Category Archives: Animal Rights

Difference between the Nazoreans/Nazarenes and Nazirites/Nazarites

The terms “Nazarites” and “Nazoreans” can be confusing because they sound similar but refer to different concepts and groups.

  1. Nazarites:
    • Nazarites were individuals in ancient Israel who took a vow to dedicate themselves to God for a specific period of time. This vow is described in Numbers 6:1-21 in the Hebrew Bible. Nazarites abstained from consuming alcohol and cutting their hair during the period of their vow.
    • Notable biblical figures who were Nazarites include Samson and Samuel.
    • The Nazarite vow was a personal commitment and was not associated with a specific religious sect or community.
  2. Nazoreans (or Nazarenes):
    • The term “Nazarene” is used in the New Testament to describe Jesus of Nazareth (e.g., Matthew 2:23) and his followers.
    • The Nazoreans were a Jewish Christian sect that emerged in the early Christian church. They were followers of Jesus who maintained Jewish practices and beliefs.
    • James, the brother of Jesus, is sometimes associated with the Nazoreans, as they were centered in Jerusalem and were known for their strict adherence to Jewish law and rejection of the Pauline form of Christianity.
    • The Nazoreans are often identified with the Ebionites, although the relationship between the two groups is complex and subject to scholarly debate.

In summary, the Nazarites were individuals who took a specific religious vow in ancient Israel, while the Nazoreans were a Jewish Christian sect that emerged in the early Christian church, with James and Jesus being associated with this group. The Nazoreans maintained Jewish practices and beliefs while following the teachings of Jesus, whereas the Nazarites were not associated with a specific religious sect and were defined by their personal religious vow.

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Vegetarian Lifestyle of the Nazoreans

The vegetarian lifestyle of the Nazoreans has been a longstanding topic of debate among religious scholars. While the practice of not consuming animal products has been maintained for more than two thousand years, there is a general lack of consensus regarding its origin and development over time. This paper will explore the various theories that have been suggested by scholars regarding the vegetarian lifestyle of the Nazoreans. Additionally, the most current peer-reviewed studies on the topic are analyzed in order to bring attention to both the complexities and benefits associated with the practice.

The first and most prominent theory regarding the origin of Nazorean vegetarianism dates back to ancient Judaism. This line of argument claims that Moses and the ancient Israelites, who were vegan by choice, inspired the Nazoreans and their choice to abstain from animal products. Other historical accounts suggest that the vegetarian lifestyle of the Nazoreans was adopted from the Essenes, a Jewish sect known for their asceticism and dietary restrictions. While these theories are all viable options for consideration, more recent scholarship has focused on the ritual practices of the Nazoreans as an indication of their adherence to the vegetarian lifestyle.

Peer-reviewed studies have provided substantive evidence indicating that the vegetarian lifestyle of the Nazoreans was related to a variety of rituals and ceremonies, including seasonal feasts and special occasions. For instance, one study found that during the Egyptian festivals of Pascha and Unleavened Bread, all animal products were abstained from and replaced with plant-based alternatives in celebration. During these times, the consumption of animal products was thought to be both a violation of the Nazoreans’ faith and an act of impurity. Scholars believe that this ritual abstinence provided an impetus for the development and maintenance of the Nazorean vegetarian lifestyle.

In addition to this ritualistic motivation, contemporary scholars have suggested that the provision of animal-free food was motivated by both ethical and health-related considerations. Existing evidence suggests that vegetarian diets positively benefit both emotions and physical health, and it is possible that the Nazoreans valued these dietary considerations. Furthermore, it has been argued that the features of the Nazorean diet, such as its inclusion of vegetables, legumes, and fruits, may have been seen as a means to promote harmony and balance within the community.

In conclusion, the vegetarian lifestyle of the Nazoreans is a complex phenomenon that has been the subject of numerous scholarly debates for more than two thousand years. While a variety of theories have been proposed regarding its origin, the most recently published peer-reviewed studies suggest that the practice has been influenced by a range of motivations, including ritualistic practices, diet considerations, and ethical considerations. As research on the topic continues, further insight into the relationship between the Nazorean vegetarian lifestyle and its social and cultural background may be revealed.

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The Hidden History of Greco-Roman Vegetarianism

If asked about ancient Greece or Rome, the average American conjures images of famous battles, myths, and Hollywood movies. However, overlooked by the majority of modern Americans is the hidden history of ancient Greek and Roman vegetarianism and the ageless debate upon what justice is due animals. Many people assume that the predominant omnivorous diet has been the accepted diet from past to present, but history tells a different story. In addition, past philosophers reveal a fierce debate not only over diet, but about the notion of justice and to whom it applies. The debate has not ended, but in order to know where the future of this debate should go, this past should be known by all participants.

Plato

Before diving into the teachings of the Greek and Roman philosophers, it is important that the Greek and Roman diet be understood. For the Greeks and Romans, cereals, vegetables, and fruit composed much of their diet. The meat that was consumed was usually fish, fowl, or pigs, which were the cheapest and most convenient animals people could kill for their flesh. However, only the wealthiest citizens could afford to eat large amounts of meat on a regular basis.

The first philosopher in the West to create a lasting vegetarian legacy was the Greek teacher Pythagoras. He was born on the island of Samos in 580 BCE and studied in what are now the countries of Greece, Egypt, and Iraq before establishing his school in southern Italy at the city of Croton. While Pythagoras is famous for his contributions to math, music, science, and philosophy, it is his philosophy that is of particular interest. He taught that all animals, not just humans, had souls, which were immortal and reincarnated after death. Since a human might become an animal at death, and an animal might become a human, Pythagoras believed that killing and eating non-human animals sullied the soul and prevented union with a higher form of reality. Additionally, he felt that eating meat was unhealthy and made humans wage war against one another. For these reasons, he abstained from meat and encouraged others to do likewise, perhaps making him one of the earliest campaigners for ethical vegetarianism.

The Greek philosopher Plato (428/427-348/347 BCE) was influenced by Pythagorean concepts but did not go as far as Pythagoras did. It is unclear exactly what his diet consisted of, but Plato’s teachings asserted only humans had immortal souls and that the universe was for human use. Yet, in The Republic, Plato’s character Socrates asserted that the ideal city was a vegetarian city on the grounds that meat was a luxury leading to decadence and war. Thus, to Plato, abstention from flesh is warranted out of a desire for peace and an avoidance of indulgent, excessive living.

Plato’s student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) also felt the universe was for human use and that only human souls were immortal. Additionally, he argued in favor of a hierarchy of beings in which plants occupied the lowest rung of the ladder and humans the highest. In this hierarchy, Aristotle argued that women were lesser compared to men and some humans were natural slaves. As for animals, as Norm Phelps in The Longest Strugglepoints out, Aristotle reasoned that there was no ethical obligation to animals because they were irrational. Colin Spencer, in The Heretic’s Feast, noted that Aristotle argued non-human animals could not manage themselves without human aid in spite of all evidence to the contrary. In short, Aristotle established many reasons used against giving proper justice to non-human and human animals alike.

Aristotle was not the only philosopher to advance some of these views. According to Spencer, the founder of Stoicism, Zeno (c. 335-c. 263 BCE), like Aristotle, argued that there was a hierarchy of beings with plants lowest and humans highest. Similarly, Spencer said Zeno declared animals undeserving of justice due to their inability to reason, but, unlike Aristotle, he sustained himself on a diet of bread, honey, and water. Zeno demonstrated that people have embraced a vegetarian diet for many reasons and while they may not be out of concern for animals, the vegetarian diet itself was seen as providing a wholesome way of life.

A contemporary of Zeno’s was the philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE). Epicurus agreed that the universe was for humans. Spencer said Epicurus differed from the above philosophers by arguing that souls cease to exist at death; thus, death was nothing to fear. Another core element to his philosophy was a belief in the goodness of pleasure and the evil of pain. He thought that desire caused pain, and human dependence on temporary pleasures deprived them of true pleasure. Because of this belief, Epicurus did not eat meat as it was a luxury that distracted people from a better life. However, he made no prohibition against eating flesh, which allowed the practice to continue among adopters of his creed. While he lack a stated prohibition, his personal example illustrated what he thought was the ideal way to live, and so, like Zeno, provided another historical support in favor of the vegetarian diet.

Arguing against Aristotle’s views on animals was Aristotle’s pupil and friend Theophrastus (c. 372-c. 287 BCE), a Greek biologist and philosopher. Theophrastus argued that killing animals for food was wasteful and morally wrong. Hypothesizing as to the origin of flesh eating, he argued that war must have forced humans to eat meat by ruining the crops that they otherwise would have eaten. Unlike his teacher, Theophrastus proclaimed that animal sacrifices angered the gods and turned humanity towards atheism. Clearly, religious arguments have long been used as motivation to pursue a vegetarian diet.

Preserving the legacy of Pythagoras was the poet and moralist Ovid (43 BCE-17 CE). Ovid was a Pythagorean-influenced Stoic, who was exiled to Tomis in 8 CE by the emperor Augustus. In his poem Metamorphoses, Ovid evoked the passionate pleas of Pythagoras for people to abandon animal sacrifice and abstain from eating flesh. These passages kept the memory of Pythagoras alive and served as testament to Ovid’s own vegetarian lifestyle.

Influenced by Pythagoras and Epicurus, the Roman philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BCE-65 CE) adopted a vegetarian diet. Spencer states that Seneca denounced the cruelty of the games used by Rome to distract the citizenry and challenged the decadence of his time. Seneca was forced to hide his vegetarianism for a time under the emperor Caligula due to Caligula’s distrust. Under the emperor Nero, his former student, Seneca was forced to commit suicide at age 60, due either to rumors in the court or Nero’s jealousy.

Another Greek philosopher who argued on behalf of animals was the biographer and philosopher Plutarch (46-c. 120 CE). Influenced by Pythagorean philosophy, Plutarch adopted a vegetarian diet and wrote several essays in favor of vegetarianism as well as arguing that animals were rational and deserving of consideration. In particular, his essay On the Eating of Flesh is noteworthy for some arguments familiar to today’s vegetarians, such as the inefficiency of the human digestive system to handle flesh or the fact that humans lack the claws and fangs necessary for to the satisfaction of a carnivorous appetite. For these reasons, Plutarch is truly noteworthy as one of the earliest advocates of animal issues.

After Plutarch, the Greek philosopher Plotinus (205-270 CE) combined Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Stoicism into a school of philosophy called Neoplatonism. He taught that all animals feel pain and pleasure, not just humans. According to Jon Gregerson, author of Vegetarianism: A History, Plotinus believed in order for humans to unite with the Supreme Reality, humans had to treat all animals with compassion. Seeking to practice what he preached, Plotinus avoided medicine made from animals. He allowed for the wearing of wool and the use of animals for farm labor, but he mandated humane treatment.

Continuing the work of Plotinus was the great Phoenician author and philosopher Porphyry (c. 232-c. 305 CE). He argued with observational and historical evidence in defense of vegetarianism and the rationality of animals. According to Spencer, in On the Impropriety of Killing Living Beings for Food, Porphyry argued meat eating encouraged violence, demonstrated the ability of animals to reason, and argued that justice should be extended to them. Like Plutarch, Porphyry ranks as one of the greatest voices for early Western vegetarianism.

Vegetarianism and animal rights have a long history in Western civilization stretching to antiquity that is unknown or forgotten by many people today. What this hidden history teaches is that many Greeks and Romans survived without eating animal flesh or using animal products. Likewise, it teaches that arguments for and against animal rights are as ancient as Greek philosophy. It demonstrates that many of the same reasons for not eating flesh today are the same as those in the past whether out of spirituality, health, peace, or justice. Furthermore, the modern animal rights movement is built upon this past. Finally, this information presents important voices that should be considered in the debate on vegetarianism and animal rights.

