31 Notable Bible Verses About Eating Meat (with Explanations)

The question of eating meat holds complex layers – from personal dietary choices to ethical considerations about animal welfare, environmental impact, and religious perspectives. The Bible, spanning centuries and diverse cultures, offers a mosaic of viewpoints on this topic.

Within its pages, you’ll find verses granting permission and even encouragement for meat consumption, reflecting the realities of life in different eras. However, you’ll also encounter passages advocating for compassion towards animals, mindful consumption, and even vegetarian lifestyles.

Exploring these diverse perspectives can offer valuable insights, regardless of your personal stance. Whether you seek biblical justifications for your dietary choices, grapple with ethical concerns, or simply hold curiosity about the historical context, these verses present a multifaceted exploration of the relationship between faith and food.

Also Read:Bible Verses About Being Thankful for the Little Things (with Explanation)

Bible Verses About Eating Meat

Genesis 9:3

“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

In Genesis 9:3, after the flood, God grants permission for humanity to consume meat. This verse marks a significant shift in dietary allowances, indicating that meat became permissible for consumption.

It reflects God’s provision for human sustenance and acknowledges the changing conditions of post-flood Earth. This verse has been interpreted by many as God’s recognition of human needs and His grace in providing diverse sources of nourishment for His creation.

Leviticus 11:1-3

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Say to the Israelites: “Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.”‘”

Leviticus 11 outlines dietary restrictions and regulations for the Israelites, distinguishing between clean and unclean animals. This chapter serves to establish guidelines for maintaining ritual purity and obedience to God’s commandments.

The criteria provided regarding animals with divided hooves and those that chew the cud are indicative of God’s concern for the well-being and health of His people, as well as their spiritual separation from pagan practices.

Acts 10:9-16

“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’ The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'”

In Acts 10, Peter receives a vision from God regarding the dietary laws. The vision challenges Peter’s understanding of clean and unclean animals, signifying a shift in the dietary restrictions established in the Mosaic law.

This passage marks a pivotal moment in the early church, as it underscores the universality of God’s salvation and the inclusion of Gentiles into the body of believers. The lifting of dietary restrictions symbolizes the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan through Jesus Christ, which transcends cultural and religious boundaries.

Romans 14:2-3

“One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.”

In Romans 14, Paul addresses the issue of dietary preferences and personal convictions within the Christian community. He emphasizes the importance of tolerance and respect for differing opinions regarding food choices. While some believers may choose to eat meat without restriction, others may adhere to a vegetarian diet based on personal convictions.

Paul encourages mutual acceptance and understanding, reminding believers that their dietary choices should not become a source of division or judgment within the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:8-9

“But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addresses the issue of eating food sacrificed to idols. While the context is specific to idolatrous practices, the underlying principle speaks to the broader issue of food consumption. Paul emphasizes that the act of eating, in itself, does not determine one’s spiritual standing before God.

However, he urges believers to be mindful of their actions, considering the impact on others, particularly those whose faith may be weaker. This passage highlights the importance of sensitivity and love towards fellow believers in matters of dietary choices.

1 Timothy 4:3-4

“They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,”

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul addresses false teachings regarding dietary restrictions and ascetic practices. He emphasizes that all foods, including meat, are inherently good and are to be received with thanksgiving by believers.

This passage reaffirms the principle of God’s provision and the freedom granted to believers in their dietary choices. While moderation and gratitude are encouraged, Paul counters legalistic tendencies that seek to impose unnecessary restrictions on food consumption.

Matthew 15:11

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

In Matthew 15, Jesus addresses the Pharisees’ concern about His disciples not following ritual handwashing before meals. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach a deeper spiritual lesson, emphasizing that true defilement comes from the words and intentions that proceed from the heart.

While this verse doesn’t specifically focus on dietary choices, it underscores the importance of the internal, spiritual aspect over external practices.

1 Corinthians 10:25-26

“Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.'”

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul provides guidance regarding eating meat that may have been offered to idols. He encourages believers to partake without concern for conscience, acknowledging that the earth and everything in it ultimately belong to the Lord.

This passage emphasizes the freedom Christians have in making dietary choices, while also highlighting the importance of not causing unnecessary offense to others.

Colossians 2:16-17

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

In Colossians 2, Paul addresses the issue of legalistic judgments related to dietary practices and religious observances. He emphasizes that these external regulations are a shadow of the spiritual reality found in Christ.

This passage underscores the importance of focusing on the essence of our faith in Christ rather than becoming entangled in legalistic debates over food and drink.

1 Timothy 5:23

“Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

In this verse, Paul advises Timothy to use a little wine for health reasons. While not directly addressing eating meat, this passage highlights the biblical perspective on using food and drink for practical health benefits.

It encourages a balanced approach to dietary choices, considering individual health needs and well-being.

Revelation 19:17-18

“And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.'”

In the apocalyptic vision of Revelation, the imagery of a great supper symbolizes the judgment of God. While not a direct endorsement of eating meat, this metaphorical scene serves to depict the severity of divine judgment.

It underscores the biblical theme of accountability and consequences for actions, urging believers to align their lives with God’s principles.

Daniel 1:8-16

“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

In the book of Daniel, Daniel and his companions choose not to defile themselves with the royal food and wine offered in Babylon. This decision is based on their commitment to follow God’s dietary laws.

While specific to the context of Jewish dietary regulations, this passage illustrates the principle of prioritizing obedience to God’s commands over conforming to cultural or societal norms in matters of eating and drinking.

Isaiah 66:15-17

“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the one they follow, declares the Lord.”

In Isaiah 66, the prophet describes a judgment against those who engage in idolatrous practices, including the consumption of unclean animals. This passage highlights the serious consequences of disobedience to God’s commands, using dietary choices as a symbolic representation of unfaithfulness.

It underscores the biblical theme of moral accountability and the importance of aligning one’s actions with God’s righteous standards.

Genesis 1:29-30

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

In the early chapters of Genesis, God provides the initial dietary instructions to humanity and the animal kingdom. Initially, a plant-based diet is prescribed for both humans and animals.

This passage reflects the harmonious relationship between all living creatures and the provision of plant-based sustenance as the original divine intention.

Leviticus 7:23-24

“Say to the Israelites: ‘Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats. The fat of an animal found dead or torn by wild animals may be used for any other purpose, but you must not eat it.'”

Leviticus contains detailed instructions regarding dietary laws for the Israelites. In this passage, the prohibition against eating the fat of certain animals is outlined.

This dietary restriction, along with others in Leviticus, served not only for health reasons but also symbolized the consecration and holiness of the people of Israel in their relationship with God.

Romans 14:2-4

“One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.”

The theme of dietary choices is revisited in Romans 14, where Paul addresses the diversity of practices among believers. This passage highlights the principle of mutual acceptance and respect within the Christian community, recognizing that personal convictions and dietary preferences may differ.

It underscores the importance of unity in diversity and emphasizes God’s acceptance of believers regardless of their dietary choices.

1 Corinthians 10:31

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

In the context of discussing the eating of meat sacrificed to idols, Paul offers a broader principle in 1 Corinthians 10:31. Regardless of specific dietary choices, Paul encourages believers to approach all aspects of life, including eating and drinking, with the overarching goal of glorifying God.

This verse emphasizes the integration of faith into daily practices, guiding believers to align their actions with the pursuit of God’s glory.

Colossians 2:20-23

“Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

In Colossians 2, Paul addresses ascetic practices and man-made regulations related to food. This passage criticizes legalistic rules that dictate what one should or should not eat, emphasizing that such regulations lack true spiritual value.

Paul encourages believers to focus on the transformative power of Christ rather than adhering to external, human-imposed restrictions.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul warns against false teachings that include prohibitions on certain foods. This passage highlights the danger of departing from the truth of God’s creation, emphasizing that all foods, when received with thanksgiving, are inherently good.

It underscores the importance of discerning genuine spiritual guidance from deceptive teachings that impose unnecessary dietary restrictions.

Hebrews 13:9

“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.”

Hebrews 13 addresses the temptation to be swayed by various teachings, including those related to ceremonial foods. The author emphasizes that true spiritual strength comes from God’s grace, not adherence to specific dietary regulations.

This verse aligns with the New Testament emphasis on the sufficiency of God’s grace over external rituals and rules, guiding believers to focus on the foundational principles of faith.

Mark 7:18-19

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)”

In Mark 7, Jesus challenges traditional dietary laws, emphasizing that true defilement comes from within, from the heart, rather than external factors like specific foods.

His statement that all foods are clean signals a departure from certain Old Testament dietary restrictions. This teaching underscores a shift in understanding under the new covenant, where the focus is on internal righteousness rather than external rituals.

Deuteronomy 14:21

“Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 14 provides dietary regulations for the Israelites. This verse addresses the issue of consuming animals that have died of themselves.

While the prohibition exists for the Israelites, there’s a provision for giving or selling such meat to foreigners. This passage emphasizes the importance of maintaining holiness in dietary practices, even in matters related to the treatment of animals.

Proverbs 23:20-21

“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

While not specifically about eating meat, Proverbs 23 warns against excessive indulgence in food and drink. It encourages moderation and self-control in dietary habits.

