Perhaps, it is not a question for you, but for some it is a big question. Just when you think you have gotten this “food” thing down someone throws another overwhelming idea into the equation—someone like the Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the famous Evangelist Billy Graham. This year, Franklin Graham announced he had become a vegan, mainly for health reasons. The vegan community cheered. Peta celebrated, sending him a bag of vegan products which included Oreo cookies. Yes, that’s right, Oreo cookies. The meat eaters growled, holding fast to their beliefs that nothing was going to separate them from their BBQ pork, especially. Personally, I was not at all surprised at the conflicting emotions.
Food and Christianity in the same sentence seem to evoke strong emotions. I totally believe a plant-based diet is the preferred food for the human body. However, as I share in my book The Ten Guiding Lights to Health and Wholeness that in the Jewish tradition, the Rabbis give some sound advice for the purpose of having a healthy body. They believe that the purpose of having a healthy body is to acquire wisdom. Very fitting don’t you think? Considering in Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, it advises us to acquire wisdom, for it is the most important virtue we can attain, then understanding. In other words, seek out wisdom. Be a truth follower. Each person’s journey to health and wholeness will be different, so it will be important to find out what will work for you and your body.
First of all, since Jesus ate meat, such as the lamb at the Passover meal, he was not a vegan. Daniel and his three friends when captured by Nebuchadnezzar were, perhaps, meat eaters as well. They chose not to eat the meat of King Nebuchadnezzar for the likely fact that the meat was not kosher. Who knows what meat the Babylonians ate or what god they dedicated their animals to, which was the custom? Whatever meat it was or whatever god it was, it was certainly prohibited by God. As a result, Daniel and his comrades were not having any part in it. Also God gives specific guidelines to the Ancient Hebrews telling them which meat to eat or not to eat. It is wise to pay attention to God’s guidance, for He has reasons for telling us to abstain from certain foods. In being wise, we also have to recognize cultural differences in ancient times that existed between Jews and Gentiles. The Gospel of Love was taken to the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul recognized that we should not condemn someone by the foods they chose to eat. Neither should someone think they are better than the other based on the way they chose to eat.
Wisdom is needed, therefore, on our journey to wellness. We need to be wise as we approach our health. There may be seasons in our life when animal-based protein is preferred by the body rather than plant-based diet or vice versa. We may operate better and feel better on a specific type of protein. In a study published by Cell Metabolism, researchers recommended that aging adults should make adjustments to their protein intake. When the researchers, Levin et al, examined the link between animal protein and the risk of dying, they discovered that “respondents aged 50–65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years.“ The animal protein study also showed that after 18 years cancer death risk quadrupled. But when a plant-based diet was consumed, these associations were diminished or decreased dramatically. However, after age 65, the overall mortality and cancer rate went back up. The older participants functioned better on a high protein diet.
Health practitioners, such as Dr. Peter D’Adamo, the author of The Blood Type Diet, believes that this need is determined by our genetics. He believes we should eat according to our blood type. People with Type O blood should eat a diet high in protein—lean meat, poultry, and fish. People with Type A blood should eat a vegetarian diet. People with Type B blood should eat certain meats only and one of those would not be chicken. People with Type AB blood should eat primarily tofu, seafood and diary as protein sources. Some people swear by this diet, saying it has made a difference in their lives.
Others call it disastrous. One lady on a blog post said, “I have tried to follow the type A blood diet as an experiment and had disastrous results. I am allergic to most grains, soy, and peanuts yet D’adamo suggests that all Blood Type A’s are best as vegetarian.”
Whether you believe in eating meat or vegetables will certainly not matter if you were an Inuit. The Inuit people’s diet is high in protein and fat. Sea animals, such as seal, walrus and whale meat, are the main components of their diet. Because they live in the Arctic, their fruit and vegetable intake is low. Yet, they tend not to suffer from heart diseases common with a high fat diet. Perhaps, because these sources of protein are high in omega 3 and 6 oils and vitamins E, A, D and selenium could be the reason. Their meat is also fresh when eaten. This high fat diet is needed for warmth.
Yes, the type of meat does affect our body functionally and aesthetically. Vegetables and fruits, undoubtedly impact our health greatly. Our bodies need vitamins, which are mainly derived from vegetables and fruits though some, antioxidants in particular, can be attained from some fishes.
The bottom line is we each need to pay attention to how our body works. Obviously, Reverend Franklin Graham, who is now 64 years old, is paying attention to his body and so has made some dietary changes. I believe God gives us certain guidelines to help us. To learn more about these guidelines order your copy of The Ten Guiding Lights to Health and Wholeness.