Six Tips for Hosting a Vegan at Thanksgiving

by Sarah Withrow King

You’re hosting the holiday meal this year and have the menu all planned out when you learn one of the guests is vegan. Hospitality is important to you. You want to share the gifts you’ve been given, welcome people with open arms, and create a space where all of your guests feel warm, safe, and seen. But you’ve been making the same dishes for the last twenty years and have no earthly idea what vegans eat or whether they’ll take one look at the table spread and scream, “Murderer!” (<---they’re not going to do that)

These Vegan Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze from One Happy Table will impress all your hungry guests! So much yum. 

These Vegan Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze from One Happy Table will impress all your hungry guests! So much yum. 

I’m here to help. I haven’t always been kind or compassionate to plant-based eaters. I hosted a birthday party once and fed my one vegetarian friend a salad while we chowed down on burgers. I laughed at another friend who was trying to be vegan. Then I learned some of the reasons why my friends left meat, dairy, and eggs off their plates and decided to follow suit. Guess what I was served at the very first event I attended as a vegan? A plate of lightly steamed summer squash. I had it coming.

If you’ve got a vegan or vegetarian coming to dinner and want to welcome them with open arms and a full plate, here are six top tips:

  1. Ask What Kind of Food Your Guest Likes. Some vegans looooove meat substitutes like Gardein Chick’n or Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs or Tofurky’s Holiday Roast. Others just like straight-up vegetables. Some vegans are in it for the health benefits and others relish a meal that’s rich and decadent. It’s okay to ask. It’s good to ask.

  2. Make Easy Substitutions When Possible. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef stock; substitute Earth Balance and a plant-based milk for butter and dairy; make a chia or flax egg to help that casserole bind. If you would normally sprinkle cheese over the top of a dish, leave it to the side and let people add their own if they choose. Here’s a good substitution guide to help get you started.

  3. Offer a Vegan Dessert. If your guest is very health-conscious, fruit or sorbet is fine. But if they love pumpkin pie and other sugary treats, you’ll be a hero if you present them with a baked goody. Seriously. A cape-wearing hero. Not sure how you can make a pie crust without lard or a cake without eggs? Seize the opportunity to learn some new tricks. You might just find a new favorite! Maybe the family tradition is a plate of Uncle Dave’s killer brownies? Pick up a vegan brownie at the local grocery store so your guest can indulge, too!

  4. Offer a Vegan Protein. If you’re not sure what kind of protein your guest likes, just ask! Let them send you some of their favorite recipes. I promise we will put a great deal of thought into ensuring that the suggestions we provide are affordable, practical, and universally delicious.

  5. Let Your Guest Help You. I don’t mean, “let your guest bring all their own food.” That’s no fun. Of course you can ask them to bring a dish that they love (and be sure to give them first dibs at that if there aren’t a lot of veg options), but let them help you figure out what’s available and easy-to-do. We are eager to answer questions, to help you find substitutes, to offer up recipe suggestions. One long-time vegan says, “I find there's a dungeon-master forcefield around hosting and a lot of people feel that if they involve their guests, they're somehow not hosting well. No! Ask the vegan! They've been figuring out what egg subs work best for years! Team Host-Guest FTW!”

  6. Let’s Talk About Being Vegan...After Dinner. The vast majority of vegans I know want everyone at the table to have a good time. We don’t think mealtime is the best place to share the details of what we’ve learned about factory farming and slaughterhouses. Let’s do that over drinks or while we’re washing dishes.

I do hope you will ask your guest about their preferences, but here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes that might get your creative juices flowing.

One last word. I eat with meat-eaters all the time. I don’t love to see meat, I don’t love to watch people eat meat. I’ve seen and read too much to be able to turn off my heart and brain, but I’ll still sit down at a table that includes meat. That said...if, like me, your vegan guest is vegan for animals, they might appreciate if a big meat dish wasn’t the center of the table. They might appreciate the cutting/carving/serving being done away from where the eating happens. Or maybe not. It’s worth having the conversation. It’s always worth having the conversation.

“Let all that you do be done in love.”

CreatureKind First Christian Organization to Endorse "Prevent Cruelty California"

A coalition of animal protection organizations, veterinarians, and family farmers have come together in California to attempt to place a measure on the November 2018 ballot that would ban the sale of animal products in the state that were produced using intensive confinement. If the measure is brought to the ballot and passed, it would mean that hens who produce eggs sold in California would have one square foot of space (at least). And the sale of pig and cow flesh from animals who were kept in gestation or veal crates would be prohibited. 

