Students for Compassionate Living raises awareness for animal welfare


Photo courtesy Students for Compassionate Living

As the season of spring comes full circle in Grand Rapids, Students for Compassionate Living (SCL) are continually raising awareness on campus of the value of creation, which we are sweetly reminded of during this season of renewal.

SCL seeks, as a group, to educate and provide support for those who strive to redeem fallen structures as they explore issues regarding animal welfare.

While advocating for the well-being of all animals as compassionate Christians, SCL holds numerous educational events both on and off campus such as workshops, films, speakers, dinners and weekly meetings throughout the year.

Most recently, SCL screened the well-known documentary “Forks Over Knives,” which takes an honest look into the health implications that come along with eating animal products and how many diseases, which have taken toll on humans, can be reversed by a plant-based diet.

As things stand right now, the United States has incredibly high cancer rates in comparison to countries such as Kenya and Japan. Through numerous studies, these high cancer rates can clearly be traced back to our overindulgence in animal products.

As fast food options increased in the 1950s, the numbers of deaths caused by cancer increased tremendously.

Consuming animal-based products not only takes a toll on our bodies, according to “Forks Over Knives.” “It takes over 10 times the amount of energy from fossil fuels to produce a calorie of animal-based food than it does to produce a calorie of plant-based food.”

Briella Cumings, president of SCL, poses the question, “When we treat animals and creation poorly, what does that say about our species? That we can violently dominate God’s creation? I am pretty sure that is not what God intended when he called us to be good stewards of the world.”

Cumings, a senior public health major and vegetarian of five years, says she has noticed many significant benefits to abiding by a plant-based diet. These benefits include an increased sense of energy, better sleeping patterns and a more optimistic mood.

This June, Cumings will move to Washington D.C. in order to join the Humane Society of the United States Farm Animal Protection and exercise her passions for animal well-being and holistic health.

Through participating with SCL and doing her own research, Cumings says her work experiences “have allowed [her] to spend a significant amount of time around animals.”

She continued: “I have observed them, loved them and come to understand them. I believe animals have personalities, feelings and a need/desire for a holistic life including natural habitats, healthy food and socialization. They can suffer and hurt. They care for their young. They build relationships with humans and vice versa. I have no desire to eat them. It’s always striking to me when people completely disregard these facts.”

On May 4, Students for Compassionate Living will be hosting a vegan taste testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the library lobby to not only let the student body try some tasty plant-based food, but also to raise awareness about how a vegan diet benefits animals, people and the environment.