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Garden of Eden Was Vegetarian - Salt Lake Tribune
 Garden of Eden Was Vegetarian


FROM THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

USA, Nov 22 (VNN) Saturday November 21 1998 
Vegetarians Cite Spiritual Reasons for Dietary Stand

BY PEGGY FLETCHER STACK
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

In the beginning, says the Bible, there was no meat. Oh, sure, there were animals, but not to eat.

The Garden of Eden was rich in grains and nuts. After Adam and Eve fell from grace, all that God added to their diet was "herbs of field and vegetables."

It was not until after the Flood (think Noah), when all the vegetation was destroyed, that the people were allowed to eat meat. But any meat had to be drained of all blood, which was the start of Jewish kosher laws.

On these Bible passages and a handful of others, several groups of Christians and Jewish believers have built a theology of vegetarianism.

So for them, next week's orgy of turkey consumption is at best unhealthy and at worst a sin. Karen Bray, a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist, now of Sandy, has never cooked a turkey.

Sometimes she makes a soybean substitute, known as "mock turkey." The family does not often eat it, preferring vegetables and grains, so it helps to make Thanksgiving special for her three sons.

Her reasons for avoiding meat are part religious and part health. "We talk about our bodies being the temple of God, and that God can work through us to help other people," Bray says. "But if I don't feel good, what kind of message am I communicating?"

She believes she must eat healthy in every way, not just vegetarian.

"Just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I can stuff all the sugar I want into my body," Bray says.

Adventists encourage a healthy diet and about half of them are vegetarians, according to the most recent estimates.

"When God created people, his original diet didn't involve meat," she says. "Like an owner's manual, God knew what was best for the human body."

In the Mormon health code, known as the Word of Wisdom, it says that meat should be used "sparingly, and... only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."

Despite the Mormon reputation for hunting and beefeating, a growing number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are choosing to abstain from meat, says Tom Rogers of Bountiful.

Rogers says that in 1991, he was at death's door from cancer, four strokes and a heart attack, and only an epiphany to give up all meat and meat products saved his life.

The dairy farmer told his dietician, "Nothing is to die so that I might live."

Since that day, Rogers has become even more strict, following a "vegan" diet, that is, giving up all animal products, including dairy products. He reports that he has been remarkably healthy, without even a cold or flu. While the LDS Church allows members to decide about vegetarianism for themselves, Rogers believes there is strong support for it in Mormon scriptures. "From my view, the LDS Church is trying to prepare people for a millennial life," he says. "By forgoing meat, we are allowing our lamb to lay down with the lion."

Rogers belongs to a group known as LDS Vegetarians that is one of the sponsors of a vegetarian potluck dinner at 4 p.m. in Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City today.

The animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sponsored a series of advertisements, T-shirts and a Web site with the banner headline: "Jesus Was a Vegetarian." Although it says in the New Testament that Jesus ate fish, even multiplied fish miraculously to feed the multitudes, PETA authors argue that these stories cannot be confirmed because they were written long after the events occurred.

In September, Richard Schwartz, author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, got 66 fellow Jews to endorse a packet of information advocating vegetarianism and mailed it to all 3,650 rabbis of North American congregations. Schwartz argues that the Talmud's meat-eating commands were tied to temple sacrifices that no longer pertain, and he cites Orthodox rabbinical rulings that meat is not mandatory at festivals.

Earlier this month the top North American leaders of the liberal Reform branch of Judaism mulled the ethical case for vegetarianism during their annual caucus.

According to Rabbi Frederick Wenger of Salt Lake City's Congregation Kol Ami, the rabbis issued a resolution urging all Jews "to give sanctity to what we eat, by eating things which are environmentally and ecologically" responsible.

Vegetarianism has long been a feature of Eastern religions. Some Hindus abstain from eating meat, particularly beef, believing that cattle may contain reincarnated human souls.

Bama Jayaraman, a Salt Lake City Hindu, is a vegetarian, but not for religious reasons.
"The fact that my parents are vegetarian is why I am one, and why my kids are vegetarian, but it is just a matter of preference," Jayaraman says.

Drawing their beliefs from the sacred Bhagavad Gita, Hare Krishnas try not to kill unnecessarily, says Caru Das, leader of the Krishna community in Spanish Fork.

"We only eat food that has first been offered to Krishna, and he will not accept meat, fish or eggs," he says. "Krishna won't eat meat products, so we can't eat them either."

© THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

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