You are what you eat - Charity, The Global Food Crisis and The Environment


I’m posting this on the family life section because I think it’s important that people eat as a family and that there are many committed husbands and wives on here, who I hope to influence.

Do you realise that it takes 10lbs of grain to produce 1lb of meat?

Do you realise that all the world’s cows produce as much greenhouse gas as all the world’s cars?

Did you know that a vegan who drives an SUV does less damage to the environment than a meat-eater who cycles?

Did you also know that the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church go vegan for the whole of Lent and Advent, as well as several other fasts.

Did you realise that if everyone in the world was to eat the way Americans eat, we would need 5 planets to sustain us.

What I’m suggesting is a return to the old practice of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and in particular, of going vegan for those days, perhaps adding Thursday as a particular “global food crisis day”. It’s surprisingly easy, and I did it for the whole of Lent this year. There are all kinds of healthy foods you can eat that don’t need any animal products, and that way you have 1/10th of the damaging effect on the environment and one another.

3 days without meat and milk, it’s really quite a nice break, and makes the food you eat in the rest of the week seem more enjoyable too.

Anybody want to join me?


I’ll take a different tack on this one, an amplification. In the U.S., 60% of the population is more than 20% overweight. If everyone in the U.S. simply ate what is needed to support his body at a healthy weight, we could feed the whole Sudan.

Add to that what we waste in food in this country and the arithmetic is staggering.

P.S. We in the Confraternity of Penitents eat no meat on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


This is incredible…

Has the environment become our God? Wake up!

You don’t fast to the save the environment.

Fast to serve penance to God! Fast to empathize with the Word made Flesh! But don’t hold up unfounded environmental concerns as the basis for our action in our Christian faith.

If you want to be a steward of the earth, let it be because God created it. But as soon as you start to replace God with the environment itself, with global ecology, then all hope is lost–quite literally.


Empathizing with the Word made Flesh means empathizing with His Body on earth, the whole church, including those in poor countries who have too little to eat.

The Bible says that the whole creation groans in birth pangs for the coming of God’s kingdom. I don’t see concern for the created world as being against the worship of God and a life that acknowledges Him and our neighbour in humble and loving service.


I guess I would stress, first and foremost, Christ himself. When I say “empathize with the Word made Flesh,” I really mean to experience the life of Jesus when he was still on this earth–to live our lives in obedience, to suffer, to die, and ultimately, by the grace of God, rise with him.

Solidarity is great. But solidarity with whom? Not with each other, but first and foremost, we are all one precisely because of our unity with Christ.

What needs to be stressed, first, is our relationship with Christ so that we can truly understand and appreciate the people in need across the world. Christ is a real person, one who is like us in all things but sin. To claim unity with others without a deep experience in the faith of Christ, though objectively true, is missing the mark.

As a postscript, there really is enough food to feed the entire world. Food is not the problem… What’s the problem is injustice occurring on the political level. Countries too deep in unrest that their citizens can’t even get the care they need. If people were free, if leaders were accountable to their citizens, then there would be much less of a problem. And then, it would be a problem with foreseeable plans of action.

If you want to fast more often than is required, I definitely encourage you. Just don’t lose sight of the person of Christ in whom we all are one.



Just a quote from yesterday’s office of readings that I think is relevant to those who wish to draw a distinction between the ‘real’ body of Christ and the church.
"Reading From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven
Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.
Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head. "

Also, there is enough food grown to feed everyone, but so much of it is sold by countries that have to pay off debts, either to be turned into biofuel (causing the rice & corn shortages today) or to feed livestock to satisfy our craving for meat. If we reduced our reliance on meat and animal products, there truly would be enough food to feed everyone.

I agree that democracy and good government are key, but I am not in charge of the IMF, nor am I able to bring democracy to African countries. What I am, is someone who eats food, and as such I can use the food I eat to make a small difference.

5 loaves, 2 fishes, doesn’t sound like it would make much of a difference, does it?


I didn’t say that we weren’t one. In fact, I’m pretty sure I stressed this fact. My problem is a headless Body of Christ.

Please understand this as my concern: when you stress solidarity with others, using the word “fast” to describe sacrificial aspects to your neighbor, but in doing so, seem–and I stress “seem”–to remove devotion to Christ himself from this pious act, who is not in his personhood human but Divine, you teeter on the brink of losing Christ altogether.

Loving our neighbor is one of the greatest commandments. But the greatest commandment is to love God. Inevitably, you cannot have one without the other, but I want to stress that it is order that is important.



do you realize grass fed animals do not compete with humans for their food sources, and generally graze on land otherwise unsuitable for cultivation of food crops?

Do you realise that all the world’s cows produce as much greenhouse gas as all the world’s cars?

do you realize that waste runoff, pollution and energy use for agricultural production of food and cash crops dwarfs that produced by the world’s cars?

Did you know that a vegan who drives an SUV does less damage to the environment than a meat-eater who cycles?

do you have any backup for this claim?

Did you also know that the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church go vegan for the whole of Lent and Advent, as well as several other fasts.

Did you realise that if everyone in the world was to eat the way Americans eat, we would need 5 planets to sustain us.

do you realize that not all Americans "eat like Americans?"
do you realize not all Americans belong to religions that use fasting and abstinence as a spiritual discipline?

