Vegetarianism: Supported in the Bible | By Sri Nandanandana Dasa
"From these verses and others not included here, we can certainly see that God’s law, as set down in the Bible, was against the eating of flesh and blood and the killing of other entities."
The Bible has many quotations against meat-eating as can be seen from the following:
“But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it.” (Genesis 9.4-5)
Certainly we can see in this verse that no one was meant to live by eating the flesh and blood of others. If one did so, then he would have to pay with his own blood, as it says, “your blood of your lives will I require.” This is merely a reference to the law of karma: for every animal who suffers because of you, you will also similarly suffer: “at the hand of every beast will I require it.”
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of goats. When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1.11,15)
“It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood. (Leviticus 3.17). . . And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of strangers who sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set My face against that soul that eateth blood.” (Leviticus 17.10)
From these verses and others not included here, we can certainly see that God’s law, as set down in the Bible, was against the eating of flesh and blood and the killing of other entities. However, there are some people who try to legitimize the eating of meat by draining the blood and, thus, make the meat “kosher.” Of course, this idea doesn’t really work. Blood permeates meat, so how can one be free from eating blood by trying to drain it from the flesh? This is not very realistic, and it certainly does not free one from the violence that must be inflicted on the animal when it is killed in order to eat its flesh. The real point of the matter is not to kill. This is clearly stated in Exodus (20.13) in the Hebrew lo tirtzach, which, when accurately translated, means “thou shalt not kill.”
In fact, the Bible compares the killing of cows to murdering a man: “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man.” (Isaiah 66.3)
There are a few verses, however, which I am sure some students of the Bible will reach for that seem to support the eating of flesh. But in every case, this is due to inaccurate translations as we shall see.
For example, in John (4.8) it states: “For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.” The word meat was taken from the Greek word trophe, which actually means nourishment. This is exactly the same case in Acts (9.19): “And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.” When translated accurately it means that by receiving nourishment, he felt stronger.
In Luke (8.55) we find, “And her spirit came again and she arose straightaway: and he (Jesus) commanded to give her meat.” The word meat in this case was translated from the Greek word phago, which translated correctly simply means to eat.
In I Corinthians (8.8) it states: “But meat commendeth us not to God, for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither if we eat not, are we the worse.” The word for meat here is broma, which actually means food. Therefore, this verse signifies that eating or not eating food has little to do with our relationship to God and not, as some people think, that eating meat holds no wrong.
In Romans (14.20-21) the verses are: “For meat destroy not the word of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” The word for meat here is broma, which actually means foods, and the word for flesh is kreas, which does mean flesh. Therefore, this verse makes it clear that flesh eating is unacceptable.
If the Bible explains that eating meat is wrong, then what is the proper thing to eat? Genesis (1.29) clearly states: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” This makes it quite obvious that the food for human beings is herbs, seeds, grains, and fruits.
We also find in Isaiah (7.14-15): “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” The first verse is often quoted by Christians for proof that Jesus was the savior, but the next verse shows that he will be a vegetarian to know the difference between right and wrong.
As mentioned earlier, meat-eating is a sign of spiritual ignorance and tends to keep one from developing compassion and mercy towards our fellow living entities. To be merciful only to man and yet be an enemy to animals by killing and eating them is Satan’s philosophy. One will never live in true harmony with God while performing such activities. This is often overlooked by the Christians, Muslims, and others. If these verses were actually understood and the meaning fully realized and practically applied by the Christians and others, I am sure it would bring beneficial reactions the world over in their spiritual development. After all, one of the ten commandments specifically says thou shalt not kill. It does not say merely thou shalt not murder, which would imply only humans, but it says “Thou shalt not kill,” meaning any living being.