Was Noah Really Vegan?

 

 noah-the-movie

When I spoke to my mom the other day, she suggested I see the movie, Noah. “Is it good?” I asked.

“No, I give it one or one and a half stars, but I think you’ll like it because Noah doesn’t eat animals.”

Then today, my blogger friend, Diahann from Stories from the Belly, also said I should see the movie for the same reason. I got the sense that Diahann liked Noah more than my mom did, however.

I don’t know if I’ll see the movie or not, but thinking about Noah and veganism reminded me of when my dad told me that he thought it was okay to eat meat because Jesus ate fish. And I’ve known other Christians who believe that God created animals for humans to use as they see fit, including for food.

Curious, I Googled Noah and veganism. I found a blog post of the same name that shares, “…like it or not, according to the Bible, man was created to be a vegan. I’m not even kidding (see Gen. 1:30, Gen. 2:9)”.

I’m no biblical scholar, but I think that God allowed humans to eat animals after the flood, but only as a concession to our sin and violence.

So what does that mean for Christians? And if you’re Christian, of another faith or spiritual, do you feel that your faith sheds any light on what you should eat?

You’ve got to read these quotes!

My bible scholar reader, Allen, shared a great comment below. Here’s a snippet of what he said:

“Genesis 1:29-30 tells us that human and non-human animals alike were given plants to eat, and as you note, this is reiterated in the ninth verse of the second chapter. Genesis 2:18-19 implies that animals were made to be friends or companions to humans. Taken together, these verses strongly suggest peace between God’s human and nonhuman creatures, prior to the fall.”

Then later Allen writes, “…Noah is a story about a God deeply grieved by human cruelty and violence, not just to one another, but also to other animals, and to the creation as a whole. I think this has clear implications for the way we live now. Factory farms, for instance, are clearly a kind of violence that Jews and Christians alike ought to condemn.”

Bible verses

My blogger friend, Abby, said this post reminded her of several scriptures. Here’s the verses she mentioned:

Proverbs 12:10 – The just man takes care of his beast, but the heart of the wicked is merciless.

Daniel 1:8-15 – But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine; so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement. Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord and king; it is he who allotted your food and drink. If he sees that you look wretched by comparison with the other young men of your age, you will endanger my life with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days. Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men who eat from the royal table, and treat your servants according to what you see. He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days; after ten days they looked healthier and better fed than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.

Colossians 2:16-17 – No one is free, therefore, to pass judgment on you in terms of what you eat or drink or what you do on a yearly or monthly feasts, or on the Sabbath. All these were but a shadow of things to come; the reality is the body of Christ.

See below for the rest of Allen’s comment and for more food for thought, check out:

Why Did God Create Animals?

What Would Jesus Eat Today?

‘Noah’, The Bible, And Animal Theology (Part 1)

Biblical and Other Religious Support of Veganism

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About celestedimilla

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

49 Responses to Was Noah Really Vegan?

  1. Stacey says:

    Eden was the perfect environment where nobody killed animals. The plants were the “meat” (actually written in the Bible) for humans to eat. I named my daughter Eden. 🙂

  2. Tammi says:

    Great thought provoking post Celeste! I loved reading the other two posts you linked as well. I am Christian and believe that if I can’t kill the animal myself, I sure can’t eat it (fish, cow, pig, horse…whatever), even if it’s humanely raised on the best farm in the world – when you see an animal die, it’s just plain sad. A life is a life to me – human or animal – and I feel so much healthier not eating them. And I AM so much healthier not eating them according to my doctor! 🙂

    • Hey there Tammi! I love your perspective. It’s so easy in our society for us to eat animals without really being aware that we’re eating animals. We’re so far removed from seeing how animals raised for food are kept and are slaughtered. I was very disconnected until I watched the movie, Vegucated. That was the first time I saw footage of how poorly animals raised for food are treated, and it horrified me. Thank you so much for your comment chica – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂

  3. diahannreyes says:

    Thanks for the shoutout in your post, Celeste 🙂 I’m no biblical scholar either but my takeaway from watching Aronofsky’s interpretation was that even after the flood, eating animals was still against God’s will. Makes me wonder if the director is a vegan too.

