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On Atheism and Veganism

For me, atheism and veganism go hand-in-hand. Why?

Most of us were born to or adopted by people who eat animals and believe in a god, and that was all a mere accident of birth and/or geography. But something inside us (and perhaps prompted by something outside us) gradually (or quickly) questioned what was occurring. We questioned traditions and rituals surrounding food and clothing as well as worship and community.

We, atheists and vegans, ask: What do we know to be true, and what are we going to do about it? Though we don't know the extent to which plants experience any kind of suffering, we do know that sentient nonhumans experience pain, pleasure, boredom and frustration. And because of that, we know that the just thing to do is to act accordingly: to be vegans. And though I don't know how any atheist can say s/he knows for certain that there is no god–and many say that and claim those who are agnostic are merely "atheists without balls"–I do know that a preponderance evidence points in one direction and we have an obligation to be reasonable and rational about that and act accordingly.

Both food and religion have myriad myths attached to them that keep people hypnotized into believing that there is a story that is true and must be honored. Whether that story is that god put animals on Earth for humans (and we should treat them mercifully); or that there is one, true god and that being can save only those who worship it; or that we are at the top of some food chain (a story with multiple problems); or that god made man and woman and told them that the only sanctioned sex is between man and woman (and for procreation). The stories are what make a culture what it is, therefore when one believes and behaves in a way other than the stories, one is labeled "counter-culture." 

Vegans usually have spent quite a bit of time exploring our relationship with nonhuman animals and making a conscious decision to go against the mainstream. And atheists who were parented by believers have usually spent time examining the religion they were raised in as well as why we'd believe there is a god at all. I see these counter-culture positions as parallel and based on the same evolution of thought and deconstruction of the stories of childhood.

Am I the only one who sees it this way?

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dan #

    As someone who was raised in a strict Catholic family that had no problem with any kind of animal use, but is now an atheist vegan, I very much see it that way, Mary. The only difference is that it took me more time and thought to come to strong atheism than to veganism (agnosticism came quickly, though). The reasons for going vegan seemed obvious and that was a very quick and easy transition for me.

    December 22, 2009
  2. I completely agree. I came to the conclusion that people should be vegan and atheist at around the same time, when I realized I was old enough to take a look at the way the world actually worked and come to my own conclusions rather than those that had been told to me by other people.

    December 22, 2009
  3. For me, both atheism and veganism are natural outgrowths of my increasingly anarchist view of the world. Both religion and animal-eating are based on hierarchical dominance, conspicuous display of social class and an authoritarian worldview. I see how either veganism or atheism could lead a person from one to the other, but both lead to (or issue from) an increased awareness of and critical stance contra all systems and structures of repression, regardless of species.

    December 22, 2009
  4. I don't think atheism and veganism are connected, even though I am an atheist vegan. I used to think they were connected, but then I met more vegans and more atheists.

    I know more theist vegans than atheist vegans. And I know more atheist nonvegans than atheist vegans.
    Most vegetarians and vegans believe in God.
    Most atheists eat animals.

    I also know myself and I know that my veganism is far more important to me than my atheism. That's in part because veganism is a belief IN something whereas atheism is a a lack of belief. The fact that I don't believe in a god just isn't all that important to me… and I wish it wasn't that important to anyone else either. 😉

    December 22, 2009
  5. Hmmmmm…. I think I both agree and disagree. Meaning, within my own personal circle of friends, many of the vegans I know are either agnostic or leaning towards atheism. BUT, having been to many wider-ranging events, like veggie food fairs, I can certainly say that MANY vegans I have met subscribe to some type of spiritual or pseudo-spiritual set of ideas that they feel supports their animal ethics.

    I personally am an atheist and see a great value in communicating that a disbelief in god does not necessarily lead to a moral vaccuum (a la Dawkins). Mary, I think what you write about myth vs. reality is really important, and definitely one of the key ways I also see my atheism and veganism as connected.

    Still, it makes me think of that quote from the gospels where Zombie Jesus chastises Thomas for not believing he was real without touching his wounds (I was raised catholic): "Blessed are those who had not seen, and still believed."

    It's an interesting question, don't you think? Do you need to see something (for the sake of argument, animal suffering) to believe it or want to change? Can animal ethics boil down to a (non-spiritual) question of faith? Or do people need to be able to see / otherwise verify animal suffering for themselves to make that change? If so, what does that mean for activism?

    Thanks so much for the thought-provoking post.

