"I remember reading about Pythagoras around this time, and finding some of his ideas curiously appealing"

 Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher, and founder of the religion Pythagoreanism. Although today he is probably best known as for the Pythagoras theorem in mathematics. Pythagoreanism was a mystical, ascetic religion whose followers abstained from meat, fish and beans, wore white robes and believed in equality between men and women.