Saturday, November 24, 2018

Biblical Theology Behind a Plant-Based Diet

For those who don't know, I'm a Christian. So some may ask, "what do you think the Bible says about eating meat vs. plant-based?"

Good question. I know some people, who are Christians, believe the Bible says eating meat is alright. After all, you have several times when meat is not merely allowed, but commanded that people eat of it. So what's the scoop?

First, it must be kept in mind three (really four if you count Christ's birth, but that isn't relevant to this discussion) major divisions in human Biblical history. One is the prefallen state. This is what was said to be the ideal state, the state God created us in. Then there is the post-fallen state. This is an imperfect period of man, where certain practices were prescribed to aid man in dealing with the fallen condition. Then there is the post-flood era, which continues to this day, when fallen man is allowed greater leeway.

It is also important to know that the term "meat" was used loosely to refer to anything that was the main meal and sustenance.  You'll see this in the KJV version of the first text we will go through. So often you'll see statements that they sat down to meat and divided the bread among them, as is stated at the Last Supper.

So, God is busy creating everything, and on the sixth day he creates man. Then He makes the following statement:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Gen 1:28-30)
Note, no where in this does God tell man that he has given them everything that moves on the earth as food. He gives man dominion over them. Then note the last part where it abruptly says "And to every beasts . . . I have given every green herb for meat."

So to man as well as all the animals, God gave us all plants to eat for food, for meat. This is what I was talking about above about meat being a generic term for the food that we eat that gives us sustenance. Our sustenance, as we were created, was ideally to be derived from plants.

That was prefallen condition. Note, that even after the fall, all that is said of man is that he will from then on till the ground, working by the sweat of his brow. That is a key indication that they were still, in their fallen state, still expected to eat, primarily, plants for food. However, there was a key change in their post-fallen condition, in that God killed animals in order to cloth them. This is the basis of the sacrificial system that was later developed. Their sin required the death of an animal in order to cloth them.

But then, notice the big change after the flood, with Noah's sons:

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. (Gen 9:1-4)

In this section, God adds animals as meat, even as he had given them the "green herbs". Now meat, included for the first time, animal flesh as well as herbs. Why?

Of course, the Bible doesn't suggest why, but you'll notice after the fall that the length of their years start to gradually decrease. While there are many theories as to why this happened at this time, one of the most likely being that the water in the sky in the form of vapor protected man from the sunlight, then being gone due to the flood, now the sun's UV rays began to age them faster. Another may be in this fact, that they now began to eat more meat. The animal protein would accelerate the aging process due to the acid in the protein. Or it could have been a combination of both types of accelerated aging.

So, why would God want people to die sooner rather than after several hundred years? He hasn't revealed that bit of info, but if I had to guess, I would suggest that it is due to his promise never to subject the world to that kind of flood again. God felt a need to reign in mankind by giving them shorter lives. Giving them permission to eat meat accomplished two things. One, it was another piece of the puzzle to the sacrificial system He would put into place. Two, it reduced the amount of time for man to sin and cause problems for God and himself.

Also, you'll note this follows the same reasoning when at the tower of Babel, God makes it so they can't understand each other, in order to further limit man from accomplishing too much and getting a "big head."

This understanding also says that while we are allowed to eat mean, that is, it isn't a sin to eat meat, it is not the most beneficial diet for us. That would be a plant-based diet. While we are omnivores, we were designed primarily to be plantivores. Specifically, starchivores. Notice that we are to eat the seeds and the fruit, as well as herbs and such. The seeds of any plant contains starches, stored energy that the new plant will need to germinate. Grains, beans, etc. are seeds. As stated in Genesis, that is specifically what we were given to eat. That is what our optimum diet, according to the Bible, that we were designed to, created to eat. Only after the flood, were we allowed to eat animal meat. And throughout history, even Biblical history, bread became the mainstay of food. So much so, it is often called meat in the KJV.

This is illustrated in Daniel, chapter 1. There, Daniel along with the three other Hebrews, who were chosen to serve the king, we given the king's meat and wine to eat and drink. However, Daniel and those with him didn't want to "defile" themselves with the King's food. So they made a deal with the king that they would avoid all meat and eat porridge, a starch-based food, for ten days. And at the end of ten days, they would come before the king to be evaluated. If the king at that time decided they weren't doing so well, they would eat the kings meat. If they were doing great, they would be allowed to eat the porridge in peace. At the end of ten days, they appeared healthier and heartier than all the other of the servants of the king who had eaten his meat.

Now, when I first heard this story, I thought it was a miracle of God that they were so strong. No, it was the normal course of events. It's just that Daniel and the others knew what kind of diet God had ordained as the healthiest diet for humans, because he had created them. They were playing against the kings ignorance on the subject, just like many are deceived about this today.

"But what about Jesus? He ate meat." Yes He did, but not as a normal part of his meal. He ate what most of the people in his day ate, save for the rich and well to do (who, incidentally, had more disease and such, according to archaeological records): bread from wheat and rye and barley. Everyone made bread, every day. They ate it constantly. That is why you have Jesus making statements like the following:

But he answered and said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4)

The assumption there is that many did actually live on bread alone. Especially the poor. Not possible, you suggest? What about when the Isrealites were fed on manna for over forty years? The only time they got sick was after eating bird meat. Hum. Yet, they survived on bread alone for forty years.

As a matter of fact, bread was such a sustaining staple in their diet that Jesus equates Himself as the "bread of life" as the manna was with Moses, and at the Last Supper, He says upon handing out bread, "This is my body . . ."

Then Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." "For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:32-33)

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19)

Yes, God and the Bible does allow you to eat animal flesh. It is not a sin (as long as you don't eat/drink its blood as well) to eat animal meat. It is, however, part of our fallen condition. That doesn't mean that eating meat is healthy. All we can say is we were designed by God to eat seeds, not animal flesh. We shorten our life when we decide to eat meat and its products. And, as it has been throughout human history, major civilizations were grown and based on starch-based, plant-based diets of food. The Bible confirms for us this fact, whether we are looking at Genesis, or Jesus's day. Bread was life to people. Most of them only rarely ate animals. Those that did, lived shorter lives.

That, my friend, is what the Bible says on the subject.

No comments:

Post a Comment