Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Vegetarianism in the English Civil War

From Lord Grey:
In the English Civil War, vegetarianism helped reinforce the religious arguments for which some of the protagonists fought. Refraining from meat was not just a question of taste - for many it was a question of faith.​ 
The diet of early modern England was sparing when it came to consumption of flesh. For the majority of people, meat was an expensive rarity. But recent research has revealed that even the poorer members of 17th century society ate considerable amounts of meat, and those involved in heavy labour, such as agricultural workers, may have consumed between one and two pounds of flesh a day (Hailwood, 2013). Given this revelation, it is all the more remarkable that there were those among the lower classes who maintained a meat-free diet, not out of necessity but for reasons of morality. 
Going 'veggie' was a regular occurrence for those who lived in London during the Civil War, when the last Wednesday of each month was observed as a public fast and eating meat was prohibited. The Bible taught that after Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden they were condemned to live by their own labour: “In the sweate of thy face thou shalt eat bread” (Genesis, 3:18-19), and reverting to a meat-free diet was a reminder to the London citizens of their innate sinfulness. Parliament's stipulation of these monthly fasts was both an act of humility and an acknowledgement of Christ's ultimate salvation, bringing the London population closer to God. (Read more.)

No comments: