Clean vs. Unclean Foods

“Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power… All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].” 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 (AMPC)

God’s original plan for our diet did not include flesh meats. The Creator did not wish that any life should be destroyed whatsoever. There was to be no death in Eden. After sin entered the world as a result of Adam’s disobedience, he and Eve mourned when they would see a flower die or tree die, as they knew this was a direct consequence of their disobedience to God. Even more so would they mourn the death of an animal, especially the first lamb the Lord directed them to kill as an object lesson, reminding them of the consequence of sin and the One who would come to take away the sins of the world. It was only after the flood when God allowed the eating of flesh foods, for at this time all of the vegetation upon the face of the earth would be destroyed. But even then did God have regulations concerning the meats they should and should not eat, and how they should go about it.

God, with His awesome wisdom and foresight, made a distinction between “clean” meats and “unclean” meats, and directed Noah to bring aboard the ark 2 of every unclean animal and 7 of every clean animal, for the clean animals would help supplement their diet until vegetation grew back. If Noah did not listen to God’s directions concerning what to eat, and he ate an unclean animal, that species would cease to exist! Before the flood, healthful fruits and vegetables were abundantly available to any and everyone, but after the flood, finding a good variety of these foods would be next to impossible.

Now why would God restrict what types of animals we can eat? Is it because God wishes to deny us from enjoying these pleasurable foods? Of course not! For if that were the case then He would not have created such a vast variety of fruits and vegetables, with an incredible variety of flavors and textures to enjoy! You see, God had forbidden us from eating pork, catfish, shellfish, rabbit, and various other meats because He understands that when we consume them there are results which are damaging to our mind and body, and subsequently our soul. God had to tell us which foods were okay to eat back then because we had no other way of knowing. Sure, He could have let us go through a trial and error stage, but the long term results of consistently consuming unclean meats almost always results in slow, chronic degradation of health, which is usually very difficult to trace back and find the cause until it is too late. With this in mind, we shall examine some of the science, where we shall see that the scientists are only now “catching up” to God’s wisdom in the area of meat consumption.

God describes clean animals as anything which has a split hoof and chews the cud (Leviticus 11:3), and anything that does not fit into those two requirements is unclean. For example, a pig has split hoofs, but it does not chew the cud, thus it is unclean. And of all the animals in the world, this is one of the most unclean, as many people know. They are scavengers who will eat any kind of food, such as garbage, maggots, rodents, rotting carcasses, excrement, and even their own offspring. This is one of the reasons why farmers essentially use them as garbage disposals. Even if farmers claim to raise pigs as purely “grain-fed only,” they cannot stop the pigs from eating whatever comes into their areas like rodents and feces! With this in mind it is no wonder that they are make excellent breeding grounds for toxic parasites and viruses which often carry a variety of disease causing organisms even when they appear to be healthy. According to Dr. Gordon Tessler, author of the book “The Genesis Diet,”:

“the indiscriminate eating patterns of omnivores like pigs make them disease carriers. Pigs are known to carry up to 200 diseases and 18 different parasites and worms, including the deadly [round] worm called trichinella spiralis…. Trichinosis [the disease caused by this particular worm] can mimic other diseases such as arthritis, rheumatism, or typhoid fever…. Perhaps many other diseases are misdiagnosed [when] their real cause is … [the] many parasites found in the flesh of the unclean swine. A person may be committing slow suicide when he or she eats bacon, ham, sausage, or pork chops.” Tessler adds that pork “should be considered a homo-toxin (human poison) and the probable cause of many common sicknesses and degenerative diseases.” [Gordon Tessler, The Genesis Diet, p. 51]

However, some people think that you can simply cook out the diseases from pork and other unclean foods, but the Bible says “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” Job 14:4. And according to Dr. Rex Russell, a graduate of the Baylor School of Medicine, who has studied the dangers of pork for decades states that “Many outbreaks of vicious infections have developed in so-called cooked food. If the food is [biblically] unclean, don’t count on cooking it to protect you…. A sobering report from Scotland revealed that food poisoning by toxins, virus or bacteria occurred in spite of thorough inspection at every stage of food preparation, including handling and cooking.” [Rex Russell, What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, (Ventura, California, U.S.A.: Regal Books, 1996), p. 160]

Indeed, this is a common theme you will find among unclean animals: most all of them carry large amounts of disease and toxins, which are usually deposited in the fat of the animal. This is one of the reasons why God says not to eat the fat of an animal (Leviticus 3:17). Why do they have this trait? Well, the answer lies in the reason why God created them in the first place. Many of these unclean animals are considered “scavengers,” or “bottom-feeders,” because God designed them to mainly function as the janitors and trash collectors of the world! As we have seen, pigs will eat anything and everything, since they were designed by God to clean up pollution and decaying flesh. In Philadelphia, pigs have eaten their garbage for more than 100 years, which has saved the city about $3 million annually, which they would have spent on landfill costs. This is the smart way to use pigs, rather than raising them to eat.

