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You are here: Greater Things > Essay / Health > Vegan > Conviction of the Heart

Why I Became Vegan: A Conviction of the Heart

Related:
Change of Diet and Change of Heart/Mind
- how my paradigm shift about animals and women changed my view of the purpose of life. {Discussion board post Nov. 8, 2000} [back-up copy]

For the past twenty years or so, I have been introduced to many avenues of increasing my health, and have gradually adopted those which seemed most important and feasible. None of these has had so dramatic effect on my spiritual awareness, however, as has my decision a year and a half ago to stop eating animal products and to seek to replace other items which profit from the exploitation of animals, such as leather. Though I have been exposed to vegetarianism since childhood, having been born and raised in Boulder Colorado, my personal conversion to an even more gentle way of eating and its enhancement of the beauty of life came in the course of a two-day visit from three very special friends. Until then, I had never heard of veganism.

Prior to that time, I avoided meat, but did not abstain altogether. I loved dairy products, but had curtailed my intake of milk-based products, as I had heard some things about its harmful effects something about the homogenization process breaking down the proteins to a point that they then cause problems as they enter the blood stream. But when health was my only reason to avoid or even abstain from these things, my enjoyment of food and the social aspect of meals sometimes made it easy to overrule my knowledge.

All of that would change, however, when Tom Rodgers, Ed Motola, and Gwen Winters came down to visit my parents and me in Fountain Green. I knew that this would be no ordinary message as I saw that three very wonderful people had come here at great sacrifice to talk about this issue. Irony would have it that our fridge happened to be filled at that time with more yogurt than I have ever seen in one fridge, except in the store, and I had pangs of guilt about this excess.

The Friday evening they arrived found Tom and I disputing hotly over scriptural admonitions pertaining to diet and other related issues. He seemed to me to be one of the most flagrant wresters of the scriptures I have ever encountered. I suppose we all tend to interpret scriptures to say what we think they ought so say. In the ensuing week, I composed a 25-page compilation of scriptures to rebut his scriptural claims. In the end I had to look at what it was he was saying and ignore the means he was using to try and make his point. My personal experience in seeking to find scriptural validation has been to arrive at the opinion that God has not required a vegan diet of previous generations, for they did not have the spiritual stature required to adhere to it. Nor does he require it of this generation. Rather, this choice is one that has to come from the heart, out of a spontaneous love for God and all his creations. "Nevertheless, it is pleasing to me [the Lord] that they not be eaten, only in times of..." is the verbage D&C 89. Therefore, the scriptural accounts of past generations and their practices are not going to be a good source for "proving" the efficacy of this diet. Nevertheless, there are ample scriptural sources which provide support for the timeliness of this millennial diet for those whose hearts spontaneously desire because of a change of heart given to them by the Lord to please Him by their choices.

Friday evening left me unconvinced and even a bit perturbed. Doctrinally, Tom seemed more like a charlatan than a saint come back from the dead. But spiritually, I could not ignore the glow of compassion, love, and conviction that Tom carries with him. Neither could I deny his story about his healing. I saw the pictures of how ill he had been. I saw the man now standing in front of me, and I could see that a miracle had taken place. This man might not know the scriptures (accurately), but he did have a message; and his sincerity could not be spurned.

The next morning was when I had my conversion experience. We were lingering around the breakfast table, having conversation. Tom was talking about the ill treatment of chickens in factory conditions, how their beaks have to be cut so that they do not kill each other with their pecking, how their claws grow very long and become entangled in the wire cages, how they have barely any room to move, how their existence is confined to one thing: laying eggs. He had told many such accounts: about the calves of milk cows being taken barely a day after birth, shipped off to make veal; how animals are treated en rout to the slaughter houses; how they have to hear the cries of death from the animals before them in the butcher line. Pictures of Nazi Germany repeatedly flashed in my head. I know how wrong it is for us to treat our fellow men this way. Why should we think that animals are unfeeling toward such deplorable abuses as if they were merely an item for our exclusive benefit with no passion for their own existence? Also in the discussions had been talk of how women are also put down and treated as lesser creatures by men. All of these things began weighing very heavily on my heart. And as Tom told of the poor mother hen, my heart broke within me as I realized that I had been party to all these things. It was the most I could do to hold back the tears. I felt impressed to ask that we all kneel in prayer so that I might express my sorrow out loud to God in the presence of witnesses, but my ego kept me from interrupting the conversation for such a vulnerable act of humility. The longer I waited, the more the feeling subsided and was replaced by a feeling of guilt that I had not acted on my impression.

I left the table and went to make some photocopies and be by myself. Gwen came over to where I was, and with a motherly love asked me how I was doing. I told her of the feelings I had been having, lamenting that they had subsided because of my inaction. She gently and intuitively replied, "It's still there." With that, I began to feel a surge of the feelings of remorse I had been having. We walked back to the kitchen, where lunch was now on the table ready to be served. I volunteered to give the blessing on the food and asked that we all kneel. It was then that I confessed my sins before God about how I had unfeelingly partaken of the exploitation of animals and (to a lesser extent) of women, and I begged for forgiveness. The spirit of forgiveness came, and with it I envisioned the presence of the spirits of many rejoicing animals.

I then specifically asked for forgiveness for my misjudging of Emma Smith, the wife of the prophet Joseph, she having been representative to me of a weak, inferior woman. As I spoke these words of repentance, a quite picture came to my mind of her standing by my side, smiling and accepting my repentance. This image brought tears of joy and conciliation to my heart even more than the feeling of relief that had come in releasing my soul from the burden of guilt because of how I had not taken sufficient thought for the animals. I realized that the two issues for me had been interrelated. The mostly unrecognized downplaying in my heart of the value of women had been perpetuated because of my disregard for the suffering and exploitation of animals.

