Christian vegetarianism 2/5 by Pater John Dear, SJ





The interactive transcript could not be loaded.



Rating is available when the video has been rented.
This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
Uploaded on Jan 5, 2011

Christian vegetarianism 2/5 by Pater John Dear, SJ
Become a Vegetarian!

By John Dear

In Fort Lauderdale last week to speak at the National Convention of Unitarian Universalists, I met my old friend Bruce Friedrich, with whom I spent eight memorable months in a tiny jail cell, along with Philip Berrigan, for our 1993 Plowshares disarmament action. A former Catholic Worker, Bruce is now one of the leaders of PETA, "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." And he gave a brilliant workshop on the importance of becoming a vegetarian, something I urge everyone to consider.

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% of U.S. grain and 80% 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 WorldWatch 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."

Meanwhile, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. (The world's 1.3 billion cattle release tons of methane into the atmosphere, and hundreds of millions of CO2 are released by burning forests due to dry conditions as in California or due to purposeful burns to create cow pastures in Latin America.)

And global warming isn't the only environmental issue. Almost forty years ago, Lappe spelled out the environmental consequences of eating meat in stark relief. But more recently, her analysis received some high-power validation. The United Nations recently published "Livestock's Long Shadow." It concludes that eating meat is "one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." And it insists that the meat industry "should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

Much of our potable water and much of our fossil fuel supply is wasted on rearing chickens, pigs, and other animals for humans to eat. And over 50% of forests worldwide have been cleared to raise or feed livestock for meat-eating. (A recent protest in Brazil denounced "Kentucky Fried Chicken" for clearing thousands of acres of untouched Amazon rain forest for chicken feed.)

As a Christian, I became a vegetarian because of the Gospel mandate of Matthew 25, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me"--because I do not want my appetites to contribute to the ongoing oppression of the world's starving masses. As a Catholic and Jesuit, I want somehow to side with the poor and hungry....


When autoplay is enabled, a suggested video will automatically play next.

Up next

to add this to Watch Later

Add to

Loading playlists...