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Discussing: Vegetarian Elves?

Vegetarian Elves?

Has there ever been a time, particularly in the Age of the Trees or earlier, that the Elves wouldn't eat meat?  I don't think so, but have a vague memory of a fanfic, or discussion, saying otherwise.  I need to know because a short ficlet I'm fiddling with mentions Elves hunting and food-cooking.....




Re: Vegetarian Elves?

Hi Raksha,

Sorry I couldn't be any help, but I don't recall having seen anything about that. I did a quick search of HoME for "meat" and "roast", but didn't see anything relevant.

There is a mention in The Hobbit about the roast meats eaten by the Elves of Mirkwood... but, of course, you knew that...

- Barbara



Re: Vegetarian Elves?

Personally, I really can't see Elves as being vegetarians. While I don't think Tolkien really says much about it, when you consider his stories as being intended to be a kind of mythology for Europe, it makes sense that they would not have been vegetarian. While vegetarianism is an ancient practice, it's older roots are in Hinduism and Bhuddism. Some early Christians are also reported to have been vegetarian, but this seems to conflict with a vision recorded in the early Bible, telling one of the members of the early church that they should not consider certain animals 'unclean' (as it had been with Judaism).



Re: Vegetarian Elves?

In LaCE it is mentioned that elves abstain from hunting and war in order to preserve their powers of healing. That's in the passage where Tolkien says that elvish men and women can theoretically think and do the same things, like fight or hunt. Therefore he must have thought that it is generally normal for them to hunt and eat meat.

In Aman you also have the dwellings of Oromë the great hunter of the Valar and his woods... so I think you can assume that they all went happily a-hunting together.





Re: Vegetarian Elves?

I think this is the quote that gives rise to the notion of vegetarian Elves:

 Silmarillion, Chapter 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West
Now the Green-elves of Ossiriand were troubled by the coming of Men, and when they heard that a lord of the Eldar from over the Sea was among them they sent messengers to Felagund. 'Lord,' they said, 'if you have power over these newcomers, bid them return by the ways that they came, or else to go forward. For we desire no strangers in this land to break the peace in which we live. And these folk are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict them in all ways that we can.'

 I have seen this passage many times given as proof that the Green Elves were vegetarians and did not cut down trees, but I don't see the argument as being set in stone. Perhaps they saw the Men as disturbing the peace of their forest – felling trees they didn't want cut down, or clearing 'excessive' (by elven standards) amounts of woodland,  and cutting into their food supply. Perhaps the Men were also scaring off game by clumsy hunting methods or killing indiscriminately with no regard for perpetuating the herds. Perhaps the Laiquendi, the Green-elves, were not vegetarian after all – just unhappy with having noisy, careless Men as close neighbours. Either way, the Green Elves were the only ones I've ever heard to have been associated with vegetarianism. 

 Ithildin  *(



Re: Vegetarian Elves?

Thanx much for your help, Barbara, Juno, Eldamir and Ithildin!

It looks like, while Elrond might be a vegetarian, most of the Elves who aren't healers would happily eat animal flesh, with the exception of the Green-Elves; and I don't even know who they are anyway.  (I find it hard enough to keep the Noldor and the Sindar clans distinct in my mind, especially since some of the Sindar seem to be Noldor, and don't even ask me where the Silvan Elves fit in, since Thranduil is Sindar and his people aren't...)




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