Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Vegetarianism seems to becoming more and more popular in various parts of the world today. Some even claim that Christians should be vegetarians to be in line with the command against killing.

What, then, is the biblical argument in support of eating meat?

share|improve this question
    
To be a little nitpicky, I don't believe there is any biblical argument against vegetarianism; if a person chooses to be a vegetarian, there is nothing in Christianity saying that would be wrong. There are arguments saying that it is OK to choose to eat meat. –  DJClayworth Jul 18 '13 at 13:38
    
@DJClayworth Point well taken. Removed that last part. –  Narnian Jul 18 '13 at 13:42
    
I knew you knew that. Just leaving the comment for future readers. –  DJClayworth Jul 18 '13 at 13:47
2  
Mmmmm.... Steak. If God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them so tasty? –  Affable Geek Jul 18 '13 at 14:11
1  
@AffableGeek Hmmm... sometimes the non-biblical rationale seems to be the most convincing... –  Narnian Jul 18 '13 at 14:14
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are two really clear indications about eating meat in the bible:

7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.   8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.  9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.   10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. Acts 11:7-10, KJV

So, when Jesus died in the cross and fulfilled all the prophecies, He gave us freedom to choose what to eat, because it is impossible for the humans to fulfil the whole law. Jesus said this not only once, but 3 times to make this totally clear. Jesus also said another thing about this:

10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:   11  Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Matthew 15:11, KJV

So, this is not about eating meat or vegetables, it's about the attitude of the heart. From a Christian point of view, if you eat meat or vegetables you aren't sinning.

share|improve this answer
add comment

God's Endorsement of Eating Meat

Actually, God specifically ordained that man could eat meat, starting after the flood. The only prohibition in this was to drain the blood:

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

During the Exodus, God sent quail into the camp to provide the Israelites with meat to eat:

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. Exodus 16:13 ESV

In fact, the Passover was a feast that every Jewish person was under obligation to observe once a year in which they ate the meat of a lamb, so God, once again, ordained and commanded the eating of meat.

Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. Exodus 12:3 ESV

Vegetarianism

Before the Fall and perhaps up until the flood as well, it is true that mankind was enjoined to eat only vegetables, but that was a temporary command.

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. Genesis 1:29 ESV

It is true that Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego did not eat meat during their captivity in Babylon, but that was more likely due to either what kind of meat it was or how it was prepared--perhaps unclean animals that were not kosher for Jews. (See Why did Daniel consider the allotment of food and wine to be wrong for him to eat?.)

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. Daniel 1:8 ESV

What Jesus Ate

Furthermore, Jesus Himself ate meat, as He observed the Passover meal with His disciples:

And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. Luke 22:15 ESV

On other occasions, He ate fish as well:

They gave him [Jesus] a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:42-43 ESV

Paul's Instructions

The most applicable passage, though, is perhaps found in Romans 14. In this passage, Paul address the issue of eating meat that had been sacrificed to false gods. Paul affirms that there is nothing wrong with eating meat, and it is the weaker brother who eats only vegetables in fear that eating meat would be wrong.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:1-4 ESV

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Bible does not prescribe vegetarianism at all, but records that God actually gave meat to mankind for consumption.

share|improve this answer
    
Nice answer to your own question! –  Adrian Keister Jul 18 '13 at 14:08
add comment

All I would add to what has been answered already is to compare lifespans before and after the Flood (Genesis 5 and Genesis 11). With longer lives, slower growth, and slower aging it follows that lower protein levels in plants would be adequate. After the Flood, declining longevity and rapid aging require higher concentrations of proteins to replace dying cells. God made the more concentrated sources of protein available to us as longevity dropped and aging rapidly increased.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.