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How a Special Diet Kept the Knights Templar Fighting Fit (atlasobscura.com)
224 points by grendelt 65 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 100 comments



Did they live longer because of their diet or because of their reliable access to food?


Doubtful it was either. The fact that everyone washed their hands, the sick and immunologically compromised didn't prepare food or partake in regular group activities, and those working manual labor (ie- hands covered in bacteria) didn't handle the food was probably 80% of the reason for their longevity.

Hygiene, lower alcohol consumption, and the regular access to an extensive support system were probably the top 3 factors. Less uncertainty, less stress, fewer serious health/mental issues being ignored - all good things in the long run. I'd expect alcohol to be a major contributor to illness at the time (compromised immune system in an already filthy environment and less social pressure to drink in moderation), so the fact that they didn't drink in excess was probably pretty significant

The article mentions 'meat' three times per week, but then implies that eggs and fish were not considered 'meat', which leads me to think they also didn't consider poultry 'meat' either. No special spices or bizarre rituals, so their diet was probably very similar to the old food pyramid, and less so the new food plate thing. The wealthy saw a very minimal increase in lifespan, which was probably not caused by the addition of spices and honey but living in cleaner, less cramped, and more isolated living conditions.

The only thing surprising about the article was that how NOT special their diet was.


I think both. Poor people died because of lack of nutrients and even calories, while the extremely rich died of gout and diabetes because of excess.

It seems the templar got all the nutrients they needed (feast on large amount of protein once a week, plant based diet the rest of the week) while using moderation most of the week and even a fast once a week.


They did a Lenten fast once a week, which is not usually the same as abstaining from food. From the article, it sounds like they were eating but not eating meat. However, note that fish is not considered meat for the purposes of Lenten fasting.


It is the same today... Catholics in my pueblo do not eat carne on Fridays (during Lent) which is to say no air breathing animal. Tuna fish salad is a very popular meal on Fridays if you have a house full of Catholics during Lent.


"So three times a week, the knights were permitted to eat meat"

those two paragraphs were a little scattered, but it's 3x per week... Definitely Sundays and then maybe Tuesday/Thursday, but sometimes one of those days was a fast.


The article also suggests that better hygiene and protective measures against infection played a role. Infectious disease was a huge case of death in medieval Europe (the plague for ex). The Knights had better hygiene as they learned from Arab doctors, who had superior medical knowledge compared to their European peers


That's a great question, my understanding was that if one survived birth (infant mortality skews average lifespan quite a bit) and had food, one could live about as long as a modern human. From the sound of it, the knights certainly weren't going hungry.

> One source suggests that cooks loaded enough meat onto their plates “to feed two poor men with the leftovers.”


> That's a great question, my understanding was that if one survived birth (infant mortality skews average lifespan quite a bit)

Infant mortality does, but that's more than just surviving birth, but more like the first five years to get past the point where it skews results.

> From the sound of it, the knights certainly weren't going hungry

Well, sure, and you wouldn't expect knights—a narrow elite class—to be goings hungry even if food insecurity was common for the masses. But they probably lived longer mostly because the average expectancy for people who had survived to the age at which you become a knight of the order was much greater than the average population-wide life expectancy, because the large proportion that died very young did so earlier.


The article said that the average lifespan was 31 but if one lived to 20 then the average was 48.


Which is misleading for a whole bunch of reasons as generally people were dying due to the incredibly dangerous life it was then plus lack of medical care.

If you survived your 20s without being killed you were likely to live into your late 50s with little problem.

Being young was dangerous. Being a religious knight meant you basically skipped all that until later (and then put yourself in less harm than the average peasant soldier did)


Totally incorrect, the Knights Templar were an elite group with a code of fighting to the death. They were often found in the middle of battle, making suicidal charges and fighting against superior numbers. Unlike other soldiers they were often executed by Arab commanders if captured.


Not.. really. I mean... almost not at all.

There certainly was some of that but they were, for the first 100 years or so, glorified bounty hunters fighting bandits & marauding highwaymen around the Holy Land. Basically a religious police force.

They also were the favored money donation/papal favor buying scheme used by nobles. Quite quite rich.

The certainly DID fight of course in things like the defeat of Saladin at Montgisard but they were usually not a very present force (for example there were less than 500 knights in that battle but about about 9000 infantry)

In fact relatively few Knights were combatants! The others acted in support positions to assist the knights and to manage the finances.

They were mostly a rich proto-banking guild by the mid 1100s tbh and by the 1200s they rapidly became utterly pointless.

They had about 50 years of being involved in any real combat and it wasn't very involved when it did. You've been paying attention to too much myth making about them and not their actual deeds.


