As a Christmas holiday tie-in, Lidl grocery stores in the UK are selling reindeer meat as luxury produce.
Here are some issues I have with this.
The spirit of Christmas is wrapped in the mythical narrative of Santa Claus using flying reindeer to transport gifts. This is at the core of the holiday’s culture of giving. Selling reindeer — the animals who are part of the holiday’s foundational story — to eat is a direct contradiction, if not an outright exploitation.
If Christmas is a celebration of the magic of unconditional generosity, eating the animals who mythically guide Saint Nicholas might literally be interpreted as sort of sacriligious. Chef Eric Paxman who recently opened a restaurant in a town where one of the grocery stores is selling reindeer meat said, “I’ve never cooked reindeer meat before and I don’t really think it’s a good thing. It’s similar to Bambi and I don’t think it’s appropriate at all.” (Source: Huddlesfield Examiner)
The animal advocacy group, Viva!, says reindeer are herded using snowmobiles and helicopters, which cause the animals unnecessary stress when they are rounded up for slaughter. Lidl has said they don’t sell reindeer managed in this manner, and only use free-range reindeer.
A spokesperson for PETA has condemned the selling of reindeer steaks, saying, “The idea of Rudolph being slaughtered and sliced into steaks for a novelty Christmas dinner is revolting. Christmas is supposed to remind us of peace and goodwill – and the rest of the animal kingdom could do with a taste of it, rather than being tasted.” (Source: Thaindian.com)
While PETA is sometimes viewed as taking extreme positons, they seem to be very in tune with what Christmas is about — or supposed to be about — and correct in their assessment. Many meat-eaters and vegetarians would probably agree with the general sentiment that Christmas has become, in some ways, too commercialized, with an emphasis on self-indulgence and materialism, exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to be.
During the Christmas season, Jesus is both the central figure and model. In the United States, the What Would Jesus Drive? meme circulated online, questioning excessive materialism, which invoked the name of Jesus and the restraint associated with him. It was a response to the boom in gas-guzzling, overly large SUVs. So the next questions is: Would Jesus have eaten reindeer steaks during Christmas?
Perhaps the answer lies in his own words, “If you are guided by the Spirit you will not fulfill the desires of your lower nature. That nature sets its desires against the Spirit, while the Spirit fights against it. They are in conflict with one another so that what you will to do you cannot do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” Gal. 5.16-18 (Source: TheNazareneway.com)
Author Disclosure: I am not a Christian, nor have I ever been one, but the culture of Christmas must be meaningless if it is practiced as over-indulgence and self-centeredness, because it was intended to be about the opposite attitude and behavior.
Image Credit: Sydpolen