Q. When did God give humans permission to eat meat?
A. Speaking to Adam and Eve, 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” (Genesis 1:29). So from the creation until the flood mankind had a vegetarian diet.
After the flood, God said to Noah, “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” (Genesis 9:3-4) By this statement He was adding meat to man’s diet, subject to the conditions He mentioned.
After He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, God allowed the consumption of meat from certain animals, but not from others. Leviticus 11 list both the “clean” and the “unclean” animals. Several books have been written about this, claiming that by obeying the Lord’s dietary restrictions the Israelites enjoyed longer, healthier lives than people in the nations around them.
In Romans 14:14 Paul, speaking about eating and drinking, said, “I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.”
He said while we shouldn’t let anyone judge us for what we eat or drink (Colossians 2:16), we should be careful not to let our freedom in these things cause anyone else to stumble (Romans 14:20). He said nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others (1 Cor. 10:24).