For fish, those which have fins and scales are usually classified as clean fish to eat, whereas those without are unclean. And just like pigs cand vultures clean up the waste around them, catfish and shellfish (which are unclean because they do not have scales) were designed to clean up the waters. This is why catfish always show the highest levels of contamination in water which has been chemically polluted. The water is usually polluted by chemical or oil spills, chemical runoff from insecticides, or human and animal sewage. Contaminated fish has been a massive problem and cause of disease throughout America’s history. In fact, in 1996, 47 out of 50 states had consumption advisories warning about eating certain types of fish. This advisory covered 1,740 rivers and lakes (including all of the Great Lakes) and many big areas on the coasts. [Schardt D, Schmidt S. Fishing for Safe Seafood. Nutrition Action Health Letter 1996 Nov;23(9):1,3-5.]. And it makes sense that they would put out this advisory, but it seems that it would make even more sense if we stopped eating fish altogether! It would be wise to omit these sea creatures, especially the uclean ones, from our diet since, in America, fish products contain significantly more pesticide residues than fruits, grains, and vegetables [Food and Drug Administration Pesticide Program. Residue Monitoring 1992. Journal of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists. Volume 76: September/October 1993.] and many fish are contaminated with PCB’s, dioxin, heavy metals, and halogenated organic compounds (including DDT) [Nicola RM, Branchflower R, Pierce D. Chemical contaminants in bottomfish. Journal of Environmental Health 1987;49(6):342-347][Hovinga ME, Sowers M, Humphrey HE. Environmental exposure and lifestyle predictors of lead, cadmium, PCB, and DDT levels in Great Lakes fish eaters. Arch Environ Health 1993 Mar-Apr;48(2):98-104][RosenmanKD. Dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dibenzofurans in Environmental and Occupational Medicine – 2nd edition (editor: WN Rom). Boston MA: Little Brown and Co, 1992 p. 927-933], all of which the one consuming the fish would in turn receive. And if a pregnant mother eats some fish that contains PCB, it will be transferred to the fetus, which may cause nervous system damage and long lasting mental impairment. [Colborn T. Animal/Health Connection. In: Proceedings of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Technical Workshop “PCB’s in Fish Tissue.” September 1993. EPA/823-R-93-003; p. 2-27 to 2-30.]

Some may argue that it is okay to eat clean fish now due to the fact that Jesus ate fish when He was on earth. Unfortunately for us, Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago when there was significantly less water pollution to contaminate even the clean fish, which is what happens today. Add on top of this the fact that Jesus’ original plan for our diet was a plant-based one when humanity dwelt in the Garden of Eden. With this in mind it is easy to see the Biblical wisdom of clean and unclean meats! Ellen White also spoke of the dangers of consuming fish when she said:

“In many localities even fish is unwholesome, and ought not to be used. This is especially so where the fish come in contact with the sewerage of large cities… The fish that partake of the filthy sewerage of the drains may pass into waters far distant from the sewerage, and be caught in localities where the water is pure and fresh; but because of the unwholesome drainage in which they have been feeding, they are not safe to eat.” [Ellen White, Healthful Living, 1897, p. 105]

Eating these unclean “scavengers,” or “cleaning creatures,” has other devastating effects on our ecosystem, particularly our environment. When one looks at all of the creatures which God terms “unclean,” versus the ones He terms “clean,” there is a fascinating common denominator. Unclean animals generally consume “sedentary” materials – meaning they eat other animals or their byproducts. Indeed, pigs, bears, and vultures scavenge decaying flesh; predator animals like the wolf, leopard, cheetah, and lion prey on the weakest (usually due to disease) in the herd; and unclean marine creatures, such as the bottom dwelling crabs and lobsters, scavenge dead creatures on the sea floor while shellfish like mussels oysters, and clams, even though they eat large amounts of algae, act as water filters that also scavenge dead and decaying matter that sinks to the bottom of the sea, including sewage.

“Mussels are bivalves, like clams and oysters, that live in both saltwater and freshwater habitats. A mussel feeds by filtering water through the body… Mussels are important indicators of the health of a waterway. Mussels also keep waterways clean of excess plankton and algae and may even filter out some harmful bacteria. Zebra mussels are a mussel species native to eastern Europe that is invasive in many North American waterways. Like other mussels, zebra mussels are filter feeders. They inhabit waterways in numbers so great that their populations are capable of filtering the entire contents of some lakes and ponds in a single day…” []

Here we see that many of these unclean animals habitually scavenge and eat things which would normally sicken or even kill us. This is in stark contrast to the clean animals, which eat almost exclusively “primary” materials – different forms of plant life. Likewise, clean animals never eat dead animals nor their waste. With this in mind, it is plain to see that God, in His incredible wisdom and foresight, created these animals originally for the purpose of upholding a perfectly functioning ecosystem. He also created these animals the way He did to help uphold our world after sin entered our reality, as He knew death was the result of sin, and to help get rid of some of the dead animals, these scavengers would act as “dead animal janitors.” Nutritionist David Meinz concurs when he says:

“Could it be that God, in His wisdom, created certain creatures whose sole purpose is to clean up after the others? Their entire ‘calling’ may be to act exclusively as the sanitation workers of our ecology. God may simply be telling us that it’s better for us believers not to consume the meat of those trash collectors.” [David Meinz, Eating by the Book, p. 225]

Could our disregard of God’s commandments be one of the causes of global pollution, which is crashing our ecosystem at an alarming rate? It does make sense that if there are less animals which were designed to clean up our planet, thanks to us eating them, our planet will get very polluted in proportion to the rate we eat these creatures.

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