In Genesis God gave mankind permission to eat meat.
In the book of Leviticus God established laws regarding the eating of clean and unclean animals.
These laws no longer apply to Christians, because in The New Testament God declared all food clean.
This section will address what The New Testament tells Christians about food.
There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet regarding food and The Bible.
The website Jesusveg.com (which is run by PETA) claims that Jesus was a vegetarian.
Despite PETA’s numerous ad campaigns attacking Jesus, Christians, and Jews; they decided that this false claim could get Christian’s to jump on the vegan bandwagon.
Obviously, anyone who has read The Bible knows that:
JESUS WAS NOT A VEGETARIAN
In Luke 24:42-43 after the resurrection, Jesus ate fish to prove to His disciples that he was not a ghost:
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
In Mark 6:41-44 Jesus performed the miracle of multiplying fish to feed the crowds. Although this verse does not specifically document Jesus eating fish, it does imply that He did:
41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
42 They all ate and were satisfied,
43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.
44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
In Luke 22:8-12 Jesus tells His disciples to prepare the Passover dinner. Jesus, like any Jew of His time, would have eaten lamb at Passover. Jesus’ use of words in this passage indicates that He had every intention of eating meat with His disciples:
8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
9 So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?”
10 And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters.
11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’
12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
Jesus ate meat in His lifetime.
It is important, however, to consider that the time we live in now is very different from the time of Jesus.
Our oceans are so overfished and polluted, that it’s questionable if Jesus would even eat fish in our present time. It’s also not far-fetched to believe that He would have opposed factory farming.
Jesus preached about love and kindness, and was adamantly against greed and the love of money.
Factory farming is an industry driven by greed. Just a handful of companies have monopolized the industry, and have driven most family farms out of business. These corporations maximize profits by abusing and exploiting God’s creation.
GOD DECLARED ALL FOOD CLEAN
In Mark 7:15-19 the Pharisees were upset that the disciples didn’t ceremoniously wash their hands before eating. Although the topic was the cleanliness of hands, Jesus used this opportunity to declare all foods clean:
15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?
19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
God declared all food clean in a vision to Peter in Acts 10:9-15:
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.
13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
EATING MEAT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The majority of Verses in The New Testament that are about eating meat are all addressing the hot topic of the day: eating meat sacrificed to idols.
The local markets were full of meat that came from animals that were sacrificed to false gods. It is important to understand what was going on in history during this time.
The death and resurrection of Jesus was a recent event, and Christianity was in its infancy. At this time, the church was made up of two groups of people: Jews and Gentiles (a person who is not Jewish).
The Jews would not eat sacrificed meat because they thought of it as “unclean.” They took it so far as to believe that eating the meat was a sin; a sort of secondary participation in idol worship.
The Gentiles believed that the meat was not tainted. They felt that they could eat the meat with a clear conscience because they did not directly partake in the sacrifice.
These opposing views started to cause serious problems in the church. The Jerusalem Council decided to solve the problem by asking the Gentiles to abstain from eating sacrificed meat.
This decision was made solely for the purpose of keeping the peace among believers.
In Acts 15:29 the Gentile believers are told not to eat sacrificed meat:
29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
In his letters to the Romans in Romans 14:14-15, Paul further discusses the issue:
14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
These verses addressed the superstitious beliefs surrounding the consumption of sacrificed meat.
Some people have tried to draw parallels between sacrificed meat and factory farmed meat, but they are two totally different subjects.
The request to abstain from sacrificed meat was to prevent someone’s personal eating preferences from causing a fellow Christian distress. The apostles made their decision solely for the purpose of unifying the Church.
The treatment of the sacrificed animals was never addressed.
Nothing in The Bible directly addresses factory farming or the treatment of animals used for food. Nothing in The Bible directly addresses abortion either, yet there are numerous verses that make God’s stance on the issue very clear.
When it comes to factory farming, we have to draw conclusions from the many verses in The Bible that show us God’s love for animals (visit WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS). These commands were never rescinded, and still apply today.
The New Testament tells us that Christians are not held to any food laws, and we have permission to eat meat. All animals have been made available to us for food, but this doesn’t negate our responsibility to God’s creation.
As Christians, we still have a moral obligation when it comes to the animals we eat.
To conclude, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:31:
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Today our eating choices can stop the suffering of animals, corporate greed, exploitation of the poor, antibiotic resistance, harmful effects on the environment, and health risks associated with genetically modified foods.
Making choices that will positively impact these issues greatly glorifies God!
In This Section (Click Below)
- Seafood, Fish Farming and Overfishing
- Eating Humanely and Humane Labels
- Take Action: Shopping Humanely
- Take Action: Eating Out Humanely
- Take Action: Eating Seafood Sustainably
- Take Action: Cut Back on Meat Consumption and Waste