Thursday, October 04, 2007

Christian Vegetarianism

By Veggie Hero Lorena Mucke
Atlanta, Georgia

As a Christian, I feel we are called to be good stewards of God’s Creation and God’s animals are an important part of it. With their incredible diversity in appearance, behavior, and habitat they reflect God’s infinite creativity and love for them. We learn about God’s love for all creatures in the Bible, where God’s concern for animals is very evident. God forbids cruelty to animals, made a covenant with animals as well as humans, all creatures share in the Sabbath rest and the Bible even describes animals praising God and present in eternity. I believe that vegetarianism is a biblical ideal, given the completely vegetarian Garden of Eden and the Isaiah prophecy of a vegetarian world at the end of time. Jesus even described himself as the Lamb of God and referred to the love of a hen for her chicks as an analogy to describe his love for the Church.

Sadly, God’s animals are largely abused in today’s society. More than 95% of farmed animals live in factory farms, in which they are unnecessarily subjected to extensive pain, suffering and fear, and who are also denied of their God-given rights and instincts. However, with the indiscriminate exploitation of animals we bring misery to humanity as well. The typical meat-based diet in America, contributes to the national rates of heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, certain cancers, and to the 15% obesity rate in children and 30% in adults. Food poisoning from eating animal-based products is very common. Industrial agriculture contributes substantially to pesticide use and water pollution, as well as to depletion of land, water, and fossil fuel resources.

We are made in God’s image of love and we are called to reflect His love onto all Creation. A love for all creatures implies respect and reverence for their lives, and raising animals for food does not reflect love, respect or reverence. We are blessed with a tremendous variety of plant-based foods and most of us can live a fulfilling life without consuming animal products. A plant-based diet helps us to participate actively in the reconciliation of God’s Creation and to put Christ’s teachings of love, compassion and mercy into practice. By transitioning to a vegetarian diet, we are being good stewards of our bodies, animals and the environment.

When I sit down for a meal, and ask God to bless the food, I feel at peace in my heart knowing that no animals had to suffer or die for it. Becoming a vegetarian and later a vegan has helped me deepen the sense of justice, compassion and respect that I feel for all creatures, especially for all those who are brutalized in today’s factory farms for the sake of profit and taste. The Christian Vegetarian Association website beautifully summarizes it: “A vegetarian diet can be a powerful and faith-strengthening witness to Christ's love, compassion, and peace, and most importantly shows the world that plant-based diets represent good, responsible Christian stewardship for all God's Creation.”

-- Lorena Mucke is a wife, mother and event coordinator and newsletter editor of the Christian Vegetarian Association. In addition, she runs a Humane Education Program in Atlanta, Georgia, called The Ethical Choices Program. Through this program, Lorena visits high schools and summer camps giving presentations regarding the issues surrounding modern agriculture.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

World Farm Animals Day

Around the world today, millions of Hindus will celebrate Gandhi Jayanti -- or the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Of course we know Gandhi as a deeply spiritual man who personified non-violent action for social change. And like most Hindus, Gandhi wa a life-long vegetarian. In fact, Gandhi was well ahead of his time in espousing a simple vegan diet, which he followed for periods throughout his life, when not plagued by ill health. In his autobiography, he recounts being constantly frustrated when told by doctors that he needed to return to eating dairy food to restore his health. Faced with eating dairy food or giving up the movement to liberate his peope, Gandhi was forced to choose the greater good -- much to his chagrin.

Today, he remains a role model not only for Hindus but for all people seeking liberation for the enslavement of sentient beings. In his honor, World Farm Animals Day is celebrated around the globe with events to draw attention to the plight of animals raised for food.

Why not join in a local celebration? Or maybe you could find your own way to take the next step. Are you vegetarian? Try going vegan for one day? Already vegan? Could you share tasty meal with a friend and gently talk about your choice? I know we can all find ways to contribute to honor Gandhi and to help save the animals.

Photo credit:

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mulled Cider

Here in the Appalachians, autumn is beginning to steal into the coves and hollows. I wake up each morning to cooler temperatures and find the evening hours of darkness growing longer. The dogwood trees are beginning to turn a burnt maroon and I can catch glimpses of orange bittersweet blooming along the fence rows.

This morning I had my first steaming mug of mulled cider. For me, it's a sure sign that the season has changed.

In my family, autumn was all about the apple harvest. After days of picking, my Grampy usually took some his apples to the local cider mill to be pressed (that's him in the picture). Mostly, his bushel upon bushel of Yellow Delicious apples were sold or stored for eating through the winter, but he also always made a bit of cider. Once when I was young, I accompanied him to the mill.

It was one of those magical autumn mornings when the air was brisk but the sun was warm. I recall the camaraderie of the farmers as they greeted each other and cued up to have their apples pressed. As usual, Grampy was joking with the neighbors and teasing me. I remember bees buzzing about, drawn in by the rich fermenting apple smell from the piles of pulp. Mostly I remember the golden amber juice spilling from the press into gallon jugs. Oh and that taste! Nothing in the world tastes quite as lovely as freshly pressed cider.

Grampy’s cider went straight into the refrigerator in his garage, which is where the bushels of apples were stored. The whole place smelled like an orchard – even in the depths of winter. And as the winter months marched on, that cider was changing. It fermented and bubbled and turned into hard cider. By spring, some of the cider had turned from hard cider into cider vinegar. We used that tangy vinegar for salad dressings and for making pickles during the summer months.

As summer began fading into early fall, the cycle was complete and it was time to begin picking apples once again...

1 gallon fresh, local cider
1 orange, sliced into rounds
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg, broken into large pieces
2 teaspoons whole all-spice
2 teaspoons star anise
1 teaspoon whole clove

1. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and cover.

2. Warm slowly over medium heat until steaming and hot.

3. Keeping covered, reduce heat to low and serve hot.

If you want to make just one mug at a time, look for pre-packaged mulling spices at your local health food store bulk herb department or gourmet food shop.