Was Man a Vegetarian Before the Flood? If So, Why Did Abel Raise Flocks

From Issue: Discovery 4/1/2004

Dear Jim,

After the creation of man and land animals on day six, God instructed Adam saying, “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” (Genesis 1:29). God did not tell Adam that he could butcher a cow or fry a chicken, but He did authorize him to eat of the seeds and fruits of plants and trees. In the next chapter of Genesis, God told Adam that he could eat “of every tree of the garden” (except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—2:16-17). Notice that nothing is said here about animals, only vegetation. Then again, in Genesis 3, when God sentenced Adam and Eve to a life outside of the Garden of Eden, He said, “And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground” (3:18-19). The Bible nowhere mentions man receiving permission from God to eat any kind of animal until afterthe Flood. It was then that God said, “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 allthings, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:1-3).

So why did Abel raise flocks if he and everyone else were supposed to be vegetarians? Although the Bible does not say exactly why Able was a “keeper of sheep,” most likely it was because by raising sheep he could provide clothing for himself and others, as well as provide animals that people could use to sacrifice to Jehovah.

Thanks for your questions, Jim.


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