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Holy Cow! Does God Care about What We Eat?
Holy Cow! Does God Care about What We Eat?
Hope Egan
First Fruits of Zion, 2005
161 pp., $14.00

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Stephen Webb


Revenge of the Ebionites

Does God care about what we eat?

Christian vegetarians can be as selective with their arguments as they are with their food. If you see a couple of them spurning the roast pork at a church potluck, go ahead and pepper them with questions. They're used to it. But be careful. They're good debaters. They have to be quick to spit out their answers in between bites of green bean casserole and broccoli salad.

I should know. I am one. At least, I used to be. I eat meat occasionally, which is enough to disqualify me from the ranks of vegetarian purists. I am also a weak-willed father, so I let my children eat meat. This puts me in a moral dilemma. Do I snatch their leftover meat in order to teach them not to waste food, or do I abstain, in order to teach them that moral principles should be practiced consistently? Usually, it is simply too tempting to satisfy my carnivorous cravings under the convenient guise of frugality.

Eating meat is exciting for me because I do not fall off the veggie wagon very often. When I do, I feel like I am doing something slightly naughty. Try going without a burger for a year, and you will see what I mean. Charred cow flesh has a bewitching power over the senses.

Chances are, you need no convincing. We do not think of meat as an addictive substance, but most Americans cannot go a day or two without it. Once, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, she suddenly demanded fried chicken. I didn't have to be asked twice. The aroma of the bucket I brought home turned our meat-free house into an ancient temple. Even the dog and cat went crazy with smells that conjured up their ancient species instincts. The experience taught me a lot about the primordial appeal of animal sacrifices.

We never heard the end of it from our friends. Why Christian vegetarians should be subjected to special scrutiny puzzles me. Single Christians who defend chastity are not publicly questioned about their personal lives. But as soon as you advocate vegetarianism, someone will ask you if your shoes are made ...

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