• Daniel Ethan Finneran

On Vegetarianism

“Simply let these, like him of Samos live,

Let herbs to them a bloodless banquet give;

In beechen goblets let their beverage shine,

Cool from the crystal spring, their sober wine!”

John Milton

Four years I spent a vegetarian—four happy, guiltless years untainted by the consumption of meat. Looking back, now through the apostate eyes of an omnivore marked by sin, I can say that my devotion to this humane diet was, so long as it lasted, unwavering. Until its final bite, I was, in every way, faithful. Until the last chime of the dinner bell by which I was warmly beckoned, I was in harmony with its peaceful tune.

The echo of its ring has since fallen to a lower pitch. Today, as if the flutter of an insect’s wings, I barely hear it. Alas, since that time so many years ago, when my boyish cheek flushed with a ruddier hue, and my ears were more responsive to the vegetarian’s song, my palate has become far less prejudicial; its bias no longer precludes the savor of meat, and its cravings for animal protein are no longer resisted. Its wants, rather, are daily encouraged, and its blind yearning for flesh, completely indulged.

Yet, despite my current fallen state, and the subsequent affronts to nature for which I haven’t a good defense, I wonder if I don’t still deserve the plaudits of both animal and human, beast and man? I wonder if I don’t still, if only in a hushed tone of voice, merit the acclaim of those two closely-linked cousins, those two grunting groups of creatures between whom, while mostly identifying with the latter, I feel myself so uncomfortably caught?

I venture to say that I do, for my commitment to this peaceful and bloodless manner of eating, to this thoughtful and environmentally-conscious way of sustaining oneself was, up until the moment of my palate’s brazen revolt—when my tired taste buds refused the mockery of yet another unconvincing iteration of tofu, and my wearied mouth denounced the deceit of yet another permutation of soy—perfectly intact. Is my triumph unworthy of celebration? Are my four years insufficient for inter-species applause?

As you undoubtedly know, vegetarianism is but one of the gentler, kinder, more broad-minded approaches to food that any people—be it in the murky depths of its primal ignorance, or at the shining pinnacle of its enlightenment—can easily adopt. For the tender of heart, and the philosophical of spirit, it’s one of the more enticing dietary agendas by which, upon first learning about it, so many of our compassionate and well-meaning neighbors are genuinely tempted. Yet, ultimately, finding themselves unequal to the challenge of a life unseasoned by punctual plates full of meat, and ill-prepared for the sacrifice of a food from which their bellies derive such relish, they’re quick to realize that this style of eating is ill-suited for them.

Throughout the course of those four ephemeral years, spanning, as they did, the first half of my second decade of life, there was no other diet of which I partook. Ketogenic, Paleolithic, Atkins, Oprah, Jenny Craig et. al.—I abandoned all other fads of the table in favor of a strictly vegetable fare. It was my humble intention, if I’m to be honest, to mount something of a return to nature. I wanted to simplify my life by journeying back to that pristine state, and attempt to follow the mandates of her antique, verdant law. Being so old, how could they not be inerrant? And being so green, how could they not be right? Thus assured, it was my goal to restore myself to that primeval age of man, that prelapsarian state in which, just prior to their unsanctioned brunch beneath the forbidden tree, our first parents once innocently lived.

Of course, no sooner had they tasted the perfect bliss into which they were born, than their infant happiness expired. Unbeknownst to them, this quiet, untroubled life of theirs was, at the start, foredoomed. Their mirthful union, such as has never been equaled, was fated to break and we, their children, to suffer the consequence of its unraveling. Though countless millennia removed, we still feel the ripples of their impious transgression.

Such, we now know, was the result of Eve’s (and then Adam’s) gustatory offense.

Persuaded by the voice of serpentine eloquence, and intoxicated by the thought of knowledge nonpareil, our first parents “forsook the path of nature”, and chose instead to gratify appetites unnatural to their being. They chose to indulge appetites harmful to themselves, and, thus, by a direct extension, to the creator in whose unseen image they were just moments ago formed. They opted instead for a diet discourteous toward their heavenly father—God—that hoary, omnipotent deity by whom they were only just recently given life.

As the youthful Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley remarked with a vehemence befitting his age, “The allegory of Adam and Eve eating of the tree of evil, and entailing upon their posterity the wrath of God, and the loss of everlasting life, admits of no other explanation than the disease and crime that have flowed from unnatural diet”.