CreatureKind was proud to be the first Christian organization to endorse this important effort. 

Of course, animal welfare reform can't stop at the cage door. Even optimal welfare farming has its shortfalls. 

But it seems clear to us that there's no room for battery cages, gestation crates, and veal crates in the good stewardship of God's creation. 

If you'd like to learn more about Prevent Cruelty California, please visit the coalition website: https://preventcrueltyca.com/

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Guest Post: Is the Gospel “Good News” for Animals Too?

As both a Christian and a vegan, something that I think about often is the way in which my faith is compatible with my vegan values. I stopped eating meat at around the same time that I started seminary school, and at the time I did not consider the two things to be connected in any way. However, as I began studying Scripture more in depth, I began to realize that actually, my concern for animals and the environment, which originally caused me to ditch meat, and later on all animal products (including dairy, eggs, honey, leather, fur, etc.), was in fact very much related to my faith in God as Creator and Redeemer.

The question that I’ve been reflecting on and which I would like to discuss is whether or not the Christian Gospel (the “Good News”) has any bearing on animals and the earth. The answer I have come to is that yes, it has absolutely everything to do them as well. This may seem like a bit of a jump to some of my Christian brothers and sisters, many of whom are of the opinion that God actually made animals FOR us to eat (I used to be of this opinion too for most of my life), and that we have some kind of license to use them and use the planet as we see fit since God said that we are to “have dominion” over them (Gen 1:26).

Furthermore, the way that the Gospel has been presented most frequently has been with a very heavy emphasis on “personal salvation” to the extent that we think that it is all about us – US being forgiven by God, US for whom Christ died, US for whom the earth was created, US who will be going to heaven (“Do animals even have even have souls?” some may argue). It’s no wonder many have accused Christianity of being an anthropocentric (human-centered) religion. But while I would agree that Christians can often come across as such, and tend use the Bible to support their anthropocentric views, the Bible itself does not condone such a mentality.

In order to go about answering this question of whether the Gospel is good news for the animals (and the earth) as well as humans, we must start by giving a little bit of background. In the Biblical account, it all begins with God creating “the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). This earth that God created was deemed as “good” (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).

What was this creation like? The first word that comes to my mind when I read the creation account is “abundant.” It was abundantly filled with fruits and vegetation and all kinds of animals. Then God created the man and the woman and God's mandate to them was to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen 1:28). This is where some people start getting confused, thinking that this rulership somehow gives them permission to take advantage of and exploit what God has put under their care.

The second word that comes to mind when I think about what the original creation was like is “harmony.” Humans in harmonious relationships with God, with each other, with the animals and with the earth. Indeed, in the original creation, humans did not eat animals, and animals did not eat other animals. Genesis 1:29-30…“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it [souls?] – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

So what I see from the Creation account is that the world God created was good, it was perfect, it was harmonious and abundant, there was no harm, no evil, no violence, no death. What happened? This is where the bad news comes in, with sin and disobedience entering the picture, Adam and Eve doing the one thing God told them not to do (eating from one single tree out of the many they were allowed to eat from), wanting to live the way they wanted instead of how God wanted them to. And this is where everything falls apart.

It is at this point in the story that the relationships between God and humans, humans and each other, humans and animals, and finally, humans and the earth were distorted. The man and the woman were now hiding from each other by covering their nakedness that they were never ashamed of before (Gen 3:7). They were also hiding from God in the garden (Gen 3:8). They started playing the blame game for the sin they both committed (Gen 3:12). Now even the earth was uncooperative and would not produce food for people without hard labour (Gen 3:17). Finally, it is at this point that the first animal was killed in order to clothe the man and the woman (Gen 3:21).

Later on in the story, during the time of Noah, for the first time God actually gives humans permission to eat animals (Gen 9:3). It is important to note that this is not how things were meant to be, as we have seen from the Creation account, but rather that this is what people had actually started doing (ie. Abel raising livestock and sacrificing the fat of the firstborn to God, with the implication that the rest was eaten – Gen 4:4). This is not the only instance in Scripture where something was permitted which was not God’s original intention. When questioned about divorce, Jesus responded to the Pharisee that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19:8).

