The Food of Kings – A Brief History of Carnism

I’m going to publish a few excerpts from a talk I gave recently at a vegan festival. Here is part Two.


Humans have been eating animals for a long time, no argument there.

But it’s only relatively recently that the masses have had such easy and affordable access to so much of what had long been known as “The Food of Kings”.

Up until the Second World War meat, dairy and eggs were much more of a luxury than they are today.

During the six years of war and the nine years of rationing that followed, animal products were scarce and this was a problem because scarcity fuels demand.

If you could get yourself some meat, some eggs, some milk or cheese, even if it wasn’t completely legally, you took it.

It was a good source of both protein and fat, two things that were absent, or at least lacking, in many of the diets of the time.

And 15 years is a long time to live under the conditions of war and then rationing.

None of us should be surprised that as it ended and everything gradually became more plentiful, the mind-set remained.

Meat, dairy and eggs were firmly established as not only the best food you could eat, but it was also the affluent choice.

It made us feel like the kings that went before us; it became a symbol of status.

If you and your family had a meat rich diet, you’d made it.

This idyllic, healthy lifestyle, this freedom, it was why we went to war in the first place!

I can still remember as a child my own father proudly carving the meat in readiness of our Sunday family ritual.

Of course, and to my parent’s huge dismay, I only ate the roast potatoes and the vegetables.

And almost no one questioned it, in homes the length and breadth of the country families were living the post war dream and the meat on their plates was a symbol of their freedom and our victory.

Nick Bean

Environmentalist, activist, writer and public speaker. Decided to "Go Vegan" at the age of four.

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