The Fellowship of Life
From ChurchTimes.co.uk, February 2012
AT LEAST four bishops are to give up meat for Lent in order to draw attention to global problems caused by its over-consumption.
The Bishops of Oxford, Monmouth, and Chelmsford, and the former Bishop of Dover are all meat-eaters, but they have been asked to give up meat by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (ASWA), which, for the first time, is actively encouraging its members to give up meat for Lent.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, said that meat was a “spiritual issue”. He would not find it easy to give it up, he said, but his wife has been preparing him gradually by cooking vegetarian dishes.
“Our consumption of meat is reaching dangerous levels,” he said, “and, as countries like China continue to develop fast, it is only set to continue. We need to have more meat-free days. I hope that at the end of Lent I’ll be able to make a more permanent change to eating less meat.”
The Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Dominic Walker, is the president of ASWA. “Lent is a good time to think and pray about how we treat God’s world, and the damage caused by today’s exploding and unsustainable demand for meat,” he said.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “What I find intolerable and unsupportable is the way we rob factory-farmed animals of anything resembling a normal life, in order to furnish ourselves with . . . cheap meat.”
ASWA’s chairman, the Rt Revd Richard Llewellin, formerly Bishop of Dover, sees his Lenten meat-fast as the start of a low-meat diet: “I am increasingly aware of compelling ‘eat less meat’ arguments from so many directions — environment, health, world food-shortage, animal suffering.”
An adviser to the World Health Organisation, Professor Tim Lang, has said that meat should be reserved only for “feast days”. “Let’s go back to where culture has been for thousands of years, which is, meat is an exception.”
Many ASWA members are not vegetarians. The Society has urged them, however, to consider the consequences of increasing world meat-consumption, as developing nations such as China adopt Western diets.
The amount of meat that people eat has doubled over the past 40 years, and its consumption has been linked to climate change and obesity.
In the ring. In the US, the Rector of St Mark’s, Houston, Texas, took up boxing in Lent 2007, and has continued ever since. “Instead of giving something up, I took something on,” he says. “Boxing is violent. You’re hurting other people, trying to knock them out. But I’ve found the boxing gym to be a wisdom place.”
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