” I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals."
- Peter Singer

Just as an aside, many people do not realise that during periods of starvation in third world countries, grain crops are often exported from these countries to the western world to feed intensively farmed animals. This is a massive waste of food because less than 10% of the food value of these crops is converted to food energy that is obtainable from the meat. It makes much more sense to feed the crops directly to people. So being veggo can actually help people too! (Of course, there are political forces behind these food distribution issues, but as a vegetarian I am happy to know that I am not contributing to this food wastage while people are starving.)

Animal sacrifices

While on the topic of animals, I'd briefly like to talk about the sacrifice of animals that occurs throughout the Bible to 'atone the sins of man'. I cannot understand why a compassionate and loving God would ever request that animals be sacrificed like this. When one thinks about it deeply and objectively it just does not make sense. What relevance does killing an animal have to the sin of a human being? No relevance at all, in my opinion. Self-sacrifice, or even suicide, for one's sins would make more sense.

Think about it. If you did something terribly wrong, would it make amends for you to take an animal and sacrifice it? Would that help the situation in any way? No it wouldn't. It wouldn't make any difference at all. You are ultimately still responsible and accountable for your wrong doing. How does killing an animal take that away?

If one uses even just a little common sense, the literal sacrifice of animals to 'atone the sins of man' is a completely ridiculous concept. Why then is it mentioned throughout the Bible, I hear you ask? I am of the opinion that it simply became incorporated into the Bible during times when humans were very superstitious. It's as simple as that.

Common sense

Regardless of whether God has given us permission to kill and eat animals, the reality is that animals do suffer to put meat on the table. And this is something we all need to acknowledge and accept if we choose to eat meat.

For a moment, put the Bible aside and think about this. Basically, as human beings we need to eat food to live. And we have a choice about what we eat. Regardless of what the Bible says, why not choose to eat those foods that allow us to be more compassionate (especially when there are associated health benefits) and leave aside those foods that cause suffering? When answering this question, most people decide to continue eating meat just because they like the taste (or because of laziness or convenience). And in my opinion, this desire for the taste of flesh is no different to other desires, i.e. lust, greed, selfishness etc.

"Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies, to have one living creature fed by the death of another! In the midst of such wealth as earth, the best of mothers, provides, nothing forsooth satisfies you but to behave like the Cyclopes, inflicting sorry wounds with cruel teeth! You cannot appease the hungry cravings of your wicked, gluttonous stomachs except by destroying some other life."
- Pythagoras

Conclusion

Ultimately, to me it doesn't matter whether the Bible says it is ok to eat meat or not. I simply decline to eat it because I wish to be a more compassionate person. And as I said earlier in this article, is it a bad thing to be more compassionate and merciful than that required anyway?

Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission - to be of service to them whenever they require it. .. If you have men who will exclude any of God′s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.
- Saint Francis of Assisi


Relevant Links, Churches, Groups and Organisations

The above are only my thoughts about this issue. For more comprehensive information please contact:

Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia
For more than 130 years Seventh-day Adventists have practiced a vegetarian dietary lifestyle because of their belief in the holistic nature of humankind.  Whatever is done in eating or drinking should honor and glorify God and preserve the health of the body, mind and spirit.
For a Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on The Vegetarian Diet click here.

International Network for Religion and Animals (Australia)
PO Box 86, Birdwood SA 5234
The International Network for Religion and Animals was formed in the late 1980s and has branches around the globe: Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK. Over the years many religions have been represented, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.
The main purpose of INRA is to encourage discussions between religious leaders and members of their communities, about the ways in which humans are required to relate to other species. By providing literature and an advisory service, INRA urges religious communities to explore the ways in which their spiritual laws and teachings promote compassion and kindness for all creatures.

The Australian Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare
4/35 Morrah Street, Parkville VIC 3052, ph: 03 9347 2851
Contact: John Drennan (johndrennan1934@yahoo.com)
Through prayer, study and other means, ACSCAW ("The Ark in Australia") tries to promote awareness of all kinds of animals and their needs within a context of Christian theology.

The Earth Team (Australia)
The Earth Team is a network of people within the Uniting Church who are committed to working for environmental justice. The Earth Team seeks to foster a greater awareness of local, national, and global environmental concerns within our local church; communities and beyond. We share a common desire to explore the links between ecology and the Christian faith in a practical and enjoyable way.

Vegetarian & Vegan Society of Queensland (Australia)
The Religion and Spirituality section of the Vegetarian & Vegan Society of Queensland's website contains the following excellent and very interesting articles:
     - Why I Am Vegan - Jeffrey M. Freedman
     - The Value of Life
(reproduced here)
     - Another Look at Christianity and Vegetarianism
(reproduced here)
     - The Split in the Early Church
(reproduced here)
     - What Would Jesus Eat...Today?
(reproduced here)
     - Aquinas, Animal Rights, And Christianity
     - George Bernard Shaw - Social Poetry
     - Black Elk Speaks

God and Animals - In Defense of Creation (USA)
This site currently features Christianity and Judaism and their messages of reverence for animals and nature. Over time, they hope to provide compelling and prophetic messages from all the world's religions. Included on the website is a selection of Professor Andrew Linzey’s articles, addresses and sermons on the theological and ethical aspects of animal rights that aim to provide an introduction to the various biblical, historical and theological aspects of Christian thought about animals. 

Christian Vegetarian Association (USA)
An international ecumenical association of Christians witnessing to the love, compassion, and peace of Christ by adopting and advocating a vegetarian diet. CVA aims to:
- share with non-vegetarian Christians how a vegetarian diet can add
  meaning to one's faith, aid in one's spirituality, and enhance one's moral
  life.
- show the world that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for both humans
  and animals by living a consistent Christian life of peace and non-violence
  toward all God's creatures.

Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (UK)
The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals is a UK based Christian organisation. Our main aim is to raise awareness of animal welfare issues within the Anglican Church and the wider Christian community. We are ecumenical and welcome all Christian denominations as members and supporters.
As the Psalmist says in Psalm 148, animals in their amazing variety of species were all created for the glory of God and to praise His name. They were not created for our exploitation and domination.
...
My name is Olga Parkes and I live in Newcastle, New South Wales. I am a member of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals and I work in my own Diocese of Newcastle, and more widely, to encourage the Church to look at animal issues, which cannot be separated from environmental issues. Environment is high priority in the Anglican Church. However, so far, animals are not a serious consideration.
I would appreciate contact from any Anglicans who would like to see animals on the Anglican agenda.
My address is animals@networksmm.com.au.

The Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) (Canada & USA)
SERV is an interfaith effort to gain a more humane, just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world. We believe that applying spiritual values to scientific knowledge encourages plant-based diets, with major benefits for humans, animals, and the environment.

All Creatures (USA)
"Through unconditional love and compassion we can change the world."
We are dedicated to cruelty-free living through a vegetarian - vegan lifestyle according to Judeo-Christian ethics. Unconditional love and compassion is the foundation of our peaceful means of accomplishing this goal for all of God's creatures, whether human or otherwise.
There is a Complete Table of Contents on this site of more than 6,300 documents.

Humane Religion (USA)
Humane Religion is a bi-monthly publication printed under the auspices of Viatoris Ministries. We are committed to providing scriptural support, and encouragement, to those who have been called to be part of the spiritual evolution that is manifesting itself among those who understand that love and compassion must be the hallmark of our relationship with all God's creatures.

All Creation Liberation (USA)
"The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage..." Romans 8:19
Reflections on Animals Rights by a Franciscan Episcopal Priest.

Veg4Lent (USA)
An ecumenical non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of a Vegetarian Diet for Lent as both an experiential opportunity and a transitional period throughout the whole of Christendom.

JesusVeg.com (USA)
JesusVeg.com supports the argument that Jesus was a vegetarian through Biblical evidence and reason. 'Blessed are the merciful...'

Compassionate Spirit (USA)
A web site for people interested in simple living, non-violence, vegetarianism, and spiritual concerns.

Love For All Creatures (USA)
Frequently Asked Questions about the Bible and Animal Rights.


Relevant Sermons

Sermon: Living with Woodchucks
Delivered by Anne Robertson, 17 June 2001, St. John's United Methodist
Church, Dover, NH, USA
Based on Genesis 1:20-31; Luke 20:9-14
If you believe at least the concept of the creation story in Genesis, that God created the world and all that is in it; and if you believe First John 4:8 which says that God is love; and if you take to heart the parable about the tenants and the vineyard which shows that as much as we live and work here in this vineyard of Earth, we are not the true owners and may not simply do with the harvest what we please... then I think we have some learning to do regarding how we relate to God's world...

Sermon: First Sunday in Lent
Delivered by Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, 9 March 2003, Grace Church,
Amherst, MA, USA
Based on: Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-13
... In the beginning God blessed all creation by creating it. The original commandment to humanity, given through Adam and Eve, was "Be fruitful and multiply." And Humanity was to have "dominion' over all creatures, being given all plants and seeds and fruit for food. Animals were also vegetarians. To have dominion over the animals was not to dominate, but to share with God in a healthy, reverent stewardship, seeing the creation as a divine gift, not of our own creation, towards which we have a specially privileged relationship to be characterized by care, concern, and reverence...

