Christians & Vegetarianism — Are Believers Supposed to Abstain From Meat?
I got thinking about this because, every once in a while, I come across someone who says so. On Google Plus, Rob Lamont, whose rather humorous posts are entertaining me quite a lot lately, posted the question:
If God did not want us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?
I laughed. I plus oned it (the Google+ equivalent of Facebook “Liking” something), and commented with my own response that I had a friend who was a vegetarian not because she loved animals but because she hated plants. But it started a small discussion between a few of us, and links were shared early on why one Christian speaker became a vegetarian, and I went to it and read as much as I could stand (most of it).
Every once in a while I participate in some discussions online where another believer has a strong conviction about being a vegetarian and that the Bible says or shows we’re not supposed to be meat eaters. When I lived in Holland, I had a Dutch friend who was very concerned our mission team would eat at a certain restaurant because he told us it was known not to be certified by some kind of board that regulates how animals are treated in the process of slaughtering them and preparing them for sale to restaurants and grocery chains. He felt real very strongly about this and was disappointed that Christians like us wouldn’t feel the same way. This brother didn’t go so far as saying we were to not eat meat, but make sure we knew how the animals we ate were treated. Fair enough on the one hand.
The problem is, I don’t ever hear very good reasons from Scripture, but just a lot of emotional arguments about the farming industry or how animals are treated, and personal lifestyle choices, and those sorts. Usually very non sequitur arguments at that. But that’s beside the point of this post.
Personally, for one thing, I’ve always held to a standard that what the Bible is loud about, it’s OK to be loud about, and what it’s quiet about, we should not be so loud about. It’s a matter of personal preference, opinion and conviction. I have noticed Christians are capable of doing this so easily over matters we ourselves have a strong personal conviction about (see my post “Sipping Saints” – Christians and Alcohol for an idea of how it goes with that subject).
It states as many know in Romans 14:1-3
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
I respect and admire when other believers can do it (I can’t and God has never “told me” I have to). I’ve done various Daniel fasts over the years and removed meat from my diet for an extended period, but not for convictions about this matter. One of the main points pro-veggie only Christians use on me is that, God intended man to only eat of what grew from the ground, but it was after the fall (of Adam) that we started eating meat. The idea being that how it was before the Fall is how God intended it. What I almost never hear any of my brothers and sisters in the faith who hold to this view admit, they can’t make much of a case from Scripture AFTER the fall. The original discussion on Rob’s update is bearing that out (at the time of posting this).
But another amusing point I like to point out is that another thing they did before the fall was not wear clothes. It wasn’t until after man sinned that they wore animal skins to cover their nakedness. So, if this is really good logic for why not to eat meat, then how come Christian vegetarians never advocate going naked and refusing to wear clothes for the same reasons? Each time someone tries encouraging me or convicting me that I need to abstain from eating meat, I tell them I will if they abstain from wearing clothes.
So what about you? If you are a vegetarian, can you propose Scriptural insight as to why you abstain from the eating of meat? Or, if you are a member of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) do you have any insight to add to this topic? Please use one of the comment features below to voice your opinion.
Blessings, and fire on your head–no matter the opinion you hold to!
About Steve Bremner
Steve Bremner is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who is called to raise up disciples who flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his Kindle books. Note: this post may have contained affiliate links of which the author receives a small commission if you purchase something recommended in the post.