Vegetarianism as Stewardship
Christians are becoming vegetarian for several inter-related reasons:
- Vegetarian diets are excellent for health.
Many Christians choose vegetarianism for its health benefits,
which have been recognized by various dietetic and other medical
organizations. Vegetarians have reduced rates of heart disease,
obesity, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.
For a review of the health advantages of a meat-free diet,
Diets -- Position of the ADA [American Dietetic Association]
The Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine publishes useful resources, as does
Hallelujah Acres, a Christian
health ministry founded by George Malkmus.
In addition, numerous respected physicians, such as Drs. Charles
Atwood, John McDougall, and Dean Ornish, and dieticians such
as Mark and Virginia Messina, Brenda Davis, and Vesanto Melina,
have advocated the diet.
- Vegetarian diets are better for the environment.
Plant-based diets generally consume far less resources.
Christians who care about Creation will consider eating lower
on the food chain, since raising animals for food contributes
substantially to rainforest depletion and greenhouse gas emissions
that cause global warming. Intensive animal agriculture causes
water pollution, topsoil depletion, and soil degradation, while
plant-based diets generally require far less resources. For more
details, see GoVeg.com (see "Think
You Can Be a Meat-Eating Environmentalist?), EarthSave.org,
and E Magazine's cover story "So
You're an Environmentalist? Why aren't you a vegetarian?"
Worldwatch editor Ed Ayers' article
in Time Magazine argued that environmental concerns
will encourage vegetarianism in the 22nd Century.
- Vegetarian diets help feed the world's hungry.
While many millions die of hunger annually and many more suffer
malnutrition, worldwide one-third of all grain is fed to animals
being raised for slaughter; in the U.S., the proportion is nearly
three-fourths. Converting grains to meat wastes about 90% of grains'
proteins, 96% of their calories, and 100% of their carbohydrates
and fiber (Keith Akers, A Vegetarian Sourcebook).
- Vegetarian diets spare animals from misery on today's factory
Modern intensive animal agriculture commits animals to repeated
and prolonged pain and suffering.
Animals suffer greatly from stressful crowding, barren environments
that frustrate their instinctive drives, and manipulations without
anesthesia, such as debeaking chicks, cutting off pigs' tails,
and castrating and branding cattle (Erik Marcus, Vegan:
The New Ethics of Eating - now available as a
free download in PDF format).
Farmers routinely use antibiotics to prevent infections in
crowded, stressed animals, and this promotes dangerous antibiotic-resistance
among bacteria. You can prevent infections by cooking meat,
but this generates cancer-causing heterocyclic amines. Farmers
also add hormones, harmful to human health, to stimulate excessive
muscle development in animals, causing painful lameness. Slaughter
typically involves terror and, often, great pain (Gail Eisnitz,
- Vegetarian diets typically feel excellent,
enhancing one's sense of well being and increasing one's exposure
to a wide range of healthy, great-tasting food.
Vegetarians generally relate that they feel better. They often
lose weight, and they frequently feel lighter, healthier, and
sexier. Many report that their menu has broadened in new and
- Vegetarian diets express a faith in the reconciliation of
all Creation to God's original intentions.
Scripture foresees that the vegetarian diet of the Garden of Eden
(Gen 1:29-30) will be restored with the coming of the Peaceable
Kingdom (Isa 11:6-9; 65:17-25).
information, see Is God a Vegetarian? by Richard Alan
Young and Good Eating by Dr. Stephen Webb, which are accessible
to biblically oriented lay readers and pastors. More scholarly works
include Animal Gospel by Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey and On
God and Dogs by Dr. Webb.
For more information, seeWhat Would Jesus Eat...Today? (http://www.christianveg.com/wwje.htm)