by Danny Bell
By Danny Bell, February 4, 2014
I don’t quite remember all the details of how I felt, but in 1985 when I came to Christ, I quit a lot of stuff. Alcohol, pot, acid, cussing, smoking, trouble with the law, satanic music, debauchery, evil friends, sexual promiscuity—the list goes on… and, oh yeah—meat.
It all just dropped away somehow, and I didn’t crave those things any more. My sights were fixed on God, and those things just fell away like rotten old clothes. I’m not blowing my trumpet, just remembering out loud. I have never gone back to any of those things, but one did sneak back up on me—yup, meat-eating. Not red meat (haven’t eaten a cow or sheep since 1985), but chicken came back with a vengeance. All I can say is, I crossed the road to get to it—not the other way round.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think eating meat is a sin unless one is convicted of its dangers and continues to do it. I was going okay, but somehow the old Kentucky just ended up on my plate. A chicken sandwich at a funeral, a drumstick at a wedding, a wing-ding at a party—before I knew it, I could hear the wheels talking, and they weren’t vegetarian.
I think the problem may have started when my wife and I swung wildly into veganism while at college. If you want to know how to turn people off quickly, just start asking your hosts if there are animal products in what they are serving you. Yeah, I did that. The vegan friends we hung out with were all skinny, and the conversation was always about food. Some time later I would be at a party and start to feel there was something up with the vegan culture—the vegans I knew seemed…a bit weird. A common thing they used to do was to have “cleansing weekends.” We never participated, but they would always shout out the window as they were driving off: “don’t forget your bucket and pump!”
The food too was really hard core. There were wholemeal pastries and cakes that were like chewing on concrete. I remember following a recommended cleansing diet with Carmel—raw spinach with a few cashews thrown in. We ate it for about a week and then I cracked. “I can’t do this any more,” I yelled. I was feeling really hungry all the time and not looking forward to meals. It was depressing, and I felt we were doing it all wrong. So ended the foray into internal purity as we brought back cheese, eggs, butter, normal bread and all the nice tasting stuff—no red meat, but the chicken unfortunately did raise its ugly head off the block at me.
Why do I say unfortunately? Well, I believe in our health message and always have. I do think there will come a time that animal products will be too diseased to eat. The thing is, I reasoned that it would only be somewhere in the future when chickens heads would drop off through sheer rottenness.
My weight gained dramatically as I began to loosen up on other things in the desert department and unhealthy beverages like soft drink. Pretty soon I hit 132 kilos. Something had to change.
The hardest time was when I had not made my lunch for the day and ate out at fast food places. There I was staring through the glass at heated chicken in all of its forms. I had to stop somehow. I told my wife that I wanted to give up chicken, and so she supported me by not bringing it home any more. I had a little struggle when walking by the chicken sections when shopping, but as long as I didn’t buy it and take it home I could cope. I could choose something else to put in the basket.
Right there is one of the first lessons I learned in my battle with chicken (sounds epic?): it’s easier to say no at the supermarket than if it were in easy reach at home. I used to teach this tip to Quit Smoking Seminar attendees when I was a pastor. It was easier for them to not pull over and buy smokes than if they had some fags in the drawer at home and were trying to quit—a recipe for failure. I applied this method to myself, and it does work.
The Lionheart’s health nights (this is the name of our church support group) also gave me an added boost. There was something motivating about telling the group I was giving up chicken (we ask everyone at the group about what things they want to change in their lives). When the food van came along while I was at work, I was tempted, I admit. But in my mind I could see myself saying to the group, “I failed today.” That thought seemed to repulse me, and so I chowed down on an egg and lettuce sandwich instead. I felt a victory—a small one, but it made me feel really good inside. Since then I survived the annual family Xmas party and loads of the stuff passed under my nose without even a ripple. My weight has begun to decrease as well, and at last weigh-in on health night, I was 126 kilos. I changed nothing else—just gave up chicken—that’s it.
