THE BIBLE AND VEGETARIANISM
GEOFFREY L. RUDD
Secretary of the Vegetarian Society of England
We do not base Vegetarianism on the Bible, but it frequently happens at lectures that having presented the scientific health and ethical aspects of vegetarianism, a member of the audience will jettison our arguments and sweep away humanitarian and compassionate considerations by quoting passages from the Bible which favour flesh eating.
Our object is not to justify our way of life by recourse to the Bible, but to show that when Christians become so minded, they may find in their Scriptures a greater justification for vegetarianism, than for flesh eating.
At one time, not so very long ago, slavery, women and children working in coal mines, capital punishment for petty thieving public hangings and witch burning, cock fighting and bear baiting were accepted as being right. They are not condemned by the Bible but by a growing appreciation of Christian principles. Even the Church believed in torture and threat of execution as means towards conversion.
The duplicity of Abraham over Sarah, Jacob and Esau ; the thefts of Israel from the Egyptians ; the murders by Abraham in intention: by Moses and Jael, Jepplitha and Elijan infact; the polygamy of Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon ; the many wars and cruelties meted out to captured enemies and so on, might be quoted to justify such practices today, but why is it that what appeared right for one age is wrong for another? Surely, because we are
evolving along more sensitive lines, and our understanding of moral values is growing.
The process is still going on, and we can suppose that many present- day practices will become distasteful to future generations such things as obliterating mankind with explosives, poisoning food with chemicals and, we would add, the slaughtering of innocent sentient creatures for food. For we already know that meat is not necessary for either health or long life.
So we see that even if some passages in the Bible do to justify slaughter, it is not a valid reason for remaining in a morally barbaric state of development. Dipsomaniacs can point out that Jesus drank wine ; if we wish to continue eating dead animals and perpetuate the beastliness of the slaughter house we can cling to the authority of the Bible. There is a personal choice we can be the last to let go of an evil habit, or we can be in the forefront of those pioneers who lead the way to better things. Remember the Suffragettes who saw that women were held in an unjustifiable position in life ; the Tolpuddle martyrs who believed that labourers had basic rights: the people who protested against and abolished slavery and child labour. All down the ages we find little groups of pioneers who saw the next step and devoted their lives to the advancement of humanity ; the early Christians, including Christ Himself, took their lives in their hands to propagate a teaching of love and compassion, protesting against animal sacrifices and the oppression of Rome — they did not feel bound by ancient tradition, priest craft, and the written word. We ourselves are in a similar position today. We can continue in the easy rut of tradition, or we can begin to apply higher moral conceptions to everyday life. The over-riding command of the Bible, of Christ and of Christianity, is to love God, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Quotations against Flesh-eating
If the Bible only advocated flesh-eating there might be some slight justification for continuing the practice, but this is far from the case. Vegetarianism is not only indicated but actually demanded, even with a literal word for word acceptance.
” Thou shalt hot kill ” may be said to apply to human beings, though it is not so qualified, and a recent change to “Thou shalt do no murder ” makes its application more precise ; but other Divine commands are less equivocal: ” Thou shalt not eat any blood,” and in Leviticus (chap. iii, v. 17) it says: ” It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that ye shall eat neither fat nor blood.” This too is quite definite, and further (chap. vii, v. 23): “Ye shall eat no fat, of ox, or sheep or goat. And the fat of that which dieth of itself, and the fat of that which is torn of beasts, may be used for any other service: but ye shall in no wise eat of it.” In the same chapter it says: “For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people. And ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings” There are many similar verses. Kosher killing, with ceremonial throat cutting and blood-letting, if of ethical importance does not circumvent these instructions, for not all the blood of an animal can be drained from its arteries and the use of only the fore and hind quarters does not avoid the fat. Rather it seems clear that the ancient Jewish lawgivers knew the dangers of eating animal fat and blood, and framed the laws with the thought that ” If you must eat flesh foods, then at least avoid these dangers.”
Let us go back to Genesis. “And God said : let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed and fruit tree bearing fruit after its kind wherein is the seed thereof upon the earth — and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb yielding 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, and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat ” (chap. i, verses 29, 30).
What could be more vegetarian? If we find contradictory, passages we can only, make our own moral choice for it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Scriptures were selected and edited so that the ” weaker brethren ” would be included in the Christian fold. Indeed, official Church histories admit that editing took place as late as the fourth century at the Council of Nicea when the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted a form of Christianity which enabled him to continue traditional Roman life. Not that we suggest that vegetarianism was advocated before this time, but in modern times we have seen an example of a subtle change from “kill” to “murder,” the latter in modern connotation applying only to human beings and not to slaughter in war time.
Emphasis on Vegetarian Food
In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel i and ii, there are continuous references to food and the things suitable for food. They include: bread, unleavened bread with olive oil, pottage, milk and honey, manna, olives, fruit, fine flour, grapes, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic, coriander seed, pomegranates, figs, raisins, wheat, barley, corn, water, vinegar, wine, meal, beans, lentils and pulses.
When the children of Israel lusted after flesh – note the term ” lusted ” – it was said that they should eat it for a whole month until it comes out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you ” (Num., chap. xi. verses 20 and 33). “While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague! “
The emphasis through all these Books is on vegetarian food, flesh-foods are mentioned with loathing. Riches and rewards are expressed in terms of milk and honey, not the pitiful parts and organs of dead animals. “Thy shoots are an orchard of pomegranates ; with precious fruits, henna with spikenard plants, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes with all the chief spices” we find in the Song of Solomon — fruits, flowers, vines and nuts to illustrate the Divine bounty.
In Isaiah (chap. 1, v. 11), “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 he goats . . . bring no more vain oblations . . . your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth ; … and when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you, yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear ; your hands are full of blood.” Perhaps not a dietetic condemnation but one against killing, nevertheless.
Isaiah’s prophecy was that ” the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid … they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” Not a far-fetched vision but a state of affairs which could be attained by the application of love and kindness. We all know of examples of cats and dogs, foxes and squirrels and many other animals living together in complete harmony under the guardianship of animal lovers There is no reason why, as our understanding of the purpose of life deepens and our sense of moral responsibility expands, Isaiah’s vision will not come true.
In chap. 1xvi, verse 3 it says: “He that killeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man ; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as he that breaketh a dog’s neck ; he that offereth an oblation, as he that offereth swine’s blood … yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.”
We also remember the story in Daniel where four princes of Israel were brought before Nebuchadnezzar, who appointed for them a daily portion of his meat and wine. But they refused to defile themselves with meat and wine and suggested that a test should be made by feeding them for ten days with pulses and water, comparing them with other youths fed on the king’s meat and wine. “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer, and they were fatter in flesh than all the youths which did eat of the king’s meat.” The value of a vegetarian diet was known even in those days. It can be stated that the Old Testament is predominantly inclined towards vegetarianism.
Early Christian Fathers
Many of the early Christian Fathers not only practised and advocated vegetarianism on aesthetic and spiritual grounds, but were extremely outspoken to their fellow Christians who hankered after the fleshpots. This is what Tertullian had to say — ” How unworthily do you press the example of Christ as having come eating and drinking into the service of your lusts! I think that He who pronounced not the full but the hungry and thirsty ‘Blessed,’ who professed His work to be the completion of His Father’s Will, I think that He was wont to abstain, instructing them to labour for that ‘Meat’ which lasts to eternal life, and enjoining in their common prayers petition, not for rich and gross food, but for bread only ” — by which it is seen that Tertullian was also faced with the problem of meat-eating. He was provoked to saying: ” Your belly is your God, your liver is your temple, your paunch is your altar, the cook is your priest, and the fat steam is your Holy Spirit. The seasonings and the sauces are your chrisms and your eructations are your prophesyings.”
In the Clementine Homilies of the middle of the second century, founded on the preaching of St. Peter who was an intimate of the Master, we have: “The unnatural eating of flesh-meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in which a man becomes a fellow-eater with devils.” It is interesting to note here that all esoteric doctrines state quite emphatically that the use of flesh-food impairs the faculty of intuition and cuts the soul off from communion with spiritual spheres.
Clement of Alexandria, the finest philosopher of his time, wrote: “Those who use the most frugal fare are the strongest, the healthiest and the noblest . . . we must guard against those sorts of food which persuade us to eat when we are not hungry. . . For is there not, within a temperate simplicity, a wholesome variety of eatables – vegetables, roots, olives, herbs, milk, cheese, fruits and all kinds of dry food . . . those who bend around inflammatory tables, nourishing their own diseases (the deleterious effect of meat-eating was known) are ruled by a most licentious disease which I shall venture to call the demon of the belly . . . happiness is found only in the practice of virtue. Accordingly the Apostle Matthew lived upon seeds and nuts, hard shelled fruits and vegetables, without the use of flesh.”
Now in this quotation we again have a pointer to the habits of diet of those closest to Christ. It has been suggested (in the Clementine Homilies, xii, chap. 6) that Peter and Matthew were vegetarians. Hegesippus stated that James (the Lord’s brother) was holy from his birth, drank no wine and ate no flesh — it is unlikely therefore that the rest of his family were meat-eaters. John the Baptist was an ascetic of the hermit type and lived on the simple fare of locust beans and wild honey.
It is controversial that the Master was a ” Nazarene ” — the name of a pre-Christian sect of Syrian Jews similar in some respects to the Essenes mentioned by Pliny and Epiphanius. The innermost orders of the Nazarenes and Essenes abstained from alcoholic drinks and flesh-meats. Since the Master is traditionally depicted as a Nazarene – with long hair, unshaven long face and clothed in a single seamless garment, and since ” Essene ” means “bather ” so that to be baptized implies initiation into the sect, His association with them in some way is indicated.
We also have the curious situation of Peter and James being attacked by Paul, who made disparaging attacks on those who abstained from flesh-foods (Romans xiv, 1-2; 1 Timothy iv, 1-5; Colossians ii, 16; ii, 20-21; 1 Cor. ix, 4).
Implications of Christianity
If we were to summarise Christ’s teaching into a few words we should have: Repent, Believe, Love God with all our hearts ; Love and Compassion ; Justice and Charity. We are therefore, if we wish to become practising Christians, confronted with the task of interpreting these things into our daily lives. We must ask ourselves if the horrors of the slaughterhouse, trapping wild animals for fur and food, torturing defenceless animals in vivisection laboratories and many other abominations we inflict on the animal kingdom, are in keeping with love and compassion.
It may help us to understand many of the obviously allegorical stories in the Bible from Hebrew literature to know that they were largely influenced by Egyptian methods of presentation (Moses was brought up as a Royal Egyptian). They used symbols, glyphs and hieroglyphs. Animals were used to represent Gods and soul initiations – places to represent states of spiritual unfoldment — and so on. All through the Bible we have the same kind of symbolism — the Lambs of God, the doves of peace, the four beasts in Ezekiel and Revelation ; even the four Gospels have their symbols: the Lion, the Ox, the Eagle, and the Angel-headed Man. Astrology too played a large part in the life of the people in those day’s ; every Royal Court had its astrologers and soothsayers, consequently, the Ox (Taurus) and Fishes (Pisces) are frequently found as referring to the astrological age which people lived and may well have been used in a mystical and allegorical way.
But however we interpret the Biblical stories, one thing is certain ; the picture of a Son of God, Holy Divinely compassionate with a knife in His hand, cutting the throats of life-loving creatures, is completely contradictory. ” The letter is dead and killeth – but the Spirit alone hath and giveth life.”
WAS THE MASTER A VEGETARIAN?
REV. V. A. HOLMES-GORE
Those who try to follow the vegetarian way of life are greatly hampered by the belief that the Master – known to the world as Jesus Christ — was a meat-eater. And vegetarians are even accused of setting themselves up to be better than He was. But no one who is convinced that vegetarianism is the only right way of life for a Christian can accept the idea that the founder of Christianity was an eater of meat or even of fish. Christians believe that the Master was greater than the Buddha, who regarded vegetarianism as an essential part of the pure life. It is therefore illogical for Christian vegetarians to assume the Master was content with a lower standard than Gautama.
Either the Master was a vegetarian or He was not the perfect example of humanity which He, is claimed to be. For us there is no escape from this dilemma. We must therefore examine the reasons put forward for the view that the Master did eat meat and see how these can best be shown to be false.
All the evidence put forward comes from the four Gospels. It may be briefly summarised as follows: —
1. There are nineteen references to meat in the Gospels* and on more than one occasion the Master is represented as saying to the disciples, ” Have ye any meat? ” (John 21, 5; Luke 24, 41).
2. The Master and the disciples are supposed to have kept the Passover when they celebrated the Last Supper.
3. The Master is said to have eaten fish after His Resurrection. (Luke 24, 43).
*The nineteen references to meat are: Broma, Mark 7, 19; Luke 3, 11; 9, 13; John 4, 34. Brosimos, Luke 24, 41. Brosis, John 4, 32; 6, 27, 55. Prosphagion, John 21, 5. Trophe, Matthew 3, 4; 6, 25; 10, 10; 24, 45. Luke 12, 23; John 4, 8. Phago, Matthew 25, 35, 42; Luke 8, 55.
He is also represented as giving His disciples fish to eat (John 21, 9) and feeding the five thousand and four thousand on seven (or five) loaves and a few small fishes (Matt. 14, 17; 15, 36 Mark 6, 41; 8, 7; Luke 9, 13; John 6, 11 ).
And finally there are the two occasions on which He is said to have worked a miracle in order to help His disciples – catch a huge quantity of fish (Luke 5, 6; John 21, 11).
Let us take the references to ” meat ” first. If we examine these nineteen references we shall see that none of them imply that the Master ate meat. Such sayings as ” My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me,” and ” Labour not for the meat that perisheth ” are clearly metaphorical, and in any case do not support meat eating.
But, even if some might seem to imply that He sanctioned flesh-eating, they do not, because all the Greek words translated ” meat ” mean merely food or nourishment. The words used are: Broma – food (four times); Brosimos – that which may be eaten (once); Brosis – food or the act of eating (four times); Prosphagion – anything to eat (once); Trophe – nourishment (six times); Phago – to eat (three times).
Thus He did not say, ” Have ye any meat?” (John 21. 5), but “Have ye anything to eat?” And when the Gospels say that the disciples went away to buy meat (John 4. 8), it merely means food. So much for the references to meat.
[G.L.R.: It is interesting to note that the New English Bible -gives the correct translation of these words.]
The Last Supper and the Passover
The difficulty of the Passover is far more serious. Tradition has for a long time, assumed that the Last Supper was the Passover Meal, and this would imply that the Master and His disciples ate the Passover Lamb.
But recently scholars have come to see that the records are inconsistent, and that the only way of explaining the various references is to assume that the Last Supper was not the Passover Meal. The evidence is as follows: – The Crucifixion took place on a Friday and the Last Supper on the Thursday evening. (The Jewish day began at 6 pm and therefore according to their reckoning the Last Supper and the Crucifixion were on the same day.)
Now the first three gospels state that the meal the Master ate with His disciples was the Passover Meal (Matt. 36, 17; Mark 16, 16; Luke 22, 13). St. John, on the other hand, states that the Last Supper was not the Passover, and that the Passover was on the Sabbath (John 39, 14, 31). In chapter 13, verses 1 to 4, he writes: “Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that His hour was come … riseth from supper and laid aside His garments; and He look a towel and girded Himself.” Moreover, John says, in chapter 19 (verse 14), that the Crucifixion took place on the day of the preparation of the Passover (the day before the Passover) and in verse 31 of the same chapter he says the body of the Master was not permitted to remain on the Cross because the day of that Sabbath was a high day,” i.e., the Passover was on the sabbath, and began at 6 pm on Friday after the Crucifixion was over.
This is perfectly consistent with John’s statement in chapter 13 (verses 1 and 2) that the Last Supper took place before the Feast of the Passover, i.e., on the Thursday evening, and also with his statement that on Good Friday morning the members of the Sanhedrin refused to enter the Praetorium (or governor’s residence) for fear they might defile themselves before eating the Passover (18, 28).
Thus John’s account is perfectly reasonable and consistent, and flatly contradicts the claim of the first three Gospels that the Last Supper was the Passover Meal. Which are we to believe?
If we examine the first three Gospels carefully we shall see that even they contain evidence which supports John. Thus, Matthew 26, 5 represents the priests as saying that they would not kill Jesus during the Feast ” lest a tumult arose among the people,” i.e., not during the Passover (as John rightly says). Yet Matthew is so inconsistent that it puts both the Last Supper and Crucifixion on the day of the Passover. Again, it was not customary to hold trials and execute people on the first and holiest days of the Feast. Moreover, the Feast would not be called the Preparation as it is by Mark (15, 42), and Luke (23, 54).
Since the Passover was regarded as equivalent to the Sabbath, it is unlikely that the people would carry weapons (Mark 14, 43, 47) or buy linen and spices for burial (Mark 15, 46; Luke 23, 56) if the Passover had already begun. Again, the haste with which the Master was laid in the tomb (Mark 15, 42-46) is consistent with the Jews’ desire that His body should not be left on the Cross when the Feast had begun (i.e., Good Friday, 6 pm).
Another point which indicates that the Last Supper was not the Passover Meal is the absence of any mention of the lamb. As J. A. Gleizes says, ” in substituting bread and wine for flesh and blood in the divine sacrifice.” the Master “announced the new alliance between man and God, a true reconciliation all His creatures.” If the Master had been a meat-eater, He would have mentioned the lamb, and not Bread, as the symbol of the Divine Passion in which the Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the world. And so everything indicates that the Last Supper was not the Passover, but was a fellowship meal which the Master had with His disciples.
It is significant that even such a pillar of orthodoxy as the late Bishop Gore says: “We will assume John is right when he corrects Mark as to the nature of the Last Supper. It was not the Paschal meal proper, but a supper observed as a farewell supper with His disciples. Nor do the accounts of the supper suggest the ceremonial of the Passover Meal ” (A New Commentary on Holy Scripture. Part Ill, page 235).
Moreover, Dean Farrar, in his commentary on St. Luke in the Cambridge Bible for Schools, says that it may be that the Last Supper “was not the actual Jewish Paschal meal, but one which was intended to supersede it by a Passover of far more divine significance ” (page 325).
The Eating of Fish
And now we must examine the passages in which the Gospels represent the Master as eating fish or encouraging the eating or catching of fish.
In St. Luke 24, 41-44, we read that after His Resurrection the Master said to His disciples: ” Have ye anything to eat? And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. And He took it and did eat before them.” It is perhaps significant that there is a doubt about the correct text of Luke 24, 42. The Authorised Version of the Bible follows certain manuscripts which say. “And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb (a strange mixture of food) and He took it and did eat before them!’
In John 21, 5-13, we have a somewhat similar action attributed to the Master after His Resurrection. He asked the disciples, ” Have ye aught to eat? And they answered Him. No!’ Then He told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, and they caught so many fish that they could not draw in the net for the multitude of them. And when they did manage to get the fish to land they, found 153, and they cooked some of them and “Jesus cometh and taketh the bread, and giveth them, and the fish likewise.”
In the fifth chapter of Luke (verses 1-11), we have a different account of the miraculous draught of fishes, but here there is no mention of the Master or the disciples eating fish. It is significant that a number of critics have, for various reasons, doubted whether these stories refer to actual events. It is strange that the only occasion on which the Master is said to have eaten fish was after the Resurrection, and some have thought that the incidents were inserted by those who were anxious to show that He was not merely an apparition but had flesh and bones (Luke 24, 39).
It is, however, more satisfactory to take the stories in a mystical sense, as has been done by many. Indeed, John’s version, which says they caught 153 fish, is difficult to understand if it is taken literally; 153 is not at all a large number of fish — the actual Greek word means ” little fish ” — and anyone could easily drag them to land.
Moreover, the ancient authorities took the number 153 mystically, and made valiant but strange attempts to decipher its meaning. Thus Augustine of Hippo said it was an arithmetical progression from 1 to 17, 10 being the number of the Law and 7 the perfect number, and 10 plus 7=17. Others thought the number 153 represented the total species of fish known at that time. But the main point is that the story is mystical and not literal, and therefore does not support the belief that the Master and the disciples were fish-eaters.
Some scholars regard John 21 as a late edition to the Gospel, and others think that Luke’s versions of the two incidents which John had joined together (the miraculous draught and the eating of the fish caught) are variant versions of the same stories.
For those who believe that vegetarianism is the true way of life the ethical argument is stronger than any other. If we read in the Gospels that the Master did something unworthy of one who was perfectly compassionate we should know the Gospels to give a false picture of Him, and so when they, represent Him as addicted to the cruel practice of eating fish we know they are false in this respect.
The stories of the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand have puzzled the scholars, who have attempted to give explanations of them most of which are far from satisfactory. Nor do the scholars reject them on moral, but on scientific grounds.
In the Gospel records there is one inconsistency in these accounts which throws doubt on their accuracy. The first three Gospels say that the feeding of the five thousand took place in the dessert (Matt. 14, 13-21; Mark 6, 30 – 44 Luke 9, 10-17), but John says it took place on a mountain and that there was much grass in the place (John 6, 3, 10).
Some hold that the story, really refers to an Eucharistic meal, and has been transformed into a “miracle” by the Evangelists, while others would interpret it mystically.
All Biblical students are familiar with the use of Bread as a symbol of Christ’s Body or the Divine Substance, and we know that in the early Church the Fish was a Mystery term. The Greek word for Fish, I-CH-TH-U-S, is made up of the initial letters of the words Iesous Christos Theou Uios Soter, or Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour. It is found as a Christian in the catacombs and was a kind of password or mystery term. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that the term “Fish ” is used in the Gospels in a mystical sense.
The mystical interpretation of Scripture was quite usual in the early Church, and Origen says that ” while every passage of scripture has a spiritual meaning, many passages have no other meaning, but that there is often a spiritual meaning under a literal fiction.” And Athanasius warns us that ” were we to understand sacred writ according to the letter, we should fall, into the most enormous blasphemies as by ascribing cruelty and falsehood to the Deity.”
This is precisely what the non-mystical interpretation of the Gospels has done, for it asks us to believe that the Master, who came to preach a Gospel of love, was so inconsistent in His life that He ate the Creatures and encouraged others to do the same. To which the convinced vegetarian can only answer that if the Gospels teach such things then the sooner people stop taking them literally the better.
JESUS WAS A VEGETARIAN
Written by James Cooper, 2nd October 2011.
According to the bible the original diet in the Garden of Eden was a vegetarian one. Adam and Eve lived happily, healthily and abundantly on a diet rich in fresh vegetarian fare. However, with the coming of the flood and the ensuing ecological destruction, a concession was made ensuring mankind’s survival, and for the first time there was a departure from the original diet intended by God.
Today of course this departure, this concession, has been transformed into the world’s biggest industry, the wholesale slaughtering of billions and billions of defenceless animals. Super efficient factory farms raise Gods creatures as meat, and high tech slaughterhouses deliver the final product. In one slaughterhouse in America they slaughter over 30,000 animals a day. That’s 210,000 a week, 1 million a month, 12 million a year, all between four walls in just one slaughterhouse. The rivers of blood spoken of in the Bible take place every day, as thousands of such slaughterhouses churn out their products, and planet earth becomes a mass production line of death.
It is an extreme departure from the simple, peaceful diet in the Garden of Eden, and many people question how spiritual institutions such as Christianity, can continually sanction such a satanic act. Walk into any supermarket and there before you is the Garden of Eden, an overwhelming array of products, hundreds of different vegetables, fruits, milk products, breads, cereals, rice, pasta, herbs, spices and much more. There is more than enough to satisfy our needs.
Yet simply pandering to our unrestrained tongues, we subject our brothers the animals to what can only be described as a holocaust. How can any spiritual institution sanction such a thing? Why should animals fear members of a spiritual institution, people who are supposed to be gradually detaching themselves from worldly things and pursuing a life of purification. We can easily understand how politicians and businessmen, who are simply lost to themselves, can sanction such an act, but a spiritual institution?
In their defence Christians point to the fact that Jesus ate meat and according to the Bible we are allowed to eat meat. However there is much evidence which contradicts this, and as members of a spiritual institution, and hence adherents to a non violent lifestyle, we present it.
The Vegetarian Apostles
Peter, whose food was bread, olives and herbs ” (Hoer 15;cf clem. Hom. X11,6)
James “ the brother of the Lord was holy from birth. He drank no wine nor ate the flesh of animals.” Church Father Eusebius, quoting Hegesippus 160AD
Thomas. “wearing a single garment, giving what he had to others and abstaining from the eating of flesh and the drinking of wine” The Apocyphal Gospels from the history of Christianity – James Vernon Bartlet.
