This has been a recurring question I’ve been asked over the years. Probably because I’m an unashamed carnivore. I’ve had quite a few conversations and a few long-term discussions on this topic. The idea is that if Adam and Eve didn’t eat meat before the fall, before they sinned by disobeying God, then wouldn’t that be the healthiest way to eat now as well? Here are my thoughts on the issue from a biblical perspective.
First, I like to bring up the fact that if they were vegans, then their insatiable veganism played a role in bringing sin into the world. After all, there were no warnings against eating meat. If only they knew what they were missing, they would have forgotten about that one tree of the knowledge of good and evil forever. But I jest…
Were Adam & Eve… Vegans?
God gave mankind explicit permission to eat meat in Genesis 9:3, when He made a covenant with Noah after the flood.
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Genesis 9:1-4 (ESV)
Before that, we only find mention of a plant based diet in regard to Adam and Eve.
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. Genesis 1:29-30 (ESV)
This scripture passage, which comes after the sixth day of creation, is the first mention of diet in the bible. Upon initial consideration, it seems to support the idea that Adam and Eve, along with all other mammals and birds, were herbivores. The assumption is made based on the fact that this scripture doesn’t mention eating meat. But let’s look at another statement only a few verses earlier, on the third day of creation.
No Evidence Is Not Evidence
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. Genesis 1:11-13 (ESV)
While Genesis 1:11-13 makes it seem that the earth was immediately full of green vegetation, Genesis 2:5-7 makes it clear that none of it had yet sprouted forth, even by the sixth day of creation.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Genesis 2:5-7 (ESV)
Considering these passages helps us understand that the account of creation in Genesis chapter 1 is more of a summary than a full detailed account. And as such, it is a stretch to make assumptions based on what is not included or not being said there. Genesis 9:3 does seem to indicate that granting mankind permission to eat meat was a new declaration, but it is simply not possible to positively validate the idea that mankind didn’t or shouldn’t have eaten meat before then based on these passages alone. 
In other words, we do not have a statement saying Adam and Eve did not eat meat, and we do not have a statement saying they did eat meat either. If the former is believed based on a lack of evidence, then the latter is just as probable.
Jesus Lived According To God’s Word
Some have stated that just because God gave mankind permission to eat meat doesn’t mean we have to. And, I agree, but then I could argue the same point concerning vegetation. The fact remains that God did at some point declare, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you…” (Gen. 9:3), and Jesus Himself lived according to that word from God. If it was a compromise for a sinful fallen state, wouldn’t Jesus have demonstrated veganism? Jesus was without sin, unaffected by the curse, and I believe He lived as God fully intended for mankind to live.
Shouldn’t we also give more weight to a definite word from God that does bring clarity to the issue than we do to questions about earlier days where there was no word from God recorded on the issue?
We see Jesus eating fish and honey in John 21:9. Not only did he eat another living creature, but he ate it even after he died in the flesh and was resurrected with a perfected, eternal body. If this was not an ideal diet for mankind, then it was a terrible idea for Jesus to provide such an example to us.
Apparently there is a dispute over the passage in John which refers to Jesus eating meat. Some sources claim there are some original manuscripts that only specify that He ate honey, while the vast majority of manuscripts specify that He ate both. So again, you have to try very hard and stretch pretty far to take that fish out of Jesus’ mouth.
Requiring Abstinence From Foods
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)
The King James Version of the bible, typically renders the word interpreted here as “foods,” as “meats” instead.
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 1 Timothy 4:3 (KJV)
If you’ve read much of what I’ve written, you’ll know I’m not a fan of the KJV. But because I grew up with the KJV, this scripture immediately comes to mind. The word in question here comes from a root word that means, “to eat.” So by implication, this word probably is better interpreted as “food” in general.
Regardless, one of the marks of veganism is the requirement of abstaining from certain foods, specifically meat. The Apostle Paul considered requiring “abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” to be a teaching, or doctrine, of demons. We know he was not addressing vegans in this scripture. He was either addressing Jews who were trying to convince gentile believers that they should not eat foods that were declared unclean in the Old Covenant (which God reversed in Acts chapter 10), or he was referring to people who forbid believers from eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols.  Nevertheless, the modern influence of veganism bears the same marks.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||»||An additional factor often disputed is the idea that there was no death of anything with a soul before sin, and therefore no possibility that Adam and Eve could have eaten meat. Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 are often referred to in that regard. Those passages speak to that fact that death came through sin. More specifically, they reveal that spiritual death came to mankind (which is immediate) and physical death came to mankind (which was gradual decay). Of the rest of creation, Romans 8:19-21 clarifies that as a result of mankind’s sin, it became subject to futility (frailty) and the bondage of corruption (decay). None of those passages prove that anything with a soul was not killed before the fall; they only prove that there was no automatic process of decay unto death. Yet that does not mean that death did not exist before sin since Adam and Eve were not immortal to begin with. We know this because God removed them from the garden after they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22).|
|2.||»||In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul states that eating meat sacrificed to idols is no different from eating any other meat, but that it is best to abstain for the sake of the weakness of another believer’s conscience. The issue was not eating meat, but eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. And, in addition, this admonition was never directed toward all people, but only toward believers.|
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for seventeen years, and is the proud father of two boys.