The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973

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Letters
Licence to Kill?

The following excerpts from letters which "swamped the editorial office" of the Vegetarian Society were published in The Vegetarian (February 1976) - in response to a letter in the January edition:

When Miss Martin quotes the Bible as upholding man's right to kill, and slaughtering as being the will of God (provided it is done humanely), I can only presume that she has engaged in the unfortunate practice of choosing a sentence that suits her and robbing it of its context. If so this is a dangerous and dishonest thing to do.

The Bible is not only a vast history but also contains 613 precepts which formed the Hebrew Law. Every sentence must be correlated to the remainder and it is obvious from her comments that she has not done this.

Genesis contains all the origins on which all subsequent writings must be based, and your correspondent might like to consider that a vegetarian diet for man is commanded in detailed and absolute terms. Dominion over the animals has been clearly interpreted as meaning guardianship with the right to use their labour with the same protection as is given an employee but without the right to kill. Nowhere is there any reference to humane killing. This is a contradiction in terms, but there is a definite command "Thou shalt not kill."

The reference to starvation in India is also based on a misconception. Many of the sacred cows forage for themselves and the milk yield gives a great measure of nourishment to the Indian population. In addition the bull calves provide the 300 million oxen vital to transport in India, and without which the import of machines and oil would bring chaos to an already serious balance of payments problem. India produces more food than she needs but lack of expertise in conservation, and the export of grain for foreign exchange are the two prime causes of starvation. The Eastern races export sufficient grain to feed about 900 million people, but which goes to sustaining the unnaturally begotten herds which provide the flesh which Miss Martin feels she must eat. She should be aware that every time she consumes such flesh she is directly responsible for playing a part in bringing about the death by starvation of another individual.

Philip L. Pick

Hon. Life President,

The Jewish Vegetarian Society

Miss Martin is a Christian but what she promulgates is certainly not Christian. Nor is it wholly Judaism, but derives from paganism. Moreover the greatest of the prophets was almost certainly an Essene and it would obviously be entirely out of character for those healing hands to take a knife and slit the throat of a lamb - or to eat a corpse and thus condone the action by another. Jesus was no hypocrite!

Let Miss Martin consider carefully the splendid letter by a modern Jew, Bob Pinkus, in the same issue ('Overkill'). God is love and by no means upholds man's unnecessary slaughter of his fellow creatures. Love, like peace, is indivisible.

Ronald Heffer

I too am a Christian and a Bible reader. I should like to point out that we are told quite clearly that we are given the herbs of the field for food in Genesis chapter 1. Self sacrifice is a Christian law of life, not sacrifice of defenceless creatures. There is no necessity and no excuse for flesh-eating.

Teresea Limmington

It is hardly surprising that your Christian correspondent, T. Martin, and others like her should claim that the Bible upholds man's right to slaughter animals for food, when the clergy do nothing to dispel that delusion. True, the Old Testament priests were anxious to perpetuate pagan rites which developed into a lucrative trade with edible perks. But the prophets showed greater vision - "I would have mercy and not sacrifice, saith the Lord." Are our present priesthood less courageous than the prophets and afraid to proclaim the truth? Once again, they attempt to compromise.

Mary Beaumont

Apart from meeting her references to the Bible and religion - the argument for the carnivorous habit in man is, essentially, a matter of palate not of dietary necessity in the days of ample alternative sources of nutrition. Miss Martin gives the will of God as justification of the carnivorous habit - the real one, I think, is anything I like to eat I will eat, at any price.

Roy Bainbridge.

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