In continuation of a biblical case for veganism, I choose now to focus on water, which is a birthright given by God that shows up in scripture in several contexts:
1. A vital component of God’s consistent provision in our lives
2. A metaphoric reference to His power and His reliability and, at times, His power as it abides in us
3. His way of cleansing us and nourishing us to flourish
We will look at how veganism is an indirect way of exercising better stewardship over this vital resource. Before we do that, let us first examine some scriptures that illustrate what I’ve stated above:
Water is YOUR God Given Birthright
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Now, as I was saying:
In Genesis 2:5-6, even before God created man and made him Commissioner of Eden Gardens, He watered the land in preparation for the garden and Adam.
God Consistently Provides Water
Even after the Fall of Man, although we are subjected to several consequences for our disobedience, we were never expected to live without water. When the Children of Israel are wandering through the desert, He responded to their complaints of thirst by turning brackish water into clean, refreshing water for them to drink.
Water as a Reference to God’s Power
He caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights straight in Genesis 7 – this is also a reference to cleansing, His main intent for the Great Flood. The waters remained for 150 days and didn’t recede until God decided the time was right.
Water as a Reference to God’s Power as it Abides in us
The Prophet Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
Elijah gave that word later in 1 Kings 18:41
Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” (NKJV)
We know from James 5:17 that on Elijah’s word, through his prayer, there was no rain for 3 1/2 years.
Water as a Reference to God’s Reliability
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Water as His vehicle for cleansing us and causing us to flourish
In the first verses of the first poem in the book of Psalms, the psalmist lays out the characteristics of those who would be “blessed”, or happy. In verse 3, happiness is likened to being a tree planted by rivers of water that bears fruit in abundance and whose leaf never withers.
Indeed, Jesus gives the living water, as offered to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.
So here’s the Million Dollar Question: Exactly what does your consumption of animal-based foods have to do with water?
Answer: It’s another case of poor stewardship over an extremely precious God-given resource.
In Chapter 2 of Securing Our Birthright (entitled “Menu Expansion: When God Condoned Carnivory, Man Went H.A.M. – Hard as a Moabite), we examine this issue. With the permission of the producers of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, I list an alarming set of data regarding the impacts of modern livestock agriculture on Air, Water, Land and Mankind.
(The facts are listed here with references: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/)
Here are the water-related statistics:
- Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
- Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all drinkable water consumption in the world today.
- Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
- It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound (16 oz, two normal 8oz steaks) of beef.
- 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs (that’s between 8 and a dozen, depending on the size of the eggs); almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
- It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.
According to Charity: Water, 63 million people live without clean water.
They suffer from a wide range of preventable diseases because the only water they have access to for cooking for and bathing themselves and their children and washing the family’s clothes is dirty. Also, often their water source, as poor as the quality is, is a long walk from where they live.
Women and girls are responsible for carrying water in some societies. To do this time-consuming, heavy work for their families, some girls cannot even go to school on a consistent basis.
Just to be clear, Big Ag does not just exist in the United States. There are large CAFO livestock farms all over the world and some of the countries they are in have the biggest water problems.
Also, to be clear, the people in the demographic who live without clean water are highly likely to be people who are too poor to be consumers of animal-based foods. It’s only the wealthiest 30% of the world population who eats flesh, eggs and cheese and drinks milk. The rest are vegan by default.
(Which begs the question: Why do people think it’s more expensive to go vegan, when meat is the most expensive item in the grocery store? But I digress…)
I like math. Let’s do some, shall we?
The World Health Organization estimates that in a crisis, where water supplies that previously existed are compromised, people would need a minimum of 7.5 liters of water a day to meet basic needs. Figuring we are supposed to be drinking around 2 liters a day (that’s a bit more than the 8 x 8oz glasses we probably don’t all drink like we should) that means the other 5.5 liters are for cooking and washing. On the other hand, in the developed world where water is available 24 hours a day, everylittledrop.co.au says that we use an average of around 100 liters a day. This includes flushing toilets and less conservative cleaning and washing.
Figuring 100 liters a day = around 40 gallons, that means that:
- Your steak dinner could have supplied 31 people with clean, reliable water they could confidently drink and use for cooking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes and flushing toilets.
- Your dozen eggs could have supplied almost 11 people.
- Your gallon of milk could have supplied 25 people.
But instead, it supplied ONE person. ONE household. Indeed, it supplied them with “food” that causes them more harm to their health than nutrition. It did so at the expense of many other members of the human family who live in deprivation.
In a world where 63 million are living without clean water, and millions of others have it but inconsistently, and still others, even in the great United States of America, have to choose between drinking contaminated water from their taps or spending money they could use for food to buy clean, bottled water, this is an abuse of God’s provision.
How Much Less water do Vegans Consume?
In contrast, how much water does it take to grow plants? According to a Huffington Post article from 2014 (updated in 2017):
(all of the following are expressed as gallons of water per pound of the food item)
- Tofu (Soybean Curd) 302 (feeds 3-4 people)
- Lentils 704 (makes 3-4 meals for a family of 4)
- Rice 299 (3-4 meals for a family of 4)
- Potatoes 34
- Oats 290 (3-4 breakfasts for a family of 4)
- Oranges 67
- Grapefruits 61
- Lemons 77
- Avocados 141
- Broccoli 34
- Garlic 71
- Tomatoes 26
- Eggplant 43
The real value of the exchange here is a lot less water for a lot more nutrition. These are the foods that keep the temple in the best condition. This, in addition to the low impact they have on the world’s water supply allow for, once again, better stewardship of the temple and the planet.
Here are a couple of other quotes from the Cowspiracy website pertaining to water:
“Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.”
“The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways.”
Again, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Again, I ask you, does being a consumer in this system glorify God? Does using the increase the God blessed you with to reward the industry that is robbing your fellow man of his birthright?
Where do you stand on this issue? Drop a comment below while you’re here.
Also, please click here to learn more about how Really Nourish is helping those in need of clean water.
Thank you for reading and sharing this! God bless you!