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The World’s First Vegetarian

April 10, 2008

The world’s first vegetarian, Cain*, was also the world’s first murderer. Coincidence? Not according to the folks at the aptly named VegetariansAreEvil.com:

In Genesis , Chapter Four, Eve bears Cain and Abel. ‘And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.’ That ‘but’ in the middle of the sentence is the first clue to disapproval. This disapproval is confirmed by verses three to five. Abel and Cain bring offerings to God: Abel of his sheep and Cain, the fruits of the ground. God, we are told, had respect for Abel’s carnivorous offering, but He had no respect for Cain’s vegetarian one.

Never forget – it was the vegetarian Cain who murdered the shepherd Abel.


The website also contains bios on other wicked vegetarians throughout history, such as Hitler, Pol Pot, Charlie Manson, and even Genghis Khan, information as well as other information critical of vegetarianism, PETA, and the animal rights movement generally.

It’s not clear exactly to what extent the website is tongue in cheek (the site links to an article about the Antichrist being a vegetarian, as well as to a WorldNetDaily article entitled “Soy Is Making Kids Gay,” which can’t be taken seriously, but most of the material on the website doesn’t really read like a parody).

Obviously if the website means what it says then it’s more than a little nutty. There’s nothing inherently wrong with not eating meat, nor is there anything necessarily wrongheaded with refusing to do so on moral grounds. Many great saints have been vegetarians, and (to take things down a great many notches) I myself was a semi-vegetarian for a while based on concerns about animal welfare and factory farming of the sort described here. On the other hand, there do seem to be a certain types or justifications for vegetarianism that are based in a deeply flawed moral anthropology. If one doesn’t think that human beings have a special dignity, or that killing an animal is morally no different than killing a person, then it’s not so hard to see how that worldview might make it easier to justify doing awful things to human beings. The fact that Cain grew vegetables undoubtedly had little to do with his being the world’s first murderer, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Peter Singer, one of the world’s most prominent supporters of legal infanticide, was also one of the intellectual founding fathers of the animal rights movement.

*The Bible doesn’t actually say that Cain was a vegetarian. All it says is that he grew vegetables while his brother Abel was a shepherd. And since it is only after the flood that Scripture records God giving humanity animals as food, the logical conclusion (according to a literal interpretation of Scripture) would be that both Cain and Abel would have been vegetarians, and that neither Cain nor Abel but Adam who was the world’s first vegetarian. Whether this would absolve vegetarians in the eyes of the website’s creators, or simply cause them to up the ante (“Fall of Man Due to World’s First Vegetarian”) is unclear.

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39 Comments
  1. April 10, 2008 11:08 am

    Well, we need to remember — according to theological tradition, it was only after Noah that humanity is said to be allowed to eat meat; before then, it’s said we were all vegetarians. Certainly Adam, who predated Cain, would have been.

  2. Blackadder permalink
    April 10, 2008 11:11 am

    Henry,

    Yeah, I know. Look at the footnote.

  3. April 10, 2008 11:14 am

    Then the title of the post is deceptive, and indeed, offensive, because of what is being implied.

  4. Policraticus permalink*
    April 10, 2008 12:06 pm

    I think this is pretty funny and innocent.

  5. April 10, 2008 12:15 pm

    I’d hope no one buys into a literal reading of the flood story ? I’d hate to be a descendant of inbreeders :) Curiously, there’s quite a lot of that in the OT.

    Btw, it seems Hitler was not a vegetarian.

  6. April 10, 2008 12:29 pm

    Henry, are you really and truly offended by the title of this post?

    I agree with Policraticus. Just some people having fun – absurdity makes for good humor.

  7. bogey and bacall permalink
    April 10, 2008 12:41 pm

    Abel’s sacrifice resembled the future Christ since animals in a sense drop down from above as they are born with no work on the human’s part….as Christ dropped down from above to earth. Cain’s laborious sacrifice symbolized man’s works which without grace do not save while what does save is faith in Him who dropped down from above as gift and through no work of ours and that faith produces works that are engraced.
    Thus when the first parents sinned. God made them a “coat of skins”…thus then too animals propehtically as symbol of Christ had to die to cover man’s shame as Christ would cover us later.

  8. April 10, 2008 12:43 pm

    Sometimes absurdity makes for good humor, but sometimes there is an undercurrent behind it which must be questioned. And so there is more than humor going on with this post (“theological anthropology” ?!?!) which suggests an ideological bent that needs to be more forthcoming. The title, imo, is a way to interpret what that bent is. When someone uses a title they know is wrong, and go with the flow of it while making only a small little “footnote” that the title/point is all wrong, again, I think one can indeed question the point.

  9. April 10, 2008 12:58 pm

    I like the page about how vegetarians are always “angry.”

  10. Mike J. permalink
    April 10, 2008 1:17 pm

    “the logical conclusion (according to a literal interpretation of Scripture) would be that both Cain and Abel would have been vegetarians, and that neither Cain nor Abel but Adam who was the world’s first vegetarian.”

    Ah, so Cain killed because he was a vegetarian, but Abel, being a vegetarian (and evil) deserved it.

  11. SBuck permalink
    April 10, 2008 1:47 pm

    So does MM have the authority to put on moderation as to all threads? He’s mad that I “questioned his integrity,” which I did — but for good reasons, unlike the many times that various bloggers here (including MM and Henry) have questioned my integrity.

    [So far as I know moderation is an all or nothing deal. I'm not aware of an option to moderate a person only on certain threads. In any event, I'd rather not have disputes from other threads spill over into my posts. - BA]

  12. Blackadder permalink
    April 10, 2008 2:28 pm

    “I’d hate to be a descendant of inbreeders.”

    As the man in black says in the Princess Bride, get used to disappointment. Everyone of European ancestry is descended from European royalty, and given the amount of inbreeding that went on among royal families, it’s almost a certainty that you are a descendant of inbreeders.

  13. Phillip permalink
    April 10, 2008 2:45 pm

    Another reason to eat a bacon cheeseburger tonight.

  14. radicalcatholicmom permalink
    April 10, 2008 4:09 pm

    LOL!

  15. T. Shaw permalink
    April 10, 2008 4:38 pm

    Ted Turner is not a vegetarian; plus he foresees “occult dietary habits.”

    And, I am descended from Irish kings.

  16. April 10, 2008 5:49 pm

    Just another website to make non-reflective meat eaters feel better about themselves. If they don’t want to think one whit about what they put into their bodies, or what the act of eating means, then screw ‘em. Hope they get a taste of the Mad Cow.

    John Berkman is a Catholic theologian who has written a lot of good stuff on vegetarianism. Penned an article w/ Stanley Hauerwas on the topic too. Another good Christian perspective on animals is Matthew Scully’s book Dominion. Or Andrew Linzey ‘s Animal Theology and Animal Gospel.

  17. April 10, 2008 6:02 pm

    I am a freegan. I eat anything that is free.

    And I certainly don’t trust vegetarians. They ARE evil. I’m not kidding. Ok, yes I am. Kind of.

  18. Blackadder permalink
    April 10, 2008 6:14 pm

    “I am a freegan. I eat anything that is free.”

    Are you sure about that?

  19. Donald R. McClarey permalink
    April 10, 2008 6:19 pm

    I support vegetarianism. More meat for the rest of us. Pass the lamb please Jesus!

  20. April 10, 2008 6:26 pm

    “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them out of meat!”
    ~ Homer Simpson

  21. April 10, 2008 6:27 pm

    “Hope they get a taste of the Mad Cow.”

    That seems a bit harsh.

  22. April 10, 2008 6:47 pm

    That seems a bit harsh.

    So is VegetariansAreEvil.com.

  23. April 10, 2008 6:49 pm

    BA – You’re right. Jesuit John doesn’t seem to be familiar with the actual movement called Freeganism.

  24. April 10, 2008 6:56 pm

    MI-

    But your comment was directed at “non-reflective meat eaters,” which might include those who operate the website in question, but also includes many other folks. So, I am not sure how the harshness of the website in question is relevant to whether your comment was overly harsh to those who have no association with it.

  25. Blackadder permalink
    April 10, 2008 7:05 pm

    Michael,

    Don’t you want to hold yourself to a higher standard than the creators of VegetariansAreEvil.com?

  26. geraldaugust permalink
    April 10, 2008 7:27 pm

    One man’s Freegan is another man’s philosophy major. :D

  27. April 10, 2008 9:11 pm

    BA – I do hold myself to a higher standard.

