Food For Thought: Genesis

“See, I have given you every plant-yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”

– Genesis 1:29-30

“The Garden of Eden” by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, a 16th century German depiction of Eden.

Jewish and Christian biblical interpreters have agreed for millions of years that God intended humanity’s first diet to be meat-free. It was not until after the fall of man that men started to consume meat.

“The wolf shall live with the lamb … and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:6-7)

Many doctrines of Christianity believe the consumption of animal flesh to be against the nature of creation. Modern religious leaders from Pope Benedict XVI to the Dalai Lama have condemned factory farming. Christianity, Islam and Judaism when not condemning the consumption of meat have surrounded it with cautions and restrictions.

In the ninth chapter of the bible, God grants man permission to eat meat out of concession for human weakness. He requires the draining of blood, of life force, as a reminder that this was not his intended plan. “Mankind has a right to nourishment, not to life. Hence the blood, the symbol of life, must be drained, returned to the universe, to God” (Rabbi Jacob Milgrom, PhD).

“Not to hurt or humble our brethren, the animals, is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission: to be of service to them whenever they require it. If you have people who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity you will have people who will deal likewise with other people” (Francis of Assisi).

St. Francis by Johann Baptist Moroder-Lusenberg

“I’m not against organized religion, but I don’t take part in it… when they interpret their religious books as being in favor of meat-eating… [Vegetarianism] is my protest against the conduct of the world. To be a vegetarian is to disagree- to disagree with the course of things today… starvation, cruelty- we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement. And I think it’s a strong one” (I.B. Singer).

Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism consider vegetarianism to be the theoretical ideal of the perfect world and it is advocated as a basic aspect of the spiritual life. The guiding principle of ahimsa means nonviolence and stands for all living things being sacred and they should not be hurt.

I am by no means a religious person, but belief in a deity or practice of faith is not a requirement for bearing witness to the cruelty and injustice of the current meat, dairy and egg manufacturers throughout the world. Faith is not a requirement to understanding that there is something essentially wrong and perverted about our modern practices. Animals are a life force and deserve our respect and care.

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