Bill Cork offered some objections (in both the comments on my blog and in a post on his blog) against Fr. George Rutler’s 2003 letter to the editor regarding the assertions of a Catholic Vegetarian Society on eating meat.
So today I’ve received an email from Father Rutler responding to Bill’s objections, offering his customary erudition and wit.
Someone asked that I reply to a recent comment on your blog that questioned the logic of my letter on vegetarianism. Let me say that I am not a meat fanatic, and in fact I often have meatless dinners. One should never cite Genesis to promote strict vegetarianism, as it was written by meat-eaters inspired by God who created all the animals as a menu for Adam and Eve. Their “dominion” over every beast gave them authority to choose how they wanted to serve them up, it seems to me.
I had a great aunt who was a vegetarian and her body started to make funny sounds and then she died. We hardly mention her, although we pray that our merciful Lord has welcomed her to the eternal Supper of the Lamb where there is no alternative menu.
It is silly to suppose that the creation of seed-bearing plants and fruit trees means that we should not eat meat. It only means that we should eat vegetables and fruits just as the provision of animals means we should eat them, as we are biologically designed to do. To think that incisor teeth for biting meat evolved only as an indulgence to beefeaters later on, would be like saying that legs evolved as a consequence of wanderlust.
Vegetarianism is not like celibacy. Vegetarians disdain meat; celibates do not disdain marriage. I am a celibate, but would not exist if Adam and Eve had not married, albeit without the benefit of a clergyman. Their only dietary restriction was against a certain fruit; experts think it was a pomegranate. I suspect they did not eat the first animals because there would not have been second animals, but once animals got going, there you had dinner.
We need not wait for Exodus to find carnivorous action permitted. Abel ate meat and Cain seems to have been a vegan. The Lord had respect unto Abel’s roasted lamb and rejected Cain’s vegetables and so Cain waxed exceeding wroth and slew Abel. The first murderer was a vegetarian. Vegetarians tend to be more violent toward meat eaters than the other way around, probably because of a lack of protein. Also in Genesis, Jacob made his father a lamb stew from what was evidently an old family recipe. It probably went back to Eden.
The citation of Deuteronomy only supports meat eating. The prohibition of blood and strangled animals renders licit bloodless meat slaughtered some other way. Rare is the man who can strangle a cow to death anyway. It is also unwise to cite the saga of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar became a vegetarian only when he went mad. He was driven from men and ate grass like an ox (Daniel 4:33).
As for health, meat is now being promoted for its vitamins and other sorts of stuff our bodies need, although preferred meats include hard to get elk and impalas. I had a great aunt who was a vegetarian and her body started to make funny sounds and then she died. We hardly mention her, although we pray that our merciful Lord has welcomed her to the eternal Supper of the Lamb where there is no alternative menu.
Meat eating is better for the economy, too. It gave us Chicago for starters. It also gives us waterproof rainwear and sensible shoes. In a vegetarian society we’d be clad in watermelon rinds and shod with potato skins.
Vegetarians do not address my point about vegetable abuse. The vegan sentimentalist has no tears to shed for the mashed potato. Ask the olive: How cold is it at the bottom of a martini?
The New Adam is certainly an improvement on the Old Adam. But even in resurrected glory, He had a barbecue on the shore of Galilee. One more evidence of the Divine Mercy is that Jesus never hectored the early Christians about the health benefits of spinach.