Should veganism be a religion? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-04-2012, 04:26 PM
 
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From Wikipedia: "Religion is a collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature."

So, Scientologists believe in aliens and they're a protected group, because their belief system is considered a religion. I'm deliberately choosing Scientology, because the religion is not based on an old book. And I do know that this is a simplified version of their religion, I don't mean to ridicule their views.

Veganism fits the description of religion, but the vegan belief system is pretty much ridiculed by the majority of people. There has been a court ruling, basically saying that veganism does not qualify as a religion. How does Scientology qualify, if veganism doesn't?

Now, I'm not proposing that we build a church and meet every Sunday to exchange tofu recipes. But, it makes me wonder, just based on the definition of religion, why is it that I can believe in aliens and belong to a religious group, but I cannot have the same right as a vegan?

Do you think that veganism should be a protected religion?
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#2 Old 10-04-2012, 04:43 PM
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Scientologists believe humans came from enslaved alien souls.

 

Vegans believe that it is wrong to exploit and cause suffering to other animals.

 

It speaks nothing about where humanity or the cosmos came from. While religions prescribe moral and ethical frameworks, without this other concern - cosmological origins of life, the universe, or even more abstract concepts like why does suffering exist - it is not a religion.

 

You can be a vegan Scientologist, a vegan Buddhist, a vegan Christian, whatever. You usually can't be, say, a Muslim Christian.

 

Also, I'm pretty sure Scientology has such sway because it has some pretty influential members and a very sue-happy legal team.


I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#3 Old 10-04-2012, 04:55 PM
 
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Long before humans had the weapons to hunt and kill, they survived on a plant based diet. This is where we came from. That's my belief. Just like enslaved alien souls, wederived from free plant eating spirits and now we are enslaved in a eating society. Lets say that's my argument.

Again, I am not starting a religion, I'm just wondering why the same principles do not apply to vegans? Ron Hubbard wrote a book on his thesis and created a religious movement. His followers are protected from religious discrimination. Why would the courts rule against veganism as a religion? Thus rule against the freedom of protection for somebody who refuses something as simple as a vaccine, which does not fit his moral values?
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#4 Old 10-04-2012, 04:57 PM
 
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Enslaved in a meat eating society, that is. Sorry, I know how to spell, but my iPad is so slow.
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#5 Old 10-04-2012, 04:59 PM
 
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A belief is (according to Webster)

 

Quote:
"conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence"

 

While vegans might base their ethical stance of veganism on some beliefs, they might not necessarily be shared. For example, someone might say that it is wrong to enslave animals even if they do not believe that they are sentient , while others might say that it is wrong to enslave animals because they believe they are sentient. In this case two different beliefs end in the same ethical conclusion of veganism.

 

Vegansim is an ethical stance of relatively limited scope, and it is not based on a collection of belief systems. 

 

Now, I am very curious as to why there was ever a ruling that veganism is not a religion. Not that I'm surprised with the outcome, but why did someone try to get veganism the legal standing of a religion anyway?


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#6 Old 10-04-2012, 05:13 PM
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Classifying veganism as a religion would, apart from being semantically incorrect, align it with belief systems that make questionable metaphysical or cosmological claims and that presuppose some kind of pre-determined "natural order of things". This alignment would cost much more politically and socially than any societal benefits from special status as a religion would pay off.

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#7 Old 10-04-2012, 05:15 PM
 
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Conviction of truth of some statement: Killing animals is wrong. Lets say that's the statement. There is no proof when it comes to Xenu or Jesus, no evidence.

The ruling was in the case of J. Friedman, who lost his job because he refused a mumps vaccine based on his vegan belief system.

Here's why the judge ruled against Friedman:

"There is no apparent spiritual or otherworldly component to (Friedman's) beliefs," wrote Presiding Justice Paul Turner. He said those beliefs do not address "the meaning of human existence; the purpose of life; theories of humankind's nature or its place in the universe; matters of human life and death, or the exercise of faith."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Judge-rules-against-vegan-suit-Practitioners-2770028.php#ixzz28NYQfjS9
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#8 Old 10-04-2012, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalia View Post

Long before humans had the weapons to hunt and kill, they survived on a plant based diet. This is where we came from. That's my belief. Just like enslaved alien souls, wederived from free plant eating spirits and now we are enslaved in a eating society. Lets say that's my argument.
Again, I am not starting a religion, I'm just wondering why the same principles do not apply to vegans? Ron Hubbard wrote a book on his thesis and created a religious movement. His followers are protected from religious discrimination. Why would the courts rule against veganism as a religion? Thus rule against the freedom of protection for somebody who refuses something as simple as a vaccine, which does not fit his moral values?

 

He got it passed because of money and influence. Seriously. There are some politically and financially powerful people who are scientologists.

 

I don't believe that we survived on a completely plant-based diet. I do not believe in souls, spirits, or any sort of ephemeral spiritual essence. I am a materialist. I am still a vegan. Vegans only share one trait, they don't exploit other animals and they don't wish to*. That's like saying being anti-slavery is religious belief, or being a civil rights advocate is a religion. I do think that the category of conscientious objector should be broadened, although vaccines are a good thing - but we need to find a way of ethically and efficiently synthesizing them.

 

Dahlia is referring to Friedman v Kaiser, 2002 (Kaiser is a pharmaceutical company), where Friedman was refused a job because he declined to get a vaccination on the basis that it was derived from chicken embryos.

 

*Something about health or environmental veg*ns here, etc, etc, blah blah blah.


I always wonder about people who say they "love" animals, but continue to eat meat. If that's your idea of love, I question what sort of twisted world view you must have.

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#9 Old 10-04-2012, 05:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Classifying veganism as a religion would, apart from being semantically incorrect, align it with belief systems that make questionable metaphysical or cosmological claims and that presuppose some kind of pre-determined "natural order of things". This alignment would cost much more politically and socially than any societal benefits from special status as a religion would pay off.

I'm not sure I would be a member of the church of veganism, not much of an organized religion seeker. The bigger question for me is, why wouldn't some vegans qualify to call their belief system a religion? I might not view it as a religion, but some vegans do.

I can take an existing religion, modify a few beliefs and branch out as a different religion. Why can this not be applied to vegan beliefs?
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#10 Old 10-04-2012, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dalia View Post

The bigger question for me is, why wouldn't some vegans qualify to call their belief system a religion? I might not view it as a religion, but some vegans do.
Because if you classify veganism as a religion, you classify any system of beliefs and practices with an ethical basis as a religion. Then environmental awareness -based behavior is a religion, some human rights -based practices are a religion etc. I think it just stretches the term 'religion' unnecessarily. Especially since it's not one of those concepts I want to gain even more presence in society.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#11 Old 10-04-2012, 05:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalia View Post

Conviction of truth of some statement: Killing animals is wrong. Lets say that's the statement. There is no proof when it comes to Xenu or Jesus, no evidence.
The ruling was in the case of J. Friedman, who lost his job because he refused a mumps vaccine based on his vegan belief system.
Here's why the judge ruled against Friedman:
"There is no apparent spiritual or otherworldly component to (Friedman's) beliefs," wrote Presiding Justice Paul Turner. He said those beliefs do not address "the meaning of human existence; the purpose of life; theories of humankind's nature or its place in the universe; matters of human life and death, or the exercise of faith."
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Judge-rules-against-vegan-suit-Practitioners-2770028.php#ixzz28NYQfjS9

 

I don't think the problem here is that veganism doesn't have the status of religion, the problem is that Friedman was denied bodily autonomy. 

 

You can argue in the case of vaccines that the benefit to society as a whole from vaccinations requires all to receive them in spite of autonomy (and I would disagree), but that would include no exceptions for religious purposes as well. 

 

From my perspective, the judge's reasoning that veganism is not a religion is true, but the logic that someone may refuse vaccines for religious reasons and may not for other reasons is faulty. 


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#12 Old 10-04-2012, 06:19 PM
 
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I think, you guys made some good points. I do believe that the protection of personal rights is far more important, and I would not benefit from veganism as a religion, but I do not agree with the reasons for the verdict. In the verdict, the judge explains:

"Those beliefs do not address the meaning of human existence; the purpose of life; theories of humankind's nature or its place in the universe; matters of human life and death, or the exercise of faith."

If that's really the reason for the verdict, then Friedman should have won, because you could argue that Friedman's beliefs are exactly what the judge expressed in his verdict against him.

Sevenseas made a valid point in saying that anybody could come up with a religion based on their beliefs, but isn't that what religion is in a nutshell? Am I the only one who thinks that the verdict could be summed up as "stop complaining, eat a steak and get that vaccine"?

I am intrigued by the idea of redefining religion based on new and different beliefs, although it's not going to affect my personal world view. The bigger question is why do we grant those rights to one group and not to another? Why do we eat cows while we pamper our pets? Is there a double standard when it comes to the way we view religious rights as well?
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