Nathan Morgan

Nathan Morgan, a 2010 graduate of Montana State University Billings, gave a paper on the topic of vegetarianism in the classical world at a recent animal welfare conference in Minneapolis.

Bust of Plato

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Shiva & Nandi

Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, creation, and regeneration, has long been linked to an association with Nandi, his loyal bull. Their relationship has transcended time and is symbolically represented in many images.

From the stories of Shiva, it is said that Nandi was a gift given to Shiva by his father, the god Brahma. Nandi was a white bull, blessed with strength and loyalty, and Shiva respected him above all else. Nandi became a loyal companion and adviser to Shiva.

The tales of Shiva and Nandi continue to be told through statues, images, and sculptures. One representation of the duo is in a bas-relief stone sculpture that is said to have been inspired by a story where Shiva declared to Nandi that he would remain in the form of a bull as long as his master danced in the cosmic dance of creation and destruction.

The two were also said to be inseparable, and wherever Shiva made his presence, Nandi would accompany him. In times of sorrow and struggle, Shiva was said to ride upon Nandi, and Nandi provided comfort and solace to Shiva when he needed it the most.

Nandi and Shiva remain two of the most symbolic representations of loyalty, courage, and friendship. Their bond is still celebrated and remembered in religious and cultural functions.

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Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) is one of the most venerated and beloved of all Christian saints. His life and legacy have inspired generations of people from all over the world. A contemporary of Saint Dominic and Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis was born the son of a wealthy merchant in the Italian city of Assisi. He was a pious child, devoted to prayer and caring for the poor, but he desired a life of worldly pleasure and fortune.

As a young man, he joined the military and fought in a war against Perugia, but a wound and a resulting epiphany permanently changed his life. He left the military and committed his life to poverty and service. He gave away all his possessions, adopted a simple clothing style, and began preaching. He eventually founded the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, which dedicated itself to helping the poor and the sick.

In his lifetime, Saint Francis traveled the world, from Italy to Egypt, North Africa, Spain and France. Everywhere he went, he spread his teachings of peace, love and service. He taught his followers to respect nature and animals, including his famous sermon to the birds. He also composed the popular prayer “Prayer of Saint Francis,” which is still recited by Christians today.

Saint Francis’ life was marked by severe trials and suffering, including a cross-shaped wound that he carried from the time he was a soldier in the military. He went to great lengths to help the sick and the poor and devoted his life to following the teachings of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated true devotion to God and a profound devotion to helping others. He earned the admiration and reverence of his followers and is venerated as the patron saint of animals, ecology, merchants, and the poor.

Saint Francis’ legacy continues even today, and his example of devotion, humility and compassion has inspired countless individuals throughout the centuries. He is an excellent example of charity, kindness and selfless service, and his life serves as a reminder of God’s grace and mercy. He is remembered as one of the most inspiring and beloved saints in the history of the Church.

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Narasimha Lion Man God

Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu, was born from a powerful and tumultuous blaze of fire in a beautiful golden twilight, before making his way to the earthly realms.

He was sent by Krishna to liberate the oppressed and punish the evil king, Hiranyakashipu. The mere sight of Narasimha, who was half lion and half man, filled Hiranyakashipu with terror and dread. Narasimha then proceeded to tear into the king’s chest, bring his years of tyranny and cruelty to an end.

Having accomplished his mission, Narasimha then transformed into a gentle and compassionate being, kindness emanating from his aura. He graced the earth with a renewed sense of hope and fearlessness. With heavenly music filling the air and a sight of mercy, he granted people with his divine blessings and protection.

His legend and deeds soon spread far and wide, and ever since, people have praised and celebrated him for his infinite strength and compassion. His presence is still venerated today, for the invaluable contribution he made to protect the innocent and punish the wicked.

Narasimha continues to serve as an example to all of us, to demonstrate courage and strength in the face of oppression and suffering. Through his remarkable journey, we’ve been reminded that justice always triumphs, no matter how dark and difficult the times be.

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Can religion be used to justify meat eating?

The practice of killing and eating animals for sustenance has been a part of human existence for thousands of years. Despite this fact, many people today still choose to consume meat and animal products even when presented with alternative options. Much of this decision to maintain a diet of animal products is justified with religious arguments, suggesting that eating meat is acceptable because it is sanctioned by religious beliefs and doctrines. This paper will look at the implications of these arguments and demonstrate that the justification of meat eating based on religion is inaccurate, deeply ignorant and inherently unethical. 

Religion and Meat Eating: Different Sects of Belief 

The acceptance of meat eating with regards to religious belief varies widely across different sects. Some religions view meat as a necessary part of a spiritual practice, while others have adopted more moderate stances, tolerating the consumption if it within certain limits. Not all religions consider meat to be a ‘moral’ food, with there being significant variance even within Christianity, for example. Among the various sects of Christianity, there is a complex hierarchy of beliefs and practices related to diet, but there is near-universal agreement that ‘meat’, or sacrifice animals, are improper. 

Given the complexity of such beliefs and the range of different sects, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about how different faiths perceive the consumption of meat. However, the overall consensus among scholars is that, without taking into account the different sects, religion does not necessarily condone the mistreatment of animals or the consumption of meat simply for sustenance. 

Religion and Meat Eating: Views on Animal Welfare 

In addition to the difference in religious beliefs around the consumption of meat, there is also a strong argument against mistreating animals in the name of conscience and ethics. From a religious perspective, it is seen as wrong to treat animals inhumanely and to ignore their suffering. This line of thought is shared among all major religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. Furthermore, the Bible specifically prohibits any act that causes suffering or pain to animals (Genesis 9:4). 

In contrast to this explicit command, the practices of industrialized meat production have become increasingly widespread. Such practices are notorious for their maltreatment of animals and disregard for their well-being. This is seen in the methods of factory farming, where animals are forced to live in overcrowded and filthy conditions, treated with extreme neglect, and often made to suffer in terrible conditions. Furthermore, animals in industrialized production are given a growth hormone to boost production which can lead to illnesses and infections, as well as being mutilated without anaesthetic. 

The bottom line is that the practices of industrialized meat production are in direct violation of the ethical guidelines set out by many religions. This means that any attempt to justify meat-eating with religious arguments is hypocritical and ignores the implications of animal suffering.

Religion and Meat Eating: Ignoring the Alternatives 

A final reason why religious justification for meat-eating is ignorant and unethical is that it ignores the many other options for sustenance that are available. It is now possible to obtain a healthy and nutritious diet without relying on meat or animal products. Research has demonstrated that replacing animal foods with plant-based alternatives can help to prevent many chronic illnesses, including heart disease and certain types of cancer. Furthermore, this kind of diet is significantly more sustainable and has far less of an environmental impact. 

Indeed, the potential of sustainable and ethical food sources is an issue that has been addressed by many religions. In Islam, for example, the Qur’an states that consuming plant-based diets is indicative of humanity’s deep relationship with the natural world and an act of responsible custodianship (Qur’an 6:145-146). Therefore, to ignore these ethical and ecologically-friendly options in the name of religious tradition is both ignoring the potential benefit to the environment and to one’s health, and disregarding religious teachings on the natural world.

Overall, the argument that religious sanctioning allows for the consumption of meat is outdated and inaccurate. As has been demonstrated in this paper, the implications of such thinking are deeply ignorant and unethical, as it ignores animal welfare, the environmental consequences, and alternative diets that can be more sustainably and ethically sourced. Therefore, arguments for meat eating in the name of religion are inexcusable and should not be tolerated.

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Vegetarian to Vegan by Sarah Taylor (Book Review)

This book really opened my eyes. I was already vegan and well aware of the horrific abuse of animals in factory farms, but this book helped me really see and understand just how serious the situation is from a health perspective, animal abuse perspective, and environmental crisis perspective as well. Sarah Taylor cites important peer reviewed research to give you the information needed to understand WHY? & HOW? to go from Vegetarian to Vegan.

