The Food Morality Movement & Health

In Food, The Big Picture by Stephen M. Vantassel0 Comments

It is truly a strange occurrence to see how a vocal portion of our culture is more concerned about “what you eat than who you have sex with.” I forgot where I saw that statement, but it isn’t too much of an overstatement. How often have you reached for this or that food and been told that item is killing you; a statement often accompanied with a smug self-righteous look?

In fact, being obsessed with “healthy eating” is a disease called “orthexia nervosa.”  While plenty of dietary habits can exhibit this behavior, one group, the vegan lobby, is particularly noteworthy. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine wants America to break the meat habit. Though not exactly sure whether the Physician’s Committee is telling us to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet (their site uses both terms), the video clearly insinuates that eating meat is one of the causes (I assume they believe a significant cause) of several substantial health issues such as stroke, cardio-vascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and kidney failure.

Wow. That is quite a claim. If you look more carefully at the text below the video you see some wiggle words, such as references to a study that found eating more meat increased early death and eating more vegetables decreased the risk of early death. Well I certainly have no complaint with that. Americans probably do eat proportionally too much meat in relation to vegetables. But why would that result in the Physician’s Committee telling us to avoid meat all-together?

Consider the articles by Kris Gunnars “5 Potential Problems with Vegan Diets” and the more powerful article by Denise Minger “4 Reasons Why Some People Do Well as Vegans (While Others Fail Miserably.” Minger’s article notes research that found how some people have metabolisms that don’t process the nutrition from plants as well as others. Thus for some people, a vegan diet could put them at dangerous risk of health problems due to inadequate nutrition.

Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the fact that food isn’t just about feeding the body’s nutrition needs. It’s also about pleasure and enjoyment. Because if we can’t enjoy food, then who would want to live longer?

Stephen M. Vantassel is a tutor of theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity. He specializes in environmental ethics. His book, Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009) explains why an animal rights perspective on animals fails to be environmentally responsible.

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