Granted, this is the untraditional exegesis pushed by an untraditional man. It is, in every way, a strange analysis of a symbolically rich and perplexing story, a nearly impenetrable myth on which, still to this day, there is no wide consensus. We must, for this reason, at the very least entertain Shelley’s heretical idea, however strange it might seem.

Not only was Shelley openly contemptuous of the orthodox teaching of the Church (his literary reputation was established, and his lasting notoriety forged, with the publication of his first book, The Necessity of Atheism), but he was motivated to stop, at any cost, the vicious habit of consuming protein extracted from the flesh of innocent beasts. It was, as will be seen, a cause to which he directed his genius, and a movement to which his tireless passion was committed.

This combination—his proclivity toward heresy, and his promotion of vegetarianism as a superior and more moral dietary approach—might explain the peculiar tone of his reading of the Bible. Still, his idiosyncratic explanation of Genesis’ early, distressing account of mankind’s first folly, must be weighed against those of the other, better-credentialed biblical scholars with whom, should they deign to admit his devilish reputation into the pristine halls of their holy society, he—though an avowed atheist—could very competently vie.

I was, for a while, a devout acolyte of Shelley, though I practiced better discretion, nursed lesser genius, and smiled at religion with a kindliness as he never would. During my time as a vegetarian and, thus, as an ally of Shelley in his noble quest to abolish the savage consumption of meat, I thought myself briefly returned to the unsullied state from which he believed man to have come. I felt as if I were an unblemished mortal, never tainted by meat, awaiting sentence before the judgment of God. Once there, I felt that God—now apprised of my purity and convinced of my ethical treatment of the other, less sapient members of his creation—would be only too happy to greet me.

There I’d stand, a being untarnished by the malign corruption of meat, beneath the gaze of a divine arbiter by whom every other fault might be detected. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I never did backslide during those difficult moments of hunger, weakness, indulgence, and vegetable fatigue, and kept to the narrow path of foods untouched by the influence of meat. I stuck to that same diet once prescribed by Jehovah to man to which, as is made evident by the episode in Eden, He very urgently wants us to return. I’m proud to say that, even during this long stretch of time, I suffered no relapse, and there is no gastric sin for which I need now atone.

Though occasionally enticed, I chewed upon neither sinewy tendon (all laden with spice), nor muscle infiltrated by the marbling conquest of fat. It is, as the gourmand enslaved to his entrée well knows, a most delicious intrusion to which he’d gladly submit. He’d abandon all worldly freedom, if only to put himself at the mercy of its taste. The fat, with a foothold in the muscle’s broad belly, spreads its colonies with a rivulet’s ease. It marches through, end to end, without reservation. Its final disemboguement is the salivating mouth into which, like oil, it quickly empties. Before arriving, though, it governs its land as though a corpulent king, a succulent tyrant from whom all royal flavors flow.

I, however, resisted its subjugation. I took not a bite of the buttery ribeye, that princely cut of meat about which, as if a crown, the chef’s salty crust sizzles. I consumed not a morsel of the small, plump fillet, that pricy pièce de résistance for which one empties his wallet (and, thereafter, goes hungry for weeks).

I imbibed no animal liquid, neither the viscous honey of the ruminant’s teat, nor the simmering broth of a bird’s boiling bones. The ineffable saltiness of bacon (an orgiastic sensation once in contact with the delicate nerves of the tongue), the cloud-like creaminess of fresh-made cheese, the juicy vivacity of a char-grilled hamburger, were tastes suddenly foreign to me.

I maintained, at great effort, my sinless purity, even while submerged every day in these items and their aromatic plume. I proved superior to the retrograde forces of earlier sins, those same mealtime infractions to which Adam and Eve succumbed. I decided, in my case, against surrendering to them, and this promise was earnestly made, and dutifully kept. I transgressed no law, violated no virtue and, as such, felt myself deserving of classification among Shelley and the rest of the vegetarian “elect”.

Who else might we number among this so-called elect? Our list will include a few notable names by which, should you be unfamiliar with their lives and their doctrines, you’re very likely to be surprised.

The first, as I’ve already revealed, is Percy Bysshe Shelley. We must, before moving on to any other proponent of the vegetable side, exhaust his arguments in favor of vegetarianism—exhausting though they may be. We do so because, as far as I can tell, no other thinker has yet surpassed his arguments in urgency, brilliance, or style. And these, after all, are three qualities of which, should his aim be to change the opinions of those against whom he’s set, a moral writer should never suffer a dearth.

His argument in favor of a vegetable diet, untainted by the malign influence of meat, is to be found appended to his first, daring poetic work, Queen Mab. Of course, that title is a useful abridgement, tossed about by an army of laconic critics. In full, the work’s title reads, Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem with Notes. As it turns out, the notes are just as compelling as the story (into which, given the subject at hand, I’ll not here take the opportunity to dive. If, however, you find your curiosity irrepressibly piqued, and you simply must know the scandal-raising contents of this fairy story, I’ll direct you to my biographical essay entitled, On Percy Bysshe Shelley, in which a description of this poem can be found).

We return, for now, to that philosophical poem’s Notes. From the outset, they’re colored with a startlingly misanthropic hue. Mankind, he says, is the source of all depravity and disease, all illness by which the less rational creatures are made to suffer. “Man, and the animals whom he has infected with his society, or depraved by his dominion, are alone diseased”. Their affliction, in a word, is the unhappy result of our affiliation.

Unchained by our leashes, and unfettered by our clutch, the animals of the wild are, “Perfectly exempt from malady, and invariably die either from external violence, or natural old age”. But, owing to our ownership, the “Domestic hog, the sheep, the cow, and the dog, are subject to an incredible variety of distempers”. Worse, like us humans, (the impenitent “corrupters of their nature”) they endure the unavailing remedies offered by pricy doctors, those “physicians who thrive upon their miseries”, and from whom they can never hope to get relief.

The “supereminence of man”, by which his lordly reign above his fellow creatures is enabled, is, at this point, quite well-established. Indeed, it’s been given biblical sanction, should that ancient document compel your belief. Be that as it may, how, Shelley asks, “Can the advantages of intellect and civilization (from which our species so greatly profits) be reconciled with the liberty and pure pleasures of natural life”?

To this difficult question, the poet offers a simple solution: abstinence from animal food, and the refusal to drink spirituous liquors.

That one should arrive at this simple conclusion is, to Shelley, perfectly obvious. After all, “Comparative anatomy teaches us that man resembles frugivorous animals in everything, and carnivorous in nothing; he has neither claws wherewith to seize his prey, nor distinct and pointed teeth to tear the living fiber”. Sagacious anatomist though he was, Shelley seems to have overlooked a feature of which he might’ve been more attentive, such as the length of the gorilla’s fruit-loving entrails, when compared with those packed into the paunch of the human. There’s a reason those burly apes are incessantly chewing their rinds and swallowing their bark, while meat-eating humans enjoy disproportionately enlarged brains, and more free time. We have the speed and nutrition of cooked meat to thank for their prodigious size, and for the length of our leisure.

Subterfuge need be employed in the service of our gluttony; quite against the dictates of nature, “The bull must be degraded into the ox, and the ram into the wether, by an unnatural and inhuman operation, that the flaccid fiber may offer a fainter resistance to rebellious nature”. The “rebellious nature”, of course, is our appetite for their flesh.

Even then, these efforts toward castration and manipulation are not enough. After fundamentally changing the animal, depriving it of the dangling organs from which its hair-raising testosterone is released, one must soften and disguise the dead flesh “by culinary preparation”. It must be, if we’re to consume it, “rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion”, all while the “sight of its bloody juices and raw horror” must be so concealed as not to excite “intolerable loathing and disgust”. Had we a natural proclivity to this type of food, no such preparation would be needed, and no such horror felt.

What’s more, if promptly transitioned to a vegetarian diet, despots would be made more docile, economies more stable, politics less acidic, governments less belligerent, and nations more free. “It is impossible”, Shelley assures us, “had Buonaparte descended from a race of vegetable feeders, that he could have had either the inclination or the power to ascend the throne of the Bourbons”. Sustained on so gentle and democratic a diet, the “desire of tyranny could scarcely be excited” in even the most power-hungry of breasts—including Napoleon, hungriest of all.

