What Did Daniel Eat In The Bible


Daniel was a devout vegetarian, living off of pulses and other plant-based dishes in contrast to the meat dishes his peers consumed (Daniel 1:8-16). In Daniel chapter 10, he ceased to eat non-vegetarian food for a full three weeks. When asked why, he explains that he is mourning for his people. In all of his examples in the Bible, Daniel made it a point to abstain from eating anything that was not pure, clean, and unmodified. In the diet of the Ancient Near East, it was important to follow certain dietary laws, in keeping with the customs of the region. In contrast, Daniel held to a more personal dietary law, self-imposed and based on his beliefs.

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cuisine

The biblical diet of Daniel is most likely rooted in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. This diet is one that is rich in both fresh vegetables and unrefined grains, as well as fish, poultry, and some dairy. It is quite likely that Daniel ate a mixture of plant-based dishes, though he most certainly avoided meat. Legumes, such as lentils and beans, were staples in the Judean diet of the mid-first millennium BCE, and it is likely that these pulses were prominent in Daniel’s diet as well.

Hebrew Laws

The Hebrew Bible is heavily concerned with food laws, primarily focused on certain animals that should not be consumed, such as pigs and shellfish. Yet, strictly following the laws of the Hebrew Bible was not essential in Daniel’s time—food laws were more symbolically important. This indicates to historians that Daniel did have some understanding of the Hebrew dietary culture of the time, and he abstained from the dietary habits of his peers because of a deeper, personal motivation than the mere following of a dietary code.

Historical Context

The historical context of the bible both informs our present-day understanding of Daniel’s dietary habits as well as helps to explain why he chose to abstain from eating non-vegetarian food. In Daniel’s time, the region was under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, and Jews were thought of as lesser human beings. Daniel, in his refusal to assimilate to the culinary habits of his peers, is making a statement of defiance: he will not accept Nebuchadnezzar’s authority over him, because his faith and moral code mean more to him than anything else.
Additionally, the Jewish people had a particular valuing of strict adherence to moral and dietary codes. This is why Daniel’s refusal to eat non-vegetarian food is significant; he values his moral code more highly even than his culture’s customs. His determination not to be assimilated is an incredible indicator of his unwavering faith and immense pride in his identity.

Food As A Symbol

In ancient Near Eastern culture, food was often seen as a symbol of status and power–wealthier people had had access to more extravagant dishes. Thus, in abstaining from consuming non-vegetarian meals, Daniel is not only taking ownership of his faith and identity, but he is implying that his faith is more valuable and powerful than anything else. His refusal to partake in meat is a powerful statement that his adherence to his religious beliefs, which does not involve the consumption of meat, is more powerful than any kingdom’s law.


In today’s world, Daniel’s commitment to his faith and dietary habits inspire many to live their lives with dedication to a moral code and with pride in their identity. As times have changed, yet his determination has stood strong, his commitment to his beliefs have demonstrated the importance of staying true to what one believes. The largely plant-based diet of Daniel has been replicated by vegetarians and vegans across the globe who follow a moral code that suggests the consumption of non-meat dishes. By adhering to his dietary choices, Daniel serves as an example of the power of one’s faith to many people today.


Though Daniel’s diet mainly consisted of plant-based dishes such as lentils, legumes and grains, he still ate a well balanced diet that can keep any body functioning optimally. His diet in the Bible was full of variety in terms of grain options and sources of protein, and was likely high in fiber and antioxidants, which are both important for healthy and balanced bodies. Furthermore, many experts suggest that minimum animal product consumption, as depicted in Daniel’s diet, can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases and aid in living a healthier life.

Religious Values

Daniel’s dietary habits are deeply rooted in his religious values. He refused to consume food that did not align with those values, despite living in a culture which placed an enormous emphasis on meat-eating. Daniel’s commitment to his faith, even amidst foreign and captivating dining practices, serves as an example for religious individuals today. His refraining from forbidden foods indicates his great faith and trust in his God, despite an alluring—and often overwhelming—opposing culture. Though this practice may feel challenged in the present day, it is important to remember that Daniel’s refusal to consume non-vegetarian meals even in the midst of encouragement from respected authorities underscores how much the Bible values don’t waiver.


Though the exact dishes Daniel ate in the Bible are unknown, the general theme of his diet was clear. He made a conscious decision to adhere to his religious values in a culture that did not favor it, no matter the consequence. Daniel’s dedication to faith and to his beliefs serves as an inspiration to many religious individuals today. Additionally, his largely plant-based diet was a well-rounded one, sure to suffice any nutritional needs. Daniel’s influence on dietary and religious habits lives on in the present day.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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