UFETA Ad In UU World

I am a UFETA member and was happy to see this ad in the UU World. I don’t know if I am a huge proponent of the “specisim” angle for vegetarian and veganism, but nonetheless I am happy to see the issue raised a denominational level. The environmental impact of animal product consumption alone should be enough to convince anyone that animal product reduction or doing away with meat, leather, milk, eggs, etc. is a good idea. If you throw in the miserable lives that farmed animals live, lives of absolute horror (imagine subjecting a dog to that?) then there is a good arguement, I think. Of course, we all pick our battles and no one can do everything. But transitioning to vegetarianism is one really good way to make the world a better place, something that we all struggle with (or at least many of us I think). I’ll do a couple posts on this over the summer – yummy recipies, great alternative products, more information. For now, here is the ad.

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6 Responses to UFETA Ad In UU World

  1. Clyde Grubbshttp://justworld.typepad.com/perspectives/ says:

    To have a full and healthy conversation about the ethics of our treatment of animals is necessary for Unitarian Universalists as we seek to develop our theological depth.

    I respect UFETA’s attempt to go identify our arrogance and give it a name. I would suggest that they also look at indigenous wisdom, for whom right relation with our relatives (all living creatures) was fundamental. I found the moralism of UFETA too puritan for the Cherokee soul.

  2. Charlie Talbert says:

    Leading off with “… the environmental impact of animal product consumption alone should be enough to convince anyone that [not using animals] is a good idea” and then following up with “If you throw in the miserable lives that farmed animals live …” seems like an odd ordering to me. Shouldn’t the ending misery part have prominence, and not be merely an add-on? It would seem odd to me as well if the neighbors of Auschwitz, to buttress their arguments to end smokestack pollution, had “thrown in the miserable lives” of the tortured residents of the camp.

    Chuck states that he “found the moralism of UFETA too puritan for the Cherokee soul”, and suggests that UFETA “look at indigenous wisdom, for whom right relation with our relatives (all living creatures) [is] fundamental.”

    Is “moralism” always bad, or just bad to use when making the case for treating humanity’s fellow beings humanely? For example, over the last several months I’ve seen some pretty strong moralizing in the editorials of the New York Times, condemning the rise of sex trafficking and sexual slavery in the world. Should the NYT tone it down a bit, too, and rely more on indigenous wisdom to combat the evil of sexual exploitation of girls and women? In both cases, people in a power position are using the bodies of other beings to gratify themselves. Is it “too puritan” to say both are wrong?

  3. Clyde Grubbshttp://justworld.typepad.com/perspectives/ says:

    Some folk do moralising more than others. As I said it is a matter of taste. No “bad” implied. Just not my preference.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you both for your comments. Charles, I didn’t put tons of thought into crafting my little statement, but I suppose the order of things reflects what I hear from folks in terms of their resistance to arguments for veganism, and I think that many, for better or worse, are more receptive to the argument that animal product consumption contributes to destroying the planet and humanity along with it, than to the argument that we shouldn’t do it because animals suffer. I suppose my point was that, even if you don’t care about the animals (as many don’t), you should at least care about the planet and human civilization. However, if I were to write a really well thought out manifesto outlining my arguments for vegetarianism and veganism, and care for animals and the earth, I would write it more carefully and thoughtfully. This was a quick little thing. Thanks for your comments. Elizabeth :)

  5. Charlie Talbert says:

    Elizabeth, I hope that you do consider writing and posting something like a manifesto of your beliefs about the relationship of humans with other beings.

    I believe we’re living in the midst of a holocaust, and we need more people to speak up — especially church leaders. Unitarian Universalist ministers in particular need to remind their congregations of our heritage of challenging traditions that rationalize and institutionalize moral wrongs.

    The animal-exploiting industries and others torturing and slaughtering millions every day absolve themselves with a chilling and compelling claim: that they’re only following orders, obeying the law of the market place, doing the bidding of animal eaters acutely conscious of monetary costs but oblivious to the moral ones.

    I think that one of your points is that we need to communicate in the most effective way that ends the suffering, and that may be by emphasizing the environmental harm of animal agriculture rather than the harm to the billions of victims trapped in the cages and machinery of this cruel industry.

    When Vicky and I advocte for farm animals, we talk about the environment too, as well as the inefficiency of animal agriculture in meeting the world’s demand for food, and the health problems of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. However, we’ve found that these reasons, while perhaps more comfortable to hear, do not spark commitment as well as the appeal for mercy does.

    I realize that talking about animal suffering may get one dismissed as an animal-rights oddball. That’s why I try to appear “normal” in all other respects — appearance, demeanor, activities. Admittedly, this is not especially a stretch for an accountant living in the Midwest.

    I’ve seen the direct approach pay off in my congregation. Of about 120 members, we have had seven go vegan in the last 26 months, including our minister and her partner. Several more are on the path. These vegans talk openly of the moral wrong of animal agriculture. We’ve had a screening of “Peaceable Kingdom” and two sermons about the moral imperative of a vegan diet. We’ve shown “Cooking With The Compassionate Cooks” to help counter the myth that vegan cooking is bland or expensive or both.

    You may decide that a more indirect type of advocacy is best. After reading much of your blog and your posts to UFETA, I’m certain that you’ll be good at whatever approaches you take.

    – Charlie

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Charles, Thank you so much for your comments and thoughts. My partner and I struggle all the time with the best approach to take. I’m just thankful for all the people who are journeying along for this issue of caring for all sentient beings and who have gone before me to help bring into being the possibility of less suffering in the world. That is such exciting news about all the progress you have made in your church. It is encouring to hear.
    Many thanks, Elizabeth

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