What does Pythagoras have to say to new generations?
The great Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras recently found himself in a children’s picture book, not to teach his mathematical theorem in a popular way, but to repeat to new generations what he said long ago, in the 6th century BC: that it is not okay to kill and eat animals. In the vegan picture book “The Turtle Who Fights For Animal Rights”, Pythagoras appears at the trial of the animals defending them, as he always did. His words in the book are: “He who sows the seed of death and pain cannot reap love and happiness”, which is one of his most famous sayings when it comes to killing animals.
Nutrition based on ethics and beliefs
Although vegetarianism and veganism are very modern social and ethical topics, these ways of living and thinking preoccupied the greatest ancient thinkers. The most famous ancient advocate of animal rights was Pythagoras. Pythagoras is perhaps best known in the world for his mathematical theorem, but he is also considered the father of vegetarianism. The meatless diet, the “Pythagorean Diet”, was named after him. In the 6th century BC, Pythagoras believed that animals should be treated like people and that people should abstain from consuming them.
Pythagoras and like-minded people around him followed a meatless diet for various reasons, but mainly because of religious and moral beliefs. The great philosopher and mathematician believed that all living things have a soul, so animals cannot be an exception. Because of this, he removed meat and fish from his table. Pythagoras’ abstinence from meat was based on the idea of the transmigration of souls. Pythagoras believed that everything changes, but nothing dies. Spirits come and go, stay where they want, in man and animals, but always continue to live. For this reason, he condemned carnivores. Surprisingly, he also excluded a vegetable that today has one of the most honorable places on most vegetarian menus – beans – which was forbidden to his followers due to unusual beliefs.
Meat eating and aggression
Pythagoras believed that everything that people do to animals comes back to them. He and his followers not only hated the religious sacrifice of animals but believed that man should not eat animals because eating meat makes him a war machine, aggressive, and murderous. He believed that as long as people kill animals, they will also kill each other. The Pythagoreans were of the opinion that man could live without inflicting pain or taking life. Pythagoras also saw the health benefits of a meat-free diet. Pythagoras believed that vegetarianism has an important role in creating a peaceful life on earth, expressing the view that slaughtering animals corrupts the human soul.
Pythagoreans avoided wool and leather
Pythagoras’ gentleness towards animals is very often mentioned, either by Plato, Ovid, or Seneca. It is said that the philosopher avoided hurting animals and that he condemned violence toward them. This concern for animals would have an impact not only on his food choices but also on other aspects of his lifestyle. Pythagoras stood up against hunting, blood sacrifices, and wearing leather and wool. The Neoplatonic philosopher Iamblichus reports that the Pythagoreans had clothes and blankets made of linen because they did not use wool and that their shoes were made of tree bark. Judging by this, Pythagoras had all the attitudes and habits of modern vegans.
Temperance, abstinence, and self-control
After Pythagoras’s death, his followers continued to follow a meatless diet. Pythagorean principles influenced many academic and religious thinkers, so a group of like-minded people founded the Vegetarian Society in England in the mid-1800s. As a result, the term “vegetarian” became established in England to signify a meatless diet. The virtues of temperance, abstinence, and self-control were associated with vegetarian ideals, while lust, drunkenness, and vandalism were thought to arise from a diet rich in meat-based products. Notable figures known to have followed a vegetarian diet included Leo Tolstoy, Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others.
Pythagoras’ teachings include strictness, essentiality, frugality, composure, consistency, health, love, and ethical nutrition. He founded an authentic religion based on vegetarianism and pacifism, recommending a non-carnivorous diet not only for good physical, mental and spiritual health, and benevolence towards animals but also because he believed that violence toward the weakest inevitably leads to conflicts between human beings. He called on politicians and heads of state to refrain from eating meat and to set a good example for citizens.
Statements about eating animals attributed to Pythagoras:
As long as people kill animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of death and pain cannot reap happiness and love.
If you claim that you are naturally destined for a meat-based diet, then first personally kill what you want to eat. However, do it with your own hands, without the help of a butcher’s axe, knife or any weapon.
Does a man of my mind eat corpses?