This video states that. And also, most interesting - it states that Alexander's the Great army was vegan.

  • 2
    Do you really mean vegan or just vegetarian?
    – Steve Bird
    Apr 21, 2017 at 12:23
  • 1
    They make some bold claims without any evidence or sources. While I've heard of a study, that gladiators were mostly vegetarian, which honestly isn't that surprising to me; most were slaves after all and likely were vegetarian out of need rather than out of choice; I've never heard of the supposedly widely known fact, that Alexander and his army were vegetarian. Google search also comes up empty about this, except for mentions on pro-vegan sites.
    – Dulkan
    Apr 21, 2017 at 12:53
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    Does it count as being "vegan" if you'd like to eat animal products, but can't typically afford them or usually do not have access to them?
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 21, 2017 at 13:25
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    It may be due to scarcity than preference. Food was not plentiful during most of history, and a large army moving through and living off the land likely meant everyone went hungry.
    – Smith
    Apr 21, 2017 at 14:12
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    Being vegan generally means not using leather, and equipping an army without leather would be difficult. If there is a specific definition of vegan they mean perhaps you could clarify.
    – user22111
    Apr 21, 2017 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


So officially, would carry wheat and barley but they ate whatever they could find,

Armies back then were principally fed with wheat, the soldiers would have likely ate plain whole wheat bread loaves. They would supplement this with whatever they could forage, wild animals, fruits, vegetables etc. Answers.com

assessment that ancient soldiers required an ideal minimum of 3,000 calories per day to function properly in battle. Different breads, biscuits, and porridge provided the soldier with grains, which comprised for 2/3 of his caloric requirements. If meat was available, it took the form of pork, beef, or mutton and provided between 200-400 calories. Vegetables such as beans, lentils, herbs, and others, supplied the soldier with an adequate amount of vitamins while dairy products including milk and cheese offered 90-160 more calories. Finally, wine and beer, which were frequently the only source of liquids, supplied the remaining 350 calories Analysis of Ancient Soldier Stomach

So to answer your question, they ate whatever they could. If food was scarce they turned to wheat and barley but would forage for meat when they could. This idea that they were vegan/vegetarian by choice is false.

Additional Information:

The concept that people got to choose what they ate is a relatively new concept especially when it involved Army's. Even during the civil war, the Confederacy had most of the cattle and pig farms and they still couldn't get meat to their soldiers.

Confederate soldiers were also faced with inadequate food rations, especially as the war progressed. There was plenty of meat in the Confederacy. The unsolvable problem was shipping it to the armies, especially when Lee's army in Virginia was at the end of a long, tenuous supply line. Union victory at Vicksburg in 1863 shut off supplies from Texas and the west.

-Vandiver, Frank E. (1944). "Texas and the Confederate Army's Meat Problem"

To feed an army with meat you need industrial farming, curing and canning techniques and transportation to bring the meat from home or recently conquered area to the front lines. Problems that weren't solved until modern times (WWI and WWII) Interestingly enough, look up why Spam is so popular in Hawaii.

  • I'm not clear these apply specifically to Alexander's army. I think Alexander did always support traditional or average ways of doing things.
    – user22111
    Apr 21, 2017 at 15:42
  • @notstoreboughtdirt It applies. What he did that was different was having the troops carry their own rations. Typically​ this was done by pack animals but he off loaded it to the troops which gave them more rations because they had less pack animals so they didn't have to feed them. It also allowed them to travel 4 to 5 miles an hour faster than they could because they didn't need oxen.
    – EvanM
    Apr 21, 2017 at 15:48
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    Ancient people weren't vegan/vegetarian as we understand it today. Their diet would be mostly composed of grains and beans, but if they had the chance to eat acceptable meats, they would do so. From a logistical perspective, grain and lentils are much easier to stock and transport. They were omnivore but were eaters of convenience. I really like @EvanM's answer. Apr 21, 2017 at 16:12
  • @JPChapleau Thanks. I have updated my answer to show that even in "modern" times this was tough.
    – EvanM
    Apr 21, 2017 at 17:27
  • and catching, killing and skinning the odd TRex would have been challenging....
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 21, 2017 at 17:28

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