Is it okay to eat meat?
Views 15 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 1 - 30 - 2019 | By: Wes Witsken
Should we eat meat? As I write that question, I can practically hear some of you scoffing —and I identify with you. However, before you mindlessly savor your next steak, your decision to eat meat should be preceded by contemplation about being good stewards of the Earth.
Following with our Christian call to be global-minded citizens, one of the most important (topics is that of our relationship with the natural environment. Most of us are familiar with the fact that greenhouse gasses are causing a general global warming effect, but what is probably unfamiliar to us is that farming is a significant contributing factor. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 9% of all greenhouse gasses emitted in 2016 came from the agricultural sector. Considering the fact that we are called to be stewards of the Earth, this figure should at least get us thinking about ways that we can reduce the emission caused by farming.
Therefore, one of the options we should decide upon is whether we eat animals. The positive option has merit: if we reduce our meat consumption, our reliance on agriculture will decrease and will contribute less to pollution. According to a report from 30 global nutrition and dietary scientists, to combat the growing meat industry’s environmental impact, a global dietary restriction on meat is necessary. Their argument rests on the reduction of such factors as greenhouse gas emission, water and crop use, fertilizer pollution, and land use.
Of course, the negative response to that answer is also valid and more common. Meat is delicious, and from a Christian perspective, it was intended for us to be enjoyed. Immediately, I think of Acts 10:9-16, when God literally gives Paul a vision of animals he should eat, even rebuking Paul for avoiding them because of their uncleanliness. Animal consumption is not only allowed but even encouraged by our Creator. Granted, this doesn’t give us the freedom to unjustly torture our livestock, but it doesn’t preclude us from eating them either.
My opinion is simple and not too unique. I love meat and dairy, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. Since I’m a first-year on the meal plan with barely any income, it would take significant compromises to my quality of life to go vegan. If I had the economic resources and mental fortitude, I could imagine being vegan, but I believe that my context doesn’t allow me to exercise that choice right now. If you go to Westmont and dine vegan, you exercise a willpower and a commitment that we can call especially virtuous and responsible. Conversely, I do not see it as a vice for others to eat meat.
For example, concerning people in especially impoverished communities, the consumption of meat is something we shouldn’t blame either, because their choices are even more limited. Therefore, for those of us with the willpower and the means, veganism is a virtue—but for those for whom it isn’t practical, it’s ok to eat meat, as long as we still care for our environment in other ways.