It was not a good thing, but rather a tragedy, that the once good relationship between humans and animals had devolved into “fear and dread” (Gen 9:2) on the part of the animals towards the humans that were meant to be their caretakers. It was against God’s intention for creation that humans began killing God's other created beings for food when God had abundantly provided them with fruit and vegetation to eat.

So there is the bad news. But what is the “Good News” that Christians speak of? It is that God still cares about God's creation, both humans and animals, and the earth as well. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). Although things have gone downhill from the goodness of the original creation and how things were meant to be, God continues to love the world, and the story of the Bible is that God is making a way for everything to be restored once again. We tend to focus only on the restoration of the relationships between God and humans, and humans and each other, but we forget about the other relationships that were destroyed and which God also wants to restore.

The good news is not only that Jesus died for sin so that we can be saved, although that is a big part of it. It is also that God is working to make things right again and that this is done through Jesus Christ, who came to earth, not only as Saviour but also as King of the coming Kingdom of God. And what is this new Kingdom? It is not a castle in the sky, but rather a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1). Everything made new, the goodness of creation restored. The prophet Isaiah gives a beautiful description of the coming Kingdom of God in Isaiah 11:6-9 when he says:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea. 

The conclusion of the matter then is this: In the original creation animals were not killed for food and humans were called to be caretakers of the earth and it’s creatures; and in the coming kingdom of God, the new earth, once again all killing and violence will cease. Although this Kingdom will not be fully accomplished until Christ returns again, Christians are called to advance the Kingdom of God on earth now. Therefore, I would argue that it is flows naturally from the biblical message for Christians, as the people of God who wish to please God and live according to God's will, to adopt a vegan ethic of nonviolence to animals and an environmental ethic of earth stewardship. This is the Gospel (good news), not just for us as humans, but for the animals and for the earth.

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Patricia Chan says, "I was born and raised in a Christian home, and from a young age I developed a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. I also grew up regularly eating animals and their products. I never imagined myself becoming vegetarian let alone vegan, but that is exactly where God has led me. In September 2014 I stopped eating animals for reasons of ethics. After a year of vegetarianism, I took the logical next step and cut out all animal products to the best of my ability. Through my studies in theology at Regent College, I have come to see that my faith is not only compatible with veganism but that a vegan ethic flows naturally from the biblical message of love." This article originally appeared on Patricia's blog and is reprinted here with kind permission. 

Farm Animal Welfare: How Good is Good Enough?

from David Clough

I spend a lot of my time thinking and writing about farmed animals, but mostly at a desk in front of a computer screen. So I was delighted to get the chance to visit a small organic farm and an organic smallholding with Margaret, CreatureKind's Project Editor. One Saturday we found ourselves driving along English country lanes in search of a farm that had been in use since Medieval times.

As we navigated a narrow fenced track towards the farm, we were immediately confronted with a practical issue of animal care. An ewe stood in our way. She had presumably escaped from the field of sheep on our right, but it wasn't at all clear how she had done so. Driving on would frighten her further away from the field. We tried getting out of the car, but that had the same effect. In the end we drove on slowly, until the ewe realized she was more averse of the farm dog we were approaching than our car, and bolted past us.

We pulled up, pulled on wellington boots, and were welcomed by the dog and by the farmer. He showed us young chicks separated in batches hatched a week apart, housed in sheds warmed by heat lamps, before being big enough to move to the outdoor enclosures. Outside, we saw runs providing access to grass for the chickens to scratch in, with fencing and roofing to protect younger birds from predators.

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The sheep were in an enormous field with plenty of lush grass and views over a beautiful valley. I had the strong sense that there could be few better places to be a farmed sheep.

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The chickens are raised for meat, and we asked about where they were slaughtered. The farmer agreed to take us to the trailer used once a week to kill around 200 chickens, and described the process of handling them as gently as possible as they are placed eight at a time upside down in a ring of metal cones before being stunned and having their throats cut. The sheep are too big for this makeshift slaughter-house, and are transported to organic-certified abattoirs some distance away.

We had further conversation about what was involved in making the farm pay: the barn converted to host wedding receptions, with a bar on the site of an old cider press. I was struck, as I often am, by the way this farmer's life was lived in much closer proximity than my own to the demands of attending to the needs of the animals in his care.

The smallholding we visited was a more modest affair: a retired academic not far away who keeps a flock of 50 sheep in a field adjoining his house. After we waited inside with him for a refashioned back door to be delivered, he took us out to meet the sheep, and we were greeted by an idyllic scene of sheep grazing or resting below a spreading oak tree.

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One who had been hand-reared as a lamb came up to the fence so that he could have his head scratched. I spotted a hare lolloping along the fence and then off across the field. The academic-farmer spoke of how he makes little, if anything, from keeping the sheep, but enjoys a life lived alongside them and will miss it when he became too old to continue doing so.

Everyone needs an afternoon snack now and then.

Everyone needs an afternoon snack now and then.

Afterwards, when we talked about our farm visits, I was acutely conscious how very few chickens get to live lives in the outdoors as the Soil Association certified birds we saw do. In contrast to the horrifically constrained and painful lives of the chickens in the broiler sheds I have also visited, where the smell of ammonia from their faeces dominates, the farm we had visited was literally a breath of fresh air. It would be a very great advance to bring an end to the intensive rearing of chickens, replacing them with chickens raised extensively and outdoors in the way we had seen.

And yet I also realised that, even in this extensive and organic mode of production, there is no interaction between the mother hens and their chicks, which seems like a fundamental feature of what it would mean to flourish as a hen, and as a chick. And while the mode of slaughter would be much less distressing than conditions in many of the large processing plants where broiler hens are killed, chickens were still being killed in their prime of life, when they would have had so much more life to enjoy ahead of them. The sheep had it better, it seemed to me, with the chance to suckle from their mothers, but male lambs were still castrated without anaesthetic, and the day would come when the lambs would be separated from their mothers, and then taken away on a trailer to be killed before they had reached maturity.

And yet I also realised that, even in this extensive and organic mode of production, there is no interaction between the mother hens and their chicks, which seems like a fundamental feature of what it would mean to flourish as a hen, and as a chick.

I'm hoping to begin a new project shortly that will mean regular visits to a wide range of farms and abattoirs, giving me a wider exposure to the various ways we are raising farmed animals for food. I look forward to becoming better informed about current practice, and about the most important issues for action. I am likely to be visiting many facilities where farm animals live lives that are very much worse than the chickens and sheep we visited on this trip, and I remain committed to encouraging Christians to stop consuming intensively farmed animals and to move to higher welfare sources, alongside reducing overall consumption. But I left these farms dissatisfied with the terms being offered even these farmed animals, and impatient for a broadening recognition that since we can get by without killing them, we should.

Changing the Menu at Christian Conferences

by Sarah Withrow King

Which vegan has two thumbs, travels a lot, and has been eating pretty well at Christian gatherings of late? This gal!

Earlier this year, my team at ESA let me know that they wanted to show solidarity with my CreatureKind work by making all of our events vegetarian or vegan. Another CreatureKind colleague's team made a similar decision. I had a vegan dessert for the first time ever at a gathering of Christian leaders in June (here it is, it was such a perfect little pudding, I had to take a photo), a dessert that followed a series of outstanding vegan meal options. 

Perfect tiny vegan tapioca pudding. I could have eaten about five of them.

Perfect tiny vegan tapioca pudding. I could have eaten about five of them.

I have received incredible vegan hospitality at Christian events in cities all over the U.S. in the last year, from Portland to Durham, D.C. to Grand Rapids.

I love plant-based food at Christian events for a few reasons:

  1. Providing plant-based meals ensures that vegans, vegetarians, and conscious consumers are able to fully participate in the event. Having to leave to go seek out food, or having to pack and prepare your own is a bummer. 
  2. 99% of the animal products provided at your average event will be from industrial farms and slaughterhouses, which are not only bad for animals, but for the humans who work there, too. 
  3. Eating more plant-based meals is better for the environment. 

And one more: I talk to a lot of people who balk at the idea of calling themselves vegan or vegetarian but who would choose plant-based foods if they were readily available. Providing or (even better) prioritizing plant-based food at Christian events gives people the opportunity to try on a different way of eating without making a (seemingly) daunting commitment. 

Are you part of a gathering of Christians that shares meals? Do you go to a conference every year and want to see more plant-based food? Do you have a positive story to share? Let's talk about how to help make this trend into a norm! Drop us a line or comment below.

 

The Reconciliation of Creation: Especially Cows

by Margaret B. Adam

This article was originally delivered as a sermon at Hertford College Evensong.

