So has this instruction, which humans have followed better than most of God’s commands, caused climate change? Should we all become vegetarians? Is veganism a solution to global warming and animal cruelty?
People have raised these questions in opposition to God, and to avoid the destruction of our planet. More than that, Peter Singer, in his book Animal Liberation, claimed that all animals are intelligent, feel emotions, and feel pain. He suggests that inflicting pain on animals is a barbaric tradition, and is unethical for modern humans. In addition to these objections, we have those who refuse to eat any animal products considering them to be unhealthy. Vegans avoid all dairy products, eggs, and any animal-based foods.
Certainly, humans are free to choose what their diet will be if they live in an area where a variety of foods are available. The reality, however, is that God designed humans to be omnivores. The statement of Genesis 9:1-3 recognizes that fact, and our bodies demonstrate it. Our teeth are made to both cut and to grind. Our digestive system is designed to handle a wide variety of foods. We are not only designed to eat many kinds of foods, but overloads of any one food type can cause problems for us. Too much plant-based sugar is not a healthy diet. Too many beans or too much honey can cause digestive issues for many of us. Many people have food allergies, especially if we eat those foods in large quantities. Having a balanced diet is critical to good health, and vegan diets can be unhealthy.
Raising animals does generate greenhouse gases, but grazing livestock causes only seven percent of the total greenhouse gases. Raising enough crops to supply the needs of all humans means deforestation and the use of pesticides, fertilizer, fungicides, and herbicides. In many places, growing food by planting crops is impossible, but animals can survive in those areas. Small-scale farmers totaling 1.3 billion people survive on animal products in places where relying solely on plant nutrients is impossible. Is veganism a solution for those people? It’s not even an option.
Any animal must indeed be able to feel pain to survive. The notion that raising animals for food is cruel and inhumane is short-sighted. Animals living in the wild can experience enormous pain. If a cow or goat escapes from its owner, it is in great danger from carnivores that do not dispatch their prey with no concern for their pain. Cattle raised with protection from carnivores, terrible weather, and disease are far better off than in the challenging environment of the wilderness. Is veganism a solution to animal cruelty or global warming? Not really.
A cow is not a human in a different body. They have no awareness of self, and instinctive drives dominate their behavior. While we anthropomorphize animal behavior (interpret what they do in human terms), the fact is that animals were created in amazing ways to survive. But animals do not have the spiritual properties that humans have.
— John N. Clayton © 2020
Data from World Ark, Spring 2020 pages 12-17.