Vegetarianism

  • This is a placeholder for discussion of vegetarianism, which some assert was practised by Epicureans, but for which there is little if any textual support for that conclusion.


    Here is a post by Hiram on the topic. This is the only reference I've seen to vegetarianism being discussed, and it is far from clear that it supports the conclusion that most or even a significant number of Epicureans were vegetarian. I recall nothing in Diogenes Laertius, Diogenes of Oinoanda, or Lucretius which supports vegetarianism.

  • For what it's worth, the only person I've heard that categorically supported the practice was Musonius Rufus, a Stoic.


    There are some modern Stoics supporting it too.

  • I would think the decision would be based on individual assessment of net pleasure.

    I have a type of autoimmune arthritis, and before menopause, whenever I would eat meat or chicken, my feet swelled up-- so I didn't eat them. I could eat fish occasionally but not often. This was the case for about 15 years-- I used to check every so often to be sure it was still true, because I love a juicy burger, lol.

    Fortunately, that seems to be less of an issue now... but now animal protein seems to worsen insulin resistance for me, if I eat a regular serving. So I eat a little here and there, not much at one time. It doesn't bother me on a empathy basis.

    Some people may have unusual sensitivity to thinking about eating animals that causes them disproportionate mental pain, and it makes sense for them not to eat animals as long as no net pain results from that decision.

  • I'm so busy with the first Epicurean festival that will be next week that I do not read this forum ofthen

    In the festival we will organize an epicurean lunch. And presenting the epicurean lunch to people jast this morning I wote this few lines:


    Epicurus was not a vegetarian

    Often we find the name Epicurus in the list of historical vegetarian figures. Indeed there are some testimonies in this sense, which are inevitably misunderstood by those who want to read us what they want to read.

    For example San Girolamo tells us: "Epicurus, a supporter of pleasure, did nothing but fill all his books with vegetables and fruit, and said that it is necessary to live on simple foods, because the meats and the refined foods are prepared with great anxiety and effort , and there is greater punishment in proposing them than enjoying them ... "

    But we know that Epicurus had made his flag of moderation and excluding a food on principle just does not fit into his strings. Certainly he normally preferred other foods, but on occasion there is no doubt that he even ate meat.

    "Being able to live happily with simple and unrequired food is good for your health and (...) makes us appreciate more the little luxuries that sometimes fate gives us ..." (Letter to Meneceo).


    Of course afther the festival I'll post all the pictures of Epicurs' Lunch... :-)

  • I agree Michelle! Where do people get these ideas? It seems so few are rigorous about providing cites for their propositions!


    I tend to be careful about "moderation" too, because when the goal is fixed on pleasure sometimes we are immoderate, when immoderation is called for, to achieve the goal.


    The "golden mean" idea seems much more Aristotle / Plato than Epicurus, and yet people presume that he taught that since the others did. But placing any goal as a goal in itself equal to pleasure would be inconsistent.