When did humans start eating meat?

I have recently been confronted with people who are telling me that Christians need to keep the Old Testament dietary laws. What they are saying is contrary to Peter’s statements of Acts 15:10, as well as many statements of Paul.

I had always been taught that people didn’t eat animals until after the flood. Most Christians point to Genesis 9:3 to say that this was the point when man began to eat the flesh of animals.

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

You can do an internet search and you will find many articles that state that man was vegetarian before the flood.

Indeed, man was created to be a vegetarian. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was told;

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16-17

We all know the story of the fall of man; Shortly after this command was given Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and were banished from the Garden.

As a result of their sin, God killed animals and made clothing from the animal skins for Adam and his wife.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

Now, God was teaching Adam something in this act, that most of his descendants have forgotten. No doubt Adam would copy this act of God for the rest of his life, whenever he or a member of his family needed clothing. They may have developed cloth at some point in Adam’s life, and thus would not have needed to continue killing animals all the time, but there can be no doubt that they did kill animals on occasion for their skins.

So what was God teaching Adam? Did He teach them to kill the animals to make clothing, and then bury the carcass? Did they burn it?

It has been said that the God of the bible is a “waste-not-want-not” God. He does not beat around the bush, wasting time. He does not waste resources, and He does not expect his creatures to be wasteful either. Does it make sense that God would teach the first couple to kill animals for their skins and to waste the rest of the carcass?

One of the principles of the law of sacrifice, given later in Leviticus, was that the sacrifices were to be eaten. See Genesis 31:54, Leviticus 7:15-21, Deut. 12:27.

Note that in Genesis 31:54 it does not say that Jacob and his brethren ate the sacrifice there, but the context dictates that they did. It was a feast! Notice also that this occurred long before the book of Leviticus was written. Yes, they did eat their sacrifices long before the Law was written! I think God had communicated this to man in the beginning.

The bible does not have to spell things out. God wants us to use our minds, that He gave us!

Do you remember the time when Moses was on the mountain for forty days and the people down below made a golden calf? You can read about it in Exodus 32.

In his righteous anger Moses ground the golden calf into powder, mixed it in water, and made the people of Israel drink it;

And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. Exodus 32:20

I think that in a similar fashion, God in His righteous anger, over Adam and Eve’s disobedience, made them eat the animals He had killed for their clothing. I think God did it to show them the consequences of their sin.

They sinned and someone had to die. Instead of them dying, it was a beautiful animal which they loved!

Have you ever eaten a pet? I have. It is not a good feeling. It is hard to enjoy such a meal when it has a name, (Andrei the goat) and along with it there is a sense of guilt. It is over thirty years since I had that meal, and I still remember it today.

Don’t forget that the God of the Garden is the same God whom Moses knew. I think He inspired Moses to do this! Making them drink the polluted water would bring home to them the horror of what they had done.

Do I have a verse to prove my point? Not really. I only know that God never changes, and the principles enshrined in the law of Moses were already in play thousands of years earlier. This can easily be demonstrated in the law of the Sabbath (see Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11), and the rest of the ten commandments, and I see no reason why it should not be true of other laws. It is about the unchanging nature of God.

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Genesis 7:2

When Noah entered the ark, they already had a concept of clean animals. Some have said that the concept was only for sacrifice. This may be true, but even this idea is not found in Scripture, (someone made it up) and I would contend that they ate their sacrifices. Meat should remind you that someone had to die for your meal, and they died because YOU are a sinner!

When Noah and his family got off the ark the world had radically changed from the day they had boarded her. In this new world God allowed man to eat any animal, not only the ones which were clean for sacrifices.

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. Genesis 9:3

I think that what the Lord was saying is that “now, even animals that you formerly considered unclean, you may eat”. He is also using the past-tense in this statement, because it is already a done deal. He is letting them know that they can, but He never actually said that they can not!  The diet before the flood was probably the same diet eventually enshrined in the Law of Moses.

Not every conversation that Adam had with God is recorded in Scripture, so there is ample room for Him to have given them instructions to eat the sacrifice during Adam’s life. God would never give instructions that are contrary to His nature, but we see from the Levitical law that it is NOT contrary to His nature for men to eat of their sacrifices.

In fact eating of the sacrifice is one thing that personalizes it.  When you eat it the sacrifice becomes a part of you!  It is this very principle that Jesus was referring to when He said:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. John 6:53

He wasn’t speaking literally, but figuratively.  You have to read His words and make them a part of you.  Nevertheless, the principle He spoke of here in John 6 is the very same principle that began with the first sacrifice.  How do I know?  Because all the sacrifices were about Jesus.  Every one of them.  None of them could ever take away sin (Hebrews 10:4), but all were anticipating the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of Man.

Jesus, or Yehoshua, said that we need to pay attention to every word of Scripture (Mat. 4:4, Luke 4:4). We are not to look at the “big picture” without taking notice of the details. Pay careful attention to the details of the sacrifice of the second child of Adam.

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: Genesis 4:3-4

Notice that when Abel made his sacrifice he separated the fat from the meat. One need not do that if one is burning up the whole animal in the fire of the altar. The only way one would need to do what Abel was doing was if one was eating the meat. The fat was burned and the meat was eaten!

And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, Leviticus 3:9

Abel was making the same kind of offering that was later enshrined in the law in Leviticus. He was separating the fat, and burning it. This is very strong evidence that he ate the meat of the sacrifice. He was anticipating the law of Moses which would not be written down for some 2,500 years! I expect that Abel didn’t make this up himself, but got it first hand from the Lord!

Please notice also that there is no command recorded in Genesis 1-4, for Cain and Abel to bring sacrifices and offerings to the Lord!  None!  So, did Cain and Abel just make it up themselves, to bring the offerings of Genesis 4?  No!  Very obviously they were following a verbal command, that was never written down.  If one verbal command wasn’t written down, what is the chance that there were others?  I would say that it is without question that there were many verbal commands given to the first family, and even to several generations of their descendants.

Those who tell us that Abel’s, and Adam’s, sacrifices were burnt offerings that consumed the entire animal, are not reading the words of Scripture. Their exegesis is sloppy! Careless! Really more like eisegesis!  They are reading into Scripture their own preferences, and skipping that which the Lord placed there!

Proof that this is a very old custom can be observed all around the world; people in any religion that makes sacrifices and offerings, eat of their sacrifices. I am not saying that those sacrifices are acceptable to God, but only that the tradition they are following comes from way back in time, even as far back as the Garden of Eden.

No. The more Scripture I read the more I am convinced that man has eaten the flesh of animals since the Garden of Eden.

About dknezacek

An average, ordinary guy. Author, husband, father, pilot, aircraft builder, test pilot, machinist, artist, just ordinary stuff that lots of people do. Don't forget bible student. Dan's passion is bible study, especially including the End Times prophecies.
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11 Responses to When did humans start eating meat?

  1. Pingback: The Sacrificial System, and its connection to the End Times | housetops

  2. Good points! I was thinking myself if Adam and Eve and their family were vegetarians, why on Earth would abel become a shepherd for?

  3. Daniel Vaden says:

    My opinion: the word “remez” or “creeping things” referred to clean animals as Noah would have already been familiar with which animals were acceptable for eating and which weren’t. The reason, then, for Yahweh telling him it was ok to eat them now was that there was a temporary restriction on eating meat while they were on the ark, with the exception of the few extra clean animals taken for sacrifice / meals. Yahweh was simply lifting that temporary ban and ensuring Noah that he could hunt / raise livestock for food.

    Why then did Yahweh clarify which “remez” / “creeping things” were acceptable for food in Leviticus? Because transgression had abounded. In other words, the people of the lands made eating unclean meat commonplace, so the people of Israel needed to be reminded / corrected to be set apart from the nations. This introduction of unclean meats into the world diet could have come from wicked descendants of Noah such as Nimrod.

