One of the unfortunate realities of Seventh-day Adventist’s emphasis on health is that we, far too often, approach it from an egocentric agenda. This manifests itself in a number of different ways, but the net result is that we speak out very little against the cruelty that is inflicted upon animals for the sake of a good meal.
This should not be the case. Adventists should be at the forefront of the movement that urges proper treatment of animals. Though we should not partake in some of the unethical methods of PETA, we should certainly do all we can in our power to promote the wellbeing of all of God’s creatures. This alone, I believe, is reason enough to eliminate meat from our diets.
Certainly Ellen White thought so. And this is probably lost far too often when we examine her writings in relation to flesh foods. Notice what she says, for example, in The Ministry of Healing:
Animals are often transported long distances and subjected to great suffering in reaching a market. Taken from the green pastures, and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty roads, or crowded into filthy cars, feverish and exhausted, often for many hours deprived of food and water, the poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the carcasses. . . .
Think of the cruelty to animals that 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 these creatures of God!
The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals [dumb, in her day, did not have the same connotation it does today. She simply meant “mute, silent; not speaking”] approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer. They use their organs far more faithfully than many human being use theirs. They manifest sympathy and tenderness toward their companions in suffering. Many animals show an affection for those who have charge of them, far superior to the affection shown by some of the human race. They form attachments for man which are not broken without great suffering to them.
What man with a human heart, who has ever cared for domestic animals, could look into their eyes, so full of confidence and affection, and willingly give them over to the butcher’s knife? How could he devour their flesh as a sweet morsel? (pp. 314, 315-316)
No, Ellen White probably wouldn’t be a part of PETA today, or condone their behavior in lot of situations, but she would certainly do all that she could to promote the ethical treatment of these creatures. And we should do the same – even if she had never said anything to that end.