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Unitarian Universalism

Official statements, historical and contemporary references on animals

  • Mama sow and piglet resting together. The HSUS

Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a faith that embraces philosophical and theological diversity. Practitioners identify with and draw inspiration from a variety of religious and secular traditions. Uniting these disparate threads is a set of seven ethical Principles.

In 2011, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations approved a Statement of Conscience on "Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice."

This statement calls upon members to apply their seven Principles to food choices:

"Ethical eating is the application of our Principles to our food choices. What and how we eat has broad implications for our planet and society. Our values, Principles, and integrity call us to seek compassion, health, and sustainability in the production of food we raise or purchase…We acknowledge that aggressive action needs to be taken that will ensure an adequate food supply for the world population; reduce the use of energy, water, fertilizer, pesticides, and hormones in food production; mitigate climate change; and end the inhumane treatment of animals…”

Before combining to form Unitarian Universalism, the Unitarian and Universalist traditions attracted and inspired members who were passionate about the welfare of animals and nature. Among these members was Louisa May Alcott , author of Little Women, who wrote in her diary that "animal food" leads to war and nightmares while a "vegetable diet" leads to "sweet repose."

“Vegetable diet and sweet repose. Animal food and nightmare. Pluck your body from the orchard; do not snatch it from the shambles. Without flesh diet there could be no bloodshedding war.”

—from Louisa May Alcott, Little Women: Letters from the House of Alcott, ed. Jessie Bonstelle and Marian deForest (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1914), 184.

For more statements on Unitarian Universalism, including a link to the complete 2011 Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating, see our PDF.

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