What Do Elves Eat, Anyway?

It's no accident that we've skipped most of the "meals" associated with elves in Heroes' Feast, but we finally came around to make one: bacon and asparagus. The bacon surprised us because we don't associate meat with elves.

It's no accident that we've skipped most of the "meals" associated with elves in Heroes' Feast, but we finally came around to make one: bacon and asparagus. The bacon surprised us because we don't associate meat with elves.

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Not Just Vegetables​

Heroes' Feast says a lot about elven cuisine by what it doesn't include. Of the elven recipes in Heroes' Feast, two involve seafood (shrimp and Dragon Salmon), one involves eggs, and only one involves meat: Greenspear Bundles in Bacon. Why was it included? Because it's actually made by half-elves:
Greenspears, also referred to as asparagus or "sparrow grass" by humans, is a perennial flower plant that has ascended to staple-status in many elven diets. While elves consume greenspear raw, seasoned, roasted, or steamed with herbs, their half-elf brethren--liberated from certain culinary taboos--have developed an additional preparation technique. In an irreverent touch, but one that flavorfully complements the greenspear, half-elves add salted and cured pork into the mix, in deference to their half-human taste buds. Regarding bacon, the thicker cut is always the better!"
This is the first meal we served with guests and they found it surprisingly delicious. It's the sort of meal that's different enough to introduce as an appetizer but flavorful enough that it gets eaten quickly. I'm not fond of asparagus or bacon, but the combination is delicious.

It's also a meal you can feasibly make for your players with a very short baking time (15 minutes or longer if you prefer your bacon crispier).

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Tolkien's Elves​

The association of elves with vegetarianism is likely due to their affinity with nature, established in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There's much discussion of elven lembas, a kind of travel ration, but little else. The association with elves avoiding meat likely stems from the inspiration for wood elves, the Green Elves of Ossiriand, who decided that men as "hewers of trees and hunters of beasts" were no friends of theirs.

Still, there is enough evidence throughout Tolkien's works to indicate that meat was present when elves served a meal or when they ate at a table, and the fact it wasn't mentioned that an elf skipped the meat portion of the meal argues that they were not vegetarian.

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D&D Elves​

But what of elves in Dungeons & Dragons? Here's what Heroes' Feast has to say on the subject:
Because they place such a strong value on life, a high percentage of elves stringently exercise food restrictions, and a great many would fall into the category of vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian--little that bleeds ends up on elven plates.
Ironically, D&D wood elves seem to be different from their Tolkien-inspired brethren:
High elves tend to align their diets most closely to their values, and prefer fruits, vegetables, and grains to meat and poultry. By contrast, wood elves are often wanderers and adventures and, consequently, more disposed to hunting and foraging.
So it seems that at least some elves eat meat after all. But you wouldn't know it from the recipes in Heroes' Feast.

Your Turn: Do elves eat meat in your fantasy campaign?
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
Wood elves are hunters, therefore definitely eat meat, including fish, deer, goose, and boar, plus gather wild plants and insects. Magic is often involved to forage food.

High elves are normally vegetarian, eating from magically cultivated plants.

Drow eat subterranean foods, such as otherworldly reptiles and funguses.

Eladrin eat magical versions of human food − compare Harry Potter.
 


Ixal

Hero
And because elves are so in tune with nature and value life so highly they clear huge tracks of land for farming required to have a balanced vegetarian diet and do not even have house pigs used to eat their leftovers and garbage until they are fat enough for slaughter.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
Hmm. If elves use magic to hunt their food, then the prey animals would have to evolve magical defenses or go extinct.

So many interesting possibilities...
 


Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
I view High Elves as living in elegant treetowns, of interconnected treehouses that are made of living tree wood. They mainly eat from trees, including fruits, berries, and leaves.
 

talien

Community Supporter
Wood elves are hunters, therefore definitely eat meat, including fish, deer, goose, and boar, plus gather wild plants and insects. Magic is often involved to forage food.

High elves are normally vegetarian, eating from magically cultivated plants.

Drow eat subterranean foods, such as otherworldly reptiles and funguses.

Eladrin eat magical versions of human food − compare Harry Potter.

Tolkien seemed to land on the "the elves who live in harmony with nature are not okay with hunting animals" which implies they're vegetarians.

Modern D&D decided wood elves are hunters and therefore eat meat, because they're hunters and travel a lot where you can't always forage.

In Tolkien, the "less-woodsy" elves ate meat. But in D&D the luxury of not having to hunt gives high elves the ability to be vegetarian.

It's an interesting question as to what "living in harmony with nature" really means. I feel like conceptions around what makes a culture decide to be a vegetarian have evolved over time.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
It's an interesting question as to what "living in harmony with nature" really means. I feel like conceptions around what makes a culture decide to be a vegetarian have evolved over time.
Hunting and gathering is being part of nature.

Herding and gardening is learning to harness nature.

Vegetarianism is an ethical effort to transcend nature.
 


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