Designed to Eat…Plants?

If you are anything like me, you enjoy eating meat. For many in the western world, meat is a daily part of the diet. For some, it makes up the bulk of their diet.  Many have said that the desire to eat meat is genetic; that humans somehow evolved to eat meat. While that would be appetizing for myself and many of my carnivorous friends, not everyone in the secular world agrees on this idea.  This is one of the rare times the scientific community has stumbled into an agreement with God’s Word.

This article was touched off by a book review I read of a new book entitled  Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat.  Written by science writer Marta Zaraska, this book attempts to explain why humans appear to have evolved to eat a plant-based diet. While Zaraska and the reviewer are not creationists, they do raise some interesting points that will be addressed in a moment. I did get the distinct feel while reading the review that both Zaraska and the reviewer are part of the animal rights movement and thus have an objection to eating meat beyond the supposed health risks.  More on that in a moment as well.

Surprisingly, despite the poorly concealed bias, the book does agree with Scripture in its premise, namely that humanity was designed to eat plants.  Genesis 1:29 tells us ” And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Note that the word meat at the end of the verse means food, not meat specifically.  Also, notice that God commanded the man and the woman to eat plant matter, such as fruit and leaves.  This would certainly imply that God designed man to eat plants. In fact, it is not until around two thousand years later, after the flood, that God permitted man to eat meat.  Genesis 9:3 says “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” This is a new command and it comes two thousand years after the creation.

There are some design indications that point to humans being designed to eat plants, some of which are raised in the book. For one, while human’s do have some teeth which appear designed to chew meat. However, herbivorous animals often are found with similar styles of teeth.  The more important feature, according to the book, was what is missing from the human mouth. Carnassial teeth are found at the back of the mouth and are meant for cutting meat. Many species of carnivore, including the well known big cats, have these specialized teeth.  Humans do not.  Since these teeth are designed to deal with meat, it would appear, since humans lack them, that humanity is not designed to eat meat. Both Scripture and science confirm this. Scripture, as noted above, makes it clear we were designed vegetarian, and science tells us the vast majority of our necessary nutrients can be obtained from plants.

Never the less, this idea is not terribly popular in the Christian world. Claiming man was designed as a vegetarian tends to get some pushback.  While this can in part is attributable to the fact many people simply like meat, part of it also points to spiritual ignorance. The book of Genesis has been under heavy attack for the last century and a half, yet by and large, churches have not gotten involved in the fight until recent years.  Thus many people are simply ignorant of God’s original design for humanity. However, there is also something of an ideological component in play. As part of the animal rights movement, vegan and vegetarian lifestyles have rapidly increased in popularity in the past few decades. Many people, perhaps subconsciously, fear that if they admit that man was designed to eat plants, they will further the agenda of groups like PETA which would love to outlaw the sale of meat.  While I am no friend of the animal rights movement or PETA,  this is not a political issue. This is a Biblical authority issue. The Bible makes it very clear that man was designed to eat plants, not meat.  Saying so does not advance the animal rights agenda, it merely stands on the Word of God.

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