1

Genesis tells us that Adam, Eve and all animals had originally plant-based diets, as God provided them with every plant and tree for food:

29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. [Genesis 1:29-31, ESV]

However, later passages of the Bible reveal that, after the fall, God approved of animal-based diets:

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. [Genesis 9:1-3, ESV]

9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. [Acts 10:9-16, ESV]

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. [Luke 15:22-24, ESV]

Question: Why did God approve of animal-based diets if Adam, Eve and all animals were originally vegan? Is there a nutritional reason behind the post-fall change of meal plans?

5
  • Note that the large majority of plants are toxic to humans to eat. This is also combined with having physical defenses such as thorns to protect themselves from being eaten. Animals are rarely toxic, but all have other defenses to protect from being eaten. Apr 1 at 20:23
  • Note originally it's not just plants and trees but their seeds. Apr 1 at 20:24
  • Also note after the fall 'herbs of the field' are added (Gen 3:18). Apr 1 at 20:27
  • Why did Abel raise sheep?
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 2 at 9:02
  • @PerryWebb - Abel was born post-fall though. Apr 2 at 9:48
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The fact that God permits and regulates something does not mean that God approves it. To take another example, the Torah has a series of regulations around divorce. However, God makes His feelings about divorce quite plain:

  • Mal 2:16 - “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “He who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence,” says the LORD of Hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit and do not break faith.
  • Matt 19:8 - Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hardness of heart; but it was not this way from the beginning.

I am sure polygamy is in the same category as is slavery. Thus, it does not follow that if God permits something, then God approves; there are too many counter-examples.

God permitted flesh eating under very strict circumstances such as:

  • No animal fat was to be consumed, Lev 3:17, 7:22-25
  • Prohibition of blood in the diet, Gen 9:4, Lev 3:17, 7:26, 27, 17:10-14, 19:26, Deut 12:16, 23, 24, 15:23. (see also Ps 50:13, Eze 33:25, Acts 15: 20, 29, 21:25)
  • Prohibition of eating old (more than 2 days) meat, Lev 19:5-7
  • If meat (without blood and fat) is eaten, it must be only that of selected animals, Lev 11, Deut 14:1-20:
  • o Mammals that chew the cud and have a divided hoof
  • o Fish that have both scales and fins
  • o Birds that are not birds of prey
  • o A selected list of insects
  • o A selected list of other animals (mostly rodents and lizards) is prohibited

Thus, meat could be consumed but in a very limited and restricted way. The net effect of these laws, and the cost of meat itself, meant that it formed only a minor part of the ancient Israelite diet and was confined largely to festivals and occasional celebrations.

3
  • 1) This answer explains how flesh eating was allowed (under very strict circumstances) but not why. 2) Regarding dietary prohibitions and unclean animals, you have the passage of Acts 10 where God plays with the idea of making all animals clean for eating (And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”) Apr 2 at 9:48
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - making all animals clean for eating is clearly not the purpose of Peter's vison because there are many animals that are toxic and we should not eat those. The point of Peter's vision is explicitly stated in Acts 10:28 - But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. Thus, the vision was didactic and metaphorical, especially in view of the continued prohibition against blood in Acts 15
    – Dottard
    Apr 2 at 9:55
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - we are not told why God permitted flesh eating but it was presumably for the same reason He allowed (but heavily regulated) divorce.
    – Dottard
    Apr 2 at 9:56

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