Veganism & Religion (Day 8)

Talk Walking isn’t about religion because I feel it transcends divisive categories. I want this blog to be for everyone who is interested in living consciously and close to the Earth.

That said, I felt it important to discuss how religion can affect one’s Veganism. This is a part of addressing my vegan challenges because I am also religious.

Y’know, this is probably going to be an insanely unpopular post. If Veganism is a touchy topic, so is religion. Oh, and I haven’t left out the conservative-liberal divide for good measure. So be warned. If this isn’t your cup of tea, pour yourself another and sit down to another post. I swear I won’t be talking religion often.

When I was in high school and trying out my vegetarian and vegan legs for the first time, I was enthralled by the kosher symbols on food packaging. I felt it would be easy to draw conclusions based on the symbols. Kosher dairy, for example, would have dairy in it and thus not be vegan. (It turns out that this is not precisely true). I would thus be looking for something like the OU (Orthodox Union) symbol without clarification because the food product must therefore be parve (or, neither meat or dairy). Again, a gross simplification.

It turns out it is easier to keep kosher while vegan (fewer dish sets for example), but the two are NOT synonymous. Also, your community may regard the practice of Veganism as invalid. A Shabbat without meat is somehow wrong, a Passover seder without the bone or egg is not Passover. (There are some great books out there for veggie Jews, if you’re interested.)

In my experience, religious communities that are more liberal, such as Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalists, Buddhism, and many Pagan religions are more open to forward thinking practices such as Veganism. They tend to see religion as evolving in the current times. I can’t speak on Christianity because the denominations don’t fall on the conservative-liberal social spectrum but are based on differences in belief.

My Catholic side of the family displayed great diversity in the practice of their religion.

In my experience, religious communities that are more traditional, such as Orthodox Judaism, Islam, Conservative Christians, and Heathen (Pagans) tend to see religious practice as transcending time. That is, no matter the year, good religious behavior should remain pretty similar. They may even see the past as a better time. And the tendency is to keep to the old way of doing things.

Now if you’re convinced by Veganism but are a religious traditional you may have a tough path ahead. You may have to forge ahead alone in your community. More power to you, my friend.

Yesterday, I attended a Heathen religious event. You might expect members to be close-minded about my diet, but they are in fact very into hospitality, even if they don’t agree with me. They prepared a vegan chili as part of the potluck dinner. The cow’s horn with honey wine had a ceramic pottery and non-alcoholic (I’m pregnant) sparkling fruit juice partner.

Tremendous respect is put on indigenous traditions, but there is room for differing opinions and personal touches. Yes, I was the odd one out.

That said, I think people of all walks of life are more respectful when you’re clear about your needs. If you level with a group about what your boundaries are, offer solutions and alternatives, and don’t act pushy or proselytizing, you’ll probably be fine.

How about you? Have you had to juggle your religion and your veganism? What advice would you give the new vegan? Please write your thoughts below!

Until next time, keep that talk walking! 



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