A Jesuit Advocates Vegetarianism

Over at NCR (National Catholic Reporter), Fr. John Dear, SJ, argues that “The only diet for a peacemaker is a vegetarian diet.”

I became a vegetarian with a few other Jesuit novices shortly after I entered the Jesuits in 1982 and later wrote a pamphlet for PETA, “Christianity and Vegetarianism.” I based my decision solely on Francis Moore Lappe’s classic work, Diet for a Small Planet, a book that I think everyone should read.

In it, Lappe, the great advocate for the hungry, makes an unassailable case that vegetarianism is the best way to eliminate world hunger and to sustain the environment.

At first glance, we wonder how that could be. But it’s undisputable. A hundred million tons of grain go yearly for biofuel — a morally questionable use of foodstuffs. But more than seven times that much — some 760 million tons according to the United Nations — go into the bellies of farmed animals, this to fatten them up so that sirloin, hamburgers and pork roast grace the tables of First-World people. It boils down to this. Over 70 percent of U.S. grain and 80 percent of corn is fed to farm animals rather than people.

Conscience dictates that the grain should stay where it is grown, from South America to Africa. And it should be fed to the local malnourished poor, not to the chickens destined for our KFC buckets. The environmental think-tank, the World Watch Institute, sums it up: “Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the world’s poor.”

This is a much more reasoned and reasonable approach than that of Fr. George Rutler, who imagines (contrary to Scripture) that Adam and Eve enjoyed barbecues in Eden.

2 thoughts on “A Jesuit Advocates Vegetarianism

  1. Thank God for Father John Dear. His pamphlet was one of the first I read when I became concerned about all of God’s creatures. Thank you for printing this article. More about living peaceful lives with God’s creatures, especially ‘farm animals’ should be printed in our diocesan papers rather than all of the events exploiting them with our dinners, luncheons, etc. which I believe do not please God. Someday we will all be held accountable for every creature as said in Hebrews 4:13. If we follow God’s laws, we would follow Jesus more closely.
    Our choice of food is a moral and ethical decision. We honestly need to cut down on our intake of animal products. If we read Numbers 11, we will see what God did to the Israelites who weren’t happy with the manna He provided. Greed is a very big sin and we need more of our spiritual leaders to teach about our responsibility and views concerning God’s creatures. Tens of billions of farm animals alone, suffer their entire lives for our appetites. Something is wrong with our silence and church events to support this violence in the world.
    Father John is a peacemaker and I wish there were more like him. The environmentalists are generally silent about the effects of farm animals on our resources and environment. The contribute more pollution than all of the transportation put together. The poor people do not need animals shipped to them through money maker organizations like Heifer International. If the poor can not plant their own produce, how can they feed animals to breed? It makes no sense and the animals suffer being transported and confined at these poor countries. We would do better sending them seeds and providing clean water. Satan is the Father of lies and it’s time for the Body of Christ to learn the facts and be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
    Jan Fredericks, LPC, MA
    Chair, Catholic Concern for Animals-USA
    Founder, God’s Creatures Ministry

    LET everything that has breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6
    The Lord is good to all and compassionate to every creature. Psalm 145:9

  2. Great article. I’m a vegetarian and have always felt that Christianity has always advocated ascetic and simple living, encouraging you to take as little away from the Earth as humanly possible. It’s too bad so few people, Christian or otherwise, seem to follow in that direction.

    What I was thinking is encouraging people to ease into not eating meat by being vegetarian/vegan one day a week. Paul McCartney gave me this idea by asking Britons to cut meat from their diet on Mondays.

    So I started a campaign to get 150 people to commit to “Meatless McCartney Mondays:” https://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/meatless-mc-cartney-mondays

    Everyone should check it out and join. Even I’ll be participating by cutting down to veganism on Mondays. I hope to see something like this become a staple one day in the American diet.

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