The readings: 

  • Isaiah 11:1-9
  • Psalm 148
  • Colossians 1:15-20

In today’s psalm, all of creation is exhorted to praise God. The psalmist calls all people to praise the Lord. He also calls on angels, stars, skies, and seas to give their praise. And weather, hills, and trees. Sea monsters and wild land-animals, creepy crawly animals and birds. And also...cows. Let the cows praise the Lord! Praise God, all you cows!

What does it look like for a cow to praise God?

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Praise is what creatures do when they are living out their creaturely particularity to the glory of God. To praise, to glorify God, is to rejoice in God, as a creature of God. Humans often praise God with words and reason. Humans also praise God silently, without reasoned thought, newly born, approaching death, in stillness and in action. Likewise, other animals and the rest of creation all praise God in their own ways.

As we sang earlier: ‘All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voices, let us sing: Alleluia, alleluia!’

Praise is a bodily function. Created bodies sing Alleluia to God in their own distinctive voices and movements. Stars shine, winds storm, mountains stand, slugs—slugs excrete mucous and slide along it to find slug food. This is their praise, their rejoicing in the Lord. Cows praise God by flourishing: by grazing outdoors, chewing their cud, nursing their calves, brushing off flies, dozing, and mooing their version of rejoicing.

But, many dairy cows do not flourish. Industrial farming deprives cows of joy and decreases their capacity to praise God in their created cowness.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Of course, much of creation is not free to flourish and praise God as created. This is a world full of brokenness and suffering, fractured and unjust relationships. In that brokenness, we humans participate directly and indirectly in the use, abuse, and early death of other human and nonhuman animals, every day. Increasingly, in England, human-cow relationships reflect consumers’ desire for cheap milk, which drives smaller-scale farms out of business and supports the growth of large industrial dairy farms. Human preferences inhibit cow praise, by cutting short their lives and treating them as objects for production rather than as creatures of joy.

The children’s picture books of your childhood and mine show cows in abundant grass and sunshine, accompanied by other barnyard animals, and perhaps milked by The Farmer, or, The Farmer’s Daughter. These cows have names and personalities. They look happy and relaxed.

The life of a factory farmed cow looks nothing like the lives of cows in children’s books—or, for that matter, any on farms anywhere at anytime in history before the late 20th century.

Industrial farms keep cows in cages just barely big enough for their bodies to fit. On zero-grazing farms, the cows spend their entire lives inside. Cows are forcibly, artificially inseminated when they are 15 months old. Farm workers remove newborn calves at 2 days old, leaving the mothers bereft. Female calves are raised like their mothers. Male calves face either immediate death or a slightly delayed death if kept for veal. Cows are repeatedly impregnated so that they will be lactating continuously. In the last 40 years, the industry has doubled milk production per cow. By the time the mothers are about 5 years old, their bodies are so worn out from over-production that their milk is no longer high quality, and they are slaughtered for human food; whereas in more cow-friendly living conditions, they might live another 10 to 15 years.

Sasha, rescued from the veal and dairy industries. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Sasha, rescued from the veal and dairy industries. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

This is a gentle and muted description of the treatment of factory-farmed cows. You can watch videos online that show just how cruelly the cows are treated and just how grim the workers’ jobs are. There is no joy there.

This is not the end, the purpose, of creation. Scripture offers ample images to help us identify broken relationships and redirect us toward the radically harmonious relationships to come in the fullness of time.

The prophet Isaiah schools the people of God in faithfulness, calling out their failures and redirecting them toward rightly ordered relationships. When the whole world is transformed by righteousness in the Lord, Isaiah proclaims, no creature will need to suffer and die in order that other creatures may thrive. Humans will lay down their swords and machines of destruction; all animals will set aside their aggression, carnivory, and fears. Note the extra attention Isaiah gives to cows. He says:

The wolves, lambs, leopards, and goats will live comfortably together. Calves and lions will hang out and eat straw together. Cows and bears will graze together, while calves and baby bears nap together. Human children, still nursing, will play where the cobra lives, and weaned children will put their hands safely into the adder’s home. No creature will hurt or destroy any other creature.

Today, Isaiah might well add: ‘Cows will nurse their calves and humans will nurse their babies. Cows and humans will all enjoy fresh air and freedom from oppression’.

Unrealistic? Isaiah is not aiming at realism here. Realism claims that some creatures must destroy other creatures. Human animals use realism to defend the need to treat nonhuman animals as products. Isaiah names the brokenness that disrupts all creaturely flourishing, not just human flourishing. And he points to the fullness of creation freed from normative abuse. Even if the peaceable kingdom seems impossible now, it’s clear that industrial farming does not reflect or anticipate that kind of flourishing.

