Friday, October 01, 2010

V-licious

My friend Carrie is vegan this month. I commend her for a courageous and challenging experiment. However, she’s gotten scathing reactions from several members of the Church who seem to think she’s sinning against the greater light by abstaining from meat.

Exhibit A (Get your laughing belt on...this is UNBELIEVABLE. This has not been edited. I debated about publishing this, since it was sent to Carrie in an e-mail, but after discussing it, Carrie and I decided that the woman must have KNOWN that Carrie would sent it to others, being the cocaine-snorting Pharisee that she is. So I feel justified. I realize I'm being disrespectful, but really...can you blame me?):

Dear Carrie,
I stumbled upon your blog, and I have to say that I am very disturbed by your recent ravings of veganism. I was even more disturbed when I saw that you were LDS (as am I) and were using the sacred scriptures to promote such a vile lifestyle. 
To abstain from meat is to be as the Pharisee's [maybe I'm too staunch a grammarian, but the incorrect use of an apostrophe here further invalidates this woman's argument in my mind] who were trying to live the law of Moses. It is against our religion to not eat meat. For you to further abstain from dairy is something that you seriously need to reconsider and repent from. How dare you be so ungrateful and not take part in the gifts the Lord has provided for you! Your choice to be vegan is just as bad as someone's choice to take cocaine or smoke cigarettes. 
Also, the internet can be used as a great tool for promoting the building up of God's kingdom. I am disgusted at your choice to use it to promote the blasphemy of veganism and being vegetarian. 
You are in my prayers,
A Concerned Sister

Now, this response might have made more sense if Carrie had said "Hey, all you evil Mormons! You're all going to hell for eating meat! Join me in my crusade for Jesus and veganism!" But she didn't say that. She said "Hey, everyone. I'm trying this new lifestyle out to challenge myself, immerse myself in something different, and see how I can learn and grow."

Also, informal poll, LDS readers. The last time you went for a temple recommend interview, did the Bishop ask "Do you follow the Word of Wisdom by eating meat? Are you involved in the sin of vegetarianism or veganism?" Anyone? No? Okay, just checking. 

Scriptures have been quoted to her, and while she and those who are supporting are more amused by anything else by such violent reactions, I feel it necessary to defend her from a logical and doctrinal standpoint. So here it is. A treatise on MEAT.

(A note to any readers who are unfamiliar with the Mormon faith…we have a set of scriptures called The Doctrine and Covenants, which contain modern revelations from the prophets of our day. Mormons abstain from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco because of section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which can be found here. However, there is a lot of confusion among the “laymen Latter-day Saints” regarding other parts of the scripture. That’s what I will be discussing.)

The scriptures that have been mentioned to Carrie have included Doctrine and Covenants 89, Doctrine and Covenants 49: 18-19, and 1 Tim 4:3.

D&C 49: 18-19
It’s important to a) make sure we understand the language in order to understand their meaning, and b) put the scriptures mentioned in their proper context.
Here's what it says:

18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;
19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.

LANGUAGE

It seems that the more archaic language used in verse 18 is causing some confusion. Let's break it down:
“Whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats” is NOT the same as “Whoso abstaineth from meats.” The Lord is condemning those who forbid people to abstain from meats. I apologize if this offends anyone, but in order to clarify the language, let’s put it this way.

Person A: I am abstaining from meats!
Person B: I forbid you to do that!

The Lord is saying that Person B is not ordained of God, not Person A. In simpler terms, I apologize again to any who may be offended, but I think you just condemned yourself in your attempt to condemn Carrie.

CONTEXT
In D&C 49, the verses mentioned are a part of several admonitions. Let’s pick up in verse 15:
15 And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.
16 Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be bone flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;
17 And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.
18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;
19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.

It’s important to understand that all of these things are related to man’s free agency. The Lord wants His children to be able to choose for themselves. Forbidding marriage infringes on rights to create a family, forbidding the abstention of meats is infringing on mankind’s agency to choose for themselves what should go into their bodies.

