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Consider vegetarianism for Lent

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, March 2, 2006

This Lent, we can play a significant role in alleviating the suffering of the voiceless. From labor in the fields to confinement in the factories, the process by which our food came to settle on our dinner plate involved much suffering. It is one thing to silently condemn suffering, but faithful stewardship requires more. Therefore, I challenge Notre Dame students, faculty and clergy to try vegetarianism for Lent.

The decision to give up meat or to consume less animal products is consistent with Christ’s ministry for the weak and oppressed. Today, more than ever, animals are deserving of this special compassion. Factory farms, where the majority of meat and dairy come from, involve severe confinement and painful slaughter for billions of animals. This inhumane treatment of animals is a perversion of Christ’s peaceable kingdom where “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). This passage, along with numerous other biblical references to animals, suggests that we ought not to ignore animals as we work towards living in the spirit of Christ. The way of compassion and mercy can and should translate into our own time. To ignore it is falling short of our human potential to honor God’s creation.

Jesus, in his life of service and healing, forgave the outcasts of society. With a similar respect for all of God’s creation, we can allow farm animals into our sphere of compassion. The question should not be “Why can’t we eat animals?” but rather, “Do we need to eat animals for our survival?” Human beings are not perfect, but any step towards living more compassionately is significant progress.

The overall message of Christ’s life can inform the challenges that we face today. As theologian Andrew Linzey points out, “To opt for a vegetarian lifestyle is to take one practical step towards living in peace with the rest of creation.” To assist you with this goal, I highly recommend visiting www.veg4lent.org, a site wholly dedicated to this spiritual journey.

Danielle NunezjuniorCavanaugh HallFeb. 28