Ὁ δὲ κελεύων μὴ ἐσθίειν καὶ ἄδικον ἡγούμενος, οὐδὲ κτείνειν δίκαιον ἐρεῖ οὐδὲ ψυχὰς ἀφαιρεῖσθαι. ἀλλὰ μὴν πρός γε τὰ θηρία πόλεμος ἡμῖν ἔμφυτος ἅμα καὶ δίκαιος. τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἑκόντα ἐπιτίθεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, ὥσπερ λύκοι καὶ λέοντες· τὰ δ’ οὐχ ἑκόντα, ὥσπερ οἱ ἔχεις· πατηθέντες γὰρ ἐνίοτε δάκνουσιν· καὶ τὰ μὲν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐπιτίθεται, τὰ δὲ τοὺς καρποὺς φθείρει· ὑπὲρ ὧν πάντων μέτιμεν ταῦτα, καὶ τὰ κατάρξαντα θηρία κτείνομεν καὶ τὰ μὴ κατάρξαντα, ὡς μή τι πρὸς αὐτῶν πάθωμεν. οὐκ ἔστιν γὰρ ὅστις ἰδὼν ὄφιν οὐκ ἔκτεινε δυνάμενος, ὡς μήτ’ αὐτὸς δηχθείη μήτ’ ἄλλος ἁπλῶς ἄνθρωπος· οὐ γὰρ μόνον ἐστὶ μῖσος κατὰ τῶν κτεινομένων, ἀλλὰ καὶ στοργὴ πρὸς ἄνθρωπον ἀνθρώπου. δικαίου δ’ ὄντος τοῦ πρὸς τὰ θηρία πολέμου πολλῶν ἀπεχόμεθα τῶν συνανθρωπούντων. ὅθεν οἱ Ἕλληνες οὔτε κυνοφαγοῦσιν οὔθ’ ἵππους ἐσθίουσιν οὔτ’ ὄνους μέντοι ἐσθίουσιν ὡς ταὐτοῦ γένους τοῖς ἀγρίοις τὸ ἥμερον· ὡσαύτως τε τοὺς ὄρνιθας. οὐδὲ γάρ ἐστι χρήσιμον πρὸς ἄλλο τι ὗς ἢ πρὸς βρῶσιν. Φοίνικες δὲ καὶ Ἰουδαῖοι ἀπέσχοντο, ὅτι οὐδ’ ὅλως ἐν τοῖς τόποις ἐφύετο· ἐπεὶ οὐδὲ νῦν ἐν Αἰθιοπίᾳ φασὶν ὁρᾶσθαι τὸ ζῷον τοῦτο. ὡς οὖν κάμηλον ἢ ἐλέφαντα Ἑλλήνων οὐδεὶς θεοῖς ἔθυσε, παρ’ ὅσον οὐδ’ ἤνεγκεν ἡ Ἑλλὰς ταῦτα τὰ ζῷα, οὕτως οὐδ’ ἐν Κύπρῳ ἢ Φοινίκῃ θεοῖς προσήχθη τὸ ζῷον τοῦτο, παρ’ ὅσον οὐκ ἦν ἐντόπιον· οὐδὲ Αἰγύπτιοι θεοῖς θύουσιν ὗν παρὰ τὴν αὐτὴν αἰτίαν. τὸ δ’ ὅλως ἀπέχεσθαι τοῦ ζῴου τινὰς ὅμοιόν ἐστιν τῷ μηδ’ ἂν ἡμᾶς ἐθελῆσαι καμήλεια ἐσθίειν. διὰ τί δ’ ἄν τις καὶ ἀπόσχοιτο τῶν ἐμψύχων; ἆρά γε τὴν ψυχὴν χείρω ποιεῖ ἢ τὸ σῶμα; δῆλον δ’ ἐστὶν ὡς οὐδέτερον. τὰ γὰρ σαρκοφαγοῦντα ζῷα συνετώτερα τῶν ἄλλων. θηρευτικὰ γοῦν ἐστὶ καὶ τέχνην ἔχει ταύτην, ἀφ’ ἧς περιποιεῖται τὸν βίον, ἰσχύν τε καὶ ἀλκὴν κέκτηται, ὥσπερ λέοντες καὶ λύκοι· ὥσθ’ ἡ κρεοφαγία οὔτε τὴν ψυχὴν οὔτε τὸ σῶμα λυμαίνεται. δῆλον δ’ ἐστὶ κἀκ τοῦ τοὺς ἀθλητὰς τὰ σώματα κρείσσω τῇ κρεοφαγίᾳ παρέχειν, κἀκ τῶν ἰατρῶν, οἳ τὰ ἐκ τῆς ἀρρωστίας σώματα ἀναλαμβάνουσι ταῖς κρεοφαγίαις. τοῦ δὲ μὴ ὑγιῶς δοξάσαι τὸν Πυθαγόραν σημεῖον οὐ μικρόν· τῶν γὰρ σοφῶν ἀνδρῶν οὐδεὶς ἐπείσθη, οὔτε τῶν ἑπτὰ οὔτε τῶν ὕστερον γενομένων φυσικῶν, ἀλλ’ οὐδ’ ὁ σοφώτατος Σωκράτης οὐδ’ οἱ ἀπὸ Σωκράτους.
(Porphyry, Peri Apochēs Empsuchōn 1.14-15)
Someone who says we should not eat [animals], thinking it unjust, will also say that it is unjust to kill them and to take away their souls. But between us and the beasts there is a war which is innate and also just. Some beasts intentionally attack humans, as wolves and lions do; some attack unintentionally, like snakes, which sometimes bite because they have been trodden on. Some attack humans, some destroy crops. For all these reasons we go after them: we kill beasts, both those that take the initiative and those that do not, to avoid suffering any harm from them. Anyone who sees a snake kills it if he can, so that neither he nor any other human being should be bitten; for we have not only hatred for the creatures which are killed, but also affection of human for human. But though the war against the beasts is just, we abstain from many that live with humans. That is why the Greeks do not eat dogs, or horses, or donkeys. They do eat pigs, because domestic pigs are of the same race as wild pig, and likewise birds. Indeed, pigs are not useful for anything except for eating. Phoenicians and Jews abstain [from pigs], because there were none at all in those places; and even now, they say, this animal is not found in Ethiopia. So, just as no Greek has sacrificed a camel or elephant to the gods, because Greece does not produce these creatures, so in Cyprus and Phoenicia this animal was not offered to the gods, because it was not local, and the Egyptians do not sacrifice pigs to the gods for the same reason. So some people abstain entirely from this animal, but it is as if we refused to eat camels. Why would anyone abstain from animate creatures? Do they make the soul worse, or the body? Obviously, neither. Flesh-eating animals are more intelligent than the others: they are hunters, and have this skill with which they get a living and acquire strength and fighting spirit, like lions and wolves. So meat-eating does not damage either the soul or the body. This is also clear from the fact that athletes make their bodies stronger by meat-eating, and from doctors, who prescribe meat-eating to restore bodies which are recovering from illness. There is also strong evidence that Pythagoras’ views were unsound: none of the sages was convinced, either from the Seven or from the later natural scientists, not even Socrates, wisest of all, or his successors. (tr. Gillian Clark)