In Genesis 1:29, God gives us all the trees and plants for our food. Then in verse 30 he gives them to the animals also. Genesis 1:30 reads, “’And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” This leads me to think that before the fall of man and the corruption of the earth we were all vegetarians. This seems to be the consensus of many scholars as well. It wasn’t until after the flood that God presented animals as food. Those living before the flood were the “antediluvians.” They were “…made out of nothing by a direct fiat of God, in God’s image and after His likeness, male and female; were appointed the lords of creation; and were vegetarians till after the Deluge”[1]

There has always been a contingent of vegetarians throughout history. You can find it in ancient Greece, before Socrates, but in the west the pronouncement as meat for food after the flood has been dominant. Yet, there has always been various sects that were vegetarians and promoted that as God’s way. There was a religious sect of Methodism “…founded in Hackensack, New Jersey, about 1890, by Huntsman T. Mnason. Mnason and his followers have everything in common, and believe they shall be judged by their works, and not by their faith. They are careful to harm no living thing, and they adhere to a strict vegetarian diet. They do not believe in any form of marriage, whether civil or religious, and hold the most extreme ideas of free love.”[2] Then with the advent of many Hindu influences in the US in the 1960’s and 1970’s vegetarianism has found a fresh following. For example, “Sikhism gained a considerable influence in the West through Yogi Bhajan… who in 1968 founded the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO), beginning his first ashram in Los Angeles. Many young Americans of the counterculture movement joined him. From there he moved to a forty-acre ranch in New Mexico, where … They are strict vegetarians and live a drug-free life, egalitarian life.”[3] This, and other influences gave rise to PETA. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) will often point to Genesis 1:30 to show that God’s care for Animals is the same as His care for man. He feeds them both!  According to the web, “PETA was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to establishing and defending the rights of all animals. PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”

I’m not sure about this and I’m not endorsing it, but Norm Geisler has an answer as to what changed after the flood. He writes, “Why is it that in Genesis 1:29 God commends to Adam and Eve a vegetarian diet, while in Genesis 9:3, after God has reset the limits on human longevity, he now includes meat in their diet? If one eats meat, one ingests a much higher concentration of heavy elements that over time can accumulate in the body. If one lives nine hundred years, this would become a serious problem. If one lives 120 years or less, the accumulation never reaches levels that would adversely affect one’s health. Thus, this change in diet is also consistent with the dramatic change in longevity of human beings indicated in the Bible.”[4] One thing is for sure, both vegetarians and those of us who eat a hamburger once in a while live under the same life span for the most part. Anyone reaching 120 years is a rare bird. But modern studies have shown that vegetarians do live a little longer. But there are other issues to consider. William MacAskill wrote in his web article “Vegetarians live longer but it’s not because they don’t eat meat.” He says, “One of the most basic concepts in science is that correlation does not imply causation—even though it is sometimes highly suggestive of it. For example, in post-war Germany, as the stork population fell, so did the human birth rate. But as I was deeply troubled to learn, storks do not cause babies—rather, economic growth led to both destruction of stork habitat, and to declining fertility rates. So it goes with vegetarianism and longevity. It’s absolutely true that vegetarians live longer (at least among Seventh Day Adventists, the target group of the study). In fact, in this study, vegetarians live six to nine years longer, which is a huge effect. But vegetarians are also more likely to exercise, be married, smoke less and drink less alcohol—all factors that also contribute to a longer life. The actual causal relationship between becoming vegetarian and living longer is unclear and is certainly smaller than the correlation might seem to suggest.”

[1] Woods, F. H. 1908–1926. “Antediluvians.” In Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, John A. Selbie, and Louis H. Gray, 1:560. Edinburgh; New York: T. & T. Clark; Charles Scribner’s Sons.

[2] Arsdale, F. D. Van. 1908–1926. “Angel Dancers.” In Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, John A. Selbie, and Louis H. Gray, 1:474. Edinburgh; New York: T. & T. Clark; Charles Scribner’s Sons.

[3] Geisler, Norman L. 1999. “Sikhism.” In Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 707. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Bradley, Walter. 2001. “Why I Believe the Bible Is Scientifically Reliable.” In Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe, 176. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.