History of Vegetarianism-Vegetarian Diet
Pleas from vegetarians, remarks of individuals whose sentiments suggest they might be vegetarians—although history offers no proof—as well as remarks against cruelty of slaughter and eating of flesh document the history of vegetarianism.
Mythical-Divine; Remote-Classical Antiquity
Quotes Against Cruelty of Slaughter
[c28,000 - 11,000 BCE] Animals in cave paintings are rarely portrayed as being hunted or eaten. (Richard Ryder, Animal Revolution,"The Ancient World").
[Ancient Greek Religion and Myth] Abstinence from animal food was one of the legal institutes of Triptolemus, the most ancient of the Athenian legislators.—Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food
[Ancient Greek Religion and Myth] Orpheus abstained from "flesh and animals…under the idea that they ought not to eat them, and may not stain the altars of the gods with blood. [His followers] are said to have lived a sort of Orphic life, having the use of all lifeless things, but abstaining from all living things.—Plato's Laws
[Ancient Greek Religion and Myth] The ancient priests of Egypt always abstained from flesh and wine [and] avoided even eggs and milk as flesh. The one, they said, was liquid flesh, the other was blood with the colour changed?—Chaermon the Stoic
[c8th C BCE / Ancient Greek Religon and Myth / Golden Age ] Hesoid speaks of the Golden Age where "How great the Pleasure wholesome Herbs afford, / How bless'd the frugal" continuing he states "The Golden Age's Virtues are no more;" refering to the Age of Brass when men began eating animals: "On the crude Flesh of Beasts, they feed, alone, "Savage their Nature, and their Hearts of Stone "Their Houses of Brass, of Brass of warlike Blade".
All breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures
should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused,
nor tormented, nor driven away.—First Vow of a Jain
[599-527 BCE / 2000 BCE / Ancient India] The Arhats and Bhagavats of the past, present, and future, all say thus, speak thus, declare thus, explain thus: All breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away.—First Vow of a Jain. As the last of the twenty-four Tirthakaras (perfectly enlightened ones), Mahâvîra's [599-527 BCE] teachings evolved into the Sacred Jain Texts dating Jainism and the concept of Ahimsa 1500 years prior, to about 2000 BCE. Although sometimes thought to have arisen in Hinduism, "the double doctrine of ahimsa and vegetarianism has never had full and unchallenged acceptance and practice among Hindus, and should not be considered to have arisen in Brahminical circles. It seems more probable that it originated in non-Brahminical environment, and was promoted in historic India by the Jains and adopted by Brahmanism Hinduism.
The only way to obtain freedom from disease is by
abstaining entirely from the use of meat.—Laws of Manu
[6th C. BCE / Ancient Relgion in India / Divine Origin] Although the Laws of Manu, credited with "divine origin and a remote antiquity" by the Brahims themselves did not denounce meat eating or sacrifice as sinful, does conclude that the only way to obtain "great rewards" including "endless," "heavenly bliss" and "freedom from disease" is by "abstaining entirely from the use of meat" which is both "cruel" and "disgusting". Manu's laws also condemn those who permit slaughter, as well as those who buy, sell, cook, serve or eat meat, acknowledging them as responsible for the slaughter as the one who actually killed the animal.
Those who buy, sell, cook, serve or eat meat,
or permit slaughter are as responsible for the slaughter
as the one who actually killed the animal.—Laws of Manu
Meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone,
I do not permit, I will not permit. Buddha
[6th c. BCE / Ancient Religon in India] In the Lankavatara Sutra, Sakya-Muni Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama preaches to "cherish the thought of kinship with [living beings] and refrain from meat-eating:…for the sake of love and purity…and for the fear of causing terror to living beings." He denounces not those who eat flesh, but those who pay for or profit from the destruction of "sentient beings" as "evil minded, evil-doers…[condemned] to the most horrifying hell." "Thus," he concludes, "meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit".
[6th c. BCE ] Pythagoras on Abstinence from Animal Food
[480-406 BCE] Euripidies: Now glory in thy vegetable food, /
Disciple of the tuneful Orpheus, rave.
[5th c. BCE] It was the greatest defilement among men, to deprive animals of life and to eat their goodly bodies.—Empedocles
Will ye not cease from evil slaughter?—Empedocles
[342-370 BCE] Epicurus: And simple flavours give as much pleasure as costly fare, when everything that can give pain, and every feeling of want, is removed; and bread and water give the most extreme pleasure when any one in need eats them. To accustom one's self, therefore, to simple and inexpensive habits is a great ingredient in the perfecting of health, and makes a man free from hesitation with respect to the necessary uses of life. (Principle Doctrines)
And Diocles, in the third book of his Excursion, says that [the Epicurians] all lived in the most simple and economical manner; "They were content," says he, "with a small cup of light wine, and all the rest of their drink was water." ... But [Epicurus] in his letters, says that he is content with water and plain bread, and adds, "Send me some Cytherean cheese, that if I wish to have a feast, I may have the means." This was the real character of the man who laid down the doctrine that pleasure was the chief good.
[4th c. BCE] For as Diogenes [of Sinope, ca 404-324 BCE] says, Thieves and enemies are not found among those that feed on maize, but sycophants and tyrants are produced from those who feed on flesh.—Porphyry, On Abstinence From Animal Food)
[4th-3rd c. BCE / Ancient Greek Religon and Myth / Golden Age ] Diaeacarchus [ca 350-285 BCE], who in narrating the pristine life of the Greeks, says, the ancients…were a golden race…who slew no animal whatsoever…which was the cause of their being liberated from disease. The ancient Greeks, and the blessed life which they led, to which abstinence from animal food contributed, no less than other things, hence at that period there was no war …since both history and experience testify, that togehter with the slaughter of aniamals, war and injustice were introduced.—Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food
[4th-3rd c. BCE] Now Xenocrates [c396-314 BCE], treating by himself of
"the food derived from animals," and Polemon [d. 276 BCE] in his work On Life according to Nature, seem clearly to say that animal food is unwholesome, inasmuch as it has already been elaborated and assimilated to the souls of the irrational creatures.—Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, On Eating
[4th-3rd c. BCE] Theophrastus says…Some one, however, perhaps may say, that we also take away something from plants [when we eat, and sacrifice them to the Gods]. But the ablation is not similar; since we do not take this away from those who are unwilling that we should. For, if we omitted to gather them, they would spontaneously drop their fruits. The gathering of the fruits, also, is not attended with the destruction of the plants, as it is when animals lose their animating principle.—Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food
No living beings are to be slaughtered or offered
in sacrifice.—Edicts of Ashoka
[3rd c. BCE] King Asoka "No living beings are to be slaughered or offered in sacrifice," (Fourteen Rock Edicts, 1) proclaimed Asoka, as emperor of India who "became a Buddhist and a vegetarian and, in accordance with the doctrine of 'ahimsa' (nonviolence) [which] led to widespread vegetarianism in both Hindu and Buddhist societies from the third century BC onward (Richard Ryder, Animal Revolution,"The Ancient World"). His edicts engraved upon rocks and pillars, also "made provision for medical treatment…and had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals" (The Fourteen Rock Edicts, 2). In stating "animals were to be protected" (The Seven Pillar Edicts, 7) Ananda Guruge informs us in Emperor Asoka's Place in History, that Asoka provides us with perhaps "the earliest known list of protected species."