God’s First Conversation with Humankind:
And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food." (Genesis 1:29)
There is no disputing that, according to the Torah, God asked human beings to be vegetarians in his very first conversation with Adam and Eve.
In fact, God issued those instructions right after he gave humans “dominion” over the animals.
So it is clear that “dominion” does not include killing animals for food.
The great 13th century Jewish philosopher Nachmanides explained God’s reason for excluding meat from His dietary ideal:
“Living creatures,” Nachmanides wrote, “possess a moving soul and a certain spiritual superiority which in this respect make them similar to those who possess intellect human beings) and they have the power of affecting their welfare and their food and they flee from pain and death.”
Another great Medieval sage, Rabbi Joseph Albo, offered an additional reason.
"In the killing of animals there is cruelty, rage, and the accustoming of oneself to the bad habit of shedding innocent blood,” Rabbi Albo wrote.
Immediately after giving these dietary instructions, God saw everything that he had made and "behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Everything in the universe was as God wanted it, with nothing superfluous and nothing lacking, a complete harmony. Vegetarianism was part of that harmony.
Today, some of our most prominent rabbis are vegetarians, in accordance with the Torah ideal. And it is no coincidence that a vegan diet is the simplest way to be kosher.
This Website goes into greater depth about the vegetarian ideal in Judaism. And you can explore the context in which we were given permission, albeit very limited permission, to eat meat.
Just click on the links in the menu on the left to learn more.
And to see how easy and delicious it is to eat more plants and less meat, click here.