Mathew “… lived upon seeds, nuts, fruit and vegetables without the use of flesh.(Clement of Alexandria/Clem instructor)
Mathias. His food as told by church father Clement of Alexandria was the same as Mathews.
John the Baptist. According to Mathew 3:4 was abstaining from meat meals. (and his food was wild honey and wild locus.) Its difficult to imagine John chasing locusts throughout the desert, dipping them in his honey and crunching on them. The carob bean, prominent throughout that part of the world, was also known as locust bean and its more likely that this was part of his simple though nutritious diet.
Andrew and Jude. Both were originally followers of John the Baptist and there is a good case for them following the same meatless diet.
Paul says, “Destroy not the work of God for the sake of food … It is good neither to drink wine or eat flesh ” (Romans 14. 20,21) although his overall commitment seemed to diminish with time.
We have no information on what the other five disciples of Jesus ate. But if the above information is true, and we can see no reason to doubt it, then surely this not only reflects the dietary habits of the other five, but also of Jesus Himself.
“Since Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Messiah who restores all things, it is no longer permitted to divorce or eat flesh… and so I say to you if you wish to be perfect, it is good not to drink wine or eat flesh…” St Jerome who gave the Vulgate, the authorised Latin version of the Bible.
“We the Christian leaders practice abstinence from the flesh of animals to subdue our bodies. The unnatural eating of flesh is of demonic origin.” St Chrysostomos (AD340-420)
“The steam of meat darkens the light of the spirit…one hardly can have virtue when one enjoys meat meals and feasts” St Basil (AD320-79)
“Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God. They have done us no harm, they have no power of resistence…there is something so dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us and cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power” Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-90)
“The unnatural eating of flesh is as polluting as the heathen’s worship of devils with its sacrifices and impure feasts, through participation in which a man becomes a fellow eater with devils” (2nd century scripture Clement Homilies)
“It is far better to be happy than have the devil dwelling within us, for happiness is found only in the practice of virtue. Accordingly the Apostle Mathew, partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables , without the use of flesh… is there not within a temperate simplicity, a wholesome variety of eatables, vegetables, roots, olives, herbs, milk, cheese, fruits.” Churchfather Clement of Alexandria
“They assemble before sun rising and speak not a word of profane matters but put up certain prayers…and sit down together each one to a single plate of one sort of innocent food.” Joseph Flavius
Did Jesus Eat Meat?
Close study of the Greek manuscripts show that the vast majority of the words translated as “meat” are trophe and brome which simply mean food or eating in the broadest sense. For example in the Gospel (Luke 8;55) we read that Jesus raised a woman from the dead and commanded to “give her meat” The original Greek word translated as meat is “phago” which means only to eat. So what Jesus actually said was let her eat. The original Greek word for meat is kreas (flesh) and it is never used in connection with Jesus Christ.
Historical observers on Christianity
Pliny, Governor of Bithynia (where Peter preached) refers to the early Christians in a letter to Trajan, the Roman Emperor as a “contagious superstition abstaining from flesh food”
Seneca (5BC-65AD), stoic philosopher and tutor of Nero, describes the Christians as “ a foreign cultus or superstition (under imperial suspicion) who abstain from flesh food.”
“He continually fasts and prays, wears the same garment in all weathers, accepts nothing from anyone, gives whatever he has to others and abstains from meat and wine” The apocryphical acts of Thomas describing the early Christians.
“No streams of blood are among them, no dainty cookery, no heaviness of head. Nor are horrible smells of flesh meats among them or disagreeable fumes from the kitchen” St Chrysostomos describing the early Christians
Finally, one cannot justify being non-violent towards human beings but violent toward animals. Animals are also creatures of God, and they also have a right to live undisturbed. When fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk are abundant, a slaughterhouse is a symbol of barbarianism. The mouth that speaks of peace and non-violence but feeds on the blood and flesh of slaughtered animals is the mouth of a hypocrite or a fool.
Anyone who maintains slaughterhouses with their weekly contributions are maintaining the most evil industry on planet earth, and under such conditions how can there be any possibility for peace, what to speak of spiritual progress. If we take the statistic of 12 million animals slaughtered each year in one slaughterhouse, and we times it by the many thousands of slaughterhouses throughout the world, we can understand that each year it runs into billions and billions.
Planet earth has become planet death, and on planet death the perpetrators of these abominations make plans for peace. They are so stupid they think they can sow seeds of thorns and produce roses. This mentality is now prominent amongst so-called religious leaders who ignore their very own tenants, which clearly state “thou shalt not kill” “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself” and “as you sow so shall you reap.”
Jesus was a Vegetarian ~ MUST SEE!
Jesus was a Vegetarian: Biblical and Historical Proof
The Nazarene Way
Follow this link for an excellent compilation of verses from the Bible on the topic of vegetarianism & kindness to animals …
EVIDENCE THAT JESUS AND THE ORIGINAL ARAMAIC CHRISTIANS WERE VEGETARIANS
By James Bean
(Exploring the World Religions Column, Copyright January, 2018)
Also see, Early Christian Vegetarian Communities:https://hippocratesinst.org/early-christian-vegetarian-comunities
And, also see, The Ebionites (Essenes who, early on, populated the Jesus Movement): https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/ebionites
“As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” (Pythagoras)
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” (Albert Einstein)
“Be on guard, so that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh and with the intoxication of wine and with the anxiety of the world, and that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all who dwell upon the surface of the earth.” (Jesus, Luke 21:34, Evangelion Da-Mepharreshe — Old Syriac-Aramaic Manuscript of the New Testament Gospels)
“Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’” (Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 9:13, Good News translation)
Below you will encounter vegetarian sayings of Jesus from many sources — canonical and extra-canonical — along with a collection of passages revealing that the Apostles of the Jesus Movement were also vegetarians, following in the footsteps of their spiritual Master. In addition, I include examples of pro-veg passages from some early church fathers and many other writings too.
The carnistic premise or bias of Western church tradition about eating meat is really based on European dietary customs, but they have made use of a couple of verses from the orthodox New Testament in order to reinforce their already established preference for eating meat.
For those not acquainted with Judeo-Christian history and the various collections of writings or scriptures from the early centuries A.D., at first glance, or at least on the surface, it appears that Jesus ate fish and John the Baptist dined on insects. Certainly European Christianity portrays it that way. The uninformed Sunday school notion of the disciples of Jesus forever remaining fisherman lives on in the minds of many.
When it comes to vegetarianism and Christianity the first question people always ask is: “In the scriptures aren’t there passages describing Jesus as serving fish on a couple of occasions, as well as eating lamb during the Jewish holiday known as Passover?” They have inherited the belief that Jesus was a meat-eating-Messiah. Some might also cite a verse about John the Baptist eating insects (locusts).
Dueling Gospel Traditions — Pro-Meat and Pro-Veg
There are two traditions within Buddhism: pro-meat and pro-vegetarian. Each have their own sutras or scriptures.
The same is historically true with Christianity: the original Jesus Movement or Hebrew Christians (sometimes called Aramaic Christians, Ebionites or Nasoraeans) with their gospels vs. scriptures associated with Paul and what evolved into the Roman church.
The Gospels of the Hebrews and Ebionites describe a vegetarian ethos: a vegetarian Jesus and vegetarian Apostles, a John the Baptist who ate carob (locust beans) — beans not bugs! and a rejection of ritual animal sacrifice, be it in pagan temples or the Jewish temple of Jerusalem.
For the followers of Paul, dropping the vegetarian dietary requirement of the Jesus Movement was a way to make it easier to get more converts around the Roman Empire.
In Sikhism as well we see a similar kind of shift away from the earlier vegetarian ethics of the founder, Guru Nanak, towards meat-eating gradually getting adopted by orthodox Sikhism after the time of the Tenth Sikh Guru.
In each of these cases the original spiritual movements were vegetarian, but later versions of these paths eventually accommodated the diet of the larger cultures around them swelling their ranks.
For most, living their busy lives and not interested in difficult research anyway, this is an all-too-complicated history of Passover lambs eaten or not eaten, locusts vs. locust beans, and other “fishy” choices made by certain gospel manuscript copyists adding extra servings of fish to the menu. Most stay stuck with whatever diet and beliefs they’ve grown up with. Change (metanoia) is not their way. So on the question of diet they just
see what they wish to see
and change shall never be.
Those on a spiritual quest seeking truth are sometimes more flexible and willing to change. Only a compassionate heart will figure this out.
What About Those Pesky ‘Fishes and Loaves’?
The original version of the “Feeding of the Multitude” story only refers to bread, not bread with fish. “Fish” apparently got added to some gospel verses later on. Keith Akers points out the existence of different versions of the biblical story — the Feeding of the 5,000 or the Multitude:
“If you look at other accounts of the same incident… If you look, for example, at the Early Church Fathers, who also talk about these stories, Irenaeus mentions the feeding of the 5,000. Eusebius also mentions that, and Arnobius, another early church writer also discusses Jesus’ feeding of the multitude, the miraculous feeding of the multitude.
“And in every case they discuss the bread but they don’t mention anything about fish. So I think that fish is a later addition. In fact, if you even look at the New Testament, it says, at another point, when Jesus is talking about the feeding of the five thousand, he says, ‘Don’t you remember when I fed the multitudes and all the bread that we took up?’ And he doesn’t mention the fish.” (Keith Akers’ website: www.CompassionateSpirit.com ) Also see: Keith Akers, Was Jesus a Vegetarian? http://www.compassionatespirit.com/wpblog/2015/12/01/was-jesus-a-vegetarian )
Matthew 16:9’s Loaves Without Any Mention of Fish: “Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” No fish included with the loaves there.
Mark 8:16–21 — Again… another example of bread but no fish being mentioned in connection with the Feeding of the Five Thousand.
Iraneus lived during the Second Century and described in detail the Miracle of the Multitude being feed with bread. No mention whatsoever of fish.Eusebius and Arnobius also never mention ‘fishes with the loaves’, only the loaves. And now I’ve found two more references in early Christian apocryphal writings, again mentioning the bread but not the fish, as if in the New Testament they were reading at the time, the feeding of the five thousand story didn’t include fish… because the ‘fish’ hadn’t been inserted into Greek gospel manuscripts yet?
As it now stands, in the New Testament Gospels: “The bread is everywhere present, but the fish only sometimes. This strongly suggests that the original tradition was about distribution of bread, not bread and fish. In the case of Matthew 16:9–10, the insertion of fish becomes obvious, because the editors of Matthew changed the original story to include fish but forgot to change Jesus’ backward reference.” (Keith Akers, The Fish Stories in the New Testament: http://www.compassionatespirit.com/wpblog/2012/01/31/the-fish-stories-in-the-new-testament )
There are actually many examples of “textual variations” in the diversity of New Testament manuscripts, with words or phrases either being added or omitted. In New Testament manuscripts, while there are some textual variations throughout, by far, the majority of variations occur with the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_textual_variants_in_the_New_Testament
And see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textual_variants_in_the_New_Testament
The most spectacular example of this is at the end of the Gospel of Mark, which has several different alternate endings depending on what manuscript one happens to be using:
“Manuscripts omitting Mark 16:9–20
Manuscripts adding a shorter ending after verse 8
Manuscripts adding a shorter ending and verses 9–20
Manuscripts adding verses 9–20
Manuscripts adding verses 9–20 with a notation
Manuscripts adding verses 9–20 without divisions”
So it’s interesting to notice that fishes are not always included with the loaves in the various accounts of the “Feeding of the Five Thousand” mentioned in the New Testament gospels and other sources.
An Important Observation About the Fish Symbol: “…We should maybe keep in mind that fish was a well known mystical symbol… The Greek word for fish (Ichthys) was used as an acronym whose initials in Greek stood for ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior’.” (Ted Altar, Did Christ at Least Eat Fish? https://ivu.org/history/christian/christ_veg.html )
In any case, “It’s not where you’ve been; it’s where you’re going,” as the saying goes. Many of us have changed our diets upon adopting a spiritual path or converting to a new religion. While several of the disciples are described as having been fisherman, and there are clearly a few references to fish in the New Testament gospels, we find Jesus saying to his new friends: “Come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men [fishers of people, souls,].” (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17) So rather than remaining fisherman, perhaps operating an imagined Jesus Fish Company of Galilee — some sort of lifelong career as fisherman, in other words — RATHER THAN THAT — what we do find is those individuals adopting a new spiritual path, being transformed into disciples and eventually even becoming spiritual teachers.
Scroll down to see the section below titled: The Vegetarian Apostles (Leadership of the Original Jesus Movement).
Rather than more fish metaphors, a variety of different sources in early Christianity described these Apostles as being vegetarians***, as they got older, becoming the founders of various spiritual communities as the successors of Christ, focused on the teachings of Jesus.
*** “John never ate meat.” “James, the brother of the Lord, lived on seeds and plants and touched neither meat nor wine.” The Apostle Thomas: “He continually fasts and prays, and abstaining from the eating of flesh…” “…The Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, hard-shelled fruits, and vegetables, without flesh.” Peter said, “I live on olives and bread, to which I rarely only add vegetables…” “The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils…” (Peter, Clementine Homilies)
We even get to directly hear from some of those Apostles in various early Christian writings: gospels, acts, revelations, spiritual discourses, homilies, and letters of Peter, James, John, Thomas, Bartholomew, Barnabas, The Teaching of the Twelve, etc… See the online e-library, Early Christian Writings: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com
In the Ebionite scriptures there are no more descriptions of young disciples of Jesus being involved in fishing or eating fish. In the Ebionite scriptures there are no accounts of Jesus eating fish or miracles of multitudes being feed fish. There are no descriptions of Jesus consuming the flesh of any animal. Rather, those contain sayings of Jesus condemning the eating of meat. (See: The Ebionites: http://www.compassionatespirit.com/wpblog/category/religion/ebionites )
According to the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus rejected the Passover meal: “I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you.”
Furthermore, in the Ebionite scriptures Jesus condemned animal sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem and sought to forever bring that practice to an end. The Ebionite or Hebrew Gospel quotes Jesus as saying, “I have come to abolish the sacrifices, and if you cease not from sacrificing, my wrath will not cease from you.” (Panarion 30.16.5)
Below see the sections titled, Jesus Stopping Animal Sacrifice in the Temple, The Biblical Basis For Vegetarianism, and, Uncovering a Vegetarian Jesus (Yeshua) at the Beginning of Christianity.
See, The Acts and Teachings of the Ebionites: The Recognitions of Clement:http://compassionatespirit.com/Books/Recognitions/Recognitions-TOC.htm
See, The Acts and Teachings of the Ebionites: The Clementine Homilies:
Was John the Baptist Really A Bug-Eater?
Another example of translators deliberately trying to add meat to the menu (the canon of scripture) is the strange case of John the Baptist and his alleged diet of locusts. From wiki answers:
“There has been a longstanding confusion in the etymological origin of the word locust. Locust is both a bean from the carob plant and an insect. The greek word for cakes or bread made from the flour of the carob bean is ‘egkrides’ and the Greek word for locust the insect is ‘akrides’.
“John the Baptist belonged to a group of ascetics who believed in repentance and in leading an austere lifestyle. The carob bean was seen as the diet of the lower class who normally endured hardship and exploitation from the priestly class. So we can conclude that JTB [John the Baptist] ate (locust plant) seed from the carob tree.”
According to the Hebrew-Ebionite Gospels, John the Baptist really ate locust (carob) beans and carob bean flour:
“Probably the most interesting of the changes from the familiar New Testament accounts of Jesus comes in the Gospel of the Ebionites description of John the Baptist, who, evidently, like his successor Jesus, maintained a strictly vegetarian cuisine.” (Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, pp. 102, 103)
Says Robert Eisenman in, James the Brother of Jesus, p. 240 — “John… was both a ‘Rechabite’ or ‘Nazarite’ and vegetarian”, p. 264 — “One suggestion is that John ate ‘carobs’; there have been others. Epiphanius, in preserving what he calls ‘the Ebionite Gospel’, rails against the passage there claiming thatJohn ate ‘wild honey’ and ‘manna-like vegetarian cakes dipped in oil. … John would have been one of those wilderness-dwelling, vegetable-eating persons”, p. 326 — “They [the Nazerini] ate nothing but wild fruit milk and honey — probably the same food that John the Baptist also ate.”, p. 367 — “We have already seen how in some traditions ‘carobs’ were said to have been the true composition of John’s food.”, p. 403 — “his [John’s] diet was stems, roots and fruits. Like James and the other Nazirites/Rechabites, he is presented as a vegetarian …”.
Another Form of Locust or Carob Beans: https://www.naij.com/397241-7-healthy-benefits-of-locust-bean-iru.html
Beans, not bugs.
Christianity Before Paul (The Original Hebrew Christians or Ebionites) and the Essene Connection
The editing out of vegetarian sayings, (scroll down and see below the reference to the Aramaic-Syriac translation of Luke 21:34, Evangelion Da-Mepharreshe), adding fish to the Feeding of the Five Thousand in second century Greek manuscripts, and translators choosing the word “locust” instead of carob, giving John the Baptist an unusual diet of bugs, are all troubling examples of slanting the translations or tampering with texts — adding meat to the menu. We know that Roman culture and later European church traditions were OK with eating meat. What interests me however is the diet of Jesus and the first Christians, not the dietary preferences of Roman translators of manuscripts centuries later.
It needs to be said that the familiar Western or European canon of scripture seemingly allied with Saint Paul, does not even claim to be representing the teachings of the Apostles, the original inner circle of Jesus’s disciples, the first Christians.
Paul did advocate that it was OK for new converts to eat meat, but he himself supplies us with evidence in his own letters (‘epistles’) dating back to the early decades of the First Century AD (around 50 AD) that others in early Christianity disagreed with him about diet and many other issues. It turns out that Paul dropped the vegetarian requirement for his new gentile converts. If you read his New Testament Epistle to the Galatians closely, you can notice there was quite a bit of tension between Paul and the original Jesus Movement based in Jerusalem (‘the others’). In his writings Paul gives them ‘left-handed compliments,’ calls them “weak,” “of the circumcision,” and even “Judaizers.” Clearly, he was not close to them but had a strained, frosty, distant, awkward relationship with the original disciples of Jesus. Given their solid credibility and affiliation with Jesus however, Paul couldn’t completely come out and denounce them, but he does greatly marginalize them. They are barely mentioned at all. There’s a few short writings not authored by Paul near the end — at the back of the book — not many of their scriptures got included in the New Testament.
Those in the Jerusalem part of the Jesus movement, Jesus’ own family and spiritual successors headed by the Apostle James the Just, the brother of Jesus and next leader of the Aramaic-speaking Jerusalem community, were all vegetarians. They disagreed with Paul’s sect about diet, believing that Jewish and gentile followers of Jesus, including new converts, should all be vegetarians, and have nothing whatsoever to do with religious rituals pertaining to animal sacrifice (“eating meat that has been sacrificed to pagan idols”).
How could it be that Jesus’ own family, the actual group of direct, spiritual successors and first disciples, would have it all wrong about diet, and forms of Christianity that were founded decades and centuries later, got it right? The truth of the matter is that the Hebrew gospels did not portray Jesus as eating fish or Passover lamb, and in those gospels, John the Baptist did not eat any insects. Paul’s group, and those sects that emerged later on in Europe claiming succession from Paul, had their literature, but so did the Ebionites, the Hebrew Christians. There were pro-meat gospels as we all know, but there were also vegetarian gospels: the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, Hebrew Loggia of Matthew, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and other Ebionite literature including the Clementine Homilies and the Recognitions of Clement, a kind of Ebionite Book of Acts. These are not ‘channeled’ or recently composed writings, but scriptures that have long been known to scholars and were used by other branches of Christianity from the Middle East in antiquity. What survives of these scriptures can be found on the shelves of most seminary libraries. Sometimes these books are called “extra-canonical writings”, “apocrypha”, or “lost books of the Bible.” These are books of someone else’s Bible or collection of scriptures — in other words, sacred texts once used by other forms of Apostolic or indigenous Christianity long ago in Israel, Syria (Mesopotamia), Turkey (Asia Minor), Egypt, Ethiopia, the Mediterranean region, etc…
The Jewish Christians called themselves “The Ebionites.” “Ebionite” is a word derived from Hebrew meaning: “The Poor,”, and were the first Christian community described in the New Testament Acts of the Apostles (4:32–35), a spiritual or intentional community that shared all of their possessions in common.
The Biblical Basis For Vegetarianism
The Genesis ideal presented in the early chapters of the Hebrew Bible is vegetarian. The Plant-Based-Diet of Eden:
“Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; it will be yours for food.”(Hebrew Book of Genesis 1:29, a translation quoted at a vegetarian Kabbalah website)
Only after the ‘Fall of Man’ and post ‘Flood’ phases begin is there meat-eating according to Genesis, and ritual animal sacrifice.
Quite often, spiritual movements advocating going back to Eden, re-entering a heavenly paradise, entering into a golden age, millennium, kingdom of God, or mystical reunion with God include vegetarianism as part of their spiritual path. From the beginning and across the many centuries there have always been vegetarian Jewish movements, the Nazarites, Essenes, Sethians, Therapeutae and many others.
The Essenes were one of the three major branches of Judaism, and predates Jesus and Christianity at least by a couple of centuries. During the First Century AD, the Essenes were opposed to animal sacrifices being made in the Jewish temple and they were also known to be vegetarians. The Essenes were the group that Jesus and the first Christians, the Ebionites, were closest to, sharing with them many of the same values and sacred texts. Unlike the Sadducees and Pharisees, the Essenes are never criticized in the New Testament. The Hebrew church was largely populated by messianic Essenes.
This earlier Essene movement within Judaism adhered to a vegetarian diet, and had also been opposed to animal sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem. That is the context within Judaism. The Essenes (of Dead Sea Scrolls fame), the John the Baptist group, the Mandaean Gnostics (also known as Nazarenes, Nasuraiia or Nasoraeans) and the Jesus movement had much in common and are related to each other. For instance, followers of the original Jesus movement are sometime called Ebionites, and that term Ebionite also appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scholars continue to debate the exact nature of their relationship. In any case, these groups shared many of the same values, scriptures, and spiritual beliefs.
A Vegetarian Ideal Described by Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah 11:6–9
The prophecy described in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Isaiah 11:6–9 foresees a return to a vegetarian world like that described in the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis — back to Eden, where the cow, bear, snake, and the children of humanity coexist in peace. Lambs and wolves will feed together and lions will be vegetarians again:
“The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.”
The New Testament Book of Revelation 21:4 adds: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
For the Essene branch of Judaism (of Dead Sea Scrolls fame) the Book of Isaiah was a very central text. Many copies of it were discovered at the Essene library of Qumran. Isaiah was a favorite text of the Hebrew Christians as well, along with another book known as the Ascension of Isaiah.
Dr. Will Tuttle, author of, The World Peace Diet, once told me that for most of the last two thousand years those who have been either vegans or vegetarians have been called “Pythagoreans”, till relatively recently in history when terms like “vegan” and “vegetarian” got coined. Such has been the lasting legacy of Pythagoras upon the West. Though in the Greek world of antiquity, the Pythagoreans were a significant influence on many — were major advocates of vegetarianism and discontinuing religious ritual animal sacrifices in various temples — from passages such as Genesis 1:29, Isaiah 11:6–9, Hosea 6:6 and others, one can understand why – Jews and Christians during the late B.C. and early A.D. period could easily see a Biblical basis for their vegetarianism.
If the way of peaceful vegetarianism is the Divine ideal — “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done” — why postpone it for millennia, relegating it to some far away time in the deep distant future? Why not follow the examples of the Essenes and Ebionite Christians and step into this vegetarian ideal today, catching a glimpse of the golden age or paradise right now in the living present? #AssistingIsaiah #BackToEden
A Reflection About Saint Paul’s Leniency For New Converts
“So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live — for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” (Paul, 1 Corinthians 8:13)
As we see below, the Gnostics were vegetarians, as were some of those early Catholic/Orthodox church fathers. Both held Paul in extremely high regard, so how could Paul really have been the enemy, the opponent of vegetarian Christians? Maybe he wasn’t. Perhaps at the heart of his dispute with the original disciples of Jesus and Jerusalem Apostles was how he wished to structure his new community of gentile believers. Some in early Christianity developed a two-fold or two-level organisational approach of:
1) “Hearers of the Word”, new converts to the faith, and
2): “the Elect”, those initiates of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven more mature who were “being perfected in love and knowledge” adhering to a stricter discipline that included vegetarianism.
Some successors of Paul certainly did follow this two-fold or two-tiered approach in their communities, including the part about the Elect initiates adhering to a vegetarian diet. I suspect Paul did too.