1 Tim 4:3
This scripture is similar in wording and meaning to the scripture in D&C. Speaking of those that will “depart from the faith,” “in the latter times” we learn that they will spend their time:

Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

See above arguments for D&C 49.

The SOURCE (The Word of Wisdom): D&C 89
The use of meat is specified in verses 12 and 13:

12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

It seems that many antagonists of vegetarianism and veganism are selective in their reading of these verses, paying attention only to the phrase “Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man.” However, that’s only ONE THIRD of the information provided regarding the use of meat in our diets. The other TWO THIRDS specify that they are to be used sparingly, and—here’s the kicker—the Lord is pleased when they are NOT USED, except in times of winter, cold, or famine.

Just to make sure we’re all clear here: Carrie is not in a state of famine. It is neither winter. Nor cold. THEREFORE, “it is pleasing unto [the Lord] that [meat] should not be used."

Closing Thoughts
1. I think part of the violence of readers' responses stem from unconscious associations made from being steeped in the extreme "political right" (as in the GOP)...people hear "vegan" and think "crazy, tree-hugging freak who throws fake blood on fur coats." While there undoubtedly are some crazy, tree-hugging freaks who throw fake blood on fur coats, there are also some very good people who simply abstain from animal byproducts. I encourage readers to beware the difference between connotations and denotations...veganism/vegetarianism are often associated with left-wing extremists, but it does not mean that every vegan/vegetarian IS a left-wing extremist.
2. In today's society, motivation in abstaining from meat may not be as much about eating meat, as it is about the process by which the meat arrives at our tables. To speak personally for a moment, I have no problem with eating eggs, milk, and beef/chicken/fish. What I do have a problem with is hormonal injections, confining living arrangements, inhuman treatment, and dishonest marketing practices. Fellow liberals strike me down, but I believe that the Lord did provide animals for our use, to sustain and fulfill us. But I believe we should take a closer look at the stewardship we have and they way we're treating it. If someone gave you a puppy as a Christmas present, it would be unreasonable to cage it inhumanely, inject it with hormones, or otherwise mistreat it with the justification of "It was given to me for my use." If the Lord we worship knows of the fall of every sparrow, surely He is aware of each cow, pig, chicken, fish, and goat. And I can't think that He is pleased with the sense of entitlement with which we treat the "gifts" he's given us.

(Hey, Carrie. Instead of an "I am a vegan for a month" button, you should make an "I support Carrie being a Vegan this month" button. I'd post it.)

22 comments:

Amanda said...

OH MY GOSH!! that lady is CRAZY! I can't even believe that, I am dying of laughter. Is it bad that I think you should start calling Carrie Carisee to be funny though? bahah, seriously some people. I'm going to go smoke some cigarettes now, might as well since its the same thing as being vegan haha.

Laura said...

Liz...you rock. Likewise to you, Carrie.

Beckah said...

Oh my heavens. I was going to quote the most ridiculous statement from that email, but I couldn't choose just one.

Brother Whitney and I had an interesting discussion about this. We were talking about how there is doctrinal evidence that there will be no death during the millennium of Christ's reign when He comes again. So if there's no death, we won't eat meat because no animals will have died. So aren't vegetarians and vegans just preparing for the millennium? Though as a vegetarian myself, I'm not trying to be superior to anyone else. My philosophy is "if I couldn't kill it, I won't eat it," which is why I still eat dairy and don't slam other people for eating meat.

That lady is crazy. But you are awesome. And so is Carrie.

Kara said...

Could she possibly be serious? Seriously?


Seriously?

People will never cease to amaze me.

Carrie Lynn said...

Yeah. Liz, that button is posted. I linked it to this post. Haha! I'm glad you're so well-spoken! All I could do was laugh!

