... or in my case it was the other way around.

I have been a veterinarian for 30 years but it took me almost 20 of those to eventually make the connection between the companion animals I treated with so much compassion and respect and the ones that found their body-parts on the end of my fork.

It was a dietary change to vegetarianism that got me thinking of our place in the evolutionary tree... having studied all that years ago.  Added to that was the fact that I had got quite involved with our local (Roman Catholic) church and the Knights of Columbus.  Suddenly I was forced to face the compartmentalization of my knowledge from my belief and something had to give.  It's obvious that reason won out, but it was a tough fight for my Christianity-saturated psyche.  Once I was able to pull back and take a look at the bigger picture, our inhumanity to other species of sentient beings was obvious.

My story is archived on the HSUS site after receiving a request to submit a story on how animals had influenced my religious thought.  Don't think they were quite expecting my response.

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I was raised in a multi-religious, environmentally aware family, so a respect and reverence for nature, particularly animals, was instilled in me from an early age. I do not wear leather or fur, and I am an obsessive label reader when it comes to cosmetics and cleaning products, always looking for the "not tested on animals" logo. I was a vegetarian off and on for years, and now I strictly limit my (organic only)meat, fish and dairy intake, but I don't avoid it entirely. After deciding that I was an atheist, my awe of the natural world only increased, as did my belief in treating animals humanely. My futile search for religious faith was motivated by my desire to know what "ultimate reality" was. Some theists have described God as the "ground of being." As an atheist, the fact that the universe exists IS the "ground of being" to me, it is the ultimate reality. Keeping mindful of the dignity of all life does not require a deity, and as some have said in this thread already, belief in a god, or at least in religious dogma, can actually hinder it.
After deciding that I was an atheist, my awe of the natural world only increased, as did my belief in treating animals humanely....Keeping mindful of the dignity of all life does not require a deity, and as some have said in this thread already, belief in a god, or at least in religious dogma, can actually hinder it.

Yes, it is a common belief among many theists that it doesn't matter how we treat animals because god put them here for us to use. The ultimate conceit! And the ultimate sense of entitlement.

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