Daniel was one of several intelligent young men from Israel who were taken captive and later elevated to the position of governor because of personal excellence. Most of us focus on Daniel’s challenge with the lions, but before the lions he faced another challenge involving whether he should eat the diet of Babylon or the diet that God instructed him to follow. This dilemma and its results contain an interesting lesson for us and I would dare say even a scientific lesson that we should pay attention to.
If we go back to the beginning it is clear that man’s original food was designed primarily to be herbs with seeds. This is borne out in God’s original instructions in the book of Genesis.
Genesis 1:29 — And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”
Genesis 2:8-9 (KJV) — And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Man is not a natural carnivore. Animals that are carnivores (primary food is meat) have high levels of hydrochloric acid, which allows them to break down meat so that it is easily absorbed into the digestive system. Man is capable of eating and digesting meat, but not as the primary staple of his diet. Most scientists suggest that man is more inclined to be an omnivore (capable of combination of plant food and meat). If we accept from the scriptures what our primary food should be, and we recognize that we are not naturally equipped to consume large quantities of meat, it should become clear to us that our primary food should be plants. There is a tremendous debate raging globally as to whether the human diet should be vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. I have personally chosen the path of veganism, simply because this is the path that has given me the best results for improving and sustaining my health. I will leave it to each of you to decide whether an omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan diet is best for you.
Man has changed his original diet and has changed what is considered food. It has been said that most of what we eat is not actual food that the body recognizes. We have bleached foods such as flour, rice, and sugar to make them white, and then further processed them so that our bodies, looking for the plants that God made, receive bleach and chemicals instead.
If that is not bad enough, man has genetically modified plants and animals and created a new class of foods called GMOs (genetically modified organisms). We are genetically modifying foods so that we can create crops that grow larger and faster for commercial purposes, without regard for how they will affect the human body. We have also genetically altered animals, injected them with hormones, antibiotics, and other substances that end up being transferred to the human population, producing “giants” and children who are anatomically advanced for their years, including females with breasts well before puberty. In addition, man has introduced many toxic pesticides and chemicals that not only damage the plants but seep into the soil, affecting our drinking water. The change in our food has had severe consequences, including the introduction and rapid multiplication of many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and high-blood pressure.
The use of preservatives also impacts the quality of food, as many food preservatives have proven to be toxic. If we get back to God’s original system, I believe we would get closer to his results. For us to achieve health, we must go back to God’s original plan, his original food, and make it our preferred diet. How do we know this diet works? If we look at the Bible character Daniel, we would see that his story of food diplomacy confirms the benefits of the original plant-based diet.
Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
And at the end of 10 days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. — Daniel 1:3-20
This “scientific experiment” demonstrated that the original diet was superior to the man-orchestrated diet. I believe we should continue this test today, and we would see the same results, as I can attest to having personally undergone the same experiment.
I recently listened to a local doctor explaining gout and its affects. He went into detail about what medications are needed to deal with the pain and which medications are needed to lower levels of uric acid. Interestingly I had a situation several years back where I was told I had high uric acid and was given these same medications to reduce the level of uric acid. After being told that this was the best method, I fortunately encountered medical and nutritional specialists who explained to me that if I wanted to reduce uric acid all I had to do was to stop eating meat because that is the primary source of uric acid. Instead of taking the medications I stopped eating meat and after three weeks my uric acid level was normal again. I was amazed, because prior to that, doctors had not told me about an association between meat and uric acid levels.
Sometimes we have to be diplomatic with our responses to food. Follow the instructions and plan of the original king when the earthly “kings” present us with local delicacies. Do we get the true message of the Daniel diet? Instead of Daniel “fasts” we need to look at Daniel’s diplomatic response and follow suit and achieve his same results.
- Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to [email protected]. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.