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Anyone, especially men, who worked in London in the 1980s will tell you how wonderful business lunches were in that era.

They were long and languorous, fuelled with alcohol.

The 1990s put paid to all that, and lunch al desko with fizzy pop or coffee became the norm, which, sadly, still exists today.

Therefore, it is good to read that long 1980s style lunches are back, in England, at least.

That’s the only good thing that can be said about coronavirus.

According to food critic Kate Spicer, writing for The Sunday Times, the trend started during curfew mandates in Ibiza in 2020 (emphases mine):

Daylight decadence is back. As someone recently said to me: “It’s literally carpe diem.” It arguably all started in Ibiza. With clubs closed, hedonism was a sit-down affair, and lunch became the island’s big ticket.

When holidaying Britons returned from the Spanish resort and our restaurants reopened, lunch followed.

Restaurateurs in London are loving it:

Dan Keeling can tell you what a good lunch sounds like. The co-owner of the highly praised Noble Rot restaurants in London has his office above the dining room at the Lamb’s Conduit Street site. “There’s no maybe about it — people are relishing lunch,” he says. “I know when we’re having a good service because the rumble of laughter, the roar of conversation, the actual vibrations of convivial good living rise up through the floorboards. A service like that can go off on a Tuesday. I love it. I feel like a kid up there, listening to my parents having a party.”

“We’ve been scooping grown men giggling into taxis at 6pm all summer,’’ says Fitzdares’s CEO, William Woodhams. ‘‘What I see is people planning lunches weeks in advance — off the cuff is over, it’s all about a lunch as a main event. Reservations start with a table for two and snowball. With everyone half in the office, half WFH, people are not in London all the time. They’ll come in, plan a morning of, say, three meetings where they might have originally done eight in a day, and then devote the afternoon to lunch.”

This phenomenon is an urban one:

Keeling thinks the urban exodus during the pandemic has reminded people exactly why we love our big British cities: “It’s impossible to recreate that urban glamour and energy in the shires.”

How true!

Other big cities are benefiting, such as Manchester:

At Manchester’s Hawksmoor, the high-end steak and seafood restaurant, lunches are as busy as they have ever been since opening in 2015. Co-founder Will Beckett puts it down to people wanting “face time not FaceTime. It’s not about what’s new and centred round the ‘chef’s vision’. They want a restaurant that nails the food and atmosphere but puts customers at the centre of the meal, somewhere they’ll feel comfortable and loved.”

Not everything is rosy, however. Brexit and coronavirus resulted in Europeans moving back to the Continent. That said, we have six million who successfully applied to remain in the UK, so we should be able to get European hospitality workers, surely.

Still, for those restaurants that can open for lunch, the world is their oyster. One London restaurant co-owner described it as ‘Christmas every day’:

At Luca, the unimpeachable Italian in Farringdon, the co-owner Johnny Smith says they could book lunch sittings several times over. He describes the energy then as celebratory. It feels like Christmas every day. And when people come they have it all — the prelunch drink at the bar, all the courses.”

Good!

Here’s a glimpse of the 1980s lunch, as served at Langan’s, which is reopening on October 30:

At its epicentre was Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair, then owned by Peter Langan and the actor Michael Caine. It was the destination for “languid, long, late and liquid business lunches”, as Richard Young, the photographer who documented its glory days, remembers. When the stars came out, he would often spot the same people sitting there at 8pm, rolling lunch over to dinner. One of the restaurant’s new owners, Graziano Arricale, says it won’t be having any express-menu business either when it reopens in October after recent refurbishment. “People see Langan’s as an escape from work,” he says. I don’t think the two-bottle business lunch will come back, but going out for friends is different. Our lunch crowd will be in for a long, celebratory two or three hours.”

Excellent!

Another fan of the 1980s lunch was the late Keith Waterhouse, who even wrote a book about it:

The writer and satirist Keith Waterhouse rose at dawn, worked until lunch and then spent the rest of the day over a meal he eulogised in The Theory and Practice of Lunch. The book, published in 1986, is worth digging out to remind our fretful, workaholic Pret generations what it’s like to breathe into the afternoon and take time over eating during the daylight hours. “Lunch at its lunchiest,” he wrote, “is the nearest it is possible to get to sheer bliss while remaining vertical.”

I could not agree more.

However, alcohol is not necessary for a good lunch:

… it doesn’t have to be drunken. Good company is its own high, says the model, make-up artist and sidesaddle stuntwoman Lady Martha Sitwell, who has mastered the sober long lunch. “If it’s a good crowd I’ll slam a few sugary drinks and a good atmosphere will pull you into the afternoon. It doesn’t have to be messy.” Not that she’s anti that. “It’s just pointless pretending you can work,” she says. “It’s straight to the sofa to rehydrate and brainless Friends reruns.”

Yes, it is one’s lunchmates who make the afternoon a memorable one.

That’s why my far better half and I are looking forward to another long, languid London lunch with friends next week. I can hardly wait.

What is ‘luxury wellness’?

Posh spas and rehab centres, available only to the wealthy.

Let’s open the door and find out more.

Villa Stéphanie Spa & Wellbeing, Baden-Baden, Germany

When it comes to spas, wealthy women already look beautiful, so one wonders how much extra lingering beauty a week-long stay at one actually produces.

On October 2, 2021, the Daily Mail published an article about Victoria Beckham’s stay at Villa Stéphanie Spa & Wellbeing in Baden-Baden, Germany (emphases mine):

The retreat – which is described as an entire house dedicated to the world of spa – on its website, offers rooms starting from €270 a night (£231) and massages from €170 (£145). A seven night programme starts from €4,000 (£3,430) per person.

That means treatments are added on to the base price.

The article has several photographs from Mrs Beckham’s Instagram account. The photos look as if she were asking, ‘Don’t you wish you were here?’ Of special note is the one with Dr Harry Koenig, who tailors treatments to individual needs:

Showing off her slim figure in a black tank top and accessorising with a black cap, Victoria told fans: ‘So we are here in Baden-Baden in Germany having our annual checkups, MRIs… gosh checking literally everything. It is absolutely incredible.’ 

The former Spice Girl said she was also taking the opportunity at the lavish retreat to ‘detox and have infusions and go for lots of amazing hikes’. 

Victoria shared a photo of herself clad in khaki sweats and embracing Dr Harry Koenig who tailored all of their treatments at the retreat based on their test results …

Victoria shared photos of an egg white omelette with sliced avocado and a dish of fresh salmon and vegetables, and said she’s learnt a lot about food and diet’ that has now ‘influenced’ how she eats at home.

Also detailing the more expensive treatments on offer, Victoria shared a photo of nurses Ellen and Sophia bringing her tray of ‘daily vitamins and amino acids’.

She also opted for a ‘heavy metal chelation supplement’ which is said to aid in detoxification and protect the liver and kidneys, daily IV drips, and a hyperbaric oxygen treatment. 

Victoria also used the opportunity to flaunt her own skincare line as she showed off her radiant and makeup-free visage during a beauty treatment, and shared stunning footage of herself hiking through the Black Forest surrounding the retreat. 

This woman needs none of that, because she barely eats when she goes to a restaurant:

It comes after last week Victoria’s revelation that her favourite meal of all time is salt on whole grain toast left fans in disbelief.

Speaking to Ruth Rogers on the River Café’s Table 4 podcast the fashion designer admitted she was a restaurant’s ‘worst nightmare’ because she was happy with just a slice [of bread] with a sprinkling of the seasoning. 

Ugh!

Judith Woods of The Telegraph wrote a great article about the Beckhams’ stay at the retreat:

When Victoria Beckham gave us a sneak peek into her recent physical MOT at a lavish spa retreat in Baden-Baden, it was hard to decide which delicious treat we envied most.

Was it her daily personalised IV drips? The artisan-crafted egg-white omelettes? Or the hyperbaric oxygen treatment? Yum. Or maybe it was the presence of husband David, who was also getting his annual once-over? Because nothing screams enduring love more loudly than his ’n’ hers MRI scans followed by a hearty hike in the Black Forest.

Here she is, face scrubbed and smooth as a preternaturally girlish 47-year-old milkmaid, snuggling up next to Dr Harry Koenig, the handsome silver fox who tailored all her treatments.

Meanwhile:

Back in Britain we struggle even to catch sight of a GP, who are second only to HGV drivers and slaughtermen in their scarcity. Yet here was Mrs B with a buff Bavarian medic all to herself, personalising every esoteric infusion and rejuvenating elixir. This isn’t just wellness: this is luxury wellness. Actually, scrap that. This is exclusive, bespoke, ultra-luxury wellness.

We discover how much a week’s stay can actually cost:

At up to £19,000 a pop for a week’s stay, that is one shock and awe shellac. And let’s not forget the integrative holistic medicine and the “vampire facelift”, where the client’s own platelets are injected under the skin along with a hyaluronic acid filler.

On the Beckhams, Woods concludes:

Sorry to be blunt but this sort of high-end “Because I’m worth It” intervention really isn’t for amateurs.

In the competitive wellness stakes, the Beckhams pretty much ace it. Just as engagement ring metrics traditionally equate purchase price with strength of ardour, so do modern lavish spa treatments convey exactly how much self-love a celebrity possesses.

Goop at Sea, floating spa

Woods tells us about a spa cruise scheduled for 2022 that is attracting American women on the celebrity circuit:

Happily, celebrities really do excel at leading by example. Why, Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow has entered into a pact – sorry partnership – with Celebrity Cruises and will set sail round the Med next summer in a venture dubbed Goop At Sea.

