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Vegetarian Orders/communities?


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Oremus, no one is saying that vegetarianism is *wrong*--we are saying that NOT being a vegetarian is not wrong, either, nor is one OR the other a sign of "holiness."  And, while Benedict may have been a vegetarian, there is no evidence that he was considered a saint BECAUSE he was a vegetarian.  

 

I see no one here who is claiming that vegetarians are fussy and disobedient. Please read what people are actually saying. The point is that this is not an essential element of either religious life or holiness. And, once one is in religious life, I would hope that one would be flexible enough to put the community above one's individual preferences.  Essential to most forms of religious life is COMMUNITY.  Even orders like the Carthusians eat what they are given, not what they prefer personally.... 

 

Enough.

 

 

The POINT of this thread is to list such communities for those of whom it is of interest.

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We never ate meat until about the 80's when fish became very expensive and people would be offering us meat, especially turkeys. We felt it was more in keeping with poverty to accept the meat and eat

Hi Oremus,   Perhaps a more constructive way to have phrased the question "how would you know? y ou are married and therefore not in religous life." might have bee nsomething along the lines of:  

Ok ... I am locking this thread for the precise reason stated above.  You can discuss an issue, and disagree with people, but there are statements on this thread that are just not good (I don't want t

Some communities do make provision for sisters who are vegetarian before they enter. I know some Augustinian sisters in England where this is the case (the Canonesses of the Mercy of Jesus). I was surprised to find that some sisters there are vegetarian while others aren't, but with their apostolate it's easy. They work in a nursing home that is attached to their convent, and they always have a choice of meals on offer for their patients (including a veggie option), so it's simplest for the sisters just to have whatever the patients are having. This enables vegetarian sisters to stay vegetarian.

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I also want to mention Jesus also probably ate fish, He knew how to cook it ;)...In St. John, Chapter 21, Jesus cooked breakfast for His disciples after the Resurrection....it was fish & bread.

We have been discussing the Minims in other threads, are they still strictly vegetarian with a perpetual Lenten fast?

And what about that newer Franciscan community in the US? The sisters are cloistered & at one point were living very simply without refrigeration...does anyone else have any info?


It may be easier to inquire each community individually about vegetarian diets...although those Augustinians mentioned above sound promising...

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I also want to mention Jesus also probably ate fish, He knew how to cook it ;)...In St. John, Chapter 21, Jesus cooked breakfast for His disciples after the Resurrection....it was fish & bread.
 

 

It wasn't very long ago that eating meat -- or even poultry -- was a very special thing, usually reserved for the rich, or possible for the less affluent only on special occasions.  We tend to forget this.  Peasants would eat porridge and legumes, eat cheese, or, if they kept a cow or goat, drink milk. Animals were too precious to slaughter as long as they continued to give milk or lay eggs.  As recently as the mid-19th century, the Irish ate literally pounds of potatoes per day, and washed it down with buttermilk -- one of the reasons that the potato blight was so devastating as to cause the Great Famine of 1845.  They had nothing else to eat.  Grain was grown to sell to pay the land rents.  The steep rise in the cost of bread was a contributing factor to the French Revolution because it formed such a large part of the diet of the working classes.

 

So there is vegetarianism as an ideology, and vegetarianism as a necessity.  The lower classes weren't vegetarian by choice but because meat was simply a luxury they usually couldn't afford.  I suspect that originally most religious orders, as a means of keeping the vow of poverty, kept meat off the menu for that reason.

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To the OP.......re a list of communities that are vegetarian.....

 

As I think you can see from this thread, vegetarianism (and the reasons for it or otherwise) varies greatly from community to community and is probably to some degree in flux.

 

That is why we have not responded with a list.

1) We don't actually KNOW for certain.

2) any list (on any subject just about) becomes very quickly obsolete. We might make a list today that would be out of date in a month.

3) We simply do not have that information.

4) Since this is obviously a big item for you, it is better that you ask this of any community you feel called to. That way you can be certain the information is correct.

5) In almost every Order I am aware of save one, there is provision for those who are ill or have to eat meat for constitutional reasons, permission is allowed for this. Therefore, in essence, there are no communities that are strictly vegetarian!!!

 

 

In all the time I have been around on phatmass, and maybe for those who have been here much longer, this has never been previously requested. Perhaps that is because those for whom it is an issue realise they need to address this with the individual order. This has now been suggested more than a few times.

You cannot MAKE us produce a list.......

 

There isn't one and it does not seem like anyone on here is going to contribute one.