As for the state, conscious of her wealth, and anxious for the continuance of her economic prosperity, there could be nothing more wasteful than feeding a population with energy-intensive, resource-depleting meat. Why misallocate our grain for the fattening of a cow, into whom, given the number of hungry mouths to feed, relatively few will poke their forks? Why remove from the child the cereal bowl into which his supper is ladled, if only to slide it before a porcine snout? In truth, “The quantity of nutritious vegetable matter, consumed in fattening the carcass of an ox, would afford ten times the sustenance, un-depraving indeed, and incapable of generating disease, if gathered immediately from the bosom of the earth”.

A humanitarian scandal if ever there’s been one, “The most fertile districts of the habitable globe are now actually cultivated by men for animals, at a delay and waste of aliment absolutely incapable of calculation”. In the modern day, as an example, one might call to mind those vast swathes of the Amazon Forest. That once fecund, impregnable wood has been since denuded, so much so that it very little remembers the beauty of its original form. Now, it’s merely one of many sites upon which Brazilian bovine idly graze. An agricultural reform, in Shelley’s opinion, would greatly reduce the land needed for pasture, and restore the abundance of its yield for human life.

The repercussions of this reform would be very much to the benefit of those upon whom it might be effected. For one,

“Commerce, with all its vice, selfishness and corruption, would gradually decline; more natural habits would produce gentler manners, and the excessive complication of political relations would be so far simplified, that every individual might feel and understand why he loved his country, and took a personal interest in its welfare”.

Profound effects, indeed.

Shelley, ever the utopian, is only too eager to take his ideal world a step further. Calling for something of an autarky built upon the pillars of poetry and art—a state grounded not only on financial independence at home, but a Christ-like benevolence toward its neighbors—he assures us that “On a natural system of diet, we should require no spices from India; no wines from Portugal, Spain, France, or Madeira; none of those multitudinous articles of luxury, for which every corner of the globe is rifled, and which are the causes of so much individual rivalship, such calamitous and sanguinary national disputes”. In brief, everything natural to the English constitution would be discoverable on English soil. And all of this might be possible, if only we could interrupt our addiction to meat.

Shelley, in some ways, reads like a modern radical, socialist, vegan—though far superior in eloquence and deeper in thought. He certainly out-performs those pink-haired, wild-eyed, kombucha-sipping undergraduates by whom our university halls are filled. If only they could absorb his passion, and imitate his literary skill, how much more persuasive might their arguments be, and how much grander their potential?

I apologize in advance, but I must now attempt an awkward exchange of Shelley, the profane, for Pythagoras, the sacred. The former was, to the everlasting horror of his age, an unabashed atheist; the latter thought himself a veritable god. Shelley, shameless infidel that he was, proclaimed with pride his unbelief; Pythagoras, purported son of Apollo, was said not only to resemble the luminous father by whom he was begotten, but to be possessed of an otherworldly, golden thigh.

Yet the great pre-Socratic sage was, like Shelley, and then like me, a devout vegetarian. This, and this alone, is the point in the chain by which we—though varying in our religiosity and fame—are all linked.

A native of Samos, a Greek island tickling with outstretched fingers the coastline of the Asiatic west, Pythagoras, at the age of forty, packed his luggage and traveled to the small town of Crotona. It was, at the time of his arrival, a newly-established city at the ball of Italy’s pivoting foot. Owing to its amiable weather, and its wholesome distance from the Attic politics by which the Aegean was engulfed, it had become a welcoming port to which many wearied Greeks hoped to retire. Pythagoras, eager to embrace the vaunted tranquility of its shores, and to taste the sweet perfume of the Italian weather, arrived there in the early part of the sixth century (it was founded at the end of the eighth). In time, it was to become the center hub of Magna Grecia—the Greek settlement of southern Italy, or the Italian aggrandizement of Greece.

Aside from being the adopted home of Pythagoras, Crotona was the birthplace of the famous wrestler, Milo. He was, as every classically-trained jock is quick to recount, an athlete of unparalleled success. As his great cache of pendants, laurels, and medals will attest, he was an astounding Olympian (not unlike a modern-day Michael Phelps) whose very name persists in being a synonym for strength. Outside the field of sport, he was a master in the field of battle; he was an unconquerable hero and an exemplary soldier around whom many great military myths have formed.

