My Pilgrimage: Dance Lightly With the Living Earth
From Animal Rights Activism Articles Archive


Dr. Elizabeth Farians as posted on Peaceable Table
July 2018

Some time later, someone came to our meeting and explained the terrible suffering at our hands of the animals we ate. I can’t understand how I and the others did not realize this ourselves; how could we have been so obtuse?

Elizabeth was born in 1923 and died in 2013. Elizabeth wrote this article in 2010...

I grew up eating animals, like most people in our culture. But my father was a great man with a great heart; he taught me compassion. He said: “Do not eat in front of the animals. Always feed them first and then you yourself can eat.” For this I am eternally grateful.

My first steps in working for animals took place in Cincinnati, where a group of us formed an organization called “ARC,” Animal Rights Community. After Peter Singer's phenomenal book Animal Liberation appeared in 1975, we tried to organize on the national and state levels, but failing that, focused on working locally. We concentrated on the fur issue; the leg-hold trap, that sickening, barbaric practice, was still legal in Ohio. I can vividly remember picketing fur stores in downtown Cincinnati (there were no malls yet). There we stood at Seventh and Race streets by the seven-story Shillito Department store, which took up a whole block, handing out the hard-to-mimeograph, anti-fur flyers--this was before Xerox. People here took them without comment, but at a popular fur store in one of the suburbs, some people got angry after reading them, and came back to argue.

Some time later, someone came to our meeting and explained the terrible suffering at our hands of the animals we ate. I can’t understand how I and the others did not realize this ourselves; how could we have been so obtuse? I became vegetarian on the spot, but with great sorrow for the suffering I had caused the animals until then. A short time later we came to realize the whole connection of dairy and eggs as well, and again I became vegan immediately. I had never eaten much meat, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a steak; my family couldn’t afford meat, only maybe in vegetable stew or meatloaf. But I did drink a lot of milk, and the dairy industry causes even more pain to the animals before they are killed and eaten anyway. But now when someone asks how long I’ve been vegan and I say "more than thirty years," I sorrowfully have to remind myself that, [now] being eighty-seven years old, I ate meat for more than fifty years. There is no credit here.

Since we started ARC I have been an animal rights activist doing whatever I possibly could to help the animals. Among the more unusual things: to start a class on animal theology at Xavier University, to work with the National Organization for Women to get the members to see the feminist connection between the oppression of women and oppression of animals in a patriarchal society, and to try to influence the members of the Catholic Theological Society of America to get theologians to begin to deal with the animal issue. I already had an “in” with these groups, which enabled me to work with them. These efforts are ongoing. We are trying to find ways to extend the tenure of the animal group in the Theological Society by writing articles to present to other groups and to seek a way to win a place as an "invited" group in the new convention. In November I hope to attend the NOW State Conference in Columbus, Ohio. In the meantime I hope to get a committee together to rent a booth and distribute literature emphasizing the connection between the oppression of animals and the oppression of women, and show videos. . .

When I go out I always wear a vegan-oriented button on my collar. As people strain to read the button they ask, “Oh, so you’re a vegetarian?” I reply, “Yes, aren’t you?” They usually say, “Oh, I just eat a little chicken and fish.” I say something about what that involves, such as what a painful death suffocation is for the fish, and offer them a pamphlet on the subject. I like “Compassionate Choices,” a Vegan Outreach publication. Usually they are glad to take the pamphlet because they feared they were about to get a sermon about how bad they are to eat any animal! So our brief conversation ends cordially and the word has been spread.

The heart of our message is that we are made to love; it is our deepest nature. Compassion is the act of love, the way love expresses itself.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.

Elizabeth Farians, a pioneer female theologian, labored diligently for the oppressed all her adult life, including extensive work not only for animals but for racial justice, just peace, and to abolish the death penalty. For an essay summarizing her career, visit

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