    December 22, 2009
  6. I'm also atheist and vegan and agree with your view on how they can both come from questioning how things are.

    But I also see that you can base your vegan lifestyle on learning love and compassion from your religion. It's not hard to see that our violent domination and exploitation of animals doesn't fit with the religious ideas of peace, love, and 'do no harm'.

    But all too often, (and apologies in advance to people who do have a faith) people pick and choose which rules to abide by from their chosen faith. Which makes the whole thing pointless if it's still a subjective human opinion about which rules are appropriate to follow in this day and age. Who needs religion to choose some modern day appropriate and convenient ideals to aspire to?

    December 22, 2009
  7. I without a doubt (no pun intended) see it the way you see it Mary.

    First off…Veganism is not a BELIEF in something as Elaine claims. This is like saying there is belief system in rejecting sexism or it's like claiming that science is a belief in something. Elaine, if you are asserting that knowledge (sentient beings feel pain when they are cut with a butchers knife) is a kind of belief… a verified kind, than of course it's all semantics from here.

    However, from the point in which Mary is arguing here, Veganism is much more a rejection of violence, harmful myths and a refusal to go along with an absurd belief system based on totally false assumptions and ones no less we've had drilled and programmed into our minds as children.
    Myth, that we humans need to eat animals to live a healthy happy life. Myth…that non human animals do not have any interests as important as our use of them.
    There is not a "belief in something" to be vegan. It's like saying that there is a belief system in being kind or compassionate or in having empathy..these are not belief systems. Living vegan is more the equivalent of living as an anti racist in the time of African human slavery for an example. Living a life that rejects racism for instance is not a belief system…
    It is simply a rejection of a false belief system.
    Veganism is much more similar to atheism in the notion that one has made a decision to live in reality and reject the insane myths and lies one has been taught about the world and the animals who share it with us.
    No myths must be held to be vegan. No personal God need be believed in to see that we should have moral responsibilities to non humans. No super natural being needs to be worshipped to realize we can live as vegans and that it is actually in our best interest to do so. Darwin proved that we evolved from and along side the great apes who are for the most part also vegan.

    Part 1

    December 23, 2009
  8. Part 2.
    Elaine for you to say most vegetarians and vegans believe in god and most atheists eat animals is a very subjective and I dare say a false claim. Most animal rights people come to that way of thinking by rejecting the false claims about God in the first place. Peter Singer has talked about his atheism in this same way. Richard Dawkins the worlds most famous atheist claims that religion and a belief in God is the main cause of speciesism.
    Sorry.. but as a quick aside….. most religious Buddhists are not vegan and believe whacky things about the reality of the world.
    OK got that out.
    The more religious people are in my experience the more they believe in using animals. If you are a real… believing Jew, Christian or Muslim and you think that the creator of the universe wrote one of your books…and that book informs you over and over that animals are here for your use. Why would you not follow that line of thinking?
    The God of the old testament kills thousands upon thousands of animals. Jesus in the new testament himself kills a herd of pigs by sending demons into their helpless bodies and then hurling them all off a cliff.
    By far the majority of hunters (this is a fact) in this country belong to Christian or church supported hunting groups.
    It's quite obvious if one reviews history that the dogma of faith allows people to do whatever they claim their religion tells them. To do list. #1. Burn witches alive along with all of the village cats. The list would be infinite.
    The roots of Judeo Christian thought are soaked in the blood of the primitive practice of scapegoating. Piling ones sins onto an innocent other (originally a goat) and sacrificing them for the benefit of the tribe or village. Christianity is based on a weird vicarious redemption just like this practice as are many other religions who have their origins in sacrificial rituals too. I would also make the claim that vivisection has its beginnings in religious animal blood sacrifice also.

