Newsletter from Animal Writes sm
From 6 October 2002 Issue

Submitted by [email protected]

GodSquad is column in Newsday, a big circulation newspaper in Long Island New York, as well as boroughs of NYC. They also have a cable tv show on Telecare Tv on Long Island, GodSquad is Jewish Rabbi -Marc Gellman and Catholic Priest Msgr.Thomas Hartman. They have an advice column in Newsday, in which the following column appeared on 9/23/02.

Q. My daughter has become a vegetarian. She thinks this is a spiritually correct diet. Can you tell me the religious significance of vegetarianism?

A. Animals feel pain, are often raised and killed in tortuous environments and use massive amounts of grain that could feed people. Animal fats also are a cause of obesity and heart disease. The basic spiritual teaching of all faiths is that it is a religious virtue to eat things that do not feel pain when they are killed. Buddhists, Jains, Taoists and post-Vedic Hindus are very strict in this view and command adherents to be vegetarians.

The Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all allow the eating of meat because animals are not considered to have souls.

However, all three faiths have many teachings that point followers toward vegetarianism as a higher, healthier and more spiritually advanced diet, and Catholics have days of abstinence such as Lent when they do not eat meat. The biblical texts on this subject are interesting. Adam and Eve are given permission to eat only fruits and vegetables in the Garden of Eden: "See I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit. They shall be yours for food" (Genesis 1:29).

The first permission to eat meat in the Bible does not come until the ninth chapter of Genesis, after the flood. However, in the passages allowing Noah to eat meat the limitations are clear: The meat must first be drained of all its blood (orthodox Jews fulfill this by salting all meat to leech out any trace of blood), and Noah is told that there will be blood reckoning for all blood we shed, animal or human.

Then a connection is made to murder: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man will his blood be shed" (verse 6). The idea that seeing blood pouring from the animal that will be our lunch might harden our hearts to the image of blood pouring from our victims is a clear spiritual caution to try to eat the way Adam and Eve did."

Contact the God Squad:
c/o Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250,
or at [email protected].

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