Helping ourselves to health and
peace through a nonviolent diet...one bite at a time
by Nathan Braun
Human use of other animals for food, especially, is no longer
remotely "necessary," if it ever was. Not only is it unnecessary,
but as the recent foot-and- mouth disease scare reminds us - following
as it does the "mad cow" epidemic (which just claimed its 100th
known human victim´s life) - it is often downright hazardous to
our own health and well-being.
Food chain safety is certainly better secured by plant-based
meals, which are generally healthier and reduce risk for several
chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart
disease, and obesity. Not only is food safety and thus human health
improved, but food production capacity leaps when meat is removed
(or even moderately reduced). The simple fact is vegetarian diets
also help feed more people. This potential to feed people has
been widely discussed in the best-selling classics "Diet for a
Small Planet" and "Diet
for a New America." But its reality has often been ignored.
Converting grains to meat wastes fully 80-90 percent of grains'
proteins, 96 percent of their calories, and 100 percent of their
carbohydrates and fibre. But meat's defenders claim world hunger
is the result of political mismanagement and not (just) gluttony.
They don't realize, of course, that increasing vegetarian consciousness
necessarily mobilizes required political resources.
Freeing the resources currently tied up in meat production would
also do wonders for the environment, as substantial natural resources
are committed to this dubious enterprise. For meat production
requires far more energy than plant food production, with the
result that it contributes considerably to land, water, and air
pollution (and consequent ozone depletion and global climate change).
Last but not least, vegetarianism obviously spares many animals
lifetimes of the neglect and mistreatment inherent in modern agriculture´s
intensive "factory farming."
For the good of the planet, the world´s hungry, animals, and
our own health, Christians must move beyond the liberty proclaimed
by Paul (and even exercised by Jesus himself) almost 2000 years
ago. Let's instead help lead the way back to Eden's vegetarian
paradise, as envisioned by the prophet Isaiah, "where the wolf
shall dwell with the lamb...the lion shall eat straw like the
ox...and they shall neither hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain"
(Isaiah 11:6-9, cf. Genesis 1:29-30).
Why not make your next meal animal-free?
Nathan Braun is President of the Christian Vegetarian Association