So you are considering going vegan now or have been vegan for a while and people in your church come at you with scriptural rebuttals for your choice. As any good Christian would, you want to know what the Holy Bible has to say about all of this. Here is a strong biblical case for veganism, a scriptural tour starting from day 3 of creation!
The First Menu: Herbs & Grains, Fruits & Vegetables
Genesis 1 (KJV)
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
The scriptures start presenting a biblical case for veganism right from the beginning. On day three of creation, God empowers the earth He had just created to provide for the inhabitants He was planning to create. He next creates the sun and the moon, and then populates the infant planet with animals to inhabit the waters, the land and the skies. “And He saw that it was good” (Gen 1:24).
And then, He shows them their menu.
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.
Herb yielding seed – In French, the word “herb” means grass. One bible version actually substitutes the word grass for herb. The word picture is a grass that has seeds. This would include the entire grain family – wheat, rice, even corn . They are tall, skinny “grasses” with seeds at the top. Also members of the onion family are grasses in their own right – just look at chives, and the tops of onions and garlic, how they grow straight, green, leafless shoots when the sit around in your kitchen a while.
Fruit of a tree yielding seed – some other versions say “fruit with seeds inside”. So that covers fruit, but it also covers a lot of other foods we have labeled vegetables. From a biological standpoint, the fruit of plant is the part that contains the seeds. So, for example, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes (you can now tell your friends “I told you so!”), okra and avocados are indeed fruits. Nuts are also considered fruit. They are dried up versions of the same biological plant part.
Every Green Herb – This covers all your leaves – lettuces, cabbages, greens, herbs.
Every Tree – And since He said He gave us “every tree” (except for just one, we find out a little later!), and put no prohibition on what we can and cannot use from that tree, we can include root vegetables, sap and syrup, and anything else we can get from a tree or a plant and use without adulterating or processing. What a huge bounty!
Notice that in this version, the most widely read version of The Holy Bible, He says “I have given every green herb FOR MEAT” (emphasis added). How’s that for a biblical case for veganism???? Put a pin in that thought right there.
Don’t Name your Food: Adam and his Animal Friends
Genesis 2 (NIV)
19Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
This is a cute but still strong biblical case for veganism verse. We know that one of Adam’s first jobs as Commissioner of Eden Gardens was to name all the animals. Anyone who has ever lived on a farm or read Charlotte’s Web can relate to the idea of NOT naming an animal that might end up on your dinner plate! So we can presume, since there is no scripture saying that Adam named any plants, that God took care of that, simply so the man could have a way to identify one from the other, perhaps. But God deliberately brings the land and air animals to Adam to name. And name them all he does.
After the Flood: Desperate Measures
Picture it: Genesis 6. The world is now populated, but the people are acting a real fool! God decides to wash it down and start over. He speaks to Noah.
Genesis 6 (NIV)
19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
Noah obeyed. God didn’t ask him to bring plant specimens with roots. Can you imagine Noah, perhpas with just the help of his sons, rooting around, rooting up a representative of every single plant? Building a greenhouse on the arc big enough to house all of them?
God does ask for the animals who, for the most part, could walk or creep onto the arc on their own under Noah’s authority. Remember, man has dominion over animals (Gen 1:28), so the expectation that they would obey was intrinsic, but also notice, he separately instructed Noah to store food. Here a biblical case for veganism exists. There were no extra animals to be slaughtered for food and no refrigeration or preserving methods for preserving leftovers.
It was after this point, in Genesis 9, that God ordains meat eating:
Genesis 9 (NIV)
2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
Wait, I thought we were establishing a biblical case for veganism. How do we explain this?
At the end of the flood period, in the last verse of Genesis 8, God restores “Seedtime and harvest”. In other words, God already made it in chapter 1, “and it was good”, so His design is still in function continuously. We, bound by time on earth, would have had to wait for the return of plant life in such volume that could support all of mankind once again. In the meantime, God said, you can eat the animals. (See our article: The Genesis Lifespan Shift:How Shortening Other Animal’s Lives Shortened Ours)
The New Covenant: Going Back to God’s Original Recipe
In ensuing chapters and books, we find that there are many restrictions placed on the eating of animals. There are no restrictions in the scriptures on the consumption of plants, in fact, plants are not only food, but medicine.
Revelation 22:2 (NIV)
… And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Also, a lot of the opportunity for meat consumption in the Old Testament came from animal sacrifice. The blood of the animal was used to cover up sins. But fortunately, since Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), came and died for us, animal sacrifice is no longer necessary for the believer. So we can live and let live, no longer do we need to kill for food or faith!
