Are Christians Forbidden to Consume Blood?

by Jimmy Akin

in Apologetics, Bible, Diet, Moral Theology

Many people like their steak "rare and bloody." Is that a problem? Is it okay to consume animal blood?

A common objection to the Catholic faith is the idea that the Bible forbids the drinking of blood, yet Catholics claim to drink the blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

It’s true that the Old Testament forbids consuming blood, but what is the status of this requirement for Christians?

Soon we will look at drinking Christ’s blood specifically, but here let’s look at the Old Testament prohibition on consuming animal blood . . .


Animal Blood as Food

Neither Christianity nor Judaism are vegetarian religions. Both acknowledge the possibility of eating animals. Biblical Judaism even mandates it, with the requirement of consuming the Passover lamb.

But what parts of an animal are okay to eat?

Here in America, we are used to eating the flesh of various animals–the muscles or “meat.” But there are other parts, including the organs, the bones (which can be ground up as meal), and the blood.

Often, if you don’t grow up eating something, it will make you squeamish.

I’m pretty adventurous for an American. I enjoy a lot of international foods. I not only will eat sushi (raw fish) without batting an eye, I’ll even eat durian-flavored foods (note: the smell of durian is indescribable; the closest thing I can compare it to is burning rubber).

But as an American, I personally find the idea of consuming animal blood an incredibly squeamish idea.

I mean . . . YUCK! 


Different Strokes for Different Folks

I have to acknowledge, though, that people in many other cultures–including Christian ones–feel differently.

Animal blood is consumed in various ways, either as an ingredient in foods or as a beverage.

This includes countries all over the world–in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Even in England (America’s primary parent country!) blood is a principal ingredient in black pudding (a kind of sausage; ecky thump!).

Blood was certainly both an ingredient and a beverage in the ancient world.

So what does the Old Testament have to say about it?


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