God's Word is being used by some to justify a vegetarian diet
In the arena of ideas about diet and health, I can't help but notice a trend lately within Christian circles to start talking about weight loss from the perspective of what God would have humans eat from a Biblical perspective. For those who are nonbelievers, this kind of discussion is a non sequitur since the concept of a Creator and His instruction manual for living life are completely foreign to them.
But with tens of millions of Bible-believing, God-fearing Christians in the United States alone, anyone who quotes Scripture and makes an assertion about a subject based on verses from the Bible will at least capture the attention of the faith-based crowd and quite possibly convince them that they are right.
I've previously featured three examples of this at my blog where nutritional advice was provided and allegedly based upon certain verses in the Word of God:
1. Christian dietitian David Meinz and his book Eating By The Book: What The Bible Says About Food, Fat, Fitness, And Faith push a low-fat diet as the means for losing weight and getting healthy.
2. Gwen Shamblin developed the Weigh Down Diet which urges dieters to turn their attention away from food and put it on God who will give them the strength to lose weight.
3. Pastor George Malkmus penned The Hallelujah Diet with heavy attention placed on a vegetarian diet while condemning meat consumption to attain the "optimal health you were meant to have."
I have to wonder how many people have listened to people like Meinz, Shamblin, and Malkmus thinking their perspective on how a Christian SHOULD eat is the right thing to do. After all, if it's based on Scripture, then it must be God's way, right? Again, I know this doesn't matter a hill of beans to people who don't believe in God or in the infallibility of the Bible. But this is a very big deal to people of faith who rely on the Word of God to direct every aspect of their daily lives.
One of my skeptical readers who supports vegetarianism on Biblical grounds told me about a religious program she saw recently called It Is Written and the topic of discussion was this very subject I am blogging about today. The gentleman who was interviewed on the program by Shawn Boonstra was Dr. Fred Hardinge described as "a specialist in the field of health and nutrition."
Dr. Hardinge contends that God would have us all be vegetarians
Dr. Hardinge gave a rather lengthy dissertation about what he believes is the proper diet for a Christian to be eating according to what he sees are the standards of the Bible. As a supporter of livin' la vida low-carb and the amazing transformation it has brought about in my life personally, I cannot adequately communicate to you how disappointing it was to read the transcript of this utter nonsense from a supposed authority on diet and health. The worst part is he claims this is Biblical! ARGH!
Check out just a couple of excerpts from this interview:
FRED: And this was the menu given in the Garden of Eden, where man was first created and brought into existence.
SHAWN: So it’s here, the herb bearing seed and the fruit of the tree. We’re talking about fruits and vegetables?
FRED: I believe we are also talking about grains as well, and probably nuts, which is really the fruit of a tree.
FRED: And so we have fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Later, after the Flood, as recorded in Scripture, we see that things that are grown in the ground like legumes were also added to the diet.
SHAWN: That sounds an awful lot like the nutritional recommendations coming out of government agencies today.
FRED: Well, it’s amazing, but that is absolutely true. It’s particularly amazing to me having been involved in nutrition for almost 30 years. When I think back on my training in the early years, there was not the emphasis that there is today on eating those foods, particularly the recognition of how important they are in preventing many of the chronic diseases that are afflicting man today.
SHAWN: Now I can’t help but notice as I’m looking at this list, there are some foods that, frankly aren’t there, that are missing from the list. We have fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts and so on. What’s missing from that list?
FRED: Well, I think we’d have to say that the animal products are missing from that list.
SHAWN: Yeah. It’s very hard for me to imagine, of course, in the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chasing a cow with a knife through the Garden. So obviously it was a plant-based diet.
SHAWN: Now, I’ve heard some people say that God insists everybody must be vegetarian. We know that isn’t true. Jesus ate the Passover lamb and fish and so on. But the general recommendation seems to be we ought to go plant-based. It seems to be the best fuel for us.
FRED: I think that’s the way the world of science is moving; that our diet should be primarily plant-based.
As a Christian, can I just tell you how insulting statements like those are not only to my intelligence but also to my faith? It's quite a leap of faith (all pun intended!) to assume that God wants his children to live on a plant-based diet alone (see Regina Wilshire's excellent post about this subject from last week) when this "government-recommended diet" that is so highly lauded by people like Dr. Hardinge has only led to higher and higher rates of obesity and disease over the past few decades.
