Vegetarian obligations

Dan,

Your question about being vegetarians is one I’ve also been thinking about for a while; as a co-carnivore, it has also been difficult for me!

But here’s my thinking so far:

When it comes to economic obligations to others, apart from not doing things that are sinful, I think we also have another obligation, stemming from our common Christian calling: to be a sign of the kingdom of God.

I don’t think we can say that, because of national/global patterns of consumption and production regarding meat, we are obligated to forswear all meat because “every bit of meat you eat means less food for other people in the world.” Frankly, if you alone became a vegetarian, it would completely insignificant in terms of cause and effect on global supply and demand… except…

insofar as you function as an example, a sign to others, you have the ability, and thus an obligation, to point towards what is right. In that sense, I think we can say, in our modern context (and given that you are correct about what you and Matthew have been debating in the comments of your post), our obligation to be a light to the world at least requires a noticably (i.e., to the outside world) different attitude towards meat consumption than the generally gluttonous (a vice not much discussed in the modern church, perhaps not ironically) attitude the West has today.

Because of this, I have (slowly) been trying to consider ways to reduce the amount of meat I eat, though so far I haven’t been very successful (unfortunately, my tastes are very limited when it comes to non-meat foods). But I think I need to try.