As I continued to read some good info online about meat and the current disease epidemic, I have developed a theory. What if all these new allergies and diseases nobody has ever heard of before are the result of meat consumption? What if people getting sick more than normal is linked to eating meat? Seriously, the medical world is awash with new data showing that we are in an epidemic of food allergies and diseases that are hard to treat and diagnose. What if that prolonged cold or the fact that you always seem to get everything that’s going around is linked to meat consumption? What about skin conditions, strange headaches, the new Alzheimer’s epidemic, Parkinson’s, motor neuron diseases, rare blood disorders—what if they all in some way are linked to our excessive love affair with meat? Yes, we have genetic pre-dispositions to a lot of these, but what if meat–eating is a factor that triggers their onset?
We know for a fact that meat–eating severely increases our risk of contracting cancer—that’s been verified by the World Health Organisation; no big surprises there. But what about its link to other diseases and the exponential affect it has on the onset and rapid decline in patients who have recoverable conditions but result in death? Why do some diseases kill people, and yet others recover from gangrene, arthritis, bone and joint conditions, meningitis, bees stings, insect bites, gastro bugs, flu’s, asthma attacks? People sometimes die from something as simple as a scratch!
Indeed medical treatments have improved the detection and treatment of many diseases, but medical scientists all seem to be saying the same thing: “we don’t know what is causing the frequency and severity of these things.” I am not a doctor, but in my life experience and study, there is a correlation between lifestyle and diet on the one hand, and resistance, contraction and recovery from disease on the other. To the uninformed and ignorant, this may be news, but to Adventists this should come as no surprise. We were told something very similar a long time ago—like over 100 years ago.
Listen to our spiritual grandmother:
The effects of a flesh diet may not be immediately realized, but this is no evidence that it is not harmful. Few can be made to believe that it is the meat they have eaten which has poisoned their blood and caused their suffering. Many die of diseases wholly due to meat eating, while the real cause is not suspected by themselves or by others. (CG, p. 382)
Nobody knows what the causes are—hmmm…
Cancers, tumors, and all inflammatory diseases are largely caused by meat eating. (CD, p. 388)
Inflammatory diseases—allergies, reactions to simple foods? The other day at work I used bore water in my plaster mix as opposed to clean tap water. The mix went off a lot faster. I had to work double time as the bore water had an effect on the workability of the plaster, and caused it to prematurely cure hard. I wonder if this is what’s happening to humans who eat meat? Put bad stuff in and you get bad stuff out. Sounds simplistic, but the mix didn’t behave in the normal way it should because I used a dirty medium. Our blood is what aids in recovery of foreign attacks, getting rid of poisons and cleaning up our system. If it’s dirty, it’s going to go into meltdown. Listen to this:
The animals are diseased, and by partaking of their flesh, we plant the seeds of disease in our own tissue and blood. Then when exposed to the changes in a malarious atmosphere, these are more sensibly felt; also when we are exposed to prevailing epidemics and contagious diseases, the system is not in a condition to resist the disease. (CD, p. 386)
A “malarious atmosphere” means those times of the year when we are exposed to pollens, insects and various other normal seasonal assaults on our system. Why do some go down in a heap while others don’t even flinch? Of course there will be the exceptional cases, but that does not account for the epidemic of allergies and diseases for which there seems to be no known cause. There’s a lot to be said about immunity and our insistence on the consumption of meat. Are we compromising our blood immune system and normal recovery from what was once just a common cold?
For me, I am returning as close as possible to foods that are healthy and steering away from a reliance on animal products. I still have a long way to go on many other issues in my life, but I believe I have made a positive start in an area I can control. From spreads to milk and other seemingly normal pantry items, I find myself slowing down and looking on the packaging for ingredients. Am I being fanatical? I don’t think so. I just want to be around a bit longer and enjoy life, not be in a state of suffering, catching everything that passes by my door. Also, I want to follow what I believe God is telling me to do—that’s the crunch, the sauce and the balance of flavours for me.