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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.

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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

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
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.
Hmm. Heroes' Feast has an interesting definition of "life." Mine includes plants.

@Bedrockgames has the right idea. To truly respect life, elves would have to eat something that doesn't grow. Like hair clippings...

My wild elves (they hate that term) eat 90% vegetables, 10% animal products - mostly because animals are much more productive while still alive.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
I think 5E eladrin would basically eat the same as wood elves, but just planar.
In 5e, eladrin are completely unnatural. The Fey Plane is something like the twilight zone, where stories take on a life of their own. It is a magical world of storytelling, fairytales.

In this fey world, the Eladrin eat whatever food stories invent. There are actually no "real" plants or animals in the Feywild.

For example, foods that come into existence based on bad puns, could be suitable cuisine for Eladrin.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
High Elves eat what ever was on the Door Dash special and would get angry if it was over 30 minutes late but they are "high" elves after all. Ok elves would eat meat but not over hunt their environment.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Elves, forest gnomes, firbolg, druids, etc, all eat meat. They're part of nature, the idea of them being vegetarians is, to me, completely ludicrous. They do not, however, farm in large amounts. Show me an animist culture IRL that believes all creatures have souls, that is also vegetarian or vegan, and I'll buy into the idea of vegetarian Druids and Elves.

The fruit trees and berry bushes and the like in a forest with any of the forest folk are more plentiful and robust than in real world forests, and small glades are sometimes used to cultivate things like coffee or other crops that grow well in the partial shade of trees, and a family might have a few chickens and/or goats, and the like, but care is taken to not let them breed out of control, and most meat comes from hunting and trapping.
 

aco175

Legend
Dark sun elves eat humans
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The topic of the spell Heroes Feast has me thinking that each person could change some of the foods it creates based on the race of the caster or whom taught it to the mage. Would an elf cast a different Heroes Feast than a dwarf and conjure different food or is the type of food cemented in the learning of the spell and if an elf let the dwarf copy his spell it would only make what the elf wanted in the first place.
 

Undrave

Hero
Reminds me of 'Restaurant in Another World' where, once a week ("On the day of Satur") a normal Tokyo restaurant magically connects to a fantasy world. Magical door appear in random location and various characters can enter to taste modern food. (It's a very cozy anime with lots of good looking food). One of the regular is an Elf who is vegan and she was apprehensive of human cuisine at first, but she gets impressed by tofu steaks. She realizes that elven cuisine is super bland and decides to go on a quest to discover new flavours.
 


One of the regular is an Elf who is vegan and she was apprehensive of human cuisine at first, but she gets impressed by tofu steaks. She realizes that elven cuisine is super bland and decides to go on a quest to discover new flavours.
This is the most dystopian thing that's ever been written about elves.

If tofu steaks are exciting, then elves are living a bleak, bleak life.
 

Happy GIF by Disney


Dwarves.

They get surprisingly tender if you stew them long enough.

Pretty sure that there are elvish hunters mentioned in The Silmarillion - Celegorm for one. I think that it's more that elves oppose hunting for sport rather than for food and crafting. I doubt elves have a meat-heavy diet, and they would certainly follow the ideas about ethical consumption.

But I also recall some lines in the various Dragonlance works where Caramon expresses dismay that elves don't seem to eat meat. But Caramon was more than a little basic.

In the end, it's another "do dwarven women have beards" question. And as the DM, I'll let the player decide if their elf is a vegetarian or not.
 

Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
In my post-apocalyptic Winter Eternal game, it depends on the elves.

The eladrin and their vedalkyn servitors ate balanced. Their philosophy was about balance, meaning they did their best to make zero footprint on herding, crops, meat slaughter etc.

Now, the wood elves, being forced into nomadic survival and constant battles against the orc hordes, turned to worship of Yeegnoghu and became naked, demon worshipping berserkers who loved the taste and texture of flesh, but more so gained a metaphorical sustenance from the adrenaline of the pursuit and kill.
 



Yaarel

Mind Mage
I also view elves as having annual sacred revelries, when clans get together, that are orgiastic, with various kinds of competitions and entertainments, that are often magical in nature.

On such a day, elves might get "high" (on a certain kind of tree leaf?) and drunk (on a certain kind of berry wine?), not to mention magical intoxications.
 




Hmm. Heroes' Feast has an interesting definition of "life." Mine includes plants.

@Bedrockgames has the right idea. To truly respect life, elves would have to eat something that doesn't grow. Like hair clippings...

My wild elves (they hate that term) eat 90% vegetables, 10% animal products - mostly because animals are much more productive while still alive.

A common misconception about angel hair:
 

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