Isn't it interesting that being "convicted" in one's heart of wrongdoing brings "conviction" of truth. Guilt acknowledged and presented before God with a broken heart and contrite spirit, brings remission of sins and a new heart bestowed from God. This is true of any situation.

Because of the "born again" experience I had on this issue, and the new heart I have been given regarding the sanctity of life, turning down animal products has not been a challenge for me. It is not a matter of law (of health) for me. It springs spontaneously from my heart and causes my soul to sing. Since that time, my compassion for all living things has increased an hundred fold. I realize that the three times a day that I have a meal is an outward manifestation of belief about having due regard for life and agency. As I turn my heart and thoughts to God to express gratitude for the food that is before me, I envision not only the abundant variety which the earth brings forth for our nourishment, but I picture all those who are involved in bringing that food to my table, which ultimately includes everyone.

One day not to long ago, I asked my Mom the rhetorical question, 'Have you ever thought of how many people are involved in a single meal?' We started listing them: farmers, planters, irrigaters, harvesters, road construction crews, people who invent and maintain tires, tractors, trucks, stores, clerks, computer specialists, power company workers, banks, janitors, etc. The list went on for quite some time, until we realized that in some regard, remote though it may be, everyone is involved the web and fabric of life. We are indeed all connected all part of the body of Christ. As I have considered this, my prayers of gratitude and blessing on the food have turned even more into a worshipful adoration of God and of his love for all creation and gratitude for everyone and everything that is living (including the rocks) on this glorious sphere.

Since that time of my conversion, my vision of compassion in connectedness has expanded beyond animals, insects, plants, rocks, and other creations of God. I no longer look at man-made creations as mere organized masses of inanimate objects. Now I envision the elements as having intelligence and agency, and I feel the need to express gratitude for them. One of the most amazing and unexpected spiritual experiences of my life came one day while driving my car down the road, and I began thinking of all the millions of inventions behind each of the components in my car, brought forth by the inspired genius and efficiency of man whether or not he acknowledges the Source of inspiration for that which is Good. I then began thinking of the molecular make-up of each of the components in my car: the chemical elements that compose them and the means by which they are formed into their useful shapes and alloys to perform their unified function. With that thought came images of the various processes by which these elements are extracted from the earth. I recalled that these elements also have agency and intelligence of their own order, and I then realized that they too ought to be petitioned before use and thanked for their contribution that there is exploitation of them as well if we give no thought. As I began expressing gratitude for the elements that make up the various components of my car, it was as if I could sense them thanking me back for acknowledging their agency, their sacrifice, and their joy in fulfilling the measure of their creation.

Through all of this, I also began to gain a conviction as to the eternal progression of all things. The intelligences being eternal, so also is their development unlimited. As each of these unique intelligences experiences life, the experiences compound into growth and development. As the intelligences grow grace for grace through the eons of time and experience, ultimately they can chose to come into a fulness. Therefore, not only do I view my fellow creatures with respect, but I see them as equals before God, subject to his justice and mercy and opportunities according to their accountability, to grow and make mistakes, and repent and advance, until they achieve the fullness of God. Eternal lives beget eternal life.

Yes, I am a very different person since I had this conversion experience. It has proven to be one of the most significant turning points of my life for which I am eternally grateful. Thank you Tom, and Gwen, and Ed and everyone else (for there have been many) who have touched my life to facilitate this change (which is continuing to take form as I press forward in faith in that which I believe to be true). I thank my Savior, Jesus Christ who is my greatest inspiration, and whose Spirit makes all of this possible. Praise be to God, who reigns above and blesses our lives so abundantly.

These words of my heart I dedicate to the Lord, Jesus Christ, that they might be perfected in Him, through the power of the Holy Ghost; and I do this in His worthy name. May God bless you. Amen.

 

by Sterling D. Allan; Fountain Green, Utah; November 10, 1997

Feedback | See also

 

bullet  Feedback

From: L.M. Enterprises <htrails@solve.net>
To: Sterling Allan <sterlingda@greaterthings.com>
Date: Monday, November 08, 1999 10:24 PM
Subject: A word or two re: Why I Chose Veganism

Sterling,

I was deeply moved by your testimony/conversion experience on why you chose veganism.   I was moved by your spiritual experiences that were attached to your "temporal conversion."  I was also moved by your genuine spirit of repentance.

Thanks for sharing.  I was truly blessed and ministered unto.  Would to God that a spirit of repentance came over the Body of Christ--starting with me.

Lynn

[See index of writings by Lynn Ridenhour]

 

bullet  See also:

bulletChange of Diet and Change of Heart/Mind - how my paradigm shift about animals and women changed my view of the purpose of life. {Discussion board post Nov. 8, 2000} [back-up copy]
bulletHow What's on My Plate Affects Body, Mind and Spirit by David W. Allan (my dad)
bulletSome Thoughts on A Healthy Diet: The Plant-Centered Alternative by David W. Allan
bulletEditorials
bulletEat Meat Sparingly (SL Tribune; Mar. 15, 2004)
bulletA Paradigm Shift Regarding Meat (2/20/97) A diet that honors the sanctity of life.
bulletReverence for All Life (June 12, 1996) Word of Wisdom & meat rebuttal reply.
bulletVeganOutreach.org > Why Vegan? - A brochure with photos explaining why people choose to follow a vegan lifestyle.
bulletOpen Directory Project > Other vegan resource sites: how, why, overcoming obstacles
 

Last updated on March 06, 2013

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