Despite the reputation that Christians have for being judgmental, the Christian view of non-believing sinners is potentially more forgiving than veganism’s. Christians want to save sinners from themselves, or from Satan, or, you could also say, from God’s overblown standards. Though Christians wouldn’t exactly put it this way, their conception of saving frames God as the brutal one, allowing souls to roast in eternal hellfire for sometimes minor infractions like unbelief. God punishes sinners with divine wrath to satisfy a selfish desire for worship. In veganism it is the sinners themselves who are the brutes, victimizing innocents to satisfy their selfish desires for taste and convenience.
I was raised without religion, but I went through a Christian phase in middle school. My best friend at the time was a Baptist, and for a couple of years, going to church with him filled the meaning vacuum that my parents had left empty. I became especially fervent about my newfound faith after a week at Bible summer camp, which was a wimpier, less over-the-top version of Jesus Camp. I didn’t make an effort to save my atheist family, because I knew there was no hope, but I regularly imagined them in hell, screaming in agony (forever and ever). It was a horrifying image, particularly since I thought they didn’t deserve it. I didn’t see my unbelieving family members as bad people. I just thought they were woefully ignorant of God and his stringent rules.
In veganism, on the other hand, the non-believers aren’t passively violating a perhaps unfair technicality — they are actively doing horrible things.
A Christian reader once emailed me:
The moral dilemma for vegans in meat-eating families is amazing. A Christian like myself may disapprove of homosexual actions, but we don’t believe that a homosexual is (in all cases) doing more than moral-spiritual harm to himself and a consenting partner. We may become loathsome in trying to transmit our beliefs into social mores and taboos. But we have nothing like the psychic tension of the vegan. A vegan believes something like a crime or injustice is being committed in their face. As “annoying” as they can be, I almost feel bad for them, as that is a terrible burden to carry.
This is not to say that all Christians actually do tolerate non-Christians better than vegans tolerate non-vegans. It’s just that the Christian idea of sin often being a strictly personal problem can make it easier to tolerate sinners than in veganism’s conception, where sin is more relevant for its violent external ramifications. It’s easier to avoid contempt for those who are harming only themselves. I wanted to tell my family about Christ to do them a favor. Vegans want to tell us about Soy to do animals a favor. Christianity must spread in order to rescue us from becoming the tortured playthings of Satan. Veganism must spread in order to rescue animals from becoming the tortured playthings of us.
Vegans don’t typically believe in Hell, but many do think that meat eaters will be punished for their sinful eating with heart attacks and premature death, nature’s punishment for all the cholesterol, saturated fat and cruelty we consume.
And as far as many vegans are concerned, we deserve it.