Following the call
Adventists are healthy.Well, that’s what they tell us. Because we don’t eat meat, we live longer. We have fewer diseases. We are thinner than average. The Adventist Health Study 2 proves it.
That must mean eating in Adventist cafeterias and at Adventist potlucks sets us up for success in life.
Or does it?
Let’s consider for a moment how healthy the following two people are. Our first subject, Annette, is a life-long Adventist who has never put a morsel of meat in her mouth.
Instead, she prefers cheese pizza, Big Franks, bean-and-cheese burritos and white bagels with cream cheese. As a snack, she’ll grab chips or a muffin or cookie. She isn’t a fan of vegetables and only buys fruit occasionally.
Our second subject, Elaine, is a non-Adventist. She's not vegetarian, and for meals prepares organic, free-range chicken with sautéed kale, oatmeal with raw cream and fresh fruit and grass-fed beef with brown rice and steamed green beans.
She snacks as needed on nuts or sugarless dried fruit. Her kitchen is well-stocked with produce.
Who sounds healthier to you?
As a person with multiple food sensitivities, I have a unique perspective on this issue. Because of my label-reading habits, I see not only the physical results of people’s diets, but also the minute details of what we put into our bodies.
Processed junk. Things that came from a laboratory. We don’t eat meat, but we certainly consume things as far away from healthy as we can get.
Non-vegetarian diets are often more healthy than the typical Adventist diet, but we don’t seem to care. Few things could bring more reproach on the so-called “health message” we have for the world.
If we as Adventists are as concerned about health as we claim to be, we need to start focusing on the quality of the food we eat.
So, veggie meat. It tastes good—if you’re used to it. It isn’t, however, very healthy. It’s full of excessive salt, chemicals and GMO ingredients, I honestly don’t understand how we can say its healthier than organic chicken.
How about we start looking for savory, filling recipes that integrate lentils, beans and nuts and redeem ourselves?
Cheese. Another meat substitute? High in fat, salt and calories. Perhaps we should put more substance into the food we make—peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, potatoes—and some spices. Then we won’t have to drown it in cheese. Fat content down; nutrition content up.
Spiritual, mental and physical health are all intertwined, and a lack in any of them will affect the others. Looking at what we’re eating, we can start to understand some of the things going on in our lives.
If we put bad fuel into our body, can we expect a clear mind? If we are intemperate in our eating habits, should we be surprised to find we’re struggling with standing firm on spiritual issues as well?
What could a switch to a plant-based, whole-foods diet do to transform things?
We as a church understand our dietary message. I believe many of us as students and staff take it seriously as well. We already believe to the point of vegetarianism.
Let’s believe to the point of health.
Ginger Hany is a senior studying biomedical science