Periodically, I hear from a well meaning Christian claiming that humans were created as vegetarians and it is our biblical responsibility as well as healthier for us to return to a total vegetarian or Edenic diet.
Are they right? Is it our biblical responsibility to return to a Edenic diet?
I am always telling the kids in the Articles 4 Kids to be like the Bereans and go to the Scriptures to see what it true and what is not true. Therefore, we shall explore the Scriptures in search of our answer and we will do so starting in Genesis 1.
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
From this verse it would seem that Christians advocating the Edenic diet would have a strong case. When God first created man in His perfect Garden, He provided everything man needed for a healthy diet. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats were all supplied by the vast variety of plants that lavished the Garden of Eden.
If this was the end of the story, there would be no question about what we should and shouldn’t be eating. However, this is not the end of the story, only the beginning.
Shortly after the Creation Week, Adam sinned. God cursed the serpent, then the woman, then the man and then all of Creation. Sin had so corrupted the world and mankind that after 1656 years God poured out His judgment down upon the earth when He flooded the entire planet. God spared Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives along with a whole boat load of animals. After the Flood abated and Noah, his family and all the animals departed from the Ark, God told Noah he could now eat meat:
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Genesis 9:3
Why would God, after so many years after Creation and the Fall, now give man permission to eat animals? The Bible doesn’t give a reason for God’s sudden change of diet, so we really cannot be dogmatic on an answer to the question. However, we may be able to offer a plausible explanation based upon Scripture and science.
First we need to ask ourselves what changed at the time of the Flood that may have an impact on God’s decision to allow the eating of meat?
Before the Flood, man was instructed to eat plants, seeds, fruits, leaves, etc. Everything man needed for his health was obtained from eating the vegetation found throughout the Garden, except from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. However, the Bible doesn’t say anything about Noah bringing plants on board the Ark to preserve them. When we examine the fossil record, we find hundreds of plants that existed prior to the Flood that no longer exist today. The Flood accounted for the extinction of many plants.
Could it be possible that some of the key proteins and nutrients that were once provided by plants before the Flood were no longer available after the Flood and that the only way to obtain those missing proteins and nutrients were for man to eat meat? This could be one possible reason for God’s pronouncement in Genesis 9. Regardless of why, God did give man permission to eat meat after the Flood.
When presented with this text, I have heard the Edenic diet supporters say that God gave man permission to eat meat, but did not tell man that he should or had to eat meat. So once again, we turn to Scripture to see if there are any instances where God the Father or God the Son instructed man to eat meat.
If you recall the history of the Israelite’s captivity in Egypt, we do have an account of God the Father instructing man to eat meat. After the first nine plagues had failed to soften Pharaoh’s heart into letting God’s people go free, God gave Moses the instructions for the tenth and final plague which was the death of all the firstborn. You can read the full account in Exodus 11-13 and in that account we read:
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…. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. Exodus 12:3; 8-9
In verses 8 and 9, God not only instructs the Hebrews to eat the meat of the Passover lamb, but He gives specific instructions on how they are to prepare it. Those who did not follow those instructions including placing the blood of lamb on their doorposts, would suffer the death of their own firstborn child.
Truly the account of Passover should remove any doubt that God not only gave man permission to eat meat, but He also gave strict instructions on how to prepare it and eat it on this occasion. If it were not good for man to eat meat, I am quite sure that God would not have instructed him to do so at the time of Passover.
Later on we have the account of Moses receiving the laws from God. God felt that these laws were important for man’s well being as well as moral and spiritual conduct. As such, the entire chapter of Leviticus 11 contains the laws that deal with clean and unclean animals and which ones we eat and don’t eat.
And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth… This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten. Leviticus 11:1-2; 46-47
Finally, we even have the account of Jesus instructing His disciples to take the loaves and fish to feed the multitude:
But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:16-21
Being like the Bereans and searching the Scriptures for what it true and what is not true, it is obvious that we are no longer required to adhere to a vegetarian Edenic diet. God not only gave us permission to eat meat, He also gave us laws on what meat we should and shouldn’t eat. On Passover He instructed man to eat meat and Jesus instructed his disciples to feed the people fish.
However, I must conclude with saying that all things need to be taken in moderation and in proportion to everything else. A well balanced diet of carbohydrates, meat and a small amount of fat is still the best and healthiest diet to follow.