I recently came across this article on a website called “Answers in Genesis,” a site owned by well-known creationist, Ken Ham. I myself am a creationist, but not exactly what you’d call a traditional one. Ken Ham believes that dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden, while there are sources, such as The Book of Enoch (which we will discuss a bit more later in this post), that give more logical reasons as to how the dinosaurs got to earth and how they were later wiped out in the flood of Noah. However, regardless of what Ken Ham or I believe about the creation, I definitely found this article to be disagreeable and, for the most part, incorrect in its interpretation of scripture. Let’s take a look at the main points in the article:
- In recent years a movement has been growing among Christians to adopt a vegetarian diet. Some have gone so far as to claim that Scripture mandates this type of diet. What does the Bible really say about this issue?
According to Genesis 1:29–30, at the end of the sixth day of Creation Week, God gave Adam and Eve and the animals permission to eat plants. It was not until after the Flood that man was given permission to eat meat. Although we do not know what sinful man chose to eat before the Flood, God did not give His permission to eat animal flesh until after the Flood, as recorded in Genesis 9:3.
Here are the scriptures used in that statement:
Before the Fall: Genesis 1:29-30
” 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”
After the Fall: Genesis 9:3-5
“3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.”
Notice that verse 5 still mentions that we are still held responsible for anything we kill, human or animal. Should we not then only use animals for food/raiment in times of dire need as opposed to simply using them for taste or celebrations? If they are not needed for our survival, why not spare their lives and eat plant-based foods instead?
- Some people attribute the extremely long lifespans in the pre-Flood world to the vegetarian diet God had prescribed, and they further attribute the sharp decline in lifespan after the Flood to the introduction of meat into the diet. They often claim that God’s permission to eat meat in Genesis 9:3 was necessary due to the lack of available plants after the Flood. However, other factors may explain the drop in lifespan.
Sure, a whole food plant-based diet DOES help people live longer, according to over 700 studies worldwide. But I’ve actually never heard anyone claim that a meat-free diet would allow someone to live multiple centuries, or that it was the reason for Biblical figures living so long. In Genesis 6, God actually explains why our lifespans were suddenly cut short to less than 120 years in length:
Genesis 6: 1-4 states:
“1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
This is a part of the scriptures that confuses a lot of Christians, so it requires some explanation. This was a time when several angels from Heaven decided they were going to come down and mate with the women of Earth. From these unholy unions, abominable children were born in the form of giants, much like Goliath and other giants spoken of in the scriptures. That is what the passage means when it says, “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose...There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” god’s first punishment for this was shortening the lifespan that had been established before, and then after, he created the flood to wipe out this destructive race of giants, along with the evil, violent people that had taken over most of the earth.
Some may say, “Well, that’s not in the Bible, so that can’t be the reason that God punished those people.” However, if we look in The Book of Enoch, a book that was removed from the Bible canon centuries ago, it makes the intention of these “sons of man” very clear:
Book of Enoch, CHAPTER VI.
1. And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. 2. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' 3. And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' 4. And they all answered
him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' 5. Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.
1. And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. 2. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: 3. Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, 4. the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. 6. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.
*Take note of the underlined sections.
Just as a side note, remember how I mentioned earlier that The Book of Enoch gives an alternate theory as to how dinosaurs came to be on the Earth? “4. the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish.” If former angels could create giants by mating with mortal women, imagine what would happen if they mated with reptiles and other animals. Giant lizards (dinosaurs), maybe? Just a thought. I would actually love to know other people’s thoughts on this if you have any. But anyway, back to the topic at hand.
- Furthermore, if a return to vegetarianism were really God’s desire for man, then why did God not reinstitute a meat-free diet when plants were more available in later years? God has not rescinded His Genesis 9:3 permission to eat meat.
I would say God made it pretty clear in the story of Daniel:
Daniel 1:8, 12-17
“8 ¶ But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17 ¶ As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
Because Daniel and the other boys chose to abstain from meat and wine, which they knew were bad for them, and instead ate only pulse, which means foods that grow from seeds, they were fairer (healthier) than all the others who had not eaten as they had. For this, God gave them wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. If that’s not a reason to go vegan, I don’t know what is.
In some Christian religions such as my own, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we actually do have scripture and doctrine that has to do with God commanding people in these modern days to abstain from meat unless it is essential for our survival:
Doctrine and Covenants, section 89: 12-15:
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
Section 49:19, 21
“19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.
21 And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”
In other words, it is pleasing to God that animals not be used unless it is a time of famine, and God has made animals for our use, but only in times of excess hunger. He also warns that we will be held accountable if we shed blood and waste the flesh of animals but have no need.
- Moreover, the ceremonial laws given to Moses in Leviticus confirmed the Creator’s continuing permission for man to eat meat. These laws contain a list of clean animals Israelites were allowed to eat and unclean animals that were not to be eaten. These restrictions included the admonition not to ingest certain types of fats.
LDS.org has this to say on the clean and unclean foods of Leviticus:
“Now we turn to the laws regarding clean and unclean things. As with the other laws, you must try to look beyond the outward commandments and rituals for what they were meant to teach about spiritual realities.
Take, for example, the laws of clean and unclean animals. There were practical reasons for these laws related to health and sanitation. The flesh of swine is highly susceptible to trichinosis, a malady easily transmitted to man. Shellfish can develop a deadly poison if they are not killed and handled properly, and so on. But the Hebrew word for clean used in the dietary law means more than just physically clean. It carries the connotation of being “clean from all pollution or defilement … and implying that purity which religion requires, and is necessary for communion with God
If the dietary code is seen both symbolically and as part of a system of laws that covered all the customary acts of life, it becomes apparent how it served. God was using the diet as a teaching tool. People may forget or neglect prayer, play, work, or worship, but they seldom forget a meal. By voluntarily abstaining from certain foods or by cooking them in a special way, one made a daily, personal commitment to act in one’s faith. At every meal a formal choice was made, generating quiet self-discipline. Strength comes from living such a law, vision from understanding it. Further, the law served to separate the Hebrews from their Canaanite neighbors. Each time they got hungry they were forcibly reminded of personal identity and community bond. Indeed, they belonged to a people set apart. The law therefore acted as a social instrument for keeping the Hebrew nation intact, a psychological instrument for preserving the identity of the individual, and a religious instrument for keeping the people in remembrance of Jehovah.”
In other words, the main reason God chose to test people’s faith and devotion to the true gospel with a restricted diet was because the Canaanites were a wicked, violent, and idol-worshipping people. God wanted the Hebrews to set themselves apart from the Canaanites as much as possible, even telling them not to wear the materials the Canaanites wore or shave the sides of their heads the way the Canaanites did. It really had nothing to do with nutrition, as some would claim. It was mainly to keep the Hebrews a pure and faithful people in contrast to the Canaanites.
- Lastly, the life of Jesus shows that ongoing vegetarianism was not mandatory. Jesus assisted the disciples in catching fish in their nets, presumably to be eaten. Jesus Himself ate fish and cooked it for His disciples (John 21:9). Why would our Savior act in a manner contrary to that which He set forth for us?
Here is the scripture referred to in this statement:
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
We must remember that this was a society who were used to surviving off of mainly grains and fish. Times were hard and they basically needed whatever food they could come by. However, in our Western world today, this is not the case. When we go to the grocery store, or even grow a garden in our own backyard, we have the ultimate choice in what to eat. What a blessing this is! Christ helped those who needed food to feed their families by filling their nets. Nowadays, if we ask God for guidance, he can help us make healthy decisions and learn self control in our deeds to that we can live healthier, happier lives. That includes abstaining from killing/consuming animals that we are not in need of for food or raiment.
Animals weren’t the only questionable thing consumed in scriptural times. So was wine. In fact, while many Christians abstain from alcohol in our modern day (and rightly so, it’s terrible for our health), it was arguably the most common drink in much of the world for centuries because water simply wasn’t clean enough to drink most of the time. We see in these verses that even Christ himself condoned drinking wine.
John 2: 1-11
“7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,”
Does that mean Jesus wants us to drink wine today? Nope, because we have clean water accessible to us. Just the same, since we have access to plenty of non-animal sources of food, we no longer need to eat animal products in our modern Western society.
- "So are we then to conclude that vegetarianism is unscriptural? Not at all. Just because we have permission to eat meat does not mean we have to.
Decisions regarding diet are a personal choice involving many factors. Individual health issues, family history, and the advice of a personal physician may dictate the desirability of vegetarianism for some people, and personal preferences are perfectly legitimate. The best choice for one person may not be the best choice for another."
It is true that vegetarianism/veganism is definitely NOT unscriptural. In fact, as we’ve observed, there is actually more reason and instruction from the scriptures that SUPPORTS being plant-based rather than there is for an animal product diet.
That being said, we must look at the actual nutrition of diets that include meat, dairy, and eggs. Such diets have been proven time and time again to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other common Western diseases. And no, your physician isn’t always the right person to ask about your diet, due to the fact that doctors receive less than 20 hours of nutritional education in medical school.
As for the idea of meat being a good choice for one person, but not a good choice for another, this is a completely unscientific claim. Check out what all of these studies have to say about the harm that animal products cause for EVERYONE:
- Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets:
- A Plant-Based Diet, Atherogenesis, and Coronary Artery Disease Prevention:
- Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China Study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002914998007188
- Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross-sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults:
- Dietary effects on breast-cancer risk in Singapore:
- Red and Processed Meat and Colorectal Cancer Incidence: Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies:
- A Low-Fat Vegan Diet Improves Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Randomized Clinical Trial in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes:
Not to mention, I don’t personally care WHAT someone else eats. But I definitely do care WHOM someone eats.
- Beyond the biblical prohibitions against gluttony—which apply equally to any diet—the meat versus veggies choice is simply not a sin issue. Dietary choice should not become a test of orthodoxy for the Christian. God’s instructions in Romans 14:2–3, 15–17 do give us liberty in this matter but command us to be gracious to those who choose a different path. Those verses not only tell us that dietary choice is not a matter of personal holiness but also remind us not to be distracted from the gospel of Christ.
Here is the scripture referred to in this statement:
“2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
The word “meat” in the Biblical record actually refers to “food,” not just to flesh. This is basically just saying that the gospel doesn’t revolve around food and judging what other people eat or don’t eat, as we see within the statement in the chapter heading, “Avoid quarreling about opinions and making unrighteous judgment of each other.”
However, while we shouldn’t judge one another (because that is for God to do), we are still to honor our Heavenly Father in all we do , including what we consume:
1st Corinthians 10:31 states:
"31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
Are we really honoring God if what we’re eating came from cruelty and/or unnecessary killing of God’s creation? Surely not.
- In another article on the site, Should a Bible Museum Serve Only "Eden Food"?, Ken Ham attempts to use the argument of God’s permission toward Noah’s family to eat meat in Gen. 9 and Jesus eating meat in John 21as permission and reason for ALL of us to eat meat, guilt-free.
Noah’s family was indeed told that, because they were the only humans left on Earth. And because they had to rough it in the wilderness, they were given the option of eating meat so they wouldn’t starve. Surely, someone who eats meat purely for survival purposes should not be condemned. However, BEFORE that, when Noah’s family was on the ark, what do you think they ate? They couldn’t eat animals, because two of each major kind of animal were preserved in order to replenish the animal population after the flood. So what did that leave them with? Plants. After all, plants such as grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are much easier to preserve and take with you on a long journey (especially in those times), rather than meat or other animal-based foods. This is completely paralleled with the structure of Adam and Eve’s experience before and after the Fall. In the Garden of Eden, they were instructed to eat only plant-foods and were not given permission to use meat for survival until after the Fall. Even the animals had the opportunity to successfully survive on plants while in Eden, and surely, God restored this ability to the animals that were on the ark as well, at least until after the flood.
There is an observable pattern in the scriptures where, when people abstain from eating animal foods, they reach a holier and purer state:
Garden of Eden: all is perfect, only plants are eaten at this time.
Flood of Noah: the Earth is cleansed and becomes pure again. Only plants are eaten at this time.
Story of Daniel: he refuses to eat the King’s meat and wine, asking for only water and pulse (foods that grow from seeds) to eat. He, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all become healthier, stronger, and closer to the spirit of God by doing so.
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ (yet to come): the Earth will be cleansed by fire and Christ will return to Earth, followed by 1000 years of peace. Death and suffering will be no more during this time, the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and the serpent will play with the child with no danger. Therefore, no animals will be killed. The only thing left to eat will be PLANT BASED FOODS. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said it best:
If all of these instances occurred during the most holy circumstances, why not live in such a Heavenly way now by adopting a holy and cruelty-free diet?
It is a blessing that God gave us the ability to eat meat for survival purposes. But if we are not in a survival situation and we have other options of what to eat, it’s pleasing to God that we choose that better option, which is plant foods: grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, etc.
In summary let’s do good to God’s animals, do good to God’s Earth, and do good to all of God’s other children. Take care, my friends. :)