Saturday, May 18, 2013

Meatless Monday - environmental and health benefits -- and it's Biblical!

Today's Vancouver Sun has an item on a concept that's getting some traction: Meatless Monday. Author Eleanor Boyle says the idea is being picked up in various jurisdictions around the world -- promoting the idea of going one day of the week without meat (although the City of Vancouver is only proclaiming one meatless day so far -- June 10).

(Eleanor has already milked gags like "steakholder engagement", so I'll spare you. Thank Heaven for small mercies.)

The concept is being pitched as a step towards solving some environmental and health problems. There are issues like land use and obesity that are connected with meat-eating, and while experts figure Canadians, Americans and Australians would have to cut their meat consumption in half to allow truly sustainable livestock production, the concept is a start. Kind of like an 8-hour fast or going without coffee for a week, it's a foot in the door and (egad!) one may even like it.

(We have friends on Vancouver Island who are vegetarians, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that the way they cook, you don't really notice that there's no meat.)

But there's another upside to Meatless Monday: it's Biblical.

I don't mean Religious -- as in the dictum that you can only eat fish on Friday -- I mean Biblical in that there's actually a commandment relating to it. It's called the Land Sabbath.

When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord.
Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;
But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard.
What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine: for it is a year of rest for the land.
-- Lev. 25:2-5 (NKJV)

Later, the Lord states that, in the sixth year, the land will produce enough food to last through the seventh year and all the way up to harvest time in Year Eight -- the first year of the new cycle.

Talk about counter-intuitive: have "normal" harvests for five years, then production triples in the sixth year, and then you're supposed shut down production for a full year?

But the idea is to give the land rest for one-seventh of the time, just as we're supposed to devote one day out of seven to rest and the Lord. It's sustainability -- God's version.

But in our urban society, how do we observe the Land Sabbath, ourselves? Meatless Monday is one way to do it. Reduce our food consumption by one-seventh, and we're taking that much pressure off the land. Reduce demand, and there's more food to go around and less "demand" for production-increasing techniques, like growth hormones and genetic modification. 

Of course, God always gives us the choice of whether to follow His commandments or not -- but He makes it clear what the benefits are of obeying. So if people commit to following the Land Sabbath -- and Meatless Monday is a good way to start -- it is written that they'll reap rewards and blessings beyond anything they could have thought of. 

I discuss the Land Sabbath and other ways to look past fears of Global Warming or Climate Change and see how God expects us to behave in Chapter 7 of my book, A Very Convenient Truth -- or, Jesus Told Us There'd Be Days Like These, so Stop Worrying About The Environment And Get With His Program! 

Available as an e-book, US$3.99 at Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

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