Let’s get the whole picture of “Daniel’s fast” so we can understand why Daniel went on a certain fast. We learn in Daniel 1:1 that “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it” and in verse 2 we read, “the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand.” This resulted in many being taken captive to Babylon, Daniel being one of them. Nebuchadnezzar only took the “best of the best” captive with a desire to indoctrinate them in the ways of the Chaldeans, which would include their language, literature and diet. I will now quote verses 3-7:

“Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of the his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed for them a DAILY PROVISION OF THE KING’S DELICACIES AND OF THE WINE WHICH HE DRANK, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve the kings. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were DANIEL, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave them Daniel the name BELTESHAZZAR; to Hananiah, SHADRACH; to Mishael, MESHACH; and to Azariah, ABED-NEGO.”

I quote this at length to show us that Daniel and his fellow Jews were about to have their whole lives radically changed. In short, they were going to undergo a “brainwashing” by learning the culture of their enemies in a land was given over to idolatry. The new names given to them bear this out, for each name had to do with the “gods” that they worshiped. Daniel, which means “God is my judge,” was now called “Belteshazzar” which means “Bel’s treasurer or prince.” This name contains the name of a false god, Bel, which was related to the infamous false god “Baal.” This “education” in the ways of these heathen idol worshippers would include a special diet that was vastly different from their normal diet, and one that was forbidden by the dietary laws that were given to the nation of Israel through the Mosaic Law. To Daniel and his friends, having a daily diet of exotic foods and drinking wine would result in their being defiled and thus we read in verses 8-9, “But Daniel PURPOSED IN HIS HEART THAT HE WOULD NOT DEFILE HIMSELF with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” The chief of the eunuchs was afraid this might result in Daniel and his friends looking sick (see verses 9-10), so Daniel proposed the following: “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us VEGETABLES to eat and WATER to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you” (vs 12). We learn here exactly what foods were included in “Daniel’s fast”; he would only eat VEGETABLES. In other words, he and his friends would eat a “vegetarian diet.” I infer from this that the “meats” that were part of the king’s diet would be “unclean meats” that were prohibited under the Law (see Leviticus chapter 11).

To those who would desire to practice the “Daniel fast” I would ask, “What is your PURPOSE in doing so?” We saw that Daniel’s PURPOSE was plain and clear; he “PURPOSED in his heart that he would not defile himself” with the food and drink of the heathen king. Daniel was a godly Israelite who was “under the Law of Moses” and thus he determined to remain undefiled. Believers today are NOT under the Law of Moses, so we are not prohibited from eating certain foods. The Apostle Paul addressed this when speaking of false teachers who would try to put us under the Law, “…some will depart from the faith…commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1st Timothy 4:1, 3-5).

Perhaps you are thinking, “Oh, I know I’m not under the Law and that I’m free to eat anything, but I want to get the results from this diet that Daniel achieved.” I’m referring to what we read of in verse 15, “And at the end of the ten days THEIR FEATURES APPEARED BETTER AND FATTER IN FLESH than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.” Some believe that God is endorsing a “vegetarian diet” in these words; others believe that God, in His providential ways, gave them good health as a reward for their faithfulness to Him. I believe BOTH could be true, for surely their plain, simple diet was healthier than the rich diet of the Babylonian king, yet it must also be ascribed to God’s grace that kept them so healthy with only the most basic of foods. (336.1) (DO)