Meanwhile, you look at the cultures where animal fat is the mainstay of the diet, like in France, and what do you see? They have MUCH lower rates of heart disease than America. How about that? But we don't hear about facts like this in our fat-phobic society because the overriding message, even from a secular standpoint, is low-fat, low-calorie, portion control centered around fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Speaking of secular, this discussion sorta begs the question: What sets a Christian diet apart from what "the world" is promoting? As it stands right now, absolutely NOTHING at all. But if believers in God are supposed to be "salt and light," then how can we do that by going along with what this sinful world is already doing, hmmm? Aren't we called to be "in the world, but not of it?" It sounds to me like the vegetarian movement has taken a strong foothold in Christian health circles.
My point here is not to condemn anyone who chooses to eat a vegetarian diet based on their own convictions whether they are Bible-based or otherwise. But I simply want to assert my belief that God would have his creation simply "honor the temple of the Holy Spirit," which is your body by not defiling it with anything that might destroy it. To me, that means avoiding foods like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, fast food, junk food, and anything else that would bring on disease and weight gain rendering you unable to bring glory to God with your life.
Finding a way to eat that works for you, sticking with that plan and praying for God to strengthen you during your weight loss, continue eating that way to keep your physical body from disease, and living a long and healthy life so you can serve God better--that's what I call honoring God. I really don't think He expects his creation to live on plants alone.
When I weighed 410 pounds before starting on the Atkins diet in 2004, I was clearly not honoring God with my body. The sin of gluttony has full control over me and every way I tried to overcome that (including the overly-hyped recommended low-fat diet) fell miserably short of the mark. But then livin' la vida low-carb came into my life, helped me shed 180 pounds that year, restored my health, and set my life in a direction that I believe is pleasing in the eyes of God. I give Him all the praise and glory for helping me overcome a lifetime struggle with my weight.
But, does the Bible consider the Atkins diet a sin? Some think so.
According to vegetarians who are also Christian, Romans 14 gives them the basis for shunning meat while embracing vegetables as the only acceptable food on God's one true diet. The following is the New International Version of that Scripture passage:
1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11It is written:
"'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.'"
12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
At first glance of this passage from the New Testament of the Bible, some Christians may be led to believe God would have them give up meat altogether. But if you read what the apostle Paul wrote carefully, then you will notice he was not making that point at all.
In verse 14, he wrote "I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself." He was asserting that meat was completely acceptable for consumption despite his previous teachings about idol worship of animals. In other words, this had nothing at all to do with animal consumption, but rather animal sacrifice.
You'll also notice the reference in verse 20 that "all food is clean." The Greek word katharos (clean) was used for all sorts of definitions meaning purity and cleanliness including clean dishes (Matthew 23:26), people (John 13:10), clothing (Revelation 15:6; 19:8, 14), "pure" religion (James 1:27), gold and glass (Revelation 21:18).
Food isn't even mentioned in either verse 14 or 20 and the word "meat" does not appear in the original text. In fact, no specific object is ever mentioned relative to cleanness or uncleanness at all in these Scripture verses.
What I take from these passages from Romans 14 is that "nothing is unclean" and "all is clean." I hate to break it to all my vegetarian believers in God out there, but that would include the food they abhor the most--meat. Paul was making is very clear that any association of food with idolatrous activity had no bearing whatsoever on whether the food was suitable for eating. So meat isn't to be avoided Biblically as has so often been erroneously attributed by well-meaning people.
Do any Christians reading this want to weigh in on this discussion? If you are livin' la vida low-carb, then how does it make you feel to hear all these so-called Biblical reasons why you should be eating a vegetarian diet?
Perhaps you are a Christian vegetarian and would like to further explain why you believe vegetarianism is God's one and only recommended diet. I'm curious, do you believe those of us who are following the Atkins diet are engaged in active sin for eating meat? Do you likewise believe that meat eaters will be going to Hell for consuming animals? I'm VERY curious to know what you think.
This should be a fun topic and I welcome any and all opinions.
2-20-07 UPDATE: FINALLY, I got a response from one of my readers at Low-Carb Newsline who read this post and is a Christian vegetarian. This is quite lengthy, but it'll give you everything you wanted to know about what so many from this ilk actually believe the Bible says regarding diet. Hold on to your hats, folks, because this one's a real doozy!
It is doubtful that any civilization in history has ever been nearly as cruel as America is now to its animals. Completely unnecessary massacres that would probably not happen on the Planet of the Apes are running rampant in our so called modern, cultured, compassionate society. What does this say about the greatness and moral progress in America?
The following quotation proves that if the United States Congress was made up of people like Dr. Neal D. Barnard, there would be no factory farms or slaughterhouses in America.
"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of real food for real people, you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." -- Neal D. Barnard, M.D. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington D.C.
