Benjamin Franklin said “Eating Flesh is Unprovoked Murder”
“Flesh eating is unprovoked murder.”
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1706. A diplomat, political activist and inventor, he discovered electricity and invented the Franklin stove. His life was one of life-long learning, questioning, curiosity, and inquiry. He is one of the most respected intellects of the Western world, and with less than two years of formal education, he was truly considered a self-made man.
Franklin’s entire life reflected his belief in self-improvement and he worked constantly to improve his mind, his body, and his behavior. At the age of only 20, Franklin pursued a virtuous life by creating a system to develop his character. He embarked on a course of what he called “moral perfection,” by creating a set of 13 virtues or resolutions. He practiced each virtue for a week then moved on to the next virtue – until all 13 were practiced in sequence, then he would start all over again at the beginning.
Ben Franklin wrote in his autobiography, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, that he became a vegetarian at the age of 16. He wrote, “When about 16 years of age I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tyron, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it.” Franklin was a man that prided himself on exercising temperance in both his eating and drinking habits, as part of an effort to constantly improve his moral character and discipline himself. He decided to become a vegetarian because he felt eating a vegetarian diet was healthier and more ethical, and to save money.
In his autobiography, Franklin talks about the increased mental clarity and improved learning ability he gained from eating a vegetarian diet, saying, “… despatching presently my light repast, which often was no more than a bisket or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart from the pastry-cook’s, and a glass of water, had the rest of the time … for study, in which I made the greater progress, from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking.” (from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin)
Later in his autobiography he says, “Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion, I consider’d with my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc’d some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, “If you eat one another, I don’t see why we mayn’t eat you.” (from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin)
In his later life, Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and worked on a committee of five that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, Franklin signed the Declaration, and afterward sailed to France as an ambassador to the Court of Louis XVI. In his 70s, he became President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. One of his last public acts was writing an anti-slavery treatise in 1789.
Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. New York: P.F. Gollier & Son Company, 1791. Print.