I applaud his sentiment, because so few people take the time to feel this connection to the food they eat. But while I applaud his sentiment, I cannot share in it. I cannot share in it because when I sit down to eat, none of God's creatures had to die. Instead of a sadness that something died so I could eat, every mealtime for me is filled with a gladness that I am fed, as God intended, without the sacrifice of any animal.
I can see the spiritual benefit of being mindful of where our food comes from. If we eat any of God's creatures, we SHOULD be mindful of the fact that something died, and we should feel a sadness over that fact. But if this is true, and I believe that it is, shouldn't we be mindful when the opposite happens? That is, if we sit down to eat and no animals had to give their life for our meal, shouldn't we be mindful of that fact as well? And shouldn't we be spiritually lifted by such a meal, and such a mindness?
YES!! A thousand times, YES!
In all of my flesh eating days there was an underlying belief I had that it was natural for man to eat animals. We are taught this and accept it from the first day our parents put animal flesh on our plates. We are taught that it is part of the natural order of things and that the proper spiritual mindset is to be reverent and aware of the animals sacrifice for our sustenance. Only when one has this belief can they consume animal flesh, yet retain a humble reverence and sadness for it's sacrifice. But these beliefs are based on false assumptions. That is, the assumption that human health requires the consumption of animial flesh, and this assumption simply is not true.
God did not create man to eat the flesh of animals. You can read my article on the subject:
Were Adam And Even Vegetarians?
Here are some observations:
- Human health does not require the consumption of animals.
- Our ever growing list of chronic diseases is directly linked to the overconsumption of animal products.
- We can be happier, healthier, both physically and spiritually, by abstaining from the consumption of the creatures God entrusted to our care.
The false assumption that human health requires the consumption of animals leads us to make sense out of the statement "Something had to die so that we could eat". But when we come to understand that human health does NOT require the consumption of animal flesh, then only if we are starving and have no other choice for survival can we have a true humbleness, reverence, or sadness that one of God's creature died so that we could eat. This is because only after we come to terms with these facts do we realize that the animal didn't need to die so we could eat. It died so we could indulge in our appetite for animal flesh, and once we understand this there can be nothing spiritually uplifting about this practice, or the mindset that permits it.
I am reminded of the article Thirty Nine Reasons Why I Am A Vegetarian written by the Reverend Henry S. Clubb 110 years ago in 1903.
I particularly like reasons 14, 15, and 16, which are:
14. The consumption of flesh as food has, like the use of tobacco and alcoholic liquors, a tendency to deaden the moral and intellectual faculties so as to blind the perceptions to the danger of the practice.
15. The only way to obtain a clear perception and an unbiassed judgment on the subject is to abstain long enough to get clear of this blinding influence. "If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." (John 7:17.)
16. Those only who have personally abstained from the flesh of animals for a considerable period can render an intelligent judgment on the subject.
I know, these three points wreak of "holier than thou" and a condescending superiority complex. But think on this point. Pick any addiction that you are not consumed by. Alcoholism, heroin, cocaine, whatever. We all know that people consumed by these addictions do not see clearly the entirety of the harm they are doing to their body, mind, and soul, and that only after a period of abstinence can they truly come to understand the negative effects the practice had on them. Those words were written over a hundred years ago, and I can reaffirm them now through my own experience. Only after abstaining from animal flesh for a long enough time did I come to terms with the true detriment it had on my body, mind, and soul.
Do I condemn my pastor for his statements? No. I shared his beliefs for decades. Although I no longer eat the flesh of animals, in the 47 years that I did I consumed far more than most people do in their entire lifetime. So there can be no casting of stones from me. Only a gentle plea to consider another viewpoint!
And so I say don't be sad at mealtime because one of God's creatures died so you could eat it. Experience the joy of satisfying your appetite in a manner which does not cause suffering or death. Not to one of God's creatures, not to your own health and spirituality.
-Norm aka John Smith