Crucial Question 16:  Are Ellen White's testimonies on eating meat biblical?




Five years after rebuking an Adventist couple for suggesting that Adventists give up eating pork, Ellen White had a vision that instructed her of the spiritual importance of giving up all meat.  This section is not focusing on the validity of vegetarianism for a healthy lifestyle; it is exclusively concerned with Ellen White’s faithfulness to scripture.  Does the Bible teach the spiritual necessity of withholding meat from the diet, as EGW taught, and does the New Testament maintain the Levitical distinction between clean and unclean meats?


From the Pen of Ellen White:


“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” (CD 380-381).


“I was instructed that the use of flesh meat has a tendency to animalize the nature, and to rob men and women of the love and sympathy which they should feel for every one” (CD 390).


“Those who eat too largely and those who eat unhealthful food bring trouble upon themselves, unfitting themselves for the service of God. . . .  Those who persist in eating the flesh of animals sacrifice spirituality to perverted appetite” (2MCP 390).


“Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world.  These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works. . . .  God has spoken in the history of the children of Israel, from whom for their good He sought to withhold a flesh diet” (CD 379; 6T 372).


“Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet.  Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs” (CD 380).

“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?” (
CD 380).

“Those who have received instruction regarding the evils of the use of flesh foods . . . and who are determined to make a covenant with God by sacrifice, will not continue to indulge their appetite for food that they know to be unhealthful.  God demands that the appetite be cleansed, and that self-denial be practiced in regard to those things which are not good.  This is a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people” (CD 381).

“Those who indulge in meat eating, tea drinking, and gluttony are sowing seeds for a harvest of pain and death. The unhealthful food placed in the stomach strengthens the appetites that war against the soul, developing the lower propensities. A diet of flesh meat tends to develop animalism. A development of animalism lessens spirituality, rendering the mind incapable of understanding truth” (CD 382).


“Flesh food is injurious to health, and whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and the soul” (CD 383).

"A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activity lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature" (CD 389).


Additional Materials:


Writing to an Adventist who inquired whether the SDAs should give up eating pork, Ellen White stated, I saw that your views concerning swine's flesh would prove no injury if you have them to yourselves; but in your judgment and opinion you have made this question a test, and your actions have plainly shown your faith in this matter. If God requires His people to abstain from swine's flesh, He will convict them on the matter. He is just as willing to show His honest children their duty, as to show their duty to individuals upon whom He has not laid the burden of His work. If it is the duty of the church to abstain from swine's flesh, God will discover it to more than two or three. He will teach His church their duty” (1T 206-207).


“Of the swine, God said, ‘It is unclean unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.’ This command was given because swine's flesh is unfit for food. Swine are scavengers, and this is the only use they were intended to serve. Never, under any circumstances, was their flesh to be eaten by human beings” (CD 392).




Once again, this section isn’t evaluating the validity of vegetarianism as a lifestyle decision.  We are simply asking whether the New Testament mandates either total vegetarianism (as Ellen White commanded), or even a restricted diet of clean meats (as many SDAs practice).  Please read the provided texts and decide for yourself. 


Ellen White’s teaching on the eating of pork is interesting because she had a vision rebuking some for advocating abstinence from pork.  Just a few years later (in 1863), she had a vision commanding Adventists to give up pork, and she flatly stated that God had never intended for His people to eat the flesh of swine.  If abstinence from pork is so important, why didn’t God support those who were ahead of the Whites in holding this conviction?


Thought Questions:


  1. Did the OT command people to give up clean meats?
  2. Were OT believers actually required to eat the meat of the sacrifices?
  3. Does the NT command believers to abstain from any type of meat?
  4. We know that Jesus and the great figures of the Bible all ate meat.  Did their diet cloud their spiritual natures and enhance their sinful propensities?
  5. If abstinence from meat is required for character perfection as Ellen White claims, then did Jesus (a meat-eater) attain perfection?
  6. If abstinence from meat is essential, why doesn’t the Bible clearly teach vegetarianism?


Bible Texts:


“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Is. 8:20).

“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean.’ After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked. ‘Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)” (Mark 7:14-19, NIV).

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (I Tim. 4:1-5).

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Col. 2:20-23).

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:1-4).

“I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14).

“And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household . . . .” (Deut. 14:26).


For Further Study:


  • Ellen G. White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 373-416.
  • Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health


Continue on to Crucial Question #17:  Is the Investigative Judgment True?

Go back to Crucial Question #15:  Dress Reform Vision