It’s not much of a secret that Christianity Today is Christian in name only. This became quite clear after they came out of the closet with Mark Galli’s unethical and unbiblical argument weighing into politics in December. But the influence of the magazine is not waned completely. And this season of lent they published vegan propaganda under the guise of good stewardship towards creation. In an article titled Going Vegan for Lent Can Orient Us to Christ’s Calling, there is no shortage of bad history used to further bad science and worse theology.
The article begins by establishing a precedent of veganism and Christianity, specifically during lent.
Yet thousands of years before veganism became popular, the Bible and Christian tradition included fasting as a way of maintaining healthy attitudes toward food and stewarding the earth responsibly.
This premise that fasting is about stewardship and healthy attitudes towards food is patently false. The goal of fasting is to rely on God, alone, “A man does not live on bread alone.” It has nothing to do with caring for creation or one’s own health. The author, Elyse Durham, then goes on to say that the Bible promotes veganism
In Scripture, fasting is a means of repentance and of crying out for God’s attention and help. But fasting doesn’t necessarily require total abstention from food: it can also mean the simple avoidance of meat and dairy, as in the case of Daniel (Dan. 10:3). John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1–4), as a consumer of locusts and honey, was not strictly a vegan, but through his ascetic diet and lifestyle often causes him to be considered the father of monastic fasting traditions. These Scriptural examples set the precedent for Christian traditions of abstaining from animal products, particularly during Lent.
Breaking down the examples of “veganism” in Scripture does not support Durham’s case. John the Baptist ate locus, an animal therefore he was not remotely vegetarian. I would further maintain that the consumption of animal, as opposed to animal biproducts, is meat. I also say this as a staunch supporter of eating alternative meats, which includes insects. In Daniel’s case he abstained from delicious foods, or anything that would make eating enjoyable. So I suppose this supports veganism but in no capacity is this done for Daniel’s health, but rather a sense of terror. The last sentence then presupposes a biblical basis for lent which doesn’t really exist. Lent is a man-made tradition, unfounded in Scripture (or else she would have cited it.)
The tradition of veganism during lent is not a good one. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church declared it a sin to eat butter during lent. Bluntly put, this is legalism. However there are factors making this particularly worse. People back then had more austere diets to begin with, so removing fat from their diets was effectively a way to starve populations. On top of that the standards do not make sense, such as Catholics eating fish on Fridays. This also became a means to sell indulgences. Jim Mica of the Living Lutheran notes that butter fueled the Reformation. He says:
Butter doesn’t get talked about much when we review Reformation history today, but Luther did bring it up in his 1520 address “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.” The bulk of the essay deals with the church and politics, the interpretation of Scripture and the “priesthood of all believers”—but Luther brought up butter at least a half dozen times.
When Luther—as translated by C.M. Jacobs—expounded on unjust church taxes, he went into full rhetorical mode: “For at Rome they themselves laugh at the fasts, making us foreigners eat the oil with which they would not grease their shoes, and afterwards selling us liberty to eat butter and all sorts of other things … thinking it is a greater sin to eat butter is a greater sin than to lie, to swear, or even to live unchastely.”
It would later be concluded that the more dairy rich nations in Europe would break from the Catholic Church. The tradition of veganism is not a proud one as it was oil on the corruption of the Catholic Church to the point of Reformation in 1517.
Christianity Today, after championing a horrid tradition, moves to make a moral argument for veganism. First the article states that we should have compassion towards animals, implying that eating them is against creation. But rather than expanding and making a theological argument about creation, that likely assumes that there was no animal death prior to the fall, the moral argument rails against factory farming.
Bookless argues that factory farms that use unsustainable, inhumane practices violate God’s call to steward the earth and its creatures. “Some of our modern, intensive, industrial farming methods go plain against the teaching of Scripture on having compassion for God’s creation,” he said. Therefore, purchasing, preparing, and eating meat raised on this kind of farm could be seen as ethically, and perhaps even biblically, questionable.
I would disagree as this is a stretch, while not all meat farming is ethical, not all meat comes from such.
Daily meat consumption is relatively new in human history. According to Wilson J. Warren, author of Meat Makes People Powerful, global consumption of meat skyrocketed after World War II, driven by globalization, federal aid to factory farms, and expanded consumer markets—as well as hefty advertising from the meat industry. Beef in particular—the most resource-hungry of all meats—has been aggressively marketed to Americans. (Consider, for instance, the 1984 “Where’s the Beef” campaign, or the 1993 “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.”) This widespread marketing continues today: In 2019, the American beef industry spent over $40 million on advertising alone.
At what point is any of this bad? The expansion of meat in our diets has caused far fewer people to starve. If you want to feed the hungry, veganism is the opposite of how you do that. The abundance of food we now have is a good thing, a bounty to be thankful to God for.
In 2020, Americans are on track to eat more meat than ever before. And despite the recent introduction of a plethora of meat alternatives, the USDA predicts that Americans’ consumption of meat will only increase over the next decade.
Again, this is a good thing. Furthermore the plethora of meat alternatives are worse for you than meat itself.
The differences between the Impossible Whopper and the real deal are rather nominal on the surface, however a deeper understanding of nutritional science favors the real meats in all of the above cases. Not all proteins are equal. Animal based protein is nutritionally superior to plant based proteins, especially soy which is bad for men. Plant proteins lack essential amino acids (the building block of what a protein is) in comparison to animal proteins.
In addition to a less complete amino acid portfolio these fake meats contain numerous suspect chemicals. For instance, Methylcellulose is a filler that has no health benefits and possible adverse effects.
Christianity Today continues its moral argument by denouncing consumerism, in a non sequitur. Then they promote climate hysteria, claiming that livestock contribute to climate change. It’s important to note, which they do not, that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Before closing the author cites Karen Swallow Prior, the one who said it’s ‘unChristlike” to refer to people who get and provide abortions as murderers and would go on to endorse the homosexual Revoice Conference, as a “Christian writer and thinker” further signaling the author’s lack of a Christian worldview. The article ends with conflating veganism and fasting.
When you have a Christian worldview, you do not rely on the standards that the world creates to make moral arguments for acting on Christian faith. There is no moral, let alone Christian, case to make for veganism, nor is there any reason to conflate abstaining from certain meats and animal products with fasting.
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