Sorry.

 

Maybe you would like to do the research yourself and post one somewhere, since most of us appear not to be responding?

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To add to what Maximillion has very sensibly stated above, even if you were to come up with such a list, you cannot assume that those communities' motivation in being vegetarian is the same as your own or that their practice of it will meet your own criteria. The historical monastic tradition favouring vegetarianism was basically ascetical rather than ethical, which meant that exceptions were more easily made when deemed appropriate. My experience in two communities that were commonly considered vegetarian was that not only was meat given to the sick (as St Benedict says it should be) but that it was not considered inappropriate to use animal products in cooking if they happened to be around. For example, the juice that the meat for the sick had cooked in might be added to the soup, something that would be a problem for principled vegetarians. This is because the underlying motivation is different.

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I'm Vegetarian (and practically a Vegan at home) and discerning, with Benedictines and now the Jesuits. Both have said they wouldn't expect me to eat meat or drink milk. I was releaved as I thought it would really reduce the communities available to discern with. Similarly, they said they wouldn't force someone to eat something they hate to eat or something where the taste makes them feel sick. Some communities offer more than one type of meal and or allow you to leave bits off that you don't want. I think many communities realise the world and culture is different and so they will cook or provide food with more thought than maybe many did in years gone by. Some, especially monastics, know about  and respect other non christian monastic traditions where meat is prohibited on ethical grounds, not simply for ascetical reasons. So they may well be growing more open to these ideas.

I'm sure some other communities, who seem to have meat enforced policies, would be willing to review their practices if they realised they'd be putting people off because of this issue. Of course it may not be practical for other communities, for whatever reason, and that's there choice. It's for the person to decide whether they want to discern and compromise on that issue or not.

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There is considerable confusion between vegetarian and vegan diets.  Vegetarians usually will eat dairy and egg products, and some even include fish.  Vegans forego everything that is not from plants.  Getting balanced and adequate nutrition in a vegan diet is very difficult. 

 

Vegetarians don't eat fish. But having milk or eggs is optional within that. Those that eat fish, but not other meat, are Pescetarian. Vegans don't eat anything from an animal, and most won't use products with anything from an animal in it. There's also Fruitarians etc. Of course this doesn't stop people using these outside those defined terms, which doesn't really help people understand what they're doing and why.

It's not difficult to get the nutritional intake in a Vegan diet. The hassle, at least at the start, is getting out of old habits and knowing what to buy and cook. After that it's not so hard on that front.  The difficulty, in my experience, is the problems encountered to eat outside socially, as many places are clueless (but this is better than even five years ago as there's a need and customer base). The negativity and ignorance (and sometimes rudeness) of other people can be the most annoying.

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It's not difficult to get the nutritional intake in a Vegan diet. The hassle, at least at the start, is getting out of old habits and knowing what to buy and cook. After that it's not so hard on that front.  The difficulty, in my experience, is the problems encountered to eat outside socially, as many places are clueless (but this is better than even five years ago as there's a need and customer base). The negativity and ignorance (and sometimes rudeness) of other people can be the most annoying.

 

Yes to all this. I am vegan and probably the healthiest I've ever been, as when I went vegan I started to really think about where to get all the right nutrients in a way that I never did as an omnivore. As an omnivore I basically ate without thinking too much and just assumed that I would be OK. Yet an omnivorous diet is not necessarily a healthy one - just because someone technically can eat everything, it doesn't mean that they do. My last two housemates did not have a balanced diet at all (they were basically pizzatarians) yet they worried that a vegan diet wouldn't be nourishing enough for me! I think most people think that being a vegan means subsisting off lettuce and they don't realise what a wide variety of food you can have (although it's true, you do have to cook from scratch more, as most convenience foods aren't going to be suitable).

 

I am vegan on compassionate/ethical grounds, but occasionally I do have to interpret my principles more creatively. For instance, I once went to visit a Bedouin community where I had been doing some work, and I found that they were expecting me to dinner. These people are well below the poverty line and they had pulled out all the stops to feed me a nice dinner. There was meat on my plate. In that context, I wasn't going to say I couldn't have it - it would have been unkind and selfish to refuse people who had very obviously given me what they considered to be the best of their food. I hated doing it, but I ate every bite. I imagine this is how it is for vegetarians and vegans who enter the religious life - they have to work within competing demands on their compassion.

