Vegetarian Christians

OK – so I’m finally getting around to talking about vegetarians . . . and I find that I don’t really know much about the subject, and that it really isn’t something I think I’ll get too passionate about one way or the other. Having said that, I do have a few thoughts on the subject:

1. We can’t look to Jesus and say “we should eat only meat” or “we should eat only vegetables.” The Gospels really don’t go into Jesus’ dietary requirements, and where they do there is no subtext that says “only eat what Jesus ate.” . . . Though as I say this, I’m envisioning a whole new campaign: WWJE: What Would Jesus Eat? πŸ™‚

2. The few dietary norms found in the rest of the New Testament are prescriptive: drink a little wine at night to aid digestion, etc. The one place where it talks about eating/not eating meat, the discussion is in the context of eating meat offered to idols/false gods. A dietary commandment it is not πŸ™‚

3. I perused PETA’s website and supplementary materials. I know they don’t have the most sterling reputation, but I was disturbed at what I learned about animal treatment, especially chickens, pigs and cows (our main sources of meat here in the US). I learned that many of them are abused, neglected, and in conditions that are less than sanitary and less than charitable. Even though I don’t see animals as “other humans,” I think the treatment of many of them, in the single-minded pursuit of greater profit margins, is inexcusable. The slight nudge that I may make because of that is to look for more products that come from well-treated animals (free range chickens and eggs, for example) to help support those businesses that don’t mistreat their animals. The cost is a bit more (I’ve discovered that free-range eggs cost twice as much as normal eggs!), but my conscience rests a bit easier. πŸ™‚

4. After perusing PETA’s website and other vegan web sites, it almost seems like becoming a vegetarian is a conversion to another faith – some of the web sites were very . . . devotional in their tone and approach to the subject of diet. While I acknowledge that eating more grains and veggies is good, I still think that as omnivores we are allowed the occasional BBQ. πŸ™‚

So my conclusion? Eat more veggies, fruits and grains, and maybe try to look at where your meat is coming from. But having to be meatless? Not a fundamental Christian practice . . . and thank God for that! – I do love my fajitas! πŸ™‚

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo

12 thoughts on “Vegetarian Christians

  1. Kc says:

    W.C. I can appreciate anyone who follows his or her own conscience and in no way do I condemn your choice, however I do question the reasoning you cited for the moral judgment. Were I to apply that reasoning to the β€œproblem” of death then could I conclude that being born is the cause, therefore the moral and Christian thing to do is refuse to procreate?

  2. Hugo says:

    You brin g up a good point . . . as I mentioned my wife are trying to move towards more free-range, organic stuff . . . but we won;’t totally cut out meat – it does bring us pleasure to eat, BBQ, etc. I think that our economic system, which is so focused on profits, has much to do with thsi as well . . . if it wasn’t profitable, no one would be doing it.

    Blessings & Peace,
    Hugo

  3. Hugo says:

    Anonymous: Ignorance can seem liek bliss . . . what’s the quote I’m looking for . . . “ignorance of the law does not excuse breaking the law” (or something like that)

    Pat: Concerning pigs, Chs 10 & 11 of Acts tell us that from a ritual perspective (cleanliness and incleanliness) there is no food that is considered “unclean” or “profane” any longer. Even meat sacrificed to idols was fine, as long as the Christian eating it did not scandalize anyone else that might be watching.

    Concerning curelty to animals, I don’t go for the mindset that says we shouldn’t eat animals. However, I do think that the treatment of animals can become an ethical concern. We have law enforcement divisions that look into cases of animal abuse. However, since it’s big business and since we have to have our chicken nuggets and processed burgers, we look the other way to the cruelty & torture that some animals are put through.

    Being stewards of creations necessarily entails *good* stewardship, and I think one of the signs of good stewardship would be that cruelty against our four-footed brothers and sisters (to paraphrase a Native American Indian quote I read once) was a thing of the past.

    Finally, the Catholic church teaches that while animals have souls they are not the same as human souls, i.e. they do not survive death. I choose to ignore that teaching. πŸ™‚ I think that when God creates a new heaven and a new earth and the end of time, we will have our beloved animal companions with us. πŸ™‚

    Blessings & Peace,
    Hugo

  4. Pat Ridenour says:

    I am not quite sure that we don’t have some good commentary on what not to eat in the book of Isaiah. Throughout scripture, you see the blatant reference to pigs not supposed to be eaten. Jesus sends the demons into the pigs, which is not so blatant, but it is indicative of what I see as a pervasive theme throughout scripture. Pigs are seen as unclean and filthy animals, but lets think more along the lines of what their meat does to us. God was looking out for us from the very beginning in Isaiah, knowing the meat of pigs is very dangerous for us to eat from a health perspective. I would stay away from pigs, if not from a commandment standpoint at least from a precept standpoint with health ramifications.

    As for the cruelty to animals argument, always remember that we were given dominion over animals from the beginning. No sacrifice was ever deemed unrighteous except those that were done in the wrong manner. God intended that we continually kill and eat. And by the way, according to Acts 10, all dogs do go to heaven. πŸ™‚

  5. Hugo says:

    I;m not th emost politically-active person, and I’ve never attended a politicol convention, but I saw the movie The Manchurian Candidate. The scenes where th epolitical candidates entered the arena and the people went wild . . . it seemed like worship to me! πŸ™‚

    So I agree that many people are looking for something to worship . . . the problem comes in when we worship something created instead of the Creator.

    And regarding the plight of chickens . . . my wife doesn’t want to eat chicken anymore . . . so much for my son’s Happy Meal addiction! πŸ™‚

    Blessings & Peace,
    Hugo

  6. Matt says:

    You hit the nail on the head regarding vegan religious devotion! When I lived in San Francisco I had to weave through masses of them on at least a weekly basis with their “Murder King” signs in front of Burger King. My favorite sign that they had was a Gandhi quote “The deadliest weapon on Earth is the table fork.”

    I wonder how many in the politically-minded crowd spent some of their remaining time complaining about “religious fanatics” Hmmmm, the irony…

    I completely agree with concerns over mass food production techniques though- it’s disgusting.

  7. Hugo says:

    Thanks to all three of you for stopping by.

    KC: I’ll take all the votes you can throw my way! πŸ™‚ I hadn’t taken it to that logical conclusion (that everyone seems to want something to beleive in), but it sparked a thought I’ll make into a new entry – thanks! : -)

    Pecheur: Yeah – I was appalled (sp) at the way those animals are treated – new born chicks in many chicken farms have their beaks sliced off with hot knives so that they won’t peck each other to death in their pens – they peck becasue in the wild they form natural hierarchies (literally pecking orders) and in captivity they can’t even tutn their whole bodies around – shocking stuff for me to read.

    Gabe: Glad the info on the Pope was informative – I know I did, and my students did as well . . . it’s amazing how much more focused I became on the papcy during these last few weeks – I’m learning, too! πŸ™‚

    And like I mentioned, I like fajitas much too much to give up meat altogether, though my conscience is safe – I tend to buy my BBQ’ing meat from a local meat market – fresh meat, humanely slaughtered, right in front of you if you catch them @ the right time! πŸ™‚

    Blessings & PEace,
    Hugo

  8. Gabe says:

    Hugo,

    Great posts recently, I appreciate your insider perspective on the new pope — very informative for curious minds like myself.

    I actually wrote 15 page paper about this very subject in my undergrad carreer. Really the only Christian/biblical argument I could find for becoming a vegetarian was your point 3 and the charge that God has given us to be stewards of His creation. Is how we treat animals for the mass production of meat being good stewards? I would have to say no, should this cause me as a disciple to abandon eating meat entirely — I think it is a matter of conscience.

    Go

  9. pecheur says:

    Thanks for stopping by. not a lot of time here, but interesting observations.

    And about the PETA’s animal for food program. I used to work in cancer research lab and we always said what we did was more humane than the food industry.

    Ciao.

  10. Kc says:

    Brother Hugo your reasonable approach to today’s questions may not win you the coveted Blog of the year award but you can count on my vote for what it’s worth.

    Your observation on the devotion and conviction that the fur fighters exhibit seems popular among many of the right to rights groups. It seems so many people are struggling to find something to believe in.

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