Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

2019 Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1179-9_44



Voluntary fasting as opposed to inedia induced by psychological disorder or famine poses a number of ethical quandaries. First, since eating is a biological prerequisite for life, it would appear contrary to the dictates of survival that fasting could be used to promote health. Yet from a purely evolutionary vantage point, as gatherers and hunters, our bodies have adapted to an unpredictable food supply and even flourish without regularly scheduled meals, which are the product of a sedentary lifestyle and comparatively dependable food supply, fairly recent in the history of our species. Moreover, in the past ten millenia, the possibility of overeating has given fasting a purgative function for those able to overindulge. Several days without food has been considered physically cleansing, but obviously, there is a limit to the extent humans can go without food before wasting away and dying.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Library ReferenceUniversity of the PacificStocktonUSA