(Gen. 1:29-30) Does this passage claim that lions and tigers were vegetarians?

CLAIM: Genesis states, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food” (Gen. 1:29-30). Does this mean that animals were vegetarians before the Fall?

RESPONSE: C. John Collins writes, “Even if we take Genesis 1:29-30 as prescribing a strictly vegetarian diet for man and beast, it only applies to land dwellers and flying creatures: that is, it leaves out everything that lives in the water… But as a matter of fact, there’s no reason to think that Genesis 1:29-30 is either exhaustive—listing everything they’ll eat—or prescriptive—‘eat this and nothing else.’ There’s no indication of a change in diet for animals anywhere in the Bible; and though we might argue that man wasn’t to eat meat until after the flood (Gen. 9:3), we still can’t say what other animals ate.”[1] Gordon Wenham writes, “Gen 1, however, does not forbid the consumption of meat, and it may be that meat eating is envisaged from the time of the fall. Man is expected to rule over the animals. The Lord provided Adam with garments of skin (3:21). Abel kept and sacrificed sheep (4:2–4), and Noah distinguished clean and unclean animals (7:2). Gispen may therefore be correct in suggesting that 9:3 is ratifying the post-fall practice of meat-eating rather than inaugurating it.”[2] Derek Kidner writes, “The assigning of every green plant for food (rsv) to all creatures must not be pressed to mean that all were once herbivorous, any more than to mean that all plants were equally edible to all. It is a generalization, that directly or indirectly all life depends on vegetation, and the concern of the verse is to show that all are fed from God’s hand.”[3]

[1] Collins, C. John. Science & Faith: Friends or Foes? Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003. 153.

[2] Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 34). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[3] Kidner, D. (1967). Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 1, p. 57). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.