Aimed at the sort of person who uses “juice” as a verb, this gorgeous floating spa will feature “trailblazing healers and transformative workshops for mind, body and soul” along with personal butlers, a private restaurant and an exclusive lounge.

Woods rightly points out that female celebrities already look good. These spa visits are a pampering top-up:

Ageless and wrinkle-free; not young per se but not old. Therein presides the spa delusion; civilians imagine that they will emerge relaxed, rested and youthful, just like the beautiful people.

Except they were already beautiful before they handed over their Amex cards. It’s their day job. A-listers have no problem being stripped down and rebuilt like a Formula 1 car every so often; it counts as red-carpet running repairs in a profession where optics matter more than anything else.

Agreed.

It is far better and cheaper to book an appointment with a licensed aesthetician, especially in the UK, as they can provide a wide range of beauty treatments and detoxes.

Gentlemen, if these are what the lady in your life wants, get her a gift certificate for a half-day session for Christmas. She will love you even more for it.

Paracelsus Recovery, Zurich, Switzerland

On the rehab side of things, The Telegraph‘s food critic William Sitwell noticed he was having a few physical problems at the age of 51:

… I don’t like sitting down and I’m scared of food. Lower-back pain and acid reflux are now rendering me nervous at the prospect of eating out, uncomfortable doing it, in pain writing about it, and in fear at the physical consequence of it.

The Telegraph treated their treasured food critic to a three-day stay at Paracelsus Recovery in Zurich. The clinic:

promises a ‘safe haven’, with ‘individualised treatment programmes that are designed to address a client’s unique set of needs.’

I’m dispatched by The Telegraph, which is fortunate because regular clients at Paracelsus are high-profile, high-net-worth individuals, and the price tag for a week’s admission is £75,000

Sitwell tells us that many of the clinic’s patients enter a three-month programme. Incredible.

Before going, he spoke with Paracelsus’s founder and CEO, Jan Gerber, who told him:

‘We’ll give you your own apartment with views over Lake Zurich. You’ll have a housekeeper who will cook and clean for you as well as a team of 10 of us caring for you,’ he tells me. ‘We’ll conduct an array of assessments: physical, emotional and biochemical. We’ll identify areas of concern or ones to watch, and with treatments, therapy, yoga and massage we’ll implement a programme. Our aim is to add quality years to your life.’

‘These are first-world problems, right?’ I say. ‘That may be true,’ he replies, ‘and we work with a lot of financially privileged people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t experience very real emotional or physical pain. What we do here is super complex. Are you willing and able to help us open your can of worms? Don’t worry, our responsibility is not to go to places where we leave the doors open.’

The clinic is used to dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Sitwell went in order to resolve his food issue:

I really love to eat and also hate it – gives me a little wind in my sails. I am worthy of a brief visit. Paracelsus, here I come.

The article comes with photos of his stay, which are well worth looking at.

The clinic’s managing partner Pawel Mowlik, a German, met Sitwell at Zurich’s airport. A chauffeur drove them into the city centre:

Whisked out of the airport and into the clinic’s Bentley Flying Spur, we are soon in the city centre and turning into a nondescript car park behind an apartment block.

Luggage taken care of, doors held open, we go through an entrance with no signage. ‘This place is very discreet and highly confidential,’ says Mowlik. ‘We have the very famous – the richest people, heads of state – and no one needs to know that they are here.’

The apartment was fully kitted out, with a separate area for a live-in therapist:

My apartment is airy and light, with lake views, a large bedroom, comfortable sitting room, kitchen and dining area and my own therapy room. Behind the kitchen is another bedroom and bathroom. ‘That’s for a therapist to stay,’ says Mowlik. ‘We can provide that 24/7 if need be. We sent a therapist back to the Middle East with one client,’ he adds, ‘and they stayed out there for five years.’

The housekeeper, Elizabeth, is there to unpack my things.

Founder and CEO Jan Gerber was already there to greet his new patient:

We sit down to discuss my schedule. Across three days I’ll have an intense programme of clinical, psychiatric, fitness, lifestyle and nutritional assessments as well as yoga, psychotherapy, physical training, intravenous therapy, something called bioresonance and then a presentation of results by the team.

Gerber told Sitwell that coronavirus has exacerbated every type of mental health problem.

Chaperones are de rigueur, in case a patient tries to escape. Gerber’s mother:

Christine Merzeder, is the senior clinical coordinator. She will chaperone me from meeting to meeting. Mowlik, it turns out, will chaperone me for anything else.

I mention a swim in the lake. ‘A lovely idea, we can go tomorrow at 8am,’ he says …

I note that the physical assessment and training are at a private gym. ‘Is it far to walk?’ I ask. ‘It’s a simple route,’ says Mowlik. ‘I will show you… and then bring you home.’

The super rich need a crafty chaperone, and this one knows how they think. By his early 20s Mowlik, working for a Zurich-based hedge fund, was earning up to £2 million a month. He began splashing it on private jets, alcohol, drugshe checked into Paracelsus and liked the place so much he later became a partner. Clients can relate to him, and he’s quite handy at finding new recruits, too.

Paracelsus isn’t any ordinary rehab clinic:

‘Being famous and wealthy can be a very lonely place,’ says Mowlik. ‘You can’t trust anyone, you find yourself exploited and that can be a vicious circle that brings separation from people. Which can lead to depression and medication with substances. We exist because such a person can’t go to an average rehab.’

‘Did you know that the incidences of addiction among the wealthy are much higher – maybe five-fold – than the average?’ states Gerber.  ‘And it is relative. Pain is very real for the person who feels the pain. In fact it can be harder for someone who is famous and very wealthy to find empathy. Emotionally we are all human, we all need love and social interaction.’

Gerber also argues it is vital the rich and powerful can get confidential help. They can have a lot to lose if the public learns of their difficulties.

‘If a head of state or famous entertainer is unwell, that can have a very large effect on their family network or across their business empire: a head of state with a nation in crisis, a lead actor in a major production…’ he explains. ‘So what we do here is a big lever to heal the world.’

He adds that his therapists need to understand the reality of being rich. ‘We call it affluent neglect,’ he says. ‘There are children brought up by nannies and sent to boarding school.’

Sitwell underwent a battery of physical tests, from blood to stool to urine and more:

I’m wired up to a Metatron, which scans my body for inflammation, I have a portable heart monitor attached to my chest, a live-monitoring glucose implant on my upper left arm, they take blood from my veins, blood from my fingertips, I have strict timetables to deliver urine and stool samples.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Thilo Beck was Sitwell’s therapist, asking him all about his recent life history:

he teaches me the fascinating concept of the observing self, watching the theatre of life as it progresses. ‘The next time you feel angry, pause for a second and consider the idea that you’re noticing yourself becoming angry… You are the driver of your bus; your anxiety and fears, the parts you don’t like, are parts of you. They are your passengers, stroke them, soothe them, be proud of your bus and drive towards your values.’

Nicole Züllig, a psychotherapist, conducted a separate session on trauma:

‘I specialise in trauma,’ she tells me. ‘I have discovered that most people have unresolved trauma.’ It sounds like Prince Harry’s been in this chair, I think to myself, recollecting his habit in the press, for example, of describing partying antics in his 30s as not ‘fun’, but ‘unresolved trauma’.

Where is that trauma, that loss?’ she asks. ‘I look for that very deep loss. We have a tendency to put it away in anger, to deep-freeze it, we must get it out of the freezer, thaw it and deal with it…

‘So tell me about your relationship with your mother.’

Sitwell described his beautiful mother in glowing terms. The article has a picture of her holding him as a boy.

Züllig asked him how he felt, and he replied, ‘Guilty’ for having spoken to someone about her behind her back.

Then came the real issue, his schooldays, including at Eton, which were not his best days:

As I talk, I laugh at various moments. ‘Why are you laughing?’ she asks, appalled.

‘Because I think it’s funny,’ I reply.

‘Funny?’ she exclaims. ‘You think this is funny? It is not funny. It is tragic. You were abandoned. This is trauma. You must take this trauma, understand it and thaw it. You must not laugh to avoid it.’

‘Whatever,’ I mutter. Soon I’m chatting about my more recent work; a few big awards, books, television I ponder how I’ve turned out compared with the boy at Eton aged 16, having failed the annual exams, officially labelled in front of 600 of my peers as a General Total Failure.

And I sob. Züllig has done her work and is on hand, brandishing tissues. ‘How does this make you feel?’ she asks. ‘Exhausted,’ I reply.

Sitwell fell asleep during his yoga session, after which he received a deep massage, which he described as ‘rigorous’.

Another session involved physical training at the Dolder Grand spa, in the city’s grandest hotel:

Mowlik lurks outside to prevent any attempt at escape. Later, as I lie on a sunbed for a moment, I look to the plunge pool to my right – and jump with fright as Mowlik emerges from the water.

Sitwell rode in the Bentley there and back.

When he returned to the clinic, Dr Manuel Riegner gave Sitwell the results of his physical exams. On the one hand, he has a ‘biological age of 29’. On the other hand:

I have high levels of mercury and uric acid, low levels of zinc, and a very concerning, almost negligible, level of iron. ‘No wonder you feel fatigued,’ he says.

Nutritionist Priscilla Sanchez gave Sitwell diet and eating advice, which included omitting milk and most carbohydrates as well as cutting down on alcohol:

Then I’m strapped to an intravenous drip, fed amino acids, vitamin C and a detoxmix, given two weeks’ worth of supplements, and told I must have an infusion of iron back in the UK, urgently.

