Construction on a new Bible museum in Washington, DC, has begun and will attempt to show the “impact, history, and narrative” of the Bible. This museum, founded by the president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green, is expected to open in 2017 and will rival the Smithsonian in size. We actually have a Bible exhibit from Steve Green’s collection here at the Creation Museum.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is urging Steve Green well in advance of the museum’s opening to serve what they call “Eden food”—a vegan diet—at the museum. They claim among other reasons that “since according to the first chapter of Genesis, Eden was vegan,” the museum should follow that example and also serve vegan-only food.
Here is how Genesis 1:29–30 describes the pre-Fall diet of both humans and animals:
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.
Since vegan is a relatively modern term, I will simply say Adam and Eve were vegetarian.
Originally, we were given permission to eat plants, but nowhere in Genesis 1 were Adam and Eve told they could eat animals. This makes it clear (and is confirmed by Genesis 9:3) that Adam and Eve were originally vegetarians. However, sin changed all of that. We see examples of animals in the fossil record eating one another, so we know that carnivorous animals developed soon after the Fall. People, however, weren’t given permission to eat meat until after the Flood:
So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” (Genesis 9:1–3)
The text in Genesis 1:30 makes it clear that originally Adam and Eve were given plants to eat, but Genesis 9 states that God changed the diet of humans so that they could eat meat. So, biblically, there is no requirement that people should not eat meat. Just like we were given the plants in Eden, so are we given the animals now. In fact, Jesus himself cooked and ate fish (John 21:9).
When PETA argues that this new museum should only serve “Eden food,” they are picking and choosing verses and selectively picking which laws should be followed. They are not dealing with Scripture in a consistent manner. Of course, they do not make any claims to be a Christian organization, so this “pick-and-choose” attitude toward Scripture is to be expected. And the irony is that they are using the Bible to claim the museum should only serve “Eden food”—but they are not a Christian organization! And if those at PETA believe in evolution, and thus believe that we are related to the animals and therefore shouldn’t eat them—then they need to understand that from an evolutionary perspective we are also related to the plants, so they shouldn’t eat those also! And why is it only humans PETA seems to want to restrict in regard to diet? Shouldn’t they be trying to stop all the animals (like lions) that today eat other animals? Actually, once you abandon God’s Word as your absolute authority, then ultimately you will find people will act inconsistently in all sorts of ways.
While it’s certainly okay to serve only plants and could make for an interesting exhibit in and of itself, eating meat is also acceptable in light of passages like Genesis 9:3. Eating meat is not a sin but neither is eating only plants. That’s why the Creation Museum offers a variety of options on our menu.
For more information on this topic, please see “What Would Jesus Eat?”
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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.