Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, you have probably heard of Jesus’ name. Truth be told I have always been curious about how he lived during his time, including his diet. Since (I hope you don’t me saying this) I am a Christian myself.
So what did he and his disciples eat? Was Jesus vegan? Apparently, based on different accounts coming from different sources, it would seem that Jesus was not exactly a vegan. But keep reading because I dive much deeper into the issue.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus or also popularly known as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth lived around the 4 B.C. in Bethlehem. His birth date is celebrated every Christmas Day (December 25).
For non-Christian religions, Jesus was not the Son of God who conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit, but he was thought to be a prophet of God and a Messiah.
According to the Christian bible, it was only after being baptized by his cousin John the Baptist, that the Holy Spirit declared him as the Son of God.
Jesus became a highly controversial figure during his time which irked Jewish Elder Leaders like the Pharisees.
He was spreading his teachings and gospel with his 12 apostles. One of his apostles Judas betrayed him which led to his young death at the age of around 33-36 in 30-33 AD.
As Jesus is such as influential figure in so many people’s lives to this day, it is only natural that we would care and wonder what were his views on eating animal products.
Was Jesus A Vegan?
Now that we know who Jesus is, it’s time to address an important question. Was Jesus a vegan or not?
In 2007, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claimed that Jesus was a vegetarian. However, if you take a look at the Bible, there are numerous accounts that prove otherwise. So if Jesus was not even vegetarian, how could he had been a vegan? Right?
Jesus grew up in a Jewish home that celebrated Passover. Passover involves the killing and eating of lambs. Also, some scholars have said that The Last Supper was a seder or the Passover meal.
Here are two accounts telling us that Jesus commanded his disciples to catch fish: you can refer to Luke Chapter 4 verses 2-7 and John Chapter 21 verses 5-11.
Another account from John Chapter 21 verses 9-12 mentions how Jesus led his disciples to catch fish and he made them eat it with him.
Words From The Bible About The Plant Based Life
There are writings in the Bible that tell us that Jesus would eat vegan-friendly foods. Also, there are also words from the Holy Bible that support the plant based diet. For you reference, here are some of them:
Words From The Bible Supporting The Plant Based Life
- Genesis 1:29
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
- Genesis 1:30
And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”
- Isaiah 66:3
“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations.”
- Proverbs 12:10
“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
- Romans 14:20-21
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.”
Based on the scriptures above, my interpretation is that Jesus only approved of eating meat if there was nothing else to eat.
Having said that, let’s take a look at some plant-based foods that Jesus’ was most likely to consume during his time.
What Did Jesus Eat?
Just because some of these accounts state that Jesus consumed meat and fish doesn’t mean that he did not indulge in vegan-friendly foods. Jesus probably ate the following foods:
The bread made about 2,000 years ago is quite different from the ones we have today. During the Jewish holiday, Jesus would eat unleavened bread made without using yeast.
In addition, people during Jesus’ time made bread of the following as part of their daily staple:
- Coarsely Ground Floor
The bread was flat. People would usually dip it in the olive oil and mashed legumes. The bread provided them with a great amount of energy given it was low on the glycemic index.
Bread was highly regarded in their culture. It was meant to be eaten by breaking it instead of cutting it. Those who were well-off ate bread made of wheat while those who were a little poorer made do with bread made of barley.
With the exception of the Sabbath day, women of Nazareth then spent their days grounding wheat or barley grains. Using their pestle, the women did the grinding on a communal “mill” which was a large stone located in the center of the village.
While mostly mentioned in the Old Testament, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if almonds were part of Jesus’ diet. Almonds are pretty abundant in Israel and the surrounding region.
Small as they may be, almonds are known to have high levels of:
- Dietary Fiber
- Vitamin E
The importance of the olive tree and olives in before and during Jesus’ time is evident in the number of times they are mentioned in both the Old and New Testament.
As another staple in that region of the world, Jesus might have used some olive oil as “sop” in his dipping bread during the Last Supper.
As a healthy alternative compared to other oil, it is known to be rich in:
- Anti Inflammatory compounds
- Antioxidant compounds
- Dietary fat
Since olive oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, it can help alleviate joint discomfort, normalize blood sugar and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
The dietary fat that you can find in the olive oil is made up of mostly monounsaturated fat which is good for the heart’s health because it reduces the levels of bad cholesterol in the body.
If you check out Matthew 21:18, there is a mention of Jesus’ hunger in the morning and seeing a fig tree.
