News coverage of the recent elections in The Netherlands mostly focused on the right-wing candidacy of Geert Wilders, a Donald Trump wanna-be who is the leader of the Partij voor de Vrijheid, (try saying that three times fast), the Party for Freedom.
Wilders was something of a one-trick pony, campaigning primarily on an anti-Islamic platform, comparing the Quran to “Mein Kampf,” urging a ban on immigration of Muslims and calling for a permanent moratorium on the construction of mosques.
Lost in Wilders’ oversized shadow was another parliamentary candidate, Marianne Thieme, co-founder and chairperson of the Party for the Animals, which managed to garner 3.2% of the popular vote and five seats in the Dutch House of Representatives.
As you’d expect, her party campaigned in support of animal welfare and in opposition to factory farming and hunting. She blamed meat-eating for climate change, obesity and the planet’s “looming food crisis,” as the religious website AdventistReview.org phrased it (Thieme is a Seventh Day Adventist).
Which is a crisis she admitted hasn’t happened yet.
Taking the Story Literally
But Thieme, who’s married to an organic farmer who produces vegetarian meat alternatives (naturally), garnered a lot more attention in the media after she proclaimed in multiple interviews that “Adam and Eve were vegetarians.” Her statements suggested that not only does that “fact” prove that people are supposed to be veggies, but that upon entering heaven or paradise or however you choose to label the afterlife, we’ll all go back to living on leaves, herbs and seeds — and lying around listening to harp music.
None of which most of us would be caught dead doing here on Earth.
So is she right? Can the Bible be used to justify the vegan lifestyle?
It’s true that God instructed Adam and Eve to eat plants and herbs, a privilege that He also granted to the animals, as recounted in the Book of Genesis. As part of that lifestyle, humans and animals enjoyed a peaceful, friendly relationship without any violence.
It was only after Noah and his ark-ful of wildlife survived the Flood that God gave people permission to eat flesh — which had to seriously aggravate all those pairs of animals, who were likely muttering, “Wait a second. We spent 40 days crammed into this leaky boat, survived the destruction of the entire world, and now you’re telling us we’re gonna be eaten?”
There might have been more than a few of them who took the Lord’s name in vain upon finding out that little wrinkle in the Creator’s master plan.
Here’s the thing, though. However you choose to interpret the passages in Genesis, there are two problems with the assertion that since the first man and woman were vegetarians, that must be God’s preferred diet for humanity.
First of all, when God told Adam and Eve that, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it for food,” they were still in the Garden of Eden. According to scholarly interpretation, that was pretty much like living full-time at a Sandals resort in Aruba — only everything really was included, especially the food.
Being a vegetarian is a lot easier when you can sit under a tree and wait for your lunch to drop into your lap.
Second, and more notably … Adam and Eve are fictional characters!
The Book of Genesis isn’t a diary of the First Couple; it’s a story written as a metaphor to explain the Creation myth, and thus their dietary preferences, however people care to speculate, are purely hypothetical.
Plus, their younger son Abel was a shepherd, and back in Biblical times people didn’t herd sheep just to give their dogs something to do; they raised them for wool and meat.
However, big brother Cain, a farmer who presumably subsisted on plants, then became the first person to inflict the punishment that today’s extreme animal activists want to impose on all meat-eaters: Death by slaughter.
Draw your own conclusions.
The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.