A COMFORTABLE transition can be made at this point to the thought of Pythagoras. This sixth-century figure was born into a milieu which for centuries had been permeated by vegetarian ideals. Pythagoras's genius is that he gave these ideals some sort of philosophical foundation. Tom Regan rightly suggests that Pythagoras is the father of philosophical vegetarianism.1 But Pythagoras certainly did not initiate the attempt to recapture the golden age by abstaining from animal food.
At least two important prephilosophical movements introduced Pythagoras to vegetarianism. The Orphics were a mystical cult that practiced vegetarianism, but for unknown reasons. Their motivation was probably connected to their belief in the transmigration of souls. Animals were animated with souls that would eventually be, or had previously been, found in a human body. Orpheus himself was believed to have had the power to move animals with his voice. Because it was also believed that he had the same power over plants and rocks, some problems arise with a vegetarianism built solely on the basis of transmigration. If plants are as besouled as animals, what are we to eat? Although Pythagorean vegetarianism overcame these problems, the similarity between the Orphic and Pythagorean cults