Tag Archives: Religion

Catholicism and the Vegetarian Life

Catholicism and vegetarianism. Not two words that many believe can be connected and until I became both more involved my faith and more aware of the issues surrounding vegetarianism, I also thought that the two ideologies had no connection. I hope in this blog post to show you why I believe Catholics in particular, should consider switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. For the sake of this post I will use the words vegetarian/vegetarianism to refer to both vegetarian and vegan diets.

After researching vegetarianism, it is clear that it is a better diet for the environment, it is arguably the most ethical diet, and it is a diet that can promote better health. When examining each of these areas, it is easy to see how a vegetarian diet is a way to live out Catholic values.

Environment: The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) names as one of the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching “Care for God’s Creation”. Also, in Genesis, God gives humanity the responsibility of caring for the Earth and all of its creatures. So, even in our modern world, we are called to protect the planet, and take steps to ensure that our lifestyle respects God’s creation. Vegetarianism is one of the ways that Catholics can ensure they are acting as stewards of creation.

Ethics: God told Adam “I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat” (Genesis 1: 29). God has provided humans with plant-based foods for humans to consume and thrive on. While the Catechism does say we are permitted to eat meat, it also says that animals must be treated humanely to the furthest extent possible. The current abusive factory farming system in place for meat production is a misuse of the responsibility God gave us to care for animals, so Catholics can avoid contributing to this inhumane system by not consuming meat.

Health: In 1 Corinthians, St. Paul says “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Because of this, we must care for our bodies with exercise and a clean diet. With vegetarianism, I know that I am providing my body with pure food, given to me by God, that will help me to thrive to the fullest of my potential.

Social Justice: In a broader sense, vegetarianism can also promote social justice to humans in addition to the kindness it shows animals. Much of the land used to grow feed (grain or soy) for the animals in the factory farming system could instead be used to grow food for the poor and hungry in our world. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus calls his followers to care for those in our society who are unable to provide for themselves. By switching to a vegetarian diet, we can help promote fair use of land to grow crops for those living in poverty, rather than to feed the billions of animals part of the factory farming system.

Especially in this Lenten season, when we are called to live in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable and sacrifice our own desires, adopting a vegetarian diet can be a stepping stone to a more compassionate lifestyle. The small sacrifice of giving up meat makes a tremendous difference and can give us the strength we need to live Christ-centered lives.

In closing, I highly recommend that everyone consider a vegetarian lifestyle, regardless of faith background, but especially for Catholics and Christians as a way to help live out the teachings of the Gospel. I will be praying for everyone who reads this post and if you want to chat more about Catholicism or vegetarianism, feel free to email me at spiersa@bu.edu! God Bless!

Susan is a sophomore in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program at Sargent College. She has been a vegetarian for almost four years.

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Sikhism: A Life of Truth and Compassion

On Wednesday the 29th, the Sikh Association at BU put on an event in remembrance of the 1984 genocide against the Sikhs. It was an emotional night for me. Sikhism has played a huge role in my life – both the absence of it and the presence of it in my daily life have equally shaped me. I was particularly reflective that night because of the continued mentioning of the value of the Sikh turban throughout the event. Sikhs (mostly men, but also some women) wear turbans as a physical signature of their identity – it is a way for us not to shirk away from our duties, to be proud of who we are and to show that to the entire world. It is a way for people to recognize us, so if someone is ever in need, they can decipher a Sikh and know they will go out of their way to help.

When I was in high school, my hair was shoulder length and all the colors of the rainbow. Eventually I started growing my hair out, and now it’s back to its full length and I wear my kara – a bracelet on my dominant arm, which reminds me to act with righteousness and to do good deeds. Last night reiterated to me the value in standing for something, but not just doing so privately. I will always maintain it is better to exude with pride what it is you stand for than to keep your convictions living inward, where it cannot radiate outward and inspire others.

Arguably, my more visibly punk exterior from the past was a way of displaying my convictions, and should not be seen as being of lesser value than my current manner of presentation, but I take pride in the way I look these days because I have evolved to see how my faith has shaped my current ideologies and practices in ways I once did not realize.

Immediately following 9/11, my mother and I put pamphlets about Sikhism in our neighbors’ mailboxes, wrote articles for the local newspaper, gave public service announcements and talks at schools and on the radio, and overall worked tirelessly to prevent the hate and discrimination that was being targeted toward my community. Sikhs were being murdered – innocent family men who happened to wear a turban as an article of faith were being beaten, taunted, and even killed. I remember when I was nine and helping my mom distribute literature at the supermarket, my mother asked a woman “Do you know about the Sikhs?” The lady responded by saying, “I’m sorry, I just moved here from Pennsylvania.”

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Ignorance is a disease in which we all have our own ways to quell its spread, and there is still much to be done.

My mom’s work is still ongoing, and it’s proven necessary in light of the Oak Creek shootings in August. A large portion of my fuel to fight my fight, is drawn from the brutality I see against beautiful animals whose chances to live a fulfilling life are cut terribly short; but, the underlying motivation to be aware of the fight to begin with comes largely from my faith.

https://i2.wp.com/i50.tinypic.com/2hp639y.jpgAll Sikh temples, called gurudwaras, offer a free meal which all people of all walks of life are encouraged to enjoy. The meal, called langar (meaning “anchor,” for we all sit on the floor to eat it as equals), is always vegetarian. Two of Sikhism’s biggest truths are to share what you have with others and to live a life of truth (the third is to meditate) – and in my case, I try to share the privilege of a good quality of life to animals who are denied sunlight, safety, food, water, comfort, company of family, and the right to deliberately secure what they want as a product of their impressive volitional capacities.

I think all Sikhs should be vegetarian or vegan for a number of reasons. Sikhism’s gurus– or teachers – are the only religious leaders to fight and die for the protection of otherfaiths; Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, was martyred for Hinduism as well as Sikhism during a time when India’s Mughal rule was attempting to impose Islam on all people. Therefore, inherent in Sikhism is the necessity of dismissing the all too prevalent concept of “otherness.” During a time when women would be burned alive upon the death of their husbands, Sikhs spoke out against the disgusting notion that a woman was nothing without a man in her life, showing the revolutionary focus on 100% equality more than 500 years ago. Guru Nanak, our first guru, was born into a Hindu family but rejected the caste system practiced by the predominant religion of the time. His fundamental appreciation for the equality of all was resounding, eventually leading to the Sikh way of life. Living a life of truth, a staple of Sikhism, involves introspecting upon the role we play in society, our relationship with ourself and our world, and evaluating whether our deeds are as pure and positive as thy can be. Our relationship to animals is a paramount issue worth reflecting upon, as many neglect this aspect of our lives despite the magnitude of its consequences.

Sikhism’s progressive nature, fiercely egalitarian platform, and rejection of hierarchy – when extended to their logical conclusion – ideally would lead to the realization by self-identified Sikhs that non-human animals should not be seen by us as commodities with instrumental value, but as companions, placed here by God, to be respected for having inherent value.

By Gunita Singh

Gunita Singh is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences studying political science. She can be reached via email at breakfastclubsandwich@gmail.com.

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