    • dknezacek says:


      I think you are partially correct; before the flood Adam’s family only ate what would be considered “clean” animals by the Jewish laws. This was not by commandment, but because these were the type of animals God taught them to eat in the garden, after they sinned. This changed after the flood, because God knew that now the earth’s climate would change, and there would be many places where “clean” animals could not be found. He did this because He was preventing many deaths through famine.

      People who live in the rich west don’t understand the depths of poverty in many parts of the world. But, God is Love, and the fullness of the earth belongs to Him.

      Here is what God said to Noah about food after the Flood;

      3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. Genesis 9:3,4

      In case you think this is just the KJV, which is the most accurate bible we have, here it is in a couple other versions;

      3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (ESV)
      3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. (NIV)

      If it moves you can eat it; God is not offended by you and I eating bacon. In the Church-Age He is not even offended by Jews who eat bacon! Paul did!

      No, this is the correct translation. The idea that God’s words were lost, and are now found by a select group of people, is contrary to the bible, and smacks of elitism! God preserved His word from the beginning, and it has always been available to His people.

      God also said that their dietary laws would be a stumbling block for Israel, and it is to this day;

      Psalms 69:22
      Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.

      Go and read the previous verse. This is in the middle of a Messianic prophesy. God is saying that Israel would reject salvation because of their dietary laws! I find it so sad that gentiles now think they need to convert to Judaism to be saved.

      God told His people that they were not to ask questions about the food they were given, but to eat it with thanksgiving. The only food they were not to eat was food that they knew was sacrificed to idols.

      25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? I Corinthians 10:25-29

      So we don’t knowingly eat food that has been sacrificed to idols, not because it is unclean, because it is not, but because the idol worshipper will think we are respecting his idol. Otherwise we are to eat anything we are given.

      When Peter has his vision of unclean animals in a net, do you think that God was only talking about people? Of course He was not. God does not use teaching tools that contradict His own character. Just as Peter was now expected to associate with Gentiles, he was also expected to eat Gentile foods!

      I spent some time at a Messianic congregation in Toronto, but I left because of this very issue. God does not expect me to convert to Judaism to be saved. In fact He expects Jews to embrace the freedom in Christ, and to eat Gentile foods when they are offered to them!

      There is nothing in the dietary laws that claim that Gentiles were commanded to eat only “clean” animals. There is nothing in them that hints that this was something that was lost. Rather they were being called out from the Gentiles.

      If you, as a missionary, go somewhere where they offer you snake soup, you are to eat it, because otherwise you would insult the people you are trying to lead to Christ! Would you sacrifice someone else’s soul for the sake of your own stomach? Is your own diet more important to you than the souls of the lost?

      By the way, the correct pronunciation of the tetragramaton is Yehovah; Yahweh is a recent innovation.

      I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but you need to prayerfully consider these things, and use the KJV only!


  4. Halal Meat is sacrificed to idols.

    • dknezacek says:

      Hi Brian,

      Yes, you are correct. I would say that all the pagan practises of sacrifice have their origin in the Garden of Eden, but have been corrupted. The greatest time of corruption was when Nimrod was king of Babylon, and when he and his wife started the Pagan religion. Islam is merely a form of paganism. Their God is a pagan god, and not the true God of the bible.

  5. Wendi says:

    I am a vegan and I have read all sorts of different opinions. Apparently some people think veganism is rebellion against God. I am surprised to find a recent article on the subject. Given the present state of the environment and the fact that animal manufacturing is the number one reason for the deforestation of the Amazon and for the emission of CO2 / Greenhouse gases, isn’t it a good guess that we SHOULD NOT be eating meat at this present time? I mean we are torturing, forcibly impregnating animals, imprisoning them to live horrible and tortured lives, and murdering them on unprecedented scale for greedy human consumption. I just don’t see how this is something that the God of the universe approves of. Did he really create pigs and chickens so that we could torture the hell out of them before we kill them and eat them? I mean if it were such a God Given right, why then does meat consumption cause cancer and why is it destroying the environment? I just don’t understand it.

