Monday, March 13, 2006

My wife doesn't eat meat

This is from my wife's blog

So today it finally happened... I almost ate meat for the first time in ?? years... note the word almost. My worst fear came true. Cheyenne and I were at the house where we tutor a Sudanese family in English. We were done practicing for the day and were about to leave when the mom told me to sit down... I could tell that she was making us food. I'm sure a gesture of thanks for helping out. She speaks no English and I spend my time there helping her and Cheyenne helps the kids (there are 8 kids). Anyway a few minutes later she has one of the kids invite Cheyenne in and we sit at the table and she puts this beautiful food in front of us. I asked her if there was meat in it... by just saying meat (that is a word she knows) and she said yes.... There was a beautiful meat sauce and rice. I asked her son who speaks pretty good English to tell her I'm a vegetarian... there is no word for that in their language. I felt like such a jerk, but the thought of eating meat was making me queasy. So I served up some to Cheyenne and just took the rice for myself... thank God that there was rice so I could eat something... I'm such a western jerk! I know the food was beautiful because Cheyenne told me :)

Now I am not sure that there is a word in arabic for vegitarian, but maybe the kid just didn't know it, but it is an interesting topic. When does our missionary actions come in conflict with our western values, and what to do in that situation. My poor wife would have vomited the meat when she got home probably, and that would have been pretty funny.

Anyways, my wife is a hero of mine, she loves people like I wish I could.

the rev


Rebecca said...

oooh, that's an interesting one, the whole "I'm vegetarian but I don't want to reject hospitality" thing.

I got out of it last time I faced this issue - I told people I was a Seventh Day Adventist, and that was lingo they could understand. It confused them though, because they knew I attended a Baptist church in Australia...but in a country where churches have kinda mirrored tribal boundaries, this created really interesting opportunities for conversation about why I don't care about the denomination of church provided I can worship Jesus. :)

Anonymous said...

It is popular wisdom to cut back on meat. I wonder if vegetarianism is an unnecessary extreme. That is, are there significant health benefits to cutting out meat altogether vs just having a low amount in your diet?

Can any biblical light be shed on this, Rev?

Rebecca said...

kieren, i'm vego not for health reasons (though I don't like how meat makes me feel - I seem to have trouble digesting it) but for economic/environmental reasons...meat is just so dang inefficient in terms of energy consumption (mind you, a lot of soy products are pretty bad too!). In Australia especially, where our soil is really vulnerable, it just doesn't make ecological sense. Plus my housemates and I eat really, really cheaply because we don't eat meat - we spend very little on food, but still have enough for expensive cheese, coffee and other luxuries.

For me this all ties in with being a good steward of resources, caring for Creation, yadda yadda yadda...

Anonymous said...

Cattle do have a place in balanced farming. Marginal land unsuitable for crops can be used for grazing.

Modern crop farming practices leave a lot to be desired - reduction in seed diversity and high reliance on fossil fuel inputs (fertiliser and machinery) to name two.

Some of the health reasons for cutting out meat completely are also questionable. The saturated/unsaturated fat argument, for example, might have missed the real culprit of hydrogentated fats (trans fats). It can be more difficult to acquire a balanced nutritional profile on a vegan diet.

The real issue might be that world population has grown too much relative to land resources available to sustain a fair production and distribution of meat produce. But, in spite of some environmental problems, this doesn't appear to be a problem in Australia.

Anonymous said...

How can you use an argument of inefficient energy consumption, when you live in a society that is soaking in vastly more energy per capita than many other countries? How long do you think our consumption of fossil fuels is going to sustain us?

The "peak oil" theory (and how we may already have reached that point) suggests that we have bigger concerns than what food we eat - our whole food system is under threat, not to mention our comparitively luxurious lifestyle.

Christop said...

I'm going off meat for similar reasons to what Bec's said. But I'd rather eat meat than reject someone's hospitality.

Anonymous said...

Incase she ever needs to know, there is a word for it in Hindi (The main Indian language), it is called
Sakahari (pronounced as Saakahaari). Saka means branch, which is kind of interesting as the word for vegetables is Saabzi.

Amit C

Rebecca said...

