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Christian vegetarianism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Christian vegetarianism is based on extending the compassionate teachings of Jesus, the twelve apostles and the early church to all living beings through vegetarianism or veganism. Alternatively, Christians may be vegetarian for nutritional, environmental or other spiritual reasons.


The Seventh-day Adventists present a health message that recommends vegetarianism and expects abstinence from pork, shellfish, dairy and other foods proscribed as "unclean" in Leviticus.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggests that animal flesh should be eaten in moderate portions, only in winter or during a famine (see animals in the LDS Church).

Many Eastern Orthodox Church monastics also refrain completely from meat, dairy, and seafood. This is not for environmental or animal welfare reasons, but for spiritual reasons. There is a concept that especially meat can induce unwanted "passion," the disposition to sin.

Some Charismatics believe raw veganism was the original diet of humankind in the form of Adam and Eve, and if they are ever to return to an Eden-like paradise then they will have to return to a similar diet (see Hallelujah diet). A "diet of Paradise" doctrine also appears in Orthodox Christianity [1].

In some Christian communities fasting, for example during Lent, resembles a kind of vegetarianism since meat and dairy products are forbidden; however, seafood is permitted. A basic difference to other forms of vegetarianism is that Lent has spiritual connotation, not environmental or animal welfare reasons. Also, abstaining from meat and dairy products during Lent is intended to be temporary, lasting only until the season is over, not a permanent way of life.


  • There have been various notable ascetics, such as Saint David, who have adopted a vegetarian diet for spiritual reasons.
  • Keith Akers claims that the movement away from simple living and vegetarianism began with Paul of Tarsus, and that Christians should look at returning to pre-"Pauline Christianity".
  • Christian anarchists, such as Leo Tolstoy and Ammon Hennacy, believe that the Christian principles of compassion and nonviolence require a vegetarian diet, whether Jewish Christians were historically vegetarians or not.
  • Nathan Braun states that the Christian mandate to feed the hungry can only be truly fulfilled on a world-wide scale by our evolution to a vegetarian diet. He, along with many other environmental vegetarians, believe that a carnivorous diet consumes and destroys too large a proportion of the world's food resources.


  • Catholic Vegetarian Society
  • Christian Vegetarian Association
  • Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians

Biblical references to diet

Advocating vegetarianism

  • Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food" (Genesis 1:29).
  • The Daniel passage specifically advocating the benefits of vegetables and water over meat and wine (Daniel 1:8-16).
  • Punishment for the quails eaten by the starving Jews in the Sinai desert (Numbers 11:31-34).
  • The prophecy that all creation and God's chosen will become vegetarian (Isaiah 11:6-9).
  • A statement that the righteous care for animals (Proverbs 12:10).
  • Paul writing that abstaining from meat is good (Romans 14:21).

Advocating fish

  • Jesus eating fish (Luke 24:42-43).
  • Jesus feeding five thousand followers with bread and fish (Mark 6:39-44).
  • No covenant made with "fish of the sea" for protection during the millennium (Hosea 2:18).

Advocating meat

  • The Genesis passage that states that "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you" (Genesis 9:1-3).
  • The quails and manna provided by God the Father to the starving Jews in the Sinai desert (Exodus 16:12-15).
  • Peter's vision of a sheet filled with animals lowered from heaven (Acts 10:9-18).
  • Jesus relating The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:22-24).
  • Passages that show there is no difference between meat eaters and vegetarians, and that all are equal before God (Romans 14:2-3).
  • The letters to Timothy from Paul that prophesises that people will command to abstain from meat (1 Tim 4:1-4).
  • The Bible also warns about excessive interest in food. Both gluttony and obsession over the type of food eaten are considered extremes. Infact, Heaven is not about eating and drinking (Romans 14:17-23).


Critics suggest that the decision to be vegetarian or omnivore is purely a personal choice, as there are many passages in the Bible that advocate meat and fish within the diet.

Barry Groves disputes environmental vegetarianism and says that much of the land that animals are raised on is unable to be used for growing crops, and also that "If vegetarianism really caught on and everybody on the planet stopped eating fish, the two-thirds of the population who are not starving at present would soon join the third who are."[1] On the other hand, the unrestrained consumption of fish and seafood is seen by scientists as resulting in the destruction of 90% of all sea life by 2048. (Science, November 3, 2006.)


  1. ^ The Na´ve Vegetarian by Barry Groves
  • The Lost Religion of Jesus (2000) by Keith Akers, Lantern Books. ISBN 1-930051-26-3, Historical overview of Christian vegetarianism
  • Good News for All Creation (2002) by Stephen R. Kaufman and Nathan Braun, Vegetarian Advocates Press. ISBN 0-9716676-0-8, Overview of contemporary Christian vegetarianism
  • Good Eating (2001) by Stephen H. Webb, Brazos Press. ISBN 1-58743-015-0, A sound and informative view on Biblical and Christian vegetarianism, from Genesis to modern day saints.

See also

  • Asceticism
  • Christian nonviolence
  • Eastern Orthodox Fasting
  • Fruitarianism
  • Gospel of the Ebionites
  • Postmodern Christianity
  • Simple living
  • The Celestine Prophecy
  • Vegetarianism and religion
  • Islam and vegetarianism

External links

  • Christian Vegetarian Association UK
  • Christian Religion and Vegetarian Resources
  • Was Jesus a vegetarian? - article by Keith Akers
  • Biblical Opposition to Flesh Eating
  • Books and Culture "Revenge of the Ebionites" book review by Stephen H. Webb
  • Animal Rights and its role in religion
  • Review by Urrutia of Good News for all Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian Stewardship by Stephen R. Kaufman and Nathan Braun
  • Christianity and Vegetarianism: Some Thoughts, compiled by David Ogilvie
  • Christianity & Animals, by Prof. Andrew Linzey
  • Christianity and Vegetarianism PowerPoint presentation, by God's Creatures Ministry
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