If you believe in God and believe in the following words that were written in the old testament of the first Hebrew Bible which reveals Gods first commission on the sixth day of creation, when God had created everything including land animals and humans, then you will understand why God - who is the supreme symbol of kindness, life and love – unequivocally wants factory farms and slaughterhouses to close.
Let's begin way back when God first gave us this commission, on the sixth day of creation, when He had created everything including land animals and Man [humans].
24. Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures [souls] after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so.
To help us to better understand our commission of dominion over the earth and all that it contains, we should look at the original Hebrew wording of this passage:
24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the soul of life according to its kind, cattle, and creepers, and its beasts of the earth, according to its kind.
Nowhere in this passage does it refer to creatures, but living souls, neh-fesh hahyawh, the exact same wording by which humans are called.
Has the Bible been deliberately mistranslated, because humans were afraid to admit that other animals also have souls?
Could this have happened because humans have not ruled over the other animals with love and compassion, but rather brutalized them.
25. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
And God saw that it was good that He had made all these different kinds of animals, each individually as a living soul.
It was only after seeing the goodness of His other created beings, that God turned His attention to the creation of Man.
26. Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our Image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
When God says to subdue the earth and its other living souls, He does not mean to overpower it or them, for our own selfish uses, but to subdue it from the forces of evil, and this is how the word "subdue" is used every other place in the Hebrew Bible.
Our position of rule is to be a respectful and caring one; one filled with love and compassion for all the goodness God has made.
We are to help every other human and animal have the God given right to enjoy the life God created for them.
We are not to take away any of those rights, as we have done for thousands of years.
And, note that God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness"; in the likeness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We were made with the same qualities as God, which means that we should be acting like Him, with at least all the love and compassion exhibited by Jesus; for as He said, "…greater works than these shall he [the believer] do…." (John 14:12)
And to further emphasize this gentleness of rule, and the interaction of all of God's living souls that He created to live together, look at the next two verses and see what God originally intended:
29. Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life [which is a living soul], I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
God's original intent was that there would be no killing of any kind, neither by people nor animals, for all were to eat earth grown foods only.
Until Americans stop torturing and murdering God's creatures by the millions every day using many methods of hideous cruelty, society and the earth's environment will continue to suffer the unfortunate consequences that go with supporting and committing these sick crimes.
The relentless cruelty and huge massacres occurring to animals every working hour in factory farms and slaughterhouses as vividly described next must absolutely end.
When reviewing the following information revealing the cruelty to animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses, readers might begin to think there are a large number of people in the United States that have completely lost their minds. Is there no limit to the cruelty?
Livestock production is also at the heart of almost every environmental catastrophe: rain forest destruction, spreading deserts, loss of fresh water, air and water pollution, acid rain and soil erosion.
The livestock industry is responsible for more hazardous climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world.
- 70 percent of the Amazon deforestation
- 64 percent of all the acid rain-producing ammonia
- 15 out of the 24 vast global ecosystems that are in decline can be attributed to livestock.
Click here to read the full government report.
Last June my short story titled God Does Not Eat Meat was published. This thought provoking and controversial back to the future religious fantasy cuts between a violent and bloody present world in which millions of animals are slaughtered daily, to a future America where all meat has been removed from the food chain.
The story is believable, entertaining, and shocking. Read for free online by clicking here. The moral of this story can be summed up with this old Hindu verse:
"Those without wealth may one day prosper, but those without kindness are utterly and incurably poor."
My goal is to inspire people to protect the sanctity of life for all of God's precious creatures on the face of the Earth.
For the sake of all animals.
Western Springs, Illinois
Author of the short story
(God Does Not Eat Meat)
Arthur, Arthur, Arthur...you lost me when you referenced "Planet Of The Apes," started quoting people from the anti-meat, radical PETA organization Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), made the claim the Bible was mistranslated, believing that animals have the same God-given rights as humans, and finally quoting a HINDU verse at the end. You're just a pretender attempting to push your ultra-wacko vegetarian ideals.
2-20-07 UPDATE: Here's another one from a New Zealander.
Do you Bible believers ever wonder why your "Good Kind God" didn't create trees that grew lamb chops, pork chops and chickens legs? Think about it! From New Zealand--happily a land with no state religion!
Ooooookay...and your point is?
2-22-07 UPDATE: Friend, Bible scholar, and fellow low-carb blogger Carol Bardelli weighs in on this subject with a post of her own called "The Lord Was Pleased by the Smell of Roasting Meat! - Biblical Foods: Part One." ENJOY!