“The Daniel Plan” details a healthy lifestyle program based on five essential principles of faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The program was developed and originated at Saddleback Church in 2011 and within the first year more than 15,000 church members lost a collective of more than 250,000 pounds while experiencing decreases in health issues and stress and increases in spiritual growth and energy.
“The Daniel Plan is far more than a diet; it is about living a healthier life based on biblical principles,” said Warren. “While all five essentials are necessary, it is the components of faith and friends that I believe are the secret sauce that make the plan so effective. When you have God and a group helping you stay on track, you have far more than willpower driving you to make positive changes and you are far more likely to stay consistent.” (source)
For those who missed the 2011 Daniel Plan initiative at Saddleback Church, let us review some of the problems here. The “Daniel Plan” was a 52-week health initiative. The doctors to kick-off Saddleback’s health and wellness initiative were Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman. On the Daniel Plan website, Rick Warren says the Daniel Plan is based on the book of Daniel chapter one wherein “Daniel challenged the king of Persia to a health contest,” says Warren. Warren states that Daniel challenged the king to his “rich foods” while Daniel would eat his “healthy foods” and then they would see who was healthier at the end (source).
It seems as though Rick Warren is grasping for any biblical support for his health initiative. Though Daniel was healthy at the end of 10 days of eating only vegetables and drinking only water (Daniel 1:12-14), the prophet was not concerned about being healthy but being ceremonially defiled. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat” (Daniel 1:8). The Jews often ate meat from preparing animal sacrifices and such, but the reason Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s meat is because it was ceremonially unclean in the way it was prepared. Daniel was a righteous man who sought to keep all the laws of God, especially avoiding the eating of blood in meats or eating pork. As a captive to the Babylonians, he had no say in how the Babylonians meat was prepared and wanted to avoid to defiling himself with unkosher meat. 70 years later, Daniel did partake of the Babylonians meat because he was exalted to a position in the empire where he could choose how it was prepared according to the Jews preparations (Daniel 10:1-3). Therefore, it was Daniel’s primary intention in not eating the king’s meat to honor God and keep His commandments. Rick Warren’s “Daniel Plan” does just the opposite.