Veganism Is Not A Religion!

It seems to me that, everywhere I turn, veganism is being referred to as a religion. I hear acquaintances state “I don’t understand what’s going on; all I hear about is everyone turning vegan. It’s like some type of crazy religion.” I am in the middle of reading a novel in which the main character, a grandfather, describes some of his grandson’s past girlfriends. He condescendingly talks about one particular girlfriend from Brown University who treated her advocacy for animal rights as a religion.

If veganism is not described as a religion, it is often referred to as “extreme.” I recently saw the play “Other Desert Cities” in which one of the main characters (portrayed by Stacy Keach) makes a statement to the effect of “what is wrong with young people today; they have to be so extreme with everything.” ┬áHe cites veganism as an example.

Either way, it is my opinion that these descriptions of veganism as either a crazy religion or too extreme are derogatory and could not be any further from the truth. To ignore or fail to understand the overwhelming medical science proving that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet, is detrimental to one’s health and to the planet at large. Clearly, we are destroying our oceans with over-fishing and it cannot be denied that factory farming substantially contributes to global warming, the world’s water shortage and world hunger. Furthermore, to refer to a compassionate person who recognizes the horrendous torture of animals for meat consumption as a religious zealot is illogical. The science behind the benefits of a vegan diet, the destruction of our planet by over-consumption of meat and the torture of animals for meat consumption are based on reality and facts and have nothing to do with religion.

In my opinion, religion has a spiritual or otherworldly component to it. It addresses many issues which science cannot, including the meaning and purpose of life, belief in a supreme being, and life after death. Having faith in a religion is exercised through religious ceremonies, holidays, traditions and other conventions. Although many vegans do recognize Meatless Mondays and National Vegan Pizza Day (myself included), I don’t believe that these qualify as religious conventions.

I loved one of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s statements in the movie “Forks Over Knives.” I cannot quote it verbatim, but it was something like “Following a vegan diet is not extreme; cutting one’s entire body open for heart surgery is extreme.” To call a diet which has been proven to be the healthiest diet by the latest nutritional science “extreme” is ridiculous. To stereotype people who have compassion for animals, a strong commitment to the relief of animal suffering and a deep concern for the well-being of our planet as religious zealots is convoluted, at best. I think it is time for people to stop referring to veganism as a religion and to start recognizing it for what it is: a genuine belief in the science supporting a plant-based diet and a commitment to a non-violent and compassionate lifestyle while, at the same time, being mindful of the far reaching consequences of eating meat.






  1. Hi Debby! Thanks for visiting my blog today. LUV your blog!!! This is an excellent post – couldn’t agree more.

  2. Bullseye!

  3. You’re speaking about the principle of the thing, rather than the self-discipline and daily practice.

    Culturally, most white westerners can’t compare veganism to much of anything beyond Kosher and Hallal dietary rules. They may (or may not) be dimly aware that religions like Hinduism and Buddhism have some connection to being vegetarian.

    The vast majority of people don’t actually do anything for their religion, even if they identify strongly with their religion, so it is easy for them to infer/imagine that you must be extremely religious if you’re actually willing to live a disciplined (and somewhat separate) life as a matter of principle.

    You can meet all kinds of religious extremists who don’t really do anything aside from watching Sunday Morning television, and nodding their heads in agreement at what the preacher says, and maybe send in a donation or a prayer once in a while.

    The analogy may be false, but it is natural that people will try to understand veganism as an analogue to something else. It resembles a religion more than it does a political party.

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