The Moral Case for Animal Products

MASTURBATION MAY SEEM LIKE a strange place to begin a conversation about the moral case for animal products. But it wasn't to Mr. Kellogg.

In the 19th Century, Kellogg started making breakfast cereals. He was a 7th Day Adventist who wanted people to give up eggs, bacon and sausages as their morning food. He saw this as a way to both fight the evils of meat-eating as well as masturbation (he reasoned that his corn flakes were dull enough to kill the lust that meat-eating masturbators were fuelled by). 

Though Westerners probably masturbate (or not) as much as they ever did, they have reduced their meat consumption at breakfast time and now eat overly processed grains and sugar with factory distorted milk that has been pasteurised, homogenised, and skimmed.

The war over animal products is not new in Christendom.

The Teaching of Demons 
'In later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.’  -1 Timothy 4

Long before Mr. Kellogg's moral crusade against meat and morning masturbation, Paul warned Timothy that the Serpent is prone to attack humanity in both their sexual and gastronomical appetites. And, as many of Paul’s letters address faulty teachings or behaviours regarding these appetites, we shouldn’t be surprised if we also have to regularly address them too.

In the apostolic age, it was the food-pharisees, ‘Judaisiers’, who shamed Gentile congregations into not eating certain natural foods. Later, in the age of the Church Fathers, leaders wrote against legalistic plant-only diets that often came from Gnostic and heretical quarters. Ireneaus wrote against the Encratite sect, taking them to task for both their false teaching regarding marriage and that they ‘have also introduced abstinence from animal products.’[1] Church leaders did encourage short term fasting which sometimes took the form of a vegetable only fast. But such 'veganism' was only to be a brief exercise. Long term plant only diets were seen as suspect. 

The Reformers also faced sophisticated-sounding moral arguments against both food and marriage. Luther not only reestablished the doctrine of justification by faith, but he also helped reform the church’s view of both marriage and food. He fought against the view that ‘good’ (enlightened, ethical, globally-minded, etc) Christians should abstain from all animal products on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays―a cultural norm like our new ‘meatless Mondays’.

Luther eventually married a renegade nun and switched his own diet from a plant-based one to one with lots of animal products. But it wasn’t just a private decision. He took this fight public. A big part of the Protestant Reformation was fighting a ‘Butter Ban’[2] that existed throughout Europe. Contrary to the notion that animal products were only a rare part of people's diet until the modern era, Luther wrote, ‘It is permissible to eat milk, butter, eggs. cheese, and meat every day, be it Sunday or Friday, Lent or Advent.[3]

The eating of animal products has been under attack via moral shaming and trendy arguments within the church throughout its history. Here we present moral reasons for resisting the new, 21st Century vegan activism and for eating animal products.

To be clear: we are not against vegans or even veganism. Christians are free to eat whatever natural, God-given foods they want. If you are happy only eating lettuce and pasta fine. Let no one put you into bondage to chicken wings. The battle that orthodox Christians have historically fought is against the teaching that says Christians should only eat a plant-based diet. We remind Christians that not only has Christ proclaimed all foods to be 'clean', but also that there are strong moral reasons for an animal-based diet.

Moral Reasons for Animal Products
1. The first moral reason for promoting animal products is because we love the poor. The majority of the world's vegans are involuntary vegans―over one billion. They are malnourished, in part, because they lack the ability to buy the most nutrient-dense foods that nature provides: animal products. This is a shame because most traditional societies relied heavily on animal products generally with early humanity basing its diet primarily on meat (Here).

But now, the high-grain, highly processed Western diet has replaced much of what traditional societies used to eat. Diabetes from products high in sugar and vegetable oils is skyrocketing in India and many other developing countries. If we can help get the world's poor off the high-grain Western diets and help them return to more traditional, unprocessed foods (of which animal products are a key part) then we will be doing them great service. 

Vegan activists, who can afford expensive supplementation to their diets, push for taxes on meat and dairy, as well as resist any growth of livestock populations. This only puts traditional animal products further from the reach of the poor whose bodies need it the most.

2. Secondly, we care for animals. A green field with lambs grazing is full of life. Beatles, mice, rabbits and other animals and insects live out there with them. In order to turn it into a corn or soybean field, everything must die. The immediate ecosystem is destroyed. The field is razed, ploughed, covered in pesticides and all the life in that field is killed so that someone can have their soy-based veggie ‘burger’. Letting lambs and cows out in green fields to pasture, by contrast, is one of the best things one can do for the local ecosystem and the health of the field. 