  4. M-R says:

    I have no religion at all, Celeste: I have been an atheist since I was around 21: I find biblical statements like “man has dominion over the animals” to be all I need to justify my lack of belief. Man was not a carnivore for a VERY long time; and then he discovered that it’s much easier to make a quick kill than to spend months planting, growing and preparing his food. He developed a taste for it, as well. Now there are religions that actually have the hide to claim it as part of their tenets !!! Man will always manage to justify himself.
    The other animals are far more wonderful than man is: there is only one of them that murders and cheats and steals. And, of course, it is so like us that we can scarcely be surprised: it is the chimpanzee.

    • I didn’t know that chimps committed murder – how interesting!! As far as stealing, I have to tell you that my dog is guilty of that. My dog loves stuffed toys with a passion. We give him toys often, but he destroys them in less than an hour. He knows, however; that the neighbor has a basket of dog toys and that they leave their sliding door open. So, whenever he can manage it, he sneaks into their house and comes home with a toy that doesn’t belong to him. It’s probably not in the same manner as you are referring to, however.

      As far as the rest of your comment, I get where you’re coming from. I was raised Catholic, but fell away from the church as an adult. I felt a lot of similar sentiments as you that challenged my faith and then getting divorced cinched the deal. I’ve come full circle now, however; and believe in God again. I don’t subscribe to any religion, but I do believe that there is something out there. You might be curious about my post, Doubting Doubt. http://honkifyourevegan.com/2013/08/15/doubting-doubt/

      I believe that religious traditions may do evil things, but mostly because of humans. I think you’re right that humans are masters at justifying horrible things. I find this sad.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂

  5. Celeste,
    Thanks for another thought-provoking post (and link to my blog)! I wasn’t originally planning on watching the movie, but after reading much of the criticism I got really excited about it. My wife and I are catching a 10pm showing tonight.

    I plan on discussing the movie and all the issues it raises at my blog (thenephesh,wordpress.com), after I see it. But here’s some food for thought:

    Genesis 1:29-30 tell us that human and non-human animals alike were given plants to eat, and as you note, this is reiterated in the ninth verse of the second chapter. Genesis 2:18-19 implies that animals were made to be friends or companions to humans. Taken together, these verses strongly suggest peace between God’s human and nonhuman creatures, prior to the fall. By the time we get to Noah, we are told that “The wickedness of man was great in the earth” that “the earth also was corrupt [ruined, spoiled, destroyed] before God” and that, “The earth is filled with violence through them [mankind]”. Contrary to those critics of the film who see Aronofsky as interjecting an illegitimate “anti-humanism/radical environmentalism”into the Biblical account, it’s actually the author of Genesis that depicts things this way. In fact, there’s a long tradition of Jewish Midrash (oral tradition) on these scriptures that see the story as primarily about unbridled human violence (to one another, to animals, to the land). The book of Jubilees (part of that Midrash tradition, not in the Bible, dating back to the second century b.c.) even suggests “they all corrupted their way and their ordinances and they began to eat one another” (5:2). There are other traditions that speak of horrendous violence done to nonhuman animals (i.e., eating them while still alive), that directly provoked God’s wrath, and are directly forbidden by God after the flood. So Noah is a story about a God deeply grieved by human cruelty and violence, not just to one another, but also to other animals, and to the creation as a whole. I think this has clear implications for the way we live now. Factory farms, for instance,are clearly a kind of violence that Jews and Christians alike ought to condemn.

    Again I plan to write more on the movie and the Biblical story and what it means for how Christians and Jews ought to live. Thanks for this post!

    -Peace,
    Allen

  6. Shannon says:

    Great post, Celeste! ARE there any churches (or other places of worship) that espouse veganism? I’ve not seen any. Even the most caring, we’re-all-in-it-together worshiper that I know still drinks milk as if it’s somehow better for the mammal.

    • That’s a great question Shannon! I don’t know about specific churches, but I will share some quotes from Kathy Freston’s book, Veganist. She says:
      “In Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, vegetarianism is a part of daily life.”
      “St. Francis of Assisi ate a largely vegetarian diet and John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church) was a strict vegetarian.”
      “The Prophet Muhammad had compassion for dogs and preached compassion for animals.”
      Some food for thought! Celeste 🙂

      • Lab Rat says:

        Hi! As far as Christian churches go, Seventh-day Adventists officially advocate a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle through their Health Message. Obviously, not all Adventist are vegetarian/vegan, but many of them are, although our reasons are different than simply kindness to animals (although that’s mentioned, too). We advocate going back to meat-free and dairy free foods precisely because the first diet given to man was that. Also, we believe that what we eat affects our our spirituality because a healthy body = healthy mind = better connection to God. More food for thought! 🙂

    • Hey Lab Rat! I’d forgotten that Seventh-day Adventists advocate a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle – thanks so much for the reminder! I’d like to learn more about Seventh-day Adventists and their beliefs as I can really resonate with this one. Celeste 🙂

  7. I’ve been asked more than once about whether or not God intended for us to eat animals. I’ve actually told once that by not eating animals I am offending God. In this life, I don’t suppose I’ll ever have an answer for sure, but I think it’s important to feel compassion for all beings.

    • What an interesting concept to think that we’re offending God by not eating meat – I don’t get that one at all. Anyway, I second your thought that it’s important to feel compassion for all beings. Celeste 🙂

  8. I think you’ll find it’s up to you what you eat. Peter (the disciple of Jesus and later an apostle) was explicitly told in a vision from God he could eat anything: it was not what went into his mouth but what came out of his mouth (i.e. his words) that made him clean or unclean (sort of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in religious obedience terms). Paul (who wrote most of the New Testament) instructed people not to judge others for what they did or didn’t eat, but not to do anything that would upset someone else or, especially, cause them to stumble in their faith. We need more of that attitude these days: say only ‘clean’ (nice) things and be overly considerate to others.

    The issue of animal cruelty was disturbingly unaddressed in the New Testament, but it was written in an era when the Romans weren’t too fond of Christians, to the extent that, at one stage, Nero was using Christians as human torches for his garden parties, so it possibly wasn’t Paul’s top priority, or that of any other of the New Testament writers.

    Back to Eden and Noah. Others here are right: we were created to be vegan. But, also as others have pointed out, we haven’t been in a perfect world ever since Eden. By the time of Noah, who was a good man (not the murderous wretch depicted in the movie), things were dire: we don’t know how much so, but it must have been bad. Unfortunately, the movie adds too much to be terribly informative, even if rock monsters are exciting on the big screen.

    Was Noah vegan? Possibly before the flood, but unlikely after the flood, I’m sorry to say. In Genesis 9:1-11 we are told “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” (The rest of that section makes it clear that it doesn’t condone animal cruelty.)

    The bottom line on this is that we live in what theologians call a “fallen world”. While being vegan would probably be ideal, it’s not something that everyone will want to do, or be able to do. Being vegan or not vegan is an issue for God only when people being start being nasty about it (either way). And if you think that means someone can torture animals but be nice on Sunday, and God would be okay with that, think again. There’s something not good in their heart: God knows what’s going on, and anyway, the cruelty will eventually overflow and being ‘nice’ on Sunday will become impossible. The summary is that if you don’t have love and do things out of love for others, then everything you do is worthless.

    Anyway, that’s my view of it all from my limited knowledge of the Bible.

