Vegetarian or Meat: What the Bible Says about Vegetarianism
By Betty Miller
The Bible says that in the earliest days of creation, all of God’s creation (even animals) were vegetarian. When God blessed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He said to them: “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 food for you. And to 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 appears that all creation was vegetarian until after the waters of the Great Flood receded and Noah and his family were left to replenish the earth.
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all of the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.” Genesis 9:1-3
Vegetarianism May Have Helped Noah
It is interesting to note that because they didn’t eat meat, it could have been one of the reasons that Noah was able to so easily gather all the animals into the ark – and explains why the animals did not devour each other while they were in it.
After the flood, why did God now deem it fit for His creation to eat each other? A possible clue that comes to mind is this: Man’s wickedness had just reached its fullness, and God had destroyed almost all of the inhabitants of the earth because of it. That flood had somehow changed the order of things – and it was as if Noah and his family were like Adam and Eve, beginning things all over again, but without the innocence of Adam and Eve. The first world, which had been created in perfection, was ruined because of sin. For man to function in the post-flood world, evidently God allowed for the eating meat that would become a part of our existence. The distinguishing mark on this particular era of history would be having to live with the blight of sin.
In a broad sense, it illustrates to us, the devouring nature of our sin and of the devil. Since the devil was given authority in the earth (Luke 4:6), we know that his kingdom is one that kills and devours itself…Satan who is the author of fear, would also rule this domain with fear. Because of this, the animal and human creatures would have fear and dread of each other. They would feed off of each other to survive. Many people accuse God of being cruel and unjust when they study nature and the insect world.
“Surely a God who made everything ‘good’ could not call all of this good!”
“How could a loving and intelligent Creator be behind such savagery and bloodshed?”
These are fair and intelligent questions that probably everyone has grappled with at some point. We believe that the answer points back to the sin of man, and the power of the devil. God created everything good, and it was Satan who perverted the order of things. God gave man authority over His creation (Genesis 1:26-28). This is programmed into our character. Most people would not deny that man has messed up the earth and most would argue that it is our responsibility to fix it. Anyone who says it is pompous of us to “rule the earth” and yet tries to “save the earth” defeats their own argument by their very actions! Innately, we know that we have that authority, and we act upon it every day.
Yet, because man chose to sin, he lost his proper position of authority over God’s creation; he lost it in the Garden of Eden, and then it appears that he lost even more when God decided to flood the world because of man’s wickedness. When man lost his position on the earth, it caused all of creation to lose its proper position as well. And now, everything has been tainted with the perverted character of the Wicked One.
Today, many ask if it is a sin to eat meat.The Bible makes it clear that we can eat meat, even as Jesus ate meat when He was on the earth.
And they gave him (Jesus) a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. Luke 24:42-43
Some may say however, that when Jesus ate meat, it was before the modern-day pollution of meat, such as animals being mass-raised in indoor living quarters, treated with hormones, over-fed, and in all ways exploited the way many of them are today.
One reason some vegetarians have chosen to not eat meat, is because the exploitation of animals is very troublesome to them. Is the exploitation of animals in the manner just mentioned displeasing to God? Of course! God loves His creation and even cares about what happens to sparrows! If your conscience bothers you about eating some of the commercially-raised meat, don’t eat it. However, if it doesn’t bother you (or you don’t know where the meat came from), eat it as you feel led. This is scriptural, as stated in Romans 14:2-3: “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The mans who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”
God’s original and perfect plan excluded the eating of flesh. However, because He Himself has given us permission to eat flesh, it should not be considered wrong or a sin–in the age we are presently living in.
The Bible also warns us that in the last days there will be a host of doctrines that point man away from the truth, instead of towards it. One of these such doctrines, is the worship of the “deity of nature” as some do today. Often vegetarianism is a part of their beliefs–the idea that all of nature is God. While this may sound nice, it simply is not true, and is a doctrine that prevents people from really knowing God as He is. Nature is not God. It reflects His creativity, His beauty, and many other things. However, it is only His creation, just as we are.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving… 1 Timothy 4:1-4
In the way of food, the Bible repeatedly warns us to not become too absorbed in it. Gluttony is a sin that is rarely mentioned in the church today, but is often mentioned in the Bible. Also, there are others who are so worried about their weight, or what they should and shouldn’t eat that they are in just as much bondage to food, as those who are chronic over-eaters. Both extremes are sin. God wants us to be healthy and balanced with what we put into our bodies. After all, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
We should all study God’s word, when making decisions about how and what we should eat. God gives us guidelines in this area as well as all other areas of our lives. For more information, please go to “What the Bible Says About Diet.”
One final note of conclusion here, for those who are sincerely wondering if creation will always be the way it is now. We have good news for you! Scripture also seems to indicate that during the millennial reign of Christ on the earth (when the devil is bound for 1000 years), all creation will go back to being vegetarian. Read the following prophecy from Isaiah 11:6-9:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, and their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9
Praise God! The time is soon coming when all creation will rest in peace once again, and the creatures of the earth will no longer destroy each other or fear each other. This may sound like a distant utopia, but we know by the Word of God that it will come to pass, as surely as God spoke this world into existence and as surely as every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! God’s ultimate plan is to redeem His creation and restore it back to the way it was in the garden of Eden.
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Betty Miller has written several books on other topics as well. To view titles or purchase those books visit our bookstore.