A Closer Look: Vegetarianism from A Microscopic and Macroscopic Lens
On The Eating of Flesh II
This excerpt from Plutarch's Moralia amends many of the assertions Pythagoras and his pupil Empedocles made about vegetarianism. Plutarch agrees that animals should not be eating for moral reasons, as they are living beings, however, he rejects the notion that animals, and even plants, are on equal planes to humans. He ascertains that eating "mutton" is not equivalent to eating one's mother and father. Additionally, Plutarch wanted to dismantle arguments against eating beans. Because human life, he believed, was vastly different from animal and plant life, comparing them to each other in the context of diet weakened the arguments for vegetarianism.
This excerpt is particularly revolutionary in the lens of vegetarianism, as it marks a change in moral thinking about animals. Instead of not eating meat because of its similarities to humans, Plutarch argued that humans should not eat meat because animals are sentient beings too. This is similar to the contemporary moral contentions for vegetarianism that argue for animal rights.