The Hebrew Christians however did not have a two-tiered format: one for new converts or gentile believers, and another for Jews more established in wisdom and knowledge. They only had the one level and ethical standard for all.
Uncovering a Vegetarian Jesus (Yeshua) at the Beginning of Christianity
Epiphanius quotes their gospel, the Ebionite or Hebrew Gospel, as ascribing these words to Jesus: ‘I have come to destroy the sacrifices’ (Panarion 30.16.5), and as ascribing to Jesus’ rejection of the Passover meat (Panarion 30.22.4), and these are analogous to numerous passages found in the Recognitions and Homilies (e.g., Recognitions 1.36, 1.54 and Homilies 3.45, 7.4, 7.8).
“Baptism Instituted in Place of Sacrifices: But when the time began to draw near that what was wanting in the Mosaic institutions should be supplied, as we have said, and that the Prophet should appear, of whom he had foretold that He should warn them by the mercy of God to cease from sacrificing; lest haply they might suppose that on the cessation of sacrifice there was no remission of sins for them, He instituted baptism by water amongst them, in which they might be absolved from all their sins on the invocation of His name, and for the future, following a perfect life, might abide in immortality, being purified not by the blood of beasts, but by the purification of the Wisdom of God.” (Recognitions 1.39)
The Ebionite or Hebrew Gospel quotes Jesus as saying, “I have come to abolish the sacrifices, and if you cease not from sacrificing, my wrath will not cease from you.” (Panarion 30.16.5)
According to the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus also rejected the Passover meal:
“Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?”
To which he replied:
“I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you.”
Jesus Stopping Animal Sacrifice in the Temple
“The dispute over vegetarianism in the early church shows that the leadership of the Jerusalem church was vegetarian. The later history of Jewish Christianity indicates that Jewish Christianity was vegetarian and preserved this tradition of defending animals. Jesus’ attack on the animal sacrifice business demonstrates that Jesus himself shared these views.” (Was Jesus a vegetarian? http://www.compassionatespirit.com/wpblog/2015/12/01/was-jesus-a-vegetarian/#more-2512 )
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: ‘Get out of here.’ (John 2:13–16)
Most remember the part about Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple, but the pro-meat bias most have inherited makes it more difficult to get the significance of the anti-animal sacrifice/freeing the animals aspect of the story.
“Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’” (Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 9:13, Good News translation) Here Jesus was referring to a passage in the Hebrew Bible that was very popular with the Essenes, the vegetarian branch of Judaism that rejected sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem. Hosea 6:6: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Gospel of Matthew, a saying attributed to Jesus from a Syriac-Aramaic manuscript)
This same old Syriac-Aramaic manuscript also preserves a vegetarian saying attributed to Jesus. I find it fascinating that both the saying above and this one appear to be slightly longer in this manuscript than their counterparts in the Greek New Testament, and the Greek manuscripts of Luke have the vegetarian part of Luke 21:34 edited out.
A Vegetarian Saying of Jesus in the Old Syriac-Aramaic Manuscript of the Gospel of Luke: “Be on guard, so that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh and with the intoxication of wine and with the anxiety of the world, and that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all who dwell upon the surface of the earth.” (Jesus, Luke 21:34, Evangelion Da-Mepharreshe — Old Syriac-Aramaic Manuscript of the New Testament Gospels)
One of the earliest Ebionite Christian documents is the Clementine Homilies, a work based on the teachings of Saint Peter. Homily XII states:
“The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils.” (Saint Peter, Clementine Homilies)
Paul however was OK with the practice of eating meat sacrificed to idols that came from various pagan temples. But, like their Essene ancestors, the original Jesus Movement categorically rejected this. The author of the Book of Revelation in the New Testament also denounced this practice. See Book of Revelation 2:12–17: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate meat sacrificed to idols…”. This passage from Revelation actually contradicts other verses in the New Testament authored by Paul. But… as I mentioned earlier, Paul might have had a different approach where it was OK for new converts (“Hearers of the Word”) to continue eating meat, for awhile at least, but perhaps he had in mind a stricter moral code and spiritual disciple for those growing more mature who eventually would be perfected in love and knowledge (gnosis).
The Vegetarian Apostles (Leadership of the Original Jesus Movement)
The first followers of Jesus, also known as Ebionites or Nazoreans, were not only kosher, but also strictly adhered to a vegetarian diet. The largest surviving collection of Ebionite scriptures is the Clementine Homilies and the Recognitions of Clement, which are vegetarian gospels that condemn animal sacrifice in any form. For example, the Book of Homilies states that God does not want animals killed at all (3.45), and condemns those who eat meat (7.4, 7.8). And the passages below also show that the Ebionites’ diet was vegan — plant-based (no eggs, no dairy, and no animal products mentioned).
“And the things which are well-pleasing to God are these: to pray to Him, to ask from Him, recognising that He is the giver of all things, and gives with discriminating law; to abstain from the table of devils, not to taste dead flesh, not to touch blood; to be washed from all pollution; and the rest in one word, — as the God-fearing Jews have heard, do you also hear, and be of one mind in many bodies; let each man be minded to do to his neighbour those good things he wishes for himself.” (Clementine Homilies 7.4)
“They [the Apostles] embraced and persevered in a strenuous and a laborious life, with fasting and abstinence from wine and meat.” (Eusebius, church father, Demonstratio Evangelica or “Proof of the Gospels”)
More from Saint Peter: Peter said, “I live on olives and bread, to which I rarely only add vegetables.” (Clementine Homilies 12,6; also see, Recognitions 7,6) And the earlier quoted vegetarian verse attributed to Peter is worth repeating again here: “The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils.” (Saint Peter, Clementine Homilies)
Matthew: “And happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, hard-shelled fruits, and vegetables, without flesh.” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 1)
The Apostle Thomas: “He continually fasts and prays, and abstaining from the eating of flesh and the drinking wine, he eats only bread with salt, drinks only water, and wears the same garment in fine weather and winter, accepting nothing from anyone, and gives whatever he has to others.” (Acts of Thomas, chapter 20)
“John never ate meat.” (Church historian Hegesipp according to Eusebius, History of the Church II 2:3)
James the Just, Brother of Jesus, Head Apostle and the Next Leader of the Church, was a Vegetarian
Jesus had a brother. He’s referred to by scholars and historians as “James the Just”. According to a wide variety of sources, James became Jesus’s spiritual successor, the next leader of this group, referred to as the “Hebrew Christians” or “Ebionites”.
“James was a vegetarian.” (Prof. Robert Eisenman in, James the Just, The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls)
“James, the brother of the Lord, lived on seeds and plants and touched neither meat nor wine.” (Epistulae ad Faustum XXII, 3)
“James, the brother of the Lord was holy from his mothers womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.” (Hegesippus, quoted in The Church History of Eusebius, book 2, chapter 23)
And furthermore, wouldn’t everyone in Jesus’s family — brothers and sisters — be following the same diet and ethical code? On what planet would parents raise one child vegetarian from birth but another gets raised as a meat-eater?
Keith Akers makes some great observations in his article, Was Jesus A Vegetarian? “Eusebius says that James the brother of Jesus was a vegetarian, and in fact was evidently raised as a vegetarian (Ecclesiastical History 2.23). Why would Jesus’ parents have raised James as a vegetarian, unless they were vegetarian themselves and raised Jesus as a vegetarian as well? Eusebius also states (Proof of the Gospel 3.5) that all the Apostles abstained from meat and wine.”
And James became the successor of Christ and next leader of the Jesus Movement! The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 12: “The disciples said to Jesus; ‘We are aware that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?’ Jesus said to him, ‘No matter where you come, it is to James the Just that you shall go, for whose sake heaven and earth have come to exist.’”(Bently Layton’s translation)
Though never seeing eye-to-eye with the original Jerusalem community on many things including the issue of meat eating, in his epistles even Paul the rogue Apostle, confirms this leadership role of James the Just, “the Lord’s brother” in Jerusalem, and he himself went to visit him to seek his blessings on a couple of occasions.
Church Fathers And Other Later Voices Affirming the Existence of the Earlier Veg Tradition
“Jacobus [James], the brother of Jesus, lived of seeds and vegetables and did not accept meat or wine.” (Saint Augustine)
“The consumption of animal flesh was unknown up until the great flood. But since the great flood, we have had animal flesh stuffed into our mouths. Jesus, the Christ, who appeared when the time was fulfilled, again joined the end to the beginning, so that we are now no longer allowed to eat animal flesh.” (pro-vegetarian early church father Hieronymus [St. Jerome] who apparently read the Gospel of the Hebrews and was influenced by Ebionite views)
“The eating of meat was unknown up to the big flood, but since the flood they have the strings and stinking juices of animal meat into our mouths, just as they threw in front of the grumbling sensual people in the desert. Jesus Christ, who appeared when the time had been fulfilled, has again joined the end with the beginning, so that it is no longer allowed for us to eat animal meat.” (another version of the same passage attributed to Saint Jerome/Hieronymus)
“Sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for eating flesh.” (Clement of Alexandria)
Origen of Alexandria “…was a teetotaler and a vegetarian and he often fasted for long periods of time.” (Wikipedia, citing Greggs 2009, p. 102., and McGuckin 2004, p. 6.)
“The steam of meat meals darkens the spirit. One can hardly have virtue if one enjoys meat meals and feasts. In the earthly paradise [Eden], no one sacrificed animals, and no one ate meat.” (Saint Basil the Great)
The following passage is from the Recognitions of Clement. This Ebionite Christian author has very nice things to say about those in India who worship One God, follow peaceful customs and laws, and are vegetarian or vegan. Imagine! Clearly he sees parallels between his own religion and that of his brothers and sisters “in the Indian countries.” This is one of the most amazing passages I know of in the extra-canonical scriptures, as it is a rare example of one religion (Ebionite, Hebrew Christianity) recognizing “Truth” in another religion (Hinduism), a rare inter-faith moment in human history. The Recognitions of Clement, and The Clementine Homilies are surviving Jewish-Christian texts representing an Ebionite vegetarian point of view:
“There are likewise amongst the Bactrians,
in the Indian countries,
immense multitudes of Brahmans,
who also themselves,
from the tradition of their ancestors,
and peaceful customs and laws,
neither commit murder nor adultery,
nor worship idols,
nor have the practice of eating animal food,
are never drunk,
never do anything maliciously,
but always fear God.”
— Recognitions of Clement, Book 9, Chapter 22, Brahmans, Volume Eight, of the, Ante-Nicene Fathers, page 187, T & T Clark Eerdmans edition.
The Gnostics Were Vegetarians
Gnostic groups are described as being vegetarian. The Prayer of Thanksgiving, one of the Nag Hammadi books, mentions a vegetarian meal taking place at one of their meetings (a Hermetic or Gnostic sect). The Manichaean Gnostics were known for their vegetarianism. The Prophet Mani’s parents were followers of the Elkasites, which was a slightly later Jewish-Christian sect related to the Ebionites. They were vegetarians. Mani was veg, and his inner circle of followers or initiates also were veg.
Elaine Pagels briefly discusses the connection between a veg Gnostic passage and Indian philosophy in her book, The Gnostic Gospels, quoting the early church father Hippolytus:
“There is…among the Indians a heresy of those who philosophize among the Brahmins, who live a self sufficient life, abstaining from eating living creatures and all cooked food… They say that God is Light, not like the Light one sees, nor like the sun nor fire, but to them God is Discourse, not that which finds expression in articulate sounds, but that of knowledge, or gnosis, through which the secret mysteries of nature are perceived by the wise.” (Hippolytus, Refutation Omnium Haeresium)
Vegetarian Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Nag Hammadi Library (Gnostic Gospels) and Corpus Hermeticum
This the prayer that they spoke:
“We give thanks to You!
Every soul and heart is lifted up to You,
undisturbed name, honored with the name ‘God’
and praised with the name ‘Father’,
for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness
and affection and love,
and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain,
giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge:
mind, so that we may understand You,
speech, so that we may expound You,
knowledge, so that we may know You.
We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge.
We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself.
We rejoice because while we are in (the) body,
You have made us divine through Your knowledge.
“The thanksgiving of the one who attains to You is one thing:
that we know You.
We have known You, Light of mind.
Life of life, we have known You.
Womb of every creature, we have known You.
Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father,
we have known You.
Eternal permanence of the begetting Father,
thus have we worshiped Your goodness.
