History of vegetarianism

Vegetarianism has its roots in the civilizations of ancient India and ancient Greece. Vegetarianism is the theory and practice of voluntary non-consumption of the flesh of any animal (including sea animals), with or without also eschewing other animal derivatives (such as dairy products or eggs).[1] The earliest records of vegetarianism as a concept and practice amongst a significant number of people concern ancient India[2] and the ancient Greek civilizations in southern Italy and Greece.[3] In both instances the diet was closely connected with the idea of nonviolence toward animals (called ahimsa in India), and was promoted by religious groups and philosophers.[4]
Following the Christianization of the Roman Empire in late antiquity (4th-6th centuries), vegetarianism nearly disappeared from Europe.[5] Several orders of monks in medieval Europe restricted or banned the consumption of meat for ascetic reasons, but none of them abstained from the consumption of fish; these monks were not vegetarians, but some were pescetarians.[6] Vegetarianism was to reemerge somewhat in Europe during the Renaissance,[7] and became a more widespread practice during the 19th and 20th centuries. The figures for the percentage of the Western world which is vegetarian varies between 0.5% & 4% per Mintel data in September 2006.[8][citation needed]


1 Ancient

1.1 India

1.1.1 Hinduism
1.1.2 Early Buddhism and Jainism

1.2 Greece and Europe

1.2.1 Judaism
1.2.2 Greece

1.3 East and Southeast Asia

1.3.1 China
1.3.2 Japan

1.4 Orthodox Christianity
1.5 Christian antiquity and Middle Ages

2 Early modern period
3 19th century
4 20th century
5 Current situation
6 Historians of vegetarianism
7 See also
8 Notes
9 Sources
10 Further reading

In the ancient Vedic period, eating some kinds of meat was allowed by their laws, although vegetarianism was encouraged.[9] The Manusmriti law book states, “There is no sin in eating meat… but abstention brings great rewards.”[10]
When the famous Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian visited the Magadha region of India in the early 5th century AD, he found that people abstain from taking life. … They do not breed pigs or poultry or sell any animal food.[11]
Vegetarianism was (and still is) mandatory for the yogis, both for the practitioners of Hatha Yoga[12] and for the disciples of the Vaishnava schools of Bhakti Yoga (especially the Gaudiya Vaishnavas). A bhakta (devotee) offers all his f