St Francis

Christianity and Vegetarianism

Introduction

Many Christians seem to turn a blind eye to the suffering of animals that is inflicted by humans. Sure, they are generally kind and caring people, who may love their dog or cat, but they do not seem to be at all concerned about the plight of the pigs, chickens, sheep and cows that they themselves eat.

It is difficult to understand why Christians, who generally consider themselves to be compassionate and caring, are not concerned about the suffering of these animals. On one hand they teach about a loving, compassionate, merciful God, but they contribute to so much unnecessary misery and suffering in their own lives. Here we try to explore the issues of Christianity and Vegetarianism on this page.

Animals have Souls?

One widespread rationalization in Christian circles, often used to justify humanity’s mistreatment of animals, is the erroneous belief that humans alone possess immortal souls, and only humans, therefore, are worthy of moral consideration. The 19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, condemned such a philosophy in his On the Basis of Morality.

“Because Christian morality leaves animals out of account,” wrote Schopenhauer, “they are at once outlawed in philosophical morals; they are mere ‘things,’ mere means to any ends whatsoever. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coursing, bullfights, and horse racing, and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that is worthy of pariahs, and that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing, and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun!”

What does Bible say in this regards? Lets analyse.

St Francis and Animals

Most intriguing of all great apostles is St. Francis because many of the stories that surround the life of St. Francis deal with his love for animals. He not just saw that animals are living entities with Soul, he went a step ahead and did preach to them as well. Here are three accounts of such interaction.

Thou Shall not Kill

One of the Ten Commandments by Moses. But remains the most misunderstood one as well. For some its Thou shall not Murder. Another convenient misinterpretation by deceptive ideologues. According to Reuben Alcalay, one of the twentieth century’s great linguistic scholars and author of The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary, the commandment refers to “any kind of killing whatsoever.” The original Hebrew, he says, is Lo tirtzakh, which asks us to refrain from killing in toto. If what he says is true, we can analyze the commandment as follows: “Thou shalt not” needs no interpretation. The controversial word is “kill,” commonly defined as (1) to deprive of life; (2) to put an end to; (3) to destroy the vital or essential quality of. If anything that has life can be killed, an animal can be killed as well; according to this commandment, then, the killing of animals is forbidden. More

Scholars view

Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight. … Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.
- Rev. Andew Linzey, Professor of Theology, Oxford University

To me, vegetarianism is fundamental to compassion, and I personally believe that a loving and compassionate God would prefer humans to be vegetarian, especially these days, and especially when it is better for our health, is less wasteful of resources, and is more sustainable for the beautiful planet that He has created.
- Rev David Ogilvie

Vedic Observer

In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says

sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāḿ brahma mahad yonir ahaḿ bīja-pradaḥ pitā

It should be understood that all species of life, O son of KuntÄ«, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father. – BG14.4

All living entities have soul and the soul transmigrates from one body to another. So no one can kill an animal and escape the sin associated with it. So to conclude Jesus Christ did practice and preach love towards all the creatures and did not advocate their large scale mechanized murder and consumption of meat.

Compiled by LNDAS

6 Comments

  • Robert says:

    Sorry Brother,
    You have misunderstood the fact. It is true that, the commandment says “Thou shalt not kill”. But it is meant for human, not for animals. In the book of Genesis, God created animals for human to eat. I acknowledge, animal has soul, because it has life. Then do you deny, eating vegetables. A tree has life, a plant has life. Even when we pluck a flower, the plant gets pained. When we boil water, lot of bacteria is been killed. But don’t you kill them? When you use Domex, lot of bacteria is been killed. Don’t you kill them to clean your toilet.

    If Christians did not kill the chickens and cows, this earth would be filled with them than human. SO, I am thankful for them.

    This comment is not meant to hurt anyone.

  • Lndasa says:

    Dear brother Robert, please check our wiki page on proper interpretation of “Thou shall not kill” in the wiki article above. The earth is created to be perfect and self sustainable, its because we humans meddle with its functioning that has caused all the imbalances that we see. So don’t worry about cattle population if we stop consuming meat the meat industry will be less inclined to factory farm cows for slaughtering. And the natural food chain will take over. Coming to Killing plants it is sin but not as much as killing animals eho have much developed consciousness Amen.

  • Ravichandran says:

    Dear Lndasa
    Thanks for posting the reply to Robert . However I would like to know what difference it makes to kill a Plant or Animal if both are having soul ? Kill is Kill , Animal or Plant.How the sin is less in “killing plant” compared to Animal ?. Please do reply as I am eager to understand more on this subject.

    PS : I am following Vegetarianism by choice and ofcourse don’t have any inclination to be Non-Veg any sooner.

  • Vivek Malviya says:

    Hare krishna Ravichandran ji.

    Although the plant and animal both are having soul but all conditioned souls(Which has come to this mortal world) are covered by the Three Modes of material nature(Goodness, Passion and Ignorance). Accoring to percentage of covering, soul gets the particular body. So in each body consciousness is covered but in diffrent percentage.
    Plants are having more covered consciousness than animals but that does not mean that plants are not having soul.
    Certainly even in Vegetarianism also there is sin but of very less quantity and you can also observe it practically.when we cut animal then it resists but plant does not show any resistance.So there is law of incurred sin according to the level of consciousness.
    To nullify the sin incurred by cutting plants, Lord Krishna gives a solution in Bhagvad Gita Chapter 3.13
    “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin”.

    He said that whatever product(Vegetarianism) one is taking one should first offer him and he will remove sinful reaction and then it will become sanctified food which we call prasadam.
    But Krishna has given the list of items in BG 7 th chapter and he did not included Non- Veg. in it.
    in the above article lord said that he is father of all living entity so he told us to protects animals.

  • Amol says:

    WONDERFULL post. Convincing enough, but only for intelligent beings. Thank you.

  • S.Sridhar says:

    Hare Krishna.

    While killing a plant or animal incur sin. That why lord krishna ask us to offer the food stuff to him first & then eat his remenants. I wish to highlight this point thro an e.g.

    For e.g solidier posted in kargil will kill any intruder in the region, still the Govt shower praise & reward such solidier with medal and promotion. If the same solidier kill his negibour the same GOVT will put in jail.

    Why is it so?. Because the first killing is authorised by GOVT , but second killing is not. That why lord krishna gives in B.G, the list of items he can accept as offering, non veg is not part of the list.

    Hari bol.

    SS

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One who performs his duty without association with the modes of material nature, without false ego, with great determination and enthusiasm, and without wavering in success or failure is said to be a worker in the mode of goodness.

by Gita 18.26

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