23 March 2011

WHERE I STAND [4]: A Vegan Lifestyle part 1

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In a week and a half my daughter is due to be born. Sometime after she is born she is going to start asking questions. She will be a Flinchbaugh and my daughter so this should come as no surprise. I expect that questioning to be constant, varied in topic, and no stranger to controversy and things others consider standard practice. With that in mind, here I will answer Jonathan Sigmon's (www.taintedcanvas.com) request to talk about why my wife and I have chosen a vegan lifestyle. This I will do in small snippets as I have time over what I expect will be a wonderous, exciting, scary, invigorating, tiring, and joy bringing next few months... errr years. 


Rye.
In the March 4 2011 edition of The Week I found this reminder of one of the reasons we chose a vegan lifestyle:
"Meat and milk are relatively inefficient sources of protein, requiring far greater amounts of energy and grain to produce than do simple grains and vegetables."


In addition, a meat-based diet requires the use of about seven times more land than one that is plant based -- in other words, vegan or at least strictly vegetarian (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), June 1997). A big motivation, at the time at least, was a desire to be better stewards because of an interpretation of the created in the image of God verses from Genesis 1:26-31. 

"Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."

To us, and the writers of Genesis, God was, and is, the great steward of creation. Being made in the image, or likeness, of God meant that we are to act in God's stead. We are to be the good stewards of creation. One very intentional and disciplined way that we felt, and still feel, we can do this was to  use the land resources better allowing more for others to use and less energy needed and native plant-life destruction caused for the production of our own food. 



Some German wheat beers.
However, I do drink alcohol and I do so on a pretty regular basis. Here is but one place I could be called out as a hypocrite. Alcohol production, with wheat based beers especially which are my favorite, is very land and transportation intensive. Neither of which, at the levels they exist today, are really great uses of natural resources in the grand scheme of the world food supply and the idea of equality when it comes to human food rights. Are my consumption habits always logical based on my feelings about land use? Not at all. Do I feel somewhat of a license to be a little less responsible in this area because of my vegan lifestyle commitment? Perhaps I have at times, but I don't feel that I should feel this way. Then again I am open to being challenged and expect to be. I wouldn't post here otherwise!  


All of that said, I think the facts about land use minus any faith connection are good enough to factor into one's thoughts on the possibility of a vegan lifestyle. I'll explore more of what went into our reasoning soon.


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