Today, on this national holiday that we honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I urge you to extend Dr. King’s call for peace and nonviolence to your plates (if you aren’t already). You'll be in good company. Coretta Scott King extended her life’s work of promoting nonviolence to include becoming a vegan in her later years.
She was inspired by the veganism of their son, Dexter King, who has stated:
Veganism has given me a higher level of awareness and spirituality, primary because the energy associated with eating has shifted to other areas…If you’re violent to yourself by putting [harmful] things into your body that violate its spirit, it will be difficult not to perpetuate that [violence] onto someone else.”
Dexter King was introduced to veganism by human rights activist and humorist Dick Gregory (who was also my inspiration). Gregory had become a vegetarian in 1965 based on the philosophy of nonviolence practiced during the Civil Rights Movement, which he extended to the treatment of animals.
In his memoir, Callus on My Soul, Dick Gregory wrote:
“I had been a participant in all of the ‘major’ and most of the ‘minor’ civil rights demonstrations of the early sixties. Under the leadership of Dr. King, I became totally committed to nonviolence, and I was convinced that nonviolence meant opposition to killing in any form. I felt the commandment ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other—war, lynching, assassination, murder and the like—but in their practice of killing animals for food and sport. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and brutal taking of life.”
Like Dick Gregory, I extended my veganism to express compassion and nonviolence toward animals by not wearing their skin or hair nearly 20 years ago.
We are all connected.
So, on this national holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I encourage you to extend his call for peace to your plate today and beyond.
How are you continuing King's legacy? Let us know in the comments below.