The Daniel Fast is a spiritually motivated diet based on the Biblical Book of Daniel, and commonly refers to a 10- or 21-day abstinence from foods declared unclean by God in the Laws of Moses. The passage in Chapter 1 refers to a 10 day period wherein Daniel and others with him were permitted to eat pulse and water to avoid eating meat and drinking wine from the king's table. The passage in Chapter 10 refers to a classical three week fast during a period of mourning; therefore, the modern Daniel Fast is most often followed for 21 days.
According to those who encourage this form of fasting, the aim is to refrain from eating what are described in Daniel as "royal foods" including meats, leavened and sweet bread, and wine. Instead, the diet consists only of "pulses" and water. "Pulses" in this context is often taken as "food grown from seed", including fruit, vegetables or lentils. "Vegetables" is used instead of "pulses" in some translations. However, it is not explicitly stated that the refraining from these foods by Daniel was a fast.
The Biblical narrative, in Daniel 1, is set in Babylon, where Daniel, three friends, and fellow captives have been brought for education and military training. King Nebuchadnezzar II honors them by offering luxurious royal food, hoping to encourage their development. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, which used meat ritually sacrificed to Babylonian gods. Daniel refuses to eat foods forbidden by God, and instead asks for pulse and water. The guard charged with their care expresses concern for their health, so Daniel requests a short test of the diet. For 10 days, they are permitted to eat just vegetables, and at the end, the guard is surprised at their good personal appearance and physical and mental health, compared to those who had indulged in the royal foods. Therefore, Daniel and his friends are permitted to eat whole plant foods for the duration of their training.
After continuing with the diet during three years of training, they are judged by the king to be mentally superior. "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Although, the issue of fast is debatable. Daniel remained a vegetarian in Persia and Babylon as the meat were not slaughtered according to Mosaic Law and that royal officials were not familiar with Jewish dietary law.
In modern versions of the Daniel Fast, food choices may be limited to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and oil. The Daniel Fast prescribes the vegan diet in that it excludes the consumption of animal products. The diet also excludes processed foods, additives, preservatives, flavorings, sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, and products made with white flours. Ellen G. White states that the example of Daniel demonstrates that "a strict compliance with the requirements of God is beneficial to the health of body and mind."
- Bible Diet
- Christian dietary laws
- Christian vegetarianism
- Vegetarianism and religion
- Bloomer, Richard J; Mohammad M Kabir; Robert E Canale; John F Trepanowski; Kate E Marshall; Tyler M Farney; Kelley G Hammond (2010). "Effect of a 21 day Daniel Fast on metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women" (PDF). Lipids in Health and Disease. 9: 94. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-9-94. PMC 2941756. PMID 20815907.
- [unreliable source?]Hobbs, Caitlin S (Dec 12, 2012). "Three Dimensional Nutrition: Exploring nourishment of spirit, mind, and body during a 28-day Daniel Fast at Southern Adventist University". Senior Research Papers. Paper 163.
- White, Ellen G (1938). Counsels on Diet and Foods (PDF). ePub for The Ellen G. White Estate.
- Bloomer, Richard J; Mohammad M Kabir; John F Trepanowski; Robert E Canale; Tyler M Farney (2011). "A 21 day Daniel Fast improves selected biomarkers of antioxidant status and oxidative stress in men and women" (PDF). Nutrition & Metabolism. 8: 17. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-17.