Ethics and Faith Discuss: Are Meals Decisions an Moral Difficulty For You?

Father Kevin Niehoff, O.P., a Dominican priest who serves as Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Grand Rapids, responds:

Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si, an encyclical letter, on 24 Might 2015. This doc calls the members of the Catholic Church to look at its relationship with “our frequent dwelling,” i.e., the planet Earth on which we get pleasure from life. I encourage these to learn this in English on the Vatican web site (

One focus of Pope Francis is caring for ecosystems. The Pope insists, “caring for ecosystems calls for far-sightedness” (Laudato Si, p. 11). He teaches, “we could be silent witnesses to horrible injustices if we expect that we are able to acquire vital advantages by making the remainder of humanity, current and future, pay the extraordinarily excessive prices of environmental deterioration” (Ibid.).

Complete Meals Market has introduced it’ll cease promoting lobster from the Gulf of Maine as a result of the kind of gear used for fishing lobsters entangles endangered whales in its gear. Humanity has an ethical accountability to look after the planet. Not solely its sources but additionally all types of life. The selection to eat meals ethically obtained demonstrates a dedication to residing a life in communion with defending “our frequent dwelling.” 

Linda Knieriemen, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Holland, responds:

A congregant in a earlier church would say to the matter of consuming ethically, … “Now, you’re meddling.” However, with Creation in disaster, Christians who imagine scripture (Genesis) instructs them to have a tendency and defend the Created world, contemplating of how we eat relative to international local weather change and in addition biodiversity is legitimate. Greater than legitimate. Maybe ‘moral consuming’ is the important moral query for the century. 

Three years in the past, after my husband died and I used to be solely cooking for one, I decided to cease buying meat.  I’ll eat meat if positioned in entrance of me and  to not eat it might be an affront to a bunch. Why? Well being (I inherited an inclination to elevated ldl cholesterol), remedy of animals in large farm manufacturing (the realities disgust me) and the acreage, vitality, and pesticides wanted to develop animal feed for the carnivorous diets (they aren’t sustainable and hurt the already fragile atmosphere).

I do eat fish and devour some dairy merchandise. Life lengthy habits are exhausting to interrupt! My early coaching as a dietitian and now my non secular convictions lead  me to believes that essentially the most sustainable, wholesome, and engaging manner of consuming is the “Mediterranean Food regimen” the place greens, fruits and grains take main place whereas animal merchandise are eaten extra as a condiment than the focus of a meal. The query “what would Jesus eat” ought to be thought of by any who say they comply with his teachings!

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

Many (maybe most) colleges of Hinduism strongly encourage vegetarianism. And even those that do eat animals have a tendency to stay to these decrease on the meals chain, as it’s assumed they’ve much less capability to really feel ache. And there are a number of Hindu orgs selling sustainable agriculture. And I do assist such efforts. My primarily plant-based food plan (supplemented with fish once in a while) is motivated by a number of components: ahimsa (nonviolence), spirituality and environmental sustainability. I do devour animal merchandise (some dairy, eggs, honey, and so on.), however I do attempt to assist native farms which can be humane and eco-conscious. 

All this stated, it’s fairly powerful to carry to a totally karma-free food plan. There are those that make a convincing argument that the event of agriculture was a activate the incorrect street; and that we should always by no means have left our hunter/gatherer traditions. And within the case of many Hindus, simply gatherer. 

So, we do our greatest.

The Reverend Colleen Squires, minister at All Souls Neighborhood Church of West Michigan, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, responds:

Our seventh Precept is to “Respect for the interdependent net of all existence of which we’re an element.” This Precept calls us to look after all beings on our planet. The article talks in regards to the reasoning behind this alteration in enterprise apply is to avoid wasting an endangered whale for the lobster entice netting. I might additionally add that there’s a rising motion in Unitarian Universalism to eat a extra moral food plan, that means a vegetarian, vegan or plant based mostly food plan. For some, the best way by which lobsters are saved in grocery shops and the best way they’re ready for consuming could be problematic. Most of my meals are vegetarian however I nonetheless do eat meat. I can’t eat veal for moral causes. 

The Rev. Ray Lanning, a retired minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, responds:

This drawback is as previous because the Christian Church, and is addressed at size in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians and elsewhere. Many early Christians have been Jews by beginning, and had grown up in kosher houses; others have been influenced by historic experiments in vegetarianism, as set forth within the teachings of Pythagoras. Meat from the carcasses of animals sacrificed to pagan deities was afterwards offered within the native markets or “shambles.” So there have been many moral concerns in regard to 1’s day by day food plan in these instances. The apostle Paul didn’t need Christians to entangle themselves in debates over meat and drink (Romans 14). His counsel is, “By any means is offered within the shambles, that eat, asking no questions for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (I Corinthians 10:24, Psalm 24:1). 

My response:

Minimally, I outline “moral consuming” as following the rules of kashrut. Judaism has an intricate set of kosher guidelines for consuming, a few of which contact on moral problems with animal remedy. For instance, I’ll solely eat kosher meat, which is slaughtered in a manner which is considerably extra humane than regular manufacturing facility processed meat. Alongside kashrut, there’s one other set of pointers for behaving in moral methods, a few of which lengthen extra deeply into the remedy of animals and human beings, and extra typically urge us in the direction of caring for all of creation.

I perceive that every resolution we make impacts our wallets. When I’m able to forgo a discount and pay extra for one thing licensed by a good company to be produced in an moral and sustainable style, I accomplish that. After I eat plant-based merchandise, I accomplish that realizing that the meat substitutes typically price greater than the animal merchandise. Nevertheless, I’m hesitant to label one thing as unethical realizing that some folks don’t have the financial freedom to make the identical sorts of selections that I could make.


This column solutions questions of Ethics and Faith by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of non secular leaders within the Grand Rapids space. We’d love to listen to in regards to the odd moral questions that come up in the middle of your day in addition to any questions of faith that you just’ve puzzled about. Inform us the way you resolved an moral dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Faith Discuss panel would have dealt with the identical scenario. Please ship your inquiries to [email protected].

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