What Would Jesus Eat Today?


When my husband and I went vegan, my dad remarked, “I think it’s okay to eat meat because Jesus ate fish.” This stumped me. I didn’t know how to respond because my dad is a devout Catholic and a good man who lives in accordance with his faith. Who was I to challenge Jesus?

Unlike my dad, I don’t belong to a particular religion. Still, I believe that God probably exists and having grown up Christian I’m familiar with Jesus. Whether he’s God or God’s son I don’t know, but his kindness, love and compassion are undeniable.

I’m no bible scholar, but my dad’s probably right that Jesus ate fish. But does this mean that he didn’t care about animals? And does it mean that Christians shouldn’t consider the ethical significance of what they eat?

A Lot’s Changed in 2,000 Years!

I don’t know that the bible provides adequate information for whether Jesus would eat animals if he were alive today. A lot’s changed in 2,000 years! The implications of eating animals today are not the same as they were in the time of Jesus.

When men fished 2,000 years ago, for example, the fish lived normal, pain-free lives until the moment they were caught. Today, however; 99 percent of the animals Americans eat do not live normal, pain-free lives.

Until the 70’s many farms were small operations that cared for their animals, but this is not the case today. Factory farms, large industrial companies that raise animals in confinement in an effort to produce the highest output at the lowest costs, are now the norm.

Animals on factory farms live miserable, painful lives before they are slaughtered. Would Jesus care about the suffering of these animals? Would he eat meat from animals that had been raised on factory farms?

There are other issues with eating meat in modern times like the damage it does to the environment. Eating meat leaves a heavy carbon footprint because growing grains for animals is much less efficient than eating them ourselves.

What’s more, eating plant-based may help feed the hungry. According to M.E. Ensminger, PhD, “About 2,000 pounds of grains must be supplied to livestock in order to produce enough meat and other livestock products to support a person for a year, whereas 400 pounds of grain eaten directly will support a person for a year.” Thus, if we ate grains instead of meat, we could feed 5-times as many people!

What Would Jesus Eat Today?

I don’t know what Jesus would eat if he were alive today, but I think it’s something to consider.

For those interested in this topic, check out Theological Animal and Why Jesus Ate Fish.

Cartoon courtesy of Daily Funny Clean Jokes.

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
This entry was posted in Animal Welfare, Daily Life, Plant-Based Diet and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to What Would Jesus Eat Today?

  1. januaryrowe says:

    A) I LOVE the pic!!! Hysterical
    B) I’ve never really thought of this… as in, what would he eat NOW??? Verrrry interesting thought! I always joked for a while that if Jesus lived now AND he was a mom of two boys that he would definitely drink coffee. Haha! (I’ve changed my tune a bit on that one- but it was good for a laugh!)

    • Haha – love the Jesus drinking coffee joke!! I gotta tell you – I used to be sooooo addicted to coffee! I used to down two pots (and sometimes more) a day. I think a little coffee is okay, but since I can’t seem to control myself I only drink it on weekends now.

      Thanks so much for your comment – I’m glad this post intrigued you. I always love hearing from you January! Celeste 🙂

  2. What an interesting post Celeste. I’m not religious but in any case, like you say, the world has changed a lot in 2000 + years so why shouldn’t our attitude to eating animals change too. We know much more about animals and suffering, as well as the effect of animal products on our health and their production on the environment.
    I often say to people “Just because something is a tradition, it doesn’t make it right!”

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment Emma! I love what you say to people – I might start telling people that. It’s great! Anyway, your thoughts remind me of a quote I came across recently. “Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking.” Grace McGarvie
      Hope you’re having a beautiful week! Celeste 🙂

  3. sophiazerg says:

    My boss is a religious Jewish man and when he asked me about my vegetarian diet a few years back – I explained the reasons why I don’t eat animals (primarily health and ethics), his response was “God created animals so we can eat them”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
    I doubt ‘God’ would agree on this today!

    • Hi Sophia! I’ve heard Christians use that argument too. I think it’s sad when people use their faith to “justify” eating animals. I did a little research, and I think the belief that God gave us animals to eat comes from a statement in the Old Testament that tells us we have “dominion” over them.

