Meat

July 23, 2004 | 47 comments
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The baptismal interview was proceeding smoothly.

“Do you drink coffee?” asked Elder Jones.
“I quit,” replied Janey with a smile.
“Alcohol?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Do you use tobacco?”
“I haven’t done that for years.”
“Do you use any illegal drugs?”
“Hmm, not since Monday — just kidding. No, I don’t.”
“Okay, just one more Word of Wisdom question. Do you eat meat sparingly, and only in time of winter or famine?”

It’s a baptismal interview that I’ve never heard of taking place. And yet, the Word of Wisdom itself is pretty clear:

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.

Of course, the Word of Wisdom has undergone some interpretational changes since its inception. It began as an advisory section with no real enforcement, which explains the documented instances of Joseph Smith drinking coffee and occasionally alcohol, opening a bar, and smoking cigars. At some point around the turn of the century, the alcohol, coffee, and tobacco provisions began to be treated more seriously (with some exceptions, such as Elder Talmage’s cigar smoking).

Yet the verses relating to meat consumption have never, that I’m aware of, been similarly elevated to “rule” status. And I’m curious as to why this is. Should the meat rules be treated as seriously as the alcohol / tobacco / coffee rules? Is there a reason for treating them differently? (Does anyone know it?)

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47 Responses to Meat

  1. Rob on July 23, 2004 at 12:54 pm

    Maybe there are more Mormon cattle ranchers than microbrewers.

  2. Jordan Fowles on July 23, 2004 at 1:03 pm

    Maybe it is because the alcohol and tobacco are prohibitive requirements and the eat meat sparingly is a permissive requirement. The Lord said that tobacco and alcohol were not for the belly of men, but that he did ordain meat for the use of man (albeit sparingly).

    Think of the headache involved in defining as a rule what “sparingly” means- it could become almost pharasaical. That is probably why “sparingly” is left to interpretation.

    Besides, I think that the interview would ask if we were living the word of wisdom. And if someone was just joining the church, would it be wrong to throw in a “do you eat meat sparingly” question, not by way of prohibiting baptism if they don’t eat meat as sparingly as you, the interviewer, think they should, but by way of reminder that this is part of the word of wisdom too?

  3. greenfrog on July 23, 2004 at 1:05 pm

    A secret alliance with Dr. Atkins.

  4. Chris Grant on July 23, 2004 at 1:10 pm

    Alcohol, tobacco, and coffee all contain substantial amounts of psychoactive drugs and, in fact, are consumed chiefly because of the presence of those drugs. I don’t think the same is true for meat. I have no idea if this has anything to do with why the General Authorities treat the meat provision differently.

    By the way, I ate a big bowl of oats last night. Should I have fed them to my neighbor’s horse instead?

  5. dan w. on July 23, 2004 at 1:18 pm

    I’m sure the horse wouldn’t mind some free oats.

  6. greenfrog on July 23, 2004 at 1:24 pm

    It’s ok to give the oats to the horse, but I understand they really like those mild drinks made from barley.

  7. John H on July 23, 2004 at 1:32 pm

    I think this is a combination of changing times and a changing culture. First, meat was to be eaten sparingly in “times of winter, or cold” because during the summer in the 19th century meat could spoil very quickly. Anyone who ate it would get sick in a hurry. During the winter, meat could hang outside and generally be ok.

    As for the changing culture, I think this goes to the point Kaimi made, that the Word of Wisdom was not made a requirement until the early 20th century. Brigham Young had tried, unsuccessfully, to make the Word of Wisdom a commandment. (Paul Petersen and Ron Walker wrote a great article on Brigham Young’s influence on today’s view of the Word of Wisdom.) By the time the Word of Wisdom was made a commandment under Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant, I suspect it was because of the strong prohibition movement sweeping the country. Meat generally wasn’t a part of that movement. On top of that, as others pointed out, the word “sparingly” is hardly a concrete term. How does one measure if one is eating meat “sparingly”? But you can measure whether or not someone is drinking alcohol or not. BTW, it wasn’t until around 1903 that the Brethren stopped using wine for the Sacrament in their temple meetings. Again, I think as a result of the prohibition movement.

