A close-up photograph captures a vibrant assortment of vegetables - onions, garlic, leeks, and more - symbolizing the forbidden produce mentioned in the biblical text.

What Vegetables Does The Bible Say Not To Eat?

For Christians who want to follow biblical food laws, knowing which vegetables are prohibited can be confusing. While the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid many common vegetables, some interpretations of biblical texts have led certain Christian groups to eschew certain produce.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible does not expressly prohibit the consumption of any common vegetables. However, some Christian groups have interpreted certain biblical texts to mean that they should avoid vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and others in the brassica family.

Vegetables Expressly Prohibited in the Bible

Leviticus 11 bans consumption of all creeping things, including insects and worms

Leviticus 11 provides clear dietary guidelines from God regarding which animals and insects are permitted for consumption. Specifically, verse 42 states “Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat them, for they are detestable.

This expressly forbids the eating of insects, worms, and other crawling creatures.

Some biblical scholars believe this prohibition was for health and safety reasons. Insects and worms thrive in unclean conditions and can transmit diseases. Avoiding them prevents foodborne illnesses. Interestingly, edible insects are gaining popularity today as a sustainable protein source, but Leviticus makes God’s view clear – they are not to be eaten.

Beyond insects, does this verse prohibit the eating of any common vegetables? The key determining factor is whether they exhibit “swarming” creeping movement along the ground. Vegetables rooted in soil like carrots, radishes, and potatoes do not qualify based on Leviticus 11.

However, there are some unique cases to examine closer.

Snakes, Snails, and Slugs

Does Leviticus 11 prohibit eating snakes, snails, and slugs? They slide along on bellies and exhibit movement God calls “detestable.” Most Christians abstain from them based on this passage. Escargot, cooked land snails popular in French cuisine, violates a biblical standard held for millennia.

Some scholars argue snails were unclean carriers of disease in ancient Israel, fueling the religious dietary law.

Sea Vegetables

Seaweed like nori, kombu, and wakame are nutritious ingredients used in Asian cooking. They grow in coastal waters. Does their appearance violate the Leviticus 11 standard? Probably not – first because they grow underwater, not on land.

And rather than swarming movement, they sway gently with ocean currents while rooted to rocks below. So most biblical scholars consider sea vegetables permissible to eat.

In the end, the insects and worms are the only vegetables expressly called out. Beyond those obvious cases, wisdom is required. If it exhibits swarming ground movement, erring on the side of caution aligns best with God’s original health guidelines in Leviticus 11.

Groups Who Avoid Vegetables Based on Interpretation of the Bible

Seventh Day Adventists avoid nightshade vegetables

Seventh Day Adventists follow a healthy vegetarian diet outlined in the writings of Ellen G. White. One of the dietary recommendations is to avoid nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes (source).

Nightshades contain alkaloids like solanine that can trigger inflammation and pain in some people. A 2017 study found 7th Day Adventists had significantly reduced risks of certain cancers which may be linked to their vegetable focused diets.

Some orthodox Christians avoid allium vegetables

Some devout Orthodox Christians avoid allium vegetables like garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots before taking Holy Communion or during fasting periods like Lent. The pungent smell of alliums is believed to arouse bodily passions that distract from sacred and spiritual devotion.

A 2005 survey in Greece showed that 75% of Orthodox Christians avoided onions and garlic during important religious holidays. However, many modern congregations have relaxed these traditional restrictions.

Biblical Basis for Avoiding Certain Vegetables

Genesis 1 – God created plants for man to eat

In Genesis 1, God created plants on the third day and declared them “good.” On the sixth day, God gave man dominion over all the plants and told him that they shall be for food (Genesis 1:29). This shows that originally, God intended for humans to eat plants freely.

Leviticus 11 – Lists clean and unclean animals, prohibits consuming blood

In Leviticus 11, God lays out laws concerning clean and unclean animals. Certain animals like pigs and shellfish are labeled as unclean and prohibited from being eaten. God also prohibits consuming blood from any animal (Leviticus 11:26-27).

While this chapter focuses on animal products, it establishes a precedent for God restricting certain foods.

Acts 15 – Early church guidance on dietary restrictions for gentile converts

In Acts 15, early church leaders provide guidance on which Mosaic laws gentile converts should follow. They conclude that gentiles only need to abstain from food polluted by idols, sexual immorality, meat from strangled animals, and blood (Acts 15:20).

This omits many previous dietary restrictions, showing that some biblical food laws applied specifically to Israelites under the Old Covenant.

While the Bible does not forbid specific vegetables, these passages provide examples of God establishing dietary restrictions. However, under the New Covenant, Christians have freedom in what they eat and should focus on glorifying God and avoiding offense (1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 14:20-21).

Common Vegetables Avoided and Reasons for Avoidance

Nightshades – Associated with inflammation and toxins

Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes contain alkaloids that may exacerbate inflammation and joint pain in some people (Healthline). While nightshades offer beneficial nutrients, those with arthritis, autoimmune diseases or chronic inflammation may consider limiting nightshades to see if symptoms improve.

However, recent research has found little evidence that nightshades trigger inflammation in most people when consumed in normal food amounts (Nutrition Reviews). More studies are still needed on individual responses.

Alliums – Considered unclean in some traditions

Allium vegetables like onions, garlic and leeks were once avoided in some traditions and religions because they were thought to excite passions and evoke anger. Jains and some Buddhist sects still abstain from eating alliums due to such historical beliefs (NCBI).

Today, research shows that allium vegetables offer cardio-protective, anti-cancer and other health effects (PubMed). However, those adhering strictly to certain faiths or diets like Jainism may still avoid them.

Brassicas – Associated with thyroid problems in some studies

Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale contain goitrogens, compounds that may impact thyroid function by blocking iodine absorption when consumed in excess (PubMed).

However, human studies suggest realistic dietary brassica intake poses little risk for thyroid issues in most healthy adults. Still, those with thyroid problems can minimize potential effects by cooking brassicas and not over-consuming them raw (NCBI).

Vegetable Group Potential Concerns
Nightshades May exacerbate inflammation in sensitive individuals
Alliums Avoided in some faiths/religions
Brassicas Raw form may affect thyroid function

Health Perspectives on Restricted Vegetables

Potential benefits of nightshades

Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers contain beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. According to research, these nutrients may provide health advantages like improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and protection against certain cancers (source).

However, the extent of these benefits requires more investigation through high-quality human clinical trials.

Possible adverse effects of nightshades

Some people claim nightshade vegetables aggravate inflammatory conditions like arthritis. A few animal and lab studies suggest the alkaloids in nightshades may exacerbate inflammation and pain (source). Yet current human research cannot conclusively link nightshades to arthritis flares or symptoms.

Those sensitive to nightshades may see symptoms improve when eliminating them from the diet.

Limited evidence for issues with alliums and brassicas

Certain condensed vegetable compounds in alliums like garlic and onions and brassicas like broccoli, kale, and cabbage could theoretically cause health problems. Alliums contain disulfides that break down red blood cells (source) while brassicas contain goitrogens that may disrupt thyroid function when consumed raw in very high amounts (source).

However, reasonable intake of cooked alliums and brassicas do not appear harmful for most healthy people.


While the Bible does not expressly prohibit consumption of any common vegetables, some Christian groups avoid certain vegetables based on their interpretation of biblical principles and health concerns.

However, the health effects of restricting vegetable groups like nightshades, alliums and brassicas remain controversial. Christians seeking biblical wisdom on diet can pray and search the scriptures for guidance from the Holy Spirit on which foods are right for them.

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