Ethical Vegetarianism

From Pythagoras to Peter Singer

Edited by Kerry S. Walters & Lisa Portmess

Subjects: History Of Philosophy, General Interest, Food, Ethics, Environmental Studies, Animal Rights
Paperback : 9780791440445, 304 pages, January 1999
Hardcover : 9780791440438, 304 pages, January 1999

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Table of contents

Introduction: Cruel Fatalities

Part I. Antiquity: The Kinship of Humans and Animals

Pythagoras (c. 570-490): The Kinship of All Life
Seneca (c. 4 BCE-65 CE): Abstinence and the Philosophical Life
Plutarch (c. 56-120): On the Eating of Flesh
Porphyry (c. 233-306): On Abstinence from Animal Food

Part II. The Eighteenth Century: Diet and Human Character

Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733): The Carnivorous Custom and Human Vanity
David Hartley ( 1705-1757): Carnivorous Callousness
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774): They Pity, and Eat the Objects of Their Compassion
William Paley (1743-1805): The Dubious Right to Eat Flesh
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822): A Vindication of Natural Diet

Part III. The Nineteenth Century: Diet and Compassion

Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869): A Shameful Human Infirmity
William A. Alcott (1798-1859): The World is a Mighty Slaughterhouse and Flesh-Eating and Human Decimation
Richard Wagner (1813-1883): Human Beasts of Prey and Fellow-Suffering
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910): The Immorality of Carnivorism
Anna Kingsford (1846-1888): The Essence of True Justice

Part IV. The Twentieth Century: Diet, Rights, and the Global Perspective

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939): The Humanities of Diet|
J. Howard Moore (1862-1916): Universal Kinship
Romain Rolland (1866-1944): The Unpardonable Crime
Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948): Diet and Morality
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965): The Ethic of Reverence for Life
Tom Regan (1938- ): The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism
Peter Singer (1946- ): All Animals Are Equal
Thomas Auxter (1945- ): The Right Not to Be Eaten
Peter S. Wentz (1942- ): An Ecological Argument for Vegetarianism
Stephen R. L. Clark (1945- ): The Pretext of "Necessary Suffering"
Frances Moore Lappé (1944- ): Like Driving a Cadillac
Harriet Schleifer (1952- ): Images of Death and Life: Food Animal Production and the Vegetarian Option
Jon Wynne-Tyson (1924- ): Dietethics: Its Influence on Future Farming Patterns
Deane Curtin (1951- ): Contextual Moral Vegetarianism
Carol J. Adams (1951- ): The Social Construction of Edible Bodies and Humans as Predators

Appendix I: Arguments against Ethical Vegetarianism
Appendix II: Animals and Slavery
Appendix III: Automatism of Brutes
Appendix IV: We Have Only Indirect Duties to Animals
Appendix V: Bibliography of Antivegetarian Sources
For Further Reading
Sources and Acknowledgments


For vegetarians seeking the historical roots of vegetarianism, for animal rights activists and the environmentally concerned, and for those questioning their consumption of meat, here's a book that provides a deep understanding of vegetarianism as more than just a dietary decision.

This is the first comprehensive collection of primary source material on vegetarianism as a moral choice and includes the writings of Carol Adams, Bernard de Mandeville, Mohandas Gandhi, Oliver Goldsmith, Anna Kingsford, Frances Moore Lappé, Porphyry, Pythagoras, Tom Regan, Albert Schweitzer, Seneca, Peter Singer, Leo Tolstoy, and Richard Wagner, among others.

Kerry S. Walters is Professor of Philosophy and Lisa Portmess is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Gettysburg College. Professor Walters is the editor of Re-thinking Reason: New Perspectives in Critical Thinking, also published by SUNY Press.


"Ethical Vegetarianism offers just the right mix of 'food for thought. ' The movement for a more peaceful world has for too long hungered for a book like this. Here, truly, is a volume devoted to what we eat that belongs alongside those more numerous books describing how to cook it. " — Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights

"The writings of history's most important proponents of ethical vegetarianism are gathered here in one volume. This book is a wealth of information for all those concerned with ending the sufferings of animals. " — Ingrid E. Newkirk, President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

"This book is noteworthy for three reasons. First, it gathers together several interesting selections from the ancient world and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—not available elsewhere—so that the reader can see some of the historical background to current debates on animal rights. Second, the book contains several well-known authors whose thoughts on the moral status of animals have been largely, and unfairly, neglected. And thirdly, this book brings together several contemporary approaches to animal rights so that the reader can see the different ways in which this stance can be intellectually supported. " — Daniel Dombrowski, author of Hartshorne and the Metaphysics of Animal Rights