Critical scholars say that initially, God gave humanity a vegetarian diet (Genesis 1:29-30). If we follow this line of reasoning far enough, then we today should be eating kudzu, poison ivy, grass, tulip bulbs, and so on. This extreme idea is nonsense, of course. Many plants are poisonous to humans. Why would God have us eat daffodils, azaleas, nightshade, oleander, wisteria, mistletoe, or hundreds of other plants that can be fatal if eaten?
On the contrary, this verse simply means that God gave humankind certain foods to eat, and people quickly discovered—perhaps primarily through trial and error—what the good foods were. The Contemporary English Version translates this verse simply and clearly: “I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat.”
A lot of people hold the belief that the pre-Flood world was vegetarian. However, we must be careful how we read Scripture. While telling us that God has provided food for us, it is not telling us, “Do not eat meat.” Advocates of vegetarianism often pay no heed to the fact that God had previously given humanity dominion over all animal life (Genesis 1:26, 28), which could include using fish, birds, cattle, and even insects for food.
The argument continues, however, claiming that, after the Flood, God finally permitted humans to eat meat, implying that God is indecisive or unsure: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:3).
To put it simply, some critical scholars say the eating of meat was unknown before the Flood. These “scholars” totally ignore Genesis 4:3-4, where Cain offers produce, which God disdains, yet He accepts Abel's offering of his firstborn lamb. This event occurs right at the beginning, long before the Flood! Animals were offered. Their blood was emptied, their bodies burned, and, in many cases the remains of the offering were eaten by those making the offering. These offerings were, of course, clean animals.
Mike Ford (1955-2021)
Was Jesus a Vegetarian?
Genesis 9:3 contains a command that has proven difficult for some to understand: God says to Noah, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs." Some take this to mean that God gives man carte blanche authority to eat any kind of animal. But is this what God said?
The key to this verse is "even as the green herbs." In other words, God gives mankind the authority to eat flesh within the same parameters as He allows us to eat vegetation. Does God allow us to eat poisonous plants like poison ivy, hemlock, deadly nightshade, etc.? Of course not! Just as certain plants are harmful to us, so are certain meats. As Herbert Armstrong explained in "Is All Animal Flesh Good Food?":
God did not give poisonous herbs as food. He gave man the healthful herbs. Man can determine which herbs are healthful, but man cannot by himself determine which flesh foods are harmful. That is why God had to determine for us in His Word which meats are clean. Since the Flood every moving clean, healthful, nonpoisonous type of animal life is good for food'just as God gave us the healthful, nonpoisonous herbs.
This does not give us permission to do as we please!
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Did God Change the Law of Clean and Unclean Meats?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 9:3: