A Good Question: How should we eat?
One question, four answers
‘Choose sustainable food’
Eating is a fact of life, and we rely on agriculture to provide the food we need. However, the greatest causes of biodiversity loss worldwide are land clearance for agriculture and unsustainable agricultural practices. Additionally, the greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture (for example, released from the soil by ploughing, or methane from cattle) are a significant contributor to global climate change – which is the most severe threat facing our biosphere.
It is obvious that how our food is produced has a significant effect on the environment – mostly for the worse. Although for individuals it might seem impossible to make the food industry more sustainable, we can as consumers together choose to buy food that is produced more sustainably, thereby lowering our collective ecological footprint to a significant degree and investing in sustainable production for the future.
A plethora of information on sustainable food exists, and some of the advice is conflicting. The academic community is working towards a consensus on what constitutes the most sustainable diet and methods of producing food with some significant progress in recent months. For consumers, synthesising the information from numerous sources can be a challenge. There are, however, some general principles that one can follow to make food purchases more sustainable. …
Hadden Turner is a volunteer with the Christian ecology charity A Rocha
‘Meat is doing us no good’
If there’s one thing the modern world isn’t short of, it’s advice on what we should be eating. The media subjects us to an unceasing barrage of often contradictory claims about what constitutes healthy eating (and yes, here I am, adding to it – guilty as charged, your honour.) One week kale/quinoa/lark spittle/oak-matured aura of wildebeest is hailed as a miracle cure for some disease or other, the next it’s causing it.
However, in the medical profession at least, there’s broad consensus that the modern predilection for a generous daily ration of meat is really doing us no good at all. Indeed, while meat may be a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals, it turns out that pretty much any interaction with animals that involves cutlery is deleterious to our health. Processed and red meats increase the risk of cancer; saturated fats have links to Alzheimer’s; and fats (again), dairy and eggs raise cholesterol levels. God may have knitted us together in the womb but the omnivore is spending every meal thereafter attempting to pull the stitches apart.
Of course, the consumption of meat and dairy products has an impact way beyond the ramifications for our own bodies. It’s a startling fact that the methane emanating from the world’s farmed animals is a more powerful accelerant of global warming than the emissions from all the planet’s planes, ships, and motorised vehicles put together. …
Dixe Wills is a travel writer. His latest book is The Wisdom of Nature (Quadrille, 2019)
‘Eat within God’s will’
As the Lord’s Prayer says: ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. We should eat within God’s will and purpose to sustain our lives, to strengthen relations with each other and with the natural world.
How we eat affects not only ourselves – our very existence, our health and our finances – but also other people – their livelihoods and conditions – and the climate, wildlife habitats, biodiversity, animal welfare and scenery. We exist in a pattern of relationships between God, people and the rest of creation.
This is first depicted at the beginning of Genesis. When we take it upon ourselves to know what is right, our relationship with God goes wrong, and so our connection with the land becomes a battle with ‘thorns and thistles’. Because of our selfishness, we face a dire climate crisis.
Christ’s earthly ministry ended in a clash between earthly and heavenly power. Your eating may encounter earthly power. From time to time supermarkets and others talk about ‘purchasing power’. This power oppresses farmers, workers and others, and can make care of the environment more difficult. …
Christopher Jones is National Coordinator of the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (www.acfhub.com). His book Honey and Thistles: Biblical wisdom for the renewal of farming, co-written with John Martin, is published by the Agriculture and Theology Project
‘Food balances religion, ethics and pleasure’
When you think of food, your mind instantly wanders to something that you would enjoy eating, or have eaten recently that was delicious. It can even take you back to a time where you appreciated the company of friends over dinner, or the aroma of freshly baked bread on coming home after school. It can certainly be difficult to distinguish food from anything but pleasure and good feelings.
However, for people of faith, food is much more than this – it represents the balance between religion, ethics and pleasure. While this balance may not be equal for all individuals and religions, these three elements are certainly interlinked when it comes to eating.
For me, as a Muslim, food and religion go hand in hand. I am required to observe halal dietary laws, in which certain foods and drinks are haram (forbidden) and must be avoided. These rules also play an important role in the month of Ramadan, where Muslims avoid eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, in order to strengthen their relationship with God. This can be likened to Jewish individuals who follow kosher dietary rules and observe fasts during Yom Kippur…
Layla Hassanali is a full-time halal food blogger. halalgirlabouttown.com
These are extracts from an article that was published in the April 2019 edition of Reform