Creation-friendly diet a rising trend for 2018

By 
  • January 14, 2018
Pope Francis may not qualify as a dietary expert but he can probably take a little credit for some healthy trends likely to spark New Year’s resolutions.

In the Pope’s 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Catholics were urged to make a positive impact through their dietary choices. Three years later, Canadians are eating less meat than ever to the benefit of our environment and our bodies.

Adopting a creation-friendly diet does not necessarily mean undergoing drastic lifestyle changes. A recent survey found 43 per cent of Canadians plan to make a conscious effort to eat less meat in 2018. From cutting down on meat consumption to making a conscious effort to shop locally, a little goes a long way.

For Tashia Toupin, a youth ambassador for Development and Peace in Saskatchewan, vegetarian was the way to go — and it was a decision totally based on her faith.

While she says it’s “not the right choice for everyone,” vegetarianism was a calling she had while studying theology at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.

“I was forced to look very critically at how I was living my life,” she said. “I reprioritized my relationship with creation. Knowing what I know from my education, activism and through working for Development and Peace, my conscience couldn’t continue to go with the status quo.

“Our experiences and prayers will lead us all to different conclusions about how best to live our Christian identity. If you are moved to reduce your meat consumption, then more power to you. But there are lots of ways we can care for creation and the common good of all.”

For Luke Stocking, an animator for Development and Peace, a creation-friendly diet means eating as locally and as organically as possible.

“You won’t find anything in the catechism telling you what kind of farm to buy your groceries from,” he said. “It’s implicit, not explicit. You have to take into consideration what the Church says about stewardship of creation.”

Stocking was raised on a farm in Uxbridge, Ont., and saw the benefits of eating locally grown produce and livestock.

“When you grow up on a farm, you see first-hand how vital animals are for the soil and the produce. It’s a biodynamic process. When you put massive quantities of livestock into a factory, it interrupts that natural process.”

Even the most conscientious of consumers are human.

Stocking’s biggest hurdle is maintaining his creation-friendly diet while travelling for work, when he sometimes finds himself in the McDonald’s drive-thru.

Toupin has been known to eat fish on occasion, but only if it is locally-farmed and antibiotic free.

For many people, the greatest hurdle is financial.

“You have to be prepared to pay a little extra for your food,” said Stocking on buying local and organic. “Our society is obsessed with getting our food as cheaply as possible.

That being said, the duty to start this movement is on Catholics with the economic means to adopt a more creation-friendly diet, not those who are on social assistance.”

The price of meat is expected to rise nine per cent in 2018. For the health-savvy shopper, this could be an opportunity to opt for organic vegetables instead of a steak on your next grocery store trip.

Stocking envisions a future where sustainable food is accessible for all. He and his family are doing their part as local farmers by accepting food vouchers from community health centres.

“It gives those individuals who are underprivileged access to local and organic food that may not otherwise be available to them. We need more programs like that on a wider scale. It’s about giving access to all and remaining non-judgmental.”

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