Question: "Did Jesus eat meat?"
Answer: Yes, Jesus ate meat. Several passages lead to this clear conclusion.
Genesis 9:3 is the first mention of eating meat. After the Flood, God told Noah, “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
Throughout the Old Testament, meat eating was the norm, from the Passover lamb (Exodus 12) to the quail that God provided in the wilderness (Exodus 16) to the portions of the animal sacrifices that the priests and Levites ate (Deuteronomy 18). Daniel and his three friends refused to eat the king’s food in Babylon, choosing only vegetables (Daniel 1), but this was probably because there was no guarantee that the meat would have been considered clean according to the Mosaic law. Vegetarianism was not the issue.
Jesus says nothing that would change or challenge the dominant meat-eating practices of the Old Testament. In Luke 24:41–43, Jesus ate fish. Jesus also served fish to His followers (Matthew 14), and He caused the fishermen’s nets to be filled on two different occasions (Luke 5 and John 21). The purpose of catching the fish was to sell them so they could be eaten. Jesus also cooked fish for His disciples (John 21:9).
The best biblical evidence that Jesus ate meat is that He observed the annual Feast of Passover. The lamb sacrificed at Passover time was roasted and eaten as part of the requirements of the law (Exodus 12:8). Jesus took part in the feast every year as a child (Luke 2:41), and as an adult He continued the observance of the law. The Lord attended Passover in John 2:13, John 5:1, and Matthew 26:17–30. Jesus would have been in disobedience of the Law if He had not eaten the Passover meal—a meal that included meat.
Mark tells us that Jesus declared all foods to be clean (Mark 7:19). The distinction between clean and unclean foods was among animals, not plants. Declaring all foods to be clean meant that more animals were being allowed. We also have some direct teaching from Paul the apostle. Romans 14:2–3 says, “One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.” Later, we have this statement: “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself” (verse 14).
In the last couple of decades, some animal rights enthusiasts have claimed that Jesus was a vegetarian. Some groups have tried to apply Jesus’ teaching about kindness and compassion to animals. Some reason that modern methods of raising and slaughtering animals are inherently cruel, and, therefore, eating meat should be avoided. The humane treatment of animals, however, is a different issue. The answer to the question, “Did Jesus eat meat?” is a clear “yes.”