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Bulbs being planted in a garden.

Being Vegetarian is a Climate Issue

© hiroshiteshigawara   I would like to make the case for Quakers becoming vegetarian. Quakers at one point wore black, white, and gray clothing so that they would not support a market for dyed clothing, because the dyeing process was so carcinogenic that those working in the industry died young. Quakers also, over a process of many years, came to unity in the🔒

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Lynn Fitz-Hugh is a climate activist, parent, psychotherapist, and vegetarian. She belongs to Eastside Meeting in Bellevue, Wash.


Posted in: Quaker Lifestyles

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3 Responses to Being Vegetarian is a Climate Issue

  1. Robby England January 4, 2018 at 10:08 am #

    City & State
    Millerton, PA
    I admire anyone who lives their life according to their spiritual principals or social concerns, and therefor, my comments are not meant to attack your lifestyle, but to defend mine.

    I live on a 150 acre farm in northern Pennsylvania. About 50 acres are wooded or scrub land. An additional 50 acres is too steep to till, but can be grazed. The remaining 50 are flat enough to cut hay, but the soil is too poor (shallow or poorly drained) to efficiently raise cash crops or vegetables. The core of my farming operation is a flock of 100 ewes. From these ewes, we market 150-175 lambs per year and about 1000 pounds of wool. 90% of the feed for my sheep is grown on the farm–half of that is grazed. I use tractors to harvest my hay and to clip the pastures for control of thistles and noxious weeds, but I use less that 150 gallons of diesel fuel per year in the tractors. The manure from my flock is either deposited directly on the pastures or spread on the hayfields for fertilizer. A small portion is also used to fertilize our vegetable garden.

    Although I farm for profit, my management decisions are always weighed against my spiritual convictions and my social consciousness and these have the veto power. Raised in a farm family that always had a hearty meat and potatoes meal on the table, I have reconsidered the role of meat in my diet and now prefer a good stir fry or salad with just enough meat to add flavor and supply iron and vitamins. You may note that meat is only part of our product–we also market a half ton of wool. Our fleeces are carefully skirted and sent to a mill downstate to be spun into yarn. Some of the yarn is sold retail and some we use for knitting and weaving. Wool is a wonderful natural fibre and we are proud to produce it.

    I wish you good will and peace in following your chosen lifestyle. Our family has been blessed with both in following ours.

    Robby England

  2. Ms. Suzanne W. Cole January 11, 2018 at 1:44 pm #

    City & State
    New Orleans, LA
    While the core principles of this article are sound, I find it decidedly naive and downright problematic in many places including suggesting that we as a Quaker community forcibly offer only plant-based food without considering the actual needs of the people we are in community with. It is not hospitality to set a table that will leave multiple guests struggling with their medical needs after eating a meal. It is not good stewardship of our communities to exclude around something so simple.

    Perhaps my work as FGC’s Gathering Food Coordinator (aka the person who liaises between the conference coordinator, the dining staff, and registrants around issues of food, dietary concerns, allergies, and access needs in our dining spaces) is coloring my comment, but I think of the hundreds of attendees who would be fighting their bodies and in some considerable discomfort throughout the entire week if we transitioned to exclusively plant-based proteins. I am one of those attendees, and I cannot imagine facing down a week of only vegetarian meals while trying to focus on my job, the eagerly anticipated socialization of Gathering, and self-care. I wouldn’t be able to stay awake for more than an hour at a time by day 2 of the event!

    One of the great joys of the work that I do at Gathering is explaining to the dining hall that we have a tremendous number of adult vegetarians and even more attendees who choose the “I eat meat but choose a plant-based protein at least half the time.” Advocating for the quality and quantity of those plant-based proteins is something I spend hours doing, often in places where I have to define the phrase “plant-based” for the staff in a way that will honor their experience instead of belittling them for not being exposed to some of the favorite planet-friendly lifestyle buzzwords. I am often the target for anger and frustration in that work, acting as a public lightening rod by being visible and vocal about the role of our plant-based protein entrees.

    Bringing the joy of food that honors their needs and nourishes their body to every attendee at Gathering is what makes the work of this position worthwhile. Using food as a political tool is not on my agenda. Food is inherently political, entwined with our values and culture. Using food to exclude or shut down an outlet of hospitality, especially for people who are often struggling for balance in their own bodies is against everything I know as a kitchen manager, cook, Southerner, and Friend.

    Sometimes, modeling the abundant joy of our diet and food choice–because it is clear to me that being a vegetarian brings that joy to Lynn’s life–means accepting that our friends and loved ones need a different source of joy to also live abundant and powerful lives.

    If Friends are interested in experiencing the plant-based protein options at Gathering, I would encourage them to register as a vegetarian to fully engage with the offerings that the conference coordinator, dining team, and I will be putting together. I would also encourage Friends to trust that many of us are listening to our bodies and our doctors so that we may also join your table with abundant joy.

    • Dana Harvey January 13, 2018 at 10:48 am #

      City & State
      Fort Erie Ontario, Canada
      I attended Gathering in NF for a few days last summer and was impressed by the food variety that was offered each day. You did an excellent job.

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