Then it was time to pack his bags and leave:

I have a last swim in Lake Zurich, the water and distant sight of the Alps soothing my mind. ‘Time to leave,’ says Mowlik, coming up for air beside me.

He doesn’t leave my side until I’m through departures at the airport.

Once at home, Sitwell stuck to the eating and exercise plans and had not experienced any of his old symptoms.

But something equally important also happened — a sense of gratitude:

Three days of gratuitous self-reflection and I realise I’m so lucky to have the family I have, the wife, the kids, the home, the friends, the most utterly fabulous job writing about my most favourite subject.

Good for him. I have read this article a few times and enjoyed it more every time.

————————————————————————–

Well, that’s it for an introduction to ‘luxury wellness’, something few of us will ever experience.

A few weeks ago, I read a fascinating book review in The Telegraph of Eating to Extinction, a new book by BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme presenter Dan Saladino.

The title of the review is ‘Once, we ate 6,000 plant species. Now it is only nine’.

We think we have a lot of food diversity, mostly because of the varied cuisines we eat, but we are mistaken (emphases mine):

You think your experience of world cuisine reflects global diversity? The problem with my varied diet (if this is Wednesday then this must be Thai red curry with prawns) is that it’s also your varied diet, and your neighbour’s; in other words, it’s rapidly becoming the same varied diet across the whole world. Humanity used to sustain itself (admittedly, not too well) on 6,000 species of plant. Now, for more than three-quarters of our calories, we gorge on just nine: rice, wheat and maize, potato, barley, palm oil and soy, sugar from beets and sugar from cane. The same narrowing can be found in our consumption of animals and seafood. In short, we’ve learnt to grow ever greater quantities of ever fewer foods.

Dan Saladino’s Food Programme takes him around the world:

to meet his pantheon of food heroes, each of whom is seen saving a rare food for our table – a red pea, a goaty cheese, a flat oyster. So far, so magazine-y. And there’s nothing to snipe at in the adventures of, say, Woldemar Mammel who, searching in the attics of old farmhouses and in barns, rescued the apparently extinct Swabian “alb” lentil; nor in former chef Karlos Baca’s dedication to rehabilitating an almost wholly forgotten native American cuisine.

That said, it takes Saladino 450 pages (which is surely a good 100 pages too many) to explain why the Mammels and Bacas of this world are needed so desperately to save a food system that, far from breaking down, seems to be feeding more and more food to more and more people.

This worldwide similarity in food has come about because farmers around the world use the monocropping system, planting the same crop on the same fields year after year. By doing so, yields are reliable, but they come at the expense of heritage strains, which are becoming extinct.

Apparently, the world’s first seed bank was started in the then-Soviet Union nearly a century ago:

In the 1910s and 1920s the Soviet agronomist Nikolai Vavilov championed the worldwide uptake of productive strains, with every plant a clone of its neighbour. How else, but by monocropping, do you feed the world? By the 1930s, though, he was assembling the world’s first seed banks in a desperate effort to save the genetic diversity of our crops – species that monocropping was otherwise driving to extinction.

Heritage strains should be preserved:

They were bred over thousands of years to resist all manner of local environmental pressures, from drought to deluge to disease. Letting them die out is the genetic equivalent of burning the library at Alexandria.

Then there is the matter of animals for the table, such as the Svalbard chicken.

That said, there is some good news for Britons:

The British Middle White pig is rarer than the Himalayan snow leopard, says Saladino, but the stocks are sustainable enough that it is now being bred for the table.

The book covers something I recently saw in an episode of Inside the Mind of a Chef, which was about preserving mutton on the Faroe Islands by drying it:

Better to create a food system that, while not necessarily promoting rare foods (fancy some Faroese air-fermented sheep meat? Thought not) will at least not drive such foods to extinction.

… what the Faroe islanders get up to with their sheep is unlikely to have global consequences for the world’s food supply.

What the Faroe islanders are doing with home-produced air-fermented sheep meat, besides eating it, is showing the next generation the painstakingly slow method of drying it so that the tradition is not forgotten.

In the television show, one family showed how it was done. After several months of hanging in a shed, a mutton leg is ready to be eaten. It looks and smells awful; it is also covered in mould. The lady of the house washed the mould off very carefully, which took a while. Then she cut the mutton in thin slices. The Swedish chef who was on hand to try it said that it tasted earthy with a vague hint of the Faroes’ vegetation. Like it or not, it was part of the Faroese winter diet centuries ago.

Back to Saladino, who says that we can use heritage seeds to cross with existing strains:

Saladino says we need to preserve rare and forgotten foods, partly because they are part of our cultural heritage, but also, and more hard-headedly, so that we can study and understand them, crossing them with existing lines to shore up and enrich our dangerously over-simplified food system. He’s nostalgic for our lost food past (and who doesn’t miss apples that taste of apples?) but he doesn’t expect us to delete Deliveroo and spend our time grubbing around for roots and berries.

Unless, of course, it’s all too late. It wouldn’t take many wheat blights or avian flu outbreaks before foraged tubers and air-dried mutton are all that’s left to eat.

It would be great to see more forgotten heritage plants in our shops, especially greengrocers, but it looks as if we will have to wait a while longer before that happens.

This is my final post on Prince Philip, as the Queen and Princess Anne returned to work last week, just days before his funeral, but more importantly because of his own views:

The Queen

The Queen turned 95 today, Wednesday, April 21. May she have many happy returns. Prayers continue for God’s comfort to her at this difficult time:

The funeral commentators on Sky News remarked at how the Queen’s eyes always lit up when Prince Philip entered a room, even after 73 years of marriage:

She posted this photograph of herself with Prince Philip in Scotland, a nation which they loved. Muick, by the way, is pronounced ‘mick’:

The Countess of Wessex said that the Queen regarded him as her protector:

He also kept a gimlet eye on public opinion for her. One wonders how much he influenced the Queen to return to Buckingham Palace with Princes William and Harry after Princess Diana died in August 1997. As dictated by the media, we were under the impression that then-Prime Minister Tony Blair was responsible for the return of the Royal couple and their grandsons to London, but, now, one wonders:

The Queen will treasure the many memories of her husband — and his pragmatism.

Prince Philip’s practical wisdom

Prince Philip had straightforward views on various aspects of everyday life.

Attire

The Prince was probably the best dressed British man for decades. Who could top his effortless, yet classic, style of dress and accessories?

He also kept himself in trim throughout his life, which helped him maintain his sense of impeccable style:

The Daily Mail has an article with a retrospective of photos of him through the years. Although the Prince had his clothes made by top Savile Row tailors, all any man has to do is adopt the classics (emphases mine):

According to [celebrity stylist] Rochelle [White], the Duke’s suits were ‘impeccably’ tailored, with the royal selecting classic, handsome suiting; most often single-breasted jackets in navy. 

Meanwhile off-duty, the royal would often relax in a cool polo shirt and button-down linen shirts which made him ‘eye-catching’ …

Becky French, creative director of one of his preferred tailors Turnbull & Asser, told The Telegraph:Prince Philip was quite simply one of the best dressed men in the world, ‘Up until the age of 99, he always looked impeccable, with his naval blazer, shirt and tie.

‘Never a slave to fashion, he knew how he wanted to dress and perfected that style over almost a century.’ 

Brevity in public speaking

On Monday, April 12, both Houses of Parliament met to pay tribute to the Prince.

Ian Blackford (SNP) cited an excellent piece of advice from the Prince on public speaking. It is ironic that it was Blackford who found the following quote, as he speaks endlessly.

This is excellent — and so true:

What the backside cannot endure, the brain cannot absorb.

Fools

Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, a former MP, told Freddie Sayers of UnHerd that Prince Philip did not suffer fools gladly:

Honesty

A former Royal butler said much the same thing as Sir Nicholas Soames, adding that the Prince spoke as he found. As such, he enjoyed working for the Prince, because he told one exactly what he wanted, politely but succinctly:

Stiff upper lip

Prince Philip was a ‘stiff upper lip’, ‘old school’ gentleman:

However, as the generations pass, personal conduct changes:

Spiked‘s Tim Black referred to the interview with Sir Nicholas Soames above, writing (emphases mine):

As Tory grandee Nicholas Soames put it this week, Philip was ‘the epitome of the stiff upper lip’.

But so were many others of Philip’s generation. Because maintaining a stiff upper lip, remaining in control of one’s emotions, especially in public, was long considered by many to be a mark of one’s character. It was something to be cultivated, worked on. Because it meant that one was able to act according to something beyond one’s own impulses. It meant that one was committing oneself to something – a duty to others, perhaps, or to an idea or a cause – over and above one’s feelings. To not be in control of one’s emotions, to succumb easily to tears or anger, was the mark of a lack of character, a sign of immaturity.

Tim Black is right. Maintaining a stiff upper lip is hard work: no two ways about it.

Sense of duty

Tim Black pointed out that the Prince was devoted to duty:

You don’t have to be a fan of the monarchy – and we at spiked are not – to mourn the passing of the character represented by Prince Philip. ‘Everyone has to have a sense of duty’, he told an interviewer in 1992. ‘A duty to society, to their family.’ Too many in high places, it seems, only have a duty to themselves.

I think it is incumbent upon us to rediscover this lost virtue.

Some of Prince Philip’s duties involved recognising others for their achievements. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne recalled the Prince giving his father an award in 1970:

Interviews: never discuss yourself

Gyles Brandreth, a former Conservative MP, has written two books about the Royal Family. After the Prince’s death, the Daily Mail asked him what the Queen’s consort thought of Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah.

The Sun reported:

Gyles Brandreth told the Daily Mail the fact the interview was aired while Philip was is in hospital “did not trouble him”.

But he added: “What did worry him was the couple’s preoccupation with their own problems and their willingness to talk about them in public.

Give TV interviews by all means,’ he said, ‘but don’t talk about yourself.

That was one of his rules. I know he shared it with his children. I imagine he shared it with his grandchildren, too.”

The royal biographer revealed Philip, who died on Friday aged 99, thought the interview was “madness”.

Mr Brandeth also said Philip believed his grandson was a “good man” but regretted his decision to step down as a senior royal.

Prince Philip gave many interviews. In the following one from 1995, he discussed his memories of the Second World War. Remarkably, revealing little about himself, he spoke of the various ships on which he served and the tension surrounding battle. Whilst conversational, he speaks so well in recalling so many details that might as well be narrating a documentary. This is a marvellous video, especially for people interested in the war in the Pacific:

Food

Probably the only time Prince Philip and the Queen disagreed was when it came to their meals.

A former Royal chef, Darren McGrady, who now works in the United States, says that the Queen ate to live, whereas the Prince lived to eat. As such, the Prince did not mind if the Queen had a dinner engagement elsewhere, because he could request what he wanted from the kitchen.

The Queen doesn’t like garlic. Prince Philip did. Sometimes McGrady prepared the same dinner two different ways: garlic-free for the Queen and extra garlic for the Prince. McGrady discusses the subject here:

Both were known to bring back recipes from their international tours for the Royal chefs to prepare once they were back in the UK.

In the next video, McGrady relates his first meeting with the Prince, whom he mistook for the gardener because of his scruffy, well-worn clothes. Here he prepares one of the Prince’s favourite dishes, salmon coulibiac, a Russian form of salmon en croute:

In this next video, McGrady said that the Prince did not suffer fools gladly. He was no stranger to the Royal kitchens, stopping in to ask what was being served and, during the summer, what fruit was ripening. McGrady said that the Prince already knew what was in the gardens, therefore, the staff had to know, too. Prince Philip taught McGrady how to remove mango fruit with a spoon. Another favourite dish of his was Icelandic pancakes, filled with jam and folded in half. The recipe is at the 6:47 mark:

Those who knew him, including Darren McGrady, said that the Prince enjoyed barbecuing — whatever the weather. One of the Sky News funeral commentators said that the Prince held a barbecue in freezing weather one January. The Prince loved it; his guests were polite — and cold.

The Prince also went in for fancier meats to grill outdoors, such as lamb noisettes. He found steaks rather ordinary, McGrady says.

Gordonstoun

On April 12, the Daily Mail revealed previously undisclosed details about Prince Philip’s schooldays at Gordonstoun (pron. ‘Gordons-town’) in Scotland. The article comes complete with photographs. He was Prince Philip of Greece at the time, with no surname.

Although he could be mischievous, he always wanted to do better in his studies and school activities:

The Duke of Edinburgh‘s old boarding school has released his report cards which reveal ‘he was naughty, but never nasty’.

The report from the £40,000-per-year Gordonstoun in Moray was written for the Duke’s marriage to The Queen in 1947.

Headmaster Kurt Hahn’s notes also reveal a comical incident when the young prince nearly knocked over a young woman with a pram – but his apology was ‘irresistible’.

The school has educated three generations of the UK Royal Family – including Prince Philip, who joined at the age of 13. 

Gordonstoun – which featured in Netflix’s hit series ‘The Crown’ – was founded by Dr Hahn, who fled Nazi Germany and became an inspiring mentor to Philip. 

When Philip came to Gordonstoun ‘his marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt’

Dr Hahn noted of the young pupil: ‘He had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense. After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself ”The Earl of Baldwin”, to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter.’ 

He also reveals Philip had ‘meticulous attention to detail’ and was ‘never content with mediocre results’ … 

Sarah Ferguson

It seems that the only person the Prince was not keen on was Sarah Ferguson.

While the Queen is quite fond of her — Andrew being her favourite child — the Prince preferred to keep her at arm’s length.

My older readers might remember when, in 1992, photos of her lover sucking her toes circulated around the world. Prince Philip decided that was the moment she was persona non grata.

On April 13, Gyles Brandreth wrote an article for the Daily Mail on the Prince’s views of Fergie:

On the whole, Prince Philip was reasonably circumspect when talking about his children and their relationships — except in the case of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

He spoke with real affection of their daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, but he made no secret of the fact that he regarded Sarah, Duchess of York, as ‘simply beyond the pale’.

One day in the summer of 1992, while she was staying at Balmoral with the Queen and Prince Philip, photographs had appeared in a daily newspaper of Sarah topless and having her toes sucked by a lover in the South of France.

The Duke of Edinburgh decided that, as far as he was concerned, ‘enough was enough’. He did not want — or need — to have anything more to do with her.

For the remainder of Sarah’s stay at Balmoral, his actions spoke louder than words. ‘It was ridiculous,’ she told me. ‘As soon as I came in through one door, he’d be falling over the corgis to get out of the other. It was very funny. Except, of course, it wasn’t.’

After Sarah’s separation from Prince Andrew, the Queen continued to have tea with her from time to time.

But Prince Philip was resolute: he had no desire to see her again.

This Sarah knew and it pained her. ‘Of course I want to see him,’ she told me after her divorce. ‘I am the mother of his granddaughters, after all.’

I raised this with Prince Philip, but he just shrugged and said: ‘But the children come and stay.’

When I asked him why he wouldn’t see Sarah, he said: ‘I am not vindictive.’ Then, looking at me directly, he added emphatically: ‘I am not vindictive, but I don’t see the point.’ That Andrew and Sarah appeared to remain friends after their separation — and that they shared a home even after their divorce — seemed to him ‘truly bizarre’.

‘I don’t pretend to understand it,’ he said.

Sarah, however, kept trying to mend bridges … 

I’m with Prince Philip on that. I could never understand Fergie and Andrew’s relationship. I still don’t.

On April 15, The Sun reported that both Sarah and Andrew have been seen with the Queen:

They have been making the short drive from Royal Lodge to Windsor Castle, sometimes twice a day, to walk with the Queen and her new corgis.

However, Andrew has been warned to forget plans to use his public appearances as a springboard back into royal duty.

Royal watchers believe Philip’s passing aged 99 boosts the chances of Fergie making a comeback after years in the wilderness.

Now her husband has departed, the Queen, who has a soft spot for her former daughter-in-law, might be more open to the idea of her and Andrew returning to a more prominent role within the Firm.

Princess Anne

Prince Philip was closest to his daughter Anne.

Princess Anne’s own children have praised her as a mother. She gave her father full credit:

The Prince might have been no-nonsense, but he had fun, especially with three generations of Royal children.

This is a priceless little video:

He also kept his children amused on car trips:

Princess Anne survived a kidnapping attempt in 1974:

Prince Philip was no stranger to Royal weddings. On the right hand side of the photo montage, he walked Princess Margaret down the aisle (George VI had died a few years beforehand) and, in 1973, Princess Anne:

So that Anne would smile walking down the aisle, the Prince cracked one of his usual jokes, which made her laugh:

This was the happy result:

Here’s a close up of her gown, which has attracted much favourable comment.

After her father’s death, Princess Anne released a statement, along with a photo:

Three days later, she was back at work:

Great-grandchildren

Members of the Royal Family have posted some splendid photos of Prince Philip with his great-grandchildren.

Here he is taking Prince George for a carriage ride:

The next photo shows the Prince sharing a bite to eat with Princess Anne’s granddaughter. Click to see it in full — absolutely charming:

This group photo was taken in 2018 and made the front page of the Daily Express on Thursday, April 15:

More tributes

The Daily Mail has an article recapping pre-recorded interviews with Prince Philip’s children. These were broadcast after he died. ITV has more, complete with longer clips.

The Royal Family also posted a multi-generational photo montage.

Prince William wrote that his grandfather shared his life at all times:

both through good times and the hardest days.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and fellow MPs paid tribute on Monday, April 12, as did members of the House of Lords. A number of their anecdotes are not only interesting but also amusing. In the devolved assemblies, including Northern Ireland, the only person who had anything negative to say was Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens.

Conclusion

In closing, I do wish that the general public had known more about Prince Philip while he was alive. We could have had an even fuller recollection of his life and service, not only to the UK but also to the Commonwealth.

Will there ever be another like him? We might be waiting a century or more. The only other Royal consort who was mentioned in the many tributes was Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. He died in 1861.

With that in mind, it will be up to us to emulate the best of Prince Philip’s example. Adopting a stiff upper lip would be a great start. So would feeling a sense of duty towards others.

As the BBC broadcast coverage of Prince Philip’s life on Friday, April 9, the day of his death, the final of MasterChef was postponed.

It was shown on Wednesday, April 14, having been announced only the day before. Shown below are the judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace:

Here they are with finalists Mike, Alexina and Tom:

Britain’s foodies could barely contain themselves:

I don’t often write about MasterChef, but this year’s final was the best yet. I would challenge the pros in the US edition of Top Chef or the amateurs from MasterChef USA to come up with comparable dishes.

This video shows what the British amateurs cooked:

As ever, the programme began with brief biographies, complete with childhood photos, of each contestant. Their parents also participated in interviews.

Alexina

Alexina was confident:

I’ve put up some inspirational dishes … It’s my competition to lose.

She lives in south London:

We discovered that she is a graduate of the University of Cambridge — Jesus College, in fact:

Only social media followers, however, will know that she volunteers for The Food Chain in London. I recognise one well known chef and restaurateur in the photo, Allegra McEvedy, who is in the black and white blouse:

Mike

We knew early on in the series that one side of Mike’s family is Italian.

In the following video, Mike’s girlfriend describes how generous they are when it comes to serving dinner:

Mike, from Surrey, enjoys his espressos.

He explained that his grandmother taught him how to cook. He was fascinated watching her and imitated what she did in the kitchen:

Tom

Tom is from Newcastle and, before coronavirus struck, worked in a local restaurant as front of house.

He has always enjoyed cooking:

He often cooks for his parents.

The semi-final

The semi-final took place at London’s Le Gavroche, which has two Michelin stars. I have eaten there and will never forget the dining experience. Here, Alexina reproduced a challenging Le Gavroche classic for owner Michel Roux Jr and his senior members of staff:

Michel Roux Jr was impressed with all three finalists, each of whom made some of the restaurant’s most challenging dishes. In the next video, we see Mike first, then Alexina, followed by Tom:

Based on that episode, we could hardly wait for the final.

The final

Each of the finalists had to create and prepare three dishes.

Mike prepared a starter of scallop with romanesco, followed by sous-vide lamb with a lamb farce and sweetbread pithivier, served with an unctuous thyme and potato terrine. The jus, a gastrique, was perfect. For dessert, he paid homage to his grandmother with a take on tiramisu:

The tiramisu, in particular, looked mouth-watering:

Mike was disappointed that his pithivier burst on the bottom. Nonetheless, John and Gregg responded with superlatives about his dishes:

unctuous and sweet and sticky and absolutely yummy …

dreamy …

fruity sweetness but still with meatiness …

It’s classic, opulent cooking and it’s skilful.

Here’s the video:

Alexina prepared a Malaysian crab soup with a peanut butter bread stick, a perfectly sautéed bavette of beef, and, as a nod to her grandmother, a rolled baked apple (one long strip), served with gin-soaked blackberries and a herby ice cream:

John and Gregg particularly liked the crab soup, an homage to her brother who loves peanut butter:

Then it was Tom’s turn to present his final creative plates of food. This chap was a star from the start.

He prepared three oysters, each in a different style, including one which was deep fried in bread crumbs. He followed this with roast beef and beetroot. Dessert was a tangy lemon-yuzu tart with olive oil ice cream, accentuated with a pinch of salt:

Gregg had a deep food experience tasting it, especially the beef.

The tart and ice cream were works of genius. The tart had black olive meringue on top:

Viewers were bowled over by the quality and imagination of the food. Any of these meals could be served in a top restaurant. Tom’s showed Michelin-star quality.

In the end, there could be only one winner, the 17th champion of MasterChef:

Everyone did brilliantly:

I wholeheartedly agree. I also think that all should have had a glass of champagne to share Tom’s victory:

Tom enjoyed celebrating his win with John and Gregg. He also enjoyed speaking with his ecstatic mother on the phone, hence his reaction:

I wonder if Tom is back at work, now that lockdown has largely lifted:

Indeed.

Follow Tom on Twitter and browse his website for recipes.

I hope someone offers him a job really quickly. His talent is too good to waste. What a great end to lockdown that would be.

January is a time for many people to cut back on an excess of Christmas food and drink.

In the UK, a popular way to attempt this for one month is through a vegan diet, hence Veganuary.

This year, despite the economic vagaries of coronavirus, meat consumption actually rose:

On March 4, 2021, FarmingUK reported that January sales of red meat and dairy was up compared with the same month last year. In fact, meat sales have risen throughout the pandemic (emphases mine below):

Latest Kantar data shows overall volume sales of red meat were up 15 percent and almost 12 percent for dairy, compared with January 2020.

Red meat and dairy retail sales have seen solid growth since Covid-19 restrictions began last March, with shoppers buying more through retail than pre-Covid.

Over the last quarter, growth across all red meat and dairy has been stronger than overall grocery growth at 10 percent.

Primary red meat volume has seen an 18% increase, with mince driving much of the growth within beef, along with burgers and steaks, but shoppers have also brought traditional roasting joints back to the table.

The seasonal lockdown has also led to more shoppers buying primary red meat, with increased household penetration at 83 percent, Kantar figures show …

Rebecca Miah, AHDB’s Strategy Director for beef and lamb, said the red meat and dairy sectors had an excellent start to the New Year.

“[They] reflect how highly valued red meat and dairy are to consumers,” she explained.

“While alternatives show growth from a small base, these are mostly complimentary additional purchases driven by interest and variety, rather than a move away from real meat and dairy consumption.”

That’s great news for our farmers.

Christophe Pelletier, a Canadian who studies food trends, says that increased meat and dairy consumption has also been observed in other countries:

Pelletier retweeted this thread about a University of Kansas study showing that Americans preferred beef to veggie burgers:

On March 3, the university posted an article on the subject, ‘Study: consumers favor ground beef over plant-based alternatives’.

An excerpt follows:

Ground beef – offered with 10%, 20% and 30% fat — was strongly preferred for taste and flavor over plant-based alternatives, and less than one-third of the respondents said they would buy the plant-based alternatives in the store or retail settings, according to K-State meat scientist Travis O’Quinn.

“The results are pretty stark,” O’Quinn said. “Our three ground beef products were highly desired by consumers. We didn’t witness many differences among the three fat levels we offered, but when we compared those to the ground beef alternatives, every one of the alternatives had a tendency to fall out (of favorability with consumers).”

Consumers rated the plant-based alternatives as “extremely dry,” according to O’Quinn, and rated those products “very low” for flavor. In one test, only 18% of the consumers said they would be willing to buy the plant-based ground beef alternative.

O’Quinn said the researchers tested ground beef alternatives designed for retail and food service use, and another consisting of a traditional soy protein base.

It’s great to read that consumers are voting with their pocketbooks in favour of meat.

For too long now, we have been bombarded with anti-meat propaganda such as this:

The truth is that many people’s health has improved because they eat meat:

Perhaps that is why we are being ‘nudged’ away from it: less money for Big Pharma’s coffers.

Instead, we are told that meat harms our health and is responsible for pandemics:

The World Economic Forum (WEF) that meets at Davos every year insists we switch to a plant-based diet. One wonders if the bigwigs at the WEF have a plant-based diet?

The WEF works closely with the UN on food issues.

Smaller farmers are pushed out of the picture in favour of multinationals:

Yet, production of fruit and vegetables is not always kind to the environment. What about avocado production that is harming wildlife in Africa? The tweet about growing avocados is tongue-in-cheek but the effect on elephants and other native species is real:

What about this plastic monstrosity for fruit and veg in Spain? Immigrants from North Africa make up the bulk of the workers:

The Netherlands can do the same more sustainably:

There are better ways of growing crops and rearing meat. They are being implemented right now.

Here is an integrated farm of wheat and cattle. The cattle fertilise the wheat naturally. Some of the grain harvest is for them. The rest is used for consumer foods:

Smaller growers in the US and in France have been adopting this method, too.

I have seen two documentaries over the past couple of years on farming that uses an ecosystem.

One was with an American cheese maker who grows his own crops to feed the cows but also has other farm animals to keep the soil in balance.

Last week, I saw another, featuring a Frenchman who grows vegetables. He, too, has a variety of farm animals, including cows, which achieve the same objective.

And, yes, there are perfectly natural ways to reduce methane from cattle — grass grazing or a seaweed supplement:

Conclusion: the future of agriculture is hardly as bleak as we are told. Farmers are thinking out of the box — and very successfully.

The future of meat is positive — and is here to stay.

Two recent studies on diet show that consumption of animal proteins and fats help young and old alike.

Finland: vegan diet ‘remodels metabolism’ in young children

A group of researchers conducted a study on vegan diets in small children attending Finnish nurseries:

They published their results in February 2021: ‘Vegan diet in young children remodels metabolism and challenges the statuses of essential nutrients’.

There is a lot to read, which is, nonetheless, very interesting.

I will cover only the highlights.

This is the top-line summary (emphases mine below):

Vegan diets are gaining popularity, also in families with young children. However, the effects of strict plant‐based diets on metabolism and micronutrient status of children are unknown. We recruited 40 Finnish children with a median age 3.5 years—vegans, vegetarians, or omnivores from same daycare centers—for a cross‐sectional study. They enjoyed nutritionist‐planned vegan or omnivore meals in daycare, and the full diets were analyzed with questionnaires and food records. Detailed analysis of serum metabolomics and biomarkers indicated vitamin A insufficiency and border‐line sufficient vitamin D in all vegan participants. Their serum total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, essential amino acid, and docosahexaenoic n‐3 fatty acid (DHA) levels were markedly low and primary bile acid biosynthesis, and phospholipid balance was distinct from omnivores. Possible combination of low vitamin A and DHA status raise concern for their visual health. Our evidence indicates that (i) vitamin A and D status of vegan children requires special attention; (ii) dietary recommendations for children cannot be extrapolated from adult vegan studies; and (iii) longitudinal studies on infant‐onset vegan diets are warranted.

More summarised points follow.

On metabolism and vitamin intake:

The children who followed the vegan diet from birth showed a metabolic profile and nutrient status distinct from those of lacto‐ovo‐vegetarians and omnivores, indicating that only relatively little animal source foods are enough to shift the metabolism of children. The main findings in vegan children included very low cholesterol concentrations and modified bile acid metabolism, as well as their markedly low fat‐soluble vitamin status despite their nutrient intakes matching current national recommendations fairly well. Despite of the adequate estimated vitamin A intake, the RBP results of vegan children in our sample indicated insufficient vitamin A status. Their vitamin D levels were low although the samples were taken during and after summer with expectedly high sunlight exposure and vitamin D storage. Our evidence indicates that special attention is needed to ensure adequate status of these important micronutrients for children on a vegan diet.

On cholesterol levels:

The low cholesterol levels resulting from adult vegan diet have mostly been linked to positive cardiovascular health effects (Appleby & Key, 2016; Elorinne et al, 2016), although a recent study also suggested an increased risk for stroke (Tong et al, 2019). The markedly low cholesterol in vegan infants and children in our study raises the question of whether such levels are healthy, as cholesterol is essential for cellular growth, division, and development of physiological systems due to its major role in the synthesis of cell membranes, steroid hormones, bile acids, and brain myelin.

A dysfunction with brain myelin means that the myelin sheaths, which cover our nerves, are not getting the fat necessary for healthy maintenance and function. Low-fat diets are thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s (see second study below).

On bile acids:

The main route of cholesterol excretion from the body is through bile acids, the biosynthesis of which occurs in the liver. Our metabolomics analysis indicated that bile acid biosynthesis was the pathway that differed most significantly between the diet groups. In vegans, direct measurement revealed higher primary bile acids, cholic acid, and chenodeoxycholic acid, which were previously reported to increase upon fasting in children (Barbara et al, 1980), and a lower taurine to glycine ratio in bile salt conjugation than omnivores. Vegan diets contain only little taurine, and the relatively low taurine‐conjugation compared to glycine conjugation of bile salts in vegan children is in accordance with previous adult studies (Ridlon et al, 2016). In addition to the role of bile acids in digestion and absorption of fat‐soluble components from the diet, recent studies have elucidated their diverse roles in endocrine and metabolic signaling and gut–microbiome–brain interactions (De Aguiar Vallim, 2013; Ridlon et al, 2016; Kiriyama & Nochi, 2019). What physiological consequences such findings indicate in children following a strict vegan diet remains to be studied. Our evidence indicates that vegan diet remarkably modifies bile acid homeostasis in young children.

The conclusion indicates that, in a vegan household, it might be a good idea to give small children some animal protein outside of meat:

The evidence indicates that even part‐time consumption of lacto‐ovo‐vegetarian products in an otherwise strict vegan diet may substantially alleviate the risk to nutrient deficiencies in children. Our data indicate the importance of studying vegan children to enable evidence‐based nutritional recommendations.

As this is the first time Western countries are seeing an increase in vegan children, more research is necessary.

With regard to Finland, the study says:

Our data of lower status of several biomarkers in vegan children compared to omnivores, in the relatively low number of study subjects, calls for larger studies before early‐life vegan diet can be recommended as a healthy and fully nourishing diet for young children, despite its many health‐promoting effects in adults. We suggest that the metabolic effects of vegan diet in adults cannot be generally extrapolated to children. Long‐term follow‐up studies are needed to clarify the causes and consequences of lower levels of vitamin D, RBP, transthyretin, essential amino acids, total cholesterol, and DHA in vegan children.

New Zealand: ketogenic diet can help some Alzheimer’s patients

Researchers in New Zealand found that a ketogenic diet might help patients with milder cases of Alzheimer’s:

I suspect that the lack of fat inhibits the proper maintenance and function of the myelin sheath. Our nerve coatings need fat. Well functioning connections to the brain are likely to lessen the possibility of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers published ‘Randomized crossover trial of a modified ketogenic diet in Alzheimer’s disease’ in February 2021.

Excerpts follow:

Brain energy metabolism is impaired in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which may be mitigated by a ketogenic diet. We conducted a randomized crossover trial to determine whether a 12-week modified ketogenic diet improved cognition, daily function, or quality of life in a hospital clinic of AD patients …

This is the first randomized trial to investigate the impact of a ketogenic diet in patients with uniform diagnoses of AD. High rates of retention, adherence, and safety appear to be achievable in applying a 12-week modified ketogenic diet to AD patients. Compared with a usual diet supplemented with low-fat healthy-eating guidelines, patients on the ketogenic diet improved in daily function and quality of life, two factors of great importance to people living with dementia

Brain energy metabolism is impaired in AD. Compared with healthy controls, people with AD display lower levels of brain insulin signaling and fewer brain insulin receptors, culminating in brain insulin resistance [3, 4]. PET studies demonstrate a 20–25% deficiency in cerebral glucose metabolism [5]. AD neurons also exhibit diminished numbers of mitochondria, many of which show reduced citric acid cycle and respiratory chain activity, culminating in decreased energy production [6].

Ketogenic diets can theoretically mitigate impaired brain energy metabolism in AD, leading to improved cognition, daily function, or quality of life. Ketogenic diets are high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets that shift the body towards fat metabolism. Neurons cannot metabolize fats directly, but the liver converts fats into ketones, which can serve as a major neuron energy source [7]. During a typical western diet, the concentration of the primary blood ketone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, supplies less than 5% of brain energy requirements and its blood concentration rarely exceeds 0.5 mmol/L. By contrast, a ketogenic diet induces a state of “physiological ketosis” in which beta-hydroxybutyrate provides a greater contribution to brain energy metabolism and its blood concentration exceeds 0.5–0.6 mmol/L …

This was a single-phase, assessor-blinded, two-period randomized crossover trial conducted at Waikato Hospital, a tertiary hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand …

To our knowledge, this is the first randomized trial to investigate the impact of a ketogenic diet in patients with uniform diagnoses of AD. Our findings suggest that high rates of retention and adherence are achievable in applying a 12-week modified ketogenic diet to AD patients. Compared with a usual diet supplemented with low-fat healthy-eating guidelines, patients on the ketogenic diet improved in daily function and quality of life. Changes in cardiovascular risk factors were mostly favourable and adverse effects were mild …

Compared with usual diet, patients on the ketogenic diet improved in daily function. Given that a 2-point change on the ADCS-ADL is considered clinically meaningful [22], the observed increase of 3.13 points implies that the ketogenic diet imparted a meaningful benefit in our patients to a degree that rarely occurs with medications [33]. Since an ongoing decline in daily function is a core feature of AD [2], this finding may be potentially important. By contrast, the decline in function observed in patients on low-fat healthy-eating guidelines may raise questions as to whether this dietary advice should be provided in AD.

Compared with usual diet, patients on the ketogenic diet also improved in quality of life. Given that a 3-point change on the QOL-AD is considered clinically meaningful [23], the observed increase of 3.37 points again implies that the ketogenic diet may offer a substantial benefit. By comparison, cholinesterase inhibitors show inconsistent effects on quality of life [34].

Whether ketogenic diets offer benefits on cardiovascular risk factors remains controversial [35]. The changes observed in this trial were mostly favourable. Compared with usual diet, patients on the ketogenic diet lost 2.62 ± 3.29 kg. Weight loss has been associated with increased mortality in AD [36], but that observation may relate to appetite changes resulting in cachexia in later-stage disease. By contrast, our patients were generally overweight (and pleased with their weight loss). Moreover, patients on the ketogenic diet decreased their HbA1C, did not alter triglycerides, and increased their HDL. There were modest increases in LDL and total cholesterol, but the impact of these changes on cardiovascular health remains debated [37].

I have been saying for several years that keto is likely to help some Alzheimer’s patients, and I’m delighted that this group got funding to try it out in a properly randomised fashion.

I hope there are many more studies such as these. The simplest remedies are often the best. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s but those who are not in advanced stages can benefit from a modified — and tasty — diet.

Food notes

We receive so much propaganda about our food choices, that it is time to present the other side of the coin.

Eating meat is at the top of the list. With regard to beef, much depends on who is producing it and the target market. Brazil produces beef for China. That agribusiness cycle has nothing to do with Europeans or North Americans:

Traditionally processed meats are nutritious. People living in the countryside, especially in mountainous areas, have been curing meat for centuries. Here’s a comparison between veggie nuggets and proper Spanish ham:

Cheap, modest foods can help provide the nutrients we need.

Real cheese might help reverse diabetes:

It looks as if liver could also help put diabetes into remission:

A good friend of mine hears ‘liver’ and says ‘yecch’, but sautéed chicken livers are out of this world. So is chopped liver:

What about liver and bacon? A good quality liverwurst is excellent, too:

Plant-based diets, especially if they are low-fat, might not be all they are cracked up to be. Ancel Keys had a lot to answer for in recommending low-fat diets in preventing heart disease.

One of his contemporaries would have disagreed with him:

After 60+ years, low cholesterol diets are beginning to be questioned:

The truth hurts, especially in med school:

I have much more about the ketogenic diet on my Recipes / Health page. They are one-third of the way down the page. Search for ‘diet’ and ‘low-fat, high-carb diet’.

Last Sunday in the UK, we had a Twitter trend about Lurpak butter.

Lurpak is excellent butter and it is Danish.

Foodies are now concerned about tariffs on EU products beginning in January 2021.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, who was a fruit farmer in his family’s business prior to entering politics, appeared on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show to discuss Brexit. When the topic of tariffs came up, he said that EU companies with factories in the UK would not have to pay them.

Lurpak lovers began to worry. Lurpak’s parent company is a large Danish dairy co-operative, Arla.

Someone tweeted a photo of his Lurpak butter dish. This was from a Christmas ad campaign several years ago featuring an animated trumpet player, if I remember rightly:

I hope that people saw the second tweet below. Adam Payne writes about Brexit for Business Insider. One quarter of Arla’s milk suppliers are British:

Arla is the third largest food company in the UK. Who knew?

