Christian dietary laws vary between denominations. The general dietary restrictions specified for Christians in the New Testament are to "abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals".[1]: 212 [2] Some Christian denominations forbid certain foods during periods of fasting, which in some cases may cover half the year and may exclude meat, fish, dairy products, and olive oil.[3]

Christians in the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Orthodox denominations traditionally observe Friday as a meat-free day (in mourning of the crucifixion of Jesus); many also fast and abstain from consuming meat on Wednesday (in memory of the betrayal of Jesus). There are various fasting periods, most notably the liturgical season of Lent.[4][5][6][7] A number of Christian denominations disallow alcohol consumption, but all Christian churches condemn drunkenness.[8]

In the New Testament

The only dietary restrictions specified for Christians in the New Testament are to "abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals" (Acts 15:29), teachings that the early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, preached for believers to follow.[9][10][11] Paul the Apostle, in a notable contrast, told the Christians in Corinth not to worry about eating food sacrificed to idols, since "an idol has no real existence" (1 Corinthians 8:4). However, while liberating the Christian from this common dietary restriction, he did recommend using discernment, because it would be better to never eat any meat than to cause another Christian to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:4–13).[12]

Early Christianity

The Council of Jerusalem instructed gentile Christians not to consume blood, food offered to idols, or the meat of strangled animals, since "the Law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."[13] In Judaism, Jews are forbidden from consuming (amongst other things) any mammals except those with cloven hooves that chew their cud,[14] shellfish (including all invertebrate seafood) and unscaled or finless fish,[14] blood,[15] food offered to idols,[16] or the meat of animals not killed humanely with a sharp knife by a trained Jewish slaughterer[17] or meat from a living animal.[18] The Seven Laws of Noah, which Jews believe all people, both Jews and gentiles alike must follow, also forbid consuming the meat of living animals.[19][20]

Denominational views

Nicene Christianity

Peter's vision of a sheet with animals, described in Acts 10; illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop's Treasures of the Bible, published 1894

In Nicene Christianity, including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Moravianism, Anglicanism, and Reformed Christianity, there exist no dietary restrictions regarding specific animals that cannot be eaten.[21][1]: 353  This stems from Peter the Apostle's vision of a sheet with animals, described in the Bible, in Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 10, when Saint Peter was told that "what God hath made clean, that call not thou common".[22]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church follows the Old Testament's Mosaic Law on dietary restrictions, which is also the basis for the Jewish dietary laws. They only eat meat of a herbivore with split hooves and birds without a crop and without webbed feet; they also do not eat shellfish of any kind, and they only eat fish with scales. Any other animal is considered unclean and not suitable for eating. All vegetables, fruits and nuts are allowed.[citation needed]

Oriental Orthodoxy

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, an Oriental Orthodox Christian denomination, washing one's hands is required before and after consuming food.[23][24] This is followed by prayer, in which Christians often pray to God to thank Him for and bless their food before consuming it at the time of eating meals.[24][25] Slaughtering animals for food is often done in Ethiopia with the trinitarian formula.[26][27]

The Armenian Apostolic Church, as with other Oriental Orthodox Churches, have rituals that "display obvious links with shechitah, Jewish kosher slaughter."[28] Another Oriental Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, maintains the Old Testament dietary restrictions.[29]


Method of slaughter

With reference to medieval times, Jillian Williams states that "unlike the Jewish and Muslims methods of animal slaughter, which require the draining of the animal's blood, Christian slaughter practices did not usually specify the method of slaughter" though "the Christian method of preparation largely mirrored the slaughter methods of Jews and Muslims for large animals".[30] "The Christian methods of slaughter follow the Jewish way of draining the blood of the animal".[31] David Grumett and Rachel Muers state that the Orthodox Christian Shechitah and Jewish Kosher methods of slaughter differ from the Muslim Halal (Dhabh) method in that they require the cut to "sever the trachea, oesophagus and the jugular veins of the animal" as this method is believed to cause minimal suffering to the animal.[32][needs context]

Jhatka and Christianity

According to Sikhism, Jhatka meat is meat from an animal that has been killed by a single strike of a sword or axe to sever the head, as opposed to ritualistically slow slaughter (kutha) like the Jewish slaughter (shechita) or Islamic slaughter (dhabihah). It is the method preferred by many Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians.[33]

The jhatka method of slaughtering animals for food (with a single strike to the head to minimize pain) is preferred by many Christians,[33] although the Armenian Apostolic Church, among other Orthodox Christians, have rituals that "display obvious links with shechitah, Jewish kosher slaughter."[28]


Further information: Christian vegetarianism

Some Christian monks, such as the Trappists, have adopted a vegetarian policy of abstinence from eating meat.[34]


Main article: Christian views on alcohol

Most Christian denominations condone moderate consumption of alcohol and beverages, including the Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed and the Orthodox.[35][36] The Adventist, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, and Pentecostal traditions either encourage abstinence from or prohibit the consumption of alcohol (cf. teetotalism).[37][38][39][40] In any case, all Christian churches, following various Biblical passages, condemn drunkenness as sinful (cf. Galatians 5:19–21).[41][8]

See also


  1. ^ a b Geisler, Norman L. (1 September 1989). Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options. Baker Books. ISBN 978-1-58558-053-8.
  2. ^ Acts 15:29
  3. ^ Katerina O Sarri et al., "Effects of Greek orthodox christian church fasting on serum lipids and obesity", BMC Public Health 3:16 (May 2003) doi:10.1186/1471-2458-3-16 full text
  4. ^ "What does The United Methodist Church say about fasting?". The United Methodist Church. Archived from the original on 10 March 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  5. ^ Barrows, Susanna; Room, Robin (1991). Drinking: Behavior and Belief in Modern History. University of California Press. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-520-07085-1. Retrieved 2 May 2014. The main legally enforced prohibition in both Catholic and Anglican countries was that against meat. During Lent, the most prominent annual season of fasting in Catholic and Anglican churches, authorities enjoined abstinence from meat and sometimes "white meats" (cheese, milk, and eggs); in sixteenth and seventeenth century England butchers and victuallers were bound by heavy recognizances not to slaughter or sell meat on the weekly "fish days," Friday and Saturday.
  6. ^ Lund, Eric (January 2002). Documents from the History of Lutheranism, 1517-1750. Fortress Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-4514-0774-7. Of the Eating of Meat: One should abstain from the eating of meat on Fridays and Saturdays, also in fasts, and this should be observed as an external ordinance at the command of his Imperial Majesty.
  7. ^ Vitz, Evelyn Birge (1991). A Continual Feast. Ignatius Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-89870-384-9. Retrieved 2 May 2014. In the Orthodox groups, on ordinary Wednesdays and Fridays no meat, olive oil, wine, or fish can be consumed.
  8. ^ a b Cobb, John B. (2003). Progressive Christians Speak: A Different Voice on Faith and Politics. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-664-22589-6. For most of Christian history, as in the Bible, moderate drinking of alcohol was taken for granted while drunkenness was condemned.
  9. ^ "The Weaker Brother". Third Way Magazine. 25 (10): 25. December 2002. Christ came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews (the real meaning of that vision in Acts 10:9;16) but he also calls us to look out for each other and not do things that will cause our brothers and sisters to stumble. In 1 Corinthians Paul urges the believers to consider not eating food that onlookers assume has been offered to idols: 'Food will not bring us close to God,' he writes. 'We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block for the weak.' (1 Corinthians 8:8-9)
  10. ^ Binder, Stephanie E. (2012-11-14). Tertullian, On Idolatry and Mishnah Avodah Zarah. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 87. ISBN 978-90-04-23478-9. Clement of Alexandria and Origen also forbid eating meat dedicated to idolatry and partaking in meals with demons, which, by association, are the meals of fornicators and idolatrous adulterers. Marcianus Aristides merely testifies that Christians do not eat what has been sacrificed to idols; and Hippolytus only notes the interdiction against eating such food.
  11. ^ Norman L. Geisler (1989). Christian Ethics. Baker Book. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-8010-3832-7.
  12. ^ Phelps, Norm (2002). The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible. Lantern Books. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-59056-009-9. Nevertheless, toward the end of the chapter, Paul suggests that even Christians with strong faith may want to abstain from eating food offered to pagan deities if any chance that their example will tempt fellow Christians of weaker faith into inadvertent idolatry. He concludes by saying, "Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble." (1 Corinthians 8:13)
  13. ^ Acts 15:19-21 NIV
  14. ^ a b Samuel H. Dresner; Seymour Siegel; David M. Pollock (1982). The Jewish Dietary Laws. The Rabbinical Assembly. p. 65. ISBN 0-8381-21055.
  15. ^ Samuel H. Dresner; Seymour Siegel; David M. Pollock (1982). The Jewish Dietary Laws. The Rabbinical Assembly. p. 67. ISBN 0-8381-2105-5.
  16. ^ Samuel H. Dresner; Seymour Siegel; David M. Pollock (1982). The Jewish Dietary Laws. The Rabbinical Assembly. p. 73. ISBN 0-8381-2105-5.
  17. ^ Samuel H. Dresner; Seymour Siegel; David M. Pollock (1982). The Jewish Dietary Laws. The Rabbinical Assembly. p. 27. ISBN 0-8381-2105-5.
  18. ^ Samuel H. Dresner; Seymour Siegel; David M. Pollock (1982). The Jewish Dietary Laws. The Rabbinical Assembly. p. 65. ISBN 0-8381-2105-5.
  19. ^ Samuel H. Dresner; Seymour Siegel; David M. Pollock (1982). The Jewish Dietary Laws. The Rabbinical Assembly. p. 32. ISBN 0-8381-2105-5.
  20. ^ Josef Meri (23 June 2016). The Routledge Handbook of Muslim-Jewish Relations. Taylor & Francis. pp. 191–. ISBN 978-1-317-38320-8.
  21. ^ Wright, Professor Robin M; Vilaça, Aparecida (28 May 2013). Native Christians: Modes and Effects of Christianity among Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-4094-7813-3. Before Christianity, they could not eat certain things from certain animals (uumajuit), but after eating they can now do anything they want to.
  22. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (1 May 2006). Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-19-974113-7. Retrieved 2 May 2014. In the meantime, Peter in Joppa has a midday vision in which he sees a sheet containing animals of every description lowered from the sky. He hears a voice from heaven telling him to "kill and eat." Peter is naturally taken aback, because eating some of these animals would mean breaking the Jewish rules about kosher foods. But then he hears a voice that tells him, "What God has cleansed, you must not call common [unclean]" (that is, you do not need to refrain from eating nonkosher foods; 10: 15). The same sequence of events happens three times.
  23. ^ Daoud, Marcos; Hazen, Blatta Marsie (1991). "The Liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church". Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  24. ^ a b "Prayers of the Church". Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Retrieved 25 July 2020. All the faithful should strive to pray seven times a day & at the following hours: Upon rising from bed in the morning & before eating & commencing any task. Wash your hands & pray standing.
  25. ^ Pringle, Phil (2009). Inspired to Pray: The Art of Seeking God. Gospel Light Publications. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-8307-4811-2.
  26. ^ Salamon, Hagar (7 November 1999). Ethiopian Jews in Christian Ethiopia. University of California Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-520-92301-0. The Christians do "Basema ab wawald wamanfas qeeus ahadu amlak" [In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of the one God] and then slaughtered. The Jews say "Baruch yitharek amlak yisrael" [Blessed is the King (God) of Israel].
  27. ^ Efron, John M. (1 October 2008). Medicine and the German Jews: A History. Yale University Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-300-13359-2. By contrast, the most common mode of slaughtering four-legged animals among Christians in the nineteenth century was through the deliverance of a stunning blow to the head, usually with a mallet or poleax.
  28. ^ a b Grumett, David; Muers, Rachel (26 February 2010). Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet. Routledge. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-135-18832-0. The Armenian and other Orthodox rituals of slaughter display obvious links with shechitah, Jewish kosher slaughter.
  29. ^ Appiah, Anthony; Gates, Henry Louis (2005). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Oxford University Press. p. 566. ISBN 978-0-19-517055-9. It emphasizes the dietary laws and rules of circumcision found in the Old Testament of the Bible, and in addition to the Christian Sunday Sabbath, Ethiopia Christians observe the traditional Jewish Saturday Sabbath, as do the Ethiopian Jews.
  30. ^ Jillian Williams (2017). Food and Religious Identities in Spain. Taylor & Francis. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-351-81704-2.
  31. ^ Masri, Basheer Ahmad (1989). Animals in Islam. Athene Trust. ISBN 978-1-870603-01-0. The Christian methods of slaughter follow the Jewish way of draining the blood of the animal.
  32. ^ Grumett, David; Muers, Rachel (26 February 2010). Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet. Routledge. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-135-18832-0.
  33. ^ a b Engineers, Niir Board Of Consultants & (2009). Medical, Municipal and Plastic Waste Management Handbook. National Institute of Industrial Research. p. 214. ISBN 9788186623916. Halal is the method preferred by Muslims and jhatka by the Hindus/Christians/Sikhs, etc.
  34. ^ Walters, Peter; Byl, John (2013). Christian Paths to Health and Wellness. Human Kinetics. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-4504-2454-7. Traditional Hindus and Trappist monks adopt vegetarian diets as a practice of their faith.
  35. ^ Scratchley, David (1996). Alcoholism and Other Drug Problems. Simon and Schuster. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-684-82314-0. Although the Jewish, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal, and Lutheran traditions generally allow moderate drinking for those who can do so, it is simply incorrect to accuse them of condoning drunkenness.
  36. ^ "Alcohol". Christian Reformed Church in North America. Retrieved 17 January 2022. According to Scripture, all Christians must avoid drunkenness. Though abstinence from alcohol is a morally creditable choice, those who, in their freedom in Christ, choose to use alcohol moderately are not to be condemned.
  37. ^ Conlin, Joseph (11 January 2008). The American Past: A Survey of American History, Enhanced Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 748. ISBN 978-0-495-56609-0. Protestants who called themselves "fundamentalists" (they believed in the literal truth of the Bible--Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals) were dry.
  38. ^ Whitaker, Sigur E. (31 March 2011). James Allison: A Biography of the Engine Manufacturer and Indianapolis 500 Cofounder. McFarland. p. 150. ISBN 9780786486397.
  39. ^ The Discipline of the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection (Original Allegheny Conference). Salem: Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection. 2014. p. 37. We believe total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage to be the duty of all Christians. We heartily favor moral suasion and the gospel remedy to save men from the drink habit. We believe that law must be an adjunct of moral means in order to suppress the traffic side of this evil. We believe that the State and the citizen each has solemn responsibilities and duties to perform in regard to this evil. We believe that for the State to enact any law to license or tax the traffic, or derive revenues therefrom, is contrary to the policy of good government, and brings the State into guilty complicity with the traffic and all the evils growing out of it, and is also unscriptural and sinful in principle and ought to be opposed by every Christian and patriot. We therefore believe that the only true and proper remedy for the gigantic evil of the liquor traffic is its entire suppression; and that all our people and true Christians everywhere should pray and vote against this evil, and not suffer themselves to be controlled by or support political parties which are managed in the interest of the drink traffic.
  40. ^ "Should Adventists Use Alcohol?". Washington NH Seventh-day Adventist Church. 2002. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  41. ^ Domenico, Roy P.; Hanley, Mark Y. (1 January 2006). Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Politics. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-313-32362-1. Drunkenness was biblically condemned, and all denominations disciplined drunken members.