I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it. If you give me credit, thanks. If not, OK.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Are Christians required to be vegetarians? (With a note about Hindus)

From time to time, I read materials that advocate vegetarianism, or, even more strongly, claim that Christians are required to be vegetarians. I sympathize, to some degree, and would not quarrel with anyone who, by conscience, believed that she should be a vegetarian. There may be health benefits to vegetarianism, or health dangers from eating meat, and there are issues of cruelty to animals in some kinds of farming. However, to require or expect that all Christians be vegetarians is a different matter. The Bible doesn't support such a stand.

See the following scriptures:

Genesis 9:2-3 Noah and his descendants were given animals to eat after the flood.

Exodus 12:3-10, Luke 22:7-13 The Passover, in both Old and New Testaments, included the consumption of meat. (It does not describe consuming it in Luke, but does mention that the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed, and, presumably, Jesus and his disciples ate the lamb.)

Leviticus 11 forbids eating many animals, but it allows eating quite a few.

John 6 Jesus fed the multitude with bread and fish.

John 21:13 Jesus gave his disciples fish to eat after His resurrection.

According to Luke 24:36-43, Jesus ate some fish after He was resurrected:
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. (ESV)

Acts 10:13-15 uses a vision of animals that Peter is to eat. He is repulsed, not by the fact that they are animals, but by the fact that some of them are forbidden, for example in Leviticus 11.

Acts 15:20 The church conference allowed meat to be eaten under some circumstances.

I Cor. 8 It is not intrinsically wrong to eat meat offered to idols.

I Tim. 3:3-5 No food is intrinsically wrong to eat.

I don’t see how you can argue that Christians, in general, should not eat meat without ignoring quite a bit of scripture.

Loma Linda University, a Seventh Day Adventist institution, has a vegetarian resources page. (Seventh Day Adventists, as I understand them, believe in vegetarianism for religious reasons.)

A book by D. N. Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow, published in 2002, indicates that vegetarianism among Hindus is relatively new, and that, in former times, beef was frequently consumed by Hindus. An article in The Hindu gives information about the book. This is a controversial subject, and apparently some Hindus have gotten violent over Jha's ideas. To find reasons why most Hindus are vegetarian, search for the words Hindu vegetarian.

An article in Seattle Weekly explains how vegans have influenced companies like McDonald's to require better care, and more humane killing, of animals.

Here's the Wikipedia article on vegetarianism.

Thanks for reading. Eat healthily.


Winter of WinterYogurt said...

Very interesting! Yeah, it's funny when I'm reading an article or watching the news and some people claim that vegetarianism is biblical... love how you quoted bible verses! lol. Nothing better than going back to the source. ^___^

~ Esther

Martin LaBar said...


I try to go to that source for guidance in all things.

Anonymous said...

Just to make this interesting. I think that for the vegan's case, you can see Gen. 9 as opening the doors wide open on eating meat, but then, once you arrive at the law given to moses, you see a restriction on meat. Also, in the end, the lion lies with the lamb, which can be taken literally as even the animals reverting to veganism.

Martin LaBar said...

That's interesting, all right, superrustyfly.

I'm not sure that we should take the passage about the lion and the lamb too literally.

atlibertytosay said...

There is a restaurant in Greenville on Laurens Rd called SWAD.

It is a vegetarian Hindu Indian restaurant.

It's very good and run by a couple that lives above the restaurant.

Martin LaBar said...

I think I ate there once. Thanks.