Case closed.

My fellow citizens should not worry: Lurpak, along with other Arla products, will still be available in the UK post-Brexit.

If George Eustice was wrong about Arla, I surely hope he is right about Dominic Cummings, who left No. 10 on Friday afternoon, November 13 (!), carrying a box with his papers and personal belongings:

Cummings was the mastermind behind Brexit, even though Baron (Lord) David Frost has been leading the negotiations with Michel Barnier.

This is what Eustice told Marr on Sunday:

Given Boris’s odd behaviour after his bout with coronavirus in April, I hope very much that we will not get BRINO come December 31. As Theresa May so often said:

No deal is better than a bad deal.

She turned sour as milk and went back on her word.

Whatever happens, at least we’ll still have Lurpak.

bible-wornThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Romans 14:20-23

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.[a] 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.[b]

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Last week’s reading concerned Paul’s advice to stronger Christians about serving certain foods to weaker converts in case the latter had a pang of conscience and perhaps lost their faith as a result.

John MacArthur explains it in the context of that era (emphases mine):

In 1 Corinthians … chapter 8 and verse 10, we have a very similar passage. Paul writing to the Corinthians, verse 8 says, “Food commends us not to God, neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse.” The whole issue here is meat offered to idols. As I mentioned earlier, a person would come to worship a pagan idol, put the meat on the altar. The priest would eat some of the meat, take the meat he didn’t need to eat, go back out the door of the temple and sell it on the marketplace. Some person comes along, buys it because it’s cheaper than anywhere else, serves it for dinner to a new Gentile convert who’s just come out of that pagan religion. He sits down, he says, “Hey, this is great meat, where did you buy it?” “Well, I bought it at the butcher shop of the temple of Diana.” And he is plunged into devastation, almost gags on the meat because all that does is remind him of all the vile orgiastic worship that went on in that pagan system, and he sees that meat as having been offered to an idol, tainted with the demonic reality that once was a portion of his life. He is greatly offended.

Now the real issue of meat is no issue at all. Meat is not the issue. It doesn’t matter to God if we eat it. It doesn’t matter to God if we don’t eat it. We’re no better if we do; we’re no better if we don’t. It’s a non-issue; but not to that person. So he says in verse 9, “Take heed, lest by any means this liberty of yours” you’re free to eat it “will become a stumbling block to them that are weak, for if any man see thee who hast knowledge “you’re a strong believer, you understand your freedom “sitting at the table in the idol’s temple,” and there may have been even a freedom to…, they may have had a snack bar in the back of the idol’s temple for all I know, “shall not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?”

So, he says, “Hey, he can do that, so I’ll go over to the idol temple and have a snack.” And through that act, the weaker brother is devastated for whom Christ died. And he adds that line there, the same line in Romans chapter 14. It’s simply to point up that Christ went to great lengths to save this individual, how can you treat one whom Christ died to save with indifference? The implication here is if Christ loved that person enough to die for them, you ought to love them enough to be cautious about how you exercise your liberty in front of them. So, it’s the same issue there

Don’t devastate your brother. Don’t plunge them into deep spiritual loss. “Stumbling” seems to mean a sort of momentary stumble, a momentary fall. “Grieving” is the grief over a guilty conscience. But this one is a devastating thing, where the person very likely could be plunged right back into the whole milieu of pagan worship.

Therefore, Paul says that we are not to destroy God’s work (verse 20). God brought that person to believe that Christ is Lord, so we are not to destroy that person’s faith by serving something that goes against his beliefs, right or wrong. Present day examples include Seventh-Day Adventists — vegetarians — and Christians who do not eat pork because they view pigs as unclean. Those are strong personal beliefs and it would be inhospitable for us to offend our guests.

As such, Paul says that we should not eat meat or drink things that would offend our weaker brothers and sisters (verse 21). This is because we are united in the love we have for Christ and for each other. We need to continue building up our mutual faith, without food or drink standing in the way.

MacArthur tells us:

So, Paul says then, build up your brother, build him up in love. How? By not causing him to stumble, not causing him to grieve, and not causing him to be devastated by falling into sin because you’ve exercised your liberty in front of him and he cannot experience that without sin and a guilty conscience.

Paul advises stronger Christians to keep their beliefs about freedom to choose what to eat and drink to themselves in case they offend a weaker Christian (verse 22). We should be above reproach in that regard and not cause weaker guests of ours to feel forced to consume something they find offensive or dangerous (e.g. alcohol).

Paul concludes by saying that if we force our guests to eat or drink something that offends them, then we have sinned against them and God (verse 23).

Matthew Henry offers this commentary:

Paul had faith in these things: I am persuaded that there is nothing unclean of itself; but he had it to himself, so as not to use his liberty to the offence of others. How happy were it for the church if those that have a clearness in disputable things would be satisfied to have it to themselves before God, and not impose those things upon others, and make them terms of communions, than which nothing is more opposite to Christian liberty, nor more destructive both to the peace of churches and the peace of consciences. That healing method is not the less excellent for being common: in things necessary let there be unity, things unnecessary let there be liberty, and in both let there be charity, then all will be well quickly.–Have it to thyself before God. The end of such knowledge is that, being satisfied in our liberty, we may have a conscience void of offence towards God, and let that content us. That is the true comfort which we have before God. Those are right indeed that are so in God’s sight.

MacArthur says this is about setting our minds on higher — heavenly — things:

We want to fight about so many silly things and people who want to maintain their freedom don’t care what anyone else says and as a result of that, we miss the whole point of the kingdom. The kingdom is not meat and drink, the kingdom is not the things that you can do or not do, the discretionary things. The kingdom is — watch this one — righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Frankly, in those three elements you have a comprehensive summary of the Christian life. You want to know what the Christian life is all about? You want to know what it’s like to be in the kingdom? First of all, it’s righteousness. The issue is righteous living, righteous living, holy living, a holy, obedient, God-honoring life conformed to God’s wonderful will. You see, my concern is not liberty, my concern is holiness. My concern is not my right to eat, my right to drink, my right to do this and do that and do the other thing, my concern is righteousness, holiness, integrity. And that’s what the watching world is looking for, that I might be filled with the fruits of righteousness, that I might have on the breastplate of righteousness, practical godliness.

Secondly, peace; the kingdom is all about demonstrating the tranquil relationships between people and God and people and people. It is our loving caring. It is our oneness. It is the tranquility of our relationships that have such a profound testimony. It is when the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, is manifest that the watching world sees something that they would like to possess. The essence of the kingdom is not our freedom to do this and do that and offend if we wish. The essence is holy living and tranquil relations with fellow believers. And righteousness means I seek to honor God, and peace means I seek to have harmony with my brother.

And then joy, joy comes to one who is right with God and at peace with his brother. Wouldn’t you say? Joy is the personal joy of knowing God, experiencing forgiveness, grace and mercy and love. It is the blessed, happy life of salvation, which rejoices in everything.

What we want the watching world to see is people who are righteous, people who are at peace and people whose lives are filled with joy. And that kind of environment is created by self-sacrificing love that does not necessarily exercise its liberty no matter how it offends somebody else. And what I’m saying to you is a message to the strong believers because most of you would fit into that category, to say this, we must move down to the weak brother and sister and honor and respect that weakness until we can by love nurture it to strength. And so there are things we are perfectly free to do that we choose not to do in order that we might demonstrate to a watching world that the kingdom is not a celebration of our rights, but it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And when the world sees our lives marked by righteousness, when they see a person with real integrity, a person with real honesty, a person who speaks the truth, who is good and fair and just and virtuous, that is a loud testimony to the reality of Christianity because even in the fallenness of man there is enough of the imago Dei, the image of God residual in that mind to long for that which is unattainable to them. And when the world sees relationships of peace, it is so utterly foreign to them. Can you understand that? Because they live in a world of chaos. And when the world sees deep profound joy in the Holy Spirit, a settled happiness, they see the real heart of kingdom living. And that is the attractiveness that can bring them to Christ.

The theme of building each other up in our shared love of Christ continues next time.

Next time — Romans 15:1-3

Bible penngrovechurchofchristorgThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (as cited below).

Romans 14:13-19

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

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Last week’s reading from Romans 13 was about the responsibility we bear as Christians to our God-given authorities in government, good or bad.

That message can be hard to swallow, depending on who is governing us.

Today’s message from Paul is an equally difficult one. Paul advocates our cutting back on some things — e.g. food or drink — when in the company of others who do not share our preferences. This is to preserve the unity of the Church.

John MacArthur explains (emphases mine):

Paul talks about Christian liberty here, not in the sense of how it affects me, but in the sense of how it affects my brother and sister. And this is a very important dimension of understanding Christian liberty because it affects the church. So, Paul’s concern from verse 13 to 23 is for other Christians, how we are to build up other Christians without offending. And that calls for limiting our exercise of liberty. Don’t let anybody take your liberty. Don’t let anybody threaten your liberty. Don’t let anybody bind your conscience to things that are not in themselves evil. But at the same time, you don’t have to flaunt that liberty to prove you’re strong, right? You don’t want to do that because it may turn out to be bondage for your own sake and it may turn out to be unloving and divisive for the fellowship of believers

What you want to do is be sure that your conduct in the exercise of your liberty is not unloving, is not insensitive to other believers. If we can just make a positive out of that statement, we would say that the objective of Christian living in the church, the goal of a strong believer is to conduct himself in love toward a weaker brother. That’s the essence so that there’s no offense.

