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Old 05-10-2014, 08:17 AM   #1
Lotrelf
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Are Elves vegatarian?

Did Professor mean Elves to be vegatarian? I'm on the 8th chapter in The Hobbit, Flies and Spiders. The Hobbit and the Dwarves find some elves while journeying in Mirkwood, and they are mentioned eating "meat". Meat has only one meaning. I thought Elves were vegies, weren't they?
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:39 AM   #2
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The Noldor in Beleriand in the First Age were said to be hunters, and I would presume that they did not hunt only for skins. Elves in general did not shun eating meat, but perhaps certain communities, like the Green-elves of Ossiriand, who used the excuse that arriving Men from the east were "hunters of beasts" as a reason to dislike them, might have stuck with vegetarianism.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:54 AM   #3
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Elves were spiritual, and spiritual people/creatures refrain killing others for their own benefit, be it for food. Elves, being First Born, were not supposed to do so, as they did not smoke.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:03 AM   #4
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But they do drink wine,like galion,thranduil and the wood elves.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:19 AM   #5
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Elves were spiritual, and spiritual people/creatures refrain killing others for their own benefit, be it for food. Elves, being First Born, were not supposed to do so, as they did not smoke.
Yet, they did hunt. I see no evidence that their status as the Firstborn precluded hunting, or using animals in other ways. They simply would not have been wasteful, or indiscriminate with what they killed. Elves were also in tune with forests and trees, yet they used wood for fires, tools, and building.

As for the smoking, that was a habit peculiar to western Eriador, attributable to Hobbits, that had not even been introduced until the Third Age. Only those, like the Men of Bree and the Dwarves who commonly dealt with Hobbits, were likely to have taken it up, or even known of it.
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:24 AM   #6
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Post-LotR work on the Silmarillion (published in Morgoth's Ring) indicates that the Elves certainly did hunt, the most telling quote being:

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The Elves had before possessed only weapons of the chase, spears and bows and arrows.
There's also Aule's reply to Yavanna after his making of the Dwarves:

Quote:
That shall also be true of the Children of Iluvatar; for they will eat and they will build. And though the things of thy realm have worth in themselves, and would have worth if no Children were to come, yet Eru will give them dominion, and they shall use all that they find in Arda: though not, by the purpose of Eru, without respect or without gratitude.
The concept of Elves as vegetarian hippies living in commune with nature is true only of the Nandor, but is otherwise largely a later trope, perhaps a case of a D&D-ism working backwards and infecting Tolkien, but in Tolkien's own writings there's no grounds for this trope.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:20 PM   #7
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I did not say being Firstborn would keep them from killing or hunting. It was a general question since Elves were the most spiritual creatures, and they loved nature. So their affection towards natural things i.e. Trees and Animals etc. would be dear to them. They instead of hunting or killing, would preserve them.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
Elves were spiritual, and spiritual people/creatures refrain killing others for their own benefit, be it for food. Elves, being First Born, were not supposed to do so, as they did not smoke.
Elves ate meat. Slaughtered, spat, swore - and no doubt had body odour. Their hair got matted, tangled, and dreaded like anyone's in the wild. Eol had a hunched back, from working the smithies.

They were quite perverse in their own way, when you look at the race with some caveats--even weirdos at times. They're also Elf-tossers: Turgon threw Eol off the crags in Gondolin after Aredhel was slain by a poison arrow.

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Old 05-11-2014, 05:22 PM   #9
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Did Professor mean Elves to be vegatarian? I'm on the 8th chapter in The Hobbit, Flies and Spiders. The Hobbit and the Dwarves find some elves while journeying in Mirkwood, and they are mentioned eating "meat". Meat has only one meaning. I thought Elves were vegies, weren't they?
Tolkien's Elves appear to eat meat in The Hobbit, as you note, and according to the earlier stages of the legendarium. From The Lay of the Children of Hurin, for example:

On a time was Turin at the table of Thingol
there was laughter long and the loud clamour
of a countless company that quaffed the mead,
amid the wine of Dor-Winion that went ungrudged
in their golden goblets; and goodly meats
there burdened the boards, neath the blazing torches
...


The question might be: did JRRT change his mind with respect to The Lord of the Rings and later? For myself I do not think so. I see no reason to think that Legolas did not partake of all the 'flotsam and jetsam meal' for instance. And I think it's implied in The Fall of Gondolin (early 1950s version) that Voronwe and Tuor will eat meat in order to survive.

An argument might be made for the Green Elves of Ossiriand however: according to the Quenta tradition, the Nandor of Ossiriand heard that a lord of the Eldar from over the Sea was among Men, and they sent messages concerning these new folk, part of which included: 'And these folk are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends,...'

But it was Finrod who had met Beor and his Men due to hunting with Maglor and Maedros, so if these Green Elves did not hunt, others did. Of course I realize that hunting and eating meat are not the same thing, but for myself I would need some fairly convincing argument to split that particular hair.

I say yes, Elves ate meat
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Old 05-12-2014, 01:34 AM   #10
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White Tree

I'd imagine that Elves would eat meat. I don't think the majority of them would have had an issue with killing animals for food- It is completely natural to do so. I think they would have shunned at hunting purely for pleasure or sport but for something as, dare i say, useful as food... i think it would have been okay.

However, like humans nowadays, there would have been elves who were vegetarians, but, like today, it probably would have been an individual's choice.

(p.s. no offence to anyone who does hunting as a sport. I did not mean to offend you and if i did i sincerely apologise)
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:20 AM   #11
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I did not say being Firstborn would keep them from killing or hunting. It was a general question since Elves were the most spiritual creatures, and they loved nature. So their affection towards natural things i.e. Trees and Animals etc. would be dear to them. They instead of hunting or killing, would preserve them.
Er- what exactly is your point here, Lotrelf? If an author explicitly says his characters do something, how can you argue they don't?
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:44 PM   #12
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One thing we can say that Elves probably don't eat is mushrooms.

This comes from a passage omitted from the Druedain material in UT but given in Of Dwarves and Men:

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To the astonishment of Elves and other Men they ate funguses with pleasure ... the Eldar did not eat these things.
Tolkien struck this passage out, noting that it was "too like Hobbits", so it's up to us to decide if this was also a rejection of Elves not eating mushrooms.

Note also that he said "Eldar", so the Avari possibly do eat them.
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Old 05-14-2014, 07:42 PM   #13
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Note also that he said "Eldar", so the Avari possibly do eat them.
Since Mîm the Petty-Dwarf said of the "proud ones from over the Sea" that they were "too proud to delve", I would be inclined to think they weren't all that keen on eating things they had to dig out of the ground. I can see them eating berries and things from vines and trees more easily.

Anyway, there's not "mushroom" for doubt that they at least ate meat.
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:46 AM   #14
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Anyone, there's not "mushroom" for doubt that they at least ate meat.
I like it when people go to the truffle of adding a pun in their response.
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:48 AM   #15
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I like it when people go to the truffle of adding a pun in their response.
Amid all the seriousness it's good to see someone who's a fun guy.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:21 AM   #16
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Amid all the seriousness it's good to see someone who's a fun guy.
Me too, so long is it doesn't breach the forum's morels.
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Old 05-15-2014, 10:57 AM   #17
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Legolas seems to have had no trouble eating meat. From LoTR "Flotsam And Jetsom":

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"And you need not turn up your nose at the provender, Master Gimli," said Merry. "This is not orc-stuff, but man-food, as Treebeard calls it.Will you have wine or beer? There's a barrel inside there - very passable.And this is first-rate salted pork. Or I can cut you some rashers of bacon and broil them, if you like. I am sorry there is no green stuff: the deliveries have been rather interrupted in the last few days!"...
The three [Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli] were soon busy with their meal [no hint that legolas didn't munch on the pork or bacon
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:03 AM   #18
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And (from his website) Michael Martinez' opinion is:

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Are the Elves Vegetarians?
February 12, 2013
By Michael Martinez
Q: Are the Elves Vegetarians?
ANSWER: This question often arises, and since the release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” many people have been asking if the Elves are vegetarian or if Elves eat meat. When Thorin and Company are fed by the Elves of Rivendell, the dialog implies that the Elves do not serve meat to the Dwarves. However, at one point Fili tosses a sausage to Bombur, who is seated on a table. The extra weight of the sausage is enough to cause the table to collapse.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth most Elves eat meat. The only Elves specifically said to be vegetarians were the Green-elves of Ossiriand. In Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth, it’s hard to find an Elf willing to eat meat. Still, you have to wonder where Fili’s Rivendell sausage came from.
]
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:57 AM   #19
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you have to wonder where Fili’s Rivendell sausage came from
Jesus! There's a mental image I could have done without!

To say nothing of "Kili's Elvenking-Halls sausage".
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:10 PM   #20
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The way I try and reconcile the line and the sausage is by assuming that the elves of Rivendell are not WHOLLY vegetarian, but they have a diet more along the lines of a Mediterrenean/southern Peasant line, where meat is often a flavoring/accent in a dish, not the main feature. And that this might be in contrast to the normal dwarven diet, which is much more along the "meat and potatoes/starch" line (since the dwarves tend to trade for a lot of thier food, they may be used to mostly eating things that keep and travel well. Merry does apologize to Gimli for their being no "green stuff" in the quote Tuor found, but it is unclear if he is aplogizing for something that he actually thinks Gimli would want to eat, or he is making a slightly humorous comment based on the difference between what would be normal fare for a dwarf and hobbit diets (which probably DO have a fair amount of vegetables, given that gardening is a viable profession and the love the hobbits have for gardens.)
Speaking of alternate foods (now that we are occasionally expanding into other things elves may or may not eat. Doe you think, if elves are not big meat eaters, they eat a lot of dairy, or is their diet more along the lines of veganisim? I'm sort of two minds here. On one hand, since dairy tends to require a fair amount of pastureland (for whatever animals you are milking to graze on) a part of me want to think not, at least not for Lothlorien )which seems to be mostly surrounded by trees and Mirkwood which is more or less the same (Rivindell's valley may be bigger so they may have room for pastureland.) On the other hand, something in me keeps thinking they do (it may be that when I feast heard lembas called waybread, I though they meant wheybread i.e. bread made with milk whey instead of water.) There is also the question of if the elves really are vegan I'm not sure how much veggie protein is around. ME seems to have such New World crops as potatoes and tobacco (and tomatoes too, in one of the early drafts of the hobbit) so they might have common beans. But if they don't your veggie protein choices seem a little limited (you'd have lentils, starchy peas (like the Carlin pea) Broad (fava) beans, chickpeas (probably only in southern places like Gondor and the Harads and so not in third age elf zones really) grasspea (maybe) edible lupines (again, a big maybe) and after that I (who am a botanist) run dry of guesses.
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:37 PM   #21
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when I feast heard lembas called waybread, I though they meant wheybread i.e. bread made with milk whey instead of water
Even without the misreading they still need fields (or at least "guarded lands and sunlit glades") for growing wheat (which Letter 210 states to be the primary ingredient; I know JRRT said "corn" in the Lembas essay, but in the UK "corn" is just a generic term for any cereal; "maize" is the New World cereal). It's certainly the case that JRRT didn't write much about Middle-earth agriculture, but that doesn't mean that it didn't exist.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:27 PM   #22
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I agree that they'd need land to grow the grain. Given that the recipie was supposedly given to them by Yavanna herself, it's tempting to think that wild wheat could be used for maximum connection to nature (and since lembas is unleavened, gluten contents don't really apply here.) But the problem is the same as the one with the chickpeas; assuming most wild plants are roughly where they are latitude wise in our world (someone once correct my question about finding bay laurels in Ithillien by pointing out that, latitude wise, Ithillien would be roughly where Tuscany is in our world) The third age elves are mostly too far north to have it. Wild einkorn and emmer (which are basically the wild ancestors of wheat, give or take some goat grass genes) are really only found in places like Turkey and Macedonia, which I keep thinking would actually put them somewhere in Mordor in ME.
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:21 PM   #23
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I agree that they'd need land to grow the grain. Given that the recipie was supposedly given to them by Yavanna herself, it's tempting to think that wild wheat could be used for maximum connection to nature (and since lembas is unleavened, gluten contents don't really apply here.) But the problem is the same as the one with the chickpeas; assuming most wild plants are roughly where they are latitude wise in our world (someone once correct my question about finding bay laurels in Ithillien by pointing out that, latitude wise, Ithillien would be roughly where Tuscany is in our world) The third age elves are mostly too far north to have it. Wild einkorn and emmer (which are basically the wild ancestors of wheat, give or take some goat grass genes) are really only found in places like Turkey and Macedonia, which I keep thinking would actually put them somewhere in Mordor in ME.
Yeah, Turkey = Mordor seems about right; much of Mordor is a bit more northerly though, going by Letter 294 which places the mouths of Anduin and Pelargir at the latitude of Troy. Maybe Bulgaria?

