Are Catholics Permitted to Eat Blood?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I recently got into an argument with Catholic friends when I refused to eat a steak since it contained blood. As far as I know, the Bible prohibits eating blood (Acts 15:20).

My friends argued that Catholics could eat blood. Please clarify. Urgent! I understand that since the life/soul is in the blood, eating blood would constitue sharing in the life of the animal which we are prohibited from doing. I would appreciate appropriate Catholic document references. Thanks!!


Leo Rajiv

Dear Mr. Rajiv,

Peace in Christ!

Please see our FAITH FACT on the Biblical Prohibition of Eating Blood.

The prohibition against eating blood found in the Old Testament was a discipline associated with the covenant between God and Noah, and incorporated into the Mosaic Covenant. When Jesus established the New Covenant through His death and resurrection, the disciplines of the Old Covenant became unnecessary. The discipline was maintained for a brief time in the early Church to protect new converts from scandal, but was not associated with the theological understanding of grace. When taken in context, we find that the consumption of blood is not forbidden and, moreover, it is necessary in the Eucharist.

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz
Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith

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  • Guest

    It is important to remember that many of the Old Testament restrictions were intended to “build the appetite” of the People of God for the Messiah and protect them from idolatry.

    Drinking the blood of animals was part of pagan worship — “the blood is the life”. As such it was prohibited from the Isrealites much as I would prohibit my two year old from entering the kitchen because the stove is hot. It is not that blood in itself was evil, just the way it was used at the time. When Jesus declared that his followers would have to “eat my flesh and drink my blood or you will not have life within you” he was completing the implicit promise in the ancient prohibition: Don’t drink the blood of animals to get their life — there is a greater gift coming that will give the greater life you are looking for.

    The Holy Spirit shows Peter clearly that there are no unclean foods (Acts 10:9-16). Jesus said it is not what enters the mouth that defiles, but what is in the heart.

    We have been (and are being) made pure in the Blood of Christ. For those who are pure, all things are pure; for those who are unclean, all things are unclean.

  • Guest

    The apparency of the trap of literal interpretation (though the literalism tends to the individualizing) of the Bible is in these areas where ‘old law’ has been enhanced in Christian terms, testament and tenor. In such self-interpretation and so as individualize with one’s preferences, the old law’s prescription or the new testament’s illumination can be used. (Even alternated, to fit the further individualization for some immanence.)

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …