[Sca-cooks] medieval ascetics menus

Volker Bach carlton_bach at yahoo.de
Sun Oct 4 02:27:05 PDT 2009

--- Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com> schrieb am So, 4.10.2009:

> Bear commented:
> <<< Historically, veganism of that
> period would likely have been practiced by ascetics with
> stricter dietary
> practices than the most vegan of modern vegetarians.
> >>>
> "with stricter dietary practices than the most vegan of
> modern vegetarians"
> WHAT were these guys (and gals?) eating? Seems easier to
> day what was left than what they didn't eat. I tend of think
> of a vegan diet as being extremely limited and if not done
> with care, a good recipe for malnutrition.

Well, the point is that malnutrition wasn't a concern for medieval ascetics.. In some cases, it was the point of the exercise - punishing the body. In extreme cases, the wrse you did, the better you felt.

There are acounts of people subsisting on nothing but bread and water, on nothing but wild herbs ('herba' meaning all manner of plants, probably excluding fruit), in some (probably legendary, in one case fraudulent) cases on nothing but the Eucharist. A near-vegan diet would have been quite commonplace among stricter monastic communities where not only the flesh of quadrupeds, but alsoo dairy and eggs would be off the table and fish not eaten every day. The rule of Benedict that eventusally won out in the West is fairly moderate in terms of ascetiocism, and a fair few individuals and communities have tried to top it. 

I know of two books that look at the issue, though boith mainly focus on women and look at it from a psychological and mediocal perspective. R. M. Bell: Holy Anorexia (Chicago 1985) and W. Vandereycken, R. van Deth & R. Meermann: Wundermädchen, Hungerkünstler Magersucht, Eine Kulturgeschichte der Ess-Störungen (Weinheim/Basel/Berlin 2003). Looking into Saints' lives can give you scary details on some of them. 




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