I was having a friendly conversation with a fellow co-worker who is a Seventh-Day Adventist. They practice their faith by being vegetarian. He pointed out in the Bible that it was the right thing to doâ€”especially not eating pork. Where does the Coptic Orthodox Church stand on being a vegetarian? Why do we not practice the same? Why are we allowed to eat pork?
After the great flood, humans were allowed to eat meat. God sent the Israelites quails to eat when they were on their journey in the wilderness (Exodus 16). The Passover meal was lamb (Exodus 12). The Lord Jesus Christ performed two miracles of feeding the multitude with fish (Matthew 14; Luke 9). Even after His resurrection, He ate fish in their presence (Luke 24). When St. Peter questioned eating the various kinds of four-footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air, because of his Jewish heritage and restrictions of eating certain foods, he heard a voice—to whom he called, “LORD”, telling him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat" (Acts 10:13). In addition, the voice also said unto St. Peter a second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common" (Acts 10:15).
As Orthodox Christians, we place high value on fasting, which excludes meats, dairy, and other animal products. Fasting is a means of self-discipline and is guided by the Church teachings and monitored by a spiritual father. The exclusion of meats and meat products from our diets is not a generalized religious obligation practiced by members of our faith as it is misinterpreted by the Seventh-Day Adventists. Even the religious Jewish people today consume fish and eat kosher meat, but they still exclude pork and shellfish according to the Old Testament canons.