I grew up around organic farming but I never saw an “organic food aisle” or knew the hazards of conventional farming. A gigantic DEET spraying truck drove down my cousin’s neighborhood streets, spraying communities for mosquitos. I ate fire-burnt hotdogs for lunch every day during the summer at the recreation center. I drank Kool-Aid and sucked on ice pops at the pool. My favorite food was a baloney and mayonnaise sandwich. I was unaware with my eyes closed, eating, living, and breathing poison for many years.
I remember as a teen, my mom took me to a restaurant where she raved about this new salad made with spinach leaves. Although with bacon and eggs and dairy-based mustard dressing, still I loved it. I would say that day was my waking up point, when I began to think of a salad as a meal.
However, I continued eating meals with meat for many years. Vegetarians were relatively unknown to me and I ignored this lifestyle until my daughter decided to become one. I tried to support her. It seemed almost impossible to cook this way, but like the spinach salad, I found I began to prefer vegetarian food. The more I read about it, the more I realized how healthy a plant-based diet is compared to an animal-based diet. I fully awakened into the plant-based diet after my bout with cancer. Now, though I have small amounts of dairy, meat and fish; I eat 90% plant-based foods with very little sugar or processed foods and I am still growing: learning to drink more water, trying to limit caffeine and alcohol, and getting lots of air through exercise and yoga.
This growth towards a healthier lifestyle permits me to look into the effects of my old meat-based diet, at farming and dairy practices, and even at world hunger. I realize how harmful to my world my eating lifestyle used to be and I thank my Savior, my Lord Jesus, for gently waking me through my daughter. Like Sleeping Beauty, I find my “awakened state” also has an impact on those around me. My waking up is waking them up, just like Beauty did in the fairytale.
I always thought it was strange how John the Baptist came before Jesus, to tell the Jews the news of Christ’s coming. John the Baptist was Jesus’ relative. His life was restricted in diet and clothing, eating only honey and locusts and wearing camel-hair clothing. John the Baptist convicted people of their sins and offered baptism for repentance. Though he knew Jesus was blessed by God, he was not certain that this cousin was truly the long-awaited messiah. When a messenger of John’s asks Jesus if he is the messiah, Jesus answers, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
It is hard to wake up, to believe, to know. My four-year old daughter had a song she would always sing at a time when the world was still largely unknown to her and each revelation was lovely, she would sing, “you just have to know, you just have to know,” over and over again. My daughter is as precious to me now as she was then and she is still waking me up. She is my Sleeping Beauty.
The truth that needs awakening, the one that we just have to know, is that the Standard American Diet that is revolutionizing the world is a killer. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and all manner of disease thrives on this food. The provision of this diet slaughters animals after a torturous life without even the smallest respect, and requires vast amounts of resources to feed livestock, so much so that if the US people ate just 10% less meat, it would reduce the need for grain to feed cattle enough to feed the same number of people (60 million) who are expected to die of starvation this year (quote by John Robbins at the closing of the World Food Summit). Along with all this, it should be noted that the SAD diet pollutes our earth with methane and nitrates from livestock suffering from a diet of grain rather than grass so that, like the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel, we can fatten them up to eat them.
Do you have someone in your life who is waking you up to these concerns? We all need a John the Baptist or a Sleeping Beauty in our lives. Like John the Baptist, I am not sure if Christ requires us to eat more plants and less meat, or that a vegan diet is a way of following Him, but I can tell you that by eating less meat and more of a plant-based diet the people will be healed, the hungry can be fed, and the earth and the animals will be healed, and our spirits will be healed of the ruin, the death, and the disease caused by the SAD diet. Jesus calls us to have dominion over animals (that is to care for them), including hogs, cows and chickens, and to be at peace with each other, including the vast numbers of starving people. So it seems to me that this is not only a healthful way to eat, but a spiritual way, too.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – Jesus Christ