Daniel and his friends were teenagers. They had been forcibly removed from their homes as their country was overthrown, and had been sent to a foreign country (Babylon--modern day Iraq).
As "nobles", they were the ones who would have carried on the leadership, religion and culture of Israel...but when Israel was overthrown, Babylon did not stop with military victory, but tried to wipe out Israel's culture (as was common then). They did this by 'indoctrinating' the young leaders into the ways of their own culture.
They taught them the history, culture, and even the religion of Babylon. They dressed them in the clothing of thier culture.
They even gave them new "Babylonian" names (trying to really target their very identity as Israelites and Jews!).
Finally, they fed them 'Babylonian' food.
The plan was to do all this for a period of 3 years. In this way, Babylon would virtually wipe out the culture of Israel and Judah.
...but they didn't account for 2 things: God, and some young men who would not capitulate!
Daniel and his 3 friends, Hanaiah, Mishael, and Azariah were committed to NOT forgetting.
They were NOT foolish, and they were NOT simply 'obstinate'...if they had been, they'd probably have been killed. Rather, they were wise.
Culturally, they learned about Babylon. They learned about the history, wore the clothing, even took the names of Balteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.
...but Daniel led them and "he determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king." (Daniel 1:8)
So, why was the food a big deal?
Was it because Daniel and co. were vegetarians? No.
Was it because they couldn't eat any of the meat and other Babylonian dishes? Not necessarily.
It was because food at the King's table would have already been sacrificed to their Babylonian 'gods', and dedicated to them. Therefore, for Daniel and co., it would have been like they--themselves--were submitting to them.
This would not do.
Ultimately, it wasn't about culture or customs; it was about GOD--the True God of Israel, Yahweh!
They could not allow themselves to give up on HIM!
Therefore, they proposed that they'd be allowed to avoid the food. Normally, there would be no discussion...the answer would be "No!", but it says in Daniel 1:9, "Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel."
Daniel and co. were stepping out on faith...and God was stepping in!
Because of this attitude toward Daniel, the Chief of staff said 'yes' to a 10 day vegetarian trial period...and at the end, Daniel and co looked better than all the other guys, who'd eaten the "King's food"!
God didn't stop there...
"God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom." (Daniel 1:17-20)
So, what can we learn from this?
Is it that a vegetarian diet leads to divine enablement?
Is it that God will always move non-believers in our direction, if we step out in faith?
no, although He often will.
Is it that I will be given the ability to interpret dreams if I go on a 'Daniel Fast'?
Simply this: If you and I refuse to compromise...no matter how great the pressure around us, God will notice, and God will bless us.
He will be faithful!
There may be specific times, within His sovereign will, that He does not deliver us, but even then, He's at work (see Joseph's story in Genesis).
Bank on it: If You 'Step out' in faith, God Will 'Step In' to the situation!
He will be your "Strong Tower", in the midst of the trials!