So, you heard Adam and Eve were vegetarians, huh?
Well, if you’re looking for a biblical approach to diet and weight loss, I certainly wouldn’t recommend vegetarian.
Here’s why . . .
Adam and Eve
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” -Genesis 2:15-17
In the beginning God said, we were free to eat from any tree in the Garden, except for the one, of course. He made no mention of eating animals.
While that may be true, it’s important to know that this was before Adam and Eve sinned, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Prior to sin, one could say that, “Adam and Eve were vegetarians,” at least in the beginning they were.
But prior to sin, Adam and Eve would have had everything they needed right there in the Garden . . . in God’s presence.
The problem is, however, that after they sinned, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, and that changed everything (Genesis 3:23).
Fast forward 2000 years later, and we are still banished from the Garden, so we find ourselves in the same predicament: unable to easily access all the nutrients we need, and that’s the problem with modern-day vegetarianism.
Vegetarianism requires a lot of work and a lot of smarts – more on that in a minute – and when we fail to realize that, it can easily become an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.
Why Is Vegetarianism Unhealthy?
When it comes to the foods we eat, it’s important that we understand the types of nutrients involved – there are essential nutrients and nonessential nutrients.
Nonessential nutrients are nutrients that your body will make on its own; you do not need to ingest them, hence nonessential.
Conversely, essential nutrients are nutrients that your body will not make on its own, so it’s essential that you do ingest them.
The essential nutrients that vegetarians need to be aware of are the essential amino acids found in meats.
Sure you can get all the essential amino acids from vegetables, but it’s a lot harder to do that because you need to know which ones you’re missing and what vegetables you need to eat collectively in order to get them. That’s what makes it difficult.
When you eat meat, you don’t need to worry about all of that; every piece of meat available contains all the essential amino acids we need. Easy enough.
Most vegetarians may not even know this, but it’s important that they do because it can cause major health problems.
Vegetarianism becomes a huge problem when one is unable to acquire the nutrients we need. If one is deficient in any of the essential amino acids, it could wreak havoc on their health. This might result in growth and developmental problems, increased risk of disease, lower energy and alertness, and increased anxiety and stress.
To prevent these issues entirely, all you need to do is eat meat.
God Said, “Eat Meat!”
After the fall, people became very rebellious towards God, and so came the great flood, sparing only Noah’s family and the animals of the ark. God then made a covenant with Noah, and encouraged the eating of meat.
Side note: God’s a pretty smart guy, I think, and if He’s suggesting that we eat meat, I think we ought to give that some serious thought.
The fall complicated a lot of things for us (the moment sin entered the world). Perhaps one of those complications was the need to rely on the nutrients found in animal meat.
Here’s God’s covenant with Noah:
“Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” – Genesis 9:1-3
I don’t mean to be critical of those who are vegetarian; I just fundamentally disagree with them. I actually have several friends who are vegan or vegetarian; I just don’t think it’s necessary, nor do I believe it’s congruent with God’s plan for us.
More likely than not, vegetarianism will only complicate things further, making us more susceptible to disease and less likely to lose weight.
Vegetarians Gain Weight?
When you eliminate meat from your diet, you will more than likely decrease the amount of fat and protein in your diet, too. Now, this isn’t always the case, but most of the time it certainly is, and this is where it turns real bad.
You see, less dietary fat and protein, means more carbs.
More carbs, means more insulin.
More insulin, means more fat accumulation . . . and this means insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is fundamentally the cause of almost every other disease known to man: obesity, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, you name it.
This is why the chances of getting those diseases greatly increase when a person is overweight . . . which is also why most people with those diseases are overweight.
It’s no coincidence; it’s obvious when you think about it.
So gaining weight isn’t necessarily the result of eating too much, or not exercising enough, or having no self control. No, there’s something else going on here, and it has to do with our body’s ability to process insulin.
When you build up a tolerance to insulin from eating too many carbs, you are basically becoming insulin resistant. You are going to gain weight and increase the chances of contracting other diseases that go with it. Pretty scary stuff.
Since I mentioned exercise, I’ll briefly talk about that next.
Do We Really Need Exercise?
Well, not really. I mean, it does help some, but diet is far more important when it comes to managing our weight.
By the way, what did God say about exercise?
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” – 1 Timothy 4:8).
Granted, God probably didn’t have weight loss in mind here, but you get the picture.
Exercise is only of some value, which is why I don’t get crazy with it like I used to.
I still do exercise, though . . . just nowhere near the amount I used to. Nowadays, I exercise about three times a week, usually no longer than 30 to 40 minutes; that’s really all you need, if you even need that.
Now, there are other benefits to exercise – more energy, better metabolism, increased muscle tone – but these benefits have little to do with losing weight. It certainly helps, but you can lose weight easily on diet alone. And if you exercise, work up an appetite, and eat all the wrong things afterward, then you’ve really just wasted your time.
Some people just love to exercise, and that’s perfectly fine. I just wouldn’t do it because you think it will fix your weight problem. Weight gain is a symptom; not a cause. The actual cause is our diets, and that’s where the focus should always be.
There is absolutely no reason to exercise for hours at a time, or run twenty minutes or longer at a time, in order to be healthy.
Human beings are the only species on the planet who force themselves to run for more than a couple seconds at a time.
And why is that?
Because we’ve all been told that that’s how you lose weight. If you keep your heart rate up for at least fifteen minutes while running, you will reach that magical aerobic threshold and start burning fat.
Aerobic threshold? Who cares! Fix the cause, and you won’t have to worry about treating the symptoms.
By the way, I’ve never seen a sprinter who looked out of shape . . . that’s not always the case when it comes to marathoners.
God created man just like he created the animals and everything else. I can tell you this: He didn’t intend for us to spend countless hours in the gym, or countless hours on a treadmill, in order to stay in shape. It’s way easier than we think.
There’s nothing wrong with eating meat, both from a biblical perspective and from a health perspective. It’s actually way healthier to eat meat than not to.
That being said, we should strive for a well-balanced diet of meat, fruit, and vegetables, and try to eat them in their most natural form. This will obviously exclude highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates: candy, sugar, flour, junk food, etc.
If you want to exercise, do it! If not, don’t; diet matters more.
When it comes to what we should eat, here’s my philosophy: If you can hunt it or grow it, you can eat it.
Call it Paleo . . . Call it caveman . . . Call it whatever you want.
I call it biblical, and it works.