To Eat Meat or Not
This is written for a very narrow target audience, and I hope it helps someone in that group.
As you know, there is a group of people who are vegetarians, and there is a larger group called omnivores. The omnivores eat both meat and vegetables, but vegetarians eat only (or predominately) vegetables. Vegetarians are divided into several groups: those who eat only vegetables, those who also eat fish, those who also eat dairy products, and those who also eat eggs.
Vegetarians put forth many reasons why a person should eat only vegetables, and they encourage others to follow their practice. Omnivores donít care about that; they just happily proceed to eat whatever they shove into their mouths.
Now we get to the target audience. There is a group of vegetarians who, although wanting to continue being vegetarians, find their health is declining because of it and start eating some meat again. When they start eating meat again, some go through tremendous emotional conflicts because they feel it is wrong to eat an animal. This is written for those people who have guilt feelings about eating meat.
There are three arguments not to eat meat:
- Vegetarianism is healthier
- Eating animals is wrong.
- God doesnít want us to eat animals.
Iím going to answer to each of those statements.
Vegetarianism is healthier
Vegetarianism may be healthier, but itís making you sick, right? Thatís why you went back to eating meat. Youíre not getting the protein you need through vegetables only. People may claim that vegetarianism is healthier for you, but as long as you experience in your own body that it is not, then that is not an argument for you, is it?
Eating animals is wrong.
Letís think about this for a moment. Lions, tigers and housecats eat meat. As far as I know, they eat meat only. What would happen if you took meat away from cats? They would die. Their stomachs and systems are designed for meat and therefore they can only eat meat.
Grazing animals, such as cows, horses and deer, eat only vegetables. They havenít the skill to track down, kill and eat animals. And why should they? Their stomachs and systems are designed to eat grass and grain only. What if you took away their vegetables and threw a slab of meat to them? They would die, of course. Even if you ground up the meat and fed it to them as meal (as some ranchers do), that would not do the trick totally. Grazing animals need grass and grain in their diet; that is what their stomachs and systems are designed for and they will die if they don't eat what they are designed to eat.
It is as silly to expect meat-eating animals to eat grass and vegetable-eating animals to eat meat. They would die if they ate otherwise, because they were designed to eat what they eat.
Is an animal eating other animals wrong? It cannot be wrong because if they were designed to eat meat, they cannot do otherwise.
So now we come to you. What are you designed for? Iíll give you three hints:
- Your teeth are designed for both meat and grain, for you have both canines and grinders.
- Your stomach is designed for both meat and grain, because you digest both readily.
- You tend to get sick (and die) if you eat only one, either only meat or only vegetables.
You were designed to be an omnivore, and you are healthiest when you do that. Therefore it is impossible that you eating another animal is wrong, just as it is impossible for a cat eating a mouse to be wrong.
God doesnít want us to eat animals
Vegetarians point to the Biblical story of the creation of humans as evidence that God doesnít want us to eat animals.
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for foodÖ
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ďYou are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
Genesis 2:8-9, 15-161
But they omit the story of what happened shortly thereafter. After Noah came out of the ark and the flood waters had gone down, God said this
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ďBe fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
So the fact is, according to the Bible, God told humans to eat meat.
The only thing that's left to deal with is your guilty counscience. You feel just terrible about eating animals. Stop to think about this for a minute: You talked yourself into feeling guilty and now it's a habit, an automatic response. Once you had no problem with eating meat. When vegetarianism was introduced to you, you thought about it, accepted it and lived that way for a long time. Now you think you need to adjust your opinion, but you still feel guilty about eating animals. You created that guilt feeling yourself; it was not imposed on you from outside yourself, nor from God. Therefore, all that is left for you to be the master of your own life is to take control of your guilt. It is you who gave yourself guilt and no one else; it is you who can create a new habit, that of not feeling guilty.
When that is done, you will be free. You will be free to eat meat if you want, free to eat only vegetables if you want, and free to have fish, milk and eggs if you want. You can do it; it's all yours.
1The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.
This and all scripture references are from the NIV, unless otherwise indicated.