“Moralia: IV. The Nature of Food” by Plutarch

For no living man feeds upon another living creature ; nay, we put to death the animate creatures and destroy these things that grow in the ground, which also are partakers in life, in that they absorb food, and increase in size ; and herein we do wrong. For anything that is changed from what it was by nature into something else is destroyed, and it undergoes utter corruption that it may become the food of another. But to refrain entirely from eating meat is rather a quibble than a way of avoiding wrong in regard to food. The one way of avoidance and of keeping oneself pure, from the point of view of righteousness, is to become sufficient unto oneself and to need nothing from any other source. But in the case of man or beast for whom God has made his own secure existence impossible without his doing injury to another, it may be said that in the nature which God has inflicted upon him lies the source of wrong.

In the case of most people, their soul is absolutely confined in the darkness of the body as in a mill, making its endless rounds in its concern over its need of food. Craving for the superfluous follows close upon the use of necessities, and soon becomes a settled habit. Indeed, it is possible to enumerate more pains than pleasures derived from food and digestion.

Homer argues that gods do not die in the fact that they do not live by food. “Since they eat no bread and drink no wine brightly sparkling, Therefore their bodies are bloodless, and they are called the Immortals.” He intimates by this that food is not only an element conducive to life, but that it is also conducive to death. For it is from this source that diseases come, thriving on the very same food as men’s bodies, which find no less ill in fulness than in fasting.


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