Emma Kendrick

Going vegan for God

By  Emma Kendrick, Youth Speak News
  • May 1, 2014

A jar of freshly squeezed juice or a bowl of fruit are my constant companions as I walk through my school or pause for lunch. The lingering smell of sweet oranges, berries or bananas often draw the attention of those around me.

Several years ago, I chose to consume more fruits and vegetables while eliminating animals and animal products from my diet. This shift towards plant-based foods came after much research that looked at our disconnection from our food and how it is produced and the truth about the violence against animals that we don’t see behind neatly packaged goods at the grocery store. There is significant material available in print and online that outlines how modern animal agriculture is damaging our health, the health of the environment and causes immense suffering to animals we have labeled as food. Check out Liz Marshall’s documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine, Woody Harrelson’s book How to go Further or David Suzuki’s book The Sacred Balance.

Our North American communities promote a lifestyle of consumerism, one that demands more and more. This lifestyle functions in a spirit of elitism where man has authority over all other creatures, which reduces animals to numbers or mere objects in the interest of our consumption and profit.

The large scale industrial animal agriculture industry and culture of consumerism is the root of the disconnect between people and the earth, the lives of other creatures and our health. As a direct result of our insatiable demands, animals live in stressful, overcrowded conditions, face mutilations, amputations and inhumane slaughter.

If we are to create inclusive and loving communities, we are challenged to pause and ask ourselves can we, as a global community, fully experience peace, justice or compassion if we continually participate and support a lifestyle of violence and ignorance of the origins of our food?

The answer I found called for personal change. My Catholic roots have drawn me towards conscious living, recognizing the worth of all living creatures and my ability to be a voice for peace. Personal transformation through my diet encourages my passion in social justice and guides me towards lifestyle choices that celebrate the life of all of God’s creatures.

As Catholics, we are called to live a life of service, to God and others. In recognizing the call of service that Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection brings about, it is clear that we must be mindful of how our lifestyles affect God and God’s creation. In John 13: 34-35, Jesus tells His disciples, “And now I give you another commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Expanding our perception of who we are called to love — redefining “the other” as all living beings — will bring us closer to God’s vision of a loving, inclusive and peaceful world. All of God’s creation is created in the same image of love and we are called to grow and share in our awareness.

(Kendrick, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Paul Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont.)

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