Originally I was not going to write on this subject but recently a pagan friend of mine told me about a preacher he heard talking on the radio and from what my friend related to me I guess he was commenting on John 4:32.
But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. John 4:32
Supposedly as an aside to his topic he stated. "See, it says here that Jesus ate meat. This means that all vegetarians donít follow the example of Christ." After you stop laughing please remember that it is not my objective to single out one preacher or denomination in this book or make a diatribe over hearsay evidence, but is there any validity to looking toward scripture for dietary guidance? Considering that the majority of fundamentalists who reside in the Bible-Belt have the worst possible diet imaginable and that the largest fundamentalist denomination in America per capita has the highest numbers of obese members than any other denomination, I think you should. Consider this. When God created man he placed them in the Garden of Eden. While Adam and Eve were in the garden they did consume food. What did God instruct them to eat?
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; Gen 2:16
Consider this. Adam and Eve were naked. They probably did not have fire. Every thing they would have eaten would have been freshly picked and raw. They ate of the trees. They probably did not eat animal flesh. It is common wisdom that the most ideal place for human habitation was the Garden of Eden. I do not think it is unreasonable to think that the most ideal diet would be the one they ate in the garden. If you think about it, there are not many people who even come close to eating such a diet. After we genetically engineer the food, we spray it with poison. We expose it to radiation. We refine it and take away all the nutrients. We fry it. We package it and let it sit around for a while in warehouses and then store shelves. Is there any wonder that there is an obesity problem in our country today? I think a quick ticket to health would be to follow the Garden of Eden diet. That is eating totally fresh, raw food. This probably means cutting out 95 percent of our diet. As an experiment I tried such a diet for a week. One of the first things that happened was that my innards became upset the next day. This was not because I was eating bad food. It was because the fresh food started to cleanse my intestines out. After the shock of the first two days I suddenly had more energy than Iíve had since I was a child. My transit time went down to about twelve hours. I stopped having a body odor problem. My eyes really cleared up. I lasted only a week because I finally did break down and get me a cheeseburger at a fast food drive through.
Well you may ask, why didnít Jesus and the Apostles follow such a diet and what about the kosher diet? In the last paragraph I was speaking about a totally ideal diet. Jesus ate and was thankful for the food that was available to him, as so should we be thankful. Notice though that he had no problem going into the fields and eating raw grain.
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. Matt 12:1
When it comes to the issue of eating meat, please consider the book of Leviticus. The difference between the acceptable and forbidden meats is not just a random choosing. In general the forbidden meats come from animals that are scavengers, bottom dwellers, and carnivores. The allowable animals are for the most part herbivorous. This wisdom can be affirmed by modern findings. I have read that many nutritionists consider meat a "condensed food" as opposed to a carrot, which would not be condensed. Condensed foods can be handy because they are usually packed with nutrients. This is a double-edged sword, though, because these foods can also be full of toxins as well. An herbivorous animal is less likely to have amassed a large amount of toxins than a carnivorous one. When DDT started to affect nature, the animals that were first hard hit were the carnivorous birds. The numbers of Eagles, hawks, falcons and condors all started to dwindle. They were last in the food chain thus they were consuming toxins from animals several levels from them.
So why did Christians abandon the kosher diet? Well, first lets point out that the kosher diet and the one spelled out in the Book of Leviticus are not quite the same thing. The kosher diet, though based on the book of Leviticus, is much further developed than the simple guidelines spelled out in Leviticus. Such food as a cheeseburger is very unkosher but this is based on this verse.
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. Exod 23:19
The Jewish diet became highly regulated down to exact rituals of preparation. It was heavily laden with human theology and tradition. In our age of Grace there was a definite need for freedom from that bondage. Consider this passage.
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Acts 10:9-15
The first century Jewish mentality very much had an "us and them" attitude. Gentiles ate the forbidden foods and were considered unclean. God had deemed that Gentiles were to become part of the elect and inherit the lineage of Abraham. Before this could happen, attitudes had to be changed. If you read on in Acts chapter ten you will see this is exactly what happens. If this seems confusing please note that it should be no more confusing than the nature of our Christian age. St. Paul proclaimed.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Cor 6:12
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 1 Cor 10:23
I in general follow the Old Testament diet and have found it beneficial in my life. I do not look down my nose at those who donít or consider them in some unclean state. In my sinful state I am thoroughly unclean. Only God has the power to make me clean. It makes no difference whether I ate bacon for breakfast or not.
In closing I think if you take the bulk of biblical wisdom about diet you will find emphasis on vegetables and the cleaner meats. I will leave you with this passage from Daniel.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king." So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. "Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants." So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. Dan 1:8-16