The Religion of Vegan

In a landmark case, a UK court ruled that Veganism is to now be viewed as a religion. With this ruling, those claiming to be vegans will receive the same protections and benefits as any other religion. The Washington Post reported, “a judge on Friday ruled that “ethical veganism” is a protected class akin to religion under law designed to shield people from discrimination in the workplace and beyond.” The court ruled that, “the man’s ethical veganism constitutes a “philosophical and religious belief” protected by anti-discrimination law.”

Now the point of this court case was not to institute a new religion. Instead it was to protect vegans from being discriminated against. The plaintiff's argument to the court was that he was fired because of being a vegan. Still, it is fitting to classify veganism as a religion. People have been worshiping animals for many, many years, even if the government never recognized it. Veganism has always been a form of religion, with animals as the object of their worship. While many believe it is coming from a good place (protecting animals from humans), true veganism is really the worshiping of animals to a cultic level. To be clear, I am not referring to those that may take on a vegan diet for health reasons. I am referring to those that have a deep held conviction about the treatment of animals and have that belief transform their life. Veganism can (and often is) taken to a cultic level. The Bible has warned us that this would happen in the world; “ because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:25)

Do you think I may be overstating this? Let's take an aerial view of things to see. What does it mean to worship something? According to Webster’s Dictionary worship is, “extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem.” The etymology of the word worship is worth-ship. In a sense, to show that something has high worth or value in your life. So worship is something that has a lot of worth in your life and thus you give it devotion, admiration and esteem. Now let us take this definition and apply to vegans. Do they not show great honor, esteem, devotion, admiration, respect, affection and value to animals? Do they not spend their time, money, energy and conversation on the preservation of animals? Do they not “evangelize” and try to talk others into converting to their beliefs? Do not some become martyrs for their cause? They are willing to break the law, damage property, cause shame and embarrassment or commit violent acts to stop the mistreatment of animals. If this isn’t a lifestyle of worship, I don’t know what is. 

So what are we to say? What is the church’s view on this “new religion”? To clarify the christian worldview we need to go to the scriptures. Genesis teaches us that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). This clarifies two points for us. 
  1. Animals are not to be elevated to the level that vegans take it. Humans are the only ones that are made in the image of God. Nowhere does it say that our furry friends are made in the image of God. They are thus beneath us. Are we to mistreat animals? Abuse animals? Absolutely not. God blessed us with them for food and companionship. But we also should not place them on a pedestal above us. We have more value and worth because God has said so. Because this is His creation and this is His created order; animals are below humans. 
  2. We are made to worship. Because we are made in His image, we have the cognitive ability to elevate and worship. We must and do worship something all the time. This is why we never see animals care about anything but survival. It's not like they are protesting to protect the mistreatment of humans. The question then is, what is the object of our worship? For vegans it is animals. But the worship of anything besides God Himself is sinful and a form of idolatry. We should not abuse animals. But we shouldn’t have them be the meaning of our existence either. 
Calvin was right when he said, “The Human heart is an idol factory. For what is idolatry if not this: to worship the gifts in place of the Giver himself?”

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