Should Christians be Vegan?
What does the Bible say about it? Is eating meat moral? What about animal cruelty?
First of all, this is a great question, especially in the modern movement of vegetarianism and veganism.
Let's go back to the beginning. In Genesis 2:16, the Lord gave clear directions:
"The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;"
For this reason, man was permitted to eat any herbs and fruits, and anything that grows out of the ground, but NOT animals.
Genesis 3:17-18 we see God putting a curse on the earth, because Adam and Eve have sinned.
"Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field."
After this, the earth was transformed. Thorns and thistles began to grow (I assume they weren't around before), and because those are a defense mechanism of the plant, it only brings me to think that animals also changed. Bugs became parasitic (like the mosquito) and animals were no longer so friendly. This is just speculation, we can't know for sure, but these words seem to imply that the earth changed completely.
However, even here, the Lord didn't allow or command the eating of meat, still only what the ground produced.
It was right after the flood that God introduces meat into the human diet, Genesis 9:3
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
- Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA)
- Heme Iron
You can do your research on these.
Thankfully, modern-day science is giving us alternatives to meat, which we can obtain through supplements, but this is a very modern method which wasn't available for thousands of years before today. And quite honestly, I don't fully trust them, because I believe there are undiscovered components essential for human health that we obtain through food given to us by God.
From the bottom of my heart, I believe God allowed us to have these diets (which include meat and killing) as a reminder for us that we live in a fallen and temporary world, and so that we would look towards heaven where there will be no more sin, no more evil, and no more death. We would all be vegans, living in a new environment where unseen fruits will give us every needed nutrient we do and don't know about.
I believe it is important to note that God also called for animal sacrifices to himself, and this went on for thousands of years, before Jesus came. And these sacrifices were pleasing to him, and the Levites were commanded to eat specific parts of the animals that they sacrificed, after they have been cooked. God also gave regulations on what not to eat (such as pork and shrimp in Deutoronomy 14:8-10).
There is an occurrence where Jesus didn't wash his hands while eating with the disciples. When the Pharisees saw him (they were the enforcers of the Old Testament law), they asked him why he is disrespecting the traditions of their forefathers by not washing his hands. Jesus answered something profound (as usual), we find it written in Matthew 15:11
"It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."
Meaning that it is the words coming out of our mouth that defile us, not the food that comes in. Also, later, in Romans 14, apostle Paul tells us that all food (meat also) is clean in itself, and it is only wrong for us to eat it if we cause a brother to stumble, or if we do it against our conscience.
If your conscience tells you that if you eat the meat, you are hurting an animal, and therefore sinning, then do NOT eat meat! It's as simple as that. If your conscience tells you you are doing wrong, then you can't come before God with a clean conscience, and that creates a gap in your relationship with him.
Also, if I'm in a room full of vegans, or if I invite vegans to my home, I would also not eat any meat in their presence, because if I cause them to eat it (against their conscience), that would be a sin on me. Also, it would be quite a terrible thing to do, as Paul said "I will never eat meat if it causes a brother to stumble." 1 Corinthians 8:15
Jesus also cooked fish for his disciples in John 21:9. We see him also giving bread and fish to the 5,000 who came to listen to him in a deserted place in Luke 9:16
What about animal cruelty?
It is very realistic to kill animals without cruelty (by cruelty I mean torture).
Those who have ever milked cows on a farm know that it causes absolutely no harm or discomfort to the cow. In fact, if the cow isn't milked (after being milked consistently) it will hurt the cow because it is constantly producing milk. Those who chopped off the head of a home-raised chicken know that it doesn't bring much trauma to the chicken. It's a quick, painless death. It is better to pay a few extra dollars for animal products and know they were raised humanely, than just avoid eating animals altogether and miss out on the nutrients because of those who DO torture the animals. Avoid those, and eat them with a clean conscience.
However, I'm not trying to convince you either way, I'm simply presenting the Biblical view on this issue. If your conscience still tells you "no", then listen to your conscience!
Eating animals and animal products is 100% biblical and 100% allowed (as we see in Scripture).
Animals can be killed without cruelty (torture) and can live happy lives before their death.
Their death serves as a reminder that we live in a fallen world, and their nutrients are needed in our new post-flood environment. This will not be the case in heaven, where we will get all our needed nutrients in fruits, which are currently not available on earth. (Take the Tree of Life, for example).
Jesus and the disciples ate fish and meat together (the Passover Lamb), and I see no reason why we shouldn't be omnivorous from a Biblical perspective.
May God bless you all to serve Him with an open and sincere heart!