    Fed – My comment was directed to non-reflective meat eaters who get a kick out of sites like that one, as well as generally belittling vegetarians. I find it odd that you chastise me for being “harsh” in responding to this website, and yet you link to this mean-spirited and harsh website on your own blog.

  28. April 10, 2008 9:33 pm

    BA and MI… That Freegan website is freegan awesome!

  29. April 10, 2008 9:59 pm

    A dumpster diving Jesuit would be interesting.
    Please don’t do it when we meet in Boston though, JJ =)

  30. April 10, 2008 10:28 pm

    Apropos of nothing…

    One day I was taking three of my dogs to the vet and was stopped at a light behind a car with a bumper sticker that read “If animals could talk we would all be vegitarians.” Good thing animals can’t read, because my smallest puppy was gnawing on a cow hoof in his crate to beat the band. Had he been able to talk – based on the drool and enthusiasm – I think the only thing he would have said is “Hey fatty, you gotta get yourself one of these, its deeeeeeeeeeeeelish!”

  31. April 10, 2008 10:42 pm

    Good one, Jesuit John!

  32. T. Shaw permalink
    April 11, 2008 7:49 am

    I’m on a seafood diet. I see food and I eat it.

    Plus, there is a ton of freegan liberal lunatics around here.

  33. April 11, 2008 8:10 am

    That seems a bit harsh.
    So is VegetariansAreEvil.com.

    So the comment about hoping someone gets Mad Cow was intended to be just as silly and over-the-top as the suggestion that vegetarians are genocidal monsters (which is obviously a joke, and not a joke on vegetarians either but on anti-vegetarians)?

  34. April 11, 2008 10:48 am

    SB – Of course.

  35. Phillip permalink
    April 11, 2008 11:00 am

    Sigh…

  36. May 20, 2008 6:58 pm

    The idea that killing an animal is just as worse as killing a human could also be taken as a reason not to kill either “human animals” or “animal animals”. Try again. It does not illegitamise animal rights. Vegetarianisms “logical” end is pascifism or passiveness but militant wackjobs piss all over the cause. It is absolutely a blind charge that Hitler was a vegetarian and can be proven false to the most part. Hitler a eugenecist and follower of the teachings of Margaret Saenger and the American birth control League?… Yes. Hitler the artist?… Yes? But is art evil? Obviously no…trying to prove or even hint vegetarianism or Catholicism or any other thing wrong on the ground of some of its adherents is pointless. Its like trying to strain the camel through the eye of the needle while the freegan just digs a hole under the wall. Peace….p.s thank you for being a semi vegetarian at one time in your life…and every other thing you may do to make the world and your health better.

  37. May 20, 2008 7:20 pm

    definition of freegan liberal lunatic- could be a follower of freegan ethics, vegans, vegetarians, semi-vegetarians,health food eaters, people who love nature “and not just by looking at it”, warners of global warming, believers in evolution, supporters of ideals, green party adherents, people who see Democrat exploits of the unborn to be just as evil as George Bush and right wing “hardly religious” – “Neo”-conservative exploiters of little children and civilians in other countries for the sake of oil and opium and the wealth of the rich upper crust… who wish our cholesterol levels to get high and instead of changing it with diet and exercise wish us to sit on our backsides and take blood pressure medicines that make it worse without lifestyle change from the typical S.A.D. Standard American Diet of corporate destroyer of small buisiness exploiting restuaraunts like Macdonalds…which if diet and exercise were implemented maybe even with the help of natural remedies these people would have the monetary status to work “within” the present system for good instead of dying while supporting the new Republic of Rome…which has fallen from whatever grace in actuality is….America. If God is what we should turn to do it and Repent as they say…If morality is important to you apart from religious considerations “Seek to be at peace with all men.” Comment with a comment of hate if a “standup kid” must. I do not have martyrs complex. I just know that this world is filled with hate and all I have to do is get on the internet and see it. Im not emo either but how can people make fun of those who are? Look at this place…it is a mess…a bloody horrid mess! Now c’mon internet kids hit me up…because if your Republican I want to talk to you about “conservative ideals” and if your a Democrat I want to talk to you about “life ethic” and how many third world countries have religious traditions filled with desires for “fertility” that accursed “blessing of God”.

  38. May 20, 2008 7:22 pm

    P.S. I go to internet blogs to vent sometimes. :)

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