Food for Thought!
Colin and I gave up eating meat some 35 years ago, about a year after we were married. It was at a time when food, health, farming practices and animal welfare formed a perfect storm in the public consciousness for the first time.
BSE, also known as Mad Cow Disease, hit the headlines because doctors now recognised this could be transferred to humans by eating beef; McDonalds was highlighted for destroying rainforests to graze hormone-fattened cattle; Edwina Currie, then health secretary (she too had an extra-marital affair!), announced that most eggs in the UK were probably infected with salmonella; saturated fat, present in red meat, was proven incontrovertibly to contribute towards heart disease and Britain’s rising prevalence.
We were unusual among our peer group. Friends and family constantly questioned our reasoning, worried about our wellbeing – physical not so much mental – and we had frequent heated discussions on the subject.
Fast forward 35 years and now around 6% of the UK population are vegetarian and a further 3% are vegan. Almost every time we see friends they are eager to tell us how they now eat meat only once a week or have also become vegetarian – save for the occasional bacon sandwich! Vegetarianism has become mainstream.
I am not a good evangelist – not as a vegetarian nor as a Christian. I am happy to share my faith or tell people what I made for dinner last night, but for me the grey areas make it difficult to argue convincingly with somebody who isn’t open to being convinced.
But I just wonder if we are living through another perfect storm in the public consciousness – a pandemic that has cost many people their health, wellbeing and livelihoods and a climate crisis of our own making. People are seeking answers and explanations and there have been reports of an increased interest in spirituality, since Covid, among all faiths.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if in years to come our friends were eager to tell us, not that they were eating meat once a week, but they were attending church once a week, or had become Christians! Imagine if the Bible, rather than the latest Ottolenghi cookbook, topped the Christmas bestseller list! How amazing if Christianity became mainstream!
As we know though, God is sovereign over time and for the timing in our lives. Two verses from Ecclesiastes give us hope, however, in this matter:
“Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
“There is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” (Ecclesiastes 8:6)
As an aside, our homegroup’s recent study of Daniel provides a compelling argument for vegetarianism when Daniel and his three friends tell the King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace guards,
“Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance to that of the young men who eat the royal food …. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished …” (Daniel 1: 13-15)