What I’m suggesting is a return to the old practice of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and in particular, of going vegan for those days, perhaps adding Thursday as a particular “global food crisis day”.

that is fasting for the wrong reasons
if undertaken w/o the spiritual basis, union with Christ, prayer, contrition, penance, humility and obedience, fasting, like almsgiving, works of charity and penitential practices in general are empty.

by all means restore fasting and abstinence for their unparalleled spiritual benefit to individuals and the Church, but not as some kind of “green” awareness day



Careful. . .fasting is a very sensitive subject as I haplessly discovered and you have haplessly discovered.

Now. . .I am an Atkins devotee (some would say cultist :slight_smile: ) so I eat my share of flesh. But I also engage in periodic fasting as my new lifestyle also and hopefully bring me closer to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

If you are a creationist, then ignore this.

But if you subscribe to evolutionary biology, I would say most evol. biologists would probably agree that we were biologically meant to eat a “caveman diet” (meats, berries, leafy vegetables and roots).

Agriculture is a relatively new invention for our bodies.

Protein is energy packed and frankly, although hunter/gatherer societies the women gathered much of the calories during times of plenty, it was the hunters (the males) who sustained the tribe during times of scarcity (the winter).

That is, they complemented each other.

So, the idea that everyone should be eating rice and beans, day in, day out to me really isn’t supported by science and deductive reasoning.

In fact, I wonder if the apostles had it right - fish and loaves of bread dipped probably in olive oils (protein, fat, and some good carbs). . .the bread I’m sure wasn’t Wonder Bread but unleavened and highly fibrous.

So. . . perhaps switching to fish, developing fish farming, vs. cattle farming would be a better directive, then trying everyone to go “vegan.”

I like fasting for other reasons than spirituality. . .but remember, this is a pious group here and I don’t mean anything snide by that.


BTW, to turn the table a bit and advocate for the OP. . .is the forum aware that the Vatican is now declaring that we can “sin” against the environment?

So. . .many of you are jumping on the OP for being “green and liberal” but he/she may actually have lended support from the Vatican on this issue.

I think personally the Catholic Church (leaders and parishioners) is missing a huge boat on trying to combat gluttony in today’s world by burying fasting as a private experience between confessor and parishioner.

Just an opinion.


I agree that fasting is a spiritual exercise focused on God…but I also think we should be concerned about the environment and resource distribution/consumption. So perhaps we should cut down on some of these things, but not necessarily call it ‘fasting’ - but just do it because you have a conviction that it is the ethical thing to do, and a way to honor God.


Can you direct me to this?

I heard of a vastly misrepresented opinion of a Vatican official, but nothing like a infallible proclamation on faith and morals.


Oh, great… PETA has joined the board. :rolleyes:

Jesus never condemned eating meat. The Church has never condemned eating meat. God told the Hebrews exactly which meats they could eat, and so approved the eating of meat.

I’ll go with those authorities, thanks. Human-caused global warming is an anti-free market hoax… and did you hear it’s on hiatus for a decade, anyway? We might even be back to the global cooling they were worried about in the 70s. I suppose if we’re facing another ice-age, we can eat the meat AND wear the fur! :smiley:


I don’t hear the OP condemning meat, just suggesting that there could be benefits to giving it up a few days a week.

Since I started abstaining from meat on Fridays, I find myself choosing to eat vegeatarian some other days as well, and eating less in general. It feels right, both physically and spiritually not to overindulge. I will eat a steak if I want a steak, which is not all that often. I don’t have anything against eating meat as a principle. So, I kind of get what the OP is saying.


Giving it up as a personal spiritual discipline, or in obedience to the Church during Lent, is appropriate and wonderful.

Telling everyone else they must do so, or that they are damaging the planet and being bad stewards of it if they do not, is not appropriate or wonderful.

And the whole 10 lbs of grain to one pound of meat is straight out of PETA literature.

The diversion of corn to ethanol is causing hundreds more problems of all kinds than feeding it to livestock ever did.


I don’t think the ethical qualms about eating meat are about cruelty to animals (at least mine aren’t) - but that it can be an unsustainable way to get food, both in terms of damaging the environment, and resource distribution. I have nothing against the actual act of eating meat…and I do eat meat on a semi-regular basis. I just choose to limit my consumption of it to save money, live simply, for health, and because of those possible issues (I’ll admit I am not an expert on it - so I don’t know the extent of the impact of those issues).

One food issue I do feel pretty strongly about is trying to buy locally, support the local farmers, and reduce how far food has to travel (especially with gas being so expensive), and trying to buy things that encourage fair trade practices.

Organic stuff is preferred but that’s my personal health/environment preference; I just don’t want all those antibiotics and extra chemicals in me, or coming out of my urine. Not to mention all the refined sugar, empty calories, etc.

I do think God wants us to be responsible stewards of creation, and to avoid causing unnecessary suffering and pain, even in animals we may eat.


Probably true, and that could be where he is getting his (mis)information. Just I am taking his tone as being somewhat different than their propaganda. I see him more sharing his own insights rather than trying to tell other people what they must do. I guess I am just thinking that his intentions are good.


I’m by no means a PETA supporter, but is the fact it is from PETA mean it is automatically incorrect?

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