Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Meat consumption and the Bible

I am a vegan most of the times. However, lately I have been considering a Biblical justification for my diet. This is my draft written paper on meat consumption that I will flesh out with scriptures to support my perspective and other scientific sources. So this is a work in progress. Nevertheless, I do not mind getting critiques and comments that can help me to improve on these ideas.

Many persons try to find a justification in the Bible for being Vegetarian.

Genesis is the book which one generally turns to find the first justification for being a vegetarian. God’s original plan made human beings vegetarians. Man’s Edenic diet was fruits, nuts and seeds.

Even after Eden, man’s second diet was expanded to carbohydrates. G-d gave Adam and Eve the task of tilling the earth to satisfy their hunger and food needs. Being removed from G-d’s orchard where human beings had access to G-d trees, we were to survive on our own techniques and interaction with the soil.

A meat eating diet, was first sanctioned after the flood. Though Abel raised sheep and killed sheep to sacrifice before G-d, which showed that G-d did not outlaw the killing of animals, G-d did not permit the eating of meat until after Noah’s flood.

After destroying all crops, trees and vegetation on the earth, G-d now gave humanity the option of a non-vegetarian diet in order to survive. G-d planned that man would continue to survive on meat until they were able to resume cultivation of crops and give the earth some time to produce trees and shrubs.

Even after G-d permitted man to eat meat, he still restricted the meats that humanity were to consume. Before Noah went into the ark, G-d instructed him about clean and unclean meats. G-d designated what animals were to be a part of humanity’s livestock rearing for food. Even with clean meats, G-d instructed Noah that not all meats were to be eaten if they were not prepared properly. Meats were only to be eaten if the blood was adequately drained from them.

Hence, in the establishment of the nation of Israel, G-d codified those laws and made them explicit for the second time. Leviticus 11 enumerates those animals that G-d permits for the citizens of Israel’s diet. G-d also indicated the conditions under which meats were to be considered for consumption. Israelites were told again not to eat food with blood in it, neither were they to kill nursing animals, or eat animals that were strangled or for which they knew not of the cause of death.

Another mentioned case of the vegetarian diet was the case of G-d’s provision of meals for the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness unto Canaan. Here G-d fed them with Manna, which was a vegetarian delicacy. However, the people complained for meat, and G-d gave them what they demanded with disastrous consequences. This meat that they craved, lead them to illness and sickness. This is a warning that G-d’s diet is always better than what humanity craves for.

The next case where the Bible speaks of vegetarian diet, was at the time when Daniel and the other 3 Hebrew boys were in Babylon. They recognized that the meats that were given for consumption went against G-d’s code for the nation of Israel. As such, they refrained from eating such meats, in order to observe the rules of G-d’s nation. As such, G-d rewarded them for their effort to live in accordance with his constitution with wisdom, intelligence and health.

Based on this example in the Bible, the only justification for being a vegetarian is to avoid consuming meats and food that were not prepared properly according to G-d’s constitution.

So what then is the Biblical justification for eating vegetarian, especially in light of the fact that Jesus ate fish and the Passover lamb? His disciples also did not forbid eating flesh, though they advised that flesh should not contain blood, thereby restating the permission that G-d gave to Noah regarding meat consumption. Finally apostle Paul declares that in the last days, that many will depart from the faith teaching doctrines of devils, abstaining from meat consumption and marriage. Can a believer in the Bible, and especially a Christian justify being a vegetarian Biblically?

In Bible days, there were no refrigerators. People grew what they ate, and killed them and prepared them the same day for consumption. Today, our meats prepared and placed on our plates could possible have been killed 20 years ago (especially if they are coming from the supermarkets or exports). Men have fed hormones to animals to make them grow and get fat fast.

Even in the Bible days, meats that were killed were taken to the priests to be killed, where certain parts were removed, and others roasted and eaten. In meat consumption today, meats can be fried in oil or fat. Clearly the Bible contains instructions about meat consumption in oil.

G-d’s preferred method for our meat preparation is roasted. Jesus by his example roasted the fish. The Passover lamb is roasted.

I believe that humanity can live without meat for months. G-d did not ordain that we should eat meats everyday. So I believe that by virtue of Biblical evidence, meat consumption does not need to be a daily occurrence. In fact, if it is ceremonial, done in social gathering and celebrations, where there is a little wine or alcohol to help in its digestion, then that is the truly Biblical way of meat consumption.

I therefore suggest that Christians and all Bible believers practice vegetarian diets most of the year, and partake in meat consumption selectively and periodically or cyclically throughout the year. In addition, when consuming meat, I recommend that it be done in some social gathering that also is followed by moderate doses of alcohol to aid in the consumption and digestion of the meat. Therefore, for 60 to 80% of the year, people who are seeking to be apart of G-d’s kingdom can be vegetarians. The other times, meat consumption can undertaken. The fact is though, that you were made to eat more vegetation than animals, and that your health depends on herbs, fruits and seeds that you consume and your energy on cultivated vegetation.


Fiona said...

Please remember to put all your scripture references.
Each man has to consider his circumstances and moderation is key in everything.

I dont believe that the Israelites were sick because they ate meat but it was their ungrateful heart that upset God.

M. Scale said...

Oddly enough, this article was published just last week regarding the same idea of being vegetarian most of the time and having an occasional meat.

"No More Sacred Cows."
By Jennie Yabroff NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 31, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Jan 11, 2010


Ken said...

Hmm.... Doesn't seem like there's much of an argument for a mainly veggie diet here, but it was an interesting read.