What is the Seventh-day Adventist stand on healthy eating?
Answer: When the Adventist Church began, the early members discovered that there were areas of the Bible which gave an insight into health practices, healthy eating, and our individual responsibility to care for ourselves, body, mind and spirit. Interestingly, the conclusions they came to have now been proved to be worthwhile 150 years later.
Although the church's standard belief statements on foods and nutrition exist, it remains an individual choice for each Seventh-day Adventist.
Our position on nutrition can be summarised as follows:
- "To eat the best food available given the circumstances." (The circumstances would include availability of food, cost, nutrition, personal preferences, and personal health status.)
The Adventist Church's position on nutrition is Bible based, and Science based. With most Seventh-day Adventists not drinking alcohol or using tobacco, over 300 research studies have been conducted to help determine what parts of diet have an effect on longevity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle diseases. Alcohol and tobacco have such devastating effects on these areas and using a group of people who are unlikely to be influenced by these substances has helped with clarifying some of the issues.
The largest study, and funded by the US government, has been proceeding now for close to 30 years. Called the Adventist Health Study, it has shown that Adventists who eat red meat twice a week have twice the heart disease of those who only have it once a week. Those who ate red meat four times a week or more had quadruple the incidence of heart disease. The research from this study has verified that the Adventist ‘stand on health issues’ are useful to the general population.
Regarding individual food groups:
- Adventists would usually have vegetables and fruit and cereals (in the form of breads, pastas, breakfast cereals etc) every day.
- They would have milk and other dairy products and eggs at a moderate level, recognising the effects on cholesterol levels etc.
- Most would not have red meat except on special occasions.
- Few would eat chicken.
- More would eat fish, but still less than 50%.
- Some Adventists choose to follow a diet based entirely on plant foods. As with other people following a vegan diet it is important for the dietary intake to be balanced and to consume foods or supplements daily containing vitamin B12. Many do this by using a B12 fortified soy drink such as So Good.
Although the church beliefs respect a vegetarian type diet, it is not compulsory. When choosing animal products to eat, most Adventists would hold a similar position in relation to certain animals noted in the Bible as being in the "unclean" group as do the followers of Judaism (read Leviticus 11). Thus the pig, the lobster, the cat would not be eaten. Once again it is not compulsory, but a personal belief in the teachings of the Bible.