Kieren, I agree with everything you've said, but it's not a reason not to eat vegetarian.

The soil in Australia is the oldest, and most fragile and vulnerable in the world. Cattle have no place in Australia - unless we're talking kangaroos and emus. Cows, pigs, horses, camels - all are utterly terrible because their hooves cause untold damage to the soil.

I agree that modern crop practices leave a lot to be desired - but on the whole, they're still better than meat, and there's plenty of eco-friendly alterantives that I pursue - like buying organic and locally grown produce.

I also agree about the general sustainability of our lifestyles, but that's not an argument against vegetarianism! What are you proposing? That we throw up our hands and say it's too hard, and consume vast quantities of meat because we're going to die anyway?! ;)

john jensen said...

My wife actually believes it would be morally inappropriate to eat something she would not kill herself. So she will eat fish, so she is not a strict vegetarian. I also like to say that she would also eat husband, since she would have not qualms killing me. :)

I think biblically you cannot really make a case directly for vegetarianism, but could through the stewardship scriptures that Bec listed.

I was a vegetarian for about six months, when I started training very hard as a professional fighter, including lots of weight lifting, it was just too difficult to get enough protein, with a vegetarian diet. It would probably be a good idea for me health wise, especially with my problem with kidney stones to go back to a veggie diet now that I no longer need such protein and calorie dense foods just to keep from ketosis. It is just hard because I truely love lamb korma, and steak with red wine. Though I can't afford it much anyways.

Bec gives some great reasons for us to atleast cut way back on our meat consumption, due to care for our envirement. My brother is a vegan and he will most likely chime in with some great words of wisdom.

By the way, I am very proud of me little brother, he is an amazing man, and more moral than I am even though he is an athiest.

the rev

Rebecca said...

Rev, I really agree with you about the scriptural stuff - there's no clear mandate. I try as much as possible to eat meat because I think it is in accordance with the broad principles of scripture.

Interestingly, I have one Muslim vego friend who has the same view - she doesn't believe there's any clear requirement in the Koran, but being vego fits in with the broad principles of it.

Like Raquel, I eat fish because I am happy to kill it myself (though there's still the ecological issues, so I try to shop carefully). I really abhor the fact that we can go into our cold, white supermarkets and buy a nicely packaged piece of pink flesh that looks nothing like the living, breathing creature that suffered in getting us that steak.

I also have no moral problem with eating rabbit, kangaroo or emu, because they're culled and they get to live in the wild - so the ramifications for sustainability and pain are different.

I don't have issues with other people eating meat - I've made my own choice, they can make theirs. However I do think that when you think about it, there's plenty of moral arguments for being vegetarian, and absolutely none for eating meat (the only arguments in favour of eating meat are nutritional ones - they're not moral arguments).

Anonymous said...

It's the "Don't kill anything with a face" principle.

It's time for another Jack Handy quote:

"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."

But trees don't have faces, do they?

KLJ said...

The Jack Handy quote is hillarious.
I'm uber extreme, which is to say I'm a vegan.
Lots of reasons, mostly environmental. And I must chime in; being part of a wastefull society doesn't mean you shouldn't try to be as concious and conservative of your own consumption as possible. I live in a land of obesity, but I will still strive to exercise and eat right.

The hospitality issue is a tricky one. A Colombian friend brought me food cooked by his wife especially for me after I shared my lunch with her husband. I explained to him that I was vegetarian and that I would make an exception but if I did I would become ill since my body's become unaccustomed to eating meat. I thanked him and asked him to thank her. He understood and we're still pals.

I try to be open and tolerant to the cultures of others, so I don't feel to bad asking folks to return the favor. And he didn't seem to mind at all.

Some Buddhists are vegan and some believe that you should accept whatever is offered to you as hospitality. Interesting but not for me.

Anonymous said...

I eat meat, but will accept vegetarian food if it is offered.

I think that's a more flexible form of hospitality.

Someone said, "Won't it be funny, all those healthy people lying in hospital when they get old wondering what they are dying of?"

urbanmonk said...

