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Jesus and the early Christians
Was Christ a Vegetarian?
by Ted Altar
The following arguments are to be found, for the most part, in Keith Akers' very useful, A Vegetarian Sourcebook, 1989. Another sourcebook I would also highly recommend for its scholarship is Lewis Regenstein's Replenish the Earth: The History of Organized Religion's Treatment of Animals and Nature--Including the Bible's Message of Conservation and Kindness Toward Animals, 1991.
"I require mercy, not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13 & 12:7)
This is a significant message when we remember that in the context in which this was said meat eating was commonly considered part of these sacrifices. Sacrificial offerings often entailed meat consumption and a strict reading of Leviticus 17: implies that, indeed, all meat consumption necessitated a sacrifice. Also, the noted confrontation of Jesus in the Temple suggests that he was not at all pleased by the desecration of the Temple by the money changers AND by "those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons" (John 2:14-15) since these animals were being sold for sacrifice before being eaten.
Vegetarianism: Supported in the Bible
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)
James 4:17 (King James Version)
17Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Clean and Unclean Food
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 "Say to the Israelites: 'Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3 You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.
4 " 'There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The coney, [a] though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.