This is my final personal reflection in the What Would Jesus Eat? series. Next we’ll begin exploring some aspects of food, its connection to many issues facing our world and what it has to do with Jesus and faith.
The summer of 2000 I worked at a Lutheran camp in the Rocky Mountains called Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp. It was founded by a bunch of Jesus Freak hippie Lutherans in the 70s. It had a definite social justice flavor from the beginning. There were a good number of the staff that were vegetarian and the camp accommodated this by always offering non-meat options at meals. There was a little restaurant “down the mountain” in Ft. Collins called Avogadro’s Number that specialized in vegetarian fare. I certainly didn’t abandon my meat-eating roots that summer, but being exposed to new and interesting foods stuck with me. The idea that not eating meat could be a lifestyle choice also stuck with me.
Living at 9200 ft above sea level amid the Rockies with a bunch of freak Christians who teach kids about social justice and live in cabins named after Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. was an intense experience. It opened my faith up to the possibility that it was about more than my own personal salvation and spiritual journey. This faith had something to say to the world.
To be honest, becoming vegetarian was just an experiment at first. I really enjoyed vegetarian foods. I thought it would be healthier and one of my favorite professors was a vegetarian. So, December 25, 2000, I announced to my family that I was no longer a carnivore. I wasn’t sure what would happen. This Texas boy was pretty sure something bad was going to happen when I stopped eating meat. But it was a grand experiment. I started my spring semester only to find out that the aforementioned professor had decided to take up eating meat again. This was going to be harder than I thought.
I stuck with it and actually got used to veggie subs and cheese pizza. After graduating and moving to Chicago, I found that Yankees were much more understanding of my eating habits. There was even a student in my youth group that was also vegetarian. At this point I had probably read some about vegetarianism and was aware of some of the variety of reasons behind abandoning the ways of the carnivore. But these reasons were not necessarily my own.
It wasn’t until I took a 14 hour flight to Japan to visit my then girlfriend, Sarah. On the way I devoured Fast Food Nation. About halfway through the book I said to myself, “I find new reasons everyday to be vegetarian.” And that has kind of been my reason ever since. To tell the truth, I’m not a very good vegetarian. I never have been. I’m too lazy. Technically I am a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, meaning I eat eggs and dairy. My in-laws are pretty much always fishing. So, I also eat fish every now and then. I have a dream about how I would like to eat ideally, but then reality gets in the way. We’ll talk more later about making changes in how we eat and how to get from here to there. I’m still on that journey so it will be both things I want to do and things that have worked.
The rest of this series will be an exploration of what some of the reasons are for not only being vegetarian, but being aware of what we eat, what it means and what Jesus has to do with a steakhouse or a farmer’s market.
Next… What I Eat is My Business!