  8. Gerald on July 23, 2004 at 1:37 pm

    I once taught Section 89 in Gospel Doctrine and emphasized this very point. Ironically it was close to the annual bishopric barbeque of tri-tip and steak fajita’s. I was nervous to present the meat issue, and thought of skipping it, but the effect it had overall was positive. Though I started with a few glares (one member of our ward sells industrial barbeques for a living), by the time I admitted I love ribs and steak, and the bishop proclaimed his love of tri-tip and meats of all kinds (he was 6’3 and about 300 lbs)the ward, even the most self righteous among us, realized we are all in need of improvement. Incredibly, knowing we were all falling short due to our gluttony, united us in purpose and offered a greater sense of forgiveness for those struggling with other issues.

  9. gunner on July 23, 2004 at 2:23 pm

    Seperating laws into religous laws and cultural laws opens the door for a human nature to kick in. The laws of old came from G-d and his servants. Trying now to pick and choose what they were trying to do with the laws is hard, and something not to take lightly(litely?).
    While I follow as I can, I find my stomach leads and the heart follows.(No I am not talking about some bizzare stomach/heart Scottish dish either:0 )
    The choices made by use influence others.

  10. Eric James Stone on July 23, 2004 at 2:25 pm

    Well, it’s time for me to show my talents at interpreting scripture to mean what I want it to mean.

    > 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;

    First, let us determine exactly which creatures this verse is talking about. There are two mentioned: beasts and fowls. Now, is this referring to ALL beasts and fowls? No: it is limited to those “of the air.” So, what kind of beasts are of the air? Bats. And flying squirrels. (And cows during tornadoes, but I don’t think that’s really applicable.) That’s about it for beasts.

    Now, fowls of the air are a lot more common. We tend to think of all birds as being fowls of the air, but is that really true? Turkeys don’t fly, nor do ostriches and emus. Most chickens can’t fly, either — particularly if they’re cooped up in cages. So they can’t really be considered fowls of the air.

    So, what meats are we to eat sparingly?
    A. Bat meat
    B. Flying squirrel meat
    C. Duck meat
    D. Goose meat
    E. Other even less common meats from flying birds

    I adhere to this requirement pretty strictly, as I have never eaten A, B, D or E, and have had C on only a handful of occasions in my life. I generally stick to the non-flying meats. But I don’t condemn those of you who eat the flying meats, as long as you use them sparingly.

    ;)

  11. Jeremy on July 23, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Recently there was a very tacky advertisement on meridianmagazine.com that touched upon this issue. It was an ad for a gourmet meats by mail business, with a headline that read: If you’re going to eat it sparingly, it might as well be the best!.

  12. danithew on July 23, 2004 at 2:36 pm

    Eric,

    Thank you for bringing the imagery to mind, of a “cow in a tornado.”

    Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooaighhhhhhhhhhh!

  13. john fowles on July 23, 2004 at 2:51 pm

    Eric: Now, is this referring to ALL beasts and fowls? No: it is limited to those “of the air.” So, what kind of beasts are of the air?

    I think you have overlooked the “of” which cuts off the dangling modifier: flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air.

    So the whole range of beasts is apparently okay.

    I was quite interested in your emphasis on the modifier in “fowls of the air.” I had never thought of it before, but that would imply that chickens and turkeys aren’t appropriate, wouldn’t it?

    But in general, I thought that John H was right on: it was a largely pragmatic matter because of how easily meat spoiled or became contaminated in the summer (and even in the winter–hence still only sparingly in the winter). On top of that, I think the Lord was giving us a heads-up into general guidelines of health and nutrition, which was truly remarkable at the time and which have proven over time to be accurate and beneficial.

    Let’s also not forget the that the Lord specifies that the WoW is made for the last days: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation It definitely cements our position in society as a peculiar people–particularly the charge to abstain from alcohol.

  14. Rob on July 23, 2004 at 2:57 pm

    Since the WoW was given to help us avoid the acts of conspiring men in the latter-days,we might want to consider the similarities between alcohol, tobacco, drug, and meat industries.

    I wouldn’t argue that they are exactly the same, but there are conspiring men in all these industries.

