Does Unity Require Vegetarianism?
Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were avid believers in abstaining from eating animals. They began to express their views regarding vegetarianism as early as 1903, and in 1905, they opened the Unity Inn in downtown Kansas City, Missouri—one of the largest vegetarian cafeterias in the world.
When Charles Fillmore wrote the statement of faith for Unity in 1921, he included this item: “We believe that all life is sacred and that man should not kill nor be a party to the killing of animals for food; also that cruelty, war, and wanton destruction of human life will continue as long as men kill animals for food.”
While our vegetarian heritage cannot be overlooked, Unity World Headquarters places more importance on free will and making one’s own conscious choices.
Abstaining from eating meat was an important teaching throughout the years of the Fillmores’ ministry, and Charles wrote prolifically about it as a spiritual practice.
The 1915 “The Vegetarian” column in Weekly Unity explains, “Hundreds of thousands of people … are vegetarians, some through religious feelings, some because their doctors prohibit flesh, some through sentiment. There are a few who have ceased eating flesh because they have found that it is not in harmony with spiritual development. This is the stand of Unity.”
Do You Have to Be a Vegetarian to Follow Unity?
Although many Unity followers share the view that a vegetarian diet aids spiritual growth, this is not the case for everyone. Not all the Fillmores’ three sons remained vegetarian. Nor were the Fillmores vegan. At Unity Farm, now Unity Village, they kept chickens for eggs and cows and goats for milk.
While our vegetarian heritage cannot be overlooked, Unity World Headquarters places more importance on free will and making one’s own conscious choices. It’s largely believed that this is why vegetarianism—as well as a statement regarding “purity and control of sex”—were removed from the statement of faith in 1939.
Charles Fillmore said at the time, “Diet is not of primal importance in Unity’s interpretation of Christianity; consequently no one is ostracized or condemned because he does not conform to the vegetarian diet.”
What Does Unity Teach?
The Unity movement prides itself on being a global, inclusive spiritual community that honors the spiritual journey of each individual.
In Jesus Christ Heals, Fillmore wrote, “As man develops … behold him arriving at a place in his evolution where he realizes his power of self-determination and consciously begins to choose as his own field of action the many pleasant activities of the universe and to combine them in his own way.”
The most profound of Unity tenets and practices is to accept people where they are without judgment as they discover their own divinity. The Unity commitment is to pray, educate, and provide transformational materials to help people find their own path to evolution, compassion, and wellness by understanding that we all are interconnected.
Both vegetarians and meat eaters can agree that the treatment of animals in food production—particularly in the United States—absolutely needs to be changed. However, Unity would encourage compassion for meat eaters as well as animals, honoring our teaching that all beings are divine.
Why Is Meat Served at Unity Village?
In addition to Unity followers, Unity Village welcomes wedding parties, corporate events, and other guests. Therefore, Unity offers food choices that appeal to the wide array of visitors to our campus. We honor our heritage by offering excellent vegetarian and vegan selections, but there are also options for those who do eat meat.