Of the Darkening of Valinor has a note referring to "the fields and pastures of Yavanna, gold beneath the tall wheat of the gods" (I think this is the sole reference to "gods" in the published Silmarillion and I wonder how and why CT missed it) but we don't have any comparative latitude.
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:45 PM   #24
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Actually that would make sense. That would mean that Turkey would me more or less over Nurn, which would allow wheat to grow there (it's Mordor'as breadbasket, after all)

And just to be a bit silly, A funny thought ocurred to me. I wonder if all of the peoples of middle earth selected thier grain strains to fit thier own views of beauty. The children of Durin presumably preferred trading for grains with long beards, while others would seek ones with short stiff ones, and of course, Gondorians would demand thier wheat and barley be beardless*. The men of Numernor would want Poulard wheat; tall and great grains for tall and great men. Hobbits on the other hand would probably most favor in club wheat; small and compact. Sauron's fields would presumably be filled with black wheats. Giant whippy Tibetan barleys for the men of Rohan, to ride thier horses through majesticly (and they are good for beer brewing). And of course Saruman, with his love of all things mechanical, must favor rivet wheat.

*The awns (those long hairy things) on the top of an ear of wheat are collectively called the beard. Some wheats/barleys have long beards, some have short beards and some have no beards.

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Old 05-15-2014, 07:01 PM   #25
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Er- what exactly is your point here, Lotrelf? If an author explicitly says his characters do something, how can you argue they don't?
I did not argue. I did not know that Professor had explicitly said something about this. I found that out from here. I didn't start this thread to "argue", but to know if They ate meat or not. After first few replies I couldn't make my mind to agree, but now, after, so much has been said I believe Elves ate meat and were non-vegatarians.

And, Yes, I asked this question because in The Hobbit 1, Dwarves are NOT served meat.
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:28 PM   #26
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Vegetables are what Elves eat when they can't get hobbit.
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:33 PM   #27
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Vegetables are what Elves eat when they can't get hobbit.
Can't get Hobbit for what?
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:51 PM   #28
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I did not argue. I did not know that Professor had explicitly said something about this. I found that out from here. I didn't start this thread to "argue", but to know if They ate meat or not. After first few replies I couldn't make my mind to agree, but now, after, so much has been said I believe Elves ate meat and were non-vegatarians.

And, Yes, I asked this question because in The Hobbit 1, Dwarves are NOT served meat.
I am pretty sure the movie Elves are meant to be vegetarian, yes. As someone said already, this is such a common trope of later fiction that people often just assume it applies to Tolkien's work as well- and I guess Jackson is one of those people.

And I'm using "argue" to mean "put forward a case", not "fight".
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:59 AM   #29
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Can't get Hobbit for what?
Dinner.
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Old 05-16-2014, 11:54 AM   #30
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Can't get Hobbit for what?

Dinner.
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Or as (in Doctor Who) Madame Vastra replied when Jenny asked her how she found Jack the Ripper.

"Delicious." (Hey, that red liquid she enjoys isn't wine).
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Old 05-16-2014, 12:10 PM   #31
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Vegetables are what Elves eat when they can't get hobbit.
More misinformation. There is clear evidence that Elves made and consumed this as a staple.

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I am pretty sure the movie Elves are meant to be vegetarian, yes. As someone said already, this is such a common trope of later fiction that people often just assume it applies to Tolkien's work as well- and I guess Jackson is one of those people.
It does indeed seem to fit the mold of Elves, or other beings associated with "nature" as being incapable of using fellow creatures for anything. Never mind the fact that it's awfully difficult to live on berries and bark, and walk around naked in the woods in winter due to an a refusal to use pelts or hides.
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:20 AM   #32
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Dinner.
Oops! Are you sure you're talking about the Elves? Your description sounds more like that of Sauron or Morgoth's.
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:53 AM   #33
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Oops! Are you sure you're talking about the Elves? Your description sounds more like that of Sauron or Morgoth's.
Ah, you see, when Morthoron said (in full) "Vegetables are what Elves eat when they can't get hobbit for dinner" what Morth meant was that Elves eat vegetables when they don't have hobbits around as dinner guests.

"Just bring out the cold chicken and pickles" indeed.
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Old 05-17-2014, 05:46 AM   #34
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It does indeed seem to fit the mold of Elves, or other beings associated with "nature" as being incapable of using fellow creatures for anything.
Trouble is that Elves being particularly close to nature is another of those later tropes that gets retroactively applied to Tolkien.

Tolkien's own Elves had no problems with living in cities, working in mines and quarries, building great roads, etc. Turgon's people were almost exclusively urbanized, and Tumladen must have been very heavily farmed. Círdan's people lived in walled cities.

Sure, there wouldn't be a haze of industrial pollution over Gondolin, but you could pitch it at a similar technology level as the Roman Empire, say. Maybe Elvish aesthetics would balk at raw sewage flowing in the streets, but otherwise it seems to fit.
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Old 05-17-2014, 11:24 AM   #35
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Ah, you see, when Morthoron said (in full) "Vegetables are what Elves eat when they can't get hobbit for dinner" what Morth meant was that Elves eat vegetables when they don't have hobbits around as dinner guests.

"Just bring out the cold chicken and pickles" indeed.
This, at first, didn't seem to make sense to me. Did Elves know other hobbits except the five- Bilbo, Frodo, Sam , Merry and Pip?
*confused*
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:42 PM   #36
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Elven lifestyle is more about use of nature out of necessity, rather than "because we can".
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:07 PM   #37
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Ah, you see, when Morthoron said (in full) "Vegetables are what Elves eat when they can't get hobbit for dinner" what Morth meant was that Elves eat vegetables when they don't have hobbits around as dinner guests.

"Just bring out the cold chicken and pickles" indeed.
Obviously, you have never heard of "finger food".
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Old 05-17-2014, 08:14 PM   #38
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This, at first, didn't seem to make sense to me. Did Elves know other hobbits except the five- Bilbo, Frodo, Sam , Merry and Pip?
*confused*
Gildor's people said "hobbits are so dull" yet Frodo seems to have never met them before (else Gildor wouldn't have needed to introduce himself). They were also walking rhrough the Shire and had lodgings there. It seems utterly certain that Elves were at least aware of Hobbits.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:17 AM   #39
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Gildor's people said "hobbits are so dull" yet Frodo seems to have never met them before (else Gildor wouldn't have needed to introduce himself). They were also walking rhrough the Shire and had lodgings there. It seems utterly certain that Elves were at least aware of Hobbits.
Certainly they were aware. Gildor told Frodo he had seen him with Bilbo before. And Frodo himself explained to Sam that though Elves did not live in the Shire, they sometimes roamed around the Woody End.
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:18 AM   #40
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Obviously, you have never heard of "finger food".
"Finger Food"? I have heard of it.
Did the Elves know Hobbits well enough to invite them on dinners?
Another question that has never been answered to me. What about wine? Wine contains alcohol. Did the Hobbits, Dwarves and Men really drink "alcohol"? Alcohol is prepared chemically, in Labs. Did people in Middle-Earth prepare it chemically? How?
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