In last month’s blog1 we explored the idea of a plant based diet and its inherent health benefits. To recap, a plant based or flexitarian diet has some variation in definition but basically centers around the eating of whole, plant-based foods while minimizing meat, dairy and egg consumption as well as refined and processed foods.2
Extensive, large, longitudinal studies have shown that people who follow the Mediterranean Diet (a plant based diet), as well as other traditional food culture diets, effectively prevent heart attack, stroke and premature death, as well as enjoy a reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Women have also realized a reduced risk of breast cancer by adopting this healthy lifestyle3, 4.
Beyond maintenance and enhancement of our bodily health, are there other reasons to adopt this eating style? Has God spoken on what our role is in regards to His creation? Scripture is replete with themes of Creation and humankind’s place in it.5 We could spend several blogs on the topic of our responsibilities to God’s creation as delineated in scripture.
In sum though, as Christians, we believe scripture which teaches that God created everything from a formless void: the heavens, the earth, light, darkness, sky, dry lands, seas, all plants, trees and vegetation, sun, moon, stars, all sea and terrestrial creatures, and us, human beings. And He placed us as stewards over all living creatures and gave Adam every seed bearing plant and every fruit bearing tree as food.6 Scripture seems to assert that our position in the order of God’s creation is quite different from the other lifeforms and elements He provided for life here on Earth.
Genesis 2: 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
Reading the second chapter of Genesis, we find that we are not guests here but caretakers.7 We have been placed in a fiduciary relationship with the resources God has provided. Later, after the flood, and the annihilation of all humankind save Noah and his family, God provided meat for man’s consumption.8
Food, and its role as fuel for our bodies, is one of the many resources bestowed upon us by God. We make choices daily about what we consume and place in our bodies. What relationship does He desire us to have to the manifold gifts provided? Are they at our free discretion to consume without limits or does God require stewardship? I suspect God intends for us to savor the abundant gifts and to care for them wisely for ourselves and future generations as He would, treating them with the loving respect they deserve, coming from the hand of God.
According to Pope John Paul II, in 2001, Man’s lordship, is not "absolute, but ministerial: it is a real reflection of the unique and infinite lordship of God. Hence man must exercise it with wisdom and love, sharing in the boundless wisdom and love of God”.9 In Matthew 26 and Luke 19, we find the Parables of the Talents. These teachings of Jesus indicate that He will hold us accountable as to how we use and invest all resources bestowed on us. Are we making wise investment of the priceless resource that is our Earth? The food we eat is a very real part of how we steward our bodies and the Earth.
Are we listening to the messengers of our day who are warning about man’s actions bringing on the sixth extinction?10 An old joke comes to mind about a man who found himself in his home in a flood situation. He trusted God and prayed that He would save him. The man had a vision that God’s hand would lift him to safety. The water started to rise around the house. A neighbor urged him to leave and offered a ride to safety but the man deflected saying he was waiting for God to save him. The neighbor left. The man continued to pray and focus on the vision. The water continued to rise and he climbed to the roof. A boat came by and offered to throw him a rope and take him to safety. Again the man demurred saying God would save him. Then, a helicopter flew overhead and a loudspeaker announced they would lower a ladder and evacuate him to safety. Again he indicated that he was waiting for God to save him. The helicopter left. The flooding water overtook the roof of his home and swept him away and he drowned. When the man reached heaven he asked “God, why didn’t you save me? I was trusting in you with all my heart. Why did you let me die?” God replied, “I sent you a neighbor in a pickup, a boat and a helicopter and you refused each one. What else could I have done for you?”
God loves us and has provided magnificently for us here in the Wachovia Tract. Are we tending His garden in ways that please and glorify Him? Are we using good judgment in the choices we make about what to put in our body?
Next month, we’ll take a closer look at how what we choose to eat is a decision in how we steward the resource that is Earth. Agricultural practices, governmental policies and consumer demand have a very real effect on how we are stewarding the gift that is our Earth.
Submitted by Helen Bushnell Beets for the Earth Stewards Team