Would you please explain which animals are clean (and may be eaten) and which are unclean (and must not be eaten)?


The Bible clearly prohibits the consumption of animal meat which it describes as “unclean” in Old and New Testament passages (such as Leviticus 11:1-47; Deuteronomy 14:3-20; and Acts 10:1-21, 28). For more information on this prohibition, please read our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound.”

According to the Biblical designation, certain animals are considered “clean” and their meat is therefore appropriate for human consumption (compare, for example, Leviticus 11:3: “Among the animals…that you may eat…”). Although some have chosen to abstain from the consumption of animal meat, it should be noted that such a teaching, if adhered to and followed for RELIGIOUS reasons, is described in Scripture as a doctrine of demons, compare 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

We can safely say that the following animal meat constitutes food that may be eaten. We will not attempt to list ALL clean and unclean animals, but will list the more common ones. As a general rule, if in doubt whether or not the flesh of a particular animal may be eaten, we should refrain from doing so, as “he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).


Among insects, only certain types of locusts may be eaten. However, the Biblical designations of those types might not be entirely identifiable today (Leviticus 11:20-23). Soncino states that “the word [for grasshopper] denotes a kind of locust, but we are unable to identify it.” Some claim that today’s “grasshoppers,” as designated by modern Science, and some types of crickets might be fit for human consumption. All other insects and “creeping things,” including Frogs, Lizards, Salamanders, Slugs, Snails (including the so-called “edible snail”), Snakes, Toads and Worms, clearly, must not be eaten.


Regarding fish, the following animals are counted among those that may be eaten, as they have both fins and scales, compare Leviticus 12:9-11:

Anchovy, Bass, Carp, Cod, Flounder, Haddock, Halibut, Hardtail, Herring, Mackerel, Mahi-mahi, Pike, Pollack, Red Snapper, Salmon, Sardine, Sea Bass, Snapper, Sole, Trout, Tuna, Whitefish.

Regarding fish, other sea creatures and animals living partly in the water and partly on land, which must not be eaten, the following are worth mentioning:

Alligator, Catfish, Crocodile, Dolphin, Eel, Jellyfish, Octopus, Otter, Porpoise, Seal, Shark, Shellfish (including clam, crab, lobster, mussel, oyster, scallop and shrimp), Squid, Sturgeon (including most kinds of caviar), Turtle, Whale (including whale oil).

Caution is mandated regarding some Jewish publications, listing the swordfish as a clean fish, appropriate for human consumption. The reason for this conclusion is that the swordfish, when young, has scales, but it loses them when growing older. According to the Soncino commentary, “fish that possessed fins and scales while in the water, shedding them when caught and brought on dry land, are permitted to be eaten.” Most, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America, feel that the swordfish is an unclean animal and should not be eaten.


The following birds are considered to be among those that are clean and may be eaten:

Chicken, Dove, Duck, Goose, Grouse, Partridge, Pheasant, Pigeon, Prairie Chicken, Ptarmigan, Quail, Turkey.

The Bible specifically lists many of the unclean birds which are not to be eaten (including their eggs). Many of those are birds of prey and include:

Albatross, Bat [the Bible considers the bat to be a bird, even though modern scientists invented their own classification], Buzzard, Condor, Cormorant, Crane, Crow, Cuckoo, Eagle, Falcon, Flamingo, Hawk, Ostrich [many Muslims don’t consider the ostrich as unclean, even though the Bible specifically says so], Owl, Parrot, Pelican, Penguin, Raven, Roadrunner, Seagull, Stork, Swallow, Vulture, Woodpecker.

Disagreement exists regarding the swan. Although the Authorized Version lists the swan as unclean in Leviticus 11:18, the Jewish Publication Society renders the Hebrew word for “swan” as “horned owl,” while the Jewish Tanakh translation states, “white owl.”


Regarding mammals, the following are among those that may be eaten, as they divide the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud, compare Leviticus 11:3:

Antelope, Beef, Buffalo, Caribou, Deer, Elk, Gazelle, Giraffe, Goat, Hart, Lamb, Moose, Ox, Reindeer, Sheep, Veal

The following mammals and other land animals must not be eaten:

Ape (including Gorilla), Armadillo, Badger, Bear [in addition to not having the criteria for clean mammals, bears, as well as cats, have paws, Leviticus 11:27], Beaver, Camel [even though Hollywood has erroneously portrayed the camel in Biblical movies as clean, which could be eaten] Cat (including all wild cat species, such as lion, tiger), Civet Cat, Coyote, Dog, Donkey, Elephant, Fox, Hare, Horse, Hyena, Jackal, Kangaroo, Llama, Monkey, Mouse, Mule, Opossum, Rabbit, Raccoon, Rat, Swine (including the boar, peccary and the pig, as well as pig products, such as sausage, pepperoni, hog, bacon, ham, lard and pork), Squirrel, Weasel, Wolf, Zebra.

At one time in recent history, some Jews considered the tapir as a clean animal, until it was discovered that it belongs to the pig family. Again, caution is mandated with some listings of uncommon or “exotic” animals.

God considers the consumption of unclean animals as a SERIOUS violation of His timeless health law [In applying the spirit of God’s health laws to modern times, smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipe, chewing tobacco or consuming illegal drugs would fall in the same category of prohibited activities]. “Human thinking” of what is right and wrong notwithstanding, God thunders at us through His prophet Isaiah HIS “viewpoint” in a telling prophetic warning for our time:

“I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face… Who eat swine’s flesh And the broth of abominable things [Margin: “unclean meats”; Tanakh: “unclean things”] is in their vessels… I will not keep silence, but will repay… Your iniquities… ‘Those who [are]… Eating swine’s flesh and the abomination [Tanakh: “the reptile”] and the mouse, Shall be consumed together,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 65:2-7; 66:17).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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