Josh & Brandi said...

ok since I am obviously one the people you are communicating to, I want to start off by apologizing if my "food for thought" came off wrong. Like I mentioned this is something I have felt strongly about, but doesn't mean that I don't think other people should not be able to make their own choices in how they want to live. I am for her wanting to explore and try new foods and meals, and what I thought, on a quest to be healthier, which again I am sorry I misread her intentions. Since the blogging world is meant for submitting your thoughts, beliefs, and ideals, that means not everyone will agree but also doesn't mean they are out to offend people either, some do, but I did not.
Obviously no real health concerns could manifest in just a month long experiment, but I was more putting in my need to clarify where she was inferring that our faith deems eating meat in only times of need or else very rarely or hardly at all. This is not the doctrine is all i was wanting to clear up. That was for the early saints who very heavily depended on meat for their diet due their lifestyles of the time. But still we are to be wise and eat meat in small portions, and that could be with every meal if so choosing, because it is good for you if done wisely. It is a rich, natural source of certain nutrients, where supplements are not a natural source, or raw source. Anything in extreme is not a good thing, is all, all meat or all water, or just fruits & veggies or whatever.
Anyways the scriptures I referenced to were not my words, but that from an article from the Ensign, which we as LDS members believe to be modern scripture, right? The author, Lora Beth Larson, is/was a professor of nutrition at BYU and so she knows her stuff, I quote, "We realize that the Word of Wisdom DOES NOT advocate TOTAL vegetarianism when we read another scripture: {then the scriptures I referenced and I added emphasis} That was what I was going for, modern scripture interpreted those scriptures to mean contrary to what you posted your understanding to be. I did research this before I "opened my mouth" per-say. So it is not me who came up with this.
I appreciate your trying to clarify, but just read the article I posted from LDS.org "the do's of the word of wisdom" to see where I got my words from. Then I am in total support of which ever you or anyone else chooses to do, enjoy it, but just understand our faith's doctrine as well. Thank you! Have a great conference weekend!! (sorry long post, didn't want to make a blog post on this, yet...maybe)

Josh & Brandi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa said...

Well worded, Liz. I agree with you completely and appreciate the way you presented your thoughts. I wish there was a way to actually communicate that to more people. There are probably more mormons thank you'd think that have a skewed view of doctrine.

Liz-a-nator said...

@Josh&Brandi--

I love critical discussion! I really do. =)

Thanks for the clarifications. I also want to clarify that by the time I wrote this post, you were not the only one I was directing it to. There have been many people who have expressed concern or a desire to clarify, and I wanted to direct my thoughts to a wider audience.

And thank you for the article! Carrie and I both read it, and I appreciate that of all those who have responded similarly to Carrie's decision, you really did your research. I don't group you or anyone else in the same category of Sis. Crazy whose e-mail I included.

My understanding of the LDS view of modern doctrine is not necessarily any article in the Ensign, but specifically the words of the prophets and apostles. But perhaps my view demands more research and prayer for clarification.

Speaking of clarification, I also feel the need to address the line "We realize that the Word of Wisdom does not advocate total vegetarianism when we read another scripture." To advocate is to write or speak in support of something. A lack of advocating is the absence of support, but not the forbidding of something.

I truly believe that the Lord is not displeased with Carrie's decision.

Anonymous said...

I'm exhausted just from reading all of this. Frankly, I think the Lord cares a lot more about the WHY someone is doing something than the WHATs. There are people who live on blood and milk because that's all there is to eat. There are people who live on acorn mush because that's all there is to eat. There are people who don't care where their meat comes from, and people who care deeply that they will only eat meat if that animal had a meaningful life prior to their death. In the big picture, this all seems such a tempest in a teapot ...

Love you much, Liz!

Mom
XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Petey said...

In your previous comment, Liz, you said:

Speaking of clarification, I also feel the need to address the line "We realize that the Word of Wisdom does not advocate total vegetarianism when we read another scripture." To advocate is to write or speak in support of something. A lack of advocating is the absence of support, but not the forbidding of something.

This is the very thing I wanted to comment on. I don't get how we can infer that living a vegetarian lifestyle goes against doctrine. The Lord emphasizes grain as "the staff of life" and then also, with complete clarity, gives meat the okay. If someone decides they want to eat within the 'grain' side of the acceptable spectrum, that, instead of being a doctrinal oversight, is actually incredibly valid.

It's commendable to be courageous in standing up for truth and right, but when we begin to eagerly fight pointless--even non-existent--battles, then I think we're missing the point. This is something we all do in our own varied and special ways, and admit that I do it probably more than most... but that doesn't mean I don't need to increase my awareness of it and correct it in myself.

Carrie Lynn said...

Everyone seems exhausted from talking about this, (too bad, I love a good discussion!) but I have a final thought:

I have often heard the "eat meat sparingly only applied to the early saints because of their diet" argument, but I contend that we as a society eat meat WAY more than the early saints, so why not have it apply to us?

Also, in looking at several lesson manuals on LDS.org, when teaching about this principle, it often says: "If family members choose not to eat meat or animal products, good sources of protein are beans, peas, and lentils.)"

The BOTTOM LINE is this:

Doctrine & Covenants 104:17

"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves."

Jules said...

Holy cow, (no pun intended) what a discussion! Veganism and meat-eating aside, what bothers me here is how rude and extreme that woman was in her email to Carrie. Calling her to repentance, making comparisons to cocaine use, stating several times that she was disturbed and disgusted with Carrie's 'blasphemy.' I thought that was very unreasonable and unChristlike.

Liz-a-nator said...

Yeah! I love a good discussion!

And I agree, Jules. Bless her heart, I still believe in the human race enough to think she had good intentions and honestly thought she was doing the right thing. But if Carrie had less of a sense of humor, this woman's words would have pierced to the heart. And not in a good way.

hoopesandveggies said...

This is/was an amazing discussion! I'm so happy to have read this! I actually just started my own blog yesterday and am trying to be a vegetarian, hoping to be a vegan soon. And I'm a member of the church!

Thank you for clarifying those D&C scriptures. I was a bit confused when I read those a few months ago.

I guess my sister follows your blog, and I just so happened to click just the right post to read!

Anonymous said...

I'm just actually shocked you posted a personal email from someone else to someone else on your blog! Wow!

Josh & Brandi said...

Hey I just wanted to come back and say I am too grateful for this open disscussion you allowed & furthered. And I want to say Carrie's scripture on agents unto ourselves is a perfect way to end it. I agree with that completely and truly do support you this month, let me know if you come with any awesome dishes! Thanks for the disscussion it is good to see some blogging on things other than "what i did this week" and to see other view points that have also influenced mine in unexpected positive ways :)

Jules said...

@Anonymous

Yeah, that didn't shock me at all. Wow!

Jenn said...

Thanks so much for the clarification and explanations in this email! I follow Carrie's blog (and now yours :)) and as a new vegetarian, I've been totally bombarded with the same scriptures and 'condemning' type of reactions from some friends and family and I just appreciate your post so much.

Thanks!

Liz-a-nator said...

@ Anonymous:

It was with permission of everyone whom I could ask, and no one was identified. I wouldn't have done it otherwise.

LizzyHouse said...

just to be a smart ass... I really like how people pick and choose what they decide should be taken literally in the D&C... And there is nothing spare about meat at every meal.

Ok. beyond this, I am not getting involved. Because no one is even addressing health, or how God created our digestion systems the way they are... or ethics... or the fact that you CAN see/feel a difference in your health and body in a month from being a vegan... but that's not for here.

erin d. said...

Fantastic post. Truly Fantastic.

I like these verses as well from section 59 of the doctrine and covenants -
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.

"not to excess, neither by extortion"... definitely words for our time and day.

thanks again for posting this.