Vegetarianism: Roots In Europe?

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Anonymous

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I was listening to a programme on radio 4 on Friday which mentioned that The Cathars did not eat meat as they saw it as tainted with sin, having been created by an act of copulation. This set me thinking, where do the roots of vegetarianism in Europe lie?

I myself am vegetarian and made my decision based on concerns about farming methods and being uncomfortable with the notion of a life being taken to feed me.

I know the vegetarian society in the UK has existed for around a century but I'm sure that the origins of this dietary choice go back much further, and possibly lie in mystical/religious ideas.

Does anyone know to what extent Vegetarianism was influenced by the 'New Age' thinking in Germany and Austria in the last quarter of the ninetenth century? Many 'alternative' life style choices were thrashed out there.

Or maybe it goes back further to antiquarian Greece and Rome. I remember something to do with the transmigration of souls and the risk of eating the soul of a person if you ate an animal, but I could have dreamed this up.

I assume that atitudes to vegetarianism vary greatly through time and place in Europe. Is it always link to a kind of purity? Has it always been seen as a self- inforced deprivation?

Any ideas anyone?
 

intaglio

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I know Pythagoras and his followers were vegetarians and I suspect this may have influenced certain wealthy followers during the Enlightenment of the 18th C. I think a bigger influence was the British experience of India where the practise was common.
 
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Anonymous

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There were some vegetarians in old Greece yes. One of the famous philosophers was veggie. Can't remember which one though.


*salad is murder*
 

dandare29

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this isn't an answer to the question, but just a bit of info:

Gerald Brenan, who knew Spanish culture intimately, wrote an excellent book on the origins of the Spanish Civil War (THE SPANISH LABYRINTH, available from Cambridge Univ Press). in the book he reports on a conversation with a peasant anarchist in Valencia or Catalonia during the war. now, the man was not educated, and Brenan suggests that his views of the future life under anarchism were more a product of quasi-religious millenialism than political theory. certainly, he would not have been directly affected by late 19th century "new age" thought.

the man reported that in the future, when the new anarchist society were created, people would no longer eat meat, and the fruits and vegetables they ate would not be cooked. i guess he considered that to be just, pure, and good.
 

hunck

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According to The Unbelievable Truth yesterday, vegetarianism was considered unrevolutionary & banned in Russia post the revolution & the word was excluded from the dictionary. Dunno when it reappeared.
 

GNC

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According to The Unbelievable Truth yesterday, vegetarianism was considered unrevolutionary & banned in Russia post the revolution & the word was excluded from the dictionary. Dunno when it reappeared.

The land of the borscht? I know the Tsar had to go, but that's a bit much.
 

JamesWhitehead

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I don't think Russian peasants had a lot of choice in the matter, when the revolution failed to improve their lot. There was a doomed project which encouraged collectives to establish breeding-colonies of rabbits but there was not enough fresh greenstuff to keep the little breeders going. This may have influenced Steinbeck, when he made rabbits the dream of self-sufficiency of two hapless blokes in the depression. :fbunny:
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Whilst not particularly religious myself, it is interesting that the Bible states explicitly that God's original plan was for humankind to be strictly vegetarian:

Genesis 1:29, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food".

It is therefore perhaps somewhat surprising that there aren't more vegetarians or vegans amongst Christian purists.

Just for the record, I went vegetarian around 30 years ago for purely ethical reasons and I believe that, eventually, we will regard the eating of our fellow creatures with the same disgust as we regard cannibalism today.
 

maximus otter

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Whilst not particularly religious myself, it is interesting that the Bible states explicitly that God's original plan was for humankind to be strictly vegetarian:

Genesis 1:29, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food".

Saying that vegetables were available to Man for food is not the same as saying that they were to be Man's only food.

See also Genesis 1:26:

"Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." "

New International Version

Just for the record I'm an atheist and enjoy a normal balanced diet.

maximus otter
 

blessmycottonsocks

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Saying that vegetables were available to Man for food is not the same as saying that they were to be Man's only food.

See also Genesis 1:26:

"Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." "

New International Version

Just for the record I'm an atheist and enjoy a normal balanced diet.

maximus otter

But "rule over" doesn't have to mean eat. It is a description of humankind's greater intellect and also infers controlling, managing, overseeing etc.

"and enjoy a normal balanced diet."

So do I. I just don't eat animals.
 

Dr_Baltar

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Why else would we keep "livestock"?

maximus otter

That's an English translation (probably after many other translations). That may or may not be the meaning of the original Hebrew transcript.
 

AlchoPwn

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Genesis 1:29, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food".
It is therefore perhaps somewhat surprising that there aren't more vegetarians or vegans amongst Christian purists.

On the contrary, the Bible wants you to eat meat. Kosher meat if you are Jewish. Christians? Not so much, despite what Jesus taught.

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Romans 14:1-23 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

1 Corinthians 10:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.

:fire::mcow::mcow::mcow:
 

blessmycottonsocks

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On the contrary, the Bible wants you to eat meat. Kosher meat if you are Jewish. Christians? Not so much, despite what Jesus taught.

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

Romans 14:1-23 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

1 Corinthians 10:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.

:fire::mcow::mcow::mcow:

But all that came after the flood. My point was that, if you follow the Bible, it is explicitly stated that God's original plan was for humankind to be vegetarian.
As it is impossible to remove all blood from a slaughtered animal, the kosher/halal rules are, strictly speaking, impossible to follow.

As for Maximus' query about keeping livestock without killing it, then wool, grazing/ land husbandry, eggs, milk, honey, draught animals, riding animals, security (guard geese are as good as guard dogs apparently), companionship, vermin control etc. all spring to mind.
 

Dr_Baltar

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But all that came after the flood. My point was that, if you follow the Bible, it is explicitly stated that God's original plan was for humankind to be vegetarian.
As it is impossible to remove all blood from a slaughtered animal, the kosher/halal rules are, strictly speaking, impossible to follow.

I believe biblical scholars theorise that ante-diluvian fruit and vegetables were more nutritious and thus able to sustain the human body, whereas this was not the case after the flood and thus God allowed the eating of meat.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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I believe biblical scholars theorise that ante-diluvian fruit and vegetables were more nutritious and thus able to sustain the human body, whereas this was not the case after the flood and thus God allowed the eating of meat.

And I suppose the Black Sea/Bosphorus/Mediterranean flood in around 5,600 BC would have made a bit of a mess of any crops in the region.
 

AlchoPwn

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But all that came after the flood. My point was that, if you follow the Bible, it is explicitly stated that God's original plan was for humankind to be vegetarian.

Firstly, you would need to provide a quote that explicitly says that God's original plan was for humans to be vegetarian, otherwise you are probably superimposing your own reading onto the facts.

Secondly, you just performed heresy. You have just suggested that God's current plan is not God's original plan, whereas the Bible says that God is all-knowing, and is able to see the future and even gift his prophets with that insight. Ergo, it must be that God always intended for human beings to eat meat as his original plan. An all-knowing, all-powerful, totally-benevolent and perfect being does not retcon their plans post facto and pretend like it never happened. That is something human malefactors misreading the perfect text do to discredit God and make baby Jesus cry.
:angel::angel::omr::angel::fnord:

:bdown::bish::yeahthat::nun::cshock::exor:
 

Fluttermoth

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I'm sure the Catholic Church could excommunicate vegetarians, at least during the Middle Ages; perhaps they still could? but I can't find anything about it online :/

I was told by a Christian girl I went to school with that being a vegetarian was against God.
 

ramonmercado

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I'm sure the Catholic Church could excommunicate vegetarians, at least during the Middle Ages; perhaps they still could? but I can't find anything about it online :/

I was told by a Christian girl I went to school with that being a vegetarian was against God.

Some contemplative monks are vegetarians.
 

AlchoPwn

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I'm sure the Catholic Church could excommunicate vegetarians, at least during the Middle Ages; perhaps they still could? but I can't find anything about it online :/
I was told by a Christian girl I went to school with that being a vegetarian was against God.

Indeed it is sin. For every vegetarian has committed the sin of pride in their heart, as well as judging others. Calvin tells us that all human beings are utterly depraved without God's grace, so it doesn't pay to try to second guess the Creator of Everything by putting on airs and not eating stuff He said you have to eat for some sort of spurious moral reason that has its origins in Jainism, or some other form of diabolic worship. If you think Jainism isn't infernal, then consider that its central aim is for the Jain worshiper to die at the moment they lose all desire to live (which is basically whenever the neighbors have a delicious BBQ and the scent drifts over the fence, then they remember they are a Jain).

God created animals specifically so we could eat them, and if you have any moral qualms about that, remember that animals are eager to kill us given half a chance. Even beloved pets feel no qualms about eating the bodies of their owners when their owners die. That is very distressing at an open casket funeral, let me tell you...
:gobs::doggy::Givingup:
 
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