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.


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).


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.


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


He Mage
Proto-hominids evolved by scavenging meat, so Elfs who forgo Hunting could still be scavengers and/or insectovores

insect eating would explain the drow love of Lloth. High elves might eat butterflies

That drow elves eat insects, like spiders do, is a great point. Insects are probably the most prevalent foodsource underground.

Heh, I still cant picture high elves eating insects, tho.

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They get surprisingly tender if you stew them long enough.
Ah, I see you are familiar with the old Australian recipe for cooking galah (a ubiquitous native cockatoo), then.

  • 1 galah
  • 1 leather boot

Place galah and leather boot in large pot, cover with water from the dam. Place over open fire.

Simmer until leather of the boot is soft enough to chew.

Throw away galah.

Eat boot.


I don't know where people get the idea that Tolkien's elves are vegetarians. In The Hobbit, description of the the elves' feast in Mirkwood includes the smell of roast meats and later it is said that the elves hunt.


They get surprisingly tender if you stew them long enough.

And then the dwarves break out the magma.
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My elves live off sunlight and water. Who says fantasy races need to have human-like digestive system? My dragons eat gold to grow. Dwarves regard gemstones as sweets and delicacies.


In the Elder Scrolls, the Bosmer aka the Wood Elves, at least those under the Green Pact, literally eat no plants at all.

No fruit, no vegetables, no using of wood products.

Imagine pure carnivores. Pure meat eating.
The Green Pact, also known as the Treaty of Frond and Leaf,[1] is a strict code upheld by many of the Bosmer of Valenwood.[2] It is said to have guided their existence since the beginning of the "great story". Its rules are clear. Do not harm the forests of Valenwood. Do not eat anything made from plant life. Eat only meat. When enemies are conquered, their meat must be eaten, not left to rot. Do not kill wastefully. Do not take on the shape of beasts.[3]

Green Pact Bosmer are said to attack any who would harm the forest in which they live, which they call the Green.[4] However, they usually don't mind other races cutting trees down (most notably in the case of Vinedusk Rangers and Wood Orcs in their respective territories), and are known to buy wood from them.[5][6][7] The cannibalistic "Meat Mandate" of the Pact sets them apart religiously from other cultures. The requirement to eat fallen enemies before three days pass is perhaps the most shocking part of the Pact to outsiders.[2][8] Though many Bosmer still try to respect the Green Pact, the practice of eating dead enemies diminished by the Second Era, and is typically only practiced in the most remote villages.[8] The family members of the warrior who slaughtered the enemy may help him with his meal.[2][8] Bosmer who honor this facet of the Green Pact typically attempt to prepare themselves before large battles by fasting.[2]

The Bosmer allegedly made the Green Pact with Y'ffre in return for Y'ffre's patronage and protection.[9] As a result, they use bone, animal, and insect products widely; imported wood is used when necessary.[2][9] Rather than drinking conventional liquor made from grain or fruit, the Bosmer consume jagga (fermented pig's milk) and rotmeth.[10] Rotmeth is made from fermented meat seasoned with thunderbug organs, takes years to brew, and is considered a precious ritual beverage that symbolizes "the muscle of the boar, the power of the forest, the strength of the Bosmer people".
No wedding can take place without it.[11] Y'ffre is believed to have first blessed them with their form, thus their appearance is sacred, so although Bosmer may take the shape of beasts, the Pact normally bans this practice.[3] However, the Wild Hunt is considered a result of the Green Pact: in return for their patronage to Y'ffre, the Bosmer may perform a ritual in dire times that transforms the participants into a horde of wild, shape-shifting beasts, which go on to lay waste to the enemies of the Bosmer.[12]

The Green Pact made the felling of Valenwood trees by anyone, foreign or native, a crime against the Bosmeri religion.[13] There are almost no cities or towns built by the Bosmer themselves. Rather, the Bosmer's relationship with the Pact grants them magical forest-shaping abilities to grow their settlements. The exact process is unclear, but reports claim that it's often a highly ritualized affair which consists of slow, rhythmic chanting for several days. Much like the Meat Mandate, fasting is possibly involved prior to and during the process.[14][15] Bosmer also believe Y'ffre has blessed them with the limited ability to ask the Green to shape itself to their needs to help them live within the restrictions of the Pact.[3]
So it's kind of interesting to me. Imagine carnivorous, potentially cannibalistic elves.

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