I find it odd that some Christians do not eat pork. For whatever reason, they consider pork to be unclean.

Yet, as Christians, we have the liberty to eat anything and everything that God created. Jesus came to fulfil the law and, as such, we enter into a New Covenant with God. Acts 10:9-16 tells us of Peter’s vision, where he was told that no food in and of itself is unclean. Understandably, he found that concept difficult initially.

Moving on to today’s reading, with the Romans, there was still a lot of meat sold that had been consecrated to pagan gods. There were also Jewish converts who found it difficult to begin eating foods that had been, for them, unclean according to Mosaic law.

Therefore, Paul wanted to make it clear that we should not allow our food preferences as ‘stronger brothers’ to upset the ‘weaker brothers’ who could not bring themselves to consume certain things. It is more important for the ‘stronger brothers’ to accommodate the ‘weaker’ ones by offering them foods they can enjoy eating without a pang of conscience.

As such, we should refrain from passing judgement on those who refuse to eat certain things (verse 13).

Paul was of the belief by faith in Jesus that all food was ‘clean’, yet, he recognised that other people were not of that persuasion (verse 14).

Paul said it would be an offence against our Lord to cause our guests to be upset with our food choices; we must build each other up in the love of Christ rather than divide them (verse 15).

MacArthur says:

Here he strongly emphasizes again that what he’s talking about are non-moral things that of themselves are not unclean and of themselves are not evil. And he says that in verse 14, “I know and I am persuaded by the Lord Jesus.” I love that statement, “I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus.” It’s like saying I didn’t get this by hearsay, I got this directly from the source. “In my own personal intimate communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, He revealed this to me.” That is a unique privilege for a Scripture writer. “So I know and I’m persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself.” And you can stop there.

So, he says I’m not asking you to give up your liberty. I want you to enjoy your liberty and understand your liberty. I want you to know that this is not my opinion; I know this because I’ve been convinced by the Lord Jesus Himself. Even as he said in Galatians that his gospel did not come to him through human instrumentation but rather the Lord Himself had given it to him. He says, in effect, this is right from the Lord. You strong are right. Did you get that? The strong are right. That’s right, they’re right, they’re right. Sin does not reside in things like food, I don’t care what kind of food it is. It does not reside in what’s in a glass. It does not reside in film, or electronics or games or recreation or activities. It doesn’t reside in plants. It doesn’t reside in anything.

First Timothy 4:4 says that all things are to be received with thanksgiving, right? And don’t let anyone bring any of those devilish doctrines that tell you that we are to abstain from foods. Titus 1:15 says to the pure all things are what? Are pure. To the people who are defiled, everything is defiled because their conscience is defiled. Jesus Himself, back in Mark 7, I believe it’s verse 15, “There is nothing from outside of a man that enters into him that can defile him.” Isn’t that interesting? There is nothing outside of a man that entering into him can defile him. It’s the things that come out of him that defile him.

Coincidentally, the Gospel reading from Matthew 15 about what defiles a man is for today, August 16, 2020. Serendipity is a wonderful thing.

Paul goes on to advise that weaker Christians should not disparage our stronger habits when they are perfectly lawful in Scripture (verse 16). Our weaker friends have not yet come around to that realisation, so it is better to avoid offending them in order to promote our mutual harmony guided by the Holy Spirit (verse 17).

Paul means that we might be dissuading our weaker friends from pursuing Christianity more deeply because of our own actions in this regard.

MacArthur explains:

When a stronger brother comes along and somehow tempts by his liberty a weaker brother to violate his conscience, when that weaker brother violates that conscience, that weaker brother will have a painful, bitter sorrow in his own heart. He’ll feel guilty and instead of helping him grow in his spiritual life, it will push him back, because then he’ll be even more afraid of liberty, right? More afraid of it. It will be a greater threat to him.

Now a weak Christian is grieved in verse 15. He says if your brother is grieved with your food, you’re not walking in love. Now how would a weak brother be grieved? Well, a weak brother would be grieved by just simply seeing a strong Christian do what he felt was wrong. Is that so? Sure. If you are strongly convinced that something is wrong, and I’m not talking about something sinful, but something that they do and you see these people do it, it’s going to grieve you. You’re going to be grieved over their liberty which you see as an offense.

But I think it’s even stronger than that in this context. I think what he’s saying again is back to the idea that this brother is not just grieved because you do it, he’s grieved because you’ve led him to do it, too, and it’s violated his conscience. By following your instruction or your example, he does what he believes is wrong and then has to live with the remorse and the guilt of his conscience. And he forfeits the peace and joy of his Christian walk. What is the point of that? What is the point of that?

So, you set your life in a path so as not to grieve people and cause them sorrow because they have followed you into something their conscience didn’t allow them to do. Now you know what this is telling us, folks. This says we’ve got to get close enough to each other to know where we are, right? We’ve got to know the hearts of the people around us so that we can be sure that we walk in love toward those people, in selfless self-denying agape. We never want to lead a believer to fall into sin. We never want to grieve a believer by having him violate his own conscience.

And the third of the six — … in verse 15, “Destroy not him with thy food for whom Christ died.” Don’t make him stumble, don’t grieve him, and certainly don’t destroy him. Now all I can tell you about the word “destroy,” apollumi, means to ruin, is that it’s a very strong word, very serious word. When you cause a believer to stumble or to be grieved, to violate his conscience, it can bring about a certain effect that is here discussed with a very strong word. Let me tell you a little about this word, this word apollumi. It is translated very frequently in the Scripture with the word “perish.” It can mean eternal damnation, unquestionably it can mean that.

Paul says that, as followers of Christ, we are brothers and sisters in faith, ‘acceptable to God and approved by men’ (verse 18). We mustn’t do anything to upset those who do not view liberty in food or drink the way we do. If we cause them offence or force them to violate their conscience, we could well be destroying their faith.

MacArthur says that, in acquiescing to our weaker friends, we hope by our good example to build them up to become stronger Christians:

What we want the watching world to see is people who are righteous, people who are at peace and people whose lives are filled with joy. And that kind of environment is created by self-sacrificing love that does not necessarily exercise its liberty no matter how it offends somebody else. And what I’m saying to you is a message to the strong believers because most of you would fit into that category, to say this, we must move down to the weak brother and sister and honor and respect that weakness until we can by love nurture it to strength.

Therefore, let us affirm each other’s faith, increasing our mutual peace, harmony and love (verse 19). Forget the small stuff — food and drink — and concentrate on the bigger picture: Christian love and the Church.

MacArthur says this requires humility on the part of stronger believers:

I’ll tell you what makes for peace. Humility, you know why humility produces peace? Because humility says I don’t care about my rights. Humility says I’m more concerned about yours than mine. Humility says the issue with me is you not me. Meekness, unselfishness and love, those are the things that make for peace. And those are the things that we should give attention to. We pursue those things

And secondly, not only are we to pursue the things that make for peace like humility and meekness and unselfishness and love, but also the things with which we can build each other up. The things that are going to bring about a spiritual strengthening, that are going to build edification into people. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 14:12 he says, “You’re all zealous of spiritual gifts, then seek the ones that excel to the edifying of the church.” Seek the things that are going to build them up, not cause them to stumble and grieve and be devastated and lose their testimony

When you cause a brother to be offended, you’re pulling down the work of God. Look at verse 20, “For food, don’t destroy the work of God.” And food is symbolic of any discretionary thing that you might have a right to do. Here he has the idea of the offending the Jew with food that wasn’t kosher or offending a Gentile with food that had been offered to idols. But it’s only symbolic of anything. Don’t with your food destroy the work of God.

Now do you realize that’s a marvelous statement? You know what that says about every believer, even a weak believer? That a weak believer is a what? A work of God. Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His (What?) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” I mean, God is at work in every Christian, even the weaker brother is a work of God, a work of God. Don’t pull down what God’s building up. And there’s some people who are so proud about their liberation, they find a weaker person who’s coming out of legalism for whatever reason, if it was pagan or if it was sort of cultural Christianity, and instead of building them up, they tear them down. And it is the work of God you’re tearing down. Present imperative here indicates to stop what you’re doing. So there must have been within that Roman assembly at least some information about the fact that these liberated brethren were tearing down what God was trying to build up. Discontinue that, he says. You’re not merely dealing with a man, you’re dealing with a man, verse 15, for whom Christ died. You’re dealing with a man who is part of the kingdom and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, verse 17. And now he says you’re dealing with one who is a work of God.

That makes me feel better about having to make separate vegetarian dishes for my occasional non-meat eating dinner guests, believers or not. I understand this passage much better after having read MacArthur’s sermons and Matthew Henry’s commentary.

Henry gives us this solemn advice:

Thou pleadest that it is thy own meat, and thou mayest do what thou wilt with it; but remember that, though the meat is thine, the brother offended by it is Christ’s, and a part of his purchase. While thou destroyest thy brother thou art helping forward the devil’s design, for he is the great destroyer; and, as much as in thee lies, thou art crossing the design of Christ, for he is the great Saviour, and dost not only offend thy brother, but offend Christ; for the work of salvation is that which his heart is upon. But are any destroyed for whom Christ died? If we understand it of the sufficiency and general intendment of Christ’s death, which was to save all upon gospel terms, no doubt but multitudes are. If of the particular determination of the efficacy of his death to the elect, then, though none that were given to Christ shall perish (John 6:39), yet thou mayest, as much as is in thy power, destroy such. No thanks to thee if they be not destroyed; by doing that which has a tendency to it, thou dost manifest a great opposition to Christ.

This theme continues next week.

Next time — Romans 14:20-23

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