(From the April - June 2019 issue of VOX)
Hands up if you have felt even slightly guilty about eating meat recently? It has been hard to miss the billboards, headline articles and promotion of vegan options everywhere. As someone who has gone mostly vegetarian a few times (though I’ve never given up eggs and cheese), I’ve learned I do much better mentally and physically with regular red meat consumption. And, having worked with clients over the last 10 years, I know many of them are in the same boat. Many health challenges alleviate or disappear with dietary changes, including regular beef and/or lamb consumption.
There are those who claim the Bible advocates a vegan diet, but we can clearly see our Father has provided animals for us to eat, “You may eat as many animals as the Lord your God gives you…you may eat meat whenever you want” (Deut 12:15, 20 NLT). In fact, it seems to me He delights in us eating well. “He let them feast on the crops of the fields. He nourished them with honey from the cliffs, with olive oil from the hard rock. He fed them curds from the herd and milk from the flock, together with the fat of lambs and goats. He gave them choice rams and goats from Bashan, together with the finest wheat” (Deut 32:13, 14 NLT). Isn’t it interesting that apart from olive oil, pretty much everything else God provided for His people are the foods we’re told to avoid? Over 20 times in the Old Testament, a land flowing with “milk and honey” is God’s blessing to His people.
In the New Testament, animal food consumption is a common occurrence, the only meat-eating dilemma facing the early church was whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols, see Romans 14 and I Corinthians 10 (not such an issue today unless you consider the golden arches of McDonald’s an idol…).
In the vegan debate many people miss the fact that a diet devoid of animal products is a diet deficient in many nutrients. Vitamin B12 is the most well-known, but did you know that you cannot get vitamin A (retinol) or K2 from plant products? Nor can you obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc from plants. Many aid organisations regularly highlight the significant challenge facing impoverished peoples who do not have access to meat and other animal products – chronic nutrient deficiency – which is particularly dangerous in growing babies and children. For anyone interested, I recently wrote a blog on this (www.nutritionforlifeireland.com/should-we-believe-everything-we-read).
It is important to acknowledge the ethical issues concerning industrial animal production. We are blessed in Ireland that our cattle and sheep are outdoors on grass for many months of the year. This is His plan, “And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat [the cattle] and be full” (Deuteronomy 11:15 AMP). This is “God’s way of doing and being right” (Matt 6:33 AMP) and it benefits the land, animals and farmers. Buying Irish beef and lamb, along with free range eggs, dairy from small producers, wild fish and so on will support farmers who care about their livestock (Proverbs 12:10 NLT), ensure the animals live healthy, happy lives and promote a healthy, diverse land.
If you are struggling with the morals and ethics of animal consumption - I know many believers are - meditate on these verses for a few weeks. And enjoy the food He has provided to bless and nourish us without guilt or condemnation.
Linda de Courcy MSc., is a Dublin based nutritional therapist and certified pilates instructor who is passionate about empowering people to take control of their health. For more information or to contact Linda visit her website at www.nutritionforlifeireland.com, on Twitter @LindadeCourcy or Instagram @nutritionforlifeireland.