Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Battle For The Body: Part Three

It's been 30 days since re-monking my diet.  I'm nearly fifteen pounds lighter and i need some new pants!  My mind is sharper than it has ever been, and my energy levels are much higher than they were a few weeks ago.  However, i must confess that i cheated the other night. 

My son Adam had been begging me to cook some of the deer meat we harvested last hunting season, so after marinating it in Ginger Ale and Italian dressing for two days, i slapped some venison on the grill and perfection was the result.  Slightly pink in the middle and so juicy; i could not resist!  It's a good thing i did not take vows for this cycle.  But, other than that small portion of the leanest, most organic red meat, you can eat, Julie and i have done really well with what we have put into our temples this month, and we are experiencing the rich benefits of an almost-vegan diet!

In Battle For The Body: Part Two, we talked about how important it was to guard what we eat because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We mentioned that since the Kingdom of God is within us, it just makes good sense to strive for the well treatment of our bodies so that the Kingdom life can flow more easily and readily within and through us. 

This week, i want to close this series by discussing the impact that our American diets have on the environment, and the poor of the world.  Before you roll your eyes or stop reading this post, please understand that i am not a tree-hugger, nor am i a liberal, or a global warming Nazi; but i am a citizen of God's kingdom, and i do believe in stewardship and conservation in every aspect of life here on earth. 


According to a 2006 United Nations study, the modern practices of raising livestock is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide.  From deforestation, to water and air pollution, to the loss of top soil and the exorbitant use of water and oil, the livestock industry accounts for one of the most significant drains on world resources.  A person living chiefly on protein from animals requires ten times more land than a human getting their protein from vegetable sources. 


According to the World Watch Institute, "massive reductions in meat consumption in industrial nations will ease the health care burden while improving public health; declining livestock herds will take pressure off range lands and grainlands, allowing the agricultural resource base to rejuvenate. As populations grow, lowering meat consumption worldwide will allow more efficient use of declining per-capita land and water resources, while at the same time making grain more affordable to the world's chronically hungry."


While I am not a proponent of "economic veganism", i can see how the reduction of our dependency on animal products could drastically ease the health care crisis in our country.  If one in every two males in our nation dies from heart disease caused by an excess of cholesterol (which is only obtained by consuming animal products), it just makes sense for us to reduce the amount animal products we eat (or eliminate them all-together). 

The average American eats 260 pounds of meat per year (the highest rate in the world), and of that 260 pounds, 97 of it is from grain-fed beef.  Did you know that it takes on average 2,700 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef?  Did you catch that?!  That's 261,900 gallons of water and 679 pounds of grain per person in the United States of America, just so we can enjoy some red meat!  With 5.2 million children a year dying from malnutrition, scientists from Cornell University have estimated that the U.S alone could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat. WOW...


Psalm 41:1 says, "Blessed is he who considers the poor."  Do we consider the poor when our diets affect those who are less fortunate?  do we fully consider ourselves and our health when we make our food purchases?  In Luke 12:15 and 23 Jesus said to them, "Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does life consist of his possessions. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." 

As i was researching the dietary habits of the ancient Benedictine monks, i came across an interesting tradition that accompanied the most pious among them.  The monks would always leave food on their plates in consideration of the poor; the leftover food would then be distributed to the hungry living in or around the monastery.  Today, we consider it wasteful to leave food on our plates, and rightly so, but do we consider the poor as these ancient monastics did?  Do we sacrifice a little, so that those with so little can have more?


You may be asking yourself, well what can i do?  How can i consider the poor by simply changing my diet? by taking better care of my body? What practical changes can i implement today that could have profound and lasting impacts on not only myself but the poor of the earth? Well, i'm going to offer us a few practical suggestions that we can work on together:


1. By eliminating grain-fed beef from our diet i can save the planet 261,900 gallons of fresh drinking water and nearly 700 pounds of grain.

2. Grain-fed beef costs me anywhere between $300 and 500$ a year.  I could take the money (about $30/month) that i would normally use on beef (or a portion of it) and feed hungry children throughout the world via a monthly donation to a reputable charity.

3. I might use the extra energy i have from not consuming so many animal products to do something creative for the Kingdom of God.  Perhaps start a new business, write that book, volunteer at my church or another local ministry that i just haven't had the energy to do.
4. Perhaps i could radically change my diet so that i can be around long enough to see my children's children grow up and leave them a lasting legacy or give them a Godly heritage.
5. By taking better care of my body, maybe i will be able to hear God's voice more clearly and discern His will for my life without all of the brain-fog and lethargy that comes along with a poor diet.

6. Hopefully, by eating healthy and living well, i will be able to spend my golden years on the mission field instead of the hospital or nursing home. 

7.  i bet if i were to abstain from meat, i could loose those pounds i've been wanting to shed and give some relief to my knees and other sore joints.


The future is up to us my friend.  Will you join us in re-monking our health for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom?  We must begin realizing that if we really want to see positive change in our lives, in our world, we must start with ourselves!  Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”.  Let's start working today by making small, incremental changes that will profoundly affect our future and the future of others!

In the Lion, In the Lamb,


Mark

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