A Theological Defence of the Carnivore Movement


THE 1ST JANUARY WILL SEE the second annual World Carnivore month where the Carnivore movement challenges people to exclusive carnivory for one month. At the end of the month people are to judge the impact this has upon their health and decide whether this is something they want to continue. 

Vegetarians do the same thing through the month of October.

What I hope to do here is address the Carnivore movement from a Christian perspective and to answer questions and concerns that curious Christians might have about the movement as well as help Carnivores (regardless of faith background) to understand how their lifestyle is seen Biblically.

Disclaimer 
I am not an exclusive carnivore. I toy around with fruit. I flirt with carbs on special occasions. But I will be writing about the Carnivore movement from a sympathetic perspective. I do this for two reasons. First of all, twelve years ago I followed my doctor's advice and ate a high-carb, low animal fat diet to help improve my health. I followed his guidance for three years, hardly ever touching red meat or dairy (except skimmed milk), but my health only got worse. When I switched to a low-carb, high animal fat lifestyle I had vast improvements in a short period of time. 

My second reason for addressing this issue is because I have seen a lot of guilt being aimed at meat and dairy eaters lately. As a Christian, it would wrong to not defend the eating of foods that the Bible celebrates the consumption from those overly eager activists. They are the few, the proud, the more or less appalled at everyone else.

What is the Carnivore Diet Movement?
It’s not a ‘diet’ in sense of counting calories. It simply means the elimination of all non-animal based foods. The movement is not huge, but it is not tiny either. And it is growing quickly. There are 23,000 members on the 'World Carnivore Tribe' Facebook page and they are active on Instagram and Twitter as well. There are various websites: MeatHeals.Com is one of the more popular ones and is filled with testimonials.

Within this movement, there is a spectrum of adherence with those on the more fundamentalist end eating nothing but beef, salt, and water. Dr. Jordan Peterson is probably the most famous of these.

On the more liberal end, Carnivores eat any animal product: bacon, cream, (usually raw) whole milk, eggs, steak, cheese, etc. Probably the most controversial animal product would be honey as it is technically an animal product but is high in carbsand many Carnivores like to see their movement as a zero-carb movement.

Many in the movement are concerned about animal welfare and oppose industrialised farming practices in favour of more humane, grass-pastured ways of raising livestock.
Participants come from a variety of backgrounds from and are not tied to any religion. Most embrace this lifestyle for health reasons.

What does the Bible teach about eating meat?
Whereas many religions restrict the consumption of meat, Christianity does no such thing. The Bible actually celebrates carnivory (though not exclusively). Previous to the arrival of Christ, Israel was given laws forbidding certain types of meat (pork), but meat as such was celebrated and was very central to their worship and way of life.

With the coming of Christ, even the limitations against certain types of carnivory are removed. In fact, when God speaks to the early, Jewish church leaders about the necessary inclusion of non-Jews into the movement, He does so through a vision of meat. Acts 11 reads:

‘Peter saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.
Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”’ -Acts 11

The theological message is that all foods are now clean because Jesus has come to make unclean things clean again. The only regulations that God gives to us concerning what we eat are:
1.    Eat with gratitude to God for your food.
2.    Don’t judge others or be divisive over your choice of diet. Don’t be a food pharisee.
3.    Don’t give yourself to gluttony (think emotional eating or over-eating.)

How is Carnivory Celebrated in Scripture?
In many ways. Just to name a few:


·        When God leads Israel through the desert, he promises them ‘a land of milk and honey’. Both of these are animal products (especially beneficial in their raw, untreated forms).

·        After their time as slaves in Egypt, God promises Israel that when they get to the promised land they will ‘eat the fat of the of the land’. Israel understood that eating animal fats was central to nutrition and good health.

·        In Genesis chapter four when the first sacrifices are recorded, YHWH rejects the vegetable offering of Cain but accepts the meat sacrifice of Abel.

·        Much is made of offering up the fat of animals in the sacrificial system of ancient Israel. Little is made of vegetables, though there is some mention of grain offerings as well (which some think could be beer).

·        After leaving the arc, God specifically gave all animals to Noah as food.

·        The Passover meal, which centred around a lamb to be eaten, was a key religious observance given to Israel. No one was allowed to refuse this meat and still be part of the community. 

·        There is no limit to the amount of meat that the Israelis should eat: ‘you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want.’ Deuteronomy 12.15

·        When John the Baptist came, he was reported to a man who never ate bread, only a carnivorous diet of insects and wild honey.

How Does the Bible Speak of the treatment of Animals?
The Bible speaks of the humane treatment of animals. Trying to source meat and dairy from ethical farmers who raise pastured animals can be a shared commonality between Christians and Carnivores (and those who identify as both). ‘The righteous cares about his animal's health, but even the merciful acts of the wicked are cruel.’ Proverbs 12.10.

Will there be meat in Heaven?
Christian teachers can’t say definitively. But we do get material for speculation. Those who would say ‘no’ point to the fact that there is no death in heaven. If we take Isaiah literally not even carnivorous animals will eat other animals as he describes a future where ‘the lion will lay down with the lamb.’ (11.6, 65.25)

But in other passages, meat is described as being on the menu (again, Christians understand that the Bible uses poetic language to describe heaven as an unimaginably wonderful place so we caution against over-literal readings of such passages). Isaiah says that there will be ‘choice meats and well-aged wine’ in the age to come (25.6).

