Do you have to be a vegan if you can be a vegan?

Is it wrong to use animals for food when vegan alternatives are available? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2418) says, “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly.” Don’t animals die needlessly if they are kill for food when vegan alternatives are available?

The Catechism also states:

God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives (CCC 2417, emphasis added).

Taken as a whole, the Catechism upholds the right of man to use animals for food and for other appropriate purposes. That does not mean that man may use animals in any way he wishes though. Prudence and temperance should govern the stewardship of animals. Right use of prudence and temperance might therefore indicate that practices that cause animals even more suffering than is necessary to obtain food (such as veal or p**âté de foie gras) should be reconsidered.

But, to answer your question, no. Catholics are not required to become vegans, even in areas where it is reasonably possible for them to do so. Catholics may choose to become vegans if they wish, but Catholics who are vegan should take care not to try to bind the consciences of other Catholics where the Church does not.

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