When someone writes a letter to the editor purporting to use the Bible as authority for a vegetarian or vegan life style choice, such misinterpretation should be rebutted.
First, the writer claims that Lent is “when Christians abstain from animal foods.” Although Lent has long been a church practice related to preparation, primarily by prayer and fasting, for the celebration of Easter, it is not mentioned in the Bible. Any “abstention from animal foods” is the individual’s choice, not a necessary practice during Lent.
The writer then mentions various church leaders, including Franklin Graham, as calling for abstention from eating animals. It is true that Graham, in an effort to lose weight, practiced veganism for a short time. But he never related his veganism to Christianity and in fact quickly went back to eating meat.
The Bible, in Genesis 1:29, states that God gave plants to man to use as food, but does not restrict man’s food to only plants. Furthermore, in Genesis 9:3, God explicitly tells Noah “every living thing that moves shall be food for you.”
It is also beyond dispute that Jesus himself ate meat, since he ate the Passover meal, which included lamb. And St. Paul, writing in Romans 14:2, says “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.”
There are many health studies; some support eating meat, some don’t. But we should be careful to not use the Bible wrongly merely to validate our own lifestyle choice.