I'm sure that diet and control of food was very important to them, it is for lab mice. I wonder how much things like ritualised hygiene played a part too.


They certainly would've had better nutrition than most people - as I recall from reading about this quite fascinating topic some years ago, the men who joined the Templars were generally quite rich, mostly the sons of the nobility. (They were also required to donate all of their money and land upon joining, which is how the Order became so preposterously wealthy) I would imagine that the rich had much higher life expectancies than average, regardless of whether they joined the Order.


The question is also "Did they live longer?". The article gave the ages of some individual knights as being greater than the average lifespan at the time, which is not incompatible with the average knight's lifespan being the same as the average peasant.


The whole first half of the article was about the knights living longer than the average peasant.

The very first paragraph of the article:

>For even wealthy landholding males, average life expectancy was about 31 years, rising to 48 years for those who made it to their twenties. The Knights Templar, then, must have seemed to have some magical potion: Many members of this Catholic military order lived long past 60.


That exact paragraph is the one I'm complaining about. 31 and 48 are qualified averages (for wealthy landowning males and the same who survived to age 20). "Many lived long past 60" is talking about the outliers of the Templar population. What was the average?


There likely is no average available, as coronors, undertakers, public health departments, and general statistics were poorly kept. So if rigorous comprehensive data are your requirement, you'll likely be disappointed.

What data were available favoured the wearthly, and from them and other, nonstatistical, contemporaneous accounts, it is apparently clear enough to note that the wealthy lived longer lives than the bulk of the population

Many of the poor who died, particularly infants, children, and women, may have left no documentary trace at all.


I think it's a reading comprehension problem.

The average lifespan for all people was 31.

The average lifespan for a subset of those people who lived to age 20 was 48.

The reason for the distinction is infant mortality and other childhood diseases which lingered much longer than they do today because we now have more treatments.


Yes, that is clear.

What was the average lifespan for a wealthy landowning male who survived to the age of 20 and was a member of the Knights Templar?


Zero, since they didn't exist.


>> Did they live longer because of their diet or because of their reliable access to food?

Nah, they lived longer because of reduced stress. "They were not permitted even to speak to women."


The 'vegetable fasting days' seem a lot like the popular 5-2 diet. Only difference is these knight didn't need years of medical research to discover this, perhaps just years of poor health :)

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2015/ja...

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-19112549


>Only difference is these knight didn't need years of medical research to discover this

Sure they did. They didn't start that diet on day one. Between ideas of nutrition during their lifetimes and however long it took to adopt, formalize and tweak their diet regimen it could have taken years or generations even.

The difference now is we have a deeper understanding of everything involved with nutrition and some of the research we do is determining why we see the effects we do as opposed to the Templars just trying to achieve a desired effect.

It's pretty easy to discount the amount of time that was spent on it and the number of missteps along the way and the unavoidable fluff the Templars also likely engaged in. And then compare that to formalized research and imagine that the Templars had some intuitive insight that makes scientific research look redundant or overly complicated...


The article says the off-meat days included eggs and cheese, though, so not quite the same thing.


Not a lot though. These things were expensive even for knights.

Similarly the usual days did not have as much animal produce as today.

Remember that these people were professional soldiers with at least a few hours of strenuous exercise a day combined with relative leisure In prayer. (Compared to peasants or even modern day workers.)


Were eggs expensive? I thought that eggs traditionally were the inexpensive alternative to meat, going back a long time.


Doubtful that eggs were expensive on terms of cost per calorie compared to chicken.

A 4 pound chicken will get you about 2000 calories after it is cooked, whereas the same chicken would lay approx 5 eggs/week, each @ 75 calories, or 375 calories/week. So, it would only take 6 weeks for a chicken to output as many calories as exist within it, and chickens lay eggs productively for 4-5 years.


And at the end you do still have the chicken, albeit a little bit older and perhaps less tasty.


Also, fasting has many anti aging properties. And exercise, which I assume they got lots of.


“He chose ..... poorly.”


The diet sounds similar to those of other monastic orders. Are monks in general where know for their comparative longevity?


Yep. Living a (relatively) hermetic/isolated/minimal-external-contact lifestyle while the rest of the world was getting ravaged by plagues probably got them a long way. To say nothing of being generally granted greater autonomy/self-sufficiency without invasion/domination by political orders, and living a lifestyle that emphasized self-sufficiency and discipline.


I'm guessing the relative insulation from feast/famine regimes helped quite a bit.


Except they would fast by choice? Lent or meditation fasts, etc


Periodic fasting is quite different from famine, though.


