Why My Elves Are Vegetarians


When I wrote the first draft of The Exile of Elindel, I was a carnivore. I aspired to be a vegetarian but had yet to take that step. Back in 1977, vegetarians were considered to be cranks, nutters, Hippies and weirdos who consumed their own weight in lentils every week. Joining this band of social pariahs was a daunting prospect.

I put my aspiration into my main character, the elf Elgiva. She manifested what I wished to become. It seemed logical to me anyway; Elves lived in forests surrounded by animals so surely they would have a deep affinity with all natural creatures. I decided they should go one step further and be able to talk to animals as well. It gave me more opportunities to convey my own regard for animals by depicting them as intelligent beings with thoughts and emotions they had every right to express. And this added an extra dimension to the story. There was the human world, the elven world and the natural world: the interaction between them is enriched by interspecies communication. It frequently came in useful for plot purposes too.

Naturally, once the elves were gifted with the ability to understand animals, they stopped eating them. For me it worked the other way round. Once I stopped eating them, I felt a deeper understanding for animals – in fact a greater empathy for all life generally.

I finally became a vegetarian in 1983. Over the years I have seen the vegetarian lifestyle become easier and easier. There are more meat substitutes now than you can shake a breadstick at and every pub, café, restaurant and hotel usually has a vegetarian option on the menu.

Vegetarians today are no longer regarded as lentil-eating subversives. Increasing numbers of UK consumers are moving towards a more plant-based diet, while more than 20% of sixteen to twenty-four year olds claim to be vegetarian. Astonishingly, one in five British households now avoids dairy. Globally, the number of vegetarian food products available doubled in 2013.

Two years ago I became a vegan. That’s a challenge at first but it’s second nature to me now. It’s a lifestyle choice I wish I’d adopted earlier. It’s a good feeling that no animal has to suffer or die to keep me alive – but I’m wary of appearing self-righteous. Everyone has their own path to follow.

If a reader reviewed their attitude towards animals or nature after reading The Exile of Elindel, I’d be delighted, of course. A work of fiction should have something important to say even if the message or moral conveyed is just a background theme. But the main purpose of the book is entertainment. It’s a fantasy, an adventure. If readers get nothing more from it than enjoyment, at least I will have succeeded as a storyteller.


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15 responses to “Why My Elves Are Vegetarians

  1. I’ve been vegetarian since 1974 – only partially vegan for about six months – and I can totally understand what drove you to create vegetarian elves. I often wonder whether vegetarians live on a subtly higher vibrational plane than carnivores, and are therefore more empathic towards the natural world, which includes animals (even carnivorous ones such as wolves). Regarding magical creatures such as elves and fairies, I have always envisaged them as needing very little in the way of food – on a par with angels perhaps! On the other hand dwarves, goblins and demons are much more inclined to eat flesh, don’t you think?

  2. Lovely post, Carol. I’m an aspiring Vegan and a character in a story im writing now is Vegan. Hopefully it rubs off on me. 🙂 I completely agree that your level of empathy for animals rise when you no longer eat them.

  3. clarissajohal

    It does make perfect sense elves would be vegetarian, Carol! It sounds like you used your writing to help you through the process. And I agree, it’s much easier for people to be veggies today than it was 25 years ago.

  4. I’ve been 95% vegetarian for the last 8 years and it gets easier all the time, but at this point I can’t imagine life without cheese. I’m always impressed by those who can. And while I suspect the elves I’m creating right now will eat meat, it will certainly be saved for special occasions.

    • I thought I’d miss cheese. I loved the stuff. But I went right off it without even trying. It smells awful to me now. I do occasionally have some soya cheese which is okay. It doesn’t have that greasy animal smell of the real thing. I wasn’t prepared for how easy being vegan was in that I don’t miss anything. It’s just a pain if you want to eat out. Not that I do that very often.

  5. Kylie Betzner

    That’s crazy! My elves are vegetarians too!

    I’ve actually been a vegetarian for nearly 5 years now. My other characters are all carnivores, and unfortunately, I’ve had readers run out and buy jerky after reading my novel. Safe to say, not helping the cause.

  6. Thanks for following, Kylie. We vegetarians must stick together. Today Elvendom, tomorrow the world. 🙂

  7. Ana

    I wanna read your book!!!I love fantasy and specially everything elves, sometimes I joke about it and say that perhaps I’m an elf incarnated as human in this lifetime :))
    well.I found your blog looking up “vegetarian elves” on google.It led me here.The first book on elves and vegetarianism I have read, was Christopher Paolini’s Eragon.I loved how his elves are filled with love and compassion for animals and the natural world.After I read the book, sometime later, I gave up meat and adopted a lacto-ovo-vegetarian lifestyle.I can’t yet give up eggs and dairy, although honestly I don’t consume that much of those.Animals are our brothers and sisters and to hurt them is a crime against nature, against them, and against our own humanity.
    Elves…I love them specifically for their connection with nature.For their love of song and cheerfullness.For their wisdom and mystery.
    Can’t believe I didn’t find your blog earlier…Hopefully I will get a chance to read your book soon.
    I love your blog!

    • Ana, thank you so much. I’m glad you liked the blog.Unfortunately my publisher closed down on 28th Feb so I don’t have a book anymore. I’m in the process of looking for a new publisher so, fingers crossed, I will get my book out there again soon. You’ll be the first to know! Thanks again. You are a ray of sunshine on a dull day. 🙂

  8. Ana

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you Carol, I hope you soon find a new publisher so more people can read your book 🙂
    lots of love ❤

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