Friday, April 4, 2008

A Nut of a Different Color

Yesterday, my friend S. brought her kids over for their weekly music lessons. While I was teaching lessons, she picked up and started to read my latest copy of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal for the Weston A. Price Foundation. A little more detail: my friend is Seventh Day Adventist and vegetarian. And this particular issue of Wise Traditions is all about vegetarianism and the evils thereof.

Yes. I do believe the appropriate phrase is "Ohh... sssnap."

So when I came out of the other room, she had a slightly sour look on her face as she closed up the magazine and said, "So... What do you think of vegetarianism?"

Now, am I really so agreeable that she didn't already know this about me? I really need to work on my opinionation skills a little bit...

So, I took a deep breath and said, "Well, I don't believe that it's healthy, so I wouldn't do it."

And thus ensued a classic Vegetarianism vs. Traditional Foods discussion.

"Research blahblahblah healthy blahblahblah live longer... less disease... blah blah blah all the WAPF research is wrong and SDA research is right."

All the usual.

Okay, so I admit that I played the devil's advocate maybe a little. I knew which buttons to push. When I said that a high fiber diet is detrimental and went on to glorify a diet high in saturated fat, she looked at me like I was had cockroaches in my ears. I think she was truly shocked. And I call myself a health nut? She's known my emphasis on eating healthy, but was absolutely dumbfounded to learn that I don't hold vegetarianism as the ultimate ideal of health (but rather, completely the opposite).

(Aside: I'm not in the business of explaining my position on this. It's already been done, and better than I could do it. All the research is there at the WAPF website and many others I could point you to, so if you're interested, start reading. Amazing stuff!)

But what really got me is her supposed "Biblical" defense of vegetarianism. "God knows what's good for us," she said, "and He created us eating plants."

"But we are not what we were when we were created. After the flood, God said, 'Here, these animals are good for you to eat'."

She argued that it was only because people wanted to eat meat and God gave in, but said it would bring disease to them. When asked to explain, she referred to the children of Israel complaining about the manna and God gave them meat and the all got sick. Uh... What? That's the poorest exegesis I have ever heard. It was a pretty sudden and severe illness that they suffered, and we certainly don't have that when we eat meat now! Obviously, that was not the first time they had eaten meat. People first ate meat after the flood ("Because there was nothing else to eat!" she argued. Bologna. The bird had an olive branch, no? There were plants growing when they got off the ark!). In this case, the people were complaining about the food God had given them, so God afflicted them with illness. The affliction had a specific purpose (as all affliction does) and it had nothing to do with eating meat.

My personal theory on that is that the world was WAY different before the flood. After the flood, the world was far more corrupted than before. Perhaps people could no longer get all the nutrition they needed from plants for one reason or another. In any event, God saw fit that people should eat animal foods and we have ever since. Every culture on earth (including Biblical) has eaten some amount of animal foods and knew them to be health-giving. And we should be thankful for the food God has provided for our nourishment.

The discussion ended with her shaking her head in amazement and agreeing to disagree because she could see that we were so far at opposite ends of the spectrum that there would be no concessions on either side.

What I've never quite understood is how someone could really stand to eat that much soy. Yech. Food should be delicious and enjoyable! Bacon and eggs, butter and cream... The yummiest stuff is actually the best!

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