Cain offered God vegetables, Abel offered meat, and God liked meat better. Byron was a sometime vegetarian, and in Byron’s play Cain, the hero scorns meat-eating with heretical, high-Romantic passion. He threatens to knock over Abel’s altar, “with its blood of lambs and kids, / Which fed on milk, to be destroyed in blood.”
When Abel protests that God has found pleasure “in his acceptance of the victims,” Cain bitterly replies:
His pleasure! what was his high pleasure in
The fumes of scorching flesh and smoking blood,
To the pain of the bleating mothers, which
Still yearn for their dead offspring? or the pangs
Of the sad ignorant victims underneath
Thy pious knife?
The first militant vegetarian?