Why It Pays to Go Turkey-Free on Turkey Day

My new friend, Taruni, a calf born at Saragrahi Monastery in NC. Proximity to animals helps us understand and appreciate where our food comes from, and, in turn, it helps us make better dietary choices.

This coming week, Americans will give thanks for the 50 million turkeys that end up on their tables. Thanksgiving is certain a beloved tradition where meat of all kinds takes center stage—but at what cost?

I recently asked the same question to a room full of progressive Christians at the “Food and Faith” Series at Binkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, NC.

The supper series, whose purpose is to honor the ways in which the faithful view the spirituality of food, is intrinsic to understanding the connections between scripture, faith, community, and the consequences of something as simple as our choosing our meals.

I was asked to share my vegetarian journey, which actually began in Binkley’s Fellowship Hall in February 2010.

With “Turkey Day,” fast approaching, it felt timely to reflect on where I’ve been, and what I now call “Christian Vegetarianism.” I shared what I believe to be its impact on spirituality, health, the environment, and ethics.

One of the practical tips I offered the group is to simply educate themselves. Did you know that a single vegetarian will save hundreds of animals from the slaughter house each year? Did you know that factory farming is a major contributor to global warming? Did you know that “free range” doesn’t necessarily mean happy chickens frolicking to “The Sound of Music” theme?

Photo credit: http://www.peta.org/

Before you dive into the turkey this week, spend a few minutes getting the facts. Learn about the reality of “You are what you eat!”

While this season is likely the least popular time for Christians (or anyone) to think of going meat-free, I urge everyone to consider what baby steps might lead to more mindful eating now and in 2016.

Here are resources from my talk, and a link to the slide show:

PowerPoint Slide Show

 Less-is-More Tips for the Holiday Season: 

  • —Give Meatless Monday a try!
  • —Eliminate one or two kinds of animals from your diet (example: take a break from pork and red meat; eat only chicken or fish).
  • —Educate yourself (see resources); educate others.
  • —Pray about it and reflect. How are you being called to more mindful eating?
  • —Remember: the future generations are counting on you. Will you heed the warnings of how we are destroying our earth for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren?  How will you be an effective in caring for the earth, animals, and those to come—both in your speech and your action?
  • New Year’s Resolution: Vow to try a Lenten spiritual practice of reducing meat (Ash Wednesday is February 10th, 2016!)

As always, thanks for reading and sharing.

I want to hear from you:

Have you ever tried going vegetarian or reducing your meat intake? What happened? What did you love/hate about it? 

Post your thoughts below, or tweet them to me at @jdanatrent.

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