Is Eating Animal Products Safe?
By Dirk Anderson
This article will examine Ellen White's prophecies regarding the safety of consuming animal products. In 1896, Ellen White prophesied that in a "short time" it would soon be unsafe to eat any animal product.
"The LORD would bring His people into a position where they will not touch or taste the flesh of dead animals. Then let not these things be prescribed by any physicians who have a knowledge of the truth for this time. There is no safety in eating the flesh of dead animals, and in a short time the milk of the cows will also be excluded from the diet of God's commandment-keeping people. In a short time it will not be safe to use anything that comes from the animal creation. Those who take God at His word, and obey His commandments with the whole heart, will be blessed."2
Three years later, in 1899, she wrote:
"The light given me is that it will not be very long before we shall have to give up any animal food. Even milk will have to be discarded. Disease is accumulating rapidly."3
In 1901, she continues hammering the vegan message:
"Soon butter will never be recommended, and after a time milk will be entirely discarded; for disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time will come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter."4
Notice the following from the above statements:
She was so alarmed about the "soon" coming dangers of animal products that she taught her followers to teach the people to cook without animal products.
"Let the diet reform be progressive. Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men."5
In the late 1800s, Mrs. White said the time would "soon" come when animal products would be discarded. She described it as "a short time." What is a good definition of a "short time"? One year? Two years? Five years? She was telling her followers to teach people not to use milk or eggs, so she must have expected the time to come within those people's life spans. Well, it has been well over 120 years. The time has come to put Mrs. White to the test to see if what she said was true.
Is Eating Meat More Unsafe Today? 7
There are literally billions of people on this planet that eat meat. What are the facts about meat? Is it really unsafe for human consumption?
Meat quality and safety has improved dramatically over the last century. The truth is that meat eating in developed nations is safer now than at any time in human history. Why is that? Let us look at some of the changes that have taken place after Ellen White's era:
Some Adventists point to the mad cow disease outbreak in England as evidence of Mrs. White's accuracy in warning of the danger of meat products. Sadly, there were some human lives lost, but the Europeans took quick action to kill the infected animals and change their practices to prevent future outbreaks. Aside from this limited outbreak, if one were to analyze the overall safety of meat over the last 120 years, one would be forced to concede that tremendous advances have been made in meat quality and safety.
Let us examine some of the current concerns about meat:
Pesticides - Recent analyses by the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, and other agencies show that the levels of pesticide residues in foods sold in the United States are well within acceptable limits. Many of the samples tested had no detectable residues.
What is good about meat? Meat is a major dietary source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. These are essential for human growth and development. For example, meat is a major source of bioavailable zinc; in the U.S., it provides 50 percent of total dietary zinc, and beef is a principal source. Some foods derived from plants, particularly whole grains, also provide zinc, but these foods also contain phytate and dietary fiber, which inhibit the bioavailability of zinc. Meat does not contain these components.
The facts, proven by science, show that eating a moderate amount of lean meat does not pose a statistically significant health risk to humans. Furthermore, for those who choose to eat meat, it is an important source of critical proteins, vitamins, and minerals. But what about Ellen White's prediction about meat becoming unsafe?
Is Drinking Milk Unsafe?8
Ellen White implied it would soon be unsafe" to drink milk. Was that prediction accurate? On the contrary, milk has never been safer to drink than it is today. Again, government inspections and testing, along with refrigeration, have greatly improved the quality of milk. But nothing has improved the quality of milk as much as pasteurization. Unfortunately for Mrs. White, she never saw pasteurizations in any of her "visions". If she had, she might not have made all of the claims about the soon-coming dangers of drinking milk. Before the widespread introduction of pasteurization about 75 years ago, milk was a vehicle by which infectious diseases were frequently transmitted. Pasteurization and improved sanitation have virtually eliminated this problem.
Dr. Ronald Kleinman, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, writes:
"Milk and dairy products are safe and nutritious foods for growing children, and parents should make use of them unless there's some specific medical reason to avoid them." ... "dairy products are not perfect foods, but they are concentrated with many of the forms of nutrients that children need to grow well."
Let us examine some of the current concerns about milk:
Saturated Fat - This is a legitimate concern, but is easily resolved by the widespread availability of low fat and reduced fat milk products.