      I found a great article by Jolinda Hackett that addresses this belief. Hackett says, “Dominion” doesn’t mean “exploitation”, “decapitation” and “domination”, but rather a responsibility for stewardship. All the world’s prominent religions teach the importance of both compassion and mercy as important values to cultivate. The choice to eat meat, dairy products, and eggs is a violent one—it supports abuse.” Here’s a link to the article: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianfaqs/f/godandanimals.htm

      Always great to hear from you Sophia!! Hope you’re having a great week! Celeste 🙂

      • sophiazerg says:

        Hi Celeste! Well, your post definitely got me curious – I did a little internet hunting too, since I’m no biblical scholar either 😉 Thanks for sharing this link, I couldn’t agree more!
        I read many contradicting statements online, in both the Christian and Jewish understandings of their holy books. In the Jewish belief, I read that the vegetarian diet was believed to be ideal for humanity. And Genesis 1:29 stated “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
        Then you have the whole ‘Dominion’ belief, and the different ways it can be interpreted.
        Ah, who knows what Jesus would eat today 😉 We don’t eat animals, woot woot!

      • Hi Celeste, To answer your question above, men were meant to be vegetarians from the beginning when God declared that His Creation was very good, but man himself messed that up. Of course that relies on a personal belief that the Bible is God’s Word in the first place, which of course I believe by Faith. A confident person allows others to choose their individual beliefs without judgment and I personally choose Christ.

        Originally we were meant to consume fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (Genesis 1:29) as someone stated below and allowed to eat anything after the flood, (Genesis 9:3). However each person is designed uniquely, with an individual chemical make-up and most people can live very well as vegetarians according to Daniel 1. (I’ve also counseled vegetarians who were extremely overweight due to their bad choices)

        Vegetarianism is a touchy subject and is very controversial to some, like discussing politics and religion. As a product of the 60s, I believe in “live and let live” however sadly, those who are vegetarians seem to slam me for my beliefs. Go figure. Blessings and I look forward to creating that post you requested,

      • Hey Ellie!

        Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! I love how you use specific bible quotes to back your statements. You really know yourscriptures chica!

        Like you, I mostly have a’live and let live’ stance. Still, when I first went vegan I assumed that if I simply explained why I was vegan thatpeople wouldwant to do it too. A nave assumption for someone in her 40’s!

        I stopped talking about it for awhile, but it was hard for me not to share the health I’ve discovered from a plant based diet and the suffering I’ve learned that animals experience on factory farms. That’s why I started my blog. I try not to judgeor preach, but who knows how I come across.

        I’m excited that you’re going to create the post I requested. I’m going on vacation and won’t be blogging much over the next few weeks, so please let me know when you post so I don’t miss it.

        Celeste 🙂

      • Celeste, I wish more people were as tolerant as you!! (Unfortunately certain personalities state they ARE – unless you don’t believe as they believe )- so I appreciate you being so comfortable with me simply laying out the basics without professing “absolutism” – if that’s a word..

        I also agree with you about hoping that “if one is a shining example of what one preaches, they’ll see the light and want to be healthy like me!!” As someone who is now on Social Security, I also wish people would crave the great health I’ve discovered by eating right and exercising because it’s the way to a vibrant lifestyle. Unfortunately there’s a biblical principle for that too and that’s “as much as I want someone to be Saved, they must want it more than I want it for them.” Because in trusting Christ, I’ve found the True Way to a Vibrant, Joyful, Peaceful life, but few want to find that Way.

        We are very much the same and that’s why I so enjoy your comments my dear friend! I’ll probably post it on the 30th. Enjoy your vacation. Merry Christmas and Blessings, 🙂

      • Haha – that biblical principle you shared is SO true! Everyone chooses their own path.

        I put a reminder on my phone to check you site on the 30ith. Thank you for taking the time to do this – I really appreciate it!

        A very Merry Christmas to you chica!

    • I don’t know if you’ve ever read Kathy Freston’s “Veganist”, but this book has a chapter on vegetarianism and the Wisdom of the Great Spiritual Traditions. She makes a good case that vegetarian diets are what most spiritual traditions, including Christianity and Judaism, promote.

      Not that you’re going to confront your boss with the info or anything, but she talks about an ancient and contemporary practice of compassion for animals that the Jewish tradition has known as “tzaar baalei chayim.” She also noted that many Jews actually choose a vegetarian diet out of concern for animals, but also as a way to participate in an ancient Jewish practice meant to transform eating into a spiritual activity, the kosher diet. Freston notes that Jewish sages see the kosher diet as a way to gently lead people back to vegetarianism – back to Eden.