Dr. Ian Paul (Hereargues for a plant based diet on the basis that ‘Animal suffering is therefore problematic to Christians, both because God loves and will redeem creation’. We agree. That’s why we're concerned about large tracks of land being razed and ecosystems being destroyed to help fuel, in part, the modern vegan craze[4]. The largest fires in the world right now are occurring in Angola, a country impacted by these slash and burn agricultural techniques (more Here). This is not only an animal cruelty issue, but an environmental one as well. 

All human food involves animal death, even vegan food. Field mice died so you could eat those veggies. By contrast, if I am eating milk, eggs, and cheese, (particularly from field raised animals) no animal is dying. Only when I eat meat does an animal die and I doubt that I eat more than one whole cow per year. (Okay, I eat a lot; maybe two.) That’s still small numbers compared to what’s often done in the name of industrial agriculture. Cows are also put down far more humanly than having tractors ride over them and their homes. If industrial livestock has killed its thousands, industrial agriculture has killed its tens of thousands.

3. Third, to help the environment. Traditional, pasture-raised livestock is a great part of the local ecosystem, as partially discussed above. In terms of wider environmental issues, one of the best cases for environmentally friendly cattle sustainability is made in a book by Nicolette Niman who was a vegetarian environmental lawyer who worked for Robert Kennedy Jr. against the meat industry who turned cattle rancher. Her book is 'Defending Beef'. She is one of the leading experts on this subject and includes plenty of research that should lay many of the outdated pop-environmental arguments to rest. I cannot fully represent in this short article, so I will make just a brief point:

40% of this world’s land is suitable for raising livestock. Only 5% is suitable for agriculture. In order to transform a field where lambs or cows naturally graze in harmony with nature, the field needs to be completely flattened by heavy machinery with rocks removed. This involves tons of carbon emissions.

While the livestock industry is responsible for an estimated 2% of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, the medical industry is around 10% (Here). If we were to get people off their refined grains and back onto a traditional diet of cheese, eggs and meat, we would drastically reduce some of the biggest health problems of our day: diabetes, obesity, and even (some studies have suggested) cancer. In addition, sheep and cows eat the grasses that would otherwise grow in excess and being to rot―possibly emitting more methane than cow farts ever could (Here).

Then there's the issue of availability. I live in Britain. Fruit and vegetables are not historically grown year-round here. By contrast, local animals can yield their eggs, milk and meat any time of the year with zero air miles. Those who drink pineapple and banana smoothies year-round, however, have those products flown in on fuel-guzzling jets. 

4. The fourth reason is health. Now, if one was to leave the normal Western diet of sugar and processed foods for a whole food, unrefined, sugar-free vegan diet, they'd probably feel better initially. This mostly because of the detox. They are cutting out items that have been poisoning them. But long term, protein and other nutrients would become a problem if they avoided all animal products.

Somewhere in the 1970s, Western culture ate too many laced brownies, tie-dyed their brains, and accepted biased, industry-funded studies that told us to eat margarine instead of butter. The same 'experts' behind these studies also told us to get rid of eggs, one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, and eat more carbs. In the West, the eating of animal foods has gone down. Processed grains, along with heart disease and cancers, has gone up. (Here)

Only now is it becoming more well known how the sugar industry invested heavily in studies that would make animal products look like the bad-health guy (Here). Refined sugars, carbs, and heavily processed foods are what’s bad for us. Eating eggs, cheese, raw milk, and meat like our ancestors have for thousands of years is not.

If we base our diets around eggs, (raw) dairy, fish, and unprocessed meat we will thrive. If we base it on grain, sugar, seed oil and soy (AKA, the Western diet) we will continue to suffer.

At first, our own health may not sound like a moral reason, but it’s actually a great way to love our immediate neighbours. By eating nutrient-dense simple, unprocessed animal products, we benefit our own health as we age. It may be argued that some plant food has almost as much nutrients as animal foods, but such statistics often leave out a critical difference: bio-availability. A bowl of navy beans may have almost as much protein as a bowl of beef. The difference is that the protein from the beans is only 50% bio-available whereas humans can absorb 95% of the amino acids from the proteins in the beef (more by Dr. Sarah Place Here).

Veggie 'burger' vs real burger. Check the ingredients.
In my late 20s, I followed the advice of my National Health Service doctor and adopted a plant-based diet. My health suffered. Switching to a diet filled with animal fats and proteins (without getting rid of all my fruit and veg) saved me and helped my family's health as well. I’ve heard countless stories of other people doing the same ( Caring for your health is ultimately an act of love for those in your family and community. As we age, we don’t want to be a burden on our children. If we are healthy, they won’t have to care for us to the same degree. 

When we are healthy, we are also less of a burden on the tax system as medical care is never truly 'free'. Trading in your scone with jam for steak and eggs is a great way to care for your health and love your neighbour.

5. Valuing an animal diet for all humanity helps us become good managers of our resources. Some claim that the current world population is unable to enjoy animal-based products as a key component to their diet. We should not be too quick to embrace this argument. Rather, we should look at the wasteful way we handle our animals. Most Westerners only eat muscle meat and won’t touch the organs, leaving half to go to waste. 

Part of the reason we tend to waste meat is that we largely no longer live in a culture that encourages hunting or the raising and slaughtering of one's own animals. When one has to hunt or raise their own meat, they experience both the glory and tragedy of having to kill an animal as opposed to buying their meat in a plastic wrapper at the supermarket. Such hunters or ranchers, in my experience, have a deeper respect for their meat and are less prone to waste it.

We need to rediscover liver, kidneys, brain, etc. We need to learn to eat nose to tail. Currently, my local butcher gives us bones and kidneys because he can't sell them - nobody wants them. Brains don’t even make it into the shop. It all goes to waste. Learning to eat the whole animal reduces the cost of meat for everyone and does more to make it available to everyone.

6. The last reason is theological rather than moral. The Bible continually commends and celebrates animal products. Adam and Eve try to cover themselves with vegetation, but God clothes them with an animal product. Abel's meat sacrifice is accepted, while Cain's plant sacrifice is rejected. When David killed Goliath, he was on his way to deliver cheese to his brothers. When Yahweh and the angels visit Abraham, he serves them cheese, veal, and bread. Esau is cursed over lentil soup while his brother Jacob is blessed over meat stew. God gave the Jews the Passover, a meal centred on eating lamb. He promises to lead his people to a land of ‘milk and honey’. He sends Elijah both meat and bread twice a day in the wilderness. Isaiah prophesies that paradise will be a place of fine wine and quality meat. 

Then in the New Testament, Jesus multiplies both the loaves the fishes for thousands. When Jesus rises from the dead, we only see him eating animal products: twice fish, once honey. When Jesus talks to Peter about letting Gentiles into the church, it's a vision where he's commanded to kill and eat animals (and in a tanner's home no less). 

What's the point of such a list? Simply that nobody who reads the Bible front to back would ever conclude that the God of Christian Scripture was less than enthusiastic about his people enjoying animal-based products on a regular if not daily basis. In Genesis 9 God says that he gives humanity animals for food. What human wisdom dares to say that we should reject God's gift?

We resist dietary-dogma in the church and guard our Christ given food-freedom. If you want to eat only vegetables, you are free to do so. If you want to eat only cheddar and rib-eyes, you are free to do so. There are only three Biblical injunctions about how we eat. First, we give thanks for it. Second, that we don’t eat as gluttons with times for fasting. Third, we don't look down on others who eat differently than us.

The vegan industry is rearing up and is out to make billions, and they're pushing out tons of propaganda to do so. Let's not let the church get caught up in this monstrosity. Be good to yourself, your neighbour, and your world and thankfully enjoy some cheese.

[1] Irenaeus, Against All Heresies
[2] See Khosrova’s Butter: A Rich History
[3] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works
[4] 43% of world cereal product is for human food. 36% is for animal feed. Sometimes, corn, soy, and other grains go to factory livestock as well as humans. In the case of soybeans the oil if made for human use and the leftover soy meal sold to pigs. This is one of the reasons we support the traditional farming methods of pastured animals, outdoors eating grass. They turn grass, which humans cannot digest, into meat and dairyfoods with a very high level of bio-digestible amino acids





Post a Comment

Popular Posts