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 Post subject: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:50 pm 
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I'm not sure religious subjects are OK, so please just delete this thread if they are not.

I really don't enjoy debating on religion myself, but I'm simply feeling a bit perplexed and annoyed at the repeated assumption I come across lately (from other vegans on Facebook, in real life, etc.) that vegans are atheists, that it would make no sense for them be part of a religion or have some sort of spiritual belief. The assumption being what? That a spiritual belief makes people too dumb/endoctrined to think by themselves?

Christianism, Buddhism, some New-Age trends and certainly some other beliefs are based on compassion or respect of life or both, just like ethical veganism.

I think it might be important to remain aware that there are dissensions between believers of same faith. I know Christians, for instance, who take only what makes sense to them from their religion, without necessarily adhering to every single doctrine their Church chooses to come up with. There are Christians who believe Church leaders can be wrong. There are Christians who care mostly about their prophet's message. But some people don't seem to be aware of that and put all believers of a similar group in the same basket.

It's like thinking there can be no Christian gays or something. I kind of doubt every single gay person in the world who tended towards Christianity at some point in his or her life changed his or her mind by making no differentiation between Jesus's message of love and tolerance, a couple of obscure passages from the Old Testament, discrimination discourses some Christian church members or representatives come up with, and the bad acts some Christians commit.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who doesn't see spirituality or religiousness as being incompatible with veganism, because it's a lonely feeling... Hey, being a vegan makes me different enough from most people without me being different from all other vegans on this point.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:08 pm 
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When polls have been taken on the PPK regarding religion, there often is a high percentage of atheism and agnosticism, but there have also been many vegans that identified as members of major religions. Being religious/spiritual is absolutely compatible with veganism- after all, veganism can be a reflection of an individual's core beliefs and sense of morality, which are often closely tied to religion. You'll find that most people, here at least, understand that Christians are not a monolithic group, just as all vegans are different.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:11 pm 
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You are not. I am a religious vegan. But I am not a Christian vegan.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:38 pm 
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I'm a religious vegan and my religion led me to veganism and provides the continuous ideological framework for my continued veganism (although my religion does not require vegetarianism/veganism as a general rule). I'm not Christian.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:42 pm 
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You are certainly not alone. I have a FB friend who I met through a stupid game but kept on as a friend because she didn't completely suck. We both went vegan around the same time and she is very open about it. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't surprised - she's a scripture posting, cutesy picture sharing southern American - and I equated her with a stereotype which is bad and I suck.

I'm still not sure where I sit on the spectrum, I've always been very interested in religion but I've never sat down and decided where I fit. I figure I probably lean towards Buddhism of some form. I think there is more to our world but I don't know that a deity is the answer to the ultimate question.

A bit of a tangent, but I have noticed that there's a lot of Christianity bashing lately. Many atheists/agnostics give other religions a free pass but Christians are automatically hated on and seen as stupid sheep. That's a big problem, and Christian extremists get so much press lately that people assume anyone who goes to church is Westboro Baptist and that is such a big sad.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:20 pm 
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I am spiritual with a tendency towards religious and I'm Quaker. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:30 pm 
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I'm not an atheist but in the last couple years I've trended toward agnosticism. I will say that it is more that I think there may be 'something' but I don't think that we can know what that something is and people use religion to help them make sense of the world that often doesn't make sense.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:32 pm 
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Quaker represent!!! Although I hang with Buddhists. And Atheists. Like different stripes of vegans, perhaps, we're all just doing things the best we can.

@Moon, I hear you, but I can't blame them for bashing- Atheists have been so demonized (?) by many Christian groups, payback is a bisque!

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:07 pm 
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I think one thing that may make people equate religious with eating meat is the number of people who directly use religion as a way to defend eating meat. This comes out in several ways. There is the direct, "God made animals tasty for a reason," kinds of comments. While those may be somewhat tongue in cheek, I assume they reflect an underlying belief. For the Abrahamic religions, the fact that there are rules about what animals may be eaten, how animals should be killed, and under what circumstances animal flesh may be consumed means that there is fundamental permission to eat animals. Sure, some individuals may decide not to anyway, but the religion itself seems to condone it. And then there is the more subtle line of thinking that god made humans different from other animals in some fundamental way, and many people take that as permission to treat animals as less than. IE, if people have a soul, and animals don't, then that's why it's not ok to kill humans but is fine to kill animals. And then there is the ethnocentrism of equating religious with the Abrahamic religions and forgetting that there are other religions out there. Though i guess I should point out that Buddhism is an atheistic religion, and the Buddha is not a god.

Obviously there are religious people who are vegan. There are several on this thread already, and there are several in my family. I do, however, think that if you want to combat the erroneous notion that all vegans are atheists, it is helpful to understand where those notions may be coming from rather than taking a quite hostile position that all atheists think all religious people are stupid.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:16 pm 
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I know a lot of Seventh Day Adventists who are vegan. And most of them are wonderful people.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:42 pm 
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I am not an atheist.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:27 am 
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I am an atheist but I don't think all vegans are or should be atheists, or that all religious people are stupid or monolithic in their beliefs.

