Did You Catch Shakespeare’s Vegan Message in ‘Henry VI’?


Recited by Downton Abbey star and vegan activist Peter Egan, the following passage from Henry VI describes a tragedy that’s still happening today (Warning: The video includes extremely violent acts against animals):

Thou never didst them wrong, nor no man wrong;
And as the butcher takes away the calf
And binds the wretch, and beats it when it strays,
Bearing it to the bloody slaughter-house,
Even so remorseless have they borne him hence;
And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
Looking the way her harmless young one went,
And can do nought but wail her darling’s loss.

Shakespeare wrote these words more than 400 years ago, but to this day, mother and baby cows continue to be torn apart and killed. In the play, he vividly describes how distraught mother cows cry out for their stolen calves for days. Most female calves are destined for the same fate as their mothers: repeated artificial insemination until their bodies give out and they’re slaughtered for cheap meat.

Who knows – if almond milk had been available in Shakespeare’s day, maybe he would have been vegan! But today, it’s easy to help end the cycle of cruelty. Choose vegan cheeses, milks and other products to help spare animals a lifetime of suffering.


    • Gregory on 05/14/2016 at 9:40 am
    • Reply

    Actually, almond milk was available:

    A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

    Almond Milk

    PERIOD: medieval & Renaissance | SOURCE: Le Viandier de Taillevent | CLASS: Authentic

    DESCRIPTION: standard medieval sauce

    In the Middle Ages, animal milk was, of course, not refrigerated, and fresh milk did not stay fresh for long. Most cooks simply did not use much milk as the short shelf-life of the product made it a difficult ingredient to depend upon. Many recipe collections of the time advise that cooks should only rely on milk that comes directly from a cow, something not possible at all times, and purchasing milk was a dubious practice, for streetsellers of milk often sold wares that were either spoiled or diluted with water. Milk’s use had to be immediate, in cooking or by turning into cheese & butter. It was these difficulties that forced Medieval cooks to look upon milk with great reluctance, and so having milk in the kitchen was usually unheard of.

    Rather than animal milk, Medieval cooks turned to something they could depend upon, and that was the milky liquid produced by grinding almonds or walnuts. This liquid, high in natural fats, could be prepared fresh whenever needed in whatever quantities. It also could be made well ahead of time and stored with no danger of degeneration. Because of its high fat content, it, like animal milk, could be churned into butter, and because it was not animal milk, it could be used and consumed during Church designated meatless days.

    Almond milk was used extensively in period; all existing cookbooks call for it, and it must have been found in literally every Medieval kitchen. It’s the prime ingredient in many, many recipes, and the modern cook recreating Medieval food will have to learn its production in order to prepare the most common of dishes. Fortunately, it’s easily made. I prefer the recipe of Terence Scully, as printed in Le Viandier de Taillevent, p. 315:

    1 cup ground almonds
    2 cups boiling water

    Combine almonds and water. Steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sieve the mixture to remove coarse grains OR (preferably) blend mixture in electric blender until grains are absorbed. Yield – 2 cups almond milk.

    – Scully, Terence. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1995.

    – Scully, Terence, ed. Le Viandier de Taillevent. An Edition of all Extant Manuscripts. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1988.


    • Caitlin on 05/19/2016 at 12:19 am
    • Reply

    Wow Gregory! That was so, so interesting. Thank you for posting!

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