    Our American meat addiction supports–
    1) horrible labor practices supported by
    2) illegal immigration
    3) animal cruelty (eg. the recent chicken abuse scandals)
    4) environmental degradation–effluent from industrial animal farming is a huge problem for water quality, esp. in the south. Loss of vegetation and erosion due to over grazing on federal range lands is a big problem.
    5) increased bacterial resistance to antibiotics from overuse of animal antibiotics.
    6) human growth problems as growth horomones administered to animals have unintended consequences for early onset of puberty in humans, etc.
    7) Madcow–testing has been minimal, and even now is incomplete–we could all have eaten prion-laden burgers in the 70s or 80s and won’t know for years.
    8) Corporate welfare as we subsidize the industry–but since that’s the real American way to wealth, maybe we shouldn’t knock it too hard ;)

    We think of the WoW as a law of health for individuals, but since it was given also for the weakest of saints, that might indicate that it has more social implications, and that we should look at the social effects of alcohol, tobacco, drug, and meat addiction as well as personal health effects.

  15. john fowles on July 23, 2004 at 3:08 pm

    Wow! That anti-industry rant came out of nowhere. Before we get side-tracked on a huge anti-industry, anti-corporation tangent, let’s not forget that industries and corporations create jobs which enable Left-wing governments to tax the people to create the very social programs that anti-corporation apologists advocate. The fact that a circle of fat-cats gets rich off of corporations doesn’t change the fact of how necessary they are in our economy and that because of them, people have jobs and an income.

  16. Rob on July 23, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    John, that wasn’t a rant. My blood pressure isn’t even up, and I don’t mean to get anyone else’s up either. I just listed some of the problems with industrial meat production. I’m not slamming the industry. I’m just listing some of the unintended consequences of our meat addiction. You can take that as anti-corporate if you want. I prefer to see it as pro-WoW.

    I’m actually pro-corporate. That doesn’t mean every coporation or industry gets a free pass. Each industry has its problems left to address. These were just a few related to meat production.

  17. Geoff B on July 23, 2004 at 3:20 pm

    A agree with Rob’s comments above. However, I would add that the WoW is primarily a faith issue. I’m pretty sure it took to the 1960s for the Brethren to indicate that “hot drinks” meant black tea and coffee. What about decaffeinated teas and coffee, and what about colas today?

    One of the main lessons we’re supposed to learn with the WoW is the same one we’re supposed to learn elsewhere: the importance of obedience. Why did Adam sacrifice upon leaving the Garden of Eden? (I know not save the Lord told me to). It’s the same with the WoW: I don’t know why I can’t have decaffeinated coffee but I can have Diet Coke, but that’s what I’ve been told to do.

    On that note, I try to eat meat very sparingly, perhaps once every two weeks.

  18. Eric James Stone on July 23, 2004 at 3:35 pm

    John Fowles (of the air),

    My analysis was not serious. I even put a winking smiley at the end of my comment.

    The following is serious, though: What are we to make of the fact that fish are not mentioned?

    Considering that fowls are considered as different from beasts, I don’t think fish are included in the classification “beasts.” Therefore, the Word of Wisdom does not appear to place the flesh of fish in the “ordained for the use of man” category, but neither is it included in the “use sparingly” category.

  19. Derek on July 23, 2004 at 4:13 pm

    Turn the interview question around, and see how the meaning changes:

    “Do you eat meat in excess?”

    I think that gives a better perspective of the intent of the original question.

  20. john fowles on July 23, 2004 at 4:15 pm

    Eric: I knew your analysis was in jest!

    As for fish, that is an interesting question. I think that generally fish is much more healthy than red meat, or even poutlry, so maybe its absence means simply that there is no restriction (other than moderation in all things).

    Rob: I’m actually pro-corporate. That doesn’t mean every coporation or industry gets a free pass. Each industry has its problems left to address. These were just a few related to meat production. Alright, fair enough. I admit it’s far too easy to get my blood pressure up these days–this too shall pass. Anyway, your point is actually a very good one if looking at the meat industry at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. The practices were particularly egregious back then, as evidenced by The Jungle. I suspect that Latter-day Saints living by the WoW provision to eat meat sparingly were spared the distress of the corruption and filth of the meat industry at the time.

    As for now, I’m not so sure that the meat industry is as culpable as back then. However, there is no doubt that tobacco companies are, given the revelation of their express campaigns to addict teenagers etc.

