I was always taught to show love to animals, dogs, cats, cows, pigs, horses, etc. But never was I really challenged to think about the meat that was lying in front of me to eat. Meat was different than those cute animals we would see in someone’s yard or pasture. Or at least I thought.
I made the decision to switch to being a vegetarian 12 years ago. Being born and raised in Texas it was a shocker to my parents and everyone else. They thought I had gone crazy, which was probably true. After being posed with the question “how can we love animals but eat them too?” by the punk rock community, I made the decision.
Fast forward a few years, I began to take the Christian faith more seriously. And when it came to what I ate it made more sense to not only be a vegetarian but to remain a vegetarian because I was a Christian.
Lots of people are not all that familiar with how factory farms operate. Not only the miserable conditions for chickens, cows and pigs, but the enormous toll it takes on the environment and the human body. There are up to 400 types of gasses released in the air, water near factories contaminated with antibiotics from animal waste, amongst other issues. Odors from gasses released by factories are known to cause respiratory problems, nausea, and allergies in residents nearby. These are just a few of the issues with factory farms. Please, research more of the issues.
There was a time when I first made the change that I was arrogant about it, tried to make people feel bad for eating meat (I am really sorry to those people!). Now when I am presented with the question of why I am a vegetarian I bring up the issues above but they are usually ignored with jokes, or just plain shot down by the comment “but God gave us animals to eat”. After so many years of living this way, it is just exhausting when people try to debate me or convert me. I have come to the point to where I don’t want to bring it up because I want to avoid the criticism that comes along with most conversations.
In Genesis 1:26 (NRSV) God is quoted saying, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth”. God has given humanity the responsibility to rule the world with compassion, and we are accountable with how we treat God’s creation.
So I believe it is our duty as Christians to learn where our food comes from and be guided in the prayer Jesus taught us “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”, to decide whether a diet containing animals, a diet that is supported by cruelty not compassion, is in line with making way for the Kingdom of God to enter the world.