I have been learning a lot about veganism recently. My nineteen year old college sophomore daughter, Michele, informed me about two months ago that she had made the decision to become vegan. I wasn’t completely certain how being a vegan was different from being a vegetarian. But I have since learned that veganism is about much more than not eating meat. It is the avoidance of all animal products in the diet, including cheese, eggs, dairy milk, etc., and an associated belief that rejects the commodity status of animals. Therefore, any beauty products or clothing or anything at all that uses animals as part of the process of coming to market she rejects as well. I have learned patience when I go shopping with her because every label is read and the place of its origin is important. I also have learned that quinoa (which is pronounced KEENWA for all you non-vegans) is a wonderful source of protein. I discovered as well that even though quinoa is called a cereal you don’t just add milk and eat it.
One way, I learned about veganism was to listen to the podcast from which the title of this article comes – “Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack.” The show is a couple of young women who explore the purpose and meaning of the vegan lifestyle and the many matters it confronts in our culture. The first podcast I listened to was “Veganism, Christianity and Easter.” It was an interesting dialogue and though I didn’t agree with all the points of the two hosts, I was glad to see them engaging in a thoughtful conversation.
In addition to her veganism, Michele is also concerned about environmentalism and feminism. She has a deep interest in global poverty and the refugee crisis too. She sent me a link this morning to a BBC report about the problems of refugees in Latin America. A situation, she informed me that does not get nearly the attention that it deserves. I thought I stayed up with the happenings of the world fairly well, but I am grateful for a college daughter who seeks to keep me informed. She also wants to take up as little space in the world as possible. If she buys something new, she gets rid of something old.
Honestly, I consider myself a fairly progressive thinker, both religiously and politically. I have always tried to be involved in important conversations and activities that concern matters of justice and equality for all persons. I have always sought to recycle paper and plastics and buy cars that get higher gas mileage for the sake of the environment. I don’t just throw old clothes away. I always take them to Goodwill or a local thrift store so that others might buy them at a lower price. I thought I was doing my part to bring about what I understand to be the realm of God. But what I have discovered, with my daughter’s help, is that I still have much left to learn and understand about what it means to live and work for justice in this world. And that the parameters of that justice might be even broader than I had imagined in my seemingly progressive mind. No, I’m not quite ready to give up my steaks or my barbecue chicken, but I am ready to listen to how animals are treated and often abused for the sake of human beings. I am willing to listen to the idea that all parts of creation have their place and should be treated with the respect that a creature of God deserves. I am willing to admit that I am part of a systemic problem that causes damage to the ecostructure of the earth. I don’t feel guilty about this. It is simply the way it is. But the way it is isn’t the way it has to be. I want to learn of ways we can lessen even more human beings negative impact upon creation.
As I reach my mid-fifties, it would be easy to think that I’ve got it all figured out. That I could just put it on cruise control as I go into this stage of my life. But thank God there are younger people around me who will push me to continue to broaden my way of thinking and encourage me to seek new understandings. I firmly believe, that whether they are in the church pews or not, the Holy One is alive and active in the voices and actions of younger generations. And just possibly, we will find the pews filled with more of them if they know we are willing to listen and acknowledge that we have things to learn from them as well.
I believe the spiritual journey we are on is one that seeks the well-being not only of humanity, but of all creation as well. How that plays out in the future, I can’t fully see. But I am glad my vegan daughter has opened my mind for it to include ways I had never thought of before. Her passion for her convictions gives energy and life to me. Such passion could bring energy and life to the church as well.
I have so much more I could write, but the next Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack is coming on and I don’t want to miss it. Peace!