Christian dietary laws

In mainstream Christianity, including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxism, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism and Calvinism, there exist no dietary restrictions regarding specific animals that can not be eaten.[1][2] This practice, which diverges from Judaism's dietary restrictions, 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".[3]

Peter's Vision by Henry Davenport Northrop, 1894.

In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, an Oriental Orthodox Christian denomination, washing one's hands is required before and after consuming food.[4][5] This is followed by prayer, in which Christians often pray to ask God to thank Him for and bless their food before consuming it at the time of eating meals, such as breakfast.[5][6] Slaughtering animals for food is often done in Ethiopia with the trinitarian formula.[7][8] The Armenian Apostolic Church and other Oriental Orthodox Churches have rituals that "display obvious links with shechitah, Jewish kosher slaughter."[9] They, as well as Eastern Orthodox Christians, also maintain some Old Testament dietary restrictions, including to "abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals".[10]

It is upheld by some Christians that the only dietary restriction valid according to the New Testament is the one regarding the consumption of meat is that of not consuming food knowingly offered to pagan idols,[11] a conviction that the early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, preached.[12] Paul the Apostle noted that some devout Christians might wish to abstain from consuming meat that had been offered to idols if it caused "my brother to stumble" in his faith with God (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:13).[13]

Some Christian monks, such as the Trappists, have adopted a policy of Christian vegetarianism.[14]

Seventh-day Adventists, on the other hand, typically follow 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 edible.

Christians in the Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Orthodox denominations traditionally observe at least one meat-free day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.[15][16][17][18]


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