      Interesting stuff!!

      Celeste 🙂

    • carmen says:

      Hi Sofia! You can tell your boss that God did not make animals so we can eat them. Genesis 1 verse 29 (Jewish Bible) tells us what God intended us to eat – it is completely plant based!! 🙂

      ♥ carmen

      • carmen says:

        Ahh, I read the whole thread now and see you have already mentioned Genesis.

        Celeste, you are right – dominion means to look after, stewardship, caretakers. The Queen has dominion over us (here in Canada) she does not eat us!!! 😉

        ♥ carmen

      • sophiazerg says:

        Hey Carmen! This is like a divine coincidence, I was just telling a girlfriend this same story today about my boss!
        You are very right- afterwards I did a lot of research and discovered that same verse and what we were intended to eat.
        Hard to argue it with someone who’s so convinced!
        Thanks for your comment 🙂

      • carmen says:

        🙂 We keep trying. Some will listen, some won’t.

      • sophiazerg says:

        That’s right, Carmen! 🙂

      • Hey Carmen! Thanks so much for chiming in here!! I’ll have to share that verse with my dad too! 🙂

  4. deependofapuddle says:

    Please correct me if I am wrong but in the Garden of Eden, the biblical paradise, didn’t man and animals live peacefully?

    I am not religious, I certainly have not studied the bible and am only going on hearsay, but I wonder, did Adam and Eve eat meat?

    • What a GREAT comment Elizabeth! As I’ve said, I’m no bible scholar, but I believe you’re right. I don’t think Adam and Eve ate meat.

      I remember reading something about this in Kathy Freston’s book, “Veganist.” She has chapter on veganism and spiritual traditions. I just scanned the chapter and when talking about Christianity and Jews, she begins by quoting the book of Genesis. “See, I have given you every plant-yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29-30). Then Freston notes that most Christian and Jewish commentators agree that this is a call to vegetarianism.

      I’m probably getting too religious for you here girlfriend, but Freston also says, “When God imagined the perfect world, it was a world where humans did not eat animals, but instead lived on the gifts of food growing on trees and in the ground. According to the biblical narrative, it was only after the fall that humans started eating animals. The ideal is to strive to return to the original perfection.”

      Food for thought (pun intended!). Celeste 🙂

  5. joyfulrd says:

    Great post. It’s all about the difference between small-scale farming and factory farms, in my opinion. There’s just too many people on this earth to make eating animals a logical or humane practice.

    • You said it girlfriend! We may have been able to do this in the past, but those days are long gone. The problem is that factory farms have taken over so rapidly, that I don’t think a lot of people are even aware of them. I know I wasn’t. Until I watched the movie Vegucated, I assumed that farm animals lived relatively happy lives until they were slaughtered. Thanks so much for your comment – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂

  6. I’m on the same page as Emma. But that was a very interesting topic! I bet Jesus eats loads of potatoes & good bread back in the day!

    • Thanks so much for reading Rika! I’m glad that you found it interesting. And yea, Jesus probably did eat lots of organic potatoes and fresh baked bread. The thought of fresh baked bread has my mouth watering. Is that the most perfect food or what! Celeste 🙂

  7. What a well tight and delightful r eat Celeste.
    I wonder what would any God eat anyways, these days if they were here in earth toay ;).

  8. Haha the picture is quite funny!

  9. HeartBound says:

    Love that cartoon. Made me laugh 🙂 Cat

  10. ahardrain says:

    I grew up Catholic like your dad and even did the alter boy routine. I always envisioned when the priest would offer communion and say to you “The body of Christ” that always freaked me out. I mean taken literally can you imagine what that conjures up in a small boys brain??

