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Food Laws

Who is the owner of our bodies? 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, - “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Some feel they have a right to do as they please with their own lives. But the fact is we do not belong to ourselves, but to God, first of all because of creation, secondly because of redemption. When we consider our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, this places us under obligation to care for our bodies.

Who lives in our bodies? 1 Corinthians 3:16, - ““Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

The condition of the human life is clear – it should be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Since the bodies of the believers are sacred shrines of the Holy Spirit, they must not be polluted. Because they are the members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us by God, every sin that is committed against our bodies is a sin against our Maker and against the Holy Spirit.

What was the original diet given to man? Genesis 1:29, - “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

The wording of this regulation reveals that it was not the will of God that man should slaughter animals for food, or that animals should prey upon one another; consequently, the violent and often painful destruction of life by man and animals is a result of the entry of sin into the world. It was not till after the Flood that God gave man permission to eat of the flesh of animals. God gave man a diet of fruit in the beginning.

What diet was man allowed after sin? Genesis 3:18, - Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;”

After man sinned, the “herb of the field”, or vegetables, was added to his diet perhaps because of their cleansing properties now needed because of the affect of sin on the body of man.

What was man allowed to eat after the flood? Genesis 9:3, 4, - “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. “

After the flood, vegetation and food was scarce, so God permitted man to eat flesh, with one stipulation – the blood must first be drained. To suggest anything that lives is good for food, is not what is intended here, because Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. For instance, to eat some fish will cause death. There was a limit on what could be eaten.

How did Noah know the difference between the clean and unclean animals? Genesis 7:2, - “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. “

Noah was well aware of the clean and unclean animals. After man started eating meat, it is interesting to see the decrease of his life span. The first ten patriarchs lived approximately 900 years each, but after the flood the age span gradually fell, until Abraham, the tenth after the flood, lived 175 years.

God’s Law on clean and unclean animals

Land Animals

Which land animals did God say are clean to eat? Deuteronomy 14:3-8, -“Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing. These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase. “

A clean animal must both chew the cud and have a split hoof. Cows, sheep, deer, goats, etc, are classed as clean because they chew the cud and have a split hoof. The rabbit, pig etc, are classed as unclean. In Isaiah 66:17 God says that eating of swine’s flesh is an abomination.

It is not a sin to eat meat, but because God made man a vegetarian, this must be the diet God intended man to follow; therefore it must be the most healthful. Man’s teeth and digestive system parallel herbivorous animals. Some feel that one would suffer bad health if meat was eliminated from the diet, but the opposite is more likely to be true. Meat contains many waste substances which the body must deal with in the digestive process. Also in our world today meat is often diseased, which makes eating it a health risk.

God is telling us not to eat animals such as pigs, rabbits, camels and horses. There are very good reasons we should not eat such animals. Doctors have discovered that eating these animals has a very bad effect on our heart, liver and other organs in our bodies.

Swine or pigs are responsible for transmitting more infectious diseases to man than any other animal. When the term “pork” is used, it refers to all swine products – ham, bacon and sausages containing pig meat as well. Doctors now know that there is a relationship between eating swine flesh and disease of the liver. Even children can get this disease.

No matter how clean are the conditions for farming pigs, the risk of cirrhosis of the liver from eating pig meat cannot be eliminated. Also of concern is that those persons who both drink alcohol and eat pork appear to be in increased danger of contracting liver disease. It is the pork meat itself that is the causal factor in this incidence of cirrhosis.

Water Animals

What water creatures are we allowed to eat? Deuteronomy 14:9, 10, - “ These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.”

The only foods to be eaten from the sea are fish with both fins and scales. This eliminates shellfish, crabs, lobsters etc. Sharks, catfish, eels are unclean because they have no scales. God has very good reasons for making a law against eating these kinds of fish. Doctors now know that these kinds of fish and shellfish can have high levels of heavy metals and can have naturally occurring poisons in them. They can be very harmful to humans. However, unclean fish are also an important part of the food supply of the fish and species that we can eat. By eating these prohibited species we help destroy the environment. The unclean fish play a role in helping the environment by eating the dead fish. Other fish without scales assist in cleaning up the bottom of the rivers and lakes.


What birds can we eat? Deuteronomy 14:11-20, -Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, And every raven after his kind, And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowls ye may eat. “

We can eat all clean birds. The Bible lists the unclean birds, which are not to be consumed. The birds allowed for food seem to be limited to fowl, turkey, duck, goose and dove. The Lord designed our bodies, He knows how they work and what food is most suitable for our optimum health. The clean birds are of the family of chicken, turkey, pigeon and dove – those that have a crop. The duck, goose and swan are also clean birds.

Most of the other birds are not clean. Science is finding out more about the transmission of viral diseases amongst unclean birds. It appears that these diseases are being passed on to the clean birds, namely the duck, in areas like Hong Kong, when they are raised with swine. The viruses are contracted by the swine from the migratory unclean birds and passed into the food chain.

Outbreaks of influenza from Asia have been traced to this source. We all know about the dreaded flu that is common every winter and which makes people very sick. The clean birds generally are free from this problem but under certain conditions they too may become infected. The general hygiene rules for contamination can be found in Leviticus 11 and should be applied where necessary.


Leviticus 11:20-23All the winged insects that go upon all fours are an abomination to you. 21Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those which have legs above their feet, with which to leap on earth. 22 Of them you may eat: the locust according to its kind, the cricket according to its kind, and the grasshopper according to its kind. 23 But all other winged insects which have four feet are an abomination to you. (RSV)

It might seem odd to us for anyone to eat bugs, but for some people around the world locusts are a part of their daily diets. If you got hungry enough you just might eat them too. God says it is all right to eat the locusts, crickets and grasshoppers.

Rodents and reptiles

Leviticus 11:29-31 “and these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm upon the earth: the weasel, the mouse, the great lizard according to its kind, 30 the gecko, the land crocodile, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These are unclean to you among all that swarm; whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until the evening. (RSV)

Leviticus 11:41-42 “Every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth is an abomination; it shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, all the swarming things that swarm upon the earth, you shall not eat; for they are an abomination. (RSV)

Here God lets us know that we are not to eat things like snakes, lizards, rats, mice, ants, worms, and many other things that are of the rodent, reptile, and bug families. Most of us would not want to eat these things anyway.

Diet Chosen by the Creator

(Ellen White)

In order to know what are the best foods, we must study God’s original plan for man’s diet. He who created man and who understands his needs appointed Adam his food. "Behold," He said, "I have given you every herb yielding seed,. . . . and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food." Upon leaving Eden to gain his livelihood by tilling the earth under the curse of sin, man received permission to eat also "the herb of the field." 

Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.

God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden, was the food man’s wants required.

The Lord intends to bring His people back to live upon simple fruits, vegetables, and grains. . . . God provided fruit in its natural state for our first parents.

God is working in behalf of His people. He does not desire them to be without resources. He is bringing them back to the diet originally given to man. Their diet is to consist of the foods made from the materials He has provided. The materials principally used in these foods will be fruits and grains and nuts, but various roots will also be used.

Again and again I have been shown that God is bringing His people back to His original design, that is, not to subsist upon the flesh of dead animals. He would have us teach people a better way.

If meat is discarded, if the taste is not educated in that direction, if a liking for fruits and grains is encouraged, it will soon be as God in the beginning designed it should be. No meat will be used by His people. {CD 81.1 - 82.2}