Here at Modern Life Survivalist we don’t go meatless. No—not for anyone. (Actually, we do follow the Bulletproof Diet, which utilizes almost weekly protein fasting in order to achieve autophagy, but that’s for another post.) However, I absolutely understand someone’s moral reasons for doing this. In fact, it might be considered hypocritical for someone to want to consume animal flesh but not be willing to hunt, kill, and butcher it. Well, that’s one of the conveniences of modern life we like. Let’s talk about veganism in the Bible awhile, though, shall we?
Many people choosing a vegan diet are doing so as a sort of religious practice (let’s be honest, folks) based on the notion that not eating animal flesh or animal products in general is somehow more pure, less cruel, and/or more according to God’s intent. The Bible does, after all, say in Genesis 1:29-30 that
“God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food.'”
Whether you’re a person of faith or don’t give credence to the Bible in any way at all, it’s hard to deny the societal impact and historical significance of the Holy Scripture. I happen to believe that the Bible is 100% true, even when things seem to contradict (the reason for the contradiction is our lack of understanding or because of some missing element that is not being portrayed—I know it sounds like I’m just convincing myself, but that’s where faith is exercised in my life).
However, if you’re just looking at this passage, which would (let’s face it meat-eaters) be a smoking gun in defense of veganism as “God’s diet,” you’re missing out on some important goings-on in the scripture. At the time when this was the command from above as far as what we should eat, men were also given permission to eat of the Tree of Life.
From Genesis chapter 2:
“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely,” which included “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden.”
Bear with me here, guys. For the transgression of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden because “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22).
So, here Man is expressly forbidden from eating of the Tree of Life, which I think would represent a tremendous nutritional deficiency. This is why I believe we can’t be vegans anymore. Some say at this point, humans were still vegetarians, because as I’ll cover in my analysis of the Noah film and story, humans weren’t given express permission to eat meat until after the Flood:
“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
This throws me off a bit, I must admit, and I’m not sure what they were hypothetically eating after-Garden/pre-Flood in lieu of the Tree of Life, but I am inclined to refer to how Abel offered sacrifices of burnt animal fat while Cain offered burnt produce (incidentally creating the first vegan/paleo rivalry in history—God seemed to like the animal fat better). Because they were both things that we eat, I can’t help but think we were eating animals then, too. The Flood scripture does imply that humans were given the okay to eat meat after the Flood, but it doesn’t say expressly that we were doing otherwise in any of the preceding passages.
That’s one of those contradictory/mysterious things I do not claim to understand. In any case, in the biblical account, there was something missing in our diet after leaving the Garden of Eden, and that’s enough for me as an explanation for why we can’t survive without B12 on a plant-based “Eden” diet.
In conclusion, while I can definitely relate to and get behind someone refraining from animal product consumption for moral reasons (I mean, who doesn’t relate when confronted with a docile and beautiful cow/goat/sheep?), I have to defer to my appetite, my need for health, and a biblical basis regarding the morality of animal flesh consumption. Also, there are many other cultures with strict moral codes that still allow for the consumption of animals and animal products.
The Forbidden Fruit
Since we covered fruit from the Tree of Life, let’s talk about the Fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (abbreviation for that—let’s make it FTKGE) for a minute. This was a very prominent theme in Darren Aronofsky’s recent cinematic rendition of Noah. He’s a vegan, so for his biblical adaptation, which he used as a soap box for a very heavy-handed castigation of meat eating, the FTKGE was depicted as animal flesh. Of course, I don’t agree with this.
Forbidden Fruit Apple Heart Hybrid (*thump thump, thump thump*)
I’d like to share my opinion on what the FTKGE actually was. I was once told that the Muslims believed that the FTKGE was wheat. Recall that Muslims share a lot of the same early origins as Christianity, as they are an Abrahamic religion. Most of their purity laws are identical to those of Judaism. If you recall, Isaac’s brother was Ishmael, who went on to be the progenitor of the Muslim religion.
I love the concept that wheat is the FTKGE, because wheat has been the bain of my wife’s and my existence for so many years. Wheat is definitely evil—so evil; far eviler than the evilest of CAFOs. The destruction it represents to our health and our environment is way more heinous than anything I can think of. Corn and soy fit into the category, though, so let’s just say that all three put together make a greater evil than CAFOs.
Sadly, though, I couldn’t find any corroborating literature that confirms the Muslim belief that I learned about through hearsay. However, on the Wiki article for the FKTGE, there is mention of a Rabbi Yehuda who says that it was wheat! So that’s cool.
Peter’s Vision of Lizard Kabobs
When one looks at dietary advice in the scripture that Christianity is based on, The New Testament of the Bible, he or she will quickly determine why Christians of today could mostly give a crap about eating healthy. It’s not that Christ and the apostles would have them be gluttons, though, as this sin is called out in the New Testament almost as much as the Old. However, Christians seem to generally base their diet on the following handful of references.
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him,“Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
This is the most important reference, and it is the best proof of what the Bible’s opinion on vegetarianism/veganism is. Meat is okay to eat for Christians, in any color, shape, size, and breed (but not human I’m pretty sure). As you can tell from context, Peter was a very “kosher” Jew, following all the purity laws and remaining “unclean” his entire life. Because of this vision, he led the way in loosening the reins on the extremely finicky Levitical law that was making it so hard for Gentiles to be “grafted” into the Hebrew olive tree as it were.
This passage is very similar to the other account from Acts that involved slackening of laws involving circumcision. Christianity is a very grace-based religion where the focus is no longer so much on purity, but forgiveness, though there is still great emphasis on repentance from sin. So this liberal attitude towards food consumption (anything goes) is a very good reference point for your average Christian’s opinions about diet. Not every Christian eats just anything, mind you, but a great many of them will accuse you of being “legalistic” if you are a vegetarian or have any specific diet that you partake in because it’s healthy. I was once even accused of “making health an idol.”
Another passage is often cited to me when I start to get into my dietary decisions and restrictions, which seems to be fairly exonerating of any smidgeon of care we should have about our diet:
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.…” -Matthew 6:31
So this is pretty much a slam dunk for the do-as-thou-wilt diet of average Christians. But no, it’s not. Christ is talking about people’s worries for what they will eat in the future, and whether they will have clothes. This is something I heed very steadfastly. I do not worry about having enough money to eat or clothe myself. I trust in God to provide for me. Now, for what I specifically wear, though, I have to apply the following verse to:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” -Matthew 10:16
You see, my family and most families like ours are sheep. The wolves we’re among are corporations (like Monsanto) and governments agencies (like the FDA and USDA) that are trying to sell us toxic food, chemicals and pesticides, and nutritional advice and science that convince us it’s safe to consume those things. At the risk of sounding alarmist, the food, chemicals, and pesticides are virtually all poison. We have to employ wisdom to protect ourselves and loved ones from disease, mental degradation, suffering, and ultimately death that they are causing.
So if that means not eating meat for you, well that’s one way to avoid the poisons they’re hocking, because conventional meat is at least as toxic as most bushels of glyphosate-laden, moldy grains. CAFO animals eat most of those grains, anyway, and they get antibiotics. However, with a little bit of tweaking, you can replicate a healthy ancestral/biblical diet and really enjoy the abundant life God has for you while you remain here. I’ll leave with my favorite passage I’ve read about diet since I became a Modern Life Survivalist:
Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10
Fat is good for you!
(But don’t use the “drink of the sweet” part as an excuse to drink Coca-Cola—instead eat lots of honey! Only if you’re carb-tolerant and not insulin-resistant, though.)