Rachie Ross, Christian vegan and environmental campaigner, reflects upon her relationship to animals, food and faith.
We knocked fish off our plates 20 yrs ago when we saw the seas were emptying way too fast. I don’t miss the mercury and micro beads found in fish flesh and I don’t mean to sound harsh but I don’t miss seeing their eyes staring back at me from my plate.
Then we binned beef and lamb 2 years later when mad cow’s disease scared me witless and a neighbor working in BSE and vCJD research said she wouldn’t touch it with a barge (or cow herd) pole. Again, I don’t mean to sound smug but I don’t miss the cholesterol nor the antibiotics.
Then very soon bacon butties and pork went too; too cancerous. Ever seen the reports on sausages, processed ham and smokey rashers? Nothing to miss there..
So, for a few years that left us eating organic chicken once a week, that felt ok, right? And of course free range eggs and organic dairy too.
Then one day I was reading a ‘christian’ book describing a lady carving the Sunday roast; she was presented as carving slowly and reverently, with so much respect because it had , and I quote, ‘given its life up for her’ and this was trying to represent how we as Christians were to be grateful to Jesus.
That was it.
I was through.
Far from giving me a new angle on the cross, it simply pierced my brain with a different revelation.
No animal was ever going to ‘give its life up for me’.
I wasn’t in a war-torn land with starvation looming, I wasn’t counting ribs through my skin, I wasn’t in need of protein from any animal or living creature. Never again.
A 100% veggie I finally became.
I felt lighter and more integrated.
Who wants to eat an animal that has been ’grown’ for meat?
Filthy factories, mental health issues in abattoirs, cheap supermarket cuts of antibiotic infused meat.
Then I lived blindly with 7 years of deep seated disconnect.
You have to understand, he’s been a vegan for over 15 years by this point when it was un-cool, hard core, antisocial and plain weird. He’s tirelessly been slogging away within the animal rights movement and sabbing communities. He’s a walking tattoo with a big heart, but I don’t mess with my bro in law, I’m not gonna lie..
He is one of my uncomfortable heroes; he tells the inconvenient truth despite potential push back. I proudly told him one winters day that I was now a paid-up supporter of The League against Cruel Sports (feeling good) and he simply said; ‘You can’t be, you aren’t vegan, you are part of the cruelty’.
Straight between the eyes.
He was right of course…
The suffering and cruelty in the dairy industry was as bad, and in some measures worse, than instant abattoir death. I hadn’t clocked the huge sadness for mother cows separated from their calves within minutes so their milk could come to me. I began to see the cruelty of keeping cows in barns all year, and sending the boys to veal crates straight away at birth. I’ve since seen this on farms and find it unbearable to witness. Not to mention the methane and mastitis and pus in milk and weirdness of drinking another mammals milk.
And eggs, of course why had I not seen the industry’s savage expectations that chickens live in grim conditions in 24 hour heat and light (if not free range)? This places enormous stress on their bodies and minds. I’d been part of this cruelty every time I ate an egg in a dish I wasn’t cooking. Not to mention the boy chicks chucked into blenders alive.
100% Vegan, boom.
Immediately we started rescuing hens from The Hen Welfare Trust, who come directly from battery farms. If you ever need a visual image for human cruelty, it’s the bald battered and terrified creatures that arrive. Growing feathers and trust takes about 8 months; what a joy to see them be ‘hens’, in the garden learning how to peck, relax and simply regain their bird dignity.
Once you’ve seen a truth and injustice and cruelty you can never UN-see it.
A deep sense of peace and moral integration settled in our home, on our plates and in every shopping decision we made. The power of the vegan pound.
No one should profit from another’s misery, and animals are often kept in miserable, immoral and squalid conditions for people.
I never want to cause any living creature distress or harm nor be part of industries that treat land and animals as ‘stuff’, pesticides as normal, farmers health and wellbeing as nothing (high suicide rates, check it out) and wildlife as fair game to be removed if in the way of farming.
I want to tread very lightly on God planet and leave it better than I found it.
So I entered veganism through the door labelled ‘animal welfare and rights’.
But that door is plastered now with multiple labels:
- Climate change and the link to farming animals; I’m an active member of Christian Climate Action and XR, rebelling for ALL animal life, this is the key issue driving all I do.
- Health -autoimmunity is exponentially on the rise; whole food plant-based diets can reverse that (check out Dr Brooke Goldner). Our daughters have Lupus treated through food alone.
- water stress on the planet (plants, not beef please),
- disdain of plastic and corporates who push pre-packed cheap food.
Gods world; balance and liberty for all species. We are not superior, we are greedy and I want no part in oppressing His creation. Veganism is liberating and holy, because resistance to evil is a holy act, seen all through the Bible. Veganism and Christianity for me go hand in hand, or should that be hand in hoof?
Rachie Ross is a member of Christian Climate Action, a community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of climate change.
Rachie lives with her vegan husband, their three vegan teens and their vegan dog called Totem.