Monday, April 11, 2011

A New Diet For the Future

Writing in the Pastoral bulletin a priest  recalls his trip to Europe and a conversation with a Dutchwoman about observing the days of abstinence in the Church calendar. "Before God," she said, "we are all mature and able to judge and act correctly...." Her point being that when the Vatican tells those living under different cultural conditions to abstain from meat on Fridays, it is sometimes difficult to accept and to follow. The priest got the impression that, for many, tradition and the authority of the Church can not be compared in importance to their  personal convictions that carry the 'authority' of a heartfelt assent.

The interest in observing days of abstinence in Europe during his time there, he said, was almost completely missing. And even in Korea the concern for the days of abstinence is far from what it was in the past. Perhaps because the reason for these days of abstinence is not known in most of the Catholic world, some Catholics even buying expensive fish to eat as a consolation for giving up meat.  

However, in certain parts of the West there are those who are campaigning for Mondays as a day without meat. Here in Korea, with the onset of the foot and mouth disease, some are using the slogan: "Let us eat less meat and more vegetables."

There were about three and half million animals buried because of the foot and mouth disease, at a cost of 2.68 billion dollars. The main reason for the tragedy is the way we raise our animals, keeping them penned up in unsanitary, stressful conditions causing disease to spread quickly. Compounding the problem, the animals, natural grass eaters, are fed grains, waste food from restaurants, powdered bone meal, and the remains from slaughter houses. To fatten them for market, the animals are given growth hormones, and to keep them healthy while living in unhealthy living conditions, they are given medicine and antibiotics, often exceeding their use in other countries. Those who are familiar with this way of raising  our animals are losing their desire to eat meat.      

If we are to change the way we raise animals there has to be a change in the way we eat. The increase in meat consumption is twice what it was back 20 years ago. 40 percent of the meat we eat is imported, and this will increase in the years ahead because of the recent foot and mouth disease and because the production of food in Korea has decreased.

Along with less food being produced, there has been an increase in the amount of grains fed to animals, which is to be expected since it takes seven kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of meat. The more animals we raise the more likely the world's poor will face the prospects of starving.

If we are to make the growing and consumption of food more sustainable, we will have to change  to an environmentally friendly way of raising our animals. For a spiritually directed life, our writer says we have to reconsider our consumption of meat products and have a more abstemious lifestyle.

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