|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
| IVU News|
[The following is an abridged account of an article submitted to IVU News in which it is suggested that Jesus and his followers were in fact vegetarians. The text was supported by extensive quotations from documents of the period far too numerous to reproduce here. For further information, contact one of the many Essene groups worldwide or the Essene Church of Christ, 45 N. 3rd Street, Creswell, Oregon 97426, USA.].
The Essenes were one of the three main religious sects in first century Palestine and Jesus is believed to have been a member of the northern group, centred around Mount Carmel. The Essenes were also known as Nazarenes, and Nazareth was one of their strongholds, although it should be noted that the term predated the place name. Members of the sect wore white and followed a vegetarian diet, as do the Carmelite order of Christian monastics, also known as White Friars due to their white overmantle, and it is interesting to note that current members of that order based at Mount Carmel openly claim that Jesus was an Essene and was raised on Mount Carmel, even though the Essene scriptures are excluded from the Bible as generally promulgated by the Church.
The main Essene scripture is the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, rediscovered in 1888 and translated from the Aramaic by Rev. Gideon Jasper Ouseley. This version of the New Testament differs markedly from those generally accepted in that it portrays Jesus as a strict vegetarian, to whom other creatures flocked: "And the birds gathered around him and welcomed him with their song and other living creatures came unto his feet and he fed them and they ate out of his hands."
The feeding of the human multitude is also reported, but the food involved is bread and grapes. Of the animals, it states:
"These are your fellow creatures of the great household of God, yea they are your brethren and sisters, having the same breath of life in the Eternal. And whosoever careth for one of the least of these, and giveth it to eat and drink in its need, the same doeth it unto me."
The Essenes believe in the sacredness and unity of all life and many passages in the Essene gospel refer to the doctrine of boundless love: for God, for humanity and for all creation: "Before all things is love, love ye one another and all the creatures of God, and by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples."