Oldest Veg and Vegan Quotes on Earth

Porphyry and Being Vegan

“If, however, someone should think it is unjust to destroy brutes, such a one should neither use milk, nor wool, nor sheep, nor honey. For as you injure a man by taking from him his garments, thus also, you injure a sheep by shearing it. . . . milk, likewise was not produced for you, but for the young of the animal that has it. The bee also collects honey as food for itself; which you, by taking away, administer to your own pleasure.” (Porphyry, a 3rd century AD Neo-Platonist philosopher, in, On Abstinence from Beings with a Soul)

Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans

“As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. for as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” (Pythagoras)

The Veg Pharaoh

In Egypt from 1351–1334 BCE Akhenaten, known as “the heretic king” was an Egyptian Pharaoh and pacifist who banned animal sacrifice and traditional Egyptian religion and instituted a religion based on compassion and monotheism. Akhenaten believed it to be sinful to take away any life given by Aten, his name for the One God or monotheistic deity. (According to Donals Mackenzie, author of Egyptian Myth and Legend)

In the Beginning…Vegetarianism is at the Beginning of the Hebrew Bible

Getting Back to Eden: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” (Hebrew Bible, Genesis 1:29, New International Version)

Jainism

The following is from the Yoga Shastra, a scripture of Jainism: “Non-injury to all living beings is the only religion…this is the quintessence of wisdom; not to kill anything. all breathing, existing, living sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. this is the pure unchangeable law. Therefore, cease to injure living things. all living things love their life, desire pleasure and do not like pain; they dislike any injury to themselves; everybody is desirous of life and to every being, his life is very dear.”

Hinduism

The Bhagavad Gita says: “One is dearest to God who has no enemies among the living beings, who is nonviolent to all creatures.”

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam we read: “To be non-violent to human beings and to be a killer or enemy of the poor animals is Satan’s philosophy.”

The Laws of Manu, a Hindu scripture which is dated anywhere between 10,000 years ago in the 7900s BCE and 200CE depending on the scholar, states: “Meat cannot be obtained without injury to animals…He who does not eat meat becomes dear to men, and will not be tormented by diseases. There is no greater sinner than that man who seeks to increase the bulk of his own flesh by the flesh of other beings. … Thus having well considered the disgusting origin of meat and the cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh.”

Buddhism

“The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.” — The Buddha, Mahaparinirvana Sutra

“One is not a great one because one defeats or harms other living beings. One is so called because one refrains from defeating or harming other living beings.” — The Buddha, Dhammapada

“If a man can control his body and mind and thereby refrains from eating animal flesh and wearing animal products, I say he will really be liberated.” — The Buddha, Surangama Sutra

Sayings of the Buddha from the Lankavatara Sutra:

“For innumerable reasons, Mahamati, the Bodhisattva, whose nature is compassion, is not to eat any meat.”

“For fear of causing terror to living beings, Mahamati, let the Bodhisattva who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh.”

“Meat is not agreeable to the wise: it has a nauseating odor, it causes a bad reputation, it is food for the carnivorous; I say this, Mahamati, it is not to be eaten.”

“From eating meat arrogance is born, from arrogance erroneous imaginations issue, and from imagination is born greed; and for this reason refrain from eating meat.”

“Meat-eating is condemned by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Sravakas; if one devours meat out of shamelessness he will always be devoid of sense.”

“Therefore, do not eat meat which will cause terror among people, because it hinders the truth of emancipation; not to eat meat? this is the mark of the wise.”

Christianity Before Paul — The Jesus Movement Was Vegetarian

“Now beware in yourselves that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh and with the intoxication of wine and with the anxiety of the world, and that day come up upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all them that dwell on the surface of the earth.” (Jesus, Luke 21:34, from a Syriac-Aramaic manuscript of the New Testament)

“James was a vegetarian….” (Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus)

“James, the brother of the Lord, lived on seeds and plants and touched neither meat nor wine.” (Epistulae ad Faustum XXII, 3)

“John never ate meat.” (Church historian Hegesipp according to Eusebius, History of the Church II 2:3)

“The Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, hard-shelled fruits, and vegetables, without flesh.” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 1)

Peter said, “I live on olives and bread, to which I rarely only add vegetables.” (Clementine Homilies 12,6; also see, Recognitions 7,6)

“There are likewise amongst the Bactrians,
in the Indian countries,
immense multitudes of Brahmans,
who also themselves,
from the tradition of their ancestors,
and peaceful customs and laws,
neither commit murder nor adultery,
nor worship idols,
nor have the practice of eating animal food,
are never drunk,
never do anything maliciously,
but always fear God.”
(Recognitions of Clement, Book 9, Chapter 22, Brahmans Volume Eight, of the, Ante-Nicene Fathers, page 187, T & T Clark Eerdmans edition.)

The Gnostics Were Vegetarians

While it’s true that the vegetarian Prayer of Thanksgiving is part of the Hermetic scriptures of Egypt, it’s also part of the Nag Hammadi Library, the Gnostic Gospels. At the end of the prayer the final verse reads:

“When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it.”*

* “Vegetarian food” — footnote from the Marvin Meyer’s translation of this in, “The Gnostic Scriptures”.

* A vegetarian meal. This passage is also found in the Epilogue of Asclepius, in “HERMETICA,” translated by Sir Walter Scott: “Having prayed thus, let us betake ourselves to a meal unpolluted by flesh [animalia] of living things.”

* The G.R.S. Mead translation of the same passage: “With this desire we now betake us to our pure and fleshless meal.”

* “With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing.” (Asclepius, translated in “Hermetica”, Brian Copenhaver, Cambridge University Press)

The Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Nag Hammadi Library or Gnostic Gospels in Full: http://gnosis.org/naghamm/prat.html