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It's not difficult to get the nutritional intake in a Vegan diet. The hassle, at least at the start, is getting out of old habits and knowing what to buy and cook. After that it's not so hard on that front.  The difficulty, in my experience, is the problems encountered to eat outside socially, as many places are clueless (but this is better than even five years ago as there's a need and customer base). The negativity and ignorance (and sometimes rudeness) of other people can be the most annoying.

 

Sounds a lot like what I experienced when I first began my necessary gluten-free diet.  I had no idea what to cook or buy at all and felt, at the time, that my options were very limited.  Now, many more places are beginning to cook gluten-free stuff.  I can order from all sorts of places safely - Domino's, Chick-Fil-A, a local burger joint that has gluten-free buns and pizza crust, Chili's, etc.  I even found out that one of the local Italian restaurants (small business) cooks gluten-free pasta and makes it a point to keep a separate preparation area which I thought was AWESOME!  I also had a great experience at Disney World as all of the dietary staff are trained to provide safe meals and I didn't get sick once which was great.

 

However, there are still many places that need help and are virtually clueless on what someone with a gluten allergy needs to stay away from.  Recently, at the local Mexican place, I found out that the tortilla chips are made from corn and when I asked one of the servers if they were gluten-free, all they said was they were made from corn not wheat.  But cooking methods are very important and I found out that they fry the corn chips in the same oil as the flour tortillas so the risk of contamination was high.  If I had eaten them, I would have become ill.  Because of this problem, I'm not afraid to speak up and help people understand if it keeps me from getting sick.

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Yes to all this. I am vegan and probably the healthiest I've ever been, as when I went vegan I started to really think about where to get all the right nutrients in a way that I never did as an omnivore. As an omnivore I basically ate without thinking too much and just assumed that I would be OK. Yet an omnivorous diet is not necessarily a healthy one - just because someone technically can eat everything, it doesn't mean that they do. My last two housemates did not have a balanced diet at all (they were basically pizzatarians) yet they worried that a vegan diet wouldn't be nourishing enough for me! I think most people think that being a vegan means subsisting off lettuce and they don't realise what a wide variety of food you can have (although it's true, you do have to cook from scratch more, as most convenience foods aren't going to be suitable).

Yes, especially to the pizzarians :hehe2: I find I spend time on food prep and then I box it up in the fridge or freeze it for a while. But that only goes so far, as you say. I guess the one thing I hear, even though I've not eaten meat for years, is that everyone needs meat because it's essential for protein, especially if you're unwell. If I had some cash for everytime I heard that false mantra I'd be a millionaire.

 

I am vegan on compassionate/ethical grounds, but occasionally I do have to interpret my principles more creatively. For instance, I once went to visit a Bedouin community where I had been doing some work, and I found that they were expecting me to dinner. These people are well below the poverty line and they had pulled out all the stops to feed me a nice dinner. There was meat on my plate. In that context, I wasn't going to say I couldn't have it - it would have been unkind and selfish to refuse people who had very obviously given me what they considered to be the best of their food. I hated doing it, but I ate every bite. I imagine this is how it is for vegetarians and vegans who enter the religious life - they have to work within competing demands on their compassion.

Can understand your decision in that scenario. In terms of discerning - I don't think I'd join a community who expected me to eat meat because they treat it like a child who refuses to eat their brussels! In reality, at least to me, it would feel more like someone killed my pet dog, put it on the BBQ and then expected me to eat it out of obedience to the community. That isn't going to happen with me, not unless we're in some post apololypse zombie world or something :joecool:

My view is that when a person is discerning with a community then the process is two way in working out if God wants them there. To me it's important to know that a community is willing to listen and understand where I'm coming from. To be willing to accept that I bring a new dynamic to the group, and that I may have specific positives/negatives and new ideas to bring. I don't think it's just about moulding to be like the community, but maintaining a sense of self as well in healthy proportion. If they say, point blank, that they'd not be willing to move on the food issue then I'd wonder what else about me would create a problem for this community.  To be honest I'd find it a bit insensitive and I'd be put off if a community knew what I believed, understood how I'd feel, and still didn't care enough to make a concession on what I was expected to eat. They'dend up missing out on all my recipes I could have shared with them  :cointoss:

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Out of props but would prop all 4 posters above......

 

I eat a restricted diet too, mostly on health grounds, and it is so much easier today than it was 30 years ago.

 

That said, the OP is asking us to create/contribute to a list of, or to qualify those communities we know of who are regular meat eaters, and those who are vegetarian, and as I said in a previous post, we all seem to be reluctant to do that....I know I am.

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