A note on veganism and vegetarianism (1)

A note on veganism and vegetarianism (1) February 11, 2019


Wheat at harvest time
A rich harvest of wheat (Wikimedia Commons)


Over the past several years, I’ve enjoyed a few dinner table conversations at the annual FreedomFest in Las Vegas that, among others, included John Mackey, the libertarian co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market.  So, a few months ago, I read John Mackey, Alona Pulde, and Matthew Lederman, The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity (New York: Grand Central Life and Style, 2017).


I found the book, on the whole, rather persuasive.  And not eccentric.  I may write a bit more about it in subsequent weeks, though maybe this mention of it will turn out to be enough.


I’m not inclined to food crankiness, though, nor to adopting a diet that would require a great deal of focused attention or that would be socially distancing.  I simply don’t want food to be a central issue in my life; I have other things on which I would prefer to concentrate.  With this in mind, vegetarianism and, even more so, veganism seem to me a bridge too far.  And I simply don’t see a compelling moral argument for veganism; I see nothing intrinsically wicked about eating eggs, let alone consuming dairy products.  Further, although I do understand the ethical argument for vegetarianism and am more than a little sympathetic to it, the Latter-day Saint theological argument against regarding the consumption of meat as sinful or wrong seems to me decisive (for a Latter-day Saint).


For one thing, Doctrine and Covenants 89:10-15 plainly permits the eating of animals.  (See below.)  For another, Jesus, whom I believe to have been sinless, presumably ate lamb at the Last Supper (a Passover celebration).  And the miracle of “feeding the multitude” (recorded in all four gospels, at Matthew 14:13-21Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:1-14) plainly involved both “loaves” and “fishes,” as did the apparently distinct miraculous provision of food mentioned at Matthew 15:32-39 and Mark 8:1-9.  Moreover, Jesus assisted in the catching of fish during his mortal life (see Luke 5:1-11) and, after he had risen from the dead, in both the catching of fish and the preparation of fish for eating (see John 21:1-14), and it seems unlikely that he himself didn’t eat fish on those occasions, as well.  He certainly ate fish at least once after his resurrection (Luke 24:41-43; )  Finally, in the vision granted to the apostle Peter at the house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa, divine revelation declared the killing and eating of animals to be “clean” (Acts 10:10-16).


With all that said, however, I think that both the scientific and theological cases are strong for reducing the amount of meat that many of us eat:


Verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.  Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.  All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; and these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.  (Doctrine and Covenants 89:10-15, emphasis mine)


To be continued.



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