Hell, sometimes they fasted on beer alone: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/25/my-take-what-i-lear...


Yes monks in general lived longer back then https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/news/scie...


Not surprising,why then compare Templar lifespan to the average rather to the lifespan of some other monastic group?


I'd expect so, given how they generally live a quiet, secluded life without hard labor and away from conflicts, for the most part. (not so for the knights templar, who fought in the odd war, but even then I expect these wouldn't be deployed or expected to die like the common footsoldiers)


> they generally live a ... life without hard labor

Monks work, a lot, both in order to maintain the monastery itself and to produce goods for the outside community.

You can easily see this for yourself in Eastern Europe: except for a few highly touristic sites, you are generally welcome to stay at a monastery for a time without being asked to pay anything, but you will be expected to assist the monks in the work they do each day. The work – from chopping wood to weeding gardens – is exhausting. It is a mystery to me how the monks manage to keep up with everything and maintain a very positive attitude, all on 4 hours of sleep a night and diet that is fasting half the year.


Physical labour, especially when it feels valuable and productive, is incredibly fulfilling despite the physical exhaustion that comes with it.

Unlike mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion makes it very easy to fall asleep and sleep deeply. This is the real secret to the monks' success. Those of us who tax our minds with knowledge work don't get the benefits of physical exertion that the monks enjoy.


> all on 4 hours of sleep a night and diet that is fasting half the year.

not sure where you got 4 hours of sleep. Monks generally wake up early but they also retire early.

For example: http://www.stmarysmonastery.org/daily_life.html wake at 4:35, retire (though not necessarily sleep) at 20:15. The schedule has about 6~7h of work tops:

* following Mass + Terce + community meeting of 0930 (so probably about 1000~1015) until 1300

* following the Office of Nones (which starts at 1500) until 1800, and that can also be studies


The schedule you are describing is a Roman Catholic one. I am speaking about Orthodox monasteries. Often monks will be expected to attend one last hour of prayer around midnight. Following that, they retire, but then they will have to return to the church very early the next morning for matins, and apparently they wake up a couple of hours before that for personal devotions. As a guest at monasteries, I have been allowed slightly less than 6 hours of sleep because I am expected to attend all hours of prayer, so if the monks are waking up even earlier, then 4 hours for them sounds about right.


Wondering if biphasic sleep was involved with those schedules -- but it is not obvious to us now? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphasic_and_polyphasic_sleep#... "Historian A. Roger Ekirch has argued that before the Industrial Revolution, interrupted sleep was dominant in Western civilization. He draws evidence from documents from the ancient, medieval, and modern world. Other historians, such as Craig Koslofsky, have endorsed Ekirch's analysis. According to Ekirch's argument, adults typically slept in two distinct phases, bridged by an intervening period of wakefulness of approximately one hour. This time was used to pray and reflect, and to interpret dreams, which were more vivid at that hour than upon waking in the morning. This was also a favorite time for scholars and poets to write uninterrupted, whereas still others visited neighbors, engaged in sexual activity, or committed petty crime. The human circadian rhythm regulates the human sleep-wake cycle of wakefulness during the day and sleep at night. Ekirch suggests that it is due to the modern use of electric lighting that most modern humans do not practice interrupted sleep, which is a concern for some writers. Superimposed on this basic rhythm is a secondary one of light sleep in the early afternoon."


A point to consider with regard to the abbreviated sleep schedule of monks is the restive and restorative aspects of the meditative periods during each day. For Catholic and Orthodox monks the periods of centering, contemplative, and some other types of prayer are the same as or comparable to other meditation practices which have documented restorative value. From my experience the more time spent in meditation the less sleep needed. Even doing hard labor, digging ditches and building stone walls, during a meditation retreat provide enjoyable engagement that support the still times. Anecdotally, placement of prayer just before sleep facilitates a more rapid entry into both sleep and deep sleep.


Many of them (if not all) simply nap during those hours of meditations and prayers.


Again, that might be true of Roman Catholic monasteries. However, Orthodox worship is more “active”. First of all, worshipers stand during services, there are no pews except a handful of chairs for the elderly or infirm. Secondly, monks are expected to sing the sung portions of the liturgy (there is no choir at a monastery, they are the choir) and to perform all of the many genuflections involved. I have occasionally seen 1–2 monks in their dotage being permitted to sit and doze during prayers, but everyone else is expected to remain awake and do everything that needs to be done.


I have friends in Eastern Orthodox monasteries. They nap a lot during prayers.


Monasteries of the medieval / renaissance time period usually had very large complements of lay staff and tenant farmers, who maintained the estates and