I am a vegetarian (not a Vegan; I eat some fish). There are many reasons that I am a vegetarian, one being that I have suffered two heart attacks and need to live and eat as healthy as possible. But I also find good Christian and biblical arguments to support the vegetarian lifestyle. Here are a few points to consider:
1. Man was originally created to thrive on a non-meat diet. Meat eating involves death, and prior to the Fall there was no death.
2. After the flood meat eating was allowed because all the vegetation had been destroyed. But this was not the ideal diet for man.
3. The Levitical laws give explicit guidelines for what animals could be eaten and how they were to be killed and cooked. (Leviticus 11) During the time of the Law, animal sacrifices were made and portions of the meat were consumed by the people. But again, this was not the ideal diet and life under the Law was not the ideal spiritual condition for man.
4. God in His grace provided a rememdy for sin so that man could be restored to perfection and live eternally in an ideal spiritual condition. Since Christ was the final and complete sacrifice for sin (the spotless Lamb), then animals no longer have to be sacrificially slaughtered. Through faith in Him and the redemption of baptism, we can begin to be restored to the ideal spiritual state that Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to the Fall.
5. In this age of Grace killing animals is not necessary for our atonement, and eating meat is not necessary for our survival. We can (and I would argue should) try as much as possible to return to the lifestyle and diet of man in his pre-fallen state.
6. The eating of meat has moral and social ramifications as well as physical ramifications. The amount of feed and grain that it takes to feed one cow could sustain a thousand people, while the beef that the cow will provide might feed a hundred or so. (I can't give the exact stats on this, but I have read them and it is very interesting. I'm sure you can find these stats easily on line.) The point is that meat eating can be a selfish indulgence that actually contributes to the starvation of millions of people around the world. As Christians, we should consider our all of our actions and the effect that they have on our fellow man.
7. Although animals are not created in the image of God like human beings, they still deserve compassion and respect. Animals feel pain and suffer, and they should not have to do so unnecessarily. As Christians, we should never abuse animals or cause them to suffer simply to satisfy our indulgences. Chickens, cattle, and pigs often exist in tortuous conditions for the duration of their lives and are then killed in a merciless and painful manner. Even if we choose to eat meat, we should abhor and oppose the cruel and unnecessary treatment of these creatures. Let's remember that they are creatures, and therefore they point to the Creator.
8. As Christians we should promote peace and refrain from killing. I do not consider hunting or meat eating to be murder. I think that's ridiculous. But I do know that since I have become a vegetarian I have been less easily agitated and felt more at peace with myself. I think that a vegetarian lifestyle will help to promote peace in society, although I would never advocate the legislation of such a diet. It's a personal choice that I encourage others to make themsleves.
OK, those are just a few brief points. I am not a Vegan, because quite frankly I think there is a demonic element to the Vegan movement. Peter Singer is a big Vegan proponent, and his rabid pro-abortion views are down right scary. I think Vegans sometimes respect animal life more than human life, and I can never get down with that. (DISCLAIMER: This is not meant to be a political topic or a debate about abortion. If you want to discuss abortion please go to another thread. I only mentioned abortion because it relates to the Vegan views of Peter Singer. I am certainly glad to discuss abortion, but I have been warned not to do so on a "non-political" thread and I do not want ot make that mistake again. Thank you for understanding.)
Oh yeah, some may wonder why I eat fish. Well, Jesus ate fish so I won't try to be holier than Him. Also, fish (no shellfish or catfish) is very good for one's health if it is properly prepared. And fish are not treated cruelly like the cattle, chickens, and pigs that are raised for massive consumption.
My Priest told me that according to Church Tradtion Jesus did in fact eat meat other than fish. So I am aware that Orthodoxy does not compel one to be a vegetarian. These are my own personal opinions, and I think they in no way contradict Orthodox teaching. We must also remember that animals in Jesus' day were raised and slaughtered in a humane fashion. I don't think Our Lord would condone how these creatures are being unecessarily brutalized today.
Let me know what you guys think.
I promised to myself not to read the other answers to this topic. I'll directly give my personal answer to your questions. As a premise, I state firmly that I have a strong respect for vegetarians, but I'm not one, and don't feel it necessary for salvation.
1.Actually in this life we are still mortal, we must wait for the results of the Resurrection to have a perfected body back. 2. I'm not a Creationist. Anyway, even assuming a literal interpretation of Genesis: the dove shows that plants survived (the olive) and on the Ark there were only couples of animals: what would they eat if they had to wait for the animals to have babies? Eating food is necessary for sustainance in a fallen world in general 3. Jesus said that what enters our mouth is pure, but what gets out is impure, declaring all alimentary laws ineffective. Also Paul repeated that what is eaten with a blessing is pure. 4. The same as answer (1) 5. When I saw a friend of mine FAIDING for having refused to eat meat for some days, I can assure you that at least a minimal assumption of meat is somehow necessary for our existence 6. This is a proof from economy, not from revelation. Are you putting at rest your car for a similar reason? 7. When Jesus transferred some demons into pigs and had them suicide in a pit, he didn't show the same kind of respect. Animals, while having a great function in the world (I love pets and think they're adorable and loving to us) are clearly not at the same level as humans, and shouldn't be overestimated. The image of God is in mankind alone: animals are only creatures of God as well as stones and plants, you know? Do you show the same kind of respect to apples? 8. Hitler was vegetarian too. Don't think being vegetarian helped him be better: the two things are not necessarily linked to each other!
I also add two reflections:1. the Orthodox have an ultra-vegan diet for some 250 days a year... 2. why do you eat fish? Aren't they animals too?
In Christ, Alex
Good responses. Thank you.
I want to be clear that I never stated or implied in any way that what one eats or does not eat is essential to spiritual salvation. I started this thread to express my personal views and generate some good discussion about diet, health, social consciousness, and Christain teaching. I think that we have all learned a lot from these various responses. I have learned much, although I choose to reamain a vegetarian (not a vegan.)
I eat fish because Our Lord ate fish. But of course I abstain from it during our Fast days.
I asked why it would be wrong to eat human flesh (as long as one did not murder in order to obtain it) if the argument about "all things are clean" is to remain consistent. Of course I know that humans are uniquely created in the image of God, and thus are to be respected above all other created things. That's one reason I am a pacifist.
I like your comments about vegetation being present even during the flood. I think you are correct. Someone earlier pointed out that there must have also been seaweed. I can't remember where I heard that argument about God allowing meat to be eaten since the flood had destroyed all the vegetation. (Maybe the Seven Day Adventist teach this?) That argument obviously has some flaws in it, and is not the crux of my vegetarian convictions anyway.
Thanks again for the good comments.