You are to abstain from meat, except as a remedy for sickness or feebleness. But as, when you are on a journey, you more often than not have to beg your way, outside your own houses you may eat foodstuffs that have been cooked with meat, so as to avoid giving trouble to your hosts. At sea, however, meat may be eaten.
– Rule of St. Albert, No. 17
“You are what you eat,” goes a popular slogan for vegetarians and rightly so, as the food that we eat does not only provide sustenance to the body or satisfy one’s sensual cravings, it also influences one’s attitude and behavior.
It is a known fact that certain chemicals in our brain influence our behavior. People with high dopamine levels are energetic, while those with less dopamine are calm and quite. High levels of serotonin results in increased sex drives, compulsiveness, and a sense of satisfaction, while those with low levels tend to be more detached and logical.
The food we eat stimulates our brains to produce more of certain chemicals. Pork, beef, poultry, and cheese are known to increase dopamine and serotonin levels, so the more we take them the more of these chemicals our brains would produce.
For a person on a spiritual journey, abstaining from certain food is not just a matter of lifestyle but a way of helping tame and control one’s body – urges and desires of the flesh.
As Paul reminded the early Christians in Rome, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness…” (Romans 6:12-13).
What other methods can I use to live a holy and chaste life?
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Lord, grant me a courageous heart, willing to say no to the cravings of the flesh, for I have offered this body for your service. Amen.