  21. Steve Evans on July 23, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    “I’m not so sure that the meat industry is as culpable as back then”

    Maybe not, but there are still plenty of issues that shouldn’t be ignored. Fast Food Nation, this decade’s version of The Jungle, is a good (if slanted) indicator of problematic issues, which are as much cultural as industrial.

    The difference in culture between meat industries and the tobacco companies is interesting and worth considering. At least tobacco companies (for the most part) seldom pretended that their products were beneficial. The meat industries have been pushing us to eat massive amounts of corn-fed beef for decades with no hint of negative effect.

  22. ronin on July 23, 2004 at 5:39 pm

    Since we are discussing the WOW, I have to say t hat the WOW has led to my estrangement from my family back in India. reason being that I follow the prohibition abainst “hot drinks”, and so, I no longer consume tea or coffee. Now, since my family is involved in tea production, this issue has led to the estrangement. Can anyone explain to me why drinking hot chocolate is Ok, whereas drinking tea or coffee isnt? or why the prohibition against hot drinks in general? I can understand prohibitions against alcohol, tobacco, various drugs etc, but, tea and coffee?
    Yes, since i made a covenant the day I was baptised, I dont drink tea or coffee, yet, I still wonder why, especially, since it has meant that I haven been able to talk to my Mom and Dad for almost 10 years now!!!
    Just wondering……..

  23. Frank McIntyre on July 23, 2004 at 5:49 pm

    The Jungle is a fine work of fiction. Is there some reason to think it is more than that? It makes me cringe to see it considered “evidence”. Maybe the book is a perfect representation of the meat industry at the turn of the century, or maybe it is totally wrong. The book itself does not reveal which is the case and could be written just as easily either way. Thus it isn’t evidence for anything, right?

    I know I am being unfair to take an off-hand comment and have a cow (Mmmmm, cow) over it. So I apologize for the overkill.

    Rob’s list of meat industry evils seems a tad generic. Couldn’t I come up with a similar list for producers of grain or produce? 1,2,4,and 8 seem pretty much the same, and add in a few conspiratorial mentions of genetic engineering to fill out the list and one can quickly come up with reasons to avoid lots of food. Is there something specifically evil about meat industries?

    Lastly, to my mind the chief criterion for what is important current counsel to the general church is what is emphasized in general conference (just as the most important thing
    to the ward specifically is what is emphasized by the Bishop, and on down the line). I checked for references to Word of Wisdom and meat in the Ensign. There are a few references to eating “sparingly” but nothing about the importance of just eating meat during famine or winter.

    Based on that fact, I am guessing that that _particular_ phrase (about cold, famine and winter) was most applicable
    to the saints living in the frontier, where meat was perhaps easier to get than grains (?). John notes another, disease related, reason why the winter counsel is a pre-refrigerator counsel. The admonition to eat sparingly is still mentioned, albeit very occasionally, in talks by general authroties, so I take it this counsel is still applicable. Now all we need is to pray to know what “sparingly” means for us and our family…

    Further, we have specific counsel in the Doctrine and Covenants about those that claim it is wrong to eat any meat— they’re “not ordained of God”. So whatever reaons one comes up with about meat being bad, if the logical comclusion of those reasons is that we should eat no meat, then that’s a problem, since “no meat” is specifically not the conclusion of the scriptures we now have, nor is it a position put forward as counsel by any general leaders of the Church.

  24. Kaimi on July 23, 2004 at 5:58 pm

    Frank,

    “Now all we need is to pray to know what ‘sparingly’ means for us and our family.”

    Umm, it’s not a wacky term of art or a difficult foreign concept. It’s a regular, run-of-the-mill, dictionary-searchable word.

    We don’t pray to ask what “sex” means or what “alcohol” means or what “partake of the sacrament” means. We give these their usual definitions. Why would we bother the Lord to give us a definition of a simple word?

  25. Nate Oman on July 23, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    Rob: What clinical (or non-clinical) definition of “addication” applies to meat? Surely you are not making some comparison between beef and nicotine? If you are, the comparison is palpably silly.

    I am also skeptical of your claim of overgrazing on federal land. Most meat production comes from feed yards supported by corn and wheat. Open range cattle are rare and even rarer in the West where most federal grazing permits are. (Full disclosure: My grandfather was put out of the cattle ranching business by the federal government.)

    Ditto to Frank on the evidentiary value of novels. I am all for literary expositions of The Truth and stuff like that, but when one is making emperical statements about the way the world works, data is nicer. In the absence of data, we can turn to journalism. That failing, we can come to novels in the fullness of time…

  26. Steve Evans on July 23, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    Frank, the check from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is in the mail. Clearly, The Meatrix has you.

  27. gunner on July 23, 2004 at 6:08 pm

    The main reason I follow the WOW is because I should. We could argue symantics for days and never reach a final answer.
    Let’s make it simple by saying “I follow the WOW because I should”.
    I am southern, born and raised, and the taste of sweet tea is nectar to me. I would, as a child, visit my aunt and go straight to the fridge and pull out the jug of sweet tea and pour myself a tall glass. I do not now because I should not. There is no giant hammer above my head. I make the choice to, or not to.
    So if we talk about weather effecting meat freshness, or the positive or negative effects of certain drinks we miss the most important part.
    We do it because we should.

  28. Frank McIntyre on July 23, 2004 at 6:17 pm

    “Umm, it’s not a wacky term of art or a difficult foreign concept. It’s a regular, run-of-the-mill, dictionary-searchable word. ”

    Kaimi, please tell me how often (preferably in ounces per day, week, month, or year) I should eat meat if I am eating sparingly. What is the upper limit? What is the lower limit? If I eat no meat, is that sparingly? The Atkins diet doesn’t sound sparing to me. But can I prove that in some way?

    The dictionary says sparingly is a synonym for “meagerly”. But that still doesn’t tell me what to do. I understand your frustration when people take obvious words in the scriptures and try to bend them out of shape to avoid doing what they don’t want to. But I honestly don’t see that the word “sparingly” actually has enough content to tell me how often to eat meat. Perhaps you think it does. If so, I await your guidance :)

  29. Frank McIntyre on July 23, 2004 at 6:28 pm

    Steve,

    You mean people will actually pay me for my opinions?! That’s great! I’ve got tons of opinions!! I’d be happy to come up with more if that would help. By the way, when does your PETA contract expire?

    Oh wait, never mind. You were just kidding. Dang, no check.

  30. Kaimi on July 23, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    Frank,

    Sorry, but you’re going to have to do better than a generic rules-versus-standards argument. The gospel has plenty of standards, and we’re expected to apply common sense and common definitions to make them work.

    Of course we should pray for help in applying these standards, that’s fine. But it sounded rather like you were greenlighting someone praying for “confirmation” that having bacon for breakfast, steak for lunch, and sausage for dinner, constituted eating meat “sparingly” in his particular situation.

  31. Frank McIntyre on July 23, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    Kaimi,

    I can be more specific about the problem. It is that “sparingly” refers to a quantity but the quantity is left unspecified. It is like saying one should pay “some” tithing. Okay, but how much? “Some” is too vague, so we are told–10%. Fast offerings, on the other hand, is left pretty vague.

    Suppose most of your calories came from meat. I just don’t see how that could be “sparingly”. If you said that was what God told you, I would have difficulty believing you, but in the end I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, because I don’t think its my problem and, judging from General Conference, apparently it isn’t a major concern the leaders of the Church. So I certainly wouldn’t think your hypothetical evil meat eater was obeying the WoW. If you felt that was the implication of my statement, I hereby clarify that it was not my intention.

    So perhaps we can agree that sparingly, whatever its definition, simply can’t mean more than half. Beyond that, I await your quantity-specific definition.

  32. Eric James Stone on July 23, 2004 at 7:08 pm

    Kaimi,

    > Do you eat meat sparingly, and only in time of
    > winter or famine?

    This implies that the Word of Wisdom says meat should be eaten only during winter and famine, and that during such times meat should be eaten sparingly. Is that your interpretation of it?

  33. john fowles on July 23, 2004 at 7:23 pm

    Since the WoW is prefaced by saying that it was given in consequence of the evil designs of men in the last days, maybe that is a signal to us that this phrase of the WoW wasn’t really triggered until the Atkins diet came around. Now that it is here, we can see how truly prophetic the WoW is.

    So Frank, perhaps the word “sparingly” was indeed vague and ineffective in providing guidance until the times (i.e. the Age of Atkins) informed its meaning–a situation that couldn’t even be imagined at the time the revelation was received.

