What would Jesus say about factory farming today?
Many a time when I talk to fellow Catholics, they all mention the number of instances that animals are killed in the bible to justify their eating habit. Few know that in the book of Genesis it is clearly suggested that eating animals came after Adam and Eve ate a forbidden apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Upon creation God stated I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth, and all the fruit trees for your food. And I’ve given all the grass and plants to the animals and birds for their food. Those who know, state that this is the Old Testament and in the New Testament Jesus ate meat and fish when on earth.
In my humble opinion, one couldn’t have a clearer picture of what was God’s plan. After all who would doubt that God’s plan was totally sustainable and in total harmony with creation!
Well let’s agree and throw away the Old Testament. (It’s old so we should dispose of it in our throw away culture). Let’s make a fresh start to the conversation. Some 30 years ago I recall going to a conference at University where a number of people from different faiths were talking about their religion. Back then I was intrigued by eastern religions like Buddhism (because of it’s respect to life). What caught my attention was the speech by the Christian preacher on stage who stated that unlike other faiths (like in Buddhism), in Christianity peace can only be found by helping others. I actually believe it is one of the great things about Christianity.
This though is quite a tall order. Where does one stop? Do we all need to become like Saint Francis of Assisi? I don’t think it is possible for us all to become saints (and I for one am probably more in line to being ordained on the opposite side of the spectrum 🙂 ). Having said this, I will ask the question again, what would Jesus say about factory farming today? The abuse, the greed, the suffering, the endless cruelty, do you think he would be okay with that? Furthermore, would Jesus be happy that the world resources are used to feed just a small section of the planet when 900 million people are dying of hunger? Maybe it’s okay for them to die of hunger since they are not Christians? And what if they were? Do you think Jesus would switch on the BBQ and grill a steak knowing about all those children dying of malnutrition?
Do you think Jesus would eat a hamburger when he knew that 400 hectares of rainforest are being destroyed every year to make more and more hamburgers? Would he be happy to know that so much of God’s creation is being killed every year, some even going into extinction?
And finally do you think that Jesus would be okay with the idea to eat meat knowing that it is the largest cause of climate change? When climate change will cause more suffering for so many people in various parts of the world, along with environmental destruction!
To be honest (and I guess it’s appropriate to be in this article), we all know the answers to these questions. After all in Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied, “Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: “Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.” Knowing this and knowing that the simple act of eating meat and dairy is harming millions of people, can you truly state that you are not harming your neighbour? Knowledgeable that the meat and dairy industry are the main cause of climate change, which is already killing so many people in extreme weather and causing so many people to suffer, can you truly state that you are not harming your neighbour? When because of climate change caused (primarily) by your diet, people are having to emigrate across thousands of kilometres to find new places of refuge with thousands dying in the process, can you truly state that you are not harming your neighbour? When you have the power to change all this and be part of the solution, simply by changing your diet …. Is a hamburger worth all of this?
It is because of all this that an Veggy Malta has twinned with an international campaign called Million Dollar Vegan (which asked Pope Francis to go vegan for Lent). Yet you too can be part of the solution. Go vegan this lent, or if you simply cannot go vegan go meat (and fish) free. This Lent,”love thy neighbour!”