In celebration of World Vegan Month, we welcomed over 70 people from all across the UK at our sold-out Christian Animal Advocate Connect Day on Saturday 3rd November at Oasis Hub café, Waterloo.
We kicked off the evening with welcomes from Sarx Patron, The Revd Steve Chalke MBE and Sarx Founder, Daryl Booth. Steve highlighted animal advocacy to be a core and central issue for contemporary Christian discipleship. Daryl dedicated the evening to all Christian animal advocates who have felt left on the fringes of church for championing the cause of animals and hailed the sold-out venue to be proof of a rising tide of change in Christian culture.
Perhaps the highlight of our evening was the “Everyday Animal Advocate” interviews which gave attendees the chance to hear from a diverse range of people who use their varying talents to benefit animals.
Jay Wilde; the Derbyshire farmer who famously donated his herd of 56 cattle to an animal sanctuary in 2017, reflected upon his days as a beef farmer and the overwhelming sense of guilt that he carried for many years. He described the tremendous feeling of relief and liberation since leaving beef farming and knowing he would never need to take another animal to the slaughterhouse. He also spoke with affection about the hundreds of letters and cards he received with wonderful words of support and encouragement.
Veganuary, which inspires and supports people to try veganism during the month of January and throughout the rest of the year has just enjoyed its biggest year yet with over 168,000 registered participants from 165 countries. Its Founders, Matthew Glover and Jane Land, detailed their astonishing success story and how the charity has gone from strength to strength.
Tomi Makanjuola, a Christian vegan chef, food blogger and author spoke about her passion for food, faith and her Nigerian heritage. Tomi regards her decision to eat a peaceable vegan diet as a natural extension of her Christian faith. She also celebrated the release of her new book, The Plantain Cookbook, in which she showcases the wealth of exciting vegan recipes that can be created using plantain as a main ingredient.
Writer and lecturer on animals and animal ethics, Dr Philip J Sampson FOCAE, said that people often react with puzzled looks when he tells them about his profession! Nonetheless he was optimistic about the future of Christian animal advocacy. With reference to the question “What on earth are animals for?” (the title of a chapter in his latest book), Philip explained that contemporary Christians are debating this question with renewed vigour and coming to the conclusion that traditional answers such as “for us to eat” are simply wrong.
Kerry-Jayne Wilson spoke in her capacity as an animal rights activist for Anonymous for the Voiceless, an organisation that specialises in street activism by using local footage of animal exploitation in order to generate awareness and dialogue about human-animal relations. Kerry-Jayne touched the hearts of all present as she spoke with deep emotion about her conviction that the terrible truths of the meat and dairy industry, when communicated with love, can lead to transformation, renewal and forgiveness.
The evening also featured live music from Geri Van Essen and House Above the Sun, two highly talented Christian artists who entertained attendees with their delightful mix of Folk, Alt Rock and Blues. Following her interview, Tomi Makanjuola served up a delicious supper of fragrant vegetable curry, mixed leaf, lentil and sundried tomato salad and raspberry sponge cake with fresh fruit.
The feedback from attendees at the Connect Day has been overwhelmingly positive:
“Grateful for the momentum in this movement, at long last, and impressed with Sarx’s fresh approach”
“It was a great evening, and nice to be surrounded by like-minded people who want to achieve a better world for animals and humans alike.”
“I was glad to connect with these people and met great individuals who I can see myself working with to make a tremendous difference!”
“A great evening, extremely well-coordinated and incredibly professional”
“It was a great opportunity to make new like-minded friends and support my faith. A fun filled session! Great talks, music line up, quiz & food & snacks.”
“Eye opening, challenging, inspiring and encouraging. I was very engaged and met some wonderful and thought provoking people.”
“The day was a blessing for me. I was super encouraged by the range of speakers and by other Christians to keep on keeping on!”
Results in from our post-conference survey suggest that the Connect Day has already had a significant impact on its attendees. Attendees scored the evening an average of 9.66 out of 10 and the vast majority of attendees have confirmed that they:
- Met other Christians interested in animal advocacy
- Made new relationships with other animal advocates
- Were encouraged to keep pursuing animal advocacy in their own church/community
- Increased their ability to talk to others about Christianity and animal advocacy
- Feel more optimistic in regards to Christian regard for animals (an increase of 116%)
The success of this sold-out event sends a clear message that among the growing ranks of vegans and animal advocates are people of faith who want to see the church rekindle its connection and concern for all living creatures in God’s creation.