I eat pretty much anything.. Ive never really considered the biblical implications of meat eating.. ( or more to the point, I ve never considered it that big a deal)

I have been in situations on short term mission exposure trips O.S. where Ive been forced to eat something that could make me sick in the name of cultural sensetivity. ( i didnt get sick, and thoroughly enjoyed the delicious, humble offerings)

I also work full time in a supermarket; currently, fresh foods logistics are moving to even more pre packaged forms in the name of efficiency.. cabbages, watermelons, steaks, mince, are increasingly being delivered to stores pre cut from the ware house. it is the drive to increase sales and profits that determines ( obviously) pretty much everything.

What I get concerned about is how prevalent pre packaged and convenience foods have become. I wonder about the biblical implications of even working in a supermarket, let alone the sneaky marketing that is employed just to get us to spend more money.

Anonymous said...

Possibly pre-packaged convenience foods suit many people's life patterns better. Especially those who live alone, which I understand is a growing number.

For those who live in family units, such as myself, the "traditional" cooking and/or home preparation can still take advantage of fresher foods.

But now that you have mentioned it, Urbanmonk, there does seem to have been a reduction in the variety of fresh food on offer in supermarkets.

Anonymous said...


i have a friend that won't eat meat because of the fact that it takes so much grain to feed animals when there are millions starving. i think that's a great reason!

i still eat meat though! :)
it seems selfish doesn't it.

KLJ said...

When my nephews ask why I'm vegan I tell them that I hate animals. If we eliminate the market for animals they'll stop keeping them around.

When my nieces ask they get a real answer, because they're girls so they actually listen and they actually care beyond looking for ridicule fuel.

Anonymous said...

Man I love meat!

Every time I give it up I get fat on cheese and I am allergic to it!

What else can I give up to be more in line with the rest of the earth? Help, please!!

Anonymous said...

Jon, I suggest you give up your belief in God. The church could do with a few more atheists.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I KNOW you are not a vegetarian. Wazzup with this post?

KLJ said...

Well Jon,
You could work to be aware of where the meat you eat is coming from. Try to get meat from people who raise it in a repsonsible fashion (not McDonalds though they're doing better with their chicken lately). And for your own sake try to find meat that's not full of antibiotics, mind you I have no idea what restriction on such are like outside of the U.S. but here it seems like it's anything goes on drugging up the beef.

The main thing you can do though it to drive as little as possible. That's what our planet needs the most right now. Less petrol burning.

Okay, you asked so I gave my answer, but thats enough preaching for me now.

Anonymous said...

The main thing you can do though it to drive as little as possible.

We Americans went to Iraq to liberate all that oil, but there's been some temporary roadblocks. If the rest of you could just cut back on petroleum usage, while we greedy Americans continue to guzzle it like there's no tomorrow. As a sign of our appreciation we promise to spend up big with reckless abandon and to continue to invade, torture, smear faeces over, threaten with mock executions, and generally run roughshod over the rest of the world because we have the biggest guns.

God bless America.

john jensen said...


you are barking at the wrong dog there bro. My brother has been riding a bike and taking public transport since before it was cool to talk about these things. He has marched for peace and protested every military action the US has ever taken. He abhors the US attitude towards oil, and consumption, and is fighting to both awaken the public, and to see the current administration be removed.

If you want to talk shit about America and their attitudes you will not find a greater ally than my brother, so please don't hang the sins of america on him, and I won't hand the sins of Jonny dumbshit on you

the rev

Anonymous said...

Feel free to verbally attack me any time you wish, Rev. After all, it's only words.

I'd like to see how far you go.

john jensen said...

I am not talking about verbally attacking anyone, I am talking about being fair. I know that Froggy Howard does not speak for everyone in Australia, and I know that I cannot blame every Australian for the horrible things that have taken place, like the refusal to say sorry to indiginous Australians, children overboard, or the current detention of immigrants at Maribyrnong detention center.

So do not denigrate my brother for his place of origin when he is trying as hard as he can to change things, and not be the stereotypical american.

the rev

KLJ said...

