International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Ancient Greece and Rome
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (43 BC - AD 17)

Ovid as imagined in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493.

Roman Poet. His verse includes poems on love Ars Amatoria, on myths. Metamorphoses, and on his sufferings in exile, Tristia

Extracts from 'Metamorphoses':
from The Extended Circle by Jon Wynne-Tyson.

Take not away the life you cannot give;
For all things have an equal right to live,
Kill noxious creatures where 'tis sin to save;
This only just prerogative we have;
But nourish life with vegetable food,
And shun the sacriligeous taste of blood.

Forbear, O mortals,
To spoil your bodies with such impious food!
There is corn for you, apples, whose weight bears down
The bending branches; there are grapes that swell
On the vines, and pleasant herbs, and greens
Made mellow and soft with cooking; there is milk
And clover-honey. Earth is generous
With her provision, and her sustenance
Is very kind; she offers, for your tables,
Food that requires no bloodshed and no slaughter.

Oh Ox, how great are thy desserts! A being without guile, harmless, simple, willing for work! Ungrateful and unworthy of the fruits of earth, man his own farm labourer slays and smites with the axe that toil-worn neck that had so oft renewed for him the face of the hard earth; so many harvests.


There are a thousand forms of evil; there will be a thousand remedies. - unkown origin

from the 1957 IVU Congress souvenir book

OVID (43 B.C. to 18 A.D.) - a popular Roman poet, wrote in a day when it was considered a fine spectacle for men and animals to fight together till the death. Of Pythagoras he said:

"He, too, was the first to forbid animals to be served up at the table, and he was first to open his lips indeed full of wisdom yet all unheeded, in the following words :

" 'Forbear, O Mortals! to pollute your bodies with such abominable food. There are the farinacea, there are the fruits which bear down the branches with their weight, and there are the grapes swelling on the vines there are the sweet herbs; there are those that may be softened by the flame and become tender. Nor is the milky juice denied you ; nor honey, redolent of the flower of thyme. The lavish Earth heaps up her riches and her gentle foods and offers you dainties without blood and without slaughter. The lower animals satisfy their ravenous hunger with flesh. And yet not all of them ; for the horse, the sheep, the cows and oxen subsist on grass ; while those whose disposition is cruel and fierce, the tigers of Armenia and the raging lions, and the wolves and bears, revel in their bloody diet.

" 'Alas! what a monstrous crime it is that entrails should be entombed in entrails; that one ravening body should grow fat on others which it crams into it; that one living creature should live by the death of another living creature! And so great an abundance which the Earth that best of mothers - produces does, indeed, nothing delight you but to gnaw with savage teeth the sad produce of the wounds you inflict and to imitate the habits of the Cyclops? Can you not appease the hunger of a voracious and ill-regulated stomach unless you first destroy another being? Yet that age of old, to which we have given the name of golden, was blest in the produce of the trees and in the herbs which the earth brings forth, and the human mouth was not polluted with blood.. ..

" 'From whence such a hunger in man after unnatural and unlawful food? Do you dare, O mortal race to continue to feed on flesh ? Do it not, I beseech you, and give heed to my admonitions. And when you present, to your palates the limbs of slaughtered oxen, know and feel that you are feeding on the tillers of the ground."'