An Episcopal priest came to our last two Vegetarian Society of El Paso dinners. Our August dinner included a showing of the film What the Health?. A few days ago, at the last dinner, I asked him if he had been converted yet. He said not quite, but that he had developed a taste for tofu.
I told him several ways to prepare tofu, of which he was unaware, like tofu scramble, tofu pudding and pie filling, marinated, frozen and a couple of other ways. I sat down beside him and continued in a gentle way to suggest the benefits of plant-based protein.
I would love to convert another person of the cloth. Ten years ago I unintentionally converted two Unitarian ministers to veganism. They were a man and wife minister team and already flexitarian. They told me that they only ate meat or dairy when they were invited to someone’s home for dinner. When they were moving for a ministry in another state they told me that they had gone vegan because of knowing me. That was good to hear.
Some years ago, I spent a weekend with Rynn Berry, who was the historical advisor for the North American Vegetarian Society. We went to a huge used bookstore in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where I found a copy of the book The Essene Gospel of Peace. It’s an apocryphal text not included in the Bible but which I would prefer to believe before I would most biblical stories. It is free to read online. (http://www.human-resonance.org/Essene_Gospel_of_Peace.pdf)
In The Essene Gospel of Peace, Jesus promoted a plant-based diet and said “He who kills, kills himself, and whoso eats the flesh of slain beasts, eats of the body of death. For in his blood every drop of their blood turns to poison; in his breath their breath to stink; in his flesh their flesh to boils; in his bones their bones to chalk; in his bowels their bowels to decay; in his eyes their eyes to scales; in his ears their ears to waxy issue. And their death will become his death.”
I find it amazing to think about those statements in light of what we know about medicine today.
“In his blood every drop of their blood turns to poison.” Couldn’t this be a remark about cholesterol and plaque in arteries?
“In his breath their breath to stink.” Many people of Eastern countries say that the breath of Westerners is bad because of our meat-based diet.
“In his flesh their flesh to boils.” I’m not sure what to make of this, but dairy products are thought to be a main cause of acne.
“In his bones their bones to chalk.” This seems a rather clear reference to osteoporosis, which is thought to be advanced if not caused by animal protein.
“In his bowels their bowels to decay.” Colon cancer?
“In his eyes their eyes to scales.” Macular degeneration and cataracts?
“In his ears their ears to waxy issue.” Dairy products have been linked to chronic ear infections. I suffered from ear infections as a kid, perhaps because I was only fed cow’s milk formula as a baby.
“And their death will become his death.”
I haven’t considered myself a Christian for many years. I identify more as Buddhist, mainly because I agree completely with the first precept of Buddhism, which is to avoid harming other beings.
But when I reflect on the matter, I consider Veganism to be my spiritual practice.
Greg Lawson attended MSVA in the spring of 2014. He is Vice President of the Vegetarian Society of El Paso and has done a vegan-oriented radio show, Animal Concerns of Texas, for 14 years on KTEP FM, National Public Radio for the Southwest. (www.ktep.org/programs/act-radio)