What is a “Daniel fast”? A quick Google search will unearth over 37.5 million search results, where you will find guidelines on how to do a fast, foods to eat and not eat, length of the fast, reasons for the fast, and various interpretations of Daniel 1:8-14, the scriptural basis for the fast.
A “Daniel fast” is abstaining from meat products and eating a plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts for 10 or 21 days. Many believe Daniel’s diet while in Babylonian captivity, represented a type of fast. …But, was it a fast?
In order for Daniel’s diet of pulse and water to be considered a fast, this would mean that his usual diet consisted of animal flesh and wine. Daniel 1:8 states that “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” This shows that meat and wine (the king’s diet) were not staples in Daniel’s diet. While in captivity, he was determined to eat his usual diet - a plant-based diet - hence his request for pulse and water so he would not defile (taint or pollute) himself.
Daniel 1:15-20 further states “15And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. 16Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. 17As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. 20And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
“Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.”¹
As demonstrated by Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "a strict compliance with the requirements of God is beneficial to the health of body and mind."²
¹E.G. White, "Counsels on Diet and Foods", page 310.²E.G. White, "Counsels on Diet and Foods", page 32.