The Fellowship of Life
Are Christians Vegetarians?
As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me Matthew, 25:40
Most Christians today probably eat meat without giving it a thought. But many early Christians were vegetarian, including Clement of Alexandria, Origen, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great. According to some early church writings Matthew, Peter and James (the brother of Jesus and first leader of the Jerusalem church) were vegetarians.
We offer the following quotations, not as 'proof' of a vegetarian diet, but just as 'food for thought' for Christians thinking about the meaning of compassion, love and God's creation.
James, the brother of the Lord...was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.
Hegesippus, The Church History of Eusebius, book 2, ch.23
Peter said, 'I live on olives and bread to which I only rarely add vegetables.'
Pseudo-Clementine Homilies 12, 6
also Recognitions, 7, 6
The apostle Matthew partook of seeds and nuts and vegetables, without flesh.
Clement of Alexandria
The Instructor, Book 2, ch.1
Original ideal and ultimate hope
And God said, 'Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.
Genesis, 1, 29-30
Then I will make a covenant on behalf of Israel with the wild beasts, the birds of the air, and the things that creep on the earth, and I will break bow and sword and weapon of war and sweep them off the earth, so that all living creatures may lie down without fear.
Hosea, 2, 18
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the lion and the
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall feed,
Their young shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
The sucking child shall play over the
hole of the asp,
And the weaned child shall put his
hand on the adder's den.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge
of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah, 11, 6-9
He shall wipe away every tear from
their eyes, and death shall be no
more, neither shall there be mourning
nor crying nor pain any more, for the
former things have passed away
Revelation, 21, 4
God cares about animals
The Lord is good to all men, and his
tender care rests upon all his creatures.
Psalms, 145, 9
Look at the birds of the air; they do
not sow and reap and store in barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Matthew, 6, 26
God wants us to care
A righteous man cares for his beast
Proverbs, 12, 10
When you see the ass of someone
who hates you lying helpless under its
load, however unwilling you may be
to help it, you must give him a hand
Exodus, 23, 5
When you see your fellow-countryman's
ass or ox lying on the road, do
not ignore it; you must help him to lift
it to its feet again.
Deuteronomy, 22, 4
He who slaughters an ox is like him who
kills a man.
Isaiah, 66, 3
If you had known what that text
means, 'I require mercy, not sacrifice',
you would not have condemned the
Matthew 12, 7
Sacrifices were invented by man to be a pretext for eating flesh.
Clement of Alexandria
Other Christian testimonies
The eating of meat was unknown up to the big flood, but since the flood they have pushed the strings and stinking juices of animal meat into our mouths, just as they threw quails 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.
The steam of meat meals darkens the spirit. One can hardly have virtue if one enjoys meat meals and feasts. In the earthly paradise there was no wine, no one sacrificed animals, and no one ate meat.
All things of creation are children of the Father and thus brothers of man...God wants us to help animals, if they need help. Every creature in distress has the same right to be protected.
St. Francis of Assisi
Let no one regard as light the burden of his responsibility. While so much ill-treatment of animals goes on, while the moans of thirsty animals in railway trucks sound unheard, while so much brutality prevails in our slaughterhouses... we all bear guilt. Everything that lives has value as a living thing, as one of the manifestations of the mystery that is life.
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