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“But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”—Acts 28:22


How should a Christian view using blood as fertilizer, as animal food or in some other way that does not involve his eating it?

"Questions From Readers," The Watchtower, October 15, 1981, pp. 30-1.
Copyright © 1981
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

In matters of this sort a Christian’s thinking and actions should reflect his Bible-based regard for the sacredness of blood.

Many persons who do not know of or care about God’s thinking condone the use of human blood for blood transfusions. Also, in some places, persons eat animal blood in food, such as in blood sausage. Nor does misuse of blood stop there. Some businessmen try to profit from the blood of slaughtered animals by preparing plant fertilizers from it, adding it to dog or cat food or employing it in other commercial products.

Yet Christians know from the Bible that blood is not simply another biological product to be used in any way possible or profitable. The Bible shows that blood represents life. So God told mankind through Noah that humans should not eat blood. (Gen. 9:3, 4) Later, Jehovah God made this prohibition part of the Mosaic law. (Lev. 17:12; Deut. 12:23) After the Law was set aside, He instructed Christians that they must “abstain . . . from blood.” Accordingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not eat blood or accept blood transfusions. Nor do they endorse various commercial uses of blood.—Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29.

We can better appreciate why this is the proper view if we consider this question: In ancient Israel, what was done with the blood of a slain animal?

God told the Israelites that blood could be used sacrificially on the altar. (Lev. 17:11) If it was not used in that way, an animal’s blood was to be poured out on the ground. This, in a sense, returned the blood to God for the earth is his footstool.—Lev. 17:13, 14; Isa. 66:1.

God’s limitation on the use of blood was further impressed on the Israelites by what he told them about fat. Contrary to what was required of true worshipers before and after the Mosaic law, Israelites during the time the Mosaic law was in force were not to eat fat. The fat of a sacrificial animal was viewed as its richest or best part, and so it could be burned on the altar as a sacrifice to God. (Lev. 3:3-5, 16) In this respect there was a similarity in how those under the Law viewed and used blood and fat. But there was also a difference. At least regarding an animal that died of itself or was killed by another beast, God’s law said that the fat could “be used for anything else conceivable, but you must not eat it at all.” Do you see the point? Though they could eat neither blood nor fat, Jehovah said that they could put fat to uses other than in sacrifice. But God did not say that about blood. If blood was not put on the altar, it was to be poured out on the ground, thus returning the animal’s life to the Life-Giver.—Lev. 7:22-27.

Christians are not under the Mosaic law. (Rom. 7:6; Col. 2:13-16) We are, though, specifically commanded to “abstain . . . from blood.” And we surely ought to respect the sacredness of blood, realizing that our salvation has been made possible through the blood of Christ. (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13, 14, 20) A Christian who deeply appreciates this does not need endless rules about what he should do with regard to commercial uses of blood.

Consider, for instance, the use of blood as fertilizer. When an Israelite hunter poured an animal’s blood out on the ground it was not in order to fertilize the soil. He was pouring it on the earth out of respect for blood’s sacredness. So, would a Christian with a similar appreciation of the significance of blood deliberately collect it from slaughtered animals so that he could use it as fertilizer? Hardly, for such commercialization of blood would not be in accord with deep respect for the life-representing value of blood.

Of course, Christians cannot tell non-Christians that they must not use blood in making fertilizers or other commercial products. Hence, if most fertilizers on the market contained some blood, the Christian would have to decide for himself what to do. He could consider factors such as the Bible’s counsel to “abstain . . . from blood,” the availability of alternative products, the proddings of his Bible-trained conscience and the feelings of others.—Compare 1 Corinthians 8:10-13.

Another situation that sometimes arises involves feeding blood to animals. It is true that at present many animals in the wild do not live on vegetation as the Bible says they did originally. (Gen. 1:30) Rather, they eat other creatures, blood and all. Nonetheless, would a Christian who knows God’s law on blood intentionally feed blood to animals under his care? Would that harmonize with what he knows about how blood was handled under the Law?

Finally, questions have arisen about disposing of animal carcasses that have blood in them. In Israel a person who found a carcass of an animal that died of itself could sell it to a foreigner who was not interested in keeping God’s law. (Deut. 14:21) It is noteworthy, however, that this provision was not made so that an Israelite might make a regular business of trafficking in blood or unbled meat. Nor was the Israelite deliberately killing an animal and leaving the blood in it because some persons liked the taste of unbled meat or so that the carcass would weigh more. Rather, he was simply disposing of a carcass that he could not use for food and that had to be removed.

Accordingly, a farmer today might have to get rid of an unbled carcass, such as a cow that he found dead so that it was no longer possible to drain the blood. Or a hunter might find a dead animal in a trap. What could he do with such an unbled animal? Sell the carcass to a rendering plant? Sell the dead animal to a non-Christian who had some personal or commercial use for the flesh? The individual Christian would have to decide for himself after considering what the law of the land requires and factors such as those discussed above, including the value of having a good conscience before God and men.—Acts 24:16.

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