Vegetarian for Jesus
Reaching vegetarians with the life-changing gospel message of
by Nathan Braun
"If what I eat causes anyone to stumble, I will never eat meat
again." (1 Corinthians 8:13)
Until recently, relatively few Christians have tried to directly
reach vegetarians with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason,
vegetarian remain a largely "unreached people group," even within
North America. With vegetarians, vegans, and semi-vegetarians fast
approaching 10% of the population, however, this is tragic. It reflects
our failure as Christian communities to attract, disciple, and minister
to a large, growing, and vocal minority community.
In fact, many vegetarians are generally sympathetic to and interested
in the gospel, and specifically how it interacts with their diets
and lifestyles. Our own CVA brochures were among the most sought-after
items at two recent vegetarian conferences, so much so that we ran
out of literature both times. Indeed, vegetarians typically share
similar core values with Christians--such as concern for health,
the world's hungry, the environment, and animals. They are interested
in how vegetarianism, and diet in general, relates to Christianity.
For this reason, many Christians have already become vegetarian,
or are well on their way to doing so. (See "Vegetarianism
Nevertheless, it seems that Christianity fails to attract many
vegetarians. Further, some vegetarians have left their churches,
because they have felt that their local congregations have not shown
respect for their sound dietary choices. I personally know at least
three such individuals who have fallen away from the church on account
of certain church members' closed minds and/or open mouths.
Eating meat, then, has become a stumbling block for these vegetarians
and would- be believers. In Hebrews 10:25, Paul says "Let us not
give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but
let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day
approaching." But some vegetarians find it difficult to continue
attending unsupportive congregations. Allowing these Christians
to leave, or even feel neglected or ridiculed in the first place,
on account of diet is frowned upon explicitly by Scripture.
I believe the Bible permits meat-eating, but the apostle Paul makes
clear that no Christian's diet should cause another to stumble.
He said, "It is better not to eat meat . . . or to do anything else
that will cause your brother to fall" (Romans 14:21). Paul himself
indicated he personally would go to considerable lengths not to
let diet interfere with another's faith, altering his own diet for
the sake of a fellow believer: "...if what I eat causes my brother
to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not
cause him to fall" (I Cor. 8:13).
Therefore, without examining the other good ethical, health, and
environmental reasons for not eating meat today, I believe there
is sound biblical basis for Christians -- whether or not they are
active missionaries or evangelists -- to consider becoming vegetarian.