The original question was:
If Adam was a vegetarian and God called that good– shouldn’t we also only eat plants and fruit if we want to live pleasing to God as well as a long and healthy life?
Answer by Diane Eager and John Mackay
Genesis 1:29-30 clearly states that man and animals were to live on a diet of plant food. In the original perfect created world, a vegetarian diet would have met all nutritional needs. A combination of green leafy plants, fruits, vegetable, nuts and grains all growing in rich newly created soils would provide sufficient carbohydrates, proteins, lipids f(ats and oils), vitamins and minerals.
After man sinned by eating the forbidden fruit God cursed the ground. (Genesis 3:) but did not change the instructions on what to eat. From then on there would be thorns and thistles, and growing and harvesting plants would be hard work. Anyone who has tried to pick raspberries or collect prickly pear fruit knows exactly what this means.
Until the flood Noah, in obedience to God’s instructions, would have eaten only plant foods (grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, etc). However, the flood ruined what remained of the perfect environment, and from then on there would be many places in the world, e.g. Alaskan snowfields and Australian deserts, where neither humans nor animals could survive on a totally plant diet. After the flood God gave Noah new instructions for diet and authorised man to eat meat. This is spelt out clearly when God says that “every moving thing” is now permissible to eat, just as the green plants were from the beginning. (Genesis 9:2-3). Note that Noah was not forbidden to eat pigs or camels or eels. Anything that could be caught and killed was fair game.
There is however one restriction in the post-flood diet – eating blood was forbidden by God because the life is in the blood. (Genesis 9:4) Because this instruction was given to Noah and his family, it applies to the whole human race, not just one racial or cultural group. God has never been revoked this instruction, and it still applies today.
In the Law of Moses God gave the Israelites some further restrictions on diet (Leviticus 11 &17, Deuteronomy 19) such as not eating pig meat or shellfish, but the Jewish diet did include meat and fish. Jews kept livestock for meat and were allowed to hunt animals for food. In fact, eating meat was part of their ceremonies and festivals, e.g. the Passover meal was a meal of roast lamb. But the rule about not eating blood was again reinforced (Leviticus 7: 26-7, 17:10-14).
During his earthly life Jesus provided fish for people to eat, and in obedience to the Law of Moses participated in the Passover meal. The Last Supper was a Passover meal. After He was raised from the dead Jesus appeared to his frightened disciples who thought He was a ghost. To show the He was not a ghost He ate a piece of fish. He also provided fish to eat when He met with Peter and some other disciples at another post-resurrection appearance. (John 21:9)
After Jesus ascended to Heaven and the Apostles began the task of taking to gospel to the Gentiles they pondered on what food rules to give to the newly converted Christian Gentiles. After studying the Scriptures and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance they told Gentiles not to eat meat from strangled animals or to eat the blood. (Acts 15:28-29)
Note, the Apostles didn’t send the Gentiles back to Eden, they only took them back to the rules God gave to Noah. The reason is simple – the good world of Eden lingered only until the Flood destroyed the beautiful environment that God had created along with the wonderful lush vegetation. We now live in a world of highly variable climates and often deficient soils, and plants have degenerated and are no longer as nutritious due to growing in harsh conditions. Therefore, eating meat, fish, eggs and dairy products is permissible, but the rule against eating blood still applies today. That rule has never been removed, so eating strangled animals and blood sausages is forbidden for Christians, irrespective of local culture.
The reason for the instruction forbidding strangled things is that the animal has not had the blood drained. This does not mean that every red blood cell must be removed. God knows this is not possible for us. The ancient Israelites were instructed to remove blood by slitting the throat of the newly killed animal open and draining the blood. This was acceptable to God then, so meat killed in a modern day abattoir, where blood is drained, is still acceptable. The red fluid that oozes out of meat is mostly tissue fluid stained with myoglobin – an iron storing compound that makes red meat red. White meat, such as chicken, also contains myoglobin, but not as much as meats like beef or lamb.
Returning to the original question: It is possible to live a healthy life on a vegetarian or vegan diet today, and it is a legitimate choice for anyone who desires it. However, getting the right amount and balance of nutrients on a vegetarian or vegan diet can be hard work in today’s environment, and is not possible in some extreme environments. It is no longer possible to live as they did in Eden. As part of the judgement on sin God cursed the ground and the earth has been corrupted ever since and will remain so until the end of this world.
One day God will bring this cursed world to an end, and will create a new heaven and earth with no more curse. There the people of God will live forever in a perfect world with no death or suffering. Diet won’t get you there! Only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection has paid the penalty for sin.
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