What is good about milk products? Milk is a good and wholesome food. Milk provides many nutrients, especially calcium, high-quality protein, riboflavin and vitamin B12 (and vitamins A and D, if the milk is fortified). Preliminary scientific evidence suggests that certain components of milk and other dairy foods may reduce the risk of cancers of the breast and colon. These components include calcium, vitamin D, bacterial cultures, and a type of fatty acid known as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
There are some people who are allergic to milk or have difficulty digesting milk, and it makes sense for these people to avoid milk. Aside from these cases, drinking milk does not pose a significant health risk to humans. Besides, milk is an important source of proteins, vitamins, and calcium. Now, what about Mrs. White's predictions about the need to soon discard milk?
What about Eggs?9
Much of what has already been said about refrigeration, education, labeling instructions, and government inspection and testing applies to the quality and safety of eggs.
Let us examine some of the current concerns about eggs:
Cholesterol - Eggs yolks are high in cholesterol. They are, in fact, the largest single source of cholesterol among the foods commonly eaten in the U.S. Extensive scientific research, including major studies completed within the last few years, shows that dietary cholesterol has only a small effect on blood cholesterol and that little if any relationship exists between egg consumption and heart disease risk in healthy people. In response to these findings, experts have stopped recommending a specific limit to the number of egg yolks consumed per week but have instead advised people to use eggs in moderation as part of a diet that meets the established guidelines for saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
What is good about eggs? When we eat eggs, some of the cholesterol gets absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body. Indeed, we need cholesterol in order to survive. Cholesterol helps build membranes for new cells in the body and is an especially important constituent of nerve cells. Some cholesterol is converted to bile acids, which help fats and fat-soluble vitamins get absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Cholesterol also provides the building blocks for vital hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and cortisol as well as for vitamin D.
One large egg provides about six grams of protein, about half of which is in the egg white. The white of an egg is considered an ideal protein — the one by which all others are measured — because it contains all the amino acids needed for human nutrition and offers them in the proper balance. As for other nutritional benefits:
Recent research indicates that egg eaters are more likely than non-egg eaters to have diets that provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients.
Eggs are nutritious food, providing high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals. Even Mrs. White said that eggs contain "remedial properties" and recommended her followers get their eggs from healthy hens. But what about her warning that "soon" eggs would be unsafe to eat?
Mrs. White's prophecy regarding the safety of animal products has proven to be false. If anything, the safety and quality of animal products have improved dramatically over the last 120 years. While a carefully planned and implemented vegetarian diet may be sufficient to survive, a moderate amount of lean meat, low-fat milk, and eggs can provide proteins, vitamins and minerals essential for human growth and development.
1. The author is a life-long vegetarian for health, environmental, and humanitarian reasons. He believes a carefully planned vegetarian diet, supplemented by an occasional fish, is the best diet for humanity, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. However, he believes some Ellen White followers have vastly overstated the risks of eating animal products in order to convince others she was a prophet. These followers sometimes fail to tell people that a moderate use of low-fat animal products will not result in a statistically significant increase in the risk of acquiring cancer or other diseases, and will not markedly reduce their life span. In fact, the longest-living people in the world, the Hunzas of Pakistan who live to be 120 to 140 years old, out-live the average SDA vegetarian by over 30 years. The Hunzas eat a moderate amount of lean meat in their diet. The author does not believe any person should be judged for what he eats or drinks: "For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs [Greek: lacanon = vegetables]. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him." (Romans 14:2,3).
2. Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 411, from a letter written to a physician from Stanmore, Sydney, N. S. W., July 26, 1896.
3. Ellen White, Union Conference Record (Australasian), July 28, 1899.
4. Ellen White, Letter 14, 1901, p. 3. (To Dr. S. Rand, January 22, 1901.) Also found in Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 384, para. 2.
5. Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 135.
6. Ellen White, Ministry of Health, pp. 320-21.
7. Much of the material in this section is extracted from the document The Beef Controversy (PDF format).
8. The material in this section was extracted from Much Ado About Milk (PDF format) .
9. Kathleen Meister, "Eggs: Not as Bad as They're Cracked Up to Be".
Category: Health Teachings
Please SHARE this using the social media icons below