So too was he the inadvertent founder of the concept of progressive resistance training—the scientifically-backed approach to exercise to which weightlifters and bodybuilders still faithfully adhere. Every day, awakening to the intolerable thought of others outworking him at his craft, Milo would saddle himself with a calf, walk to the foot of a hill, and climb it as quickly as his feet would permit. In time, the calf matured, and, as expected, the weight beneath which he labored grew. Fortunately, his own strength was never surpassed by the constant increase in the animal’s weight; with each passing day, his own might waxed in proportion. Thus, did he advance up the hill with his heavy bovine burden, his softly lowing friend.

Having developed an intimate relationship with so bulky a beast, Milo came to be attentive to its features. Specifically, he focused on the incredible muscularity and strength of the ox—a mightiness to which, for the sake of his athletic career, he greatly aspired. He pondered how the ox came to carry such wonderful might, and how it continually offered a challenge to his morning workout routine. He questioned how it was able to wield so great an engine of muscle by which vast fields could be plowed, and menacing enemies gored.

Observing its diet, he was shocked to discover that it ate only vegetable foods—never meat. It grazed incessantly on herbs and grass, harmless plants ever eager to regrow. Perhaps, after all, the flesh of another animal wasn’t a prerequisite for the type of power of which Milo, and every athlete since, wished himself to be possessed. Milo took the dietary habits of the ox as his example, and he too became immeasurably strong.

Pythagoras, on the contrary, was drawn to vegetarianism not for the enhancement of his athletic prowess, but for the protection of his soul. Perhaps influenced by the atmosphere of his oriental upbringing, or moved by the eschatological musings of a friendly neighborhood Brahmin, Pythagoras believed very strongly in life beyond the grave. More than mere residency in some poorly-depicted heaven or hell, however, he thought that the soul survived death and sought, in the form of another being, renewed attainment of life. Once the physical body expired, and the breath fell quiet on the cold, pallid lips, the soul would escape the mortal clay in which it was cast. It would then transmigrate, fleeing from one species to another, in the process of metempsychosis, in search of a subsequent home.

It was for this reason that meat was to be avoided; one never could know if he was eating his forebear. In the Pythagorean view, one’s great-grandfather might just as easily be reincarnated in the form of a human, as in that of a chicken! Granted, you might’ve hoped that he’d be elevated to a somewhat higher position in the natural order of things, but you’d doubtless not want him killed, seasoned, and cooked—should he suffer what you might call a spiritual demotion. You’d surely rather forswear all further consumption of meat, than risk seeing your beloved Pop-pop adorn a restaurant platter! After all, you’d not want to be the one responsible for biting into his feather-clad soul.

Sadly, Pythagoras never wielded a pen; his teachings, like those of Socrates and Jesus, are totally dependent on the commentaries of the adoring pupils and friends to whom he preached (and from whom, as we know, objectivity is rarely to be expected). One student, far removed from the sixth century in which Pythagoras lived, was the Roman poet, Ovid. Toward the end of his great work, Metamorphoses, he describes at length the “Doctrines of Pythagoras”—a set of guidelines to which the Samian expatriate encouraged his followers to adhere.

Ovid quotes Pythagoras as having said the following:

“Abstain! Preserve your bodies unabused, mortals, with food of sin! There are the crops, apples that bend the branches with their weight, grapes swelling on the vines; there are fresh herbs and those the tempered flame makes soft and mellow; milk is ungrudged and honey from the thyme; earth lavishes her wealth, gives sustenance benign, spreads feasts unstained by blood and death.”

By nature, our every need is provided. The fecundity of the earth showers us with a bloodless harvest to which there’s no visible end. The munificence of her fields gives us an endless entrée of which we’ll never grow tired. What right, then, have we to look upon her offering, deny her bounty, and fill our stomachs with unnatural gore?

Flesh is a food item appropriate to vicious creatures, only. For the appeasement of their blood-soaked pangs of hunger, animals “untamed and fierce”, such as the, “Armenian tigers, ravening lions, wolves too and bears, all feed on flesh and blood”. “How vile a crime,” Pythagoras then exclaims, “that flesh should swallow flesh, body should fatten greedy body; life should live upon the death of other lives!”. Tis a most hostile arrangement.

Exasperated, he then asks, “With all the bounteous riches that the earth, earth best of mothers, yields, can nothing please but savage relish munching piteous wounds, a Cyclops’ banquet?” Would we, a gentle and civilized people, really want to be invited to the terrible feast of which someone like the dread Polyphemus is host? Could we not, in avoidance of this single-eyed horror, “Placate without another’s doom, a life destroyed, the urgent craving of our belly’s greed?”

Pythagoras, via Ovid, then describes to us the original, unblemished state of man: “But in the Golden Age of long ago the orchard fruits and harvest in the fields were blessed boon and no blood stained men’s lips”. It was a time of universal harmony, and trans-species friendship: “The birds in safety then might wing their way, and no trust betrayed hung fishes on the hook, and fearless in mid-field the hare would roam”. Indeed, “Peace filled the world, until some futile brain envied the lions’ diet and gulped down a feast of flesh to fill his greedy guts, and paved the way for crime”. I think this “futile brain” might be expanded to include our collective self. Further, I think it describes the awful mentality by which we’ve all since become deranged.

What’s certain is that the consequences of this original dietary sin have been tragic. After this initial crime, wickedness spread wider. First, it seems, “The pig deserved a victim’s death, whose snout dug up the seeds and cut the season’s hope; the goat that gnawed the vines was sacrificed on vengeful Bacchus’ altars; these two paid the price of guilt”. Were we not justified, then, in spilling their blood, and eating their flesh? After all, they were a menace to farmers, and a bother to men.

That leaves one to question, “What guilt have the sheep, the peaceful flock, born but to serve mankind, whose udders sweet milk fills, whose fleeces yield soft clothes?” Better still, “What guilt have oxen, faithful guileless beasts, harmless and simple, born to lives of toil?” Is this uncomplaining animal, upon whom we thrust our iron yoke, not the noblest benefactor with whom mankind has the good fortune to be acquainted? Has he not gladly accepted what should be our agrarian drudgery, and, in so doing, relieved us of our Edenic punishment to labor?

Ovid asks, “How short of memory, how mean of soul, how undeserving of the harvest’s boon, is he who, having just unyoked the weight of the bright curving plough, can find the heart to kill his plough-mate; who upon that neck, tired with long toil, whose strength year after year renewed the stubborn acres and brought home so many harvests, crashes down the axe!”

We’re left with a stern Ovidian-Pythagorean admonition: “Abstain! Be warned! I beg you! Understand the ox whose meat you savor (whom you slew) worked, as your own farmhand, in your fields for you”. He is as if part of the family—a four-hoofed brother, some ruminant kin. The least you can do is abandon him to the enjoyment of a natural death, a peaceful retirement from the plough far away from the sacrificial altar. Let him lie down in the soft grass, drowsy but contented, unencumbered by fear. May he be visited not by the butcher’s knife, but by the hoary pleasures of old age, and the mirthful memories of forgotten youth. Let him enjoy the onset of his twilight with neither anxiety nor pain. Let him evade the savage fate of becoming yet another morsel of food, a weeping brisket atop which, as though a garnish, the green turf in which he once frolicked is now sprinkled.

The radical poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the Samian sage, Pythagoras—these are the two strongest advocates by whom the case for vegetarianism has yet been advanced. Truly, in terms of eloquence and passion, sincerity and conviction, tact and skill, none has surpassed the force of their claims. Thus, their greatest challenge comes not from philosophers and artists (over whom they’ll always enjoy a superior rank) but from the stolid voice of science.

Science—it speaks in a tongue to which even the most obdurate of souls, the freest among us, must occasionally yield. When we allow its persistent message to infiltrate our ear, we hear the promotion not of vegetarianism, but of a balanced, omnivorous diet. Never has such scandal rung in chambers of our head! As it mutters its unpalatable truth, we hear of the invigorating benefits of meat for the attainment of optimal health. We come to realize that our strange predilection towards meat, our inexplicable appetite for the animal protein with which our slaughterhouses are rife, might not be so unnatural, after all. Perhaps it’s a desire rather deeply ingrained.

Thus, did I deviate from my esteemed society of friends—the sacred Pythagoras, and the damnable Shelley. Four years I spent with them as a vegetarian—four years, and that was all. Not quite a lustrum, I devoted many days to the Pythagorean method, and many nights to Shelley’s script. I banned the insalubrious effects of meat from my diet. I held in contempt the human savages who couldn’t likewise abstain. My opinion has since altered, and I beg the forgiveness of those upon whom I cast so disapproving an eye.

And so, while I’ve not forgotten the friendship of Pythagoras and Shelley, I’ve since rejected their creed. Four years I spent a vegetarian—four years, and no more.

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