    • dknezacek says:


      First, I’d like to thank you for writing.

      Next, I have to say that your letter contains many unprovable assumptions;

      Your assumption that CO2 is pollution, or causes global warming, is false. There was an ice-age several thousand years ago, and human activity did not cause this, nor the global warming that followed it. The fact that olive trees were grown on the Rhine river, some 2,000 years ago, is also proof that the climate today is actually cooler than it was then.

      In fact sattelite images over the last 30 years are showing a greening of the earth, largely due to the increasing CO2 levels. The earth is measureable greener now than it was 30 years ago!

      CO2 is plant-food. Plants turn CO2 into sugars.

      Now, I might agree with you that some of the factory farming methods used today are inhumane, but for most of humanity’s history chickens and pigs were allowed to forage for food. It is wrong to equate modern factory farming methods with the methods used in most of the world for most of history.

      I have worked on farms and I would not describe what I saw as “torture”. I think you might be anthropomorphizing the animals, but animals are not humans and don’t think like us.

      As a Christian, my first resource for any moral question is the bible. It is the word of God, and if you or I don’t like what it says, it doesn’t make the bible wrong. It is our worldview that needs to be adjusted.

      God didn’t just give people permission to eat animals, but he actually commanded it as a part of the sacrificial system. My point in the article is that this command does not merely go back to the law, but actually back to the Garden of Eden.

      God’s point in making people eat of the sacrifices is because He is essentially saying “this is what your sin has caused! Your sin causes the deaths of innocent animals” And by extension, your sin has caused the death of the only innocent man in all of history, the Lord Jesus Christ! It is ALL about Him! It really is!

      So, God certainly did design humanity as innocent vegans in the Garden, but our innocence was lost, and we eat meat because of our sin and the sin of humanity. When Jesus Christ comes back and rules the world, I think it is likely that there will be very little meat eaten throughout the earth, except when people come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. God is going to restore Garden of Eden conditions throughout the earth at that time.

      A lot of people think they can “rush God” by trying to restore Garden of Eden conditions today, but it won’t work. It has to be done in His time, and not in our time. We have to deal with the issues as God presents them to us, and not force our priorities on God.

      Your first priority should be the fact that you are a sinner in need of a Saviour. Jesus is our Sacrifice, and we need to eat him by faith. We don’t eat Him literally, but we read His words, and believe them, and make them a part of us. This is what God wants for you today. Without Jesus Christ you will end up in the Lake of Fire, vegan or not!

      If you try to force veganism on others you are missing the point that God is trying to make to you, and sidestepping it to a minor issue.

      Thanks again for writing,


  6. isemgrim says:

    Wrong, we started eating meat more then 100 000 years ago as species. Its a pity people still believe in fairy tales in this age of information.

    • dknezacek says:


      Its too bad you are afraid of using your real name. It’s much more interesting when we know who we are talking to. Also it is a sign of paranoia when people are afraid of using their real name. You have nothing to fear here, we’re all friends!

      As to your contention that people have been on the earth for 100,000 years, there is no evidence for this that does not have a better explanation in the bible’s framework.

      If people have been here that long, where are all the bodies? Why are there only 7 billion of us? If people had been here that long the population should be much larger than it is.

      No, the evidence is that humanity has only been on the earth for around 6,000 years.

      We could talk about so many different areas of science that indicate a young earth; astronomy, genetics, biology are only a few. I would suggest you go and read the articles in places like Creation, Answers in Genesis , or ICR. These are all reliable organizations who are staffed by real scientists who believe in the bible’s 6 day creation account.

      I subscribe to Creation magazine, which is available from Creation.com, but you can go to ICR’s website and receive a free subscription to Acts & Facts magazine, which is full of scientific evidence in well written articles that are written by scientists. I mean it is rare to find an article there written by someone with anything less than a BSc.

      So, I would like to end by asking you, what evidence do you have that people were here 100,000 years ago?


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