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Was Jesus a vegetarian, as PETA claims?

Full Question

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims that Jesus was a vegetarian. Is this true? What is the biblical view of vegetarianism?


PETA’s basic argument is this: “Jesus was compassionate, but slaughterhouses are cruel to animals. Thus, Jesus must have been a vegetarian. He opposed the animal sacrifices of the Jews, and he especially had compassion for fish, calling multiple fishermen away from their occupation of killing innocent animals.”

What does Scripture actually say? The Old Testament describes numerous animal offerings commanded by God, including the Passover. Since Jesus was born under the Law, he participated in the Passover meal, which required a lamb to be slaughtered and consumed (Ex 12). The Last Supper was one such meal (Lk 22:8, 15). But this was not Jesus’ first taste of lamb, since he had celebrated Passover annually since childhood (Lk 2:41). If Jesus opposed the slaughter and consumption of animals, the New Testament tells nothing of it. Paul even warns against proposing such a doctrine of demons, requiring others to abstain from God-given food (1 Tm 4:3).

Did Jesus call “multiple fishermen away from their occupation of killing animals?” Twice Jesus led disciples to a catch so large that the nets nearly broke (Lk 5:2-7, John 21:5-11). The risen Lord ate fish in front of the disciples (Lk 24:42, 34), guided them in another massive catch, and had them bring the fish to eat with him (Jn 21:9-12).

While it is clear that Jesus ate meat and did not condemn others for doing so, Christians must still treat animals with kindness. “God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created. . . . Hence, it is legitimate to use animals for food. . . . It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly . . . [but] one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons” (CCC 2417, 2418).


  1. Dominic Reply

    You may also remind PETA that Jesus did allow the demons to enter a swine of pigs, which then drowned. They must not misquote on Jesus’ compassion.

  2. Jerry Reply

    If we eat vegetarian foods , killing is involved in that also. Killing means putting end to a life. We kills the life in wheat grains ,which is seed (embryo) of another plant. Same like the case of other vegetables. We eat it before its seeds ripens . Also for growing vegetarian foods farmers uses lot of pesticides ,for killing insects affecting their crops.

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  4. Samar Jit Reply

    This is assuming that Jesus actually existed, which is debatable. But I like using bullshit to fight bullshit. Its cynical and humorous, but hidden behind the sarcasm is a greater truth.

    1. Luke Reply

      Tacitus, Roman historian, senator, consul, and governor of the province of Asia (part of modern-day Turkey) had this to say about Jesus: “Nero…punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. But in spite of this temporary setback, the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where this mischief had started) but even in Rome" (The Annals of Imperial Rome, XV, 44).

      Julian the Apostate (4th c. Emperor of Rome) also wrote about Christ.

      Justin Martyr wrote about the records of Jesus’ birth, that still existed in Judea in his day (2nd c. AD) and Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also writes about Jesus. I don’t know if you’d accept those two guys, though. Since they have a bit more of a religious tinge to them. I won’t even get into the Gospels, writings of Paul, and the early Church Fathers…

    2. Bocephus Reply

      Samar, Luke only touched the tip of the iceberg… for one, he didn’t mention the Babylonian Talmud, a document nearly contemporary with Jesus’ time on earth that rips into him as a heretic etc.– in short, the authors were not fans. If there had been the slightest whiff of a suggestion of a clue of a rumor that Jesus was made up, they would have pounced all over that.

      I will say, this whole “Jesus never existed” silliness is an excellent bellwether for sizing people up… if people throw that “theory” out there, you can be pretty sure they don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about. The “there was no historical Jesus” is right up there with “aliens built the pyramids” and “the JFK assassination was a vast conspiracy” to separate the credulous rubes from those who actually know excrement from Shine-Ola.

  5. paganwolfgirl Reply

    Meh, a vast majority of christians re-writes the bible how they see fit so I don’t see the difference in what Peta is doing.

  6. keda smith Reply

    Gee Samar, why are you bothering to be a part of this site? just so you can insult Christians who are exploring our Faith? Nobody makes you read or be a part of this, so please do not insult us or our intelligence. God Bless and keep you, prayers for you (even though you profess not too believe)

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