Vegetarians and the Eucharist

Since Jesus is present body and blood, and as literally real and alive as you can get, just looking differently than what He is, then how should a vegetarian partake in the eating and drinking?

Surely a vegetarian isn’t just concerned about what their meals look and taste like, there are vegetarian options that purposefully look like meat products (and taste appropriately for their imitation of the product).

They’re probably more concerned about what they’re REALLY eating in substance.

At first, I was looking at the title and thinking how crazy the concept seemed superficially, but after looking at the actual post and putting some genuine thought into it, I’d be fascinated to know also. So therefore…


I just thought of a great way to understand the Eucharist. Let me know if it is right…

You can find a soy product that imitates chicken in taste, appearance, and anything else that you may need to see it like chicken.

If we analyze the soy, it would look like soy products and the illusion of chicken would not work.

However, in a bit of an analogy, during the Eucharist you’d take material, like soy trying to imitate chicken would be a material, and instead of making chicken look like the soy product trying to imitate chicken, the soy would actually still look like soy imitating chicken, but in its deepest reality it would really be changed into chicken, which is something we can not achieve without a miracle. Hope that makes sense.

I know that the issue of vegetarians is animal meat, but I feel like the question brings to mind what really happens during the Eucharist. So I wonder how it works out too.

Certainly sacramental body is not the same as animal flesh???

Is this really an issue for Catholic vegetarians?


Ah same here. Hmm…now i get updates so we’ll see. :compcoff:

Well Jesus is the bread of life. So Jesus is the bread. Bread is a non meat food item. So you will find Christ just pluck off the bones and pepperonis and you should be ok. (satire/sarcasm)

As a new Catholic and old vegetarian here’s is my .02… The body recognizes it as bread and wine, the soul recognizes or as the body, blood, and divinity of Christ.


I also believe that even during a fast, where one does not eat anything, the eucharist is still acceptable…

You are a philosopher and scholar


Any sane Catholic would realise that in not taking the Eucharist for the sake of your bodily health (if this is the basis of your vegetarian beliefs), then you put your bodily health higher in your priorities than your spiritual health.
I don’t know of any of my vegan friends for which this is an issue.

Correct. Christ’s Body and Blood are Glorified flesh and blood, not earthly. Only earthly food would break a fast, only earthly meat would be of concern to a vegaterian.


From Aquinas’s famous “Pange Lingua”:

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;-
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

[Tr. Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878)]

I was a vegetarian for many years. I never had a problem with this issue, received communion. I’ve known other vegetarians who have also received communion.

We could do a survey with our CAF vegetarian Catholics, but I don’t think many vegetarians have a problem receiving communion.

Hi SpeakKindly,

I think one important consideration is that Christ isn’t just looking differently than what He is, but is actually present in an entirely different mode in the Eucharist than normal, i.e. He is present “substantially” and in a sacramental mode.

This means that His entire being is made present as a substance, not just His substance, but his whole being, i.e. His entirety, His bones, His hair (and His hair has a color! and length!) is made present in the manner of a substance and substances are something we do not sense or interact with directly through the senses. Substances, likewise, can’t be harmed or cut or broken etc. So, receiving Holy Communion is receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in a completely unique way and in a unique mode of being.

This unique way of eating is so completely different than any other kind of eating that it is its own kind of thing – Communion – and not just the eating of a different thing. For instance, when you consume the Eucharist you don’t diminish Christ in anyway. When you consume anything else you diminish it (i.e you have less cheerios in your bowl, or less of burger). When you consume the Eucharist you are united to Christ’s Mystical Body, unlike when you consume other food whereby you change the food into your body. When you consume a living creature it is either dead or will become dead. When you consume Christ He remains alive.

You can see that what is going on here is so far removed from eating animal flesh that it is a whole different category of eating. A vegetarian who objects to having any flesh in their stomach, and who thereby would object to Holy Communion, might as well object to having the flesh of their own stomach in their stomach! That is a silly example, but it illustrates the uniqueness of Holy Communion. Obviously the fleshy inner lining of your stomach being in your stomach wouldn’t violate any principle of vegetarianism, because it is a whole different kind of “flesh in your stomach” than what vegetarian principles contemplate.

Likewise, vegetarianism doesn’t contemplate or engage Holy Communion because it is so unique an eating that it is the only instance of its kind.

[quote=SpeakKindly]They’re probably more concerned about what they’re REALLY eating in substance.

I think they might be actually more concerned with the mode of eating! Look at it this way: would a vegetarian object to being nourished by a creature if he could be nourished by it by 1)just looking at it, 2)and the creature isn’t harmed or diminished, and 3)this can be done over and over to the same living creature, and 4)in fact the living creature want this done and gives itself to the vegetarian as nourishment? When you look at it this way, a vegetarian might have more reason to object to eating plants which are rent and torn and diminished and harmed by a unilateral decision made by the vegetarian than they have reason to object to Holy Communion!

Is this any help?

If this is a real issue, then we are all guilty of cannibalism.

Monastics such as the Cistercians, Carthusians and Carmelites are all vegetarians. These have no problem with the Eucharist.


This. I was just going to comment on the fact that it is strange to single out vegetarians/vegans with our acceptance of the Eucharist and relate it to consumption of non-human meat, whereas, as triumphguy points out, this is more of a cannibalism issue.

If It doesn’t make us cannibals, It oughtn’t to be of concern to vegetarians. Or vegans.


I was thinking. At the passover if a vegan turned his nose up at the sacrifice would they get a visit from the Angel of Death?

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