    December 23, 2009
  9. Part 3

    Almost every ethical vegan I know is an atheist. But that is very different than saying that atheists are most likely to be vegans.
    Most atheists (not all) get their values from a secular humanist world view that still sees humans as superior to non humans. But this is because most modern humanists ( some atheists) are caught in the grip of centuries of Judeo Christian thought patterns that puts humans (man) above all else. Most humans seem not to be able to live without illusions and even many modern atheists still have an irrational faith in human beings.
    The fact that our ethical values are wired into us and we share those values with many non humans proves that kindness compassion and well…the golden rule was not handed to humans by a man in the sky.
    Rejecting meat (or animal exploitation) is much more aligned to rejecting God than most animal activists would realize. Letting go of lunatic ideas about the reality of the world and wishful thinking goes hand in hand with rejecting animal exploitation and religious superstitions.
    The fact is if most animal activists rejected faith all together, which is the belief in something without evidence and just let go of their irrational beliefs and cared about animals because its the right thing to do we would have a much more sturdy commmunity. If vegans can take seriously the truth that we are all animals and all connected in that real beautiful way to every other animal than we might find a spiritual aspect to our veganism that is founded and grounded in reality and not in fairy tale like myths that cause so much suffering and insanity.
    People who believe in God are usually obsessed with actions that cause no suffering at all. Gay marriage, human embryos, sodomy, not erecting graven images or whatever. Yet these same people have no concern over real suffering like that committed in slaughterhouses, rodeos or on hunting trips.
    Religion, faith and a belief in God falsifies our priorities and what is seen as moral and important. If you can reject one false belief, God for instance, than you can reject the another false belief. That animals don't matter.

    December 23, 2009
  10. Dan #

    According to this poll taken on a vegan forum, most vegans were atheist/agnostic:

    Atheist 34%
    Agnostic 26%
    Christian 16%
    Jewish 2%
    Non-monotheistic – about 80%

    The poll results make sense from a cultural standpoint for at least a few reasons:

    1) Monotheism arose out of the old herding culture, which sought to give religious or mythical “reasons” for killing animals (namely, as a sacrifice or “burnt offering”
to God). Herding cultures are also patriarchal and rely on domination. Monotheism arose also to give this domination a mythical foundation (big daddy in the sky). In non-herding cultures, such as hunter-gatherer and plant-growing cultures (arising in supportive climates), polytheism and feminine-productive theism arose to give mythical context to productive and abundant crops and fruits and successful hunts.

    2) The worldview of a modern atheist is generally scientific and puts humans in their place (i.e. is non-anthropocentric). The universe started with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago; the first stars formed and created the heavier elements via supernovae explosions (star deaths); infant galaxies formed due to dark matter and gravity; galaxies matured over 8 billion years forming planets from supernovae debris; carbon life formed and evolved on Earth starting 4 billion years ago, and humans are the johnny-come-lately — a species that is no more significant than others and will probably not last long. Putting the 14 billion year-old universe on a 24 hour clock, Earth formed about 8 hours ago, and humans showed up literally 2 seconds ago, at 11:59:58pm or 23:59:58.

    3) The willingness to think for oneself, even if it strongly opposes culture and tradition, is a trait that tends to be at least helpful, if not necessary, for both veganism and atheism in our society. This is primarily what Mary was referring to. The same independence of mind that led many vegans to think of all religion as absurd despite their upbringing is the same independence of mind that led us to see exploiting and killing animals as absurd and become vegans.

    Incidental to the main point here, I take veganism vastly more seriously than atheism, despite the connection in worldview that I see in both. For those who know me at all, it is obvious that, to me, a monotheistic vegan culture would be almost infinitely better (i.e. better than I can describe in words), morally, than an atheist non-vegan culture. Supernatural belief has no moral content, per se; only resulting beliefs might have moral content. Sadly, I believe atheism and veganism will struggle to grow together precisely because monotheism is inherently anthropocentric and strongly traditional. This inherent anthropocentrism in monotheism (and all major religions) is a formidable obstacle to a vegan world. An atheist worldview can still be anthropocentric, but its natural tendency is away from anthropocentrism; therefore, growing atheism will *tend* toward less speciesism, *generally speaking*.

    December 23, 2009
  11. babble #

    I went the opposite direction, embracing lacto-vegetarianism as a result of a religious conversion, and moving to veganism for almost entirely political reasons (as found my way to the animal rights movement); personally, I'm not convinced that AR and atheism per se have much to do with each other; I no longer practice any particular organized religion (I'm among the hordes of "spiritual but not religious" semi-agnostics, I suppose), but I wonder how much of this ends up treading on the "liberals are godless/conservatives are god-fearing Christians" sort of false memes.

    There's a long tradition of social liberal activism and outreach within the Christian tradition – though, admittedly, modern Christians have been far too content to let the far-right frame the "faith message," so much of the fault (if that's the right word) for the "Conservative Republican = Conservative Christian" meme lies with more socially liberal Christians who are content to be silent, too much of the time.

    This is my roundabout way of saying I can find religious justifications for veganism just as easily as one might find religious justifications for eating flesh or other animal products. I dunno that atheism is necessarily as causative as we may be supposing, here.

    December 23, 2009
  12. Silly categorizations in my view. The vegan poll was online, where I feel there are a great number of well-informed-about-science people that would also co-relate strongly with atheism.

    I always have a problem with this line of thinking – "I am a [vegan, atheist, feminist, misogynist, racist, two-headed hippo], therefore I think/ask/believe […]." It's putting the cart before the horse. It's pointless. I am more interested in people's actions and choices than I am with some silly category. What is it that people think and believe and how does that apply to the so-called social category? That's much more interesting to me.

    In other words, to turn this all on its head – the need for belonging, experienced by everyone – including vegans, causes us to use language to brand ourselves in a way that serves only to fulfill that sense of belonging, rather than understand ourselves better.

    I would like to not eat meat someday, but see other habits in my life that i'd like to kill before I quit meat. I do not eat very much meat, but I do not pay religious [yes, word chosen for a reason] attention to what I eat. I don't feel particularly superior to animals, nor am I in awe of them.

    I believe in a great big world that is difficult to comprehend, making it pretty tempting at times to use monotheism as a way of getting at the bigness. I also have many concerns for our world that make me feel helpful, and prayer is an easy temptation to help me feel better about my lack of ability/willingness/knowledge to alleviate these concerns. Formally, I do not believe in a God or gods. I certainly will not believe in a God as dictated to me by any formal religion, although I do teach Sunday School and attend services.

    Some of my attitudes are consistent with veganism, some of my actions are not. Some of my actions are consistent with veganism, some of my attitudes are not. Many of my attitudes and actions are consistent with atheism, although many of my actions and attitudes are not. I do not feel like having a special category created for this ambiguity just to feel like I belong somewhere. I hope being 'digital' does not turn us all into a huge amoeba sucking in concept after concept as if they were [bacon filled] twinkies.

    December 23, 2009
  13. Ooops. I said that my 'concerns make me feel helpful.' I meant the opposite – they make me feel helpless.

    December 23, 2009
  14. WOW, what a timely subject. I just got these 2 books a few minutes ago.
    ( The Great Compassion: Buddhism and
    Animal Rights) & (The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights
    According to the Bible)
    By Norm Phelps who I very much respect as a hard core AR/Abolitionist.
    BUT….I bought the books because he's saying just the opposite of what I've
    always believed.
    I have always felt we will never be able to reach any goals in helping non humans until the world wakes up and realizes that ALL religions are just a
    bunch of silly man made up myths. I suspect from reading all these posts today I'm not alone in thinking that but….OH OH….here comes this guy who I really
    look up to & everything and he's saying:

    "In America, campaigns for social justice succeed to the degree that they receive support from organized religion. Causes that enjoy the sponsorship of our churches and synagogues become public policy; those that do not remain marginal or vanish from view."

    He's a Budist, by the way.

    So at this point….I just don't know. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'll never be anything but a non-beliver/vegan but if we have to kiss some religious ass
    to help the animals…..well, ok I guess I can, but I WON'T LIKE IT!

    December 23, 2009
  15. Dan #

    Well, Ryan, language certainly isn’t as precise as mathematical symbols to denote meaning, but it beats pointing and grunting. I find the categories (vegan, atheist, monotheist, Christian, Jewish) very helpful even if there is vagueness in meaning and even if what I call “a vegan” or “an atheist” is different than what someone else calls “a vegan” or “an atheist”. What is silly is pointing and grunting.

    As for not really worrying much about nonhuman beings until you “see other habits” of yours eliminated (sounds pretty passive, as if they’ll eliminate themselves), that sounds to me like someone who says, “Well, I’d like to get over my kleptomania before I tackle my problem of forcing girlfriends to have sex with me.” Why one can’t take all morally significant problematic behavior seriously is beyond my comprehension. Of course, maybe like slave owners in the antebellum South couldn’t work up enough of a damn to free their slaves (due to seeing slaves as unimportant), you can’t work up enough of a damn to free nonhuman slaves from your consumption choices (for the same reason). For them it was racism; for you speciesism; but they’re both merely different forms of the same underlying wrong of holding morally irrelevant criteria (race, speciesism) as important while ignoring morally relevant criteria (sentience, an interest in not being exploited, enslaved, etc).

    December 23, 2009
  16. babble #

    Hey Dan – that's the thing; I'm equally opposed to racism *and* sexism. I don't want humans traded as slaves, OR women to be raped. I hold both views simultaneously. There are hierarchies of oppression in other liberationist movements (trans* folk are generally tossable-under-the-bus when it's politically expedient in the LGBT movement), but that's equally inane, but it seems especially pronounced in animal advocacy circles. We seem to think we need to wait around for a magical future in which all human problems are solved and things are utopian *for us* before the moral status of animals need even be addressed.

    All that really does is ensure that the status quo – animals as objects to be exploited – will persist. (Good to see you, btw)

    December 23, 2009
  17. You can be spiritual and be open to spiritual experiences without being religious or without the belief in God (s) or any other myths or fairy tales. Atheism provides the opportunity to be open to almost anything…whereas religion or having a belief in God claims you already know the answers or know who is up there.
    We have more than enough evidence anyway…that tells us that God did not do it!

    December 23, 2009
  18. Deb #

    Like Jon Tillman, my veganism leads me towards anarchism, and for the same reasons.

    Like Elaine, my atheism is not very important to me, while my veganism is.

    Atheism isn't something I was convinced of through logic. Neither was veganism, at least not entirely. It was more emotional. Atheism was maybe instinctual, I don't know. It was simply part of me from a very early age.

    I find it very odd when people try to logic their way into or out of religion. Belief in the unprovable? What does logic have to do with that? But I think I'm in the minority!

    December 23, 2009
  19. Dan #


    Proof is, by and large, an absolute standard of knowledge. I can't prove the sun will appear to rise tomorrow, but I'm willing to bet 99.99999999% odds that it will appear to rise (even if I surprisingly fail to rise tomorrow). Logic (formal and informal) ranges from preponderance of the evidence (i.e. >50%) to tautology or analytic truth, so one can go from a guess to absolute certainty in logic. The point is that we can have very good or very poor reasons for believing in Zeus, God, Allah, or the big bang. What counts is our cogent reasons, not our “proofs” or conclusions. Non-religious beliefs have much stronger (cogent) reasons than religious beliefs, and I have yet to counter an exception.

    December 24, 2009
  20. Mike Grieco #

    Praise the…Vegans and the animals 🙂

    All The Best Everyone — Peace!!

    December 24, 2009
  21. Deb,

    This point is another interesting subject. Emotion vs logic. They are both entangled with each other. We cannot have logic or rational thought without emotion. We feel something first then we are able to react possibly…. logically or rationally. We cannot think rationally without feeling something first.
    This is a very new and recent discovery actually… and it proves that our empathy is what creates our culture and society not our reasoning, which we have always been led to "believe" has been responsible for designing our modern way of life.

    Google….Antonio Demasio a fascinating neurologist, researcher and author. Also see George Lakoff.

    I'm very much like Mary in that my atheism is very connected to my veganism in a few very important ways. One being in the way my mind has rejected what most of society believes is normal. Belief in a super natural being and belief that animals are here for humans to use and abuse.
    That said…my veganism is very connected to everything in my life. My politics, my social life, my entertainment choices, my romantic relationships. Yet I think what Mary is really getting at is that our (Mary and myself) veganism is very connected to the way we feel and the way we think.

    There are two things we are never really able to criticize in our society. Someone's religious beliefs and their meat eating. They are both usually taboo subjects.
    My atheism and veganism are very connected in this way as well.

    December 24, 2009
  22. Dan #

    Philip wrote:

    "There are two things we are never really able to criticize in our society. Someone's religious beliefs and their meat eating. They are both usually taboo subjects."

    So true, and yet so ridiculous as taboos.


    Good to see you as well.

    December 24, 2009
  23. jeannie #

    Dan said: “Proof is, by and large, an absolute standard of knowledge.”

    Yes, one can only find proof in mathematics as far as I know. In many other fields of science one cannot “prove” something. But evidence that points to a truth can emerge if the same results occur time after time (through tests – a theory). Even evolution itself cannot be proved. But we have a great deal of evidence that it exists, whereas there is no empirical evidence that a god exists any more than we have evidence that Santa exists.

    There have been a few people I know who were once atheist who now say they are agnostic, and this is entirely baffling to me. They often say that they came to the conclusion that no one can know for sure that god or a creator exists. I could say the same for any supposed supernatural entity. Many people claim to have seen ghosts, though there is little evidence (if any) scientifically for the existence of ghosts. And personally, I’ve never seen one. I grew up in a grand old Victorian house that was a over a hundred years old – never saw one ghost or found evidence of one. I also lived in a house last year that was also over a hundred years old and in which supposedly someone was once murdered – I never saw a single apparition or experienced anything supernatural or out of the ordinary. Using a different example, there may be an extraterrestrial in the next room from where I am sitting. If the door is locked and I can’t get in, I guess I’ll never know. My mind could come up with all sorts of scenarios that “might” exist. I don’t know if Cookie Monster created the world. He could have. I can’t prove he didn’t. (Does that make me an agnostic of Cookie Monsterism?) I think we can all agree that the probability is quite low that Cookie Monster created the world, right? 🙂 There is equal probability that any god or creator exists; the evidence is absent. (Unless you are Kirk Cameron and have a creative imagination when it comes to bananas.)

    So, for example, if a child came to my house and asked me, “Is there an alien in the next room?” — without even going and looking in the room, I would say no, based on the probability. I would give the same answer to someone who asked me if there was a god who created the world. Both cases are “possible,” but my answer would be based on the amount of evidence in existence (to my own knowledge) and the probability. To me, a god/creator belongs in the same category as Santa, big foot, Zeus, Thor, LochNess Monster, fairies, ghosts, and lizard-like creatures from another dimension that control our world’s leaders.

    It’s fairly easy for humans to imagine someone creating a world because that is all we humans know – how to create and how to destroy – we know nothing else. Our minds are small and we can’t wrap them around the idea that a creator may actually be the least probable reason for the existence of the universe. In actuality, it might even be the least imaginative of all possibilities, if we are going to go on what is “possible” rather than the evidence we have before us. If anything, I think the idea of the universe as a computer simulation (or a simulation of a simulation) is more possible than the traditional type of creator(s) we’ve imagined throughout history.

    I am pretty sure Dawkins talks about this in his latest book, but I read a library copy (the beginning anyway) and unfortunately had to return it before I finished reading it. But I recall him talking about how an atheist can concede to the *possibility* of a god, but that the probability is so incredibly low and the evidence so absent that an atheist has no choice but to deny its existence as she would deny the existence of any other possibility in which the evidence is absent.

    December 24, 2009
  24. Deb #

    Phillip, interesting! I'll have to look up those two people you mentioned.

    I guess for me, my atheism (i'd guess from about age 7) predated my veganism by so long, i've never seen them as connected at all. And the atheism for me was not the rejection of the accepted paradigm the way it seems to be for a lot of people. It was simply my understanding that I didn't believe, and that (after trying quite hard) I couldn't find a way to believe. Therefore, I spent many a bored hour at church looking around trying to figure out if a) I was the only one who couldn't believe or b) everyone was lying.

    I'm sure my atheism permeates my life, but I still see it as different from the way that veganism does. I don't consider atheism when I am ordering dinner or at the grocery store or deciding to bike commute (etc), but my environmental / animal rights / anti-exploitation views are front and center for those same decisions. Veganism is part of every decision I make, essentially. Atheism is part of none, that I can think of.

    December 24, 2009
  25. As a vegan and an atheist, I agree wholeheartedly with Philip and Dan.

    In my experience, vegans are disproportionately atheist while atheists who are not vegan are far more open to veganism. Humans need to recognize themselves as members of the animal kingdom and learn to peacefully co-exist with all other animals. The downfall of organized religion and the widespread adoption of atheism will help free minds to reject speciesism and support nonhuman animal liberation.

    December 27, 2009
  26. kim #

    I've really come to despise the term "atheism" because it places religion as the baseline or norm – while I see it as more of a mental deficit. So I'd prefer a different term, and "normal" doesn't quite cut it. The closest I've come to is "realist". Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    I'm much like Deb in that as a child I found it never made any sense and was so similar to other fairytales I was exposed to that I couldn't grasp that people really believed any of it. I felt like I was the only one not in the cult. The whole notion of it doesn't even enter my consideration. I'm still surprised when someone automatically assumes I am a part of it.

    In many ways that experience is similar to living as a vegan – the main difference being that I don't go around trying to educate (much) on the need for others to give up religion, but I do advocate on behalf of the animals. I don't give a shit what someone calls themselves, as long as they aren't exploiting others. But since we are a species of definitions, I'd like "vegan" to be the baseline and anyone not behaving in that capacity would be given the "exception" definition – like non-vegan or something. Much like people who don't follow religion are the "non-believers".

