"But Didn't Jesus Eat Meat?"
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion

FROM SARX: For All God's Creatures
December 2020

In deciding to pop a cut of meat into our supermarket basket, should muttering “but didn’t Jesus eat meat?” satisfy our conscience? The fact is, the item in the basket, a piece of one of God’s beloved creatures, bred in horrendous conditions and cruelly slaughtered for nothing other than the financial profit of the seller and gastronomic lust of the consumer is not something anyone living two thousand years ago could have conceived of much less eaten.

Jesus and Lamb
St. Johns Ashfield - Good Shepherd

Veganism, dizzying in the speed of its growth, is now ubiquitous on restaurant menu options, billboards, newspapers and television. The vegan message, with concerns over animal suffering and environmental degradation at its heart, has struck a chord with many Christians. Subsequently, discussions about veganism are becoming more common among people of faith. Whether it be a light-hearted exchange or heated debate, in person or on social media, a question which ubiquitously arises in conversation is “but didn’t Jesus eat meat?”

It is natural for Christian vegans to feel uneasy by what appears to be a providential “thumbs up” for eating animals. After all, if Jesus, the paragon of moral perfection, ate animals does this not short-circuit any faith-based ethical call to veganism? Surely, the only conclusion to the idea of Jesus eating meat is we can eat meat.

An obvious retort is to note that there were many undesirable elements to living in 1st century Palestine. Surely the fact that Jesus was lawfully permitted to keep slaves does mean we should do likewise? Also what would a church equality opportunities board say if Jesus’s choice of disciples, an exclusively male and monoracial selection, was adopted as a model of church leadership today?

Nonetheless what food Jesus chose to eat and why remains an intriguing question and of relevance in helping us make our food choices. To dig deeper into the issue of Jesus and meat eating, we need to understand what sort of meat He might have eaten and how it compares to the meat in our supermarkets. Is a spade a spade and a steak a steak?....



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