There seems to be some inconsistency concerning vegetarianism at the time of Noah and before.

If Adam was told to be a vegetarian and the whole world followed that commandment: a. Why was Cain a hunter? b. Why did the whole evil world of the time of Noah obey the vegetarian commandment?

  • I don't see any inconsistencies. Who said Cain was a hunter? Why wouldn't people follow the commandment?
    – robev
    Oct 8, 2021 at 19:30
  • @robev I guess he’s referring to Lemech. See Rashi who says he was hunting with his son and he told him to shoot his arrow, but mistakenly it was Cain. So obviously he was hunting. The simple answer is that although they hunted, who says they ate the meat??
    – Chatzkel
    Oct 8, 2021 at 19:33
  • To be exact, Cain was a farmer. He brought flax as a sacrifice. Abel was the one who slaughtered a sheep as a sacrifice. Regardless, there’s no basis to say any of them ate meat
    – Chatzkel
    Oct 8, 2021 at 19:34
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2 Answers 2


Cain sinned when he killed his brother. If he can kill a man he can kill an animal. Note that Cain brought vegetation as a sacrifice while Able brought sheep. The people in the time of Noah were corrupted.

Rabbi Arnold Ehrlich wrote that the reason why G-d decided to flood the earth was that humans and animals became carnivores (eat meat). This is not in the biblical spirit. In the Garden of Eden story Adam and Eve only ate vegetables. The prophet Isaiah foresaw in the future that the lion would lie with the lamb. However, G-d saw that humans desired meat, and so He "allowed" Noah to consume meat, but under the conditions of the seven laws and later for Jews under the conditions of kosher foods. Rav Kook wrote that in the messianic age we will no longer consume meat, recalling the ethical standards in the Garden of Eden.


As some of the comments have noted. There aren't any meaningful inconsistencies about vegetarianism before Noah's flood.

I'm not saying: there are no contradictory statements or traditions.

What I am saying: there are lots of inconsistencies in biblical stories that we accept, but even the creation stories have more inconsistencies than the concept of vegetarianism. So I don't find the small inconsistencies about vegetarianism to be meaningful when compared to other inconsistencies like: How many creations were there? In what order were things created? Who did Cain Marry?

Adam was not told to be vegetarian. Adam was told he could eat from trees and plant life, just like animals were. God doesn't forbid mankind nor animals from eating meat, contrast that to God forbidding the Israelites from eating pork. And so I'm not surprised we find small inconsistencies like God accepting Abel's sacrifice even though it meant an animal was killed. God throughout the stories leading up to Noah seems to want and encourage mankind and animals to be vegetarians, but eventually gives in when mankind and animals seemingly can't stop themselves from eating meat.

  • If the generations before Noach were meat eaters, why did Gd tell Noach:כָּל־רֶ֨מֶשׂ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הוּא־חַ֔י לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָ֑ה (every living thing you may eat)?
    – Yehuda W
    Oct 10, 2021 at 20:50

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