Suspect Anything that Requires Marketing

Posted on September 14, 2011

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After watching Food Inc. as well as Forks Over Knives I am off meat. My family and I never ate that much meat to begin with, so it wasn’t the life-style overhaul that would be for some people. The reasons for this change include:

1. The terrible treatment of animals.

2. The health benefits of a plant-based diet.

3. The cost savings of a plant-based diet. (Despite what even some vegetarians say, I believe it is cheaper.)

4. The evils perpetrated on poor workers by industrial farming.

5. My own unwillingness to kill an animal myself, or even watch while it is being killed.

6. Industrial farms are horrible for the environment.

I don’t believe that eating animals is intrinsically immoral. Throughout time and across the globe, people have been eating animals as part of their diet. However, I have come to believe that the food system (I am hesitant to call it a legitimate food culture) that surrounds me is so massive and corrupt, that the best and easiest way to appease my conscious is to withdraw from this aspect of it.

I could find a local farmer who grass-feeds her cows, and maybe eventually that’s what I’ll do. But for now I think I’ve made enough of an impact on the word by eating meat that I can a take a year or two off as I evaluate my own eating habits and their affects on my health.

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But this process of change has gotten me thinking a lot about the role of marketing. Both of these movies mention the power and influence of organizations like the National Dairy Council, The Americans Association of Meat Processors, The American Meat Institute, and The United Egg Lobby. This has re-enforced something I have believed for a long time:

If it requires advertising or marketing then there is something wrong with it.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with getting the word out about a new service, product, or event. No one is going to knock on your door asking if you have something that will make their lives better. You need to go and tell them.

But good things don’t require big marketing campaigns, especially things that have been around for a long time. Meat has been around for a long, long time. So why is it still being so heavily marketed to us? Cars are marketed because one manufacturer wants us to choose them over another brand. But you don’t see all the car manufacturers joining together to tell people to “buy cars” in general sense, the way you do with milk, cheese, eggs, and most clearly, meat.

We should be suspicious of anything that requires marketing. This brings me to the real point I am trying to make. This post was not meant to be about diet, but about churches and the Christian life.

I don’t believe that following Jesus should require huge amounts of marketing. It isn’t a product that we’re trying to sell. Followers of Jesus shouldn’t act like lobbyist for Jesus*, willing to make whatever deal we can to move our industry forward, regardless of the immediate cost to non-Christians or the long-term cost to everyone. Nor should our churches be like Pampered Chef or Avon parties, where we gather to learn about the latest products to sell to people as well as methods on how to recruit more salespeople.

Following Christ should be more like eating a plant-based, whole foods diet: it makes sense on many different levels. But at he most basic level, avoiding meat and searching after Jesus share a common trait: I feel better about myself when I’m doing both. I don’t know who said it, but I like the quote, “If you’re arguing, you’ve already lost.” I’m not going to try to convince anyone to either eat veggies or to follow Christ, but I do hope that in either case they are able to look at me and say, “What’s going on with him? He seems to be living an exciting life full of love and energy.”

(But maybe I’ll need better abs first…)

 

*A blog everyone should check out is Jesus Need New PR. I like it because it makes me think about the marketing of Christianity. Sometimes this marketing is veiled as a response to “the culture,” but don’t be confused: everything is marketing.

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