Animal Rights: Plutarch, “But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh…

But for the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of the sun, of the light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.

Who was Plutarch?

Plutarch was a Greek historian, who later became a Roman citizen,  a biographer and essayist, he was born 46 -120 CE into a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia, a town about twenty miles east of Delphi.

Of particular note is Plutarch’s essay On the Eating of Animal Flesh, Volume 12 The Moralia, from which the quotations below were taken.

In this essay Plutarch challenges the idea that man is naturally carnivorous; an excuse so often used today to justify the eating of meat appears to have been used for its justification in ancient times. Also In his discussion against meat eating Plutarch maintains that animals deserve ethical consideration because they possess the attributes of intelligence and sentience.

Read more:

Animal Rights: A History, Plutarch

Animal Rights: Quotes From the Past

The Deeper Minds Of All Ages Have Had Pity For Animals
Friedrich Nietzsche

Below are just a few quotes from those who supported animals rights beginning with the ancient world to the present day.

“We declare, then, that it is absurd for them to say that the practise of flesh-eating is based on nature . For that man is not naturally carnivorous is, in the first place, obvious from the structure of his body.   A mans frame is in no way similar to those creatures who were made for flesh-eating; he has no hooked beak or sharp nails or jagged teeth, no strong stomach or warmth of vital fluids able to digest and assimilate a heavy diet of flesh.”

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“The greatest progress of Righteousness among men comes from the exhortation in favour of non-injury to life and abstention from killing living beings.”
King Ashoka

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The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being? The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes…”
Jeremy Bentham

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“An infallible characteristic of meanness is cruelty. Men who have practised tortures on animals without pity, relating them without shame, how can they still hold their heads among human beings?”
Samuel Johnson

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On a natural system of diet, old age would be our last and our only malady; the term of our existence would be protracted; we should enjoy life, and no longer preclude others from the enjoyment of it.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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You can read a more thorough history of animal rights: