As a Catholic, I am called upon to live a life which is pleasing to God and proactively exemplifies the teachings of Jesus in my interactions with others. For me, this means showing love and compassion for all living beings through a vegan lifestyle.
My heart has always recognized the sanctity of creation, particularly with regard to animals. For me, it is self-evident that they, like humans, possess a soul and have been created as unique individuals with personalities and loving hearts. As the personification of God’s unconditional love, they are living, breathing beings who are capable of experiencing joy, fear, pain and suffering. The Bible shows us that living a cruelty-free life was part of God’s original, peaceful plan in the Garden of Eden where man ate plants and lived in harmony with his animal companions. The 5th Commandment clearly forbids the taking of another’s life, the Beatitudes boldly proclaim, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy,” and Jesus expressly told his followers, “Love one another as God has loved you.” All of these things clearly show that love, peace and compassion are of the utmost importance to God.
As Catholics, we are taught to value life, help the defenseless, and show mercy to those who are suffering. No one is more deserving of our mercy and help than the countless farm animals who are unable to speak for themselves. Slaughtered daily in our world, they are the nameless millions who, without legal rights, and have no value except for their place on supermarket shelves. Deprived of love and affection, they are raised in filthy, cramped conditions, torn from their mothers at birth, and subjected to the excruciating “standard practices” of de-beaking, castration, tail cutting, and tooth clipping, all of which are performed without painkillers. These innocent creatures are tortured, vulnerable, and forgotten beings whose lives are filled with nothing but misery from the moment they are born until they are electrically-prodded to their horrific deaths. Abused for their milk and eggs, killed for their flesh and stripped of their skins, such animals are brought into this world simply to live a nightmare existence and suffer a terrifying death, all for the sake of satisfying people’s palates and desire for their hides. No one can justify causing this suffering. How could such atrocities possibly be pleasing to an all-loving and all-merciful God?
Instead of looking away and shielding my eyes from the animals’ pain, my Catholic faith calls upon me to fully recognize such heinous acts and try to stop them. As such, I am compelled to work for justice and to be the animals’ voice in this cold-hearted world. I live my faith by being an animal rights advocate who promotes veganism as a beautiful, healthy, and cruelty-free lifestyle. I abstain from eating meat and dairy because I have no right to take the life of another nor the milk that mothers specifically produced for their own offspring. I only use personal care products and cleaning solutions which are not tested on animals because causing pain and suffering to another living being is wrong, and I do not purchase clothing made from leather, fur, wool or down because our Creator gave me my own skin to wear. This is how I affirm the sanctity of life and exemplify Christ’s teachings.
The vegan lifestyle allows me to live my Catholic faith with a clear conscience in knowing that I am not causing pain and suffering to another living being or enriching those who commit such atrocities. I am not perfect, but I am doing the best I can to cause the least amount of harm to others. In doing so, I affirm the preciousness of life and strive to live in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
T. Smith is a lifelong Catholic and graduate of the University of Notre Dame. She is an animal rights activist and vegan who devotes her life to being an advocate for animals.