    • My husband was an alter boy too! I remember as a kid not getting the whole “body of Christ” thing. I’ll have to ask my husband about his alter boy days. I did the whole Catholic thing – even went to Catholic school. What memories!! Thanks so much for your comment – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂

  11. I’ve heard most of the religious arguments (“dominion,” “God made animals so we could eat them”), but I never asked myself the question what would Jesus eat? Probably because I’m not a believer in organized religion…but it’s a great question! Thanks for provoking my thoughts. 🙂

  12. Hi Celeste! I need you to help come up with a correct argument for my friend’s basis for eating meat; she said if everyone went vegan, who would eat the animals? There would be an overload of animals in the world…. when I heard this, i thought… what the non dairy fudge?? Does she not realize that there is no way that there would be a surplus of pork, beef, chicken. I said that this would be impossible i.e. the world hunger crisis, but she said if we stopped eating them they would surely begin to over reproduce. I said look, basically all the meat people eat have been engineered and controlled like unfeeling robots, there is no way they would be allowed to reproduce freely. When factory farming stops, the production of meat would cease. Anyway, I never thought of this before, so while passionately arguing for a plant based diet, I was slightly doubtful about the truths in what I was blabbering about myself. If you were in my situation, what would you say? P.S. you should do an ‘ask celeste’ page 🙂

    • First of all, I laughed when I read “what the non dairy fudge??” Love that – I’m gonna start using that line! Secondly, I think the arguments you made were stellar! You said it all girlfriend.

      There’s nothing doubtful in my mind about the truths you shared. We’re breeding (and breeding like CRAZY) the animals we use for food. If the demand for meat goes down, then we’ll just slow down on breeding animals. It won’t be as simple as all that, of course. If lots of people suddenly stopped eating animals, the big meat industries will make a HUGE fuss and push to try to get us to start eating meat again. If we refuse, however; then some meat companies will go out of business and less animals will be breed for meat. I hope lots of people stop eating meat one day and this actually happens, but the meat industries have deep pockets and do lots of advertising so it’s unlikely.

      That being said, who knows if you had an impact on your friend. I’m guessing probably not. This has nothing to do with the soundness of your arguments, but more to do with the fact that eating animals is the “norm”. Our society is so programed to eat animals, that it’s hard to convince someone otherwise.

      Hope that answers your question, but let me know if not. Celeste 🙂

      • Hi Celeste, this info would definitely make my argument more substantial (next time someone says a similar thing). That’s very true how these large industries just keep bringing people back to consuming meat. For example, with the whole eggs cholesterol scare awhile ago. They got a bunch of scientists to prove it’s okay to eat two eggs a day when one is already more than 60 percent of your daily intake. It’s so infuriating!
        In case you want to know this funny thing she said next; I can’t be a vegan anyway because I have to eat meat, if I don’t I’ll get sick. Then, I eat meat like everyday, I could never not eat meat.i would have nothing to eat. People always say this, when all they need to do is try go without for once! They’ll realize how much of a positive impact it has on you physically and mentally! Oh, and then she went on to talk about how (after I said there are lots of veggies and other substitute for meat she can eat) there are people who are allergic to veggies and fruits. She said that she’d met this girl who was allergic to all vegetables and fruits. I wonder how the girl could’ve survived! I normally really like this friend but it made me so infuriated to hear her say that eating meat is more important for your health than plants…

    • Oh my goodness!!! Your friend just has her own crazy ideas – haha!!!

      • I don’t believe anyone can be allergic to all plant foods though! That’d just be cruel. However, this boy managed to survive on just KFC chicken skin for many years though (Have you heard of this? It was on the news a while back)

    • I vaguely remember the boy who lived on chicken skin. All I can say is that the human body is amazing!! We can survive for a long time no matter what crap we put into ourselves. Of course, it usually bites us in the end. And I agree with you, I can’t believe that anyone could be allergic to all plant foods. Celeste 🙂

  13. theduffboy says:

    Reblogged this on Duffboy and commented:
    A good question to ask. I bet a merciful diet would be one he`d promote.

  14. Great stuff, Celeste (and sincerest thanks for posting a link to my blog! I just started it, and I hope it can become a place for lots of great discussion)! So, let me just say first that my veganism and my Christian faith, are deeply interwoven. I’ve been a Christian now, really for 9 years, a vegetarian for four, and a vegan now for going on three years.

    While there can be no certainty about whether Jesus ate any other meat, it’s likely that he did eat fish. There are some, of course, who dispute this point, but most scholars agree that given the time in which he lived and his life of poverty, it is unlikely that he would have been a strict vegetarian (much less a vegan). That being said, those same factors indicate that he was very likely mostly a pescatarian. In fact there’s only one recorded instance where Jesus eats any meat at all in the Bible, and that’s where he eats a piece of fish at the end of Mark’s gospel. There is an interesting (and very brief) article on the significance of Jesus’ eating fish, written from a Christian-vegan perspective here: http://www.jesusradicals.com/why-jesus-ate-fish/

    The real question, for me however, is: “What significance does Jesus’ diet have for my life, now?” Your post raises what are, I think, probably the most important points to consider, namely, the huge disparity between a poor, first-century Palestinian Jew eating fish, and an American Christian choosing to eat cows, pigs, chickens, game and everything else that moves. Unlike modern American Christians, Jesus didn’t buy factory farmed meat, and he wasn’t naively supporting a multi-billion dollar industry that makes cruelty and exploitation of nonhuman animals routine.

    While the question of whether it’s “okay” for Christians to eat the flesh of other animals, because “Jesus did it” is, admittedly, a complicated one, I want to stress just a few (of the MANY, MANY) reasons why a Christian life, which strives to be Christ-like, ought to also strive to seek justice, peace and compassion for our non-human brothers and sisters. First, it’s significant that Christians see Christ’s act of becoming “incarnate” (i.e., becoming embodied, and made “fully human”), in the person of Jesus, as an act of “emptying himself” in order to enter into solidarity with the weak (Philippians 2:6-7), and ultimately with the suffering and the oppressed (i.e., in his crucifixion). Because it’s at this level that Christians are called to imitate Christ. Christians aren’t expected to where what Jesus wore, or have a beard, or live in Palestine, or be male; but they are called to live lives of self-giving love for the sake of others, especially the weak, the suffering and the oppressed. And as the Reverend Andrew Linzey says, “…in that class we must unambiguously include animals.”

    There are LOTS of other important points about the Bible and ethical vegetarianism, like the fact that, as others have already pointed out, according to the Biblical narrative, humans are originally given a vegetarian diet (Gen 1:29-30), and God promises that one day the earth will be restored to it’s “original” (vegan) peace (Isaiah 11:6-9). Animals, like humans, possess a “soul” (the Hebrew word is ‘nephesh’; the Greek is ‘Psuche’; Gen 1:20; Lev 24:18; Job 12:10, Rev 8:9). Animals will be present in the eternal state, or “afterlife” (Isa 65:25; Rev 5:13-14). Animals are included in God’s redemptive plans for creation (Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; Rom 8:18-21; Ps 36:6). But sadly many Christians are still too influenced by the dominant culture’s falsely “anthropocentric” (human-centered) view of the universe. It is my hope that as this century unfolds the work of theologians and Clergy like Andrew Linzey, David Clough, Nekeisha and Andy Alexis-Baker, Celia Deane-Drummond, Stephen Webb and all the other “Animal theologians” will become the dominant voice in the Christian tradition.

    Thank you so much, Celeste, for the thoughtful post, and I hope you find some of this information as helpful as I found yours to be.

    For those interested in the literature on Christian theology, animal welfare, and Vegetarianism/veganism, I have compiled an almost exhaustive bibliographic timeline at my blog: thenephesh.wordpress.com. I would love to hear your thoughts, questions and concerns. Peace.

    • What an awesome, awesome comment! I’ve read it twice – just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I also shared the comment with a couple of people I know. I’m going to check out the link you shared about the significance of Jesus eating fish from a vegan perspective and some of the other references you mention on your blog.

      Thank you for starting such a thoughtful and compassionate blog and for sharing here. I really appreciate it!

      It’s funny, my dad follows my blog, but he has yet to comment on this post. I’m curious about his take on this information.

      Keep on blogging! Celeste 🙂

  15. Oh, and, if he was walking the Earth today, you bet that Jesus would be a vegan.

  16. Lorrie Wenzler says:

    Hi Celeste,
    This was a funny and thought provoking post. That received a lot of interesting comments from many different perspectives. I don’t know what Jesus would be eating today but I know that he would be concerned about caring for one another and the creatures that inhibit our world. It made me think about the parable of the good shepherd. When he lost one of his 100 sheep, he left the 99 to look for one that had wondered away. When he found it he placed it on his shoulders and returned to the flock. He called his friend and neighbors together to rejoice on recovering the lost lamb. We too are call to care for one another and the creatures that live on this earth with us.

    • Hi Mom! What a thoughtful, touching comment. I’d forgotten about the parable of the good shepherd. It’s so wonderful to hear you say that we’re all called to care for one another and the creatures that live on earth with us. I couldn’t agree more. Celeste 🙂

  17. Pingback: Were Humans Created to Be Vegan? | Honk If You're Vegan

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