Q: Those of us who are still eating flesh food have been directly told by our vegan friends that we will never see heaven. Does God only save vegans? — Musa, from South Africa
A: We are saved by Christ’s grace and His righteousness, not our own works. We don’t earn our way to heaven by being vegan or vegetarian, nor do we choose to not eat meat/flesh food because we believe that by doing so we will be saved.
Nevertheless, what we eat and how we live is very much tied into our spiritual lives and is a product of our connection with Jesus.
In 3 John 2 we read, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
Health reform and leaning on Jesus for everything (including diet and lifestyle) is very much a part of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, which we are to proclaim to the world and live out in our own lives as well.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that a vegetarian diet, particularly one emphasizing whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, and grains, is the best for the human body. As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19), and that we are to take care of it in the best way possible by eating and living healthfully.
We base our beliefs on the Bible, and while we encourage a plant-based diet, the Bible does make allowance for eating certain types of meat. God’s preferred diet for us, however, is plant-based as shown in the Bible as our original diet.
In a short article titled, “Do Christians have to be vegetarian?” Dr. Angel Manuel Rodriguez addresses this question by looking at vegetarianism in the Bible, restricted meat consumption, and God’s ideal for His people. I encourage you to read it here.
We have a wealth of counsel on diet and health through the writings of Ellen White, which we would all do well to follow. “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20).
Let’s remember that at the very core of all this is Christ and His righteousness; we are to lean completely upon His power, His merits, and His grace to work in our lives through justification and sanctification, becoming more and more like Him.
Listen to God’s Spirit of Prophecy counsel to each of us:
“Again and again I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design, that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth.
“Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God’s original purpose in the creation of man.
“Is it not time that all should aim to dispense with flesh foods? How can those who are seeking to become pure, refined, and holy, that they may have the companionship of heavenly angels, continue to use as food anything that has so harmful an effect on soul and body? How can they take the life of God’s creatures that they may consume the flesh as a luxury? Let them, rather, return to the wholesome and delicious food given to man in the beginning, and themselves practice, and teach their children to practice, mercy toward the dumb creatures that God has made and has placed under our dominion” (“Counsels on Diet and Foods,” p. 380).
“It is for their own good that the Lord counsels the remnant church to discard the use of flesh meats, tea, and coffee, and other harmful foods. There are plenty of other things on which we can subsist that are wholesome and good.
“Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. . . . If we move from principle in these things, if we as Christian reformers educate our own taste, and bring our diet to God’s plan, then we may exert an influence upon others in this matter, which will be pleasing to God” (“Counsels for the Church,” p. 231).