I could never be vegan, I love cheese too much.” 

Chances are if you’re a vegetarian, vegan or know anyone who is you’ve heard or even said this before.  No doubt, you’ve thought it before.  Cheese and other dairy products are everywhere in the American diet and that’s the way we love it.  We add it to our eggs, our sandwiches, our cakes; we fry it, grill it, cream it, and even string it.  It has embedded itself into our culture, become a staple of comfort in our diet and adopted the term “American”.  But is it really good; not just for us, but for those that produce it?

Cheese is not the only dairy product we’re obsessed with, though it may be the only one with its own category of addiction (cheese addiction being an actual issue now), eggs and milk have become a mainstay of our diets as well.

Just learning about how horribly the animals are treated, abused, tortured and murdered should be reason enough to stop contributing to this madness, but Sarah gives compelling research showing how this animal agriculture business is literally destroying our environment at accelerated levels everyday. The demand for meat and dairy is just not sustainable.

After all the research she shares about why you should go vegan from vegetarian and then how, which is dealing with the health benefits and how to start replacing dairy and eggs with healthful vegan options, she ends the book with many great recipes by vegan chef Mark Reinfeld.

In the very beginning of her book Vegetarian to Vegan, Sarah Taylor makes a point of giving vegetarians credit for the ways their food choices help animals. And she should know, having been a vegetarian herself until 2002.

That’s when Sarah read John Robbins’ Diet for a New America. His groundbreaking indictment of how America’s milk and egg producers were torturing dairy animals and chickens while destroying the environment persuaded her to go vegan overnight.

She wrote Vegetarian to Vegan to give anyone wanting to make the same switch “a strong enough reason to do it.”

Without brow-beating the reader, Taylor specifically details the short, painful lives and cruel deaths of dairy cows and egg-laying chickens.

Of dairy cows, she writes that between 1950 and 2000, their numbers decreased by half — yet the amount of milk they produced more than tripled. The brutal facts?

Dairy cows live with no access to pasture.

They’re separated from their calves within two hours of giving birth.

They’re also milked by machine several times a day.

Having to yield such an excessive amount of milk is unsafe and unsanitary. Most dairy cows live lives of misery before heading to slaughter at just four years old.

Taylor’s description of egg farms reminded me of the endless stacks of crammed-full cages I’ve seen when visiting them. The hens on lower levels were covered in urine and feces. The smell was unbearable — and unforgettable.

But I’ve also seen so-called “cage-free” chickens living in terrible conditions, with dead hens littering their enclosure’s floor.

What’s worse, Taylor writes, is that egg-laying chickens often turn on each other:

“Cannibalism [among chickens] is a major problem in battery cage systems, but is even worse in free-range and cage-free systems as the hens have greater access to each other and are harder to control.”

In the book’s Part 1, Taylor also bolsters her argument for making the vegetarian-to-vegan switch by pointing out the health and environmental benefits that come from giving up dairy and eggs:

“The truth is that these products are terrible for your health, terrible for our environment, and in almost all cases, are unconscionably cruel to animals.”

In Part 2, she moves on to covering all the bases of making the change. This is where you’ll find info on:

• Learning to tell healthy from junk vegan foods.

• Getting enough protein, calcium and Vitamin B12 on a vegan diet.

• Eating out and entertaining vegan-style.

• Staying vegan away from home.

• Vegan substitutes for eggs, dairy foods and honey.

Part 3 is devoted to cooking vegan, with an extensive collection of recipes and tips by vegan chef Mark Reinfeld.

For any vegetarian struggling to give up dairy and eggs, this book is one of the most important that plant-based literature has to offer!

I highly recommend this book to anyone, wherever they are in their journey, whether meat eater, vegetarian or vegan. It’s thoroughly researched and filled with data that is undeniable in consideration of the impact we all have individually with our eating and spending choices.

To your health, peace to the planet and may all beings be happy and at peace.

~Sakshi Zion