Sermon: Lent
Delivered by Mary Craig Caruthers, 7 March 2004, Christ Church, Little
Rock, AR, USA
When my daughters were little, I usually took them with me to the grocery store. All the different parts of the store were interesting to them, but they didn't like the meat section, especially if there were obvious animal parts on display like pig ears or pig feet. Their reaction was always "Oh-uh", a clear sign of compassion.
I must say I was moved and encouraged by my young daughters' concern for these creatures and what had happened to them. Out of this sentiment and concern came our conversion to vegetarianism as a family. My children's rightful regard for animals has helped me better comprehend our call to be stewards of all creation. We want to take care of those creatures that cannot speak for themselves...


Further Reading:

Online book: Good News for All Creation. Vegetarianism as Christian Stewardship
This book (available in hardcopy and online) explores the reasons that more and more Christians are finding vegetarianism central to the witness of Christian faith and stewardship. "Vegetarianism has deepened our Christian faith and our faith has strengthened our resolve to maintain a vegetarian diet. Our vegetarianism is much more than simply a dietary preference, and we don't see it as a burden or self-sacrifice. Rather, we see our diet as part of our broader spiritual lives, manifesting core values such as love, compassion, and peace. For many of us, vegetarianism is a gift, helping make our lives more uplifting, liberating, and joyful." In addition, for many vegetarian Christians, the diet symbolically expresses a belief that God plans to reconcile the world to God's original intentions (see chapter 5).

Online book: God Does Not Eat Meat
By Arthur Poletti
God Does Not Eat Meat is an e-book that explores the cruelty of animal slaughterhouses and asks the reader, What If? The book uses history and fact to weave a shocking, life-changing narrative. The thought provoking and controversial story cuts between a violent and bloody present world in which millions of animals are slaughtered daily, to a future society where all meat has been removed from the food chain. The unlikely hero goes against the status quo with unyielding determination to set an example of the power of kindness for the benefit of his family and friends.

Animal Theology
By Rev. Andrew Linzey
Animal rights is animal theology in Andrew Linzey’s view. This book, based on a series of lectures given to the theology faculty at Oxford University, is a carefully prepared and argued discussion of the theology of animal rights in which the author takes the community of faith to task for its blindness to the centrality, within the Christian tradition, of duty to animals. He argues that contemporary agribusiness, based on the commodification of animals, is immoral and theologically indefensible. Particularly damning are the chapters on scientific experimentation, hunting for sport, meat-eating and genetic engineering. Lindsay is an important, pioneering, Christian voice speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.
(This book can be borrowed from the VNV Library.)

Christianity and the Rights of Animals
By Rev. Andrew Linzey
In this book Linzey tries to understand the thousands of years of Christian thought, tradition, and theology regarding animals. He notes that while he began this endeavour expecting the worst, he discovered in Christianity some of the best arguments for respecting non-human animal life, and for taking seriously animals as partners within God's creation.

Animal Gospel
Rev. Andrew Linzey
In this book Linzey contends and urgently argues that the necessity of Christ-like ministry does not and should not exclude animals ("the brute creation") - instead, it ought to speak especially to them. Who is more deserving of God's mercy, and ours, than the mute and the suffering? Linzey moves easily between scriptural precept and contemporary example in this moving and heartfelt volume.

Animals on the Agenda: Questions About Animals for Theology and Ethics
By Rev. Andrew Linzey & Dorothy Yamamoto (Editors), et al.
This encyclopaedic volume is the most comprehensive collection of original studies on animals and theology yet published. Contributors from both sides of the Atlantic tackle fundamental questions about theology and how it is put into practice.
Do animals have immortal souls? Does Christ's reconciling work include animals? Contributors address these issues and more in the context of scriptural perspectives, the Christian tradition, historical disputes, and obligations to animals.
As Andrew Linzey points out in his introduction, it cannot be right for theological practitioners to carry on their business as though the world of animals were invisible. Mainstream Christianity still propagates a range of ideas about animals that are hugely detrimental to their status and welfare. This important volume argues that it is time for a change.

On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals
By Stephen H. Webb
Many of us keep pet animals; we rely on them for companionship and unconditional love. For some people their closest relationships may be with their pets. In the wake of the animal rights movement, some ethicists have started to re-examine this relationship, and to question the rights of humans to "own" other sentient beings in this way. In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Stephen Webb brings a Christian perspective to bear on the subject of our responsibility to animals, looked at through the lens of our relations with pets - especially dogs. He tries to imagine what it would be like to treat animals as a gift from God, and indeed argues that not only are animals a gift for us, but they give to us; we need to attend to their giving and return their gifts appropriately. His book will appeal to a broad audience of thoughtful Christians and animal lovers.

