What does the Bible say about vegetarianism?

Vegetarianism is a topic that can generate some controversy. Some people are vegetarian for health reasons. Some people are vegetarian because of religious or philosophical beliefs. Some people believe everyone should be vegetarian. As with any topic, our starting point should be the Bible. Lets look at what the Bible says about this subject.

The first 25 verses of Genesis 1 tell us how God created the universe, the earth, plants, and animals. Verses 26-28 tell us how God created people. Then verses 29-30 tell us about instructions that God gave to people about food. As you read the following verses, notice what people were allowed to eat at that point in history? Remember that this is only the first chapter of the Bible and there are other verses that have something to say about vegetarianism.

Gen. 1:29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
Gen. 1:30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.

Notice that God only mentioned plants and fruit as food. Also notice that God applied this to animals as well as people. God’s original intent was that people would be vegetarians. However, this is not the Bible’s final word on this topic.

Genesis chapters 3 and 4 tell us how sin entered the world and Genesis chapters 6-8 tell us that man became so corrupt that God destroyed the world with a flood. As Noah and his family resumed life on dry land after the flood, God gave these instructions:

Gen. 9:3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.
Gen. 9:4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

Gen001029001030.001We see here that after the flood, God added meat to the human diet. The only restriction was that people could not eat the blood; in other words, they could not eat raw meat.

There are other chapters in the Bible that contain food regulations, but these are the two primary passages on the subject of vegetarianism. While God originally intended for people to be vegetarians, we in the 21st century are not required to be vegetarians because God added meat to our diet after the flood.

Some people claim that since the original intent was to be vegetarian, then we really should be vegetarian even though God added meat to the human diet. The problem with that idea is that the Bible doesn’t recommend that. The Bible makes it clear that it is OK to eat meat, and that is what our convictions on this subject should be based on.


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”