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Q & R: Plant-Based Diet

Here's the Q:

Ever since reading "A New Kind of Christian" several years ago your work has been a huge inspiration to me. You've taught me how to be a disciple of Christ without turning off my brain, or feeling like I was constantly 'covering' for God or the Bible. Today my wife and I are long-term missionaries (might carry a negative connotation, I know :) in [Asia], seeking to live the Christ life authentically while blessing our dear friends here.

During the course of my journey I was prompted by Rob Bell and Dan Golden's book "Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile" to begin reading the biblical story through the lens of "how the people of God are to live in relation to oppressive empires."

Prompted to radically consider my involvement in supporting oppressive empires through my political affiliation, consumer habits, entertainment choices, as well as food selection, it gradually became very clear that one of the most basic ways I was constantly feeding an oppressive system of organized violence was simply by eating meat. As a result, I took the practical step I to switch to a plant-based diet about 6 months ago. Not only is this lifestyle much more consistent with my ethical beliefs, but it is also decidedly healthier, and good for the environment.

My question for you is how come I haven't heard any postmodern church leaders publicly call people to adopting a plant-based diet? To me it seems like a necessary measure if we are serious about ending the evils of oppressive empires, extending benevolent care to our fellow creatures, as well as stemming the adverse effects of climate change.

I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts on this question!

Here's the R:
First, I'm glad you mentioned Rob and Don's book "Jesus Wants to Save Christians." Although "Love Wins" got all the attention (and it's an important book, no doubt), JWSC is even more radical and important, I think.

I'm also really glad you raise this question about a plant-based diet. Although I'm not a full vegetarian or vegan (yet), I've been moving toward a plant-based diet for several years. When I'm home, I do the cooking and my wife and I have come to prefer a diet that is based on vegetables, fruits, and grains. (When I travel, it gets more complicated.)

The two books that continue to have a big influence on my thinking (and eating) are
John Robbins' Food Revolution
and
Sailesh Rao's Carbon Dharma

I grew up in the era where a chunk of meat was the basis for a meal, usually supplemented by a starch (meat and potatoes, meat and pasta, etc.). Now, I think of a vegetable as being the basis for a meal, supplemented by a starch or grain: asparagus and rice, green beans and rice, broccoli and pasta, hummus and bread, etc.). I know I still have a long way to go in bringing many areas of my life in line with a smaller ecological footprint ... but I think that everyone can at least begin to shift their diet in the direction of less meat, both for the sake of their health and for the health of the planet (and the poor among us).

BTW - there are some great and funny quotes about vegetarianism here.