Good Eating: The Bible, Diet, and the Proper Love of Animals (The Christian Practice of Everyday Life)
By Stephen H. Webb 
The Prism Diet. The Hallelujah Diet. The Weigh Down Diet. These and other Christian diet strategies have been big news in recent years. Webb makes cogent comments about American Christians' obsession with food (which he calls, quite rightly, an idol) and proposes a moderate diet of "Christian vegetarianism" to reflect the anticipated, perfect kingdom of God. Arguing that "the unexamined meal is not worth eating," Webb draws on the Bible, the early church fathers and modern theology to demonstrate that Christians should think carefully about the consumption of animal flesh.

God's Covenant with Animals: A Biblical Basis for the Humane
By J. R. Hyland
Hyland, an evangelical Christian minister, attempts to locate animal-rights thinking in the Bible and thereby justify the animal rights movement to Bible-believing Christians. She contends that the Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Hosea) opposed not only religious formalism but also specifically the animal sacrifice of the temple cult. She asserts that the pre-Fall Edenic images of Genesis and the Peaceable Kingdom vision of Isaiah 11:4-9 represent God's Kingdom as it was, will be, and ought to be now. None of God's creatures is carnivorous by nature; sin brought meat-eating into Eden and caused the widespread cult of animal sacrifice.

The Slaughter of Terrified Beasts: A Biblical Basis for the Humane Treatment of Animals
By J. R. Hyland
Although this book is reader-friendly it is also profound in its understanding that the kind of human/animal relatedness that was ordained by God at the time of creation has been perverted by mankind. And as long as people continue to treat God's other creatures as "things" that can be tormented and killed to satisfy their own greed and lusts, they will continue to reap the effects of such violence in their own lives: "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
By Matthew Scully
In this book, Scully, a journalist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, argues that the important aspect of animal welfare is not insisting upon equal "rights" for animals but in treating them with a modicum of respect and dignity. His book is as close as a philosophy can come to representing "animal rights" goals while not proclaiming animals to be equal in status to humans, as do classic works like Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. As a journalist, Scully personally investigated several major animal industries, including those of hunting, whaling, and factory farming. He asks penetrating questions and shows the logical and political inconsistencies used to defend cruel industries. Although some may balk at the author's sarcasm, it adds an emotional element to his unequalled depth of insight. Scully has a remarkable grasp of the issues and a unique perspective on our societal treatment of animals.

The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible
By Norm Phelps
Norm Phelps, Spiritual Outreach Director of the Fund for Animals in Washington, DC, offers some shrill advocacy of Judeo-Christian vegetarianism in The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible. While acknowledging that the Bible never openly condemns the eating of animals, and actually seems to condone it, Phelps argues that vegetarianism is the diet that most reflects the Bible's overall message of love and mercy.

Is God a Vegetarian?: Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights
By Richard Alan Young
Young, who teaches New Testament at Temple Baptist Seminary, is as concerned with how to read scripture as he is with vegetarianism. As a result, he offers an insightful account of biblical ethics combined with an accessible argument for vegetarianism. Rather than mining scripture for proof texts, he searches for "directional markers" that serve as "flexible guidelines" for Christians looking to make moral decisions about animal rights and vegetarianism. Young returns repeatedly to biblical images of a peaceable kingdom and asks how we can evoke similar images in our own places and times. Young's book offers a thoughtful reflection on a world of peace and justice in which, though we may not be what we eat, what we eat, and why, is an integral part of who we are.

Why Christians Get Sick
By Rev. George H. Malkmus
With a diagnosis of colon cancer, Rev. Malkmus launched an intensive biblical and scientific search to find out why he, a Christian, got sick - and to possibly find an alternative treatment to the medical profession's usually unsuccessful ones. What he discovered not only brought healing to his own body, but also answered Why Christians Get Sick. 

Judaism and Vegetarianism
By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
A vegetarian diet is not only consistent with Judaism but, argues Schwartz, the diet is best fitted to basic Jewish values. The author shows how Jewish beliefs in showing compassion toward animals, protecting human health, preserving the environment, conserving resources, sharing with hungry people, and pursuing peace are best served by vegetarianism. Throughout, the text is calm, fully documented, and very convincing. Schwartz includes biographies of famous Jewish vegetarians (among them, writers S.Y. Agnon and Isaac Bashevis Singer), "action-centred" ideas on how to promote vegetarianism, and typical questions and answers on Jewish and general issues regarding vegetarianism.


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