Leviticus 11:45 (HCSB)
45 For I am Yahweh, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
Leviticus 11 contains a number of passages, each concerning the unclean animals of varying types. The one exception being the portion dedicated to what action to take after coming in contact with the carcasses of differing types of animals. Overall though, the theme of the chapter is clean versus unclean.
I can only imagine that, as with other commands in the Old Testament, there is likely much practicality to many of these commands concerning unclean animals. Presumably there are health concerns, either with the meat of the animal itself, or the ability to properly prepare the meat for consumption, without risking illness. I think to leave the connection to application there though does a disservice to the overall theme of the chapter.
Although clean versus unclean is clearly the focus, I would suggest that the underlying, and true point, is holy versus unholy. In Leviticus 11:44 and 45 God clearly makes the correlation to the cleanliness of man and His holiness, commanding man to also be holy. Maybe, just maybe, we ought to view some of the health risks related to some of the unclean animals not as what influences God to make these commands, but instead as God’s commands influencing these animals causing them to be unclean! What I am saying is this: even if these animals were the healthiest, tastiest, no risk food source, if God declares them unfit then they are essentially poison for us. We don’t stand with God and obey Him because the animal is questionable for food. Instead, we don’t even bother to question if the animal is good for food when we stand with God and obey Him.
Lord, thank You for protecting us. We might not always see it that way, but we can trust that You are working everything for our good, even the rules we might see as restrictive. I pray that we will not seek anything that You tell us to refrain from, whether the world says it is good or not. Help us to seek You first, and obey always. Amen.