Kieren likes to make assumptions about people and attack them based on those assumptions.
It's fun, and it's easy.
Well founded insults are way more effective.
But who are we kidding. We all know I'm the ugly American, and boy howdy am I enjoy all this fat cash I made profiteering in Iraq.
Now if you'll pardon me I must get back to opressing Blacks and Latino's while policing the third world and bowing down to Isreal. It's a busy job but someone's gotta do it. Now where did I leave that cheeseburger...

Anonymous said...

The Jensen brothers have made the mistake of interpreting my commentary as personal attack.

Rev and KLJ, you don't need to take my remarks that personally. They do not reflect my opinion of either of you. Yes, they were broad generalisations, but don't we all know generalisations are never true on an individual level?

Oh, and Rev, I may threaten to take you up on that coffee one day (noting that I hardly ever drink the stuff; an alchololic beverage would be preferrable).

john jensen said...

would love to grab a beer with you mate, just let me know when and where. I did not think it was a personal attack, though it appears my brother did, I assumed you were attacking america and was pointing out that my brother is part of the vocal minority.

the rev

KLJ said...

What was your point Kieren? I say that reducing driving is a positive thing to do for the environment and you reply with a tirade on America's fece smearing ways?
Okay, how was this on topic? How was this a reply to what I said?
As my brother stated, I agree with you. I'm not proud of my country's gluttony and greed. It has little to do with my statement that driving less reduces you footprint here on earth.
I think you like to talk smack and then behave like the innocent defendent when someone slings it back at ya.

Anonymous said...

Who me?

Anonymous said...

OK, can I come back in and play for a while again? Has the poo stopped flying? I will try and say this without offending anyone, so here goes:

OK, just put a bike into a shop for resurrection, first on the list. Where can I find out the stuff about steroids into meat?

Also, I want to say something really funny and witty about giving up on believing in God, but I am at a loss for words, so no can do (on the words or the belief).

Also, Alan, I love meat, I also love petrol but I sure do want less of both in my life.

talking about abstaining from things that destroy the earth I also don't drink alcohol because, as we know, everyone who drinks alcohol is going to burn in Hell. Oh crap! I tried to make this non-offensive, but where's the fun?

However, I really do believe that the whole industry had made it's profits on the broken backs of beaten women and children.

You know the only people who get offended when I talk about abstinence from alcohol are fellow christians?

Also, do you know that what I just wrote about alcohol has nothing to do with the post other than it may be a good alternative fuel?

urbanmonk said...

If alcohol is good fuel, then I am (sorry was) a v12 humvee, with intercoolers, and turbo chargers!

does that betray my lack of knwledge about cars! Humvees dont have turbo Chargers, do they?

but the car thing is a nice little seguey, jon...

I am a 32 year old Australian man, and I get laughed at becuase I dont have a car license.I dont think people realise the pressure to conform and the power that holds for so many people. Not having a car in this society marginalises you big time!

does any one remember that Dennis leary song, Arsehole? When hes talking at the end about driving around in the big cadillac with the baby fur seal seat covers? Now thats what Im talkin about!!!!!

Oops.. Too far?

john jensen said...

I fully understand your alcohol thing bro, some people just can't handle it, and you are kinda short and would get drunk pretty quick, a cheap date if you will.

I think Alan was talking to me though, and I was a vegitarian for a while, you can ask my wife. The longest two hours of my life :)

the rev

Anonymous said...

Rev, why don't you arrange a cheeseburger and beer night at a remote location only reachable by four-wheel drive?

urbanmonk said...

Me, short? St john of the Cross was so short that Teresa of Avila called him, a "friar and a half"
the "little saint" Im no saint.. and damn it! Im not short! Im not!Im not! Im not!

Anonymous said...

You asked about where to get info on steroids in meat. I'm not sure. Here in the states there is an organic classification and food must meet certain standards to sell itself as organic; no pesticides, no hormones, etc. The best situation, when possible is to get the meat from someone you know, or at least from a ranch where you can see how the beef is being raised. The more cooped up an animal is kept the more junk they have to shoot into it to keep it alive until eatin' time.
I don't know if that helps, but you're local health food store will probably have good information. Our local food's co-op here in Sacramento sells what I'm told is pretty good quality healthy beef, so don't think the health food stores are 100% veg.