Perhaps the strongest argument for meat-eating in heaven is that Jesus ate meat after His personal resurrection. Some may say that Jesus had to eat meat during his earthly incarnation just in order to get the nutrients his body would’ve needed. But what about with a glorified body that can walk through walls and ascend to heaven? In both John and Luke’s account it’s recorded that he ate fish after coming back from death. If Jesus is eating meat after his resurrection (with an immortal body that can never die) shouldn’t we expect to do the same? Didn’t Jesus say that when He returns in power that He will eat the Passover again with His followers (a meal centred on lamb)?

In short, the Biblical evidence does not demand that we see Heaven as a squalid Kingdom of veganism where we sit around and nibble on celery every day. If you believe that, you really need to go pet your unicorn and think things over.

Daily Bread?
Doesn’t Jesus teach us to pray ‘give us today our daily bread’? Didn't he multiply loaves as well as fishes? Isn’t this a clear endorsement of non-animal, carb-based eating?

Well, yes. It’s hard to get around the fact that even though meat is central to the diet of God's people in the Bible, fresh bread was often celebrated as a great accompaniment. Vegetables don’t get much good press in the Bible. Fresh bread and fruit do. The Bible doesn't call us to a strict, carnivore diet. It does, however, celebrate animal products as a central part of God's provision and no Christian should be shamed into refusing what God has generously given. 

God's acceptance of us is not based upon what we eat, but upon what Christ has done for us. This grace also gives Carnivores the moral liberty to pursue their diet free of any guilt. If someone’s health is improving on the Carnivore lifestyle and they are grateful to God for the meat and dairy they eat, we should rejoice with and not condemn them. 

Perhaps giving it a try for a month might even improve your health. Want to see?

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the writing this! I was feeling conflicted over this topic, and now I don't think I have to.

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  2. This was such a good commentary. Thank you. You answered almost ALL the questions Bible-believing people may have. I first learned about this "diet" after looking at a YouTube video by Dr. Ken Berry. But one of the reasons he gave for prescribing to this diet was because he said his evolutionary background as "Neanderthal" which meant his ancestors were animal hunters who ate a lot of meat, and very little plant-based foods and so he was pre-conditioned to be a meat-eater. That made me very skeptical, but then you can't argue with the actual "results" of following the diet - i.e. the cleansing effects, the removal of inflammation, the weight loss, etc. As a bible-believing Christian, I'm obviously NOT a believer in evolution. But I believe that God allows us to eat all things (meat and vegetables) with thanksgiving. As you said, many proponents of the Carnivore diet have many different world views. But I just want to thank you for your biblical commentary. Keep up the good work.

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  3. Would you wife share her bread recipe ? Thanks you, great article with scripture. Thank you.

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  4. this was an awesome read! god bless you brother. im also a bible beleiving christian and a carnivore. was crazy is that i was just getting ready to do my own research as to why i think that eating carnivore is very in-line with my christian worldview. you hit on a lot of key points that i already held to but i hadnt really done all the research just yet. i stumbled upon your webpage, because i was trying to see if any other believers shared these ideas, its so great to know that i am not alone in my way of thinking. honestly some times i feel crazy for beleiving the stuff i do about nutrition and how i think it lines up with scripture, but reading this gave me great peace of mind.

    my own reason for being carnivore is kinda hard to explain in one short post, but its definitely for health reasons. im 31 young african american male in houston Tx, from my exterior i look pretty healthy. 6'0 tall, fairly lean muscular frame, but truthfully my health is still pretty far away from being back to normal. i essentially kinda have brain damage and prevents me from being able to sleep like a normal human being... its a long story as to how and why, but to sum it all up, in my collegiate years i wasnt living right, so i ended up with a terrible addiction problem. while i was learning how much of a wretch i had become, at the same time i was also committing to give my life back to christ and give up my addiction. as noble as that may sound, its been the rough journey of my life! i should probably be dead with all the stuff ive been through. the withdrawal symptoms in addition to other life stressors became too much to bear and eventually tipped my health way off balance. was worried i was going to die at one point, eventually though i started researching what was going on with my body and slowly have been piecing things together bit by bit. its been a very difficult 5 year journey, and its far from over but i kinda feel like the lord is soveriegn still and is perhaps preparing me for something and im confident that it has something do with nutrition and culinary fields. im just believing God for a big turn around! i know i still have a lot of areas i need to still grown in, so im truly thankful that God is SOO patient with me.

    anyway, again, reading this has been a true blessing! and if its okay with you, id love to be able to connect with you through social media (its so rare to meet other beleievers who are also carnivore-ish) and actually understand the science and has it fits so well with a biblical worldview! i dont think it was an accident of me finding this page, not one bit! my real name is Chike Ogbonna, you can find me on FB if you search for me. Im pretty sure im the only one living in Missouri city TX lol. Might also say Cheekz Ogbonna, as that used to be my FB for awhile. Would be truly awesome to hear from you!

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    Replies
    1. He Chike, happy to connect on Facebook if you'd like. My profile is Joshua D. Jones. Glad you liked the article.

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    2. just now seeing your response. ill add you brother!

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  5. Thanks for this defence. But what about fasting? How does a christian carnivore fast?

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