When I first started learning about what it meant to be a vegan, I thought that people only became vegan if they were hippie animal lovers. And while it seems that caring for animals plays a big part in why people become vegan, that’s not the only factor. People go vegan for their health, for the environment, AND for the animals.
My main reasons for wanting to go vegan are health related. However, I do care about animals and I hate the way the meat industry treats animals, especially livestock and poultry.
There is one aspect of veganism that many people believe in that I have to disagree with, and that is animal equality.
While I choose not to eat animals, for my health and because I don’t like the thought of an animal being killed just for my pleasure, I don’t think that everyone should have to give up eating meat. I’ve seen and experienced first hand animals that are raised for meat that have a happy, healthy life. Of course, they do get slaughtered in the end, but at least they were treated well during their life, unlike factory farmed animals.
I worked at my college’s campus farm last summer and we had some chickens that were being raised for meat. Unlike the birds that are raised for big meat companies, these chickens were pasture raised, and had access to the fields where they could eat grass and bugs. We also fed them non-GMO feed. I enjoyed taking care of these chickens, watching them grow, and seeing their personalities develop. But I was disturbed by the fact that I knew they were being raised to be slaughtered. And while I was uncomfortable with that, my coworkers all ate meat and it didn’t bother them. I was very grateful that my boss was kind enough to let me stay home from work on the days they slaughtered and processed the chickens. While I don’t want to eat meat and I don’t want to be a part of slaughtering animals, I don’t think that it is wrong to eat animals, as long as the animals have been taken care of and treated with respect during their life.
The whole idea behind animal equality is that the animals should have the same rights and respect as humans. And while I do agree that the way the meat industry currently treats animals is absolutely cruel and so unnecessary (serious changes need to be happening in the way people raise livestock and poultry), I believe that humans have rule over animals.
As a Christian, I believe that God has blessed us with plants and animals to help us survive, and while humans didn’t eat animal flesh to start with it is clear that God placed man above animals. The Bible says “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’.” – Genesis 1:26 (NIV).
When you look at scripture it is clear that Man and animal are not the same. While we do share similar body parts and characteristics with animals, we were not created equally and we did not evolve from animals. God created man in His image, that is why we are superior to animals. And the reason that humans and animals seem similar in some respects is because we were both created by THE Creator. But just because we are superior to animals does not mean that we should torture them or abuse them. Animals are a gift from God, and should be treated kindly, whether they are your pets or being raised for you to eat.
My heart goes out to the suffering animals, and I really do care about them. But we need to put other human beings first – we need to care about the millions of unborn babies that are aborted every year, the homeless people that are shivering on the streets, and the malnourished children in Africa and other countries, etc.
So whether you eat meat or you’re vegan, remember to treat animals kindly. And more importantly, always put people and their needs above that of animals.