December 13, 2011

Veganism, The New Religion

By Charles Moffat.

HEALTH/RELIGION - Veganism is more than a diet to many Vegans. Its a way of life. Its a set of moral values. Why should a religion need anything more than that?

There are other non-deistic religions in the world (non-deistic means a religion with no god). Confucianism for example believes in honouring ancestors. Shamanism and various other religions believe in a spirit world, but one without a god.

For fun some Canadians and Americans put down "Jedi" when asked their religion, so much so that some Jedi people now claim it should be acknowledged as an actual religion.

However the major problem with organized religions is that they tend to be pushy, worse than credit recovery agencies and their annoying phone calls, and they try to push their beliefs unto others by ranting on and on about how their religion is superior.

And certainly there are some Vegans out there whom do that. (And we could also say the same about some meat-eaters and omnivores always trying to convert Vegans and vegetarians back to the fold of bacon.)

I have a Vegan friend who unlike a few other Vegans I've met doesn't try to ram her lifestyle down the throats of unwilling people. She doesn't try to coerce you, doesn't fuss about all the health benefits of Veganism (unless it comes up naturally as part of the conversation), doesn't show you horribly graphic documentaries showing how cattle, lambs and horses and brutally slaughtered for food... she just treats everyone equal, bends over backwards to be nice to people and is genuine about it.

Her behaviour is such that I wish more people (not just Vegans) were more like her. Genuinely nice.

Because frankly there is nothing more annoying than a friend who is constantly trying to get you to change your beliefs, doesn't respect your beliefs, and wants you to completely change your lifestyle.

Becoming a Vegan is a daunting task. People don't do it over night. It really is like changing your religion. Its a life style change, from the clothes you wear (no wool, leather or fur), no foods or drinks that contain any kind of meat, dairy or animal byproducts... and some of them may lose friends in arguments about morality and food.

I would argue therefore that there really needs to be a set of ethics for Vegans. A sort of Ten Commandments of Veganism... and these edicts should include behavioural advice too.

The Thou Shalt Commandments of Veganism

1. Thou shalt not eat meat, dairy or animal byproducts.

2. Thou shalt not wear leather, fur, wool or animal byproducts.

3. Thou shalt not use household objects containing animal byproducts.

4. Thou shalt be respectful of other people's food habits.

5. Thou shalt be courteous and kind and non-forceful when spreading your ideas.

6. Thou shalt be helpful to people expressing an interest in Vegan lifestyle.

7. Thou shalt be equally kind to people with no interest in Vegan lifestyle.

8. Thou shalt let other people, including your own children, decide for themselves.

9. Thou shalt be understanding of other people's opinions and respectful of their decisions.

10. Thou shalt be a role-model for other Vegans and people in general.

Is that too much to ask?

I know if we replaced the word Vegan with the names of various religions (especially the ones which go door to door trying to convert people) that the above 'Thou Shalts' would be too much for some people to actually do. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who like to force their beliefs on others, and those who simply ask to be left alone to make their own decisions.

I personally prefer to make my own decisions. If I go to the fridge and pull out cheese and bread and make a grilled cheese sandwich, its my decision. If I can respect the choices of others, why should they not respect mine?

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