Meat-Eating as a Symbol of Power for the Minority
For the greater part of our recorded history, however, meat was the prerogative of the gods and the powerful. From the very beginning meat has meant power. Wealth was measured in head of cattle and wealth meant power and influence in the community. The more meat you ate the more you showed everyone else how well you were doing – it was (and still is in many parts of the world) the gustatory equivalent of the mink coat.
But as far back as 3,500 BC we know that some people scorned meat altogether and the great thinker and mathematician, Pythagoras, was one of them. Indeed the majority of people throughout our history ate meat only on the few religious festival days throughout the year. This would probably have amounted to eating meat no more than three or four times each year compared to three or four times each day that is common for many people today. Thanks to new research even the traditional view of macho carnivorous Roman gladiators has been well and truly laid to rest. Chemical analysis of the bones of gladiators has revealed that they essentially lived on a vegetarian diet of barley and beans for strength – not meat.
Today we no longer have any need to use meat as a symbol of power. The sooner we reject this outdated idea the better – for our own moral and physical health as well as the animals and the planet that pay the price for our desire of meat.