“There is one petition that we ask:
we would be preserved in knowledge.
And there is one protection that we desire:
that we not stumble in this kind of life.”
“When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each
other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it.” *
* “Vegetarian food” — footnote from the Marvin Meyer translation of this in, The Gnostic Scriptures.
This passage is also found in the Epilogue of Asclepius, in “HERMETICA,” translated by Sir Walter Scott: “Having prayed thus, let us betake ourselves to a meal unpolluted by flesh [animalia] of living things.”
The G.R.S. Mead translation of the same verse: “With this desire we now betake us to our pure and fleshless meal.”
“With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing.” (Asclepius, translated in “Hermetica”, Brian Copenhaver, Cambridge University Press)
Some Early Church orthodox “Heresy Hunters” used to require meat-eating on Sundays as a way to discover who the vegetarian Gnostics were in their midst! Since Gnostics were generally vegetarians, anyone refusing to partake of fleshly meals would be suspected of heresy:
“While the initial cause for Gnostic vegetarianism has been unknown in the past, many classical Christian authors have documented the Gnostic’s widespread practice of vegetarianism. In a 4th Century Christian document it attests that ‘Heretical Gnostic Christians were still so common, and there were so many Gnostic Heretics among the clergy and monks in Egypt that in the region of Theodosius Egypt, the Patriarch Timothy made eating meat compulsory on Sundays, as a way to flush out the vegetarian Gnostics.’” (Luke Meyers, “Gnostic Visions”)
What About Those Modern-Day Essene Gospels of Peace?
No doubt, both the John the Baptist group and Jesus’s group were populated by Essene Jews. I think what modern-day neo Essene groups mean when they use the word “Essene” … is Ebionite. I wrote a paragraph about this in my first article. ‘The earlier Essene movement within Judaism adhered to a vegetarian diet. That’s the context within Judaism. The Essenes (of Dead Sea Scrolls fame), the John the Baptist group, and the Jesus movement had much in common and are somehow related to each other. Scholars frequently debate the exact nature of their relationship. In any case, they shared many of the same values, scriptures, and spiritual beliefs.’
Then there was John the Baptist, a former Essene that formed his own unique group. He eventually had a huge following. Many thought John the Baptist was the messiah. And not all of John’s followers signed up and joined the Jesus movement. In fact, there are still followers of John the Baptist even now in the Middle east, and they are not Christian — they don’t follow Jesus at all but see John the Baptist as their great prophet and messiah. In recent years some of them have even relocated to the US and other Western countries.
John the Baptist seems to have been Jesus’s spiritual master. And then, after the death of John, Jesus begins his ministry and a group eventually forms around him.
So I don’t see these different movements as being cataloged under the one label, Essene, but they are related to each other some how or another, cousins, or branches within Judaism.
In the articles I’ve written I only use ancient texts recognized by scholars to provide evidence for vegetarianism in the original Christianity.
The Essene Gospel of Peace, authored by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, and the Essene Humane Gospel, though well-intended attempts to reinvent vegetarian Ebionite Christianity, are not ancient texts. They were published only a few decades ago. There’s no Aramaic, Greek, or Hebrew versions of the Essene Gospel of Peace. The Essene Gospel of Peace is not an ancient text or secret Vatican library document, but represented Szekely’s own attempt to “resurrect” the lost Gospel of the Hebrews or Ebionites, the views of that original group that was vegetarian and seemed much closer to the Essenes than any other branch of Judaism. I have enjoyed reading the Essene Gospel of Peace volumes. They have some profound things to say, and probably Szekely was an initiate of the same Indian-based spiritual path I follow, but except for some older passages that were quoted in those, they otherwise are not ancient books. Volume Four of Szekely’s Gospel of Peace is my favorite, as it features Szekely’s poetry about the Inner Light and Sound meditation. But for ancient texts proving that vegetarianism was part of early Christianity one must cite the Clementine Ebionite gospel literature, not the Essene Gospel of Peace.
There are several neo-Essene type groups that have formed, published books, and have websites these days. They are interested in the Jewish roots of Christianity. Their heart is in the right place and they are onto something, yes, but I disagree with the use of the word Essene, instead preferring Ebionite, since Ebionite refers specifically to followers of Jesus and his successors, what some call the Hebrew Christians.
Did Jesus Travel to India?
There is quite a bit of agreement about Jesus’s twin brother Thomas (Didymus Thomas) travelling to India. From Rome to India, from Orthodox to Gnostic traditions, most seem to believe that to be true. The Acts of Thomas is an important scripture all about Thomas in India. Some of the icons portray Thomas as looking like Christ. I’m not really a believer in Jesus travelling to India. At least not by relying on the Gospel of Isa, which most suspect was a fraud of the 19th Century. But I am open to the idea if there are other sources that place Jesus in India, Kashmir or Tibet. Am always willing to have a look, at least. But in the biblical texts, gnostic gospels, Mandaean writings, and other apocryphal texts, John the Baptist is a very central figure. Jesus is described as receiving initiation from him, and, after John’s death, Jesus seems to have been viewed by many as John’s spiritual successor. The Gospel of John has John endorse Jesus as his successor, and that’s a gospel designed to appeal to followers of John, Essenes, and others in antiquity to sign up with the Jesus movement. Some of John the Baptist’s followers adopted Jesus as the next master, but not all of them embraced Jesus. Other “John-ites”, if you will, followed someone else as the new Master. They wrote some psalms casting Jesus in a very negative light, saying he was a false Master sent by the negative power. And, based on my own acquaintance with more recent spiritual paths, those struggles over succession all sound very familiar.
Also see, “Vegetarianism and Christianity — are they compatible?” by Keith Akers: https://medium.com/sant-mat-meditation-and-spirituality/vegetarianism-and-christianity-are-they-compatible-a-blog-entry-by-keith-akers-467e015a3d67#.7y5mdvqzk
Just found this online. The Mandaic (Aramaic) Book of John the Baptist: http://rogueleaf.com/book-of-john/category/john-the-baptist/
Was Jesus A Vegetarian?
For more about the vegetarian roots of the original Hebrew Christians, explore the Compassionate Spirit website run by Keith Akers:
The Ebionite Book of Acts — The Clementine Literature:
Vegetarianism in the World Religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Baha’i Faith), Courtesy of Supreme Master Television: http://youtu.be/cU_s0wEjt84
Wisdom from the East
That passage above from Saint Basil the Great mentioning that meals of meat darkens the spirit reminds me of a saying of the Buddha: “The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”
The harshest words that Kabir, a great spiritual Master and poet-mystic from Northern India (loved by Sufis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Sants and Hindus alike) ever spoke were directed against the slaughter or consumption of innocent animals. Kabir says, “Keep away from the man who eats meat — his company will ruin your meditation.”
It’s hard to reach more subtle states of tranquility in meditation on an animal flesh diet based on the suffering of other beings.
“I must point out that animal food, even if a single particle is eaten, is detrimental to spiritual progress.” (Huzur Baba Sawan Singh)
The following, on the reason why disciples of Santmat advocate following the vegetarian diet, is by Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj from the book, The Harmony of All Religions (Sarvadharma Samanvy), published by Maharshi Mehi Ashram:
“The saints have addressed the sin of violence with particular attention to the foods which are eaten. Foods which are produced by killing living beings, as well as foods which are not pure and fresh, are considered tamasic. Consumption of these is prohibited by the teachings of the saints. This includes animal products such as meat, fish, and eggs. These foods inhibit the clarity of the mind and the health of the body. There is an old saying: ‘Whatever kind of food we take in, its properties will also fill our mind.’ A parallel saying is, ‘Whatever we eat, just so will our breath smell [indicates the visible effect of food].’
Further, Kabir Sahab says: ‘The kind of food and drink which we consume directly influences how our mind will become. Even the quality of water which we drink will influence our speech.’ These words of Kabir Sahib are not merely rhetorical conjecture, but represent direct experience…
“A great yogi named Bhupendranath Ji Sanyal has said: ‘It is preferable to always avoid the consumption of flesh and fish. This is because in the very cells of these animals there might be bad diseases. But even more significantly, the natural vibration of these creatures is absorbed into the blood. This can create agitation and even sickness, and will destroy the natural calmness of the mind. Also, one must not take intoxicants, as this is a great breach of the spiritual path and natural duty (dharma). [Under the influence of intoxicants people are unable to discern the right path of action].’
“Therefore, we must be disciplined in what we eat and drink, and by being disciplined, our wealth and spiritual path are protected. This world becomes agreeable, and so does the next world, since we won’t be incurring the karmas from killing other living beings.” (Beloved Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj, Sant Mat, the Path of the Masters)
All past and present Masters of Sant Mat, the most advanced Saints of Inner Light and Sound, advocate following the vegetarian diet. In fact, being vegetarian is a requirement in order to be initiated into the meditation practice of Sant Mat, Surat Shabd Yoga, Meditation upon the inner Light and Sound of God.
Sant Mat is a vegetarian Path for mystical, spiritual, ethical and theological reasons. The Masters teach that foods are of three kinds: Satvik, Rajsik, and Tamsik. This last category of foods, which includes all flesh foods, is to be completely avoided. Satvik (pure foods), the first category, includes: grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Satvik foods are considered by Mystics to promote relaxation, meditation, and spiritual experience.
The bad karma and other negative effects of flesh-eating darkens one’s vision of inner Light, interfering with concentration and meditation. It’s interesting to notice that the Satvik diet of Sant Mat, of Hinduism and the Yoga Philosophy of India is also: the life-extension diet, the anti-cancer diet, the diet for antioxidants and most of the other plant-based nutrients, AND the diet of the Light & Sound mystics, East and West.
Below is Keith Aker’s Research Into Ebionite Christianity
Also see, “Vegetarianism and Christianity — are they compatible?” by Keith Akers: https://medium.com/sant-mat-meditation-and-spirituality/vegetarianism-and-christianity-are-they-compatible-a-blog-entry-by-keith-akers-467e015a3d67#.7y5mdvqzk
The first clear evidence that Master Jesus was a vegetarian is that his apostles and followers abided by the plant-based diet. Church Father Eusebius wrote in his work “Demonstratio Evangelica” (“Proof of the Gospels”):
“They [the apostles] embraced and persevered in a strenuous and a laborious life, with fasting and abstinence from wine and meat.”
And in his “Church History” text, Eusebius wrote that apostle John “never ate meat.” The Early Church Father St. Clement of Alexandria, who was also a vegetarian, wrote about the apostle Matthew:
“It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals. Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables, without flesh.”
And in the Ebionite Gospel known as the “Clementine Homilies,”, St. Peter is quoted as having said: “I live on olives and bread to which I rarely only add vegetables.”
In the Gospel of the Hebrews, which was sacred to Early Christian groups such as the Ebionites, Jesus Christ and John the Baptist are portrayed as vegetarians. The Ebionites as well as the other Early Christian groups were themselves vegetarians. The Ebionites accepted only the Gospel of the Hebrews as authentic and believed that this gospel was the original Gospel of Matthew. In their version of the Gospel of the Hebrews, known as the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus said:
“I am come to do away with sacrifices, and if you cease not sacrificing, the wrath of God will not cease from you.”
According to the Gospel of the Ebionites, Lord Jesus also rejected the Passover meal:
“Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?”
To which he replied:
“I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you.”
The view that Jesus did not eat lamb at the Passover meal is also supported by His Holiness Pope Benedict XIV, who stated:
“In all likelihood he [Jesus] celebrated the Passover with his disciples in accordance with the Qumran calendar, hence, at least one day earlier; he celebrated it without a lamb, like the Qumran community which did not recognize Herod’s temple and was waiting for the new temple.”
Master Jesus’s brother, James the Just, is also reported to have been a vegetarian. According to the Church historian Hegesippus and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ brother James became the leader of the Early Church after the passing of Jesus. Hegesippus, as quoted by Eusebius (oui-sebius), wrote:
“After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed ‘the Just’ was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people.”