    (The Genesis passage is here: Genesis 9:1-11)

    • What a thoughtful comment! Sounds like you have more knowledge of the Bible than I do. Not only this, but you’ve reminded me of things I learned way back when. I like how Paul preached not to judge anyone for what they ate. I don’t believe that judging others brings about anything positive and I try not to judge. This is not easy! Like I said, I try.

      What I also took away from your comment is that it’s okay for humans to eat meat, but that animal cruelty is never okay. With factory farms being the norm these days, eating meat typically involves cruelty. I think it would be wonderful if religious leaders spoke more about animal cruelty and took a stand against factory farms.

      Thanks so much for sharing – I appreciate it! Celeste 🙂

  9. lovegan says:

    Thanks for the info 🙂 To answer your question: yes, we were. We left our caverns centuries ago, poor Darwin is turnng in his grave at the sight of so many not-all-evolved umans.
    Hugs xox

  10. junefit says:

    Another reason I will see the movie is that NO live animals were used, only digital creations.
    One argument for veganism today is, our genes are from prehistoric man, and our teeth are meant for both chewing and shredding, we are omnivores, but esrly man had NO choice. When he ate animal flesh, he only hunted and killed what he would eat for survival, and he did not have the means or knowledge to get a balanced diet supplying protein without flesh. WE DO NOW.
    During bibical times, they too did not have the diversity of food, nor knowledge. WE DO NOW.

    Now, we mass breed, torture and slaughter not just to feed, but for greed and profit when we have the knowledge to eat a well balanced diet without animal flesh. I personally have made
    my choice based upon ethics not the food chain. For me it is not about whether we were meant to eat meat or not, it is about not partaking in what is done to animals when I can consume everything I need and love without it. Funny thing, since I made this choice almost 5 years ago, I can barely look at it ket alone miss it!

    • Yes, yes, yes! Like you say, there are so many differences between biblical times and now (I wrote about this in my post, What Would Jesus Eat Today http://honkifyourevegan.com/2013/09/10/what-would-jesus-eat/). One of the BIG differences is cruelty. The way animals suffer short painful lives on factory farms is just senseless and cruel. I don’t understand why more people aren’t up in arms about this.

      My choice to go vegan began with health and then evolved to include ethics. Like you I love being vegan! It’s not a life of denial at all. Have a great week chica!! Celeste 🙂

  11. Ralph says:

    Hi Celeste 😀
    The dove brought Noah his lunch !! 😉
    Gen 8:11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
    Ralph xox ❤

  12. stacilys says:

    Hey Celeste. Great post. I actually never really considered the whole vegetarian, vegan thing and the Bible before, but thanks to you, it’s given me food for thought. I personally think that you’re right about the whole ‘God gave plants for food’ thing. I’m unsure about the reasons for eating meat actually. Haven’t done much study on it at all. It may be the whole ‘sin’ and ‘fall of man’ thing, like you mentioned above. I’m also curious as to why other animals eat other animals (carnivore/herbivore thing). And seagulls eating fish, and fish eating fish and krill and the like. Hmmmm. Something to think about.
    By the way, my husband went to see Noah (my hubby is a cinematographer/filmmaker) and he detested it. He said it was so bad that he wanted to leave 1/2 way through. And not because of the complete lack of proper theology, but because it was just really bad.

    • I often wonder why animals have to eat other animals. It’s a thought that tests my faith. Why would God create a system that causes so much pain? Like you said, something to think about.

      As far as Noah is concerned, my mom didn’t like it either. I don’t think I’m gonna see it. From what your husband and my mom thought, it doesn’t sound like a great way to spend two hours.

      Thanks for your comment – I always appreciate what you have to share!! Celeste 🙂

  13. This is all interesting stuff Celeste and obviously pretty debatable too since no one really does know whether we should or were intended to eat meat at all. Another interesting fact is that many animals eat meat. Lions, tigers, bears, snakes, sharks, owls…even birds eat worms and bugs -other living things. Many animals eat each other. Now, I’m not taking sides or saying I agree or disagree with anyone. I don’t agree with animal cruelty at all. All I am saying is that there are plenty of grains and plants…even vitamin supplements we, as humans, can consume to survive without meat, but there are plenty of animals in nature that were born carnivores. We, as humans, have mind enough to make a choice and that choice is a personal one. Great discussion!

    • What a great comment Michelle! It really is debatable stuff, and that’s why I don’t judge anyone who thinks differently than I do about veganism. We’re all doing our best to live life in the best way we know how. Your comment about how animals eat animals is a toughie for me to comprehend. If God exists, and I’m inclined to believe that he does, why would he order the world that way? I don’t know the answer to that. Like you say, however; animals don’t have a choice about what they eat whereas humans do. Hope you’re having a lovely week! Celeste 🙂

      • Exactly. It seems that we aren’t meant to know everything. If we did, it would affect our choices. We were given free will and a mind capable of making the choice. Maybe that’s the only way we learn and grow intellectually, spiritually, and morally. Maybe our differences as people and in our choice of lifestyle is necessary for our development as a species. I know you don’t judge. There are several vegetarian and vegan blogs I follow and comment on that refuse to associate themselves with me or my blog since I’m not vegan or vegetarian. Thanks for being you!

    • Well, you’re certainly welcome here chica!! 🙂

  14. carmen says:

    God gave us a scrumptious menu in Genesis 1:29 (as you have mentioned), that’s good enough for me. Animals are too wonderful to kill and completely unnecessary to eat for us to survive. Eating plants gives me such peace in my heart to know, that I do not contribute to cruelty. For me, eating flesh is the same as being a cannibal. Unthinkable. And I would no more think of eating a pig than eating a cat. They are all the same to me.

    I’m planning to see Noah (Jean mentioned it portrays Noah as a vegan. I’m prepared for Hollywood fantasy, as I’ve never seen a Bible movie stick to the original script. lol

    ❤ carmen

    • A plant based diet is good enough for me too!! The thought of eating animal flesh just makes me ill now – I don’t want to do it!! I hope you enjoy Noah. I’ve decided not to see it because several people have told me it’s not very good. Thanks for sharing here Carmen! Celeste 🙂

  15. Mike Lince says:

    I appreciate how your advocacy for a plant-based diet leads to such a deeply philosophical discussion of what we eat. Every major religion and belief system is represented in your comments, which tells me this subject touches our lives not only in nutritional ways, but also in some spiritual ways. You encourage your readers to think about what they are eating and why rather than follow the path of least resistance with little thought given to how we nourish ourselves. I think most enlightened people desire a healthier body as well as a healthier planet. Your story and the discussion that follows give us plenty to contemplate as we decide what to eat.

    We look forward to sharing a vegan table with you when our travels take us back to your neck of the woods. – Mike

    • What a thoughtful comment Mike! I think that in modern life we’ve become disconnected in so many ways and one such way is in what and how we eat. Ancient peoples, on the other hand, either collected, grew or hunted for their food rather than going to the grocery store so they were intimately connected to everything they ate. What’s more, food was hard to come by so they had more reverence for it. So different than today!

      And you guys better contact us when you’re in the area!! Celeste 🙂

  16. Pingback: Father O’Ralph. “Let Us Play !!” – Bluefish Way

  17. Abby's Kitchen says:

    Thank you for another thought provoking post, Celeste! Several passages of scripture popped into my mind while reading your post. Hope you don’t mind me sharing them 🙂

    Proverbs 12:10
    Daniel 1:8-15
    Colossians 2:16-17

    • Hey there Abby! I’m glad you liked the post and I appreciate that you shared those passages. I haven’t had the chance to look them up yet, but I will soon. Hope all is well with you! Celeste 🙂

  18. Hi Celeste, New Vegan Age recently wrote a series of posts about Christianity and veganism, which you or your readers may find interesting. And I’ll be sure to direct him to Theological Animal as well. 🙂

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