Did God create us to be vegetarians?

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

In the 19th century, American cereal tycoons and literary giants found themselves locked in a food dispute. Sylvester Graham, Presbyterian minister and inspiration for the crackers he inspired, and his friends John Harvey Kellogg, famous for corn flakes, and physician William Alcott advocated a biblically inspired vegetarian diet. In the meantime, the American author Walt Whitman has written no fewer than 13 essays in which he advocates a “male” all-meat diet. A few years earlier, Herman Melville had poked fun at vegetarianism Bartleby the scribe. And twenty years later, William Alcott’s child, novelist Louisa May, wrote, somewhat awkwardly, a satirical essay that was essentially a lengthy subtweet destroying her father’s experimental vegan commune. You can imagine what Thanksgiving was like at their house: bringing a turkey would have been an act of war.

Both sides of this Victorian debate recognized that there could be something spiritual about vegetarianism in certain circumstances. Whitman himself expressed his admiration for a “Spanish monastic monastery” whose diet of vegetables and water gave them “a luster, a spiritual intelligence in their faces that has something sacred and divine about it.” There is something spiritual about vegetarianism, admitted the carnivore Whitman. It’s an admission that reflects thousands of years of religiously based dietetics.

For Graham, the “father of American vegetarianism,” the building blocks of the Christian diet are found in the biblical story of creation. In Genesis 1:29-30, God tells Adam, “I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows on the face of the whole earth, along with every tree that produces seed-bearing fruit. They will produce your food.’ Catherine L. Newell, associate professor of religion and science at the University of Miami, told me: “This text has been interpreted by some Christian—as well as some Jewish—groups to mean that God does not approve of the eating of the animals, birds, and fish, over which he gave dominion to the people in the preceding verses.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/did-god-create-us-to-be-vegetarians?source=articles&via=rss Did God create us to be vegetarians?


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