The Bible Supports Foods from Both Plant & Animal Kingdoms
Part 4 of 6 parts
I am writing to you highlighting the weakness of most arguments that Biblical nutrition begins and ends with Genesis 1:29 and that the Bible advocates a 100% raw, vegan diet.
1. Manny people quote 1 Timothy 4:3 to explain that in the KJV, "meat" does not always refer to animal flesh. But you deliberately left out vs. 4-5 which states, in the same KJV that you use, "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
Notice what the Scripture says. Every creature of God is good, i.e. cows, sheep, goats, deer, chicken, quail, fishes with scales and fins, etc, and nothing is to be refused as food, if it is approved by the Word of God. Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are detailed instructions God gave to Moses to teach the Israelites on how to choose between what may be eaten and what may not be eaten.
2. Some preachers teach that during OT times, animals were slaughtered primarily for the purpose of religious sacrifices which were a foreshadow of the ultimate and final sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of man. They are only stating the partial truth.
Firstly, the flesh of the animals that were sacrificed were to serve as food for the priests and those who offered the sacrifices. In fact, priests were offered the choicest parts of the animals as food. Priests must have eaten more meat than the common folk. Yet, they are supposed to be the healthiest people in the nation for if they had any physical defect or uncleanness, they were disqualified from serving before God. You can read all about these in Leviticus and Numbers.
I quote from Deuteronomy 12:5-12 that sums up God's position on the consumption of meat, both as part of religious ceremonies and as a part of normal meals:
"But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.
"There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.
"And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.
"You shall not at all do as we are doing here today-every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes-for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you.
"But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety,
"then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord.
"And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.
"Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see;
"but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
"However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike.
"Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water. "You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand.
"But you must eat them before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all to which you put your hands.
"Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land."
Notice that as far as the sacrifices and tithes are concerned, the Israelites are required to eat the flesh of the animals in the presence of the LORD at the place appointed by Him. It is a command. As for other occasions, God freely allows man to eat meat whenever and whatever their heart desires.
3. You also teach that in NT times, there is no longer any need for animal sacrifices, hence we should not be eating meat. This same Jesus, who offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sins, ate fish after His resurrection and invited His disciples to join Him in His breakfast of broiled fish and bread! Furthermore, the apostle Paul in Romans 14 deals at length with the issue of eating meats offered to idols.
In his treatise, he does not condemn or discourage the eating of meat at all. Rather he states categorically in v. 14 that, "I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." From this passage, we can gather that Paul himself ate meat, being stronger in faith but he taught that abstinence from meat is sometimes better for the sake of the conscience of the weaker brother. This is so as not to cause the brother to stumble, since he is weaker in faith and feels that he should not eat meat that has been offered to idols. Paul deals with this issue again 1 Corinthians 8. Nowhere in the NT does the Bible prohibit the eating of animal flesh/food.
You should also refer to my earlier letters [click here for letter 1 and click here for letter two] which highlighted passages in the OT that state that during the Millenium, animal sacrifices will be reinstated in the Jerusalem Temple, fishing will continue and meat will still be eaten.
4. The word "raw" does not even appear in Genesis 1:29 or Daniel 1:12. So how can you be so sure that the Bible was referring unequivocally to raw fruits and vegetables in both instances?
5. Did you know that God fed the Israelites with manna every morning and quail every evening during their wilderness wanderings? You can read it in Exodus 16. If meat is so toxic, why would God do such a thing? Even without quail, the Israelites had plenty of dairy products and eggs to consume because they left Egypt with plenty of livestock (Exodus 12:38). The Israelites were also instructed to cook the manna. With this diet, Moses lived to a ripe old age of 120, still in excellent health on the day he died. Vegetables and fruits were hard to come by in the wilderness, more so if you have to move from place to place. God even gave instructions to the Israelites regarding their gathering of birds' eggs (Deuteronomy 22:6).
6. God sent a raven to feed Elijah with bread and meat in the morning and in the evening for a period of time during the drought until the brook Cherith dried up? You can read the account in 1 Kings 17:1-7. This same Elijah was fed with bread cake baked on hot stones which strengthened him for a forty day/night journey to Horeb, the mountain of God.
7. Proponents of vegetarianism/veganism often cite the example of Daniel. However, they may not be aware that Daniel did not maintain a strict vegetarian diet for the rest of his life. The evidence is in Daniel 10:2-3, which records an event that took place many years after his training as a youth in King Nebuchadnezzar's palace, "In those days, I Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed."
You see, the best way to interpret Daniel Ch. 1 is that the young men were presented with the king's delicacies which must have included unclean flesh of animals that were forbidden for the Jews to eat, meats that were not prepared in the manner that the Torah prescribed (e.g. draining out the blood, removing the cover fat) and meats that were offered to Babylonian idols.
Their godly wisdom taught them that consuming such food would defile their body, mind and spirit. God honored their commitment and blessed their bodies and minds. The diet of vegetables (we don't know for sure if it was all cooked, all raw or partly cooked, partly raw) was certainly more nutritious than the king's delicacies.
In the Middle East, seeds, grain, beans and lentils are a very common part of the people's diet. It would not be unreasonable to assume that part of the vegetables ("pulses" in the KJV) the youths ate included seeds, grains, beans and lentils. After Daniel completed his training and began to serve in the king's court, he could choose the clean meats and have them prepared in the Torah-prescribed way. So there was no need for him to continue with his vegetarian diet, as confirmed by Daniel 10:2-3.
8. It is still possible to buy meats from free-range animals that are slaughtered in the right way today. We need to go back to the good old ways of mixed, organic farming and protection of our environment, rather than condemn animal foods wholesale. Other than the threat of contaminated sea and river water, fish is an excellent source of animal protein and essential fatty acids, and qualifies as "free-range" meat. In many rural villages in Asia, cows, goats, chicken and ducks are still raised in the traditional way and slaughtered and eaten on special occasions.
9. John the Baptist, whom Jesus described as the greatest prophet under the Old Covenant, ate honey and locusts as his primary diet.
Often health nuts seem to like to use the example of animals feeding in the wild as illustration of how man should eat. Please bear in mind that man was not created in the image of the wild beasts, but in the image of God, Amen. So our best model is not the wild animals, but the perfect God-Man Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, who ate animal and cooked foods freely and did not ever once condemn the eating of such foods.
And by the way, He also drank wine, the fermented grape juice variety, for if He had only drunk unfermented grape juice, He would not have been accused of being a glutton and a drunkard by the Pharisees and teachers of the law who are learned men and would not have made the accusation without first checking the basic facts (Luke 7:33-35). I will not belabor this point.
The scriptural position on alcohol (wine or strong drink) is clearly to drink only in moderation and not to become addicted to or drunk with it. The best scripture on this is found in Deuteronomy 14:26:
"You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household."
It should be understood that Genesis 1:29 was a commandment given to Adam and Eve before the Fall, when the world was perfect. It was essentially a fruitarian/seed diet (based on the botanical definition of a fruit). After the Fall, God cursed the ground and also modified the diet to include the green plants of the field, which was previously meant for the animals, as well as bread made from grains (Genesis 3:18) probably because of the presence of sickness and the subsequent lower yield of fruits and seeds from a ground that was cursed.
All that changed after the Flood, with the earth's environment being vastly different and harsher still, the genetic make-up of man being slightly modified so that he could not live much beyond 120, God permitted men to eat animal flesh as well (Genesis 9:3):
"Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give to you, as I gave the green plant. These instructions were given by an all-wise, all-knowing and benevolent God who always has man's best interests in His heart.
(To be continued)