Is It OK to Eat Animals?

Updated: Dec 10, 2018


Many vegetarians and vegans cite the reason for their dietary choice their inability to eat something that was once alive. This is very respectful of animals, and vegetarians should be honored for their conscientious choices.


After being captured, Daniel and his three friends were offered choice foods from the king’s own table, but they refused to eat meat sacrificed to pagan gods in order to keep from defiling themselves. As vegetarians, they became stronger and healthier than their fellow captives, and God blessed them for honoring Him with their dietary abstinence.


Nevertheless, the Bible does not explicitly advocate a vegetarian lifestyle. When God was instructing Noah and his family to repopulate the earth, He also said, "Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything" (Genesis 9:3). The authors of the gospels documented Jesus eating fish both before and after his death.


The Book of Leviticus set forth laws about which animals were good for consumption, and which should never be eaten. Pigs, for instance, were believed to be unclean animals, and therefore Jews would refrain from eating pork. But in the Book of Acts, Peter tells of a singular event that happened to him:


"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’” (Acts 11:4-9)


This was the object lesson God used to instruct Peter that he was to bring the message of salvation not only to Jews, but to Gentiles too—Gentiles, who did not observe the same dietary restrictions that Jews did. In obedience, Peter then took the gospel to those outside of the Jewish faith.


We are assured that eating meat of whatever kind is not inherently wrong. In fact, Paul chided teachers of the faith who placed undue restrictions on fellow believers:

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:3-5)


As regards diet, regardless of what you espouse or eschew, the Bible is quite clear about one point: No one is to be criticized for how he chooses to honor God. In fact, we are to be especially respectful of others in this regard, being careful to not judge others or flaunt our own freedoms:

  • “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:5-6)

  • “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:13-18)

  • “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (Romans 14:20-22)


Are you a vegetarian or a meat-eater? Whichever answer you give, you can know that how you eat is already acceptable in the eyes of God. You can abandon quarrels with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and pursue peace and harmony with other people in the Holy Spirit.



For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)


Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. (John 6:11)


Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:10-14)


About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:9-15)


Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. (Genesis 9:3)


Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. (Romans 14:13-18)




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