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


'Catholic Times' letters (1996)

Vegetarian case wilts when it's put to the Bible test (x3)

In Viewpoint, Gerald Denley, who claims to be one of 'we Catholics who read the Bible', quotes Genesis 2:29 to support his claim that we should all be vegetarians.

Had he read further, he would have discovered God's instruction:

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you green plants, I give you everything. (Genesis 9:3).

Mr Denley does not say how we should handle the 'population explosion' among cattle which would result if we all followed his line.

Would he support a cull to keep numbers down, provided the carcasses were not eaten?

If he considers we have an inalienable duty to preserve all animal life, does he accept that such an aim would require vast areas being turned over to pasture, thus limiting the potential for producing the foodstuffs acceptable to him and to others of like mind?

There is, of course, a human dimension to this question.

What would Mr Denley do to support the families throughout the world who currently rely for their livelihoods on breeding and tending the cattle, providing veterinary care for them, and finally marketing them?

By the way, I have not told Clara and the other domestic fowls that, in future, they may have to look after themselves and should start organising themselves to repel foxes and other predators.

Miss Pauline Doxford (9/6/96)

Mr Denley is entitled to his views on the benefits of a vegetarian diet (Viewpoint) but to try and give it some form of divine approval by quoting from the Bible is ridiculous.

The Bible is crowded with meat-eating people, starting with Abel, son of Adam, whose offering of a sacrificial lamb was pleasing to God, whereas Cain's offering of fruits of the harvest (vegetarian offering) was rejected.

When the Israelites celebrated the first Passover feast they were not instructed to make a nut cutlet and stand ready, but to slaughter a lamb. When they complained about lack of meat in the desert God sent in quail.

Jesus' parable about the prodigal son involved killing the fatted calf to celebrate his return. Christ himself at the passover meal.

And finally, Peter's vision about the universality of the Church consisted of a sheet let down from heaven, containing domestic and wild animals, reptiles and birds - not fruit, veg and nuts - and a voice commanded him to kill and eat.

The Bible is, if anything, an endorsement of meat-eating, not vegetarianism.

Terry Cave (9/6/96)

Gerald Denley (Viewpoint) quotes Genesis 1:29. If he had started at verse 26 he would have seen that God gave man dominion over the animals.

The elaboration of this in Genesis 9: 1-4, gives animals to man as food. Scripture must be read in and with the Church, the only authentic interpreter.

In following the admirable advice to study the Bible, many Catholics seem inadvertently to have espoused the Protestant principle of private interpretation. Thus, Mr Denley invents the sin of meat-eating, but I am too beset by real sins to be able to appreciate his efforts to add to them.

Mrs Susan Carson-Rowland (9/6/96)

See Article:


May I thank Gerald Denley in Viewpoint for his excellent article on vegetarianism.

It was so enlightening to hear someone speak out on behalf of the animals; so many do not care one way or the other.

In today's world it is so easy to be a vegetarian - and by doing so one may have respect for animals and give them the dignity they deserve.

Well done, Gerald, for having the strength and mind to speak on their behalf.

Winfred Mowbray (16/6/96)


I agree with Susan Carson-Rowlands' letter (Catholic Times, June 9) that God gave us dominion over the animals.

However, I believe we are instructed in the Bible to treat animals kindly and not cause them unnecessary suffering. The Bible states that Jesus is Lord of all creation (not just humans).

It cannot be in accordance with God's will to keep battery hens in cages so small that they have no room to walk or even open their wings.

A Wells (30/6/96)


While I agree with Winfred Mowbray that we should speak out about the mistreatment of animals, it is another thing to say that it is wrong to eat animals and to imply that this is Church teaching.

Winifred Mowbray should know as a Catholic that this is not the teaching of the Church.

This 'new age vegetarianism' came in through the back door of the Church and is not Christianity.

M.H. Clark (14/7/96)

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