    December 28, 2009
  27. You know what, I have thought the same thing. I think intelligence can be thrown in there too – or is that a bit cheeky? 🙂

    December 30, 2009
  28. I'm surprised so many people lump agnosticism in with atheism. They are not the same.
    You cannot suspend judgment about a belief in something. Either you believe something exists or you don't. You can allow for the possibility that something exists that you don't currently believe exists, but you can't simply suspend judgment. It's an impossibility. People who call themselves agnostics are more theist than atheist.

    January 14, 2010
  29. Mary #

    Agnostic atheists aren't suspending judgment in *belief* in god. We don't believe in god. But we also cannot say 100% that there is no possibility that we will ever discover that a god *exists*. We cannot know certain (though some people claim to know for certain). Though the evidence is by far in the direction of the non-existence of a god, I feel uncomfortable saying I *can* know for sure.

    January 15, 2010
  30. Pants #

    As a religious vegan, I can see both atheist and religious paths to veganism, and view each as equally valid. For me, my spiritual faith is integral to my veganism. In fact, without that spiritual dimension to my life, I would probably not have come to embrace veganism and animal liberation. Central to my faith are the ideas of humility, compassion, and love, especially towards the least regarded, most neglected of society. Pursuing these ideas led me naturally and inevitably to becoming vegan. I would never claim that this was the only or best path to this destination, but by the same token, I don't believe the existence of one path precludes the validity of the other.

    January 18, 2010
  31. Despite a Catholic upbringing, by the time I was a young teen I held the belief that no deity exists. What's odd though, is when I had my "trigger event", the first "authority" I went to was the bible. I guess I wanted to know what "the rules" were regarding "dominion". I also wanted to know what I'd be fighting against in my choice to be vegan. I'm the sort that needs to know every angle of "the argument" to be effective…

    Since then I've enjoyed exploring differing theologies regarding human "hierarchy". And in each religious view I always find it humorous (and sad), that whatever we want to do to animals – "gOd" always said it was peachy-keen!

    I agree totally with Niki "…people pick and choose which rules to abide by from their chosen faith. Which makes the whole thing pointless…" And I take that a step further and say that we each are our own "gOd". And we each can be a god which chooses to rule with power & might. Or one who wants to be a "god" of light and reason. I tend to think most vegans would opt for the latter.

    But the mythology of it all? I find myself most drawn to Sophia and Gaia. If I *had* to believe in a "creator" – it would most certainly be a feminized one. God = birth… That makes sense to me. But after this small fragment of "logic", everything after this point regarding "religion" just doesn't hold my intellectual attention.

    January 20, 2010
  32. Danielle #

    The only "Christians" who are vegans or vegetarians are Seventh Day Adventists. That's because they follow a dead cult leader (Ellen White) who wrote her own plagiarized books of fraudulent gospel, convincing millions of people that they would win favor with God by not eating meat. She also preached that every disease known to mankind was caused by masturbation. Religions breed insanity & ignorance. Mormons think coffee & tea is evil, but think nothing of adultery or polygamy. In fact, coffee, tea (& even masturbation) have health benefits, from the atheist, scientific community of truths seen & not imagined. Most Christians are gullible. They will believe in aliens, think they are prophets, etc. I'm a Christian myself, & I'm fed up with them! (My IQ. is about 150.) Atheists are usually smarter than Christians, though. They know that most religions harm children & actually promote killing, torturing & eating animals. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT MORE ATHEISTS ARE VEGANS OR VEGETARIANS THAN CHRISTIANS AS 100% FACT. They have more respect for animals, since most of them believe that they evolved from monkeys, after all. It is a matter of using your own mind, instead of following something that some vague stranger wrote in a book of supposed divine inspiration. Scientific studies prove that children who are exposed to animal abuse (or kill animals themselves) are more likely to murder fellow humans. So, there should be a definite increase in more intelligent people wanting to stop animal abuse, as a way of decreasing violence in our human population. This has nothing to do with religion & therefore will be more embraced by atheists, as creating a safer world. Many religious people want to be better or superior than everyone else & that leads them into insanity. The Adventists & Mormons are great examples of that. David Koresh was an Adventist. You will find it in every religion.

    December 15, 2010
  33. AMAZING! Mary, I've been meaning to write pretty much the very same post. Seriously, you literally took the words right out of my mouth. Thus, THANK YOU for saving me the time to write this most excellent post myself. I will most certainly share it with all.

    February 3, 2011

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