Should We Be Vegetarians?

In the gospel of masculinity, man was given a charcoal grill and commanded to go into all the world and grill every living beast. That was the way of man as I understood it. However, when we read some verses of scripture in the Old Testament we find enough to make any carnivore nervous… Does the Bible suggest that we should be vegetarians?

Genesis 1:29-30 (ESV)
29  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
30  And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Notice what was left out of this text. Meat. Wonderful, protein-filled, iron rich meat. From the time of Adam and Eve until the flood, men and women ate a completely plant-based diet. That is one of the reasons why there is a lot of talk today about whether or not this is the best way to live.

After the flood receded and God made His covenant with Noah, He then allowed for the eating of “every moving thing that lives”. This is where God first allowed for the consumption of meat.

Genesis 9:3-4 (ESV)
3  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.
4  But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

Here are a few other examples of God permitting an omnivorous diet:

  • In Leviticus 11:44-47, we find God making a distinction between which animals are considered clean (good for food) and which ones are unclean.
  • Later in Acts 10:9-15, God speaks to Peter calling all animals clean.
  • Jesus also said that “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them”(Matthew 15:11).
  • We even see Jesus eating fish on multiple occasions (Luke 24:41-43, John 21:9-12). If it’s good enough for the King, it’s good enough for me.

One of the arguments that comes up on this subject is that just because it was allowed, doesn’t mean that it is best for us. We find a story in the book of Daniel where Daniel and his friends were selected by the king for an assignment. To prepare for this, they were to eat food from the king’s palace and receive an education for 3 years. Daniel refuses the food and instead requested to eat vegetables for 10 days.

Daniel 1:12-16 (ESV)
12  “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13  Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”
14  So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.
15  At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.
16  So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

This is where the popular diet, the Daniel fast comes from. It’s worth noting that it was customary before the feast for a little bit of the food and wine to be thrown to the earth as an offering to the gods. This is believed to be the reason for Daniel’s refusal, NOT because of health concerns. However, there is no denying the positive changes that were seen in their appearance.

Would many people feel better if they ate more fruits and vegetables? Yes. Could a plant-based diet be a good health choice? Sure. As long as you make sure that you’re not neglecting certain important micronutrients that some vegetarians commonly lack(protein, calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, etc.).

As for what the Bible says, we are free to eat what we would like. From a biblical perspective, I firmly believe that you can include meat in your diet and live a healthy life. Otherwise, I’m doubtful that God would ever have allowed for His people to eat it. There are other conversations that can be had over where the meat comes, but that’s another topic for another day.

If you’re wondering what’s best for you, see how your body responds to different foods. It would also be wise to speak with your doctor if you are considering making any major changes to your diet.

As for me and my house, we will grill the meat!

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