By Mark A. Kellner
By the end of 2019, an estimated 7.714 billion people will inhabit Planet Earth, according to Worldometers, a reference website. Should time persist, that number is expected to reach 10 billion by the year 2050, a scant 31 years from now.
Such large numbers give rise to a question: What will 10 billion people eat? Well, if folks continue a meat-heavy diet, we’ll be in for a baleful buffet of consequences, declares a commission assembled by Britain’s Lancet medical journal.
“Current dietary trends, combined with projected population growth to about 10 billion by 2050, will exacerbate risks to people and planet,” the panel said. “The global burden of non-communicable diseases is predicted to worsen, and the effects of food production on greenhouse-gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, biodiversity loss, and water and land use will reduce the stability of the Earth system.”
Those “non-communicable diseases” would apparently include afflictions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, all of which continue to plague the more affluent societies where high-fat diets remain the rage. (If you doubt this, drive through just about any shopping area and you’ll find one meat-laden fast food restaurant after another.)
To sum it up, the commission said, “Unhealthy diets pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than does unsafe sex, and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined.”
What’s the answer? “The world’s diets must change dramatically,” according to Dr. Walter Willett, a nutrition expert from Harvard University. He added, “Diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.”
Advice Known for Millennia
This isn’t new advice, not by a long shot. The benefits of a plant-based diet—one that eliminates meat—have been known since the earliest days of Creation.
In Genesis 1:29, 30, we read: “God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.”
Moving ahead to the Babylonian captivity, we see what was presented to the Hebrew captives Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “[T]he king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:5).
Daniel, however, “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies,” (v. 8). At the end of a ten-day test in which the four Hebrews ate only vegetables and water, “their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies” (v. 15). Thus, the benefits of a plant-based diet were affirmed before the king’s servants—and for all who read the Bible account.
Advocacy of a plant-based diet has waxed and waned over more recent decades, but in the nineteenth century, many prominent thinkers supported the notion. Science was beginning to demonstrate that not only was a plant-based diet better for one’s health, but such an assertion could be supported by clinical evidence.
By 1977, even the U.S. Senate got into the act. A select committee chaired by then-Senator George McGovern of South Dakota declared, “The question to be asked therefore is not why should we change our diet, but why not? What are the risks associated with eating less meat, less fat, less saturated fat, less cholesterol, less sugar, less salt, and more fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fat, and cereal products—especially whole grain cereals? There are none that can be identified and important benefits can be expected.”
In fact, research has shown that eliminating meat, saturated fat, and cutting down on sugar and salt are life-enhancing dietary moves. Even secular media has recognized that the vegetarian community of Loma Linda, California, might be onto something given the link between a plant-based diet and the many folks there who live to 100 and beyond.
What Can We Do Now?
The answer seems to be a straightforward one: Embrace a plant-based diet as quickly and as fully as possible. Not only will this help the environment, but it will also assist each of us to live healthier, and more productive lives.
As Pastor Doug said in a Landmarks of Prophecy presentation called “Babylon’s Buffet,” diet plays an important role in how we hear from God: “Sometimes when you just take care of your body, get some exercise, you eat a simple diet, your mind clears up, it's easier to perceive the voice of the Holy Spirit.”
There’s a lot more to learn from our Bible Study Guide “God’s Free Health Plan,” where you’ll discover how to take care of the one-and-only body you’ll have in this life, and how doing so might put some doctors out of business.
A worldwide shift toward a plant-based diet may or may not happen by the year 2050, but looking at your own lifestyle and making changes could be an important step in the right direction for your future!