In a world full of death and suffering, some creatures are known to be fierce carnivores (meat eaters). But was it always like that?
“Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.” Genesis 1:30
It wasn't always like this. At the beginning of creation, there was no death and animals were created to be vegetarians. But people often claim that animals such as spiders, birds of prey, and cats could not possibly have survived as vegetarians. They suggest this because today the diets of these animals are almost totally meat (or insects). Could today's animals survive on just vegetables and grain?
In a recent ScienceNews article, a spider—yes, a spider—is reportedly a vegetarian! To many, this seems like an outrageous claim, but it is true. The small jumping spider, Bagheera kiplingi, is the first known species of spider that is primarily a vegetarian.1
Researchers were aware that some spiders gain extra nutrition by eating pollen and spores along with the insects that are caught in their webs. Certain spiders even sip nectar here and there. But Bagheera kiplingi doesn't seem to have much of a taste for other animals at all. It lives around acacia trees in Central America and feeds on the trees, preferring trees even to the ants that live in the trees.
Such a spider is a reminder that God's original creation was indeed very good (Genesis 1:31). Animals were not eating other animals, as death was not part of the original creation. That is the type of creation one would expect from a perfect God of Life.
However, when sin entered into the world, so did death. Things were no longer in a perfect state. People got a taste of what life is like without God. The entire creation is now sin-cursed and broken, which is why we need a Savior.
At some point after sin entered God's perfect creation and before the Flood, animals began eating other animals. Preserved stomach contents of many fossilized animals in the rock layers deposited by the Flood verify this fact. However, animals like Bagheera kiplingi show that even though spiders are generally carnivorous, they can easily survive on vegetarian diets. There are even lions who were known vegetarians. The most famous one was named “Little Tyke.” Although he is now dead, he refused to eat meat during his entire life.