Monday, November 7, 2011

If You Love Me...

I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives this past weekend. The basic conclusion of the documentary is that animal foods are detrimental to the human body. My family is mostly vegetarian and I have read The China Study, so a lot of the information was familiar.

The data is solid and compelling. I believe it. So why did I enjoy chicken and sour cream along with my beans, salsa, rice and lettuce tonight? Why did I just eat a mini Hershey's bar?

Because I like the way chicken and sour cream taste. And yes, I even like milk chocolate.

You see, the crux of this issue isn't really about what I eat. It's about why I eat what I eat. And it's about my sin.

Yes, my sin.

You see, every time I've tried to change to a healthier diet, it's been for vain, selfish reasons. That's why it's never stuck. I've been trying to deny my flesh for fleshly motives, and a house divided cannot stand.

But the real reason I should eat healthy foods has to do with me. The real reason is that if I want to serve Jesus with my body, I need to take care of it. And if I really believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet, then I should be vegan.

Simple, right? Uh, no. I kinda drool at the thought of bacon, chicken tenders dipped in ranch dressing, and moose tracks ice cream. So I give in to the temptation on a regular basis.

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him that is sin." ~ James 4:17

Ouch. How long have I known the right thing to do but not done it? How incredibly pitiful is my self-control! But it gets worse.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." ~ John 14:15

I say I want to serve Christ wholeheartedly. But how can I expect to do great things for Him if I can't deny myself the ice cream cone, or the chicken tenders with ranch? How horribly selfish and shallow of me to place my own temporal pleasure over the importance of serving the One who ransomed me from the very pits of Hell.

[Edit] I am not trying to say it is sinful to eat an animal-based diet. Look at the last five words of James 4:17- "For him that is sin." If the Lord has not convicted you about your diet, then by all means exercise your sanctified common sense and Christian liberty. :)

Now I know Jesus never said, "Thou shalt not eat animals." In fact, Jesus Himself ate animals.

But that's not the point. The point is that in this day and age, the healthiest possible diet is animal-free, and very low in sugar, refined flours, and oil.

As a Christ-follower and as an athlete, don't I have a responsibility to eat healthy? Yes.  But I now realize I can't do this on my own.

My friend Sarah has agreed to be my accountability partner. Starting this Sunday she and I will eat completely vegan until Thanksgiving- that's 10 days. It's not yet set in stone that I'll stay vegan, but I think the best way to see if it is reasonable is to give it a try. By God's grace, we will not fail!


  1. That's really interesting, Taylor... I've heard a lot of good things about a vegan diet, but I'm not really convinced that it's a sin not to be vegan. (Check out Romans 14:1-3-- Paul didn't seem to think it was a sin to eat meat... even if it's offered to an idol.) However, he did say in Rom. 14:21 that a person should follow his conscience and do what is least likely to stumble another.
    In all honesty, I agree that the meat served in our dining hall probably isn't the healthiest ever. However, I think there is a place of moderation, a place of balance between asceticism and gluttony. In 1 Tim. 6, Paul doesn't condemn those who are rich, but warns them about their attitude towards riches... and he says, "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy."
    All things... I think that goes for food too, even the occasional steak. All things in moderation.
    Anyhow, just some thoughts. What do you think?

  2. Yeah, I'm not saying it's a sin to eat meat. I'm saying, if I've been convicted that I need to eat healthy and I know that vegan is hands-down the healthiest way to live, then that is, for me, a sin. Also, I'm looking at this strictly from the perspective of what good, scientific data suggests in this day and age, not a broad, "meat in general" perspective. Does that make sense?

    All meat and dairy, even the organic/free-range stuff is bad. I don't think there is anything wrong with the occasional indulgence- I wouldn't want to be legalistic.

    But at the same time, one researcher found that one trip to McDonalds lowered the arterial bloodflow of college students by one-third. If it's that unhealthy, is it really an indulgence that Lord would want us to enjoy? There are plenty of delicious vegan foods for me to enjoy.

    What do you think of that?

  3. Yeah I can definitely see where you're coming from, though I haven't done research into it myself. I can believe the stuff about McDonalds though, haha.
    My family has always tried to eat healthier, organic stuff, and we eat mostly lean meats like chicken and fish and red meat pretty rarely (a couple times a month or so). It's harder to eat as well here, on a college student budget when healthier options take a little bit of time and aren't as appealing. And I haven't had too much energy lately.
    However, I've heard that it's really hard to get enough iron and protein on a vegan diet-- that you need to make sure to eat foods that are high in those nutrients... and since I can't eat most nuts, I don't really know how I would get food that is filling enough to last me through the day without any animal products.... What are you doing as far as that goes?

  4. I'm totally with you on the "harder at college" thing!
    Iron is not a problem at all- spinach, kale, collards, and other leafy greens are all super high in iron, so as long as you are eating that, you're fine.
    As for protein, that's frankly overrated. I've heard that we really only need a little over 20 grams a day. That doesn't sound like much, but when I was at home I was running, lifting, etc on an almost strictly vegetarian diet and I was fine. I don't usually count, but one cup of chickpeas has ~15 grams of protein. As one of the doctors in the documentary Forks Over Knives said, nobody is ever hospitalized for lack of protein.

  5. Whenever I eat just veggies I'm starved in about two hours... perhaps I should eat more humus. ;)
    You should post dorm-friendly/dining-hall-friendly stuff you're eating that is different than the typical salad... because that's already getting old since I eat about two of those a day, haha.....