Tuesday, April 03, 2007

updated: why am I a vegetarian?

Should all Christians be vegetarian? Yes.

Will meat eaters get to heaven? Yes.

Over the weekend I was asked by two different people why I am a vegetarian. Last nite I went to a vegetarian cooking evening, to learn about tomato tarts, pumpkin and kumara balls, tortilla stack. It seems an appropriate time to narrate my conversion, which occured in 2001. The following processes were significant.

A Bible conversation: When I was 20, I led a team of Christian young people to Nicaragua. We deliberately chose to partner with group from Universities in Australasia. One of the group, not a Christian, was astounded to discover that I, a Christian, ate meat. He pointed out to me that the Garden of Eden was meat-free. I still savour the irony, me a Christian, getting a Bible lesson from a non-Christian. Since then I have been forced to consider the reality of Isaiah’s vision of lion and lamb together. I am currently writing a paper on animal spiriuality in light of theology of creation and sacramentality.

An essay on population growth in my first year of university: I learnt that humans have protein needs that can be met by both beans and beef. But you can grow lots and lots of beans in the space it would take a graze a cow. In other words, if humans ate more beans and less beef, than more humans would have their protein needs met. In a world of hunger, I became increasingly uneasy about my meat consumption.

A conversation with a dietician and my family: I did not want my change of eating habits to negatively impact upon a young and growing family. A dietician told us that one meat meal a week, supported by good amounts of vegetables, provides a balanced diet. So if all the Taylor family ate less meat and increased the amount of beans, nuts, spinach eaten during 6 days, then I could go totally vegetarian, without disrupting our growing children, who could still enjoy meat if they wanted.

An emerging spirituality issue: I was becoming increasingly aware that many in the emerging culture were vegetarian, and that good, contextual, missiology would want to consider Paul’s words “to the Jew I become a Jew, to the vegetarian, I become a vegetarian.”

So I went vegetarian. One of the upsides for me has been a far greater link between my everyday life and my spirituality. My Christian faith feels more entwined with my lifestyle and I am made constantly aware of the justice issues around human consumption every time I eat. I need that.

The second upside is a much more interesting diet, as our family have discovered beans, lentils, chick peas, couscous. Anyone for tortilla stack, tomato tarts, pumpkin and kumara balls?

A downside is that I tend to forget to tell people I am vegetarian when they invite me for dinner. This has lead to some embarrassing moments for all concerned.

Update: support, with some expansion of the argument, from here. And then here (I particularly liked the point about the consumption of meat in Jesus times being for economic neccessity, in contrast to the extravagance of today.)

Posted by steve at 03:09 PM