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Can non-meat eaters be Religious?

Being a vegan brings all sorts of interesting dilemmas in a meat-orientated world. Religion is one such interesting dilemma many vegans probably don't ponder before choosing the lifestyle.

I'm not a religious person, but to each their own, I prefer to deal with the real and empirical.

But as vegans, can we really believe in religions that allow for unnecessary cruelty towards animals, or place humans as the pinnacle of all existence, leaving all other sentient life forms for her/his property, and for his/her picking? The answer for most vegans would be no, and most religious vegans would instantly be put into the quagmire of trying to be vegan and practice traditional religions at the same time - or so you would think.

Religion at first wouldn't seem like something a vegan could do if they truly believed in the principles of veganism, but the opposite is actually true, at least for some religions who teach being vegan, or at the very least, vegetarianism as the chosen way.

That's right, the norm for most religions is to not destroy and enslave helpless animals merely for the benefit of a quick meal. And while I do not support a vegetarian lifestyle, it is a vast improvement over a meat-eating lifestyle.

I initially thought the list of religions that preached a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle would be fairly thin or eccentric, but I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few common religions support such teachings.

Hinduism preaches of a vegetarian lifestyle as a key component to living a sacred life.

Buddhism teaches of veganism and vegetarianism as a key to nirvana, even though there is debate on whether followers should adhere to the same dietetic standards of the Buddha.

Jainism teaches and expects practitioners to adhere to vegetarianism.

Taoism also teaches of veganism and vegetarianism, although many Taoists don't abide by its teachings.

Rastafari teaches of an ital diet comprised of vegan food sources, although many Rastafarians eat shellfish, chicken, goat, lamb and dairy products.

Judaism is a bit of a miss, first having positive writings towards vegetarianism until allowing man to eat meat after the great floods. Even so, the Hebrew Scriptures still teach and support a vegetarian diet.

Islam also teaches of kindness to all animals, and our current meat and fishing industries would not stand up to the scrutiny of that teaching, now would they?

Mormonism teaches of the unnecessary killing of animals for food when plenty plant-based foods already exist, I wonder why there aren't more vegan restaurants in Utah then?

And even our Catholic friends, who take the teachings in the bible not literally but symbolically, could juxtapose being a vegan and a catholic at the same time as documented in this article.

So since America claims to be about 75-80% religious, and since most religions preach veganism or the next-best-thing vegetarianism, it can only be concluded that all those enslaved-and-abused-animal-eating-sinners, just got another great reason to go vegan.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:08 PM EDT | More details


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