Biblical scholar Dr. Robert Eisenman wrote in his highly acclaimed book “James, the Brother of Jesus”:
“Because of James’ pre-eminent stature, the sources for him turn out to be quite extensive, more than for any other comparable character, even for those familiar to us as John the Baptist and Peter. In fact, extra-biblical sources contain more reliable information about James than about Jesus.” Dr. Robert Eisenman concluded: “Who and whatever James was, so was Jesus.” When Dr. Eisenman was asked if it can be assumed that Jesus was a vegetarian as well, he replied: “Almost certainly.” In an interview with Supreme Master Television, Keith Akers, author of the book “The Lost Religion of Jesus,” reaffirmed the evidence that Lord Jesus was indeed a vegetarian:
“There were a bunch of people in the Early Church who didn’t eat meat and didn’t drink wine. It’s clear. We hear from other sources, that all the Apostles were vegetarian, and that James, the brother of Jesus, was also a vegetarian. Hegesippus is quoted as saying that James, the brother of Jesus, was not only a vegetarian, but he didn’t drink wine. And he was raised that way. He was holy from his mother’s womb. In other words, he was vegetarian from his birth. So why would Jesus’ parents raise James as vegetarian, and not raise Jesus as a vegetarian? It was a vegetarian family. So I think it’s pretty clear, actually, that Jesus was a vegetarian.
“There are versions of the Gospels in which Jesus directly denounced the eating of meat. One such version is the Evangelion Da-mepharreshe, also called the Old Syriac Gospels. Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic, the language in which Jesus spoke. Two manuscripts of the Old Syriac Gospels exist: the Syriac Sinaiticus and the Curetonian Gospels. The Syriac Sinaiticus was found in the St. Catherine Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Egypt in 1892, and the Curetonian Gospels were brought from the Wadi El Nat-run monastery in Egypt to the British Library in 1842. In the Old Syriac Gospels, Luke 21:34, Jesus is quoted as saying:
“Now beware in yourselves that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh and with the intoxication of wine and with the anxiety of the world, and that day come up upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all them that sit on the surface of the earth.”
“And in the Gospel of Matthew, there are also teachings of Jesus which make the most sense when deciphered from a vegetarian standpoint. For example:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
“Another incident in the Gospels that depicts the Master’s concern for animals is when he boldly puts an end to the animal sacrifice.
“This is a critical event in the life of Jesus, and just the week before his death, Jesus goes into the temple and he disrupts the animal sacrifice business. And this is the incident that everyone remembers as Jesus overturns the tables of the moneychangers. But in fact, he’s not primarily interested in the moneychangers, he’s interested in the people that are selling and buying animals. Why are they selling and buying animals?
“These are the animals that are going to be sacrificed. The incident in the temple is actually found in all four Gospels. It’s one of the few incidents in Jesus’ life, which is found in all four Gospels. And this is how John describes it: “When the Passover of the Jews was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, in the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons and the moneychangers at their business.
“And making a whip of cord, he drove them all with the sheep and oxen out of the temple. And he poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned the tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons: ‘Take these things away.’” And so, what is going on here? It’s primarily directed against the people who are dealing with animals. And this is what got Jesus killed.
“The sacrifice of animals is also condemned in the Hebrew Bible. For example, in the Book of Isaiah it is stated:
“Whoever slaughters an ox is like one who kills a human being; whoever sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck”.
(KEITH AKERS, interviewed on SMTVhttp://www.SupremeMasterTV.com/ve/?wr_id=97&page=3&phoneoffset=0&url=link1_0&goto_url=m2
John the Baptist, Saint John’s Tree, Locusts and Carob
“Carob and cocoa are very similar. They can be substituted for each other in baking recipes or drinks. They are both dried and ground into a brown powder. However, they do have some major differences as can be seen on this link.
“Carob is less well known. It has a sweeter flavor and is very nutritious, being full of B vitamins and many minerals. It comes from a tree called St. Johns. Legend has it that this is the type of tree where John the Baptist got nourishment in the desert.
“The carob bean is also called a locust bean. Another word for locust is a certain type of insect. That’s why people think John the Baptist was eating grasshoppers and honey because the bible says he ate locusts and honey. However, if he truly lived off the locust bean, then he would have been getting excellent nutrition from the locust bean and not an insect.
Some people are allergic to cocoa, also known as chocolate, because it is a little too stimulating. The results are severe migraine headaches for those whose nerves are sensitive. There are some detrimental effects on this link, possibly from the theobromine and caffeine content in cocoa.
“Recently though, there have been many studies as can be seen on this link about the beneficial and antioxidant effects of bitter cocoa. This inspires a lot of people to continue their indulgence for chocolate without guilt.
“However, considering all the wonderful antioxidant effects of dark chocolate, recommendations are to only have one or two small squares a day.
“There is a substance in the bean that promotes the feelings of well being and love. So, people end up wanting it even more. Regular beans of any kind, such as pinto and black beans also have this same effect. You could just eat more beans for the same feel-good effect and then enjoy all the nutritional benefits they have to offer.
“Dark chocolate has become a health food. However, natural enthusiasts are also learning about an even better source of chocolate being cacao or raw cocoa. Cacao is being used in many candies and treats as the new health food. Some say that the antioxidant properties are not accessible to the health of an individual unless it is in the raw form. So, you might be eating a lot of candy bars for nothing.
“Candy bars tend to have a lot of sugar and fat leading to weight gain. There are some healthier alternatives at the health food store for whatever flavoring you choose.
“If the stimulating effects of extra caffeine or other detrimental chemicals in cocoa don’t bother you, you can be glad for the antioxidant properties and enjoy the cacao or dark chocolate goodies. They say there are possible dried and powdered cockroaches that tend to be mixed in the chocolate powders. This may because the original bean has to be laid on the ground to ferment awhile.
“If you just want to enjoy a naturally sweeter flavor of carob without the usual addition of a lot of added sweeteners, then go for the carob. Many people want the added nutritional benefits of the carob or raw carob and prefer to avoid stimulants. It’s a product that will keep you calm and benefit your nerves.” http://www.nutribuff.com/nutrition/cocoa-or-carob-for-health
JESUS AND THE MONEYCHANGERS, by J.R. Hyland
Undergirding the theory that it was the cheating moneychangers whom Jesus targeted as the culprits in the system of animal sacrifice, is the claim that the whole process had become “too commercial.” This is akin to claiming that the institution of slavery had to be dismantled because it had became too commercial. Although both Temple sacrifices and human slavery had a firm economic foundation, it was the inherent immorality of those systems that brought together the historical forces which finally led to their collapse.
Several hundred years after prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Hosea had denounced the sacrificial slaughter of animals, Jesus carried out what is euphemistically called the Cleansing of the Temple. It was just before Passover and he disrupted the buying and selling of animals that were being purchased for slaughter. (See article “Slaughter of The Innocent” www.HumaneReligion.org). And because Christian scholars and religious leaders continue to ignore biblical denunciations of that bloody worship, they also try to obscure the reason for Christ’s assault on the system.
They have done this by focusing on the moneychangers, although they were only minor players in the drama that took place. It was the cult of sacrifice that Jesus tried to dismantle, not the system of monetary exchange. In all three gospel accounts of the event, those who provided the animals for sacrifice are mentioned first: they were the primary focus of Christ’s outrage.
The Gospel of John gives the most detailed account of the event.
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: ‘Get out of here.’ (John 2:13–16)
Matthew’s gospel does not detail the kind of animals that were being sold for slaughter, but it gives the same order of events.
“Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12–13)
The same account is given in the gospel of Mark who, like Matthew, also reports that Jesus accused those at the Temple of making God’s house into a “den of robbers.” And there is universal acknowledgement that in both gospels, when Jesus said this, he was quoting from the prophet Jeremiah (7:11). That prophet had hurled the same accusation at the people of his own time, almost six hundred years earlier. He said it while standing at the Temple entrance, after he had already warned the people “do not shed innocent blood in this place.” And when Jeremiah said God’s house had been turned into a den of robbers it could not have had anything to do with moneychangers — they did not exist in his time.
In the time of Jeremiah, as in the time of Jesus, there was a great distinction made between “robbers” and “thieves.” In contemporary times that distinction can best be understood by comparing the crime of petty theft with crimes of armed robbery by those who violently attack/kill their victims. But in ancient Israel there was an even greater distinction. A thief could be anyone who succumbed to a momentary impulse to steal something, but a robber was someone for whom violent crime and killing was a lifestyle.
Both Jesus and Jeremiah were indignant about the violence of sacrificial worship, not the possibility of petty theft by moneychangers. When they said God’s house had become a den of “robbers” the Hebrew word that was used (here, transliterated) was “per-eets’” defined as “violent, i.e., a tyrant — destroyer, ravenous, robber.” It was the violence of the system, the killing of innocent victims in the name of God, that they were condemning. The moneychangers operating in the time of Jesus were driven out of the Temple because they were taking part in the process of sacrificial religion, not because they may have been cheating the pilgrims.
The gospel of Mark correlates Christ’s attempt to dismantle the sacrificial system with the plot to kill him. Like Matthew’s gospel, Mark’s account of the Temple Cleansing starts by saying that Jesus “began driving out those who were buying and selling there.” It goes on to relate how he explained to the people why he was doing this, by quoting Jeremiah’s opposition to animal sacrifice: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. But you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’” And in the verse of scripture immediately following that statement, Mark reports that “The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teachings.”(Mark 11:18)
It is ridiculous to claim that the religious leaders of Christ’s time would have plotted his death because he undermined the function of the moneychangers. Nor would the crowd have been “amazed at his teachings” if Jesus was simply telling them to make sure they were not short-changed when they purchased Temple coins. What the people were amazed at was his condemnation of animal sacrifice; it had been hundreds of years since that kind of condemnation had been heard in Jerusalem. And it would not be allowed. A few days after he tried to overthrow the cult of animal sacrifice, Jesus was crucified.
Govinda Madhava Das / 30 November 2017
At the Root of Christianity Is the Compassion of Vegetarianism
Based on historical documents and the research of many Christian scholars, Jesus Christ and the early Christians were vegetarians.
It is believed that Jesus was a member of the Nazarenes, an Essene group living near Mount Carmel in Israel. The Essenes were one of the main religious sects in first century Palestine. Members wore white and followed a vegetarian diet.
According to the 4th century church historian, Epiphanius, and Jewish philosopher Philo, the Essenes were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but were nonviolent toward all living creatures and considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with animals. As a member of this group, Jesus would have to have been a vegetarian, as was His brother James (Jacob) and all His disciples.
The main Essene scripture is the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, also known as the Gospel of the Nazarenes. This is the Gospel repeatedly mentioned, described and quoted by many commentators of the first century Church. However, this ancient scripture was hidden away for centuries in a Tibetan monastery and was rediscovered only in 1888. Many of the most revered early church fathers, as well as a surprising number of scholars today, have declared that the Gospel of the Holy Twelve is nothing less than the long-lost original Gospel. According to legend, this Gospel was collectively written by the 12 apostles immediately following Christ’s death, and it is the scripture upon which all of the Biblical synoptic Gospels are based. It so happens that this version of the New Testament also portrays Jesus as a strict vegetarian.
In the modern-day New Testament, there is a story about Jesus feeding bread and fish to 5,000 people (Mark 6:31-44). As seen in the following story from the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, the food involved was only bread and grapes; there is no fish. Jesus fed the 5,000 people with six loaves and seven clusters of grapes.
(Gospel of the Holy Twelve, Lection XXIX, 1-8)
1. And the Feast of the Passover drew near. The Apostles and their fellows gathered themselves together to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come you yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
2. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew Him, and ran afoot away, out of all cities, and out went them, and came together to Him.
3. And Jesus, when He came forth, saw many people and was moved with compassion towards them, because they were as sheep having not a shepherd.
4. And the day was far spent, and His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed. Send them away, that they may go into the country round about into the villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat.”
5. He answered and said to them, “You give them to eat.” And they said to him, “ Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?”
6. He said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” And when they knew, they said, “Six loaves and seven clusters of grapes.” And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies of fifty upon the grass. And they sat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties.
7. And when He had taken the six loaves and the seven clusters of grapes, he looked up to Heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and the grapes also, and gave them to his disciples to set before them, and they divided them among them all.
8. And they did all eat and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that were left. And they that did eat of the loaves and of the fruit were about 5,000 men, women and children, and He taught them many things.
This evidence indicates that the story of feeding the mass did not originally include fish.
There are countless passages in the Gospel of the Holy Twelve where Jesus teaches us to love animals and not eat meat. For example:
And some of the people said, “This man cares for all creatures. Are they his brothers and sisters that he should love them?” And He said to them, “these are your fellow creatures of the great household of God. Yea, they are your brothers and sisters, having the same breath of life in the eternal. And whosoever cares for one of the least of these, and gives it to eat and drink in its need, does the same to me. And who so willingly suffers one of these to be in want, and defends it not when evilly entreated, does the evil to me. For as you have done in this life, so shall it be done to you in the life to come.” (Lection XXXIV, 9-10)
And again that one asked, “If anyone comes to us who eats flesh and drinks strong drink, how shall we receive them?” And Jesus said to him, “Let such a person abide in the outer court until they cleanse themselves from these grosser evils; for till they perceive, and repent of these, they are not fit to receive the higher mysteries.” (Lection XCI, 8)
“You shall not take away the life of any creature for your pleasure, nor for your profit, nor yet torment it.” (Lection XLVI, 10)
“You shall not eat the flesh , nor drink the blood of any slaughtered creature, not yet anything which brings disorder to your health or senses.” (Lection XLVI, 12)
“You shall cherish and protect the weak, and those who are oppressed, and all creatures that suffer wrong.” (Lection XLVI, 18)
Another scripture, The Essene Gospel of Peace, was discovered in 1923 in the secret archives of the Vatican. The following are some sections of the words that Jesus shared with the Essenes taken from this scripture:
‘Thou shalt not kill,’ for life is given to all by God, and that which God has given, let not man take away. For-I tell you truly, from one Mother proceeds all that lives upon the earth. Therefore, he who kills, kills his brother. And from him will the Earthly Mother turn away, and will pluck from him her quickening breasts. And he will be shunned by her angels, and Satan will have his dwelling in his body. And the flesh of slain beasts in his body will become his own tomb. For I tell you truly, he who kills, kills himself, and whoso eats the flesh of slain beasts, eats of the body of death. For in his blood every drop of their blood turns to poison; in his breath their breath to stink; in his flesh their flesh to boils; in his bones their bones to chalk; in his bowels their bowels to decay; in his eyes their eyes to scales; in his ears their ears to waxy issue. And their death will become his death. (Book 1)
Kill not, neither eat the flesh of your innocent prey, lest you become the slaves of Satan. For that is the path of sufferings, and it leads unto death. But do the will of God, that his angels may serve you on the way of life. Obey, therefore, the words of God: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon 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. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is breath of life, I give every green herb for meat. (Book 1)
But I do say to you: Kill neither men, nor beasts, nor yet the food which goes into your mouth. For if you eat living food, the same will quicken you, but if you kill your food, the dead food will kill you also. For life comes only from life, and from death comes always death. For everything which kills your foods, kills your bodies also. And everything which kills your bodies kills your souls also. And your bodies become what your foods are, even as your spirits, likewise, become what your thoughts are. (Book 1)
Why were some of Jesus’ teachings in the Essene scriptures excluded from or revised in the Bible? Why did Christianity later abandon its vegetarian roots? According to Steven Rosen in his book, Food for the Spirit, “The early Christian fathers adhered to a meatless regime…many early Christian groups supported the meatless way of life. In fact, the writings of the early Church indicate that meat eating was not officially allowed until the 4th century, when the Emperor Constantine decided that his version of Christianity would be the version for everyone. A meat eating interpretation of the Bible therefore became the official creed of the Roman Empire, and vegetarian Christians had to practice in secret or risk being put to death for heresy. It is said that Constantine used to pour molten lead down their throats if they were captured.”
Some groups that claim spiritual descent from the ancient Essenes and whose members currently describe themselves as Essenes believe that the 27 books we now call the New Testamentof the Bible and even some translations of books considered canonical were changed to censor certain beliefs such as transmigration, the feminine aspect of Divinity, and vegetarianism. These groups use the Nazarean Bible of the Essene Way, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadhi Library manuscripts and other recently discovered gospels as the basis for much of their beliefs.
Although the Bible is not complete and its many inconsistencies about meat eating and vegetarianism require thoughtful interpretation, countless passages that refer to vegetarianism remain. The following are some examples from the King James version:
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. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30)
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. (Genesis 9:4)
Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13)
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. (Proverbs: 15:17)
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh. (Proverbs 23:20)
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 he goats…And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil. (Isaiah 1:11, 15-16)
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. (1 Corinthians 6:13)
(Jesus said,) I will have mercy, and not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13 & 12:7)
(St. Paul, one of Jesus’ disciples, said in his letter to the Romans) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (Romans 14:21)
Many Christian scholars have concluded that vegetarianism is the ethic more consistent with the spirit of Christ’s teachings. Many Christian groups from the time of Christ have practiced vegetarianism, among them, the Seventh Day Adventist maybe being the most well known.
Throughout history, many Christians have become aware of the cruel and un-Christ like behavior of the meat eating habit. Nowadays, an increasing number of Christians are becoming vegetarian as a more merciful and compassionate way to live.
Historical Evidence That The Disciples Of Yahusha (Jesus) Did NOT Eat Meat!
As a believer and follower of the teachings of Yahusha, I have often pondered the question, did Yahusha and His disciples really eat meat, as in animal flesh? Why? Because it just didn’t make sense to me that YAHUAH, the creator of the heavens, the earth, and all life would give Adamah and Chawah a plant-based diet as the standard for what humans should eat (Genesis 1:29) and then send His son in the flesh to Earth thousands of years later to restore humanity back to righteousness, but He’d be eating animal flesh — a diet that was only allowed after the fall of man! I mean how could Yahusha being a more perfect example of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) come to the earth eating Yah’s allowed diet rather than His preferred diet?
I would often ask myself these questions over years, even during the years I was consuming meat myself, because it just didn’t line up logically or scripturally with me. So over years, I have spent tons of hours studying this subject to see if the gospels and the accounts of the apostles had been altered. And during my research, I read in many of their writings of the Church Fathers and Writers of the first few centuries where they documented the disciples of Yahusha being vegans and not consuming animal flesh. I also stumbled across many books that were removed from the New Testament such as The Gospel of Nazarenes — which I wrote to you about in my last article — that showcased how Yahusha did not eat flesh and taught His disciples to do the same.
This confirmed that my assumptions were true indeed and that the gospels had been altered in many places to fit the agenda of the Gentile Converts of Rome; whom were mostly meat-eaters. With that being said, I wanted to share with you some of the resources that I found (outside of any biblical texts) which document that Yahusha’s disciples did not eat meat back in their day and ate according to the plant-based diet that Yahusha commanded them to eat.
Ancient Sources on The Diet of The Nazarene Followers of Yahusha
According to 4th century church father Eusebius, all of the apostles of Yahusha “embraced and persevered in a strenuous and a laborious life, with fasting and abstinence from wine and meat.” – 1 Although this statement is true, it is very broad and not specific to any one in particular. So lets go over the accounts of Yahusha’s main apostles and see what is said of them specifically.
On the diet of the apostle Mattiyahu (Matthew), Clement of Alexandria, Egypt who was a Greek Christian Theologian during the 2nd century, wrote that:
“Matthew the apostle used to make his meal on seeds and nuts and herbs, without flesh meat.” 2
This account is confirmed by Church Father Esubeuis, who documented that the original gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew before leaving Israel to go to other lands 3 and Clement of Alexandria later cited Mathew’s Gospel as being the Gospel of the Hebrews in the 3rd century 4, which is the original Gospel of the Nazarene where Yahusha commanded them not to eat flesh.
On the diet of the apostle Kapha (Peter), Pliny The Younger who was a lawyer and author in ancient Rome during the 1st century, wrote that:
“The apostle Peter lived on grain and fruit, and his followers strictly adhered to a harmless, innocent diet.” 5
This account is confirmed in “The Recongitions of Clement written by Clement of Rome, who was a scribe of Peter, where Peter stated out of his own mouth that: “I live upon bread and olives only with the addition, rarely, of kitchen herbs.” 6
On the diet of the apostle Yaqub (James), the Church Fathers Hegesippus and Augastaine both wrote that:
“St James never ate any animal food, living on seeds and vegetables, never tasting flesh or wine.” 7
This account is confirmed by 4th century Church Historian Eusebius that “James, the brother of the Lord was holy from his mothers womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.” 8 Since James was the brother of Yahusha, who was raised vegan according to the Gospel of the Nazarenes/Hebrews; then James would have had to been raised vegan as well; further confirming the statements of Eusebuis.
On the diet of Yahuchana the Immerser (John The Baptist), Church Father and Historian Hegesippus stated that:
“John never ate meat.” 9
This account is also confirmed in the cannon gospels of the bible , where it states that John’s food was “locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). On top of that, it is also recorded in the Gospel of The Nazarenes that John was raised vegan from birth just as Yahusha was.
Christianity Changed The Disciples Diet From Plants to Animals
Since the diet of the Nazarenes was plant-based, the early gentile converts converted to the same diet. According to Christian Historian Holly H Roberts,“Several early Church mystics maintained flesh-free diets, including Basilius The Great, Elisabeth Von Thuringen, Saint Hedwig of Schliesien, Simeon Stylites, and Saint Anthony The Great.” 10 It wasn’t until after the establishment of Christianity, did believers began adopting a meat-based diet; which was heavily promoted by the Romans. Here is some commentary of how this happened below:
According to Christian Historian Steven Rosen on the subject of how gospels were corrupted, he states: “The early Christian fathers adhered to a meatless regime…many early Christian groups supported the meatless way of life. In fact, the writings of the early Church indicate that meat eating was not officially allowed until the 4th century, when the Emperor Constantine decided that his version of Christianity would be the version for everyone. A meat eating interpretation of the Bible therefore became the official creed of the Roman Empire, and vegetarian Christians had to practice in secret or risk being put to death for heresy. It is said that Constantine used to pour molten lead down their throats if they were captured.” 11
According to Christian historian and editor E. F. Udny on the subject of the gospels, he states: “The great significance of the corruption of the Text lies rather in the nature of the matter struct out by the ‘correctors’ than in the amount. It is evident that the ‘correctors’ and those who appointed them were at least unwilling to denounce their beef and beer, a convenient alliteration for flesh and alcohol.” 12
According to Religious Historian Raymond W. Bernard, on the subject of the gospels, he states: “In the original Sanscrit and Aramaic gospel, the duty of abstaining from meat and wine were emphasized, while in the later versions, it was omitted…. Since those who founded the Christian Church, like their emperor, Constantine, were meat eaters and drinkers of wine, naturally they were opposed to these doctrines, whose acceptance would involve a revolutionary transformation of their living habits, they interpreted the first promise to mean, “Thou shalt not kill” implying that the commandment applied only to humans and that the slaughter of animals was not killing. 13
According to Saint Jerome, one of the most famous Christian Church Fathers, He stated that: “The eating of meat was unknown up to the big flood, but since the flood they have the strings and stinking juices of animal meat into our mouths, just as they threw in front of the grumbling sensual people in the desert. Jesus Christ, who appeared when the time had been fulfilled, has again joined the end with the beginning, so that it is no longer allowed for us to eat animal meat!” 14 Jerome got his information from the Gospel of The Nazarene and Epistles of Clement of Rome, which further confirms that the gospels in the modern New Testament have been altered.
This is some of my personal research on the diet of the disciples of Yahusha. I had much more information that I wanted to share on this subject but for the sake of not turning this article into a book, lol, I tried to condense it as much as possible. So I hope this article was edifying and further showed you that the true diet of Yahusha and His followers was planted-based and not flesh-based. However, I still encourage you to research all the info above and prove it to be true for yourself! Shalom and Blessings!
- Apostle Arne Horn, The Book of Eusebius #3, pg. 107. ↵
- Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 23), pgs. 107-108. ↵
- Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.24.6-7. ↵
- W. R. Schoemaker, The Gospel According to the Hebrews, The Biblical World
Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1902), pg. 197. ↵
- Holly H. Roberts, Vegetarian Christian Saints, pg. 11. ↵
- Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet: A Catena of Authorities Deprecatory of the Practice of Flesh-eating, Howard Williams, pg. 56. ↵
- Colin Spencer, The Heretic’s Feast: A History of Vegetarianism, pg. 120. ↵
- Eusebius, The Church History of Eusebius (Book 2), chapter 23. ↵
- Eusebius, Church History Book II, 2:3. ↵
- Holly H. Roberts, Vegetarian Christian Saints, pg. 11. ↵
- Steven Rosen, Food for the Spirit, 1987. ↵
- E. F. Udny , Introduction to Gospel of The Holy 12, 1901. ↵
- Raymond W. Bernard, From Chrishna to Christ, pg. 123. ↵
- Vergil Z. Ozeca, Humanimal, pg. 123. ↵
©2011 Steve M. Doyle (Soolaba)