Bogumils – the first animal friends and vegans in the Balkans?

Were the Bogumils in the Middle Ages animal friends and even the first vegans in the Balkans? There are many indications that they were. Out of inner conviction, they avoided all animal foods such as meat, milk, cheese, and eggs, and believed in the oneness of God’s creation that Jesus of Nazareth had already spoken of.

The Bogumil movement – often called “good people” or “good Christians” – originated in Bulgaria and spread from Macedonia to Serbia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina from the 9th to the 15th century. And even further: intensive contacts with Qatar in southern France and Italy have been documented.

Bogumil’s vegan lifestyle and God’s commandment “Do not kill”

But what did the Bogumils believe in and how did they live? Due to intense persecution by Orthodox and Catholic church institutions and influential people, most of the material remnants of this religious movement were destroyed. However, some evidence remains in the city and church archives. They show a picture of people who, because of their faith, have consistently avoided animal food and applied God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill” to every life created by God – both human and animal.

The Serbian historian Željko Fajfrić writes about the Bogumils in Serbia in the 12th and 13th centuries: “They were not engaged in trade, but almost exclusively in agriculture and handicrafts. Their clothes were monochromatic, without strong colors, and their food was exclusively plant – they were forbidden meat, milk, cheese and eggs. They lived exclusively on bread, fruits and vegetables.

Croatian historian Dominik Mandić, also a Catholic and Franciscan, describes the vegan way of life of the Bogumils in Bosnia and Herzegovina: “Bosnian Christians fasted strictly and did not eat meat or other animal products. They had this for the inner need of their faith, which was based on God’s command. In the 14th-century list of Bosnian Christian errors, paragraph 30 states: ‘They have condemned the consumption of meat and all that comes from meat, and they have argued that those who eat meat’ cannot be saved. ‘ to some Roman Catholics and Bosnian fathers. At this point, too, Bosnian Christians agreed with Western Qataris.

The Italian inquisitor Rainerius Sacconi described Qatar as follows: “In addition, they believe that eating meat, eggs or cheese, even in emergencies, is a mortal sin

The Bogumil-inspired communities of the Cathars in southern France were also clear: “This church refrains from killing, nor does it agree to others killing. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “If you want to come to life, do not kill.” writes in the Qatari document The Defense of the Church of God from 1250.

Bogumils and Catholics: Opponents and advocates of “meat sacrificed to idols”

The Catholic polemical treatise against the Bogumils mentioned by Mandić explains in detail the theological debate, as was often the case at the time. Such texts served as a “guide” for Catholic preachers on how to deal with the teachings of heretics and how to refute their arguments as “good Catholics” with relevant Bible quotations in the sense of the Roman Church. The chapter “On the pleasure of meat” contains the following dialogue in Latin:

“Bogumil: We say that one who eats meat born of blood or eggs and bloody things is condemned.

Roman Catholic: We say the opposite… that God gave people meat to eat, which is evident from the psalm which says: He [God] sprinkled on them flesh like dust, feathered birds like sea sand… Then they all ate and were full; he brought them what they wanted.

“Bogumils have been called Christians from the beginning. The basis of their teaching was the New Testament. ” explains Katja Papasov, an expert on Bogumilov. Therefore, during a conversation with a Roman Catholic, Bogumil refers to the first letter of the Corinthians to the Apostle Paul from the New Testament. It speaks of “meat sacrificed to idols” and of abstaining from it:

“As for eating meat sacrificed to idols, we know that there are no idols in the world and that there is no God but One. Even if there are so-called gods in heaven or on earth – and there are many such gods and lords – we have only one God, the Father. Everything comes from him and we live by him. And one is the Lord: Jesus Christ. Everything is after him and we are after him. However, not everyone has this realization.

Some who cannot move away from their idols still eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols, so their weak conscience is dirty. Otherwise, no food can bring us before God’s judgment. If we don’t eat, we lose nothing, but if we eat, we gain nothing.

However, be careful that this freedom of yours will not encourage the weak. Namely, if someone who has knowledge sees you eating in the temple of the idols, will it not be his conscience because he is weak, deceived into eating meat sacrificed to the idols?

Weak from your ‘knowledge’ perishes, he, your brother, for whom Christ died. If you sin against your neighbors in this way and violate their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. So if there is any food to encourage my brother, I will not eat meat at all so as not to stumble my brother

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