Five years ago I became a vegetarian. I had read about how extremely bad meat is for the climate and global environment: meat and diary production accounts for 1.5% of global GDP but 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the United Nations Environmental Programme recommends a transition to more vegetarian and vegan diets in order to prevent huge environmental disasters. I also knew that producing meat requires much more resources than it takes to produce other foods – instead of eating crops ourselves we have to give it to animals for several years and then eat them – and since God had called me to live simply and help the poor by fighting global hunger, it was easy for me to become a vegetarian.
I have several Christian brothers and sisters who have made the same decision, but as you probably can tell yourself most Christians are meat-eaters. Which in one way isn’t very strange – even though Adam and Eve were vegans and the prophets tell us about how animals and men will live in peaceful harmony in Heaven, there is no clear-cut command to be a vegetarian in the New Testament. Peter was told to “kill and eat” in Acts 10:13, and Paul says “One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” (Rom 14:2) Most vegetarian Christians have heard these Bible verses a few times, I reckon.
I believe that meat-eating Christians are fully correct when they point out that Jesus ate meat and that the apostles didn’t teach that you have to be a vegetarian to be a Christian. However, I would like them to reflect on how much meat Jesus and the apostles eat, how much we eat today and whether meat was the environmental disaster then as it is today. Seriously, in Sweden where I live, most Christians and non-Christians alike eat meat three times a day, all year round. I’ve been to a couple of Christian conferences this summer and boy, it wasn’t easy to be a vegetarian. There was some massive meat-eating going on there.
If you go back 200 years though, an average Swede didn’t eat meat more than once or possibly twice a week. Go back even further and they didn’t eat it more than once a month. This is still true today in poorer countries: most people eat vegetarian food most of the time because meat is expensive and hard to get.
Eating meat three times a day is extreme and hurts the global environment massively. It requires industrial meat production and massive crop areas used to grow food for the animals. As growing economies get richer more people will eat meat, and climate change will continue to speed up and kill thousands. Christians are just following the stream, quoting Rom 14:2 they eat a massive amount of meat unheard of in all of world history.
The reason I abstain from meat completely is because I want to compensate for the catastrophic consequences my meat-eating brothers and sisters cause through their diet. And I pray that more will join me. Becoming vegetarians is the easiest and most effective way we can reduce our environment a footprint. When Paul said that vegetarians had weak faith he didn’t mean those who abstained from meat due to environmental reasons or even animal rights, but ritual reasons, believing that you need to stay away from meat to be saved. In his time, meat wasn’t causing global warming and world hunger. Now it is, and therefore Christians should dramatically increase their vegetarian diet.
If the greenhouse effect caused by an increase of CO2 emission is a myth as some scientists suggests, then the vegetarian thing is not helping nature at all. It’s at the moment a faith statement without proof to claim people are dying because of meat eating.
First of all, climate change is just one of several environmental impacts that meat has, pollution, deforestation and degradation being others. The FAO report Livestock’s Long Shadow, which calculated that livestock account for 18% of global greenhouse gases, also noted:
“Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 per cent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.
At the same time herds cause wide-scale land degradation, with about 20 per cent of pastures considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. This figure is even higher in the drylands where inappropriate policies and inadequate livestock management contribute to advancing desertification.” http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772#.VbTQz_ntmko
Furthermore, much research has shown that too much consumption of red meat can cause cancer and heart problems. So from various perspectives, eating meat three times a day is not very good, it’s pretty extreme. Again, I’m not a vegetarian because I think that 100% of the world’s population need to be that, but to compensate for the damage.
And as for the climate skepticism…. I’m pretty skeptic towards it. Ian Clark and Gary Calder are reknown climate skeptics who argue that the sun causes global warming, but that has shown to be false over and over again. https://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming-advanced.htm Pointing to them is of course using a scientific argument – they have degrees and should be listened to – but more attention should then be given to the arguments and research by the 97 % of climate scientists who argue that the global change in temperature is due to human impact, http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
I see your point and if this is the case I understand your position. While I don’t eat meat three times a day and prefer swedish meat (if that’s a difference) it’s a shame large companies let mammon be the guide how to rule their companies. There shure is a lot of bad business going on in the world due to greed and carelessness. Do you have any figures on fish eating?
I still don’t buy the thesis of an increase of co2 as the reason for the weather changes, allthough there might be a tiny tiny reason from this, as Dr John R Christy says in the debate I posted. His arguments seems more plausible. Watch the debate. It seems there is a political stance, also at universities, for the co2 theory.
well actually with my suggestion we have to understand the “faith” it self first before we stop eating meat,
Listen to this: https://vimeo.com/24591116
You are not promoting Christianity. You are promoting yourself and a secular idea that has NO support at all in the the Bible. Someone will read your article and believe that it somehow has Christian merit.
In my opinion, it is not correct to say that people are feeding animals with crops that may have been used to feed the needy. It might be the case with some bad practices of big argicultural companies, but e.g. in rural conditions, pigs and hens are most often being fed with leftovers and cows, goats and sheep are feeding themselves on pasture.
I could even say that in order to live more simply and practically, every family should have one pig and five hens at least to get rid of leftovers! I suppose that your friend would not eat the husk of that tasty melon on the picture. Our mom’s pig, however, would eat it with the greatest pleasure and it would return it to the family in form of healthy fat and proteins.
The small-scale, organic farmin that has been prevalent in most of human history is not damaging to the environment, but the enormous increase of meat consumption in rich countries during the last decades has rapidly increased the use of industrial meat consumption. Most soy produced in the world is produced for animals to eat, and this causes deforestation in Latin America. http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/soy/consumers/ And the enormous meat consumption also causes other environmental problems that I’ve talked but above. So we need to decrease meat eating – it’s not good to eat meat three times a day.
My point is that the question of christian vegetarianism should be clearly separated from the question of ethical shopping. As a christian, I’m obliged to seek for the meat that was produced in an ethical, unharmful way. Nothing more, nothing less.
I agree with Greg Boyd’s approach here, which sounds similar to yours: eating meat is not the ideal and at the very least you should do everything you can to make sure your meat is ethically-sourced (and your vegetables for that matter) and you’re eating a healthy amount, but meat-eating is not a sin in and of itself either. Adam and Eve start out as vegetarians (or vegan, not sure it explicitly says) but after the Fall they are permitted to eat meat. Permitted, not encouraged or ideal. To me, that’s the underlying perspective through all of Scripture. If you can avoid eating meat, awesome and I really do think you’re embodying the Kingdom in that way. If you can’t out of health reasons or because you share with somebody else who won’t give it up or from whatever other reason, that doesn’t make you an inferior Christian.
[…] indeed very dangerous today, not just for you but for millions of poor people? I’ve written about this before: meat is one of the most environmentally hazardous ingredients in the world. The meat […]
I just learned that Jesus in fact never ate meat and didn’t drink wine. And I decided I’ll not eat meat anymore. But I have a dilemma. The thing is that my husband and children eat meat, so is it ok to prepare it for them? I’d rather not to, but someone has to cook. What do you think?
If you want to prepare it for them do so.Personally my friend in the same situation cooks beautiful vegetarian meals but if her hubby and son want some meat they all go for a meal or the hubs cooks it.
Hi Valeria! Tell your husband that he either has to cook himself or eat vegetarian. Blessings!