|Amanda's the hot one in the middle. Steph's the hot one on the left. I'm the brillo pad on the right.|
I'd planned on making a new recipe for dinner--Tikka Masala. The recipe called for an abundance of chicken thighs, and while I'd usually cut the meat in half and add veggies or beans, I decided to stick with the recipe because I didn't want to make something too hippie-healthy for our guests. I also bought some Cheerios for them because I wasn't sure they'd like the oatmeal-sans-sugar fare we've been having for breakfast around these parts lately.
So my beloved friend and her beloved husband got to our house, we caught up a bit, and then I remembered the Crockpot of molten Indian deliciousness on my counter.
Kimber: (gesturing Martha Stewart-esquely to the gently bubbling pot) Do you guys like Indian?
Amanda: Uhhh .... well, we're sort of vegetarian now.
There I was, making some gelatinous chicken thigh dinner, wondering if they'd be okay with just brown rice. Then they go and flash their superior health standards in my shocked face---I was so excited!!! Another friend
Immediately we made plans to have dinner at my favorite restaurant in Provo, Bombay House--an Indian restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options. Then while the boys went to the priesthood session of conference, I probably talked Amanda's ear off about all my hippie ideas about doctors, birth, nutrition, shampoo--whatever I could think of. I was just so excited to hear that she'd been making a lot of the changes we have--and even more! I got some great ideas from her, some book suggestions, and she just got me pumped about recommitting to living the way I really want to. I love Amanda.
One of the coolest things she shared was her perspective on a scripture I'd read many times before--but apparently I missed a big part of it:
"12 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;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."
D&C 89: 12-13
I'd gotten the "sparingly" part before, and even the "only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine" part--though probably not as much as I should have, but for some reason I never noticed the clarity
of the highlighted portion: God is pleased when we don't eat meat.
Through studying the Word of Wisdom in more depth over the past couple years, Nathan and I have transitioned to eating meat about 3-4 days a week (as opposed to the previous seven days a week), and when we do have meat, we cut it by half and greatly increase the veggies/beans. I was feeling okay with that, but still wondering if I could still do better.
What does sparingly mean? Nathan and I decided that "sparingly" does NOT mean every day. We also pondered what the Lord meant by "only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." We concluded that those are times when fresh fruits and vegetables aren't available, and therefore meat is necessary to sustain an adequate diet.
BUT--in this wonderful day of global trade, there is NEVER a time in our privileged American society when fruits and vegetables are not available. We effectively never experience the conditions of an 1833 winter/cold/famine. We have refrigerators and freezers. We have a bountiful produce section at the grocery store--year round. Yes, your spinach may cost more in February, but if you aren't spending three dollars a pound or more on meat, you'll be amazed at how much your grocery bill drops--especially if you are willing to eat more rice, beans, lentils, and other extremely affordable and healthy foods.
Another insight I gained as I looked to a footnote found in the scriptures above. From "used," we're directed to D&C 59:20 (which is referencing the earth's resources--plants and animals are mentioned specifically):
"And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion."
How do we extort the earth's resources? Is this talking about shady oil companies? Logging companies who irresponsibly destroy forests and leave squirrels homeless and on Medicaid? Maybe--probably. But what about the little hen who lives in a cage barely bigger than she is, waiting in the dark until she's big enough to end up in my enchilada?
|I think the chicken looks happy here, don't you?|
Here's the definition of "extort": To obtain from a reluctant person by violence, torture, intimidation, or abuse of legal or official authority, or (in weaker sense) by importunity, overwhelming arguments, or any powerful influence. (oed.com)
I admit, I used to think "animal rights" was a crock ... full of deliciously slow-cooked beef and potatoes. But does God agree? I'm starting to think He may not. Yes, we have dominion over animals (Gen. 1:26). Yes, the Lord has taught that eating meat should not be forbidden outright (D&C 49:18). But I think we often throw around the word "dominion" as an excuse for our bacon for breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch, hamburger helper for dinner lifestyle. We dismiss reports of cruelty to farm animals as sensationalized products of liberal media meant to drive us from beloved steaks to overpriced sprouts. I admit--I'm ignorant about what happened to the cow in my chili before it was the cow in my chili. Was there extortion (violence and torture, remember) involved? I don't know. Should I know? I think so.
|Because no post about animals is complete without this picture.|
The Lord said, "wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need" (D&C 49: 21).
What fits the description of "need" in regards to this scripture? If I have a pantry full of beans and grains and a fridge full of produce, do I need boneless, skinless chicken breasts to make tacos? Or do I just I want it? Could I maybe try taco-seasoned zucchini and mushroom tacos? (thanks for that idea, Amanda!)
In Genesis 9:11, JST, we gain insight into how the Law of Moses approached the idea of need: "And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands."
I recommend this Ensign article for more insight into animals and the gospel.
What can I conclude from my quick study of what the Lord has revealed to us about eating meat, and the treatment of animals in general? It's tough to write, but I'm really starting to feel that my recent efforts to eat less meat are still very inadequate. What changes should I make? Should I never eat meat again unless I'm starving? Should I never make it at home, but accept it if I'm at my parents' house for Thanksgiving? What if I just go to Smashburger once in a while? I've heard they have a great bean burger ...
I know this is controversial subject, but I'm very interested in other perspectives, especially if they're different from mine! I'm still exploring the topic and hoping to learn more. Please share your thoughts!