The more I study the early chapters of Genesis, the more important they appear to be. One of the first things God said to Adam and Eve in chapter 1 was this: "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food." There is nothing there about eating meat. But after the Flood, in Genesis chapter 9 verse 3, God said to Noah, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants I give you everything. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." Notice that in this verse there is a reference back to God's original instruction to people to eat green plants and fruit, so there is no suggestion that the difference between the two commands is a mistake: it is intentional. For some reason after the Flood it became necessary for us to eat meat as well as vegetables and fruit. And it is significant that our bodies have been designed to digest both types of food. The body processes plant fats in the liver and animal fats in the colon. This is not an accident. We cannot digest grass, as sheep and cattle do, we can only digest the types of food that are good for us and for which God has designed us.
However in the world to come, when God restores everything to its original perfection, it seems to me that we shall again be vegetarians. That is because in Revelation it says the death will be no more, and that must include animals. Isaiah tells us that in the coming kingdom of God, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, so even the animals will become vegetarians. The present state of nature, 'red in tooth and claw', will come to an end. As a human race we shall no longer hunt animals for food.
In the present age, however, God tells us that he has given us animals for food. The New Testament goes further. In 1 Timothy chapter 4 Paul is addressing the heresy of a group of people called Gnostics. They believed that the flesh and everything to do with the flesh was evil. "They forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth," he wrote. And then he said in verse 4 of chapter 4, "For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." Earlier in 1 Corinthians Paul had said that eating meat was fine, even if it had been consecrated to idols, since idols had no real existence.
In the second century this idea that the flesh was bad took hold of people's minds to such an extent that they sometimes almost starved themselves to death. So when the Apostolic Canons were written, it was necessary to contradict such heresies in black and white: "If any overseer, priest or deacon, or anyone on the priestly list, abstains from marriage and flesh and wine, not on the ground of asceticism (that is, for the sake of discipline), but through abhorrence of them as evil in themselves, forgetting that all things are very good, and that God made man male and female, but blaspheming and slandering the workmanship of God, either let him amend, or be deposed and cast out of the church." Around AD 160 Irenaeus, the great bishop of Leons, wrote, "Many abstain from animal food, and draw away multitudes by a feigned temperance of this kind."
In conclusion, I believe it is right for us to eat both meat and vegetables now, but in the new earth to come, which God has promised to create, death will be no more and we shall once again be vegetarians as Adam and Eve were before they sinned.