Vegetarianism in Seventh-Day Adventist home economics classes: A conceptual analysis

Year: 1996

Author: Rule, Jennifer, Godfrey, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Seventh-day Adventist Church claims to administer the largest Protestant school system in the world. One of the distinctive policies of this system is the endorsement of the vegetarian diet which has been interpreted as the exclusion of meat from schools. This prohibition is at odds with the practice of many Adventists, and the Church, which while recommending vegetarianism, does not require it. Many Adventists eat some meat yet continue to describe themselves as vegetarians. This creates a dilemma for Adventist home economics teachers. The purpose of the study was to make a contribution toward rational curriculum decision making.

The procedure followed was to investigate vegetarianism, to explore the origin and aims of home economics education and Seventh-day Adventism. These components of the study were considered according to the three cognitive interests of Jurgen Habermas. Habermas, a German philosopher identified interests each of which informs a particular kind of action. These three systems of action respectively involve work (technical interest), interpersonal relations (communicative interest) and power (emancipatory interest).

It was discovered that the present practice of exclusion of meat from Adventist institutions is indefensible, in Habermasian terms, with reference to home economics education and Seventh-day Adventist principles.

The issue of vegetarianism to Seventh-day Adventists and the way it is interpreted in their educational institutions is more than a curriculum issue - it is an issue for the entire Adventist Church. Home economics teachers have a particular interest in initiating and contributing to a system-wide debate within Adventism which should be undertaken as a matter of urgency.