Ahimsa Grove

Ahimsa Grove is a resource for vegan pagan living. It will include personal experiences and musings, recipes, shopping tips, vegan ethical and dietary considerations, and ideas for pagan practice including spells, rituals, and herbcraft.

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Room for Vegan Paganism within existing traditions

            I have come to think of Vegan Paganism as my own personal form of eclectic Neo-paganism. However, most of us study within or practice within broader traditions. I thought it might be interesting to look at the traditions I have come across that helped me in my eclectic Vegan Paganism. I'm sure readers will identify others.


            What I am exploring here is not just existing veganism, but the philosophical room for veganism; and wherever I have found that other members of any of these groups have identified as veg or vegan. Certainly there are members of each group who are the opposite of vegan. Also, I know there is room for vegans and veganism in many other traditions. These are just some introductory thoughts based upon my own experiences.

Classical/Ancient Paganism:

            Besides Pythagoras, there are numerous examples of ancient Pagans who abstained in some way from animal products for ethical and religious reasons. Many of them were motivated by belief in the transmigration of souls (reincarnation across species). Plutarch, Empedocles, Plotinus, Porphyry, Plato, Ovid, and Appolonius of Tyana are a few examples.          


Wicca is probably the Pagan tradition that we most often equate with the ethic of harmlessness. Other Pagans sometimes choose to embrace the Rede, as well. By the way, “Rede” just means “advice” and can therefore refer to other writings or creeds. But in the context of Wicca, it is almost always referring to “harm none.”

Wicca also includes the concept of Oneness in the wheel of the year, where all life relies upon the web of life. And most Wiccan practitioners include magic (as activism and as personal fulfillment) within their paths.


This is feminist Wicca/Witchcraft that worships only the goddess and has only female sacred spaces/membership. Dianic Wicca is most known for holding women-only rituals, which has drawn much controversy. Yet the tradition was born in a time when patriarchy was even more entrenched, especially in religion. Women-only spaces were especially needed for healing, and so that women could freely speak. At least, that has been the case in the past. How the Dianic tradition evolves in response to our growing understanding of gender and gender identity remains to be seen.

As a feminist tradition, Dianic has always interacted with issues of social justice, environmentalism and activism. Sometimes this has included some consideration of animal rights and plant-based eating.

In “The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries,” Dianic leader Zsuzsanna Budapest included a sub-chapter entitled “Women and Meat.” In it she talked about animal foods and processed foods as belonging to the patriarchy because of the cruelty of factory farming for both animals and the human workers.

In this chapter she says, “Meat is so strongly identified with the worst animal attributes of men, it’s always a wonder to me that feminists still eat meat. There is very little support from society for becoming a vegetarian. But in learning about our bodies and our health, we realize that meat is not essential to our well-being; rather it can be very detrimental to health….” 

Kemetic (Egyptian Neo-paganism):

Kemet refers to the “black land” of the Nile, and evokes the image of bounty and fertility. One of the prime concepts of Kemeticism is Maat, meaning Justice. Maat is both a Goddess and an ethical principle. The scales of justice reflect the goal of balance in lifestyle. I think that this would be the ethical foundation for Kemetic veganism; using Maat to measure our justice toward all life.

There is already a vegetarian aspect to Kemeticism. Clean and optimal diet for personal health and spiritual development are recognized. Plants are meant to be a daily staple, and any animal products are recommended to be a rare addition. One book detailing this type of diet is: Kemetic Diet: Ancient African Wisdom for Health of Mind, Body, & Spirit by Muata Ashby (Cruzian Mystic Books, 2000).

As with other traditions that include Isis and Osiris, Kemeticism can include reference to the stories that Isis and Osiris brought the vegetable crops to humankind and taught us how to eat them. They also apparently taught (or convinced) humans to stop practicing cannibalism. This information is available in the ancient documents called the Isis aretalogies.

Druidry (Celtic):

Druidry is another major Neo-pagan tradition that is informed by the history and cultures of the United Kingdom. It is similar to Wicca in this way, but the two are very different modern traditions, that have been shaped their own leaders and their own interpretations of both past and present.

Druidry is an earth-centric belief system which definitely holds both the ecological and theological concept of Oneness. In this tradition, the divine energy that creates and inspires all life is called Awen. And this commitment to Oneness has already created a Neo-Druid strain of thought and practice that is vegan.

For example, in “Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics,” Emma Restall Orr writes a great deal about vegan ideals, although they aren’t always labeled vegan. This book contains a chapter on animals entitled, “The Value of Nonhuman Animals.”

In this chapter she discusses our relationship with other animals, and the ethical imperative that we must shoulder in order to think deeply about this issue. The asterisk on “Pagan” indicates that she is referring to her own specific definition of the term, which she goes into in her book.

“Literacy and information technology leave few corners of our culture untouched by news of human violence, selfishness and brutality: the notion of human superiority has nowhere to fit within the thinking soul’s patterns of logic. Committing to his religious journey, the *Pagan learns how to deepen his relationships, exploring the connectedness of consciousness within the web of nature; the option to be complicit in the abuse of nonhuman animals disappears.” 


Fellowship of Isis (not self-identified as Pagan, but as multi-faith):

Olivia and Lawrence Robertson, the siblings who basically started the FOI, were very veg-friendly. Lawrence is documented to have been a vegetarian. I am not sure whether Olivia was, but the whole group seems to have served largely vegetarian food at all times when Olivia and Lawrence were writing about daily life. They were friends with the mystic and author who went by New Aeon or Ae.  Also known as George William Russel, he was a vegetarian activist and theosophist in Dublin.

The FOI has a webpage for non-human animals on their site, and allows human members to register their companion animals as members, with them. The “Animal Family of Isis” page includes a blessing for animals. 


Thoughts? Others? Please reply in the comments section. Blessings and peace to all beings. 

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Leslie earned her Master of Divinity Degree at Vanderbilt University and is a Wiccan Priestess, Ordained Interfaith and seeking ordination through the Temple of the Feminine Divine in Bangor. Her column in SageWoman, “Child of Artemis,” deals with women and our relationship with animals. Leslie considers herself a cultural worker, dealing with issues of violence and oppression as they impact humans and other species. She has worked at a rural domestic violence prevention program since 2001 and is a board member on VegME, Maine’s vegan advocacy group.  


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