The mention of gorging on meat is a cautionary note against gluttony, promoting a balanced and temperate approach to eating.

Acts 15:28-29

“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.”

In Acts 15, the apostles, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, issue instructions to Gentile believers.

While the focus is not directly on the consumption of meat, there is an emphasis on abstaining from certain practices related to food, including meat. This decision aims to promote unity among believers and avoid causing unnecessary offense.

Luke 24:41-43

“And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”

In Luke 24, after His resurrection, Jesus eats a piece of broiled fish in the presence of His disciples. This act underscores the physical reality of Jesus’ resurrection and serves as a testament to His bodily existence.

While not explicitly about the consumption of meat, this passage portrays a moment where Jesus partakes in a meal, emphasizing the reality of His bodily presence.

1 Corinthians 6:12

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.”

In addressing various issues, including dietary choices, Paul emphasizes the principle of considering what is beneficial and avoiding becoming enslaved by anything.

While believers have freedom, including in their dietary choices, Paul encourages a discerning approach, focusing on what contributes to personal and communal well-being and spiritual growth.

Romans 14:21

“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.”

Romans 14 addresses the issue of causing stumbling blocks for others, including dietary practices. Paul encourages believers to prioritize love and consideration for fellow Christians over asserting personal freedoms.

This passage underscores the communal aspect of the Christian journey and the responsibility to avoid actions that may lead others astray, even in matters related to eating meat.

Genesis 9:2-4

“The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”

In this post-flood covenant with Noah, God grants permission for humanity to consume meat. However, a significant condition is emphasized – the prohibition against eating meat with its lifeblood still in it. This command underscores the sanctity of life and the responsibility to treat animals with respect even when using them for sustenance.

The allowance for consuming meat comes with a moral obligation to acknowledge and honor the sacredness of life in the act of consumption.

Deuteronomy 12:20-25

“When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, ‘I would like some meat,’ then you may eat as much of it as you want. If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.”

In Deuteronomy, guidelines are provided for Israelites regarding the consumption of meat. While there is freedom to eat meat, the prohibition against consuming blood is reiterated.

This emphasis on not eating blood reiterates the sanctity of life and the symbolic separation of the lifeblood from the act of eating. It reinforces the notion that the life force belongs to God and should not be consumed along with the meat.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

“Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.”

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addresses the complex issue of eating food sacrificed to idols. While not directly about the act of eating meat, it touches on the broader theme of dietary practices within a specific cultural context.

Paul emphasizes the importance of love over knowledge, cautioning believers against causing stumbling blocks for others through their actions. This chapter underscores the relational and communal aspects of dietary choices, urging believers to prioritize love and consideration for fellow Christians in their eating practices.

Also Read:Bible Verses About Being Thankful for the Little Things (with Explanation)

What Does the Bible Say About Eating Meat?

The Bible provides various perspectives on eating meat, reflecting different historical, cultural, and theological contexts throughout its texts. Here are some key insights:

Permission and Provision:

In Genesis 9:2-4, after the flood, God grants Noah and his descendants permission to eat meat. This marks a significant shift from the initially prescribed plant-based diet. The emphasis is on God’s provision for human sustenance through a broader range of food sources, but the prohibition against consuming blood underscores the sanctity of life.

Dietary Laws for Israelites:

The Old Testament, particularly Leviticus and Deuteronomy, outlines specific dietary laws for the Israelites. These laws distinguish between clean and unclean animals, with detailed regulations regarding what is permissible to eat. The dietary restrictions served multiple purposes, including maintaining ritual purity, symbolizing holiness, and promoting health practices within the cultural and religious framework of ancient Israel.

New Testament Perspectives:

In the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles contribute to the evolving understanding of dietary practices. Jesus, in Mark 7:18-19, challenges the significance of external factors in defilement, stating that what enters the mouth does not defile a person. This is later reinforced in Paul’s writings, particularly in 1 Corinthians 8, where the emphasis is on love and consideration in matters of food sacrificed to idols.

A Short Prayer for Discernment in Dietary Choices

Heavenly Father,

As we approach the table to partake of the sustenance You provide, we humbly seek Your guidance and wisdom in our dietary choices. Grant us discernment to nourish our bodies in ways that honor You and promote our well-being.

Help us to be mindful of the sources of our food and the impact of our choices on our health, the environment, and the welfare of all Your creatures. May our eating habits reflect gratitude for Your abundant provision and stewardship of the resources You entrust to us.

In moments of decision, may Your Spirit guide us to choose what is wholesome and nourishing, setting aside that which may harm us or others. May our eating habits be a reflection of our commitment to honoring You in all aspects of our lives.

In Your holy name, we pray,