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
In my research on the world before the flood, animals had no fear of man, and man loved animals where he idolized some. Idolatry was part of the reason God destroyed that world. Today, God wants us to eat small amounts of meat to keep the right balance of dominance between mankind, and animals . There is no greater show of dominance than killing something and eating it.. Man has become animal worshipers by adopting animals, and aborting human babies. God will again punish the world for this idolatry!
Ray Clark
Amen. Thanks for this clear article. Rightfully biblically based.
Excellent and according to the word of God. Where the truth Is missed is "the fall of Adam", which brought curses and death. The fall changed history and the way God intended for us to live. We were created glorious and to live for ever in His presence, but sin and disobedience caused death and destruction.
Very well written, thank you.
"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." You still say "fallen brother", so you are still judging.
Good information. Thank you.
Sandy Ronecker
Thank you so much for this information it has helped me to get off the fence and become a vegetarian for life. Its been 2months and weve change our diet, given up smoking and drinking and watching worldly movies and music, we found by doing this allowed us to focus more on God and hear our own thoughts and opinions instead of being swade by others. We also found we were more in tune with God and the commandments...for so long we were insensitive to all that was happening around us but now we feel empathy, love and joy
maxine koka USA
Answered my question biblically about eating meat.
Sarah Neal
A Great article! Got the answers I was looking for!
Great article 😊
Mary Grace
I've come across this topic several years ago and made an extensive study. I came up with the same answers and conclusions as Ron Lagerquist. Can't understand why vegans waisting time and resources handing out pamphlets with misinformation about God and saving animals. Did not God commission us to share the good news of human salvation.
Biblical references mentioned make it very clear about the eating of meat. It's all about giving thanks to God for providing for you no matter what your choice vegetarian or not.
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