Clean and Unclean Foods

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What are clean and unclean foods in the Bible? Why does it matter? How can we tell the difference between the two?

God created two basic classes of animals in relation to man's diet. Those that benefit our health are called clean foods and those that do not (they are a detriment to our health and well being) are labeled in the Bible as unclean. We find this critical information regarding which meats are good for us (clean) and which are not (unclean) in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

In spite of what many believers think, the Bible does not, in the Old or New Testaments, abolish or do away with God's laws about foods that he created either to be eaten (clean) or avoided (unclean).

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For example, in Mark 7, the dispute between the Pharisees and Christ did not concern the issue of which foods were clean or unclean. It involved whether the disciples could eat a few grains of food without having to ceremonially wash their hands several times!

Peter's vision in Acts 10, commonly thought to make all unclean foods fit for consumption, was God's way of conveying to bigoted Peter that no human was worth less than others!


Woman at Market
Woman at Market
Joachim Beuckelaer, 1564

Paul the apostle also upheld the Biblical laws regarding what is good or clean, and what is not good or unclean, to eat as still being valid for believers (1Timothy 4:1 - 3). He showed that while some things were made for us to ingest others clearly were not.

Below is a list of common meats and fishes divided by whether the Bible considers them clean or unclean to eat. Please note that this list does not denote every animal or insect in existence and where it is classified. When in doubt, it is best to consider a meat unfit for human consumption.


MEATS THAT ARE GOOD TO EAT

Clean Land Animals

Antelope  -  Buffalo  -  Caribou  -  Cattle (Beef, Veal)  -  Deer  -  Elk  -  Gazelle  -  Giraffe  -  Goat  -  Hart  -  Ibex  -  Moose  -  Ox  -  Reindeer  -  Sheep

Clean Birds

Chicken  -  Dove  -  Duck  -  Goose  -  Grouse  -  Guinea fowl  -  Partridge  -  Peafowl  -  Pheasant  -  Pigeon  -  Prairie chicken  -  Ptarmigan  -  Quail  -  Sagehen  -  Sparrow (plus any other songbirds)  -  Swan  -  Teal  -  Turkey

Insects

Clean insects include types of locusts that may include crickets and grasshoppers

Clean Fish

Albacore (Crevalle, Horse Mackerel, Jack)  -  Alewives (Branch, River Herring)  -  Anchovy  -  Barracuda  -  Bass  -  Black Drum  -  Black Pomfret (Monchong)  -  Blue Runner (Hardtail)  -  Bluebacks (Glut Herrings)  -  Bluebill Sunfish  -  Bluefish  -  Bluegill  -  Bonitos  -  Bowfin  -  Buffalofish  -  Carp  -  Chubs (Bloater, Longjaw, Blackfin)  -  Cod  -  Common Sucker (Fresh Water Mullet, White Sucker)  -  Crappie (Black or White Crappies)

Clean Fish

Drum  -  Flounder (Dab, Gray, Lemon Sole, Summer  -  Grouper (Black, Nassau, Red, or Yellowfish Grouper, Gag)  -  Grunt (White / Yellow Grunts)  -  Gulf Pike (Robalo, Snook, Sergeant)  -  Haddock  -  Hake  -  Halibut  -  Hardhead  -  Hardtail (Blue Runner)  -  Herring (Alewife, Branch, Glut. Lake, River, Sea Herrings)

Kingfish  -  Long Nose Sucker (Northern or Red Striped Sucker)  -  Mackerel (Cobia)  -  Mahimahi (Dorado, Dolphinfish)  -  Menhaden  -  Minnow  -  Mullet  -  Muskellunge (Jacks)  -  Orange Roughy  -  Perch (Bream)  -  Pig Fish  -  Pike (Pickerel, Jack)  -  Pollack (Pollock, Boston Bluefish)  -  Pompano  -  Porgy (Scup)

Red Drum (Redfish)  -  Red Horse Sucker (Redfin)  -  Red Snapper  -  Redfish  -  Robalo (Gulf Pike)  -  Rockfish  -  Salmon (Chum, Coho, King, Pink or Red)  -  Sardine (Pilchard)  -  Scup (Porgy)  -  Sea Bass  -  Sergeant Fish (Gulf Pike)  -  Shad  -  Sheepshead  -  Silver Hake (Whiting)  -  Silversides  -  Smelt  -  Snapper  -  Snook (Gulf Pike)  -  Sole  -  Spanish Mackerel  -  Steelhead  -  Striped Bass  -  Sucker (Red Horse Sucker, Redfin)  -  Sunfish

Tarpon  -  Trout (Gray Sea, Lake, Sand Sea, White Sea, Spotted Sea Trouts, Weakfish)  -  Tuna  -  Turbot (all except European variety)  -  Whitefish  -  Whiting (Silver Hake)  -  Winter Flounder, Yellow Tail  -  Yellow Perch


MEATS THAT ARE NOT GOOD TO EAT

Unclean Land Animals

Armadillo  -  Ass  -  Badger  -  Bear  -  Beaver  -  Boar  -  Camel  -  Cat  -  Cheetah  -  Coyote  -  Dog  -  Donkey  -  Elephant  -  Fox  -  Gorilla  -  Groundhog  -  Hare  -  Hippopotamus  -  Horse  -  Hyena

Jackal  -  Kangaroo  -  Leopard  -  Lion  -  Llama (alpaca, vicuña)  -  Mole  -  Monkey  -  Mouse  -  Mule  -  Muskrat  -  Onager  -  Opossum  -  Panther  -  Peccary  -  Pig (hog, bacon, ham, lard, pork)  -  Porcupine

Rabbit  -  Raccoon  -  Rat  -  Rhinoceros  -  Skunk  -  Slug  -  Snail (escargot)  -  Squirrel  -  Tiger  -  Wallaby  -  Weasel  -  Wolf  -  Wolverine  -  Worm  -  Zebra

Unclean Birds

Albatross  -  Bat  -  Bittern  -  Buzzard  -  Condor  -  Coot  -  Cormorant  -  Crane  -  Crow  -  Cuckoo  -  Eagle  -  Flamingo  -  Grebe  -  Grosbeak  -  Gull  -  Hawk  -  Heron  -  Kite  -  Lapwing  -  Loon  -  Magpie

Osprey  -  Ostrich  -  Owl  -  Parrot  -  Pelican  -  Penguin  -  Plover  -  Rail  -  Raven  -  Roadrunner- Sandpiper  -  Seagull  -  Stork  -  Swallow  -  Swift  -  Vulture  -  Water Hen  -  Woodpecker

Unclean Insects

All insects except some in the locust family should not be consumed.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Alligator  -  Blindworm  -  Caiman  -  Crocodile  -  Frogs  -  Lizard  -  Newts  -  Salamanders  -  Snakes  -  Toads  -  Turtles

Unclean Fish and Marine Animals

Abalone  -  Bullhead  -  Catfish  -  Clam  -  Crab  -  Crayfish  -  Cuttlefish  -  Dolphin  -  Eel  -  European Turbot  -  Jellyfish  -  Limpet  -  Lobsters  -  Marlin  -  Mussels

Octopus  -  Otter  -  Oysters  -  Paddlefish  -  Porpoise  -  Prawn  -  Scallop  -  Seal  -  Shark  -  Shrimp  -  Squid (calamari)  -  Stickleback  -  Sturgeon  -  Swordfish  -  Walrus  -  Whale

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