Animal Eating History. The Greek philosophers; Porphyry,(c.234 AD) along with Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) and Empedocles (c. 494 – c. 434 BC) (for a time) were most certainly the three most famous vegetarians of classical antiquity. Porphyry wrote that “ At first humans did not eat animals, for humans are not [naturally]a devourer of raw flesh. But when the use of fire was discovered fire was …employed for the cooking of flesh…”. In other words, without cooking meat: raw meat on its own is impious (in his view). This early account gave the ancients a religious context for eating meat in the beginning viz. only animals eat raw flesh rather than we superior and pious humans since WE eat meat cooked or boiled by fire which is a natural state not at all utilised by animals. The early history of meat eating and later animal sacrifice rituals (to boot) could therefore be concluded as primarily a function only popularised by the discovery of fire. It is a pity that we have no earlier records apart from Homer’s Iliad (when regular breaks were taken to satisfy the warriors’ appetites and make the odd sacrifice)to contradict this claim. Moving along from these three pioneers of early vegetarian history (not Vegan since both ate cheese but not meat), and rejecting the claims of the Epicureans, Stoics, Aristotle and the later Christian tradition that animals lack rationality I ended up in a complete cul-de-sac. The Romans as far as I have discovered had a complete obsession with superstitious big bad Wolf stories that implied an interesting reversal of roles viz. the animal this time eating humans for pleasure or hunger see Phaedrus; Fables I. I: or Aesop’s Tales for examples. Of course there might be the odd poet or two or early Christian that had views on the different matter of animal cruelty for the purpose of entertainment in The Colosseum however within my limited resources I couldn’t find any at all, not even in Tacitus or Virgil We will have to acknowledge the contribution to vegetarianism of the Hindu and Buddhist religions , the rituals of the Christian religion and the impact of the Renaissance, all of which would take too much time to relate in this blog, and therefore I have jumped to the 17th century and will then travel upwards to the 20th century. Benedict Spinoza (1632 –1677) published a book in 1677 (posthumously) entitled “Ethics” which is a very dry treatise on many moral issues and briefly mentions animal ethics in Scholium 1 viz. “humans possess a far greater right over brutes [sic] than brutes [sic] have over humans, I by know means deny that brutes [sic]feel, but I do deny that… it is unlawful for us to …use them for our own pleasure… and their affects are different to our own”. Presumably Spinoza means “use them for our own pleasure” as the pleasure of eating them, making clothes from them, creating industrial products from them, using them as our modes of transport or purely for them to provide our own entertainment. All the same it is curious to read such an antiquated view from an esteemed philosopher until we note that he was a monist that probably believed more in God than nature. Piousness does appear (once again) to influence human relationships with animals. Next stop in our short history is to skate over German idealism and British empiricism which unfortunately offer nothing of note for our investigations and dock at the more fertile time of the 20th Century. Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) in his influential book on existentialism entitled “Being and Time” talks of dogs and cats as “alive” but they do not have a life to lead and only humans can lead a life. This revolutionary view basically means that humans can decide to live or die but animals cannot; a fundamental view of animal rights is therefore now introduced. Finally my short journey leads to the wonderful Bertrand Russell (1872 –1970). In Russell’s book “History of Western Philosophy” he writes “An adherent of evolution should maintain that… the equality of all humans, but that of the rights of humans, must be condemned as unbiological, since it makes too emphatic a distinction between men and other animals”. Along with Wittgenstein, Russell is now making a case for the equality of humans and animals. It is a fitting end to our history since two of the greatest thinkers of our time are for all intents and purposes rubber stamping what all vegans instinctively know and that it is quite cannibalistic to eat our fellow animals. Here is a very good YouTube video from Kirly Sue with her take on Vegan History: Mike-Veganpicks Team.