Veganism and religion are often portrayed as mutually exclusive. But are religious views and practices truly in conflict with the tenets of veganism? Let’s hear activist Gary Yourofsky’s view on the intersection of veganism and religion.
For one reason or another, veganism and religion are often portrayed as mutually exclusive. This is highlighted by the “God put animals here for our use so it’s okay to eat them” argument. But are religious views and practices truly in conflict with the tenets of veganism? During my interview session with vegan activist Gary Yourofsky, I asked him for his view on the intersection of veganism and religion.
You’re never supposed to talk about politics or religion at the dinner table, right? Well, veganism itself is a political way of eating, so it kind of breaks that rule from the outset. Add in a discussion of religion, and you’re primed for a tense meal. We’re finally coming to the end of the Gary Yourofsky interview series and really getting into some intense topics. Religion can be quite the controversial hotbed, and if you know Gary, you know that he does not mince his words. I’ll tell you ahead of time that if you are easily offended by strong language or religious topics, this is not the segment for you.
As an additional note, I plan on doing a full video series on the intersection of religion and veganism with a video dedicated to each religious view. I personally believe that veganism can be a meaningful part of any religious practice and, in fact, is supported in various scriptures. But today’s video is Gary’s response to this topic. I would encourage you to push through any resistance that may come up and listen for the underlying message of Gary’s answer.
For his full response, be sure to watch the video for this post, but here is a particularly tasty nugget:
“I don’t care what god you believe in, [or] if you even believe in a god. I care about how you act. Your actions count, not your beliefs. Your actions matter. Are you killing somebody, are you enslaving somebody, are you oppressing somebody, are you discriminating against somebody? That’s what counts and that’s what matters. And that’s what religious people need to correct. [The] world would be a better place if we actually embraced and protected God’s creations. Instead of just killing them all.”
As I said above, I truly believe that the core of what one may call “godly principles” are very much in line with veganism–the tenets of do no harm, of love, compassion, empathy, kindness. Aren’t these the very bedrock of spiritual traditions? Isn’t caring for the most vulnerable among us what countless religious practice advocates? Certainly we humans have perverted even the most noble of principles with our own selfish desires and motives. But when you really look at the original teachings and core philosophies of many of the world’s religions, veganism fits quite nicely.
I’m believe that anyone and everyone can be vegan. From atheists to evangelicals, democrat and republican, Black, White, Hispanic, what have you. Anyone from any background, ethnicity, religious practice, economic class, nationality: anyone can choose to live with compassion. To look in the eyes of an innocent animal and say, you deserve life. You will not die on my account. What is more spiritual than that?
I’d love to hear what you think about this subject. If you do identify as religious, do you find veganism to be in conflict or in line with your beliefs? What do you see as the relationship between veganism and religion? Let me know in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick