What Did Greek Philosopher Plutarch Write About Eating Animals

Plutarch (46 – AD 120), seeking to describe virtue in everyday life lookes into eating meat and vegetarianism in a text known as  “Peri sarkofagias” meaning ” About Flesh Eating. Plutarch wondered how is it possible that although we have such a wonderful variety of fruits, vegetables and seeds we go to great lengths to give flavour (though cooking, spices and condiments) to the flesh of a dead animal in order to make them edible.

Below are some translated extracts from Plutarch´s work

How did we bear to eat an animal?

“I wonder what happened to the first human to make him taste the blood of a dead animal. He approached his lips to the flesh of a dead body and placing rotten body parts on a table he declared them as delicacies; body parts that moments before roared, spoke, moved and saw. How did his eyes bear to see the blood of beings that were being slaughtered, skinned and dismembered? How did he bear to smell the stench? How did the thought of the blemish did not discourage him from using his tongue to feel the foreign ulcers and to enjoy the juices from the deadly wounds?”

We are not made to eat animals

“That it is not in our nature to eat animals is apparent from our bodies. Actually, the human body does not resemble any animal that was made to eat other flesh. There are no protruding lips; sharp nails; sharp teeth; a strong stomach with a warm breath capable of converting and processing the heavy ingredients of the meat. So nature, with (by giving us) smooth teeth; small mouth; a soft tongue and the weak breath for digestion excludes eating flesh”

Are you made to kill your animals?

“If you believe you are made for this type of food, first kill what you want to eat yourself without using a knife, bat or pike. In the same way as wolves, bears and lions kill the animal they want to eat, kill by biting an ox or a pig; tear a lamb or hare apart and eat it while it is still alive, in the same way as carnivorous animals do”

We convert meat into something edible

“But they do not eat it dead and soulless, instead, they boil it; cook it;  converting and extinguishing with fire and many different spices the flavour of blood so that our taste organs are deceived to accept what is foreign”

“Although we consider ourselves delicate we refer to the meat as food and then we use various supplements to the meat itself by mixing oil, wine, honey, vinegar and spices from Syria and Arabia as if we were preparing someone for burial”


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