Figs are the fruits of the Ficus Tree which is one of the oldest trees known to man. It is abundant in the Middle East so it’s no surprise that figs are mentioned in the Bible.
When it comes to taste, figs are sweet with a chewy and soft texture and they are edible seeds. As figs are easily spoilt, one of the best was to serve it is dry and preserve.
Figs are great for people who are watching their weight as they contain a high level of dietary fibers. They also have prebiotics which promote the good bacteria in the digestive system.
Figs are also high in potassium and calcium. Given the high levels of these two minerals in the body, they balance each other out. This helps in keeping bones healthy and lessening the risk of developing osteoporosis.
In the book of John 15:1-6, Jesus referred to himself as “The True Vine”. Scholars believed that he was referencing grapes when he said this.
Grapes have been cultivated since the ancient civilizations. They are abundant in Jerusalem and the neighboring areas. So it would not be surprising if grapes were part of Jesus’ diet. You can also add the fact that wine was a big thing during his time as well.
Grapes come in different varieties including black, green, red, pink and yellow. Grapes also have various health benefits:
- They are rich in vitamins and minerals like Vitamins C and K
- They contain antioxidants that fight damages to cells caused by free radicals
- They have beneficial plant compounds that fight certain types of cancers like breast and colon
- They lower blood pressure
- They reduce cholesterol
- They decrease level of blood sugar
- They help improve attention, mood, and memory
One of the antioxidants found in grapes that contributes to the majority of the health benefits mentioned above is called Resveratrol.
BONUS: Though Jesus was not a vegan, it’s never too late for you to be one. If you want to know how you can start your vegan journey, check out the video below!
Although pistachios weren’t mentioned specifically in the Bible, many still believe that Jesus ate pistachios during his time as well. This is because since ancient times, pistachios have been around in the Middle East.
Pistachios are perhaps one of the healthiest nuts out there. They may be small in size but they certainly pack a lot of nutrients. Pistachios have high levels of fiber, antioxidants, and protein. They are also loaded with nutrients like potassium and vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is very helpful in regulating blood sugar levels and also in the formation of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in our red blood cells.
As for antioxidants, pistachios are abundant in tocopherols and polyphenol which can help protect people from heart disease and cancer.
To add, pistachios are one of the best foods for those who are intending to lose weight. Due to their fiber and protein content, they help increase the feeling of being sated.
Since they are high in antioxidants, pistachios help in lowering blood cholesterol and improving blood pressure and that helps decrease your risk of developing heart diseases.
One of the staple foods during Jesus’ time was the different types of legumes. In the book The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First-Century Fare, with Menus and Recipes, the authors mentioned that in poorer families, ground legumes were mixed with grains.
Since we are on the subject of legumes, here are some of the most common ones that were part of the staple.
Perhaps one of the earliest cultivated legumes, chickpeas or also known as garbanzos have been around since ancient times. They are one of the ingredients used in making hummus – a dip or spread made of beans such as chickpeas.
Chickpeas are also beneficial to health. They are known to:
- Be a good source of protein and fiber
- Have high levels of magnesium and potassium
- Contain vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B which helps reduce the risk of lung and breast cancer
Chickpeas are also inexpensive, versatile, and tasty. They are considered to be an ideal ingredient to so many recipes (vegan or otherwise) out there.
- Fava Beans
Fava beans have been cultivated for thousands and thousands of years. In 2015, the oldest fava beans were discovered in Israel.
Fava Beans contain no cholesterol or saturated fats. The beans are also rich in the following:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
Lentils are one of the oldest domesticated crops. They were also one of the staple legumes that people consumed during Jesus’ time ate.
Lentils are a great source of manganese, folate, and protein. They are also abundant in:
- Pantothenic Acid
The folic acid, potassium, and fiber found in lentils are known to be beneficial to our heart health. An increased consumption of fiber can lessen the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in our bodies.
One of the minerals that were mentioned above – Selenium is found in lentils and not in other foods. It helps in preventing inflammation and in improving the body’s response to infection.
While Jesus was not a vegan, a lot of the foods that he and the people ate during his time are foods that we vegans can eat too.
Although they had meat from time to time, they mostly ate a plant-based diet that was rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The kind of diet they had also contributed to people living long lives during that time.
What do you think of Jesus’ diet? Do you think Jesus’ diet can inspire vegans to eat healthier? Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts below! Or if you would like to spread the good news of a plant-based diet, share this on your favorite social media platform!