What Does The Bible Say About Eating Meat?

By: Ron Lagerquist

“The good news is the bible does have something to say about eating meat.”

You cannot talk about the macronutrient protein without dealing with two spheres of ideology that more often than not end in contention. That is, the ethical and religious debates of whether humans should be eating animals. I have enjoyed my fill of both productive and fruitless arguments on the subject. Some people are passionately adamant in their belief that the only way we can live in harmony with this world is to limit our diet to plant foods. Others even go so far as to say that eating the flesh of animals feeds the aggressor in man and is therefore largely responsible for the wars that have plagued history. To many, these two issues are even more important than the nutritional perspective. The good news is the bible does have something to say about eating meat.

"Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so."

Genesis 1: 29-30

It is clear that God’s original plan for the earth’s complex ecosystem was that all living things would live as herbivores, including man. Humankind would have a multitude of colorful delicious fruits, seeds, nuts and vegetables to eat from. Not a bad menu really, and you can bet the unadulterated palate welcomed the sweet living foods that hung heavy on limb and branch. According to the scriptures it would be true to say that Adam and Eve were vegan vegetarians and this was the ideal diet God had originally designed for humans to eat.

“Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”

Genesis 9:3-4

After the Fall, everything changed, God introduced a new ecosystem where death and decay became a part of the natural cycle of life. In this new world, the life of one living thing depended on the death of another. Trees would fall to the ground and rot, providing food for their lofty children. Predators killed prey. This new ecosystem became a dynamic allegory, pointing to the Second Adam, Jesus, who would die so all humankind could have eternal life.

Some would say “amen” to this and conclude that it is not a sin to eat meat but assert it cannot be God’s best for us. Their message is subtle: vegetarianism is closer to Eden, therefore a little more spiritual than a diet which includes meat. 

"Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven."

Acts 10: 9-16

The above scripture ought to be the last word on the biblical question of meat eating. God Himself has made all things clean to eat. Eating meat does not make you less spiritual, but judging the guy beside you who is enjoying his pork chop is another matter. I have done enough of that and I can tell you from experience, judging darkens the heart and separates us from the Spirit of grace.

Romans 14 says it all. Read it carefully, it’s a wonderful passage that, if applied, will result in Churches full of freedom and worship. Here are some excerpts:

"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God."

Romans 14:5-6

Romans 14 says a lot of important things. It says you should not judge someone’s form of devotion to God just because it differs from yours. It says worship is an expression of heartfelt conviction, not a robotic theological act. It says worship is profoundly individual, at times private, between God and His child, so mind your own worship. It says love is more important than religious freedom. It says, “All food is clean.”

What does worship have to do with eating? In the Old Testament, eating was a celebration of God’s bountiful blessing. There were no mediators like Ronald McDonald; people ate from field to table. When rain was good, storehouses full, and the first fruits sacrificed to God, there would be feasting and celebration; the guest of honor was Jehovah Jira, God, Provider.

What would happen if we made eating a form of worship to God? Maybe for some that would be all that is needed to gain control over their diet. Instead of a compulsive flesh fest, God is invited; you slow down, eating with a heart full of thanks. When the heart is full, cravings have little power.

So, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts10:15) This applies to eating meat and I would hazard a guess, to everything else God has made clean, so be careful how you talk about a fallen brother.

Related Article: The Ethics of Modern Animal Farming

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Your Comments
true words,
I've recently become a vegetarian and have been struggling with how it now makes me feel about others eating meat and wether what I'm doing is wrong (throwing Gods gift of alowing us to eat meat back in his face) but with this article it made me realize, God doesn't really mind what we eat as long as we give thanks to him. For years I've been dodging eating meat cause I simply don't enjoy it, but have been scared to 'come out ' as a vegeterian because of the reaction of my family, eventually I just couldn't stand it anymore, and thought stuff it, meat makes me sick, with a couple a comments about being a 'bunny hugger' and oh oh now she thinks 'meat is murder' and how you'll never get enought of the right protien and its the whole purpose of animals being around, they've accepted it(even occasionally making special vegeterian meals for me!) but whenever I watch someone eating steak I think to myself how can it be right to put dead animal into your body but with this article it made me think and makes me feel like I can accept what my family eats (I come from a family of serious meat eaters) and not feel guilty for not wanting to eat meat, cause it doent matter to God, and we have no right to pass judgemnt on anything someone else does especially diets.
Wonderful article!
I love the quote above: "What if we made eating a form of worship to God? Maybe for some that would be all that is needed to gain control over their diet. Instead of a compulsive flesh fest, God is invited; you slow down, eating with a heart full of thanks. When the heart is full, cravings have little power." Thank you. I wrote that in my journal. I am on day 2 of a 30 day juice fast. My prayer for this fast is to be freed from the besetting sin of gluttony and food addiction. I have lost 100 pounds in the last 2 years by changing to a whole food plant-based diet. I am so much healthier physically, but I still feel this tremendous pull toward misusing food for comfort and pleasure, and I still overeat often. Fasting (and your website) have really helped me manage my food addiction, but I want to be truly FREE! I think this way of thinking about food is just the thing that will help me find freedom. Thank you!
Kira Z.
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