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Lots of important Christians--leaders and saints, past and present--have been vegetarian. Here are some notable examples.

Historical Figures

Basil the GreatSaint Basil, called the Great. AD ?329-379. Greek patriarch; an opponent of Arianism and one of the founders of monasticism.  A quote from his Petition:
    The earth is the Lord's and the fullness
    Thereof, Oh, God, enlarge within us the
    Sense of fellowship with all living
    Things, our brothers the animals...

William and Catherine Booth.  Founders of the Salvation Army.
"It is a great delusion to suppose that flesh-meat of any kind is essential to health. Considerably more than three parts of the work in the world is done by men who never taste anything but vegetable, farinaceous food, and that of the simplest kind. There are more strength-producing properties in wholemeal flour, peas, beans, lentils, oatmeal, roots, and other vegetables of the same class, than there are beef or mutton, poultry or fish, or animal food of any description whatever."
(Orders and Regulations of the Officers of the Salvation Army)

Saint John Chrysostom AD ?345-407         John Chrysostom                       
Greek patriarch; archbishop of Constantinople (398-404).
    The saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to        
    mankind, and even to brute beasts ... Surely we
    ought to show them [animals] great kindness and
    gentleness for many reasons, but, above all, because
    they are of the same origin as ourselves.
(Homilies)

TertullianTertullian. "It is not consistent with truth that a man should sacrifice half of his stomach only to God�that he should be sober in drinking, but     intemperate in eating. Your belly is your God, your liver is your temple, your paunch is your altar, the cook is your priest, and the fat steam is your Holy Spirit; the seasonings and the sauces are your chrisms, and your belchings are your prophesizing...[such] a grossly- feeding Christian is akin to lions and wolves rather than God. Our     Lord Jesus called Himself Truth and not habit."

TolstoiLeo Tolstoy.  "The vegetarian movement ought to fill with gladness the souls of those who have at heart the realization of God's kingdom upon earth, not because vegetarianism itself is such an important step towards the realization of this kingdom (all real steps are equally important or unimportant), but because it serves as a criterion by which we know that the pursuit of moral perfection on the part of man is genuine and sincere.
    "[For] [i]f a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals."


Origen.  AD 185-254Origen
"[W]hen we do abstain [from eating meat], we do so because �we keep under our body and bring it into subjection� (I Corinthians 9:27), and desire �to mortify our members that are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence� (Colossians 3:5); and we use every effort to �mortify the deeds of the flesh.� (Romans 8:13)"

ClementClement of Alexandria, Saint
AD ?150-?215.
"It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals...The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils...Those who use the most frugal fare are the strongest, the healthiest and the noblest...
"If any righteous man does not burden his soul by the eating of flesh, he has the advantage of a rational motive."

John Wesley.Wesley (Founder of Methodism and Wesleyanism.)
"Thanks be to God!" he wrote to the bishop of London in 1747. "Since the time I gave up the use of flesh-meats and wine, I have been delivered from all physical ills." Partly inspired by Isaiah's vision of the Kingdom of Peace, where "on the new earth, no creature will kill, or hurt, or give pain to any other" (Is. 11:6-9), Wesley further taught that animals "shall receive ample amends for all their present sufferings."  (Sources: Christian History magazine)
Original John Wesley letter archive here.

SDADAEllen G. White and countless other Seventh-Day Adventists, who are considerably healthier than the general population, living 10 years longer on average.
    "[I]t will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists. Foods that are healthful and life sustaining are to be prepared, so that men and women will not need to eat meat...Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs....
    "[For] [t]he moral evils of a flesh diet are not less marked than are the physical ills. Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul. Think of the cruelty to animals meat-eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it.
    "How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard those creatures of God!  [We should therefore] [n]ever be ashamed to say, "No thank you; I do not eat meat. I have conscientious scruples against eating the flesh of dead animals."
    "How much better to get it direct by eating the food that God provided for our use!"

Contemporary Leaders

Image courtesy Compassion InternationalTony Campolo.  Author and speaker, adviser to President Clinton.  "In this day and age, it is important for us to consider vegetarianism - not only for health reasons, but also for the good of the planet. We all know the environmental implications of the increasing dependency of Western civilization on a meat diet. Furthermore, we are aware of how depending on beef has diminished the amount of protein that would otherwise be available to the general population."

Moby. "b. Richard Melville Hall, 11 September 1965, New York, USA. A New York DJ, recording artist, Christian, vegan and Philosophy graduate. Moby is so nicknamed because of the fact that he can trace his ancestry to the author of the famous whaling tale."  Also: proprietor of TeaNY cafe.moby
    "I'm often asked, 'well, as a vegan, what do you eat?' which seems like such a strange question. What do non-vegans eat? Meat, cheese, milk, eggs? Vegans eat everything else. Indian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Thai food, Japanese food, African food, and so on, and so on.
    "Whether I'm having a pan bagnia sandwich (olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, basil and onions, on ciabatta bread) at Teany, my restaurant, or having marinated exotic mushrooms with mixed baby greens and an orange vinaigrette in Paris, or having fajitas in Los Angeles, or vegan Chinese food in lower Manhattan, or vegan Pad Thai in Melbourne, or etc etc - I'm always a very happy eater.
    "Primarily I'm a vegan for ethical reasons, but if the truth be told it's the culinary aspect of veganism that has sustained me for 16 years of animal-product free living." (World Vegan Day statement)

Mister Rogers.  Rev. Fred Rogers, composer, creator, author and host of "Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood," is a renowned children's educator and entertainer, as well as an ordained Presbyterian minister--and a vegetarian!  

Mister Rogers"Children see television much the same way they see a refrigerator or a stove -- it's something that parents provide," he told Christian Century magazine in 1994. "In a young child's mind, parents probably condone what's on the television, just like they choose what's in the refrigerator or on the stove. That's why we who make television for children must be especially careful."

Mister RogersWhat's in Mr. Rogers' refrigerator or on his stove?

"I exercise and eat healthy foods. I'll show you some of them. These are all soy foods. Soybeans--you need to boil those, cook them. You can put sauce over them, like a tomato sauce. There's vegetarian-- vegetarian burgers. It's all vegetables, no meat in that at all. Of course, it's a soy food. These soybeans are already cooked. There's tofu. I eat a lot of tofu. You'll like it...It will be all healthy...I like being here with all these different foods.  I like to keep trying to add new healthy foods all the time."
 
DominionMatthew Scully.  Presidential adviser and speechwriter; author of Dominion: The Power of Man the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.  

"It is a terrible thing that religious people today can be so indifferent to the cruelty of the farms, shrugging it off as so much secular, animal rights foolishness.  They above all should hear the call to mercy." (from Dominion)

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