Being vegan

The household at Gembrook Retreat is choosing to be vegan. The residents have each come to this decision in different ways and at different times.

Steve has been vegan since he was a teenager but he has lived alongside others who have not been.

Jane made several previous attempts to go vegan for reasons of environmental sustainability and health. It didn’t help her health and she was not able to sustain it. However in her most recent attempt she has been able to stick at it, and it has a lot to do with how being vegan has helped her spiritual life and her experience of connection with God and creation.

Here is a reflection that resident Miriam wrote about how being a vegan enriches her spiritual life as a Quaker.

“I am 15 years old and am a Quaker from rural Australia in Victoria and attend Victorian Regional Meeting. I have grown up in a Quaker family and became vegan at age 11 in 2016 influenced by various friends, family members and Quakers.

“I have attended Meeting for Worships (MFWs) outside in nature on Quaker family and youth camps. These MFWs are very spiritual and powerful. As a vegan I believe the connection and respect with animals and nature has made these spiritual MFWs stronger. I have experienced God through rain. I have had some very strong and life changing experiences and during those experiences it has started raining, and I have known God is with me. When I am outside in the rain sometimes my dog will be standing with me or a bird will be sitting in a tree near me. These are shared experiences and connections with God and animals. I have also been involved in many discussions about the Quaker testimonies and veganism. I have found these discussions very helpful in my understanding of Quakerism, veganism and my own spirituality.

“A Quaker once told me “look with soft eyes” and I have never forgotten this. I try to look with soft eyes onto the world.”

Samara has been predominantly vegetarian for reasons of environmental sustainability since she moved out of home, but after watching the documentary ‘Dominion’, she felt a stronger need to step away from systems of factory farming by being more consistently vegan. She is interested in how this can help her to experience a greater sense of communion with all living creatures, especialy in a time of climate crisis.

Here are some films, books, podcasts etc that we have found helpful:

Dominion: a documentary film that exposes the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture. While mainly focusing on animals used for food, it also explores other ways animals are exploited and abused by humans, including clothing, entertainment and research. Note: this film contains graphic footage of animal suffering.

73 Cows: a short documentary film about Jay Wilde, a beef farmer who battles with his conscience every time he takes his cows to slaughter. (15mins)

Earthling Ed: Ed Winters is a vegan educator and activist from the UK. He discusses lots of issues about veganism on ‘The Disclosure Podcast’.

Seaspiracy: a documentary that investigates how large scale industrial fishing decimates fish stocks and oceans, and questions the idea that there is such a thing as sustainable seafood for consumers in countries like Australia.