Browsing the grocery store aisles, one can’t help but notice the rise of veganism in the United States. There are more vegan products on the shelves by the week. Multiple documentaries have been released on Netflix, such as The Game Changers in 2019, or HOPE – What You Eat Matters in 2018 on YouTube. People are turning to the vegan lifestyle because the future of our planet is at stake.
Meat and dairy production is the single largest contributor to global warming. Rainforests, the lungs of our planet, are being cleared to graze cattle or cultivate cattle feed, such as soybeans. Only 2% of soy produced worldwide is consumed by humans. Seventy percent is cattle feed, 28% biofuel.1 Animal agriculture consumes more precious water than all the other world’s industries combined.
|What the Health||H.O.P.E. What You Eat Matters|
|The Game Changers||Food Choices|
|Cowspiracy||Super Size Me|
|Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead||Forks over Knives|
|Food, Inc.||Eating You Alive|
|Plant Pure Nation|
|Let us be Heroes|
Environmental agencies had traditionally focused on plastic waste and car pollution, but the largest threat to our planet was a taboo. Why? Food is a sensitive issue. People react with anger when someone tells them what to eat or not to eat, especially when we’re talking about meat. As a society, we have been fed the meat industry lie that meat and dairy are essential for our nutrition. Only recently, these taboo questions are being answered and the public is learning the truth.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we have known this truth for 150 years. Yet, we have been unable to convince the public with our health message. Not only that, we have been abandoning these truths in order to be more “mainstream.” According to the PBS research, only 30% of Seventh-day Adventists practice some form of vegetarianism.2 Even with just 30%, we achieve better health and longevity than the general population. Imagine the difference if all church members adhered to the health message. The results would be worth bold letters in every news outlet.
As Adventists, we should be on the cutting edge of nutritional science, plant-based culinary arts, and exemplary lifestyle. Yet, quite the opposite has been the case. Those of us who adhere to some form of vegetarianism have earned the reputation for bland food preparation. I often get inspired by one of my favorite cuisines – Indian food, which is considered one of the world’s best ethnic kitchens. Why? The Hindu people of India have been on the vegetarian diet for thousands of years. They have had all these years to perfect their recipes to the gourmet level of today. Various vegan movements turn to Hinduism as the poster child for humane treatment of animals and saving our planet.
Shouldn’t it be the Seventh-day Adventists that the world is turning to? At one point in history, Seventh-day Adventists changed the way America eats breakfast. How did it happen that we are so behind modern food trends? Sadly, we have abandoned our health message.
If we had upheld the health message that was given to us in the 1800s, the world today would be at our feet asking for help and expertise. What a tremendous evangelism opportunity lost! I can’t think of a greater opportunity lost in the entire history of Adventism. The entire world would learn of Seventh-day Adventists and their message via mainstream media. For free! Instead, it’s the Hollywood stars who are spreading the health message. Every week I hear of a new Hollywood star going vegan.
When watching the various documentaries on veganism that have become popular in recent years, I see the Adventist health message being preached. I can’t help but notice that many of the nutritional experts take their knowledge directly out of Spirit of Prophecy, down to the last letter. The history is being repeated as in biblical times. If God’s people abandon the message that God gave them, He can raise someone else to do the work—in this case, saving our planet from an ecological collapse. This could have been our role that God had in store for us, but we turned it down. God gave us decades of preparation time for this moment in history. We have had over 100 years to perfect our nutritional science, culinary arts, and natural medical treatments. Yet, we have lost the opportunity. As today’s vegan movement is gaining momentum, no one knows that this message has existed for over 100 years, gathering dust on the bookshelves of Adventist households.
Is it too late? As the saying goes, better late than never. Although the health food world is light years ahead of us, we can still come to the forefront and say: “Hey, we have known all this for 150 years! But nobody paid attention.”
There are various diet trends such as the Atkins diet, gluten free diet, ketogenic diet, etc. But veganism is not a temporary fashion. It is here to stay. Let’s dust off our treasured publications such as The Ministry of Healing, Counsels on Diet and Foods, and Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene. People will be astounded to find out that this information has been available for over 100 years. Although the majority of Seventh-day Adventists are indifferent to the health message, there are a few who adhere to it. Let’s talk to people, let’s share the newest documentaries available (see table for list) as a conversation starter. No one will say that this is extreme anymore. People accept this message because the very existence of our planet is at stake. Let’s share our recipes with people. Let’s forge strong friendships. Relationships are created around food in all of the world’s cultures. We have forgotten this reality in our country. Let’s start cooking at home and share with friends and neighbors. You can make a difference.
I live in a condominium unit in a large city and have made friends with my neighbors. Lately I had overseas visitors staying in my home. I enjoyed cooking for them and one night we just had too much food left over. I called one of my neighbors, explained the situation, and asked if I could bring her a take-out box of food. She happily accepted and said that she hadn’t had her dinner yet and was thinking what to eat, but her fridge is empty. I delivered the box promptly; she said a big thank you. The next day, I received a phone call. The lovely lady asked from what restaurant I ordered the meal. Hah! It was made from scratch in my kitchen! Ravioli garnished with fresh basil pesto (see a pesto recipe on page 49). Fresh herbs make a big difference and give your dish a gourmet touch.
My neighbor requested a visit in my home for a basil pesto demonstration. She is a successful woman in her ‘70s who operates her own business. She suggested a Saturday morning as it’s the best time for her new boyfriend to come as well, whom she’d love for me to meet. I assured her that her boyfriend is welcome as well and explained that Saturday mornings are not suitable for me because I attend a church at these hours. “On Saturday?” she asked. “Come on Sunday morning and I’ll explain why my day of worship is Saturday,” I replied. She happily agreed. Talking about outreach opportunities! They come themselves if we are friendly to our neighbors!
Large cities also have vegan support groups. Many people want to start this lifestyle, but don’t know how and search for like-minded individuals. These places are great to get involved. You can make friends there, organize potluck lunches, or the like.
But first, we have to return to our roots, to our health message. Once people find out what a treasure we have, they will request visits to our homes. May God bless you and keep you as you live His health message.
1 H.O.P.E. What You Eat Matters