So I’ve embarked on a two week quest – a journey, if you will. I’ve decided that for two weeks I will be going on a vegetarian diet. Not just vegetarian, but I’m eliminating breads, most dairy, and all coffee. I’m referring to it as my “no meat, no wheat” eating plan. Mainly just juice, fruits, veggies, nuts, and tubers.
I’ll be totally honest: I had originally thought about going Vegan – to eat no animal byproducts whatsoever. But I’m not committed to it ideologically and am not willing to go through the difficult Vegans face to make sure I avoid no-no foods. For example, while I’m trying to reduce dairy, the other night I had some veggies (prepared by someone else) that had butter on them. Rather than not eating, I decided to not sweat the small stuff. So, I’m not a Vegan, just trying to eat things that only grow from the ground (and reduce my dependence on caffeine). The wheat thing is just something I’m trying out.
I have no ideologically convictions against any food. In fact, Jesus tells us that no food makes us clean or unclean, for it goes in the body and out into the toilet. The things that really make us unclean are the things that come from the heart. So I’m not opposed to meat or wheat. I’m actually very fond of both! But I don’t want to be controlled by my appetites, so I’m given them up for a while.
The idea of going to a vegetarian diet isn’t a new concept. In the Bible, Daniel and his friends are “good Jewish boys” who get captured and taken away to Babylon. While in Babylon, the king wants to feed them royal food with all the other young men serving in the palace. Daniel did not want to show reliance on and allegiance to the king, so he asked to be fed veggies and water for 10 days. At the end of the trial period Daniel was looking better than the other guys who were eating the king’s food.
In the church today, going on a vegetarian diet is often called a “Daniel Fast.” Fasting is something that has been part of the Judeo-Christian faith for a long time. It really comes down to willfully putting aside food (some, certain kinds, or all) for a set period. More or less the purpose is to focus on God and to remember that there is more to life than our appetites – that we will give ourselves over to God and not to our appetites and bodily cravings.
While my purpose is not so high minded (I’m just doing my experiment it for some health purposes), I am amazed at how many people behave like I’ve lost my mind. Christians seem to have forgotten that fasting of any kind is a biblical principle. I know Christian vegetarians who have faced serious criticism and judgment from other Christians. But Vegetarian is not another word for crazy. It’s simply another way of looking at food.
So here I am. I’m 5 days in to this no meat, no wheat thing I’m trying. I’m not crazy. I’m not an extremist. I love the taste of cow, pig, chicken, duck, deer…I like meat – ok? But too often we’re controlled by our appetites – and I don’t want that to be me anymore.
I don’t know where you are in your life, but take a moment to examine it. What appetites (not just food, mind you) are controlling your life? What do you need to surrender to God?