The following is part of a piece by Kathy Freston that originally appeared on The Huffington Post:
A while back, I began considering my diet as a way to practice my spiritual beliefs, and as I weighed what would be right for me, I came up against so much inner turmoil. As a Southern gal, I grew up going to church and enjoying various get-togethers with other parishioners over BBQ dinners and Sunday brunches of eggs with grits. It all seemed lovely and warm at the time, so I struggled many years later with the question of how eating meat, dairy, and eggs could be ill-advised when so many (good) people do it daily and with gusto. If long-standing faith traditions hold that eating animals is acceptable, why in the world was I questioning those traditions?
And yet, especially after watching behind-the-scenes video of what happens to animals as they become our food, I remained troubled, on a spiritual level, at the thought of eating them. These are the questions that kept gnawing at me: If I am someone who wants peace in the world, how can I make peace with my part in the system of institutionalized cruelty and misery toward animals? How could I feel peaceful inside if I continued to collude with this bringing of suffering? The more I meditated on it, things began to clarify in my mind: Choosing to move away from eating animals is not just about my physical health, it’s about the well-being of all creatures on this planet. It’s a vital part of an awake and aware spiritual practice as well. It’s not just that I don’t want to contribute to the suffering of animals; my choice to move away from eating animal products would also allow me to become more the person I want to be.
Back to the traditions, though: How could a religion that has endured for thousands of years not have reflected on so fundamental a question as how we relate to these fellow creatures? Animals are so totally in our power, after all, and isn’t spirituality in part a matter of how we choose to treat the powerless?
I decided to do some searching—both soul searching and researching the Christian tradition to find out what’s really suggested about the question of eating animals.
Read the full article here.