Easter is regarded as a time of rebirth. We celebrate the wonder of renewal as we watch flowers re-emerge after what seems to be a period of death in winter. We are especially grateful at this time for life and birth.
Easter is a time of symbolism. The Easter lily is a symbol of purity and hope. But any flower is pure, and could signify hope. Any flower blooms. We could just as easily celebrate Easter with daisies. In places where real Easter lilies are not available for Easter, some people use folded paper flowers, plastic flowers, or photographs of flowers in their ceremonies.
Lambs have been associated in religion with Jesus Christ, reflecting the innocence and purity of each of them. But just as any flower is pure, so are all animals innocent and pure. However, unlike flowers, animals are sentient - they feel pain, they experience emotions, they want and deserve to live.
Does it actually make sense to celebrate a holiday that is focused on life, rebirth, renewal and hope by slaughtering innocent animals like lambs, or any other animals for that matter, who do not want nor deserve to die for our rituals?
How does ritually killing and eating lambs or any other animals signify anything but the truth that an animal that humans did not need to eat was slaughtered for something as frivolous as a momentary ceremony?
How can it be ethical to take an entire life to satisfy a tradition that could be easily altered so that no killing at all happens, especially a tradition that centers on life?
In some religious systems, spiritual communion is taken in the form of a cracker or wafer that obviously is not actually made from the body of Christ. It is a symbol. People drink wine, or grape juice, not actual blood, to represent the blood of Christ. Symbols are very much an accepted part of religion.
So why do we continue to cruelly slaughter actual, living, breathing, conscious animals for Easter, or any other holiday, when we could just as easily eat a symbol, an Easter cracker or wafer, that does not involve killing a sentient being who wants to live just as much as we do?
Traditions have existed for a long time. But they can evolve. We ourselves can evolve. We can truly celebrate life, birth and renewal by no longer killing animals, by not invoking death, by not eating gruesomely slain bodies of innocents. We can be vegan, and our holidays as well as our everyday choices can reflect a true reverence for life in our food and lifestyle choices.
We can evolve and find ways to express our spirituality that do not involve killing.
The photo for this meme was taken by vegan activist Pamstar Newton, who was given an opportunity by a local sheep farmer in Australia to adopt and care for these two adorable lambs, whom she named Freedom and Joy.
They are dorper sheep, whose wool coats remain light and naturally shed in spring and summer. Dorper sheep are typically raised as meat and for using their skin as sheepskin products. But these two little lambs, these two sensitive, intelligent beings, with an innate zest for living, were nothing more than financial liabilities to the farmer who bred them - sadly, Freedom's mother rejected him at birth and Joy's mother died when Joy was born. Due to their delicate states at birth, Freedom and Joy would have been discarded as trash by the farmer, left to die, not worth the extra time and effort it would have taken to raise them.
Thankfully Pamstar said an enthusiastic YES when asked if she would like to adopt them. Their names, Freedom and Joy are so apt - freedom and joy indeed, in the form of having a safe place to live their entire natural lives, to freely roam on Pamstar's property, to experience the joy of being cared for and loved, just like all animals deserve.
This is a story of true redemption, of real hope, of love and renewal. This is a real Easter story.
See more photos of Freedom and Joy as they grow up on their Facebook page.
Check out these enticing plant-based Easter recipes.
Learn how to be vegan using these Go Vegan Resources.
Pamstar Newton - photo of lambs Freedom and Joy