Clean or Unclean: Mushrooms, Duck, Rabbit, Blood in Meat, and Chicken | Romans 14:1-23
Posted on 10 May 2012 09:25 AM
I have some acquaintances that claim mushrooms are unclean foods and we should not eat them. I would like to know if this is true, and where is the Biblical support for this. Thank you.

There is no Biblical comment about mushrooms one way or the other. Unclean foods refer to certain living creatures, of the animal kingdom as specified in Leviticus 11. Plants and fungi are not included in the Bible's clean-unclean listings. Plants and fungi that one should obviously not eat, but which are not classified as "unclean," are those which contain harmful substances such as alkaloids or narcotics, but even such plants may have medicinal uses.

Those who claim mushrooms are unclean usually base their reasoning on the fact that these fungi grow on decomposing material, whether plant- or animal-based. Mushrooms are decomposers and as such do not produce nutrients by way of photosynthesis and must therefore convert and utilize the material they grow on. Mushrooms such as Button mushrooms, for example, are sometimes grown in a medium composed of animal dung mixed with straw and sometimes on mediums containing only plant materials.

To avoid eating contaminants, it may be advisable to research the growing method before utilizing them. Plants, on the other hand, do not absorb the organic compounds (only the minerals) from their growing medium as they produce their organic compounds by photosynthesis. The composition of mushrooms is totally unlike animal tissues, they are low caloric foods and they are known to have many medicinal effects including anti-carcinogenic properties.

There is therefore no compelling evidence that they should be excluded from the diet, except of course the poisonous or narcotic ones as in the case of plants also. On the other hand, there is no compelling reason to make them a major part of one’s diet, as all the nutrients we need can be obtained from the plant kingdom.

Is duck classified as among the clean birds?

Some of these birds are hard to classify. Martin Luther translated one of the categories of birds that were unclean as "the goose and its kind" which would seem to indicate any creature with webbed feet. Then the duck would be included amongst the unclean animals. Another criteria might be the absence of a crop which carnivorous birds don't have. The Jews generally do not regard duck as unclean although some orthodox groups do.

Considering the filter feeding habits and eating habits of ducks in general, I personally would be inclined to think that they are unclean, but would not be dogmatic about it. In any case, on a vegan vegetarian diet, which God's commandment-keeping people are admonished to be, this does not play an issue. Everything has deteriorated to such an extent that everything is unclean and therefore a vegan vegetarian diet is the only way to be, and then we don't have to worry about these finer distinctions.

In Leviticus 11:18 the Bible states that the swan is unclean. Though there is no mention of a duck in Leviticus, we must look to the similarities of the duck and the swan. Here are the descriptions of their scientific classifications:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

There is no difference until you get to genus and specie which I left off because there are many for each. Both are bottom feeders, and both have webbed feet. Can we find any other clean bird with webbed feet? The answer is no. Geese are also unclean.

Is chicken a clean or unclean animal?

The chicken, according to scripture, is a clean bird, however, all unclean animals are either scavengers, filter feeders, or carnivores, so seeing that animals are fed anything these days, including animals products, I would consider all animals today as unclean.

In your magazine published in 2009 with the title “Clean and Unclean”, I found the following text, "It does not take many thousands of years for a change to take place in gut lengths due to changes of diet". What does it mean?

All carnivorous animals are unclean according to the Bible and this is logical as they accumulate toxins at high rates due to biological magnification. Carnivores have shorter gut lengths than herbivores and evolutionists claim that this proves that millions of years of evolution changed their gut anatomy to what it is today. However, research has shown that diet influences gut length in a short time, even one generation, therefore their evolutionary assumption is wrong. In my own research I found that animal protein versus plant protein in the diet statistically shortens gut length in test animals during development in as short a period as six weeks.

Professor Veith explained why rabbit was not a clean animal. He briefly described the digestive system but I could not fully comprehend his explanation. I thought it had to do with the fact that a rabbit's system could not break down fibers which is directed to the caecum, then back to the colon. But two physician friends of mine, claimed that rabbits are clean animals and there is nothing odd or wrong with its digestive system. Could you clarify this for me please.

Following is a quote from an article written by Walter Veith on the subject of unclean foods:

“Even though the rabbit is herbivorous, Leviticus 11:6 states that it is unclean. The rabbit has a very enlarged caecum. In order for the rabbit to obtain sufficient nutrients from the plants it eats, it has to ferment the material. This requires a fermentation chamber with an alkaline environment. Since the rabbit does not have a pre-stomach, like the cow does, it has to use its enlarged caecum.

However, its caecum is sandwiched between its gut and rectum and most of the absorption of the nutrients takes place there. When the rabbit re-digests this material, it becomes coprophagous. In other words, it eats its own excrement. Consequently, the level of toxins in its tissues is far higher than in other herbivores. Bile salts, fatty acids, gases, and ammonia levels are all at unacceptable levels for human consumption. All rodents, and even the horse, fall into the same category.”


I am now a vegetarian but I am really interested in the Levitical law of eating / not eating the blood of the animal. I have only eaten clean animals all my life but have just eaten the regular meat purchased from a butcher, not 'kosher'. My husband is still a regular meat eater and prefers his steak and lamb medium rare.

Now I am wondering if this meat is in fact wrong to eat even though classed as clean, never mind the fact that all the advice leads to giving up these articles as food.

I tried to search the EG White books but only found counsel to shun a meat eating diet and nothing about having to eat Kosher meat. Can you shed some light on this please? I have searched the web and many christian sites to no avail.

The Bible does say not to eat the blood of animals. The Israelites were instructed to wash out all the blood and eat only the meat itself. Ellen White only speaks of a non-meat diet because we should not be eating meat today anymore. The time has come to give up all meat eating. The animals are so diseased that any meat, even Kosher meat, is no longer safe or healthy to eat.


Why are clean meats not severed in SDA Churches and Schools? Is this a tradition or Biblical?

The predominance of vegetarian diets in Adventism (and why the churches serve vegetarian meals) goes back to a Biblical origin. Even though God allowed man to eat flesh after the flood the diet before the flood was vegetarian. They lived much longer, Adam - 930 yrs, Seth - 912 yrs, Methuselah – 969 yrs etc. But after the flood the lifespans dropped dramatically; Shem – 600 yrs.; Peleg – 239 yrs.; Nahor – 148 yrs.; Moses – 120 yrs.; David – 70 yrs.; pretty much where it is today. We have only one change in the Bible that could account for this drastic change and that was the diet. If we look even further back in Scripture to the Garden of Eden, where there were perfect people (Adam and Eve) living in a perfect place, having perfect communion, with a perfect God they had a perfect diet as well, and in Genesis 1:29 we read:

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so." - both man and animals were vegetarians! Which makes perfect sense when you think about it, before sin there would be no death, they could eat fruit, nuts, berries, herbs without killing the plant that produced them.

So in the Church we aspire to that perfect diet, it will be our diet in Heaven one day and it gives great health benefits here and now as well! Hope that gives you an idea as to why you don't see any clean meat at fellowship lunch in an SDA church.

For some more info on diet and the benefits of a vegetarian diet you could watch this:

A pentecostal friend of mine accused me of misquoting the Bible that I say certain foods are unclean, she based her argument on Romans 14:1-23.

The verses regarding meat vs vegetables are about meat sacrificed to idols, and not meat itself. We have quite a bit of information on the subject of clean and unclean meat. You may find these following links to be helpful in your explanation to your friend.

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Comments (3)
Guelda Glen
07 August 2012 08:13 AM
Thanks for the clarification on mushrooms. For years I have been telling people that it was a fungus and that is why I do not use them. I was told that it is to the ground what lobsters are to the sea. While I don't like or eat them, I am now more educated about them. Thank you.
10 October 2012 10:42 AM
I've always thought of them as unclean based on biblical principles. Like most you find are poison you have to be an expert to find non poison ones. Even they arguably offer no health benefit.

It's like people saying "oh you can eat pig meat if you do this this this and that with it"

I don't see fungi ever being mentioned as what we shall have for food in the bible either. I'd not class it as a plant.
Dawn Reese
10 August 2013 08:18 AM
Genesis 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Mushrooms bear no seed; therefore, isn't intended as food.
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