Christian Churches of God





Vegetarianism and the Bible


(Edition 1.2 19961116-19991023)




Many religions in the world espouse vegetarianism as a mode of religious development.  Some see it as a rite of purification.  Others see it, on ethical grounds, as cruel to animals.


Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright ã 1996, 1998, 1999 Wade Cox)

(Summary edited by Wade Cox)



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Vegetarianism and the Bible


The notion of abstinence of meat as righteousness is gross heresy, and is growing in the mindset of mainstream Christianity.  Religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism have such prohibitions and the early Greek Pythagorean systems also had purification taboos on eating some meats.  Buddhism tends to vegetarianism, and in some more extreme levels to veganism, which is an absolutist form of vegetarianism, which abstains from even the produce of animals such as milk, cheese and eggs.


Pyrrho of Ellis (ca. 4th century BCE) introduced Buddhist Asceticism to Greece, and should be regarded as the first Buddhist influence in the West.  Buddhism, in ancient times was not vegetarian, but there were food prohibitions regarding eating certain types of meat, such as elephants, tigers and big cats, snakes and human beings.


There was no ancient written doctrine of Paganism, nothing being required except that the ritual be performed correctly.  The religion of the Bible had a written code and was unique in relation to the ancient religions. The ritual forms are the primary concerns of Roman Catholicism, and the laws of the Bible, the written code are ignored.


Pythagoras (ca. 6th century BCE) taught the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and thus the doctrine predated Buddhism. He introduced abstinence from some meats as part of purification rituals, which relates to the concept of matter as evil, and by denying the body and cleansing it, one reaches a godly state. These prohibitions were the clean meats of the ox and the ram of the biblical law. The point is, the unclean meats such as the pig and the mystery cultic meal of the young kid (probably seethed in its mother’s milk) is here espoused in direct contradiction to Scripture.


Plato was influenced by Pythagoras’ works and then Plato’s ideas infiltrated Christianity. The taboos regarding meats in Pythagoreanism reflect a contra-relationship with the Hebrew system.


There is a central structure concerned with the Mother goddess of the ancient Near East. She is stated by Theophrastos as occupying a position midway between heaven and earth. She has emerged in Christianity as the deified Mary, and as an intercessor, contrary to Scripture.


The pagan oral traditions make it hard to deal with facts, as opposed to the writings of the Bible. 


We see then a direct antipathy in this abstinence from meat as (1) a direct rite of the mystery cults and (2) as anti-Judaic or anti-reaction to the laws of God.


The entire rationale of vegetarianism within religious groups is an accusation against God and His Food Laws. The Food Laws of clean and unclean meats are not suggestions. They are laws of God, which detail, control and require (as in the Passover meal of 15 Nisan), the consumption of meats. The sacrifice of animals was centred on the concept of expiation for sin, which the death of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, fulfilled.


Both Judaism and Christianity draw their references on meats from the Old Testament.


Much of the error of the position concerning the consumption of meat stems from a misunderstanding of what is occurring in the Book of Genesis, (Gen.2:4-25). Adam was given the trees of the garden to eat from, and he was given cattle.


From Genesis 1:24-31 we see God created two kinds of animals – SHD 929 “cattle” and SHD 2416 “wild beasts”, from the beginning. The process of eating meat is one of a balance of chemicals. The chemical balances of unclean animals are incorrect for the human body, and cannot be consumed with impunity. God set this up at creation, and He saw His creation was good.


It has been said that the killing of animals entails cruelty and rage and shedding of innocent blood. These views are a direct and blasphemous imputation against the nature of Yahovah Elohim who initiated the process (Gen. 3:13-24). Christ undertook the first killing of animals. If He did it in rage and cruelty, He sinned, and we have no Saviour.


The distinction between “cattle” and “wild beasts” was to show that the consumption of meat was the intended sequence. Verses 18 and 19 show that there is hardship in the working of the land for good.


The tree of life which conferred immortality was now denied to humankind, and Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of man has opened the way again.