Finally, in Revelation 21:4, the Lord says that when the end comes, there will be no more death. So there will be no more animals slaughtered for food. We will all be vegan in heaven!
Better Stewardship of Our Planet: Abstain and Contribute
God gave us dominion in the beginning. As Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker “With great power comes great responsibility”. In other words, we are responsible for our planet and, in general, we have really dropped the ball!
In this modern time, we are learning that the scale of livestock farming and over-fishing worldwide is making the largest and most damaging impact on ecology everywhere, including greenhouse gas emissions, contaminating drinking water, abusive land use, pollution of land and oceans, the list goes on! (See the documentary Cowspiracy for a good overview).
So eating less meat, eggs and dairy, or none at all, can be your best contribution to the cause of saving the environment! Interestingly, its a contribution that actually costs you less money, because meat and fish are more expensive pound for pound than anything in the produce section (except perhaps white truffles, but that’s about it).
In the spirit of presenting a biblical case for veganism to strengthen this point, here are the 3 best supporting scriptures:
Genesis 2:15 (NIV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. In other words, we have been responsible for the well-being of the earth since creation.
Proverbs 12:10 (NIV) The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. The operating principles Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) completely contradict this scripture. That’s where most of the animal based food we buy comes from.
Isaiah 24:5 (NIV) The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. You may not personally consider yourself a polluter, but continuing to support animal agriculture on a daily basis kind of make you one. Nothing personal.
Becoming Plant Powered: Applying your Biblical Case for Veganism
Just like kicking any habit, you can either go cold turkey or take your time with it. One day a week, then two days, then three days, etc. Over time, you won’t even crave meat anymore, the smell won’t tempt you as much as when you were on a daily meat diet. Need a fix in those early days? Check the meat alternative section for something to hold you over. But beware: soy, being the most widely available plant protein, is used copiously in such products, so keep these to a minimum! Also, anything made to mimic cheese may actually contain milk-based ingredients so read labels carefully – all vegetarian items are not necessarily vegan!
Celebrating at an omnivorous relative’s house for dinner? Bring a few dishes along to contribute, and stick to those as much as you can. Otherwise, make that day the one day that month that you consume non-vegan food, and keep it clean the other 29 or 30 days.
Out and about shopping and running errands? Carry healthy snacks along – we keep sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, dried fruit and coconut shavings around and make mixed bags to carry on the run. Whole pieces of fruit are great too. That way you don’t get caught by a craving or actual hunger before you get home and end up having to make choices among processed food and meat options.
Also, beware of substituting sugar and starch for the meat you are not having. Interestingly, meat is a great way to deliver damaging free sugars and starch into the system. The good old hamburger is a classic example: the white flour bun and condiments like ketchup and barbecue are collaborators in health problems with the animal protein in the patty.
A Biblical Case for Veganism Case Study: Trust God – His Menu Was (and Is) Perfect
Daniel 1 (KJV)
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.
All of the nutrients we are supposed to be relying upon meat for – protein, iron, fats… that’s about it, I believe – are found in numerous plant sources. Also, doctors have been documenting over at least the last 100 years that many of the illnesses that have become prevalent in humans today can be attributed in some way to meat consumption.
Think vegans are all skinny and weak and cold all the time? Check out Daniel 1 to read about what a teenaged vegan boss he turns out to be by obeying God in the school cafeteria at Babylon Community College.
We hear a lot of meat eaters claim to still be “hungry” after having eaten a meat free meal. That’s a mindset mostly that can easily be overcome by changing what you think and speak. After the meal, perhaps say instead “that was so filling” or simply “I’m good”. Remember Daniel.
Now that you have a thorough (but not exhaustive) biblical case for veganism, take a vegan challenge:
Do it for 2 months, even just 5 days a week. Get a check up and blood work done before you start, and then again at the end to see if there are any changes or improvements in your health. See how much better you feel overall in general.
Connect with seasoned vegans in your circle of friends (I’ll bet you have at least one!) for support, advice and well, of course, lunch! Share your newly found biblical case for veganism with them too.
Leave wiggle room. We still eat eggs and meat on occasion, like when we can get the eggs from a neighbor who raises truly free range chickens or perhaps when someone is cooking wild meat. But define “on occasion” in specific terms, like the first weekend of the month is common fowl omelette day, or no more than one wild meat fete in a two month period…
Any sustained effort at focussing on your food life with a discerning eye will benefit you. All the better if this is something you’re doing unto the Lord as an act of good stewardship of the temple, for we know the great benefits that come with that level of dedication. Again, Remember Daniel!
OK kids, you now have a strong biblical case for veganism!! Now Go VEGAN unto the LORD!