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Christians, there is nothing wrong with eating meat

meat bbq
Unsplash/Victoria Shes

Today, this anti-meat culture has arrived at the church’s doorstep. We now have thought leaders, media personalities, and even voices within the church calling for a reduction in meat consumption.

Christians should know that the call to ban or reduce meat consumption is not only unbiblical but also scientifically baseless.

Global desperation for meat ban reaches Christian church

In recent years, climate change has become one of the major reasons for governments to call for a ban or reduction in meat consumption. The U.K.’s Climate Change Committee recommended “a 20% reduction in meat and dairy by 2030 and 35% reduction for meat by 2050,” further suggesting that people switch to plant-based alternatives.

In New Zealand, the government has proposed a tax for the burps and farts from livestock like sheep and cattle. In Germany, which has been a hotbed for radical ecological movements, at least three government ministers have called for a large reduction (as high as 80%) in meat consumption.

In 2020, TheNew York Times declared, “The End of Meat Is Here,” adding, “If you care about the working poor, about racial justice, and about climate change, you have to stop eating animals.” Microsoft owner and billionaire Bill Gates suggests “rich nations should shift entirely to synthetic beef.” Not surprisingly, he has invested in several synthetic meat companies.

This war on meat has infiltrated the Christian culture as well. Vegetarianism is “people's spiritually proper diet,” says one author who believes Christians should not eat meat. He calls out Christians for hypocrisy if they profess life and “then eat the world to death.” Some sites even go to the extent of branding Jesus as vegan.

Biblical clarity on meat consumption

But God’s word categorically rejects any such extrapolated and incorrect view on dietary practices for Christians. God, since the beginning of creation, had no problems with meat consumption. In fact, during Old Testament times, God himself distinguished between ritually clean and unclean animals for consumption, thus directly validating the consumption of animal meat.

Our Lord Jesus ate meat. The disciples were fishermen, who caught fish not to be used as display objects in aquariums but for everyday consumption by people. The Scriptures lay out the truth in simple language that is not difficult to interpret. The New Testament also instructs Christians not to judge or mistreat people for their dietary preferences.

“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:2,3). In other words, dietary habits are not to be forced upon a person, and Christians should not have a problem with either meat consumption or abstinence from it. Note, too, that it is the “person who eats only vegetables” whom Paul calls “weak”—because his conscience is ill-formed, embracing a limit not established by God.

No scientific basis for avoiding meat

Some Christians may argue that avoiding meat and the associated greenhouse gas emissions from the meat industry will help us to save the earth from a certain climate catastrophe. The evidence for that however is nowhere to be found.

First and foremost, scientists are yet to understand how our climate system works. More than 90% of the current computer models fail significantly in their ability to predict future warming. This is because the scientists who design these forecast models erroneously believe that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can warm up our atmosphere rapidly to dangerous levels. 

The earth witnessed inconsistent warming rates during the last five decades despite a nearly linear and steady increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, one of the key greenhouse gases believed to have a warming impact on our atmosphere.

Even if the world were to warm as much as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns, and as media widely report, that amount of warming would only cause minimal inconvenience by the end of this century.  According to the United Nations, less than 5% of global GDP would be impacted due to climate effects on our world by 2100. And that would be a 5% reduction not from today’s global GDP but from global GDP then, which the UN expects to be several multiples higher than today’s. In other words, everyone would be slightly less better off with the warming than without it, but still much better off.

Emission from meat consumption is not going to cause significant changes to our climate. As the Scriptures say, the choice of diet is a matter of personal preference and not one that the state or church should decide for an individual.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, VA., and holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK. He resides in Bengaluru, India.

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