One of my good friends, Sister Ann Marie Teder, SND, is a vegan. Recently, she prepared a vegan meal for the two of us: lentil soup, tomato-basil-avocado sandwich, fruit salad, and eggless gingersnap cookies and non-dairy ice cream for dessert. It was delicious! Later, I interviewed her for this reflection. It seemed appropriate to post this reflection this week since October 4 is World Animal Day and the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, known for his love and respect for all creation.
What is a vegan?
A vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products. (That means no meat, fish, eggs, cheese and no use of leather goods, etc.)
Why do people in general go vegan?
Most become vegan for their own health, for animal welfare, for the environmental impact, and for the poor.
Why did YOU make this choice?
I guess I’ve always had a heart for animals. I’m curious about them and what
they possibly think of us. When I ate on our deck near the bird feeder, I used to wonder if the birds knew I was eating a bird (chicken). At one point, I decided if I loved animals, I had to stop eating them. So on Ash Wednesday 2016, I gave up meat for good.
Later that year I accidentally learned about “factory farming” while researching information about animals. After watching undercover videos and seeing the suffering of animals—including fish—I knew I needed to make a change. Most meat, dairy, and eggs sold in the U.S. come from factory farms. I felt a disconnect between my values and what I was eating. So in Lent 2017 I went vegan. What I didn’t expect was the peace I felt afterward. By this single decision, I can spare animals, help save the environment, lessen poverty, and improve my health. Another thing: It’s always easier to ask others to change—sign a petition, vote, etc. Going vegan means I change instead of asking animals to suffer and die for my sake.
You mentioned the suffering of animals. Don’t animal welfare laws (at least in this country) protect animals?
Animals used for food and other products are exempt from those laws. Birds aren’t even covered under “humane slaughter laws,” laws which are often not enforced.
Why not change the laws and raise animals humanely?
We should change the laws. But even if we cut down all the forests we wouldn’t have enough land to raise animals humanely. The real problem is our demand. Factory farms are not here by accident; they were created in response to our great demand for those foods.
Do you get proper nutrition eating vegan?
Yes. The health benefits of a vegan diet are well-documented. Eating animals and animal products is actually unhealthy. But if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan, tell your doctor. You may need a B-12 supplement, for example, or iron.
Are your eating choices expensive and/or time-consuming to implement?
Individual items can cost a bit more, but vegan meals are overall equivalent to or less expensive than non-vegan meals. Preparation time is about the same. If you live with omnivores, you need not make separate meals. You can make “accidentally vegan” dishes (like pasta with marinara sauce) or ones that you can remove portions for the vegans and then add the animal products afterward for the omnivores.
Do you have any regrets about going vegan?
I have only one. It’s summarized in this quote: “Dear animals, I’m sorry it took me so long.”
Is there anything else you would like to say about this choice you’ve made?
Being vegan has stretched me in a good way. I’m still learning about it and transitioning. I’ll leave you with some helpful links. And this quote by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: “May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, those who have no choice.”
Thank you for the opportunity to share, Melannie!
And thank you, Annie, for all you shared with us! You’ve given me much to reflect on and pray over.
PS: I will be giving an evening presentation in Racine, Wisconsin on Thursday, Oct. 25. Then I’ll be leading a weekend retreat Oct. 26-28. Both events are held at Siena Retreat Center. Click “events” at the top of this page or click on their website below and enter my name for details:
I’ll list the links Sr. Ann Marie suggested after today’s song. Today I chose an “oldie”: “Bless the Beasts and Children” by the Carpenters. The song seems to capture the spirit of this interview as well as the spirit of St. Francis:
Here are the links Sr. Annie recommended.
“The Choice Is Yours” https://youtu.be/jBiBlCfSPby (1 min. 20 sec.)
“What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know” https://youtu.be/h3c D0s391Q (54 min. talk by Dr. Neal Banard on the health benefits of eating vegan. Based on the book The Cheese Trap)
“You Will Never Look at Your Life the Same Way Again” https//youtu.be/Z3u7hXpOm58 (32 min.)
“Draw My Life: A Hen in Today’s World” https:youtu.be/95OFylCCBU8 (short video using black and white drawings of how most of us get our eggs today)
Now it’s your turn… any responses about the interview?
Are any of you vegetarians or vegans? If so, why? I not, why not?