I do think that once you are a part of a minority or marginalized group in some aspects of your life, it is easier to embrace stepping outside of the norm in other aspects of your life as well, because you already know that being different from the mainstream in a significant way is not the end of the world, and have some strategies for dealing with people's confusion and derisive comments. This ties in with my experience in a few different places and communities that a disproportionate number of the queer people I know are vegan or vegetarian, and vice versa, that a lot of the vegans I have known in real life are queer.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:38 am 
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That was a very thoughtful/respectful introduction to the topic, Minatomachi. I grew up vegetarian in a yoga family, and ethics led me to becoming vegan. I fall somewhere on the agnostic/yoga spectrum, and have been comfortably called 'Hindu' by myself and others in the past (often to avoid lengthy philosophical discussions). Like Ariann said above, this provides "the continuous ideological framework for my continued veganism".

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:54 am 
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I was raised in a very Quaker home and now am casually Agnostic but with a lot of respect for Quakerism. So, not exactly atheist anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:45 am 
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I am an atheist and I've definitely been in fights about it with christians. I do think religion is illogical and when I've taken religion-philosophy courses it's always been almost impossible to do real philosophy when half the group bases their thinking on the bible and doesn't deter from it.

That said, I'm really interested in religions and I know religion has a lot more to with belief than with logic reasoning. So yes, I fight with people who try to tell me their religion is "logically right" but I'd never fight about it with people who don't question my atheism first. Especially not in a private setting.

I think thinking vegans have to be atheists/agnostics is in the same vain of thinking vegans have to be left-wing and just "alternative" in general. Which, especially now veganism is getting bigger, is simply not true.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:47 am 
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I am a Christian. I do not believe that when the Bible talks about animals as food that it means it is condoning the state we are in now. I can't claim to know anything about food history but its likely veganism wasn't viable 2000+ years ago. So I disagree with those who use Jesus eating fish as a reason to eat it themselves.

I don't claim to be any sort of religious/Biblical scholar which is why I avoid bringing it up much. I just don't know enough to have a debate on it and really I don't want to.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:58 am 
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I think I'd kind of argue that ethical vegans have to be left-wing in many respects to be consistent - if you support liberation and dignity for all animals, it follows that you should support those things for humans too.

I don't think the same can be said for religion though. I'd be interested to see the relative numbers of vegetarians/vegans of various religious beliefs. Some religions seem to reject or condone meat-eating more than others, but that doesn't mean that religious people can't choose for themselves.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:05 am 
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I mean, most christians I know here don't believe the bible to be anything but metaphorical and never to be taken literally, so I guess for them it's more of an "ethical framework" that can be bend either way. I don't see why they'd be any less vegan than atheists. I also know some atheists who are into stupid evolution psychology and argue for meat eating in this way, which is extremely illogical. I mean, I think atheism is logical but I don't think that means atheist people are in general more rational in their decision making than religious people.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:37 am 
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vijita wrote:
I am not an atheist.

Maybe I should expand. I'm not a Christian either. I am confused, but I am definitely into the idea of a spiritual entity, be it all of us, everything alive, everything dead, "God", my cat, etc. Actually that's the furthest I've come with the explanation of my spiritual beliefs. I do feel "morals" about mistreating and eating animals, but I have yet to pinpoint what great entity is demanding that from me, if any.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:39 am 
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Entity-free morals? Being a decent=good person totally counts, no extra ideology needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:40 am 
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lutin wrote:
Entity-free morals? Being a decent=good person totally counts, no extra ideology needed.

Agreed. But there still seems to be something, for me anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:46 am 
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Quail wrote:
I think I'd kind of argue that ethical vegans have to be left-wing in many respects to be consistent - if you support liberation and dignity for all animals, it follows that you should support those things for humans too.


the idea of 'consistency' is what pushed me from vegetarian to vegan. i would love for all lefty progressives to think so (and do so!), too.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:19 am 
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Thanks for all your answers.

Like some of you, I do not consider myself as fitting inside a precise religion, but my spiritual beliefs are important to me nevertheless.

Just to be clear, I had no wish to show hostility about atheists or generalize about them. I just wanted to share recent experience that puzzled me and ask about it.

I live in a province where the vast majority of my generation has no religious beliefs, and our history means there is unfortunately ill-will against religiousness because the Catholic Church held political power for a longer time here than in most other countries. Like one of you noted, it seems generally accepted in my province to mock any form of religious beliefs, while mocking the lack of them is condemnable. (I believe it is wrong either way.) All this might help explain part of why I tend to come across this "vegans must be atheists" attitude.

I do know Christian arguments are used against veganism, but that doesn't make Christianity inconsequent with veganism in my mind since I feel that Christians with sense could go beyond the "Jesus ate fish" kind of reasoning.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:39 am 
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I had one Christian tell me "God put animals here to serve us as we serve Him, they have no other purpose." So I can see where the stereotype can come from. That was a sad day for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Am I the only vegan who's not an atheist?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:45 am 
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Moon wrote:
I had one Christian tell me "God put animals here to serve us as we serve Him, they have no other purpose." So I can see where the stereotype can come from. That was a sad day for me.


People will say anything to justify eating animals. It really is sad.

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