  34. jeremobi on July 23, 2004 at 7:29 pm

    Frank: “You mean people will actually pay me for my opinions”

    Assuming you get paid for teaching economics…
    ;>)

  35. john fowles on July 23, 2004 at 7:31 pm

    Nate and Frank: it’s fine with me if you look to journalism of the period rather than the Jungle. On a tangentially related note, then, I guess your grumpiness about the historical value of fiction could rightly apply to Fahrenheit 9/11. I hope people in 100 years don’t make the same mistake I did in referring to The Jungle as evidence of the abuses in the turn-of-the-century meat industry by referring to such fiction as Fahrenheit 9/11 to prove something about America at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

  36. Eric James Stone on July 23, 2004 at 7:34 pm

    Webster’s 1828 dictionary is available online. Here are its definitions of sparingly, which were probably in use during Joseph Smith’s time:

    1. Not abundantly.

    2. Frugally; parsimoniously; not lavishly. High titles of honor were in the king’s minority sparingly granted, because dignity then waited on desert. Commend but sparingly whom thou dost love.

    3. Abstinently; moderately. Christians are obliged to taste even the innocent pleasures of life but sparingly.

    4. Seldom; not frequently. The morality of a grave sentence, affected by Lucan, is more sparingly used by Virgil.

    5. Cautiously; tenderly.

  37. Steve Evans on July 23, 2004 at 8:34 pm

    Frank, I’m no PETA guy, believe me. I like to think of myself as ‘flexitarian’.

    Eric, so we should eat meat cautiously or tenderly?

  38. Matt Evans on July 23, 2004 at 10:01 pm

    “Since the WoW was given to help us avoid the acts of conspiring men in the latter-days, we might want to consider the similarities between alcohol, tobacco, drug, and meat industries.”

    Um, which industries are free of conspiring men?

  39. Rob on July 23, 2004 at 11:35 pm

    Frank–if other agricultural producers have similar problems to meat producers, that just means that the industrialization of grain and produce farming might be equally suspicious. And since most grain is grown to feed livestock anyway, that just makes meat production more problematic.

    Nate–you’re right that most cattle are grown on feedlots (hense the problem with antibiotics and water pollution). However, the historic and continued grazing of cattle is still a big environmental issue in the west, where subsidized grazing fees, historic grazing alotments, and poor cattle tending have at times ravaged the landscape–especially when cows are left to wallow along streamsides where they destroy the riparian vegetation. Just because most of our beef comes from feedlots doesn’t mean that range beef cows don’t cause big problems sometimes. This is a huge problem in the west, leading to much hard feelings, and sadly some people like your grandfather may get pushed out of business (the margins are terrible–one reason more cows are raised on feedlots).

    Just pick up any range science or restoration ecology journal and you can read about livestock overgrazing issues “until the cows come home”. It really is a huge issue. Just do a google search for overgrazing and you’ll see a whole new world out there.

    And while I’m on the topic of environmental degradation due to livestock, the exotic grass issue is even more dire. In most of the country, non-native grasses introduced as feed for livestock have taken over the countryside, displacing native plants and animals. The Sage Grouse in the Intermountain West is going to be the next Spotted Owl…and one of their big problems is non-native grasses messing up their habitat. Here in Texas, Bermuda Grass and other hay crops have displaced native prairies and birds so that we have less than 1% of our native prairies in most of the state.

    As for addiction, while you may think it is rediculous to compare it to nicotine addiction, there is plenty of evidence that human bodies crave protein and fat, and tend to eat more of it than is healthy–perhaps due to evolving for hundreds of thousands of years with unstable food sources. Are there any dieticians here who can help us out with published clinical studies? Usually the term “meat addiction” is used by anti-meat activists in a generic way to refer to the higher than global average meat consumption of Americans. However, I think there is evidence that our food habits have habituated us to the point where we crave and overconsume meat. If your brain becomes wired so that it wants it all the time, what else do you call it but an addiction?

    Of course, I’m open to the argument that it isn’t a physical addiction at all on our parts, but rather conspiring men are pushing excess meat diets on us with cheap meat and cultural conditioning. So maybe we’re not addicted, just ensnared in a cultural trap. Either way, Americans eat way more meat than most others around the world, and eat more than is healthy.