The Christian narration of salvation traces God’s creation through humanity’s persistent rejection of both God and the goodness of creation, and through the systemic effects of cumulative human brokenness—brokenness too pervasive for humans to fix. All of creation suffers together from human sinfulness and groans together in hope of a most unrealistic salvation.

Paul, in his letter to the Colossians that we heard earlier, proclaims the salvation of creation—the salvation of humans and cows—that comes through Christ who reconciles creation. Christ, fully human and fully the divine Son of God, dies a creaturely—and very realistic—death. That death does not bind Christ to the limits of death. He lives again, beyond death. He releases all of creation with him, from sin and the deathly effects of sin, in the reconciliation of all things.

Paul explains that

...all things have been created through Christ and for Christ.

Christ himself is before all things, Christ holds all things together in him.

For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things--all of creation-- whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

So, Christ holds together the divisions we cause. And Christ establishes a creation-wide reconciliation of all relationships, that reaches beyond the divisions of species and the separation of death.

Christ’s reconciliation addresses every thwarted opportunity for joyful flourishing, for praising God—sibling rivalries, political infighting, warfare, hunters and their prey. It includes all those involved in the industry of intensive dairy farming—from corporate leaders, to factory workers, to cows, to consumers. Christ suffered and died for humans and for cows, so that both can flourish without harming the other, along with lions, leopards, little goats, and adders.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

But, where is this reconciliation? Where are the signs that systemic sin is undone? Why does zero-grazing seem a sensible strategy for large-scale farms? Why is it still so hard to eschew all animal products? Part of the answer is: I don’t know. As a creature—and a sinful creature at that—I have no God’s-eye view on the pace of the fulfilment of creation; but scripture, the saints, and the teachers of the church, steadfastly remind me that Christ has both already effected that reconciliation and is still effecting it.

The other part of the answer is that Christian ethics directs us to live into that for which we hope. The ethical response to systemic brokenness is to embrace that already/not yet transformation with expanded imaginations and critically-examined practices.

First, we can demonstrate, by our actions, that we don’t need to abuse other creatures for our own pleasure. It is not necessary to purchase cow milk when there are ample alternative milks on the store shelf. Colleges, restaurants, friends and family often offer a vegetarian or vegan option for dinner. If you are looking for a quick meal, check out the plant-based prepared foods in the freezer and refrigerated sections at the store. If you cook for yourself, add one easy vegan meal to your repertoire. These are all ethical decisions you can make without even going out of your way. These are relatively simple ways to show that it is not necessary to deny one animal’s flourishing for the sake of another animal’s flourishing—our own flourishing.

Second, learn about what happens on dairy farms. Do a little research on industrial farming. Visit a local small farm. Compare conditions on larger and smaller farms. Meet some cows. Trace the sources of your food, drink, and clothing. Incorporate these considerations into your daily life practices. In the US, over 90% of dairy products come from industrial farms. In the UK, the percentage is closer to 70%. It may be difficult to change the trend toward mega-farms, but consumer choices do speak loudly.

Third, make connections with other people asking similar questions. Share concerns, insights, and experiences. Eat together. Challenge each other to adopt more peaceable creaturely interactions. Hold each other accountable.

And, above all, let’s try not to keep other creatures from flourishing. Let’s work toward the end that all creation—including cows—may experience joy and glorify God in their particular creatureliness.

Praise God! All of creation, praise God.

And, especially, let the cows praise the Lord.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Fourth of July Church Vegan Barbecue

by Carol J. Adams

My spouse, Bruce, has been the Associate Pastor for Community Ministries at a church in Dallas for 30 years. When we first arrived we learned that the Fourth of July event hosted by the church’s senior activities group was “a must.” To us northerners it was more than strange that anyone would choose to be outside in 100° temperature on July 4. On top of it, and to my dismay, the event was centered on chicken.

Ten years into Bruce's ministry here the people who hosted the event had aged and were unable to host it any longer. For a few years, the event rotated between other elderly members, and then no one could host it. The event went dark for a couple of years. I said to Bruce, “If all they need is a backyard in which to have their celebration, we can do it!”

But there was the issue of the chicken. This needed to be addressed. So I began serving vegan drumsticks. I bought them from my local vegan Chinese restaurant. She stocked them in bags of 80. They are little pieces of seitan on a cane sugar stick. I would slather barbecue on half of them and olive oil on the other half, bake them and serve them. They were a huge success and a curiosity.

But the Chinese restaurant went out of business. So I decided to make my own barbecue. First I use frozen tofu. One year I used tofu, tempeh, and seitan in barbecue sauce. (It’s the barbecue sauce that really matters!)

Everyone adjusted to the change in the main course and the request to bring vegetables or fruit (and no meat). What I was preparing became a matter of interest.

This picture shows my most successful barbecue—barbecued unribs!

The author with her popular BBQ unribs! 

The author with her popular BBQ unribs! 

This recipe is a little labor intensive, but while preparing them I make a point to listen to an audiobook about US history. At church the week following the serving of these unribs, I saw some of the matriarchs of the church. One said, “When I was asked how the barbecue was, I reported I had the best ribs ever!”

A faster BBQ recipe uses jackfruit instead of seitan. You hardly need any time at all!

Vegan BBQ Jackfruit

Vegan BBQ Jackfruit

A barbecue is incomplete without macaroni and cheese, and I created the most luscious, richest, outrageous vegan mac and cheese recipe. I added a little kale just to prevent its complete descent to decadence.

Decadent Vegan Mac & Cheese

Decadent Vegan Mac & Cheese

One friend, a nonagenarian, and very proper Southerner, went back for thirds! You can find the recipe here.

Of course, some cole slaw is necessary.

Use a vegan mayonnaise and you don’t have to worry about the eggs in the mayonnaise going bad in the sun! (Veganism has so many side benefits.)

Finally, we always end with a Texas sheet cake.

If I mention ordering a cake, there are protests: this is the cake that must complete the bbq.

As people are finishing their meals, Bruce brings out his miniature cannon and sets it off. But that is another story. The vegan bbq has found its place in the hearts and stomachs of at least one Texas congregation. Why stop there?

Happy eaters! 

Happy eaters! 

Carol J. Adams is the author of numerous books including The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, now in a Bloomsbury Revelations edition celebrating its 25th anniversary. She has written several books on living as a vegan, including Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Vegan Diet (with Patti Breitman and Virginia Messina), Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian’s Survival Guide, and How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even if You Never Want to Be One.

She is the author of Woman-Battering (1995) in Fortress Press’s Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series. With Marie Fortune, she edited Violence Against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook (1995). She is the author of the training manual, Pastoral Care for Domestic Violence:  Case Studies for Clergy - for Christian Audiences - Training Manual (2007) published by the FaithTrust Institute. She has a Masters of Divinity from Yale University. www.caroljadams.com

Incarnating a CreatureKind Church at the Summer Institute for Reconciliation

by Sarah Withrow King

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created...and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things..."

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of teaming up with Christopher Carter, who is an Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego, a Faith in Food Fellow for Farm Forward, and a member of CreatureKind's North American Advisory Council and Christine Gutleben, Senior Director of Faith Outreach at the Humane Society of the United States to co-teach "Incarnating a CreatureKind Church" at Duke Divinity's Summer Institute for Reconciliation.

Seminar participants feeding sheep at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge. Photo by Christopher Carter

Seminar participants feeding sheep at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge. Photo by Christopher Carter

During the four-day-long event, our afternoon seminar discovered new ways to think about Christianity and animals. Following the "Word Made Flesh" methodology from the book Reconciling All Things, we discussed ways in which Christianity is good news for all creation. We lamented the realities of factory farming, a broken system that hurts animals, humans, and the environment. We visited a farmed animal sanctuary, to meet individual rescued animals and to hear their stories. We were invited into the notion of adopting an anti-oppressive mindset. We told our own stories of hope, of people and organizations working to bring about reconciliation in creation, and we talked about how to sustain ourselves spiritually for the long haul. 

Our diverse group shared their tender and courageous hearts with us throughout the week, we were able to learn much from one another, and we got to meet these two loves:

Photo by Julia Johnson

Photo by Julia Johnson

 

We are exploring the possibility of turning this extraordinary seminar into a webinar, so that more people can experience the renewal and fellowship that was such a blessing to us. If you want to help make that happen, please give a donation to CreatureKind today. 

Sarah cradling Charleston the rooster, who loved to have his face massaged. He fell asleep in my arms! Photo by Blue.

Sarah cradling Charleston the rooster, who loved to have his face massaged. He fell asleep in my arms! Photo by Blue.