Other holidays do too, but the more dominant emotion that both Thanksgiving and Christmas evoke for me, for example, is sadness. Sadness at the senseless slaughter of all those sentient beings who would rather stay alive. Who so deserve to stay alive.
Easter, on the other hand, being such an important Christian holiday, stirs up more anger in me not only because animal beings and products are the theme of this equally secular holiday, but because of the Christian justification of animal use. This justification hits even more close to home as all of my siblings and parents are active church members, I currently work in a Christian retirement home, and live in a small town with a seemingly disproportionately large and vocal Christian population.
This isn't to say that I'm anti-Christian per se. Religious upbringing (indoctrination some would say) can be hard to shake, and I believe that being vegan is the Christian thing to do. (In my opinion, you can be vegan without being Christian, but you can't be a true Christian without also being vegan. Otherwise, it would render the term "Christian" empty and meaningless.) It isn't to say that Christianity doesn't have lots of doctrine that supports veganism. Christ himself, I believe, (whether you view him as a once living or mythical figure) was vegan at heart, and would be vegan if he were alive today. And it isn't to say that I don't know of some very fine vegan Christians.
But the fact of the matter is that most Christians aren't vegan, the Bible does not explicitly endorse veganism enough, and Christian teachings are actively misused to justify animal exploitation. The word dominion, for example, has been bastardized to mean domination instead of stewardship. And if ANY group of people could be thought of as having a mandate to care for all of God's creation (if you happen to believe in any of the various forms of creationism), wouldn't it be Christians? Secular vegans rightly believe that all sentient beings are worthy of respect, that caring for them is the ethical thing to do, the morally right stance if you will. But Christians, one would think, would have an even deeper reason to not use and abuse any living creature if they truly believed that God loves all. Sadly, most Christians do not adhere to this. And in a sense, I believe this makes animal cruelty all the crueler and morally wrong when inflicted by a person who espouses to being Christian.
On a more personal level, it irritates me that my Christian family has no real interest in why I'm vegan. They're all smart, so unfortunately I can't lay the blame on them not being bright enough to grasp vegan principles. And while it's possible (okay, likely) that I'm hugely projecting here, I sometimes get the sense that while they're a bit sad I'm not "saved", they're actually quite pleased with themselves for tolerating my "vegan lifestyle" and for not saying too much about it. Actually, for the most part, not anything. In this way, they can view themselves as liberal without having to examine their own morals and their own role in perpetuating animal violence. Can you tell this bugs me? Because a part of me feels that if they truly thought I was an intelligent and moral person, they would actually listen to what I have to say. Ah, family dynamics. No wonder so many vegan organizations suggest concentrating on strangers rather than family!
Another aspect of Christianity and veganism is that on a certain level I think Christians are even harder to reach than folk who aren't religious. Because while you would think the Golden Rule would hold even more weight with those religiously inclined, Christians in particular seem to feel that their god has given them permission to do whatever the fuck they want with animals use and abuse other animals as they see fit. It's almost as if you have to do an extra layer of work: No, the cruelty and death we inflict on other sentient beings is wrong, no, we don't have the right to do that, AND no, we don't have God's permission to do so.
Where I stand on animal sentience and rights is pretty clear to me. Not so clear is Christianity. Having been immersed since birth (similar to how society immerses us in trying to accept animal use/abuse as normal), I still want to accept the good of this religion while rejecting the bad. I remember as a small kid arguing with my mom that if God was perfect and just then of course Jews and Muslims would be going to heaven as well, in large part because I think kids naturally have a strong and innate sense of justice. By the time I was twelve I vacillated between thinking I'd be a church minister when I got older, or an atheist. Talk about all or nothing, snort. Instead, I've been on the believer-agnostic-atheist circular loop numerous times, and that will likely not change. Which is fine, because ultimately what you DO is more important than what you say or believe.
I still believe that the Christ figure (whether real or mythical), was a fine dude and a social revolutionary of his time. An early feminist (he believed women could be teachers, and working women, even prostitutes, were not untouchable), animal liberator (that whole Temple thing), and champion of the poor and downtrodden. I often quip that I get along with Jesus just fine, but that it's his dad I have issues with. And would give a real piece of my mind to, if, um, given that chance.
Anyway, thanks for listening to my Easter rant. Please hug a bunny if you can this weekend, or donate to a rescue organization that provides homes to these fellow beings.
A peaceful and blessed Easter to you all! :)