  40. Frank McIntyre on July 24, 2004 at 2:08 am

    Rob, My point was exactly as you conclude. That there may not be anything peculiarly evil about the meat industry, since the problems you mention are generic. If you wish to decry the corporate farm and ranch, that’s fine. But it doesn’t tell me why God prefers us to eat grains to meat if they both suffer from the same industrial organization problems. We’ll have to look elsewhere.

    I’m going to skip the overgrazing discussion.

    Steve, “Flexitarian” sounds like a guy who votes for “flex-time” work schedules. Though this is a noble cause, surely your politics extend beyond getting every other Friday off. If that’s what you guys at BCC mean by being liberal, you’ve really got a long way to go.

    Jeremobi, When I teach, the opinions are free; but I make them pay for the derivations of optimal behavior. Proofs of consistent parameter estimation also cost students dearly.

  41. Lunkwill on July 25, 2004 at 10:54 pm

    I’m surprised nobody in this whole discussion has mentioned the animals themselves. I think this comes in part from our culture in which meat is something wrapped in plastic in the store, not something which looks you in the eye. After watching a beautiful brook trout in a pristine mountain lake, eating the meager meal it provided seemed like defacing a beautiful painting.

    I still eat meat, but it’s a lot easier to eat it sparingly when I consider that a living, intelligent animal was killed to provide it.

  42. Jeff Lindsay on July 26, 2004 at 10:00 pm

    I yearn for the day when the Lord reveals the Celestial Material Safety Data Sheets (CMSDS) for tea, coffee, and various meat products, and also updates the USDA food pyramid to accord with divine standards. Regarding diet and nutrition, I marvel at how little we know and at how often science reverses itself.

    I suggest we exercise caution in extracting more information from the brief Word of Wisdom that is meant to be there, but that we not neglect its basic teachings. I personally feel healthier when my diet is low in red meat, though I can’t guarantee that this will be true of all people.

  43. john fowles on July 26, 2004 at 10:35 pm

    Lunkwill wrote: it’s a lot easier to eat it sparingly when I consider that a living, intelligent animal was killed to provide it

    I agree with your sentiment to the extent that it applies to hunting for sport rather than necessity. And I think it’s generally positive for you to reach the end result of eating meat sparingly, no matter how you justify it, since it amounts to obeying the WoW. And I agree that animals have some degree of intelligence (I certainly wouldn’t want to torture or intentionally cause undue pain to any animal, regardless of the circumstance). But I think we also can’t forget that meat is ordained for the use of man, so killing an animal for meat is not in and of itself prohibited or even discouraged. Sport hunting in an age of the meat industry (in which fresh meat is readily available in supermarkets without the need to hunt it down) should probably cause some soul searching though.

  44. Steve Evans on July 26, 2004 at 11:19 pm

    “”Flexitarian” sounds like a guy who votes for “flex-time” work schedules. Though this is a noble cause, surely your politics extend beyond getting every other Friday off. If that’s what you guys at BCC mean by being liberal, you’ve really got a long way to go.”

    I’m not sure I understand what this was meant to convey, possibly you don’t know what a flexitarian is. The rest of your comment is strange — should I be more liberal? Are you against flex-time work schedules for vegetarians? Very confusing.

    As for the definition of ‘flexitarian,’ see here.

  45. Nate W. on July 26, 2004 at 11:39 pm

    “Sport hunting in an age of the meat industry (in which fresh meat is readily available in supermarkets without the need to hunt it down) should probably cause some soul searching though.”

    Holy Virilio, Batman! I can’t imagine how hunting for meat is less moral than buying meat at the supermarket. It seems that it only allows us to distance ourselves from and avoid responsibility for the act of killing by having someone else do it for us.

  46. Kaimi on July 26, 2004 at 11:45 pm

    A flexitarian is a vegetarian who does lots of yoga. After all, what’s the use of being vegetarian if you can’t also touch both heels to the back of your head?

    :)

    By the way, Steve, I think you may have inadvertently stumbled on the answer to our polygamy PR woes. We can say that Brigham Young wasn’t really a polygamist — he was just a flexamonagamist.

  47. Times and Seasons » Wheat for Man on September 14, 2004 at 5:15 pm

    […] ously touched on a number of Word of Wisdom topics: medicinal marijuana, chicken marsala, meat eating. And we all know about the tobacco and alcohol part. But what on earth are we to […]