From Margaret B. Adam
Q: Can people be creaturekind if they are not vegan? Can people consume animals and animal products and still be creaturekind?
R: Thank you for these great questions!
Yes!! In fact, being creaturekind is inescapable. Since there are two kinds of things, God and God’s creatures, we are, by our very nature, creaturekind. But there’s more to say, particularly on how we act as creatures of God.
CreatureKind is about Christians helping each other to live out our concerns about animals—especially farmed animals—in connection to faith, and to live out our faith in connection to our concerns about farmed animals. We aim to be disciples—learners—of Christ, who are learning about God and God’s creation as narrated through scripture and Christian tradition and as interpreted with continuity through shifting cultures and contexts. We are learning about God’s creatures and what they need to thrive and flourish. And we are learning about how humans treat farmed animals and the humans who work in the farming industry.
This learning and discerning leads us at CreatureKind to believe that our Christian faith calls us to be kinder to the creatures caught up in cruel farming practices. For some people, becoming more creaturekind might mean selecting animal products from farms where the animals live healthy, species-appropriate lives, before they are killed for human consumption. For other people, becoming more creaturekind might mean adding more plant-based meals into the weekly menu. For others, adopting a vegan diet and avoiding all products derived from animals. And, for still others, becoming more creaturekind might entail teaching, preaching, and community outreach.
Christians know that there is no way to become perfectly holy in this life. Even when we exert our very best efforts, even when we participate in the Body of Christ, even when we receive the gifts of the Spirit, we still fall short of perfection, fall prey to human limitations, and turn away from the fullness of life in Christ. We cannot be perfectly faithful, but we can certainly be faithful imperfectly, as we learn and grow, and as we turn again and again back toward God and the completion of creation to come. Christians don’t become faithful only after they have attained all their ethical goals. Jesus’ disciples learned slowly. So do we.
Being creaturekind is not a matter of perfection. We cannot be perfectly creaturekind, but we can certainly be creaturekind imperfectly, and everyone—even vegans—can become more creaturekind. We can grow in creaturekindedness when we pay more attention to the ways our lives affect the creatures around us. We can become more creaturekind by asking each other how we can live more faithfully with other creatures, and how we can live in ways that better reflect what we are learning about God, creatures, and God’s relationship with creation. And that’s something we can all do, all the time.
However faithfully an individual manages to live, there is no solitary creaturely life. The lives of all God’s creatures are so interconnected, that we can never claim complete separation from the rest of creation. This applies to carnivores and vegans, scholars and factory farm workers, church members and chickens. All creaturekind people live within and depend on a society, culture, economy, ecosystem that directly and indirectly affects other human and nonhuman creatures. When we procure food and energy, travel, read, wear clothes, take a shower, read books or computers, raise children, raise trees, raise political issues, raise pigs, we are inescapably connected to everyone else.
BEING CREATUREKIND, VEGAN, NON-VEGAN, AND INTERCONNECTED
So, yes, let’s appreciate and encourage creaturekind vegans, for their commitment, consistency, and inspiring example to those who are not sure if a meat-less meal is even possible. Let’s appreciate and encourage creaturekind meat-eaters who try out different sources for the animal products they buy and experiment with vegetarian dishes as they try to change long-held habits. And let’s keep challenging each other to attend to God and God’s creation, to human and non-human creatures, and to faithfulness in all the ways we learn and grow in faith, together.