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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the philosophical arguments in the ancient world both for and against the vegetarian position. It discusses how a belief about a Golden Age of vegetarianism provided the background for more philosophical and argumentative versions of vegetarianism that appeared over the centuries in ancient Greece and Rome. It analyses the relevant views and arguments of several ancient philosophers, including Pythagoras, who was considered the father of philosophical vegetarianism in the sixth century, Socrates, who inspired some fourth-century Cynics to defend vegetarianism, and Plutarch, who argued that a healthy body does not need meat. This chapter argues that the popularity of philosophical vegetarianism in the ancient world may be attributed to the common adherence to the concept of arete (virtue).

Keywords: philosophical vegetarianism, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plutarch, arete, virtue

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