From the sequence of the offerings of Cain and Abel, it can be seen harvest sacrifices of animals was extant from Adam, and the distinction of clean and unclean animals was understood and intact at the time of Noah. Much of creation was lost in the phase (Gen. 6:7,13) as the result of interference by the fallen Host in the plan of God for mankind.


The next phase is the preservation of animals on the Ark (Gen. 6:17-22; 7:1-3). Noah knew the clean from the unclean. Animals were eaten pre-flood, and archaeology proves this, and vegetarian apologists ignore all the known evidence.


The civilisations from Mesopotamia to North Africa consisted of many nomadic pastoralists, and to suggest that they, and Abel, herded flocks for leisure and not for food is bizarre reasoning. Moreover, the nomadic pastoralist life precludes vegetarianism as a possible lifestyle. To argue otherwise shows ignorance of such matters, or a willing disregard for the plain Bible texts.


After the sojourn in the Ark, Noah’s first action was to build an altar and sacrifice of the clean beasts and clean fowl to God. God’s Laws are never prejudiced by rebellion to them, or ignorance concerning them.  


Abraham’s descendents, the Israelites, were brought out of bondage from Egypt with a sacrifice, and this pointed to Messiah.


Moses re-issued the Food Laws at Sinai, which are recorded in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  See the paper The Food Laws (No. 15).


God and Messiah do not change (Mal. 3:6, Heb. 13:8).  The change of the law referred to in Hebrews 7:12 concerns the metathesis of the law that established the priesthood in the elect, as of the order of  Melchisedek.


Resort is made to Isaiah for support of a millennial vegetarianism under Messiah (Isa. 11:6-9).  From the text a lamb, a cow, an ox, a calf, a kid and a fatling are stated, which shows that husbandry is still in effect in the Millennium.  The following texts deal with the restoration of the sacrifices during the Millennium (Ezek. 40:38-43; 43:18-27; 44:6-8; 45:13-25; 46:1-8) on Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feasts, and the offerings are cooked in the kitchens at the Temple. Vegetarianism will not be sanctioned, and these are prophecies of the eating of meat under the rule of Messiah. Fish will be caught in the rivers established from the waters of the temple mount.  The leaves of trees will be used for healing (Ezek. 47:9-12).


A broad system of agriculture is outlined in Amos 9:13,14 and Joel 3:18 of wine, fruit, gardens and milk.


Zechariah 14:16-19 covers sacrifices and the cooking of meats.


The Bible gives the clear message of meat consumption from Adam to the end of the Millennium.


The New Testament shows Christ was a meat eater, as He kept the Passover, which necessitated the eating of meat, and pointed to Himself as our Passover, sacrificed for us.


The apostles kept the food laws and ate meat.  Acts 10 did not extend the categories of permitted meats, but showed that conversion was extended to the Gentiles. This text in no way allows vegetarianism, which practice is called a doctrine of demons. See the paper The Doctrines of Demons in the Last Days (No. 48), which deals with the doctrines of marriage and vegetarianism in 1Timothy 4:1-5.


Romans 14:1-4 has to do with the eating of meat offered to idols. The abstinence of some was not on vegetarian grounds, but they feared lest they eat meat that was not sanctioned, having been offered in a rite to a false god.  The position was taken in the Church that if it was not known, it was to be assumed that it was not so sacrificed. If one did know, and still ate it, he would be participating in that pagan ritual, and breaching the law. That is the distinction.  These men were not vegetarians, but were weak in the faith.


We know scientifically that the food categories are soundly based. Moreover, we know that the Church observed the categories of clean and unclean meats for centuries. After the apostasy, the Church in the persecution observed them, and still does observe them.


Vegetarianism came from Gnostic asceticism, which is now more widespread than it was in the early days or in the Dark Ages. The entire logic of vegetarian asceticism and abstinence from wine is an imputation against the nature of God and the sanctity of Jesus Christ.  He was called a glutton and a drunkard or a winebibber by the self-righteous ascetics of Judah and criticised for drinking with publicans. God the Father imputed no sin to Christ therefore we can copy Him in all He did.


When Christ returns He will enforce God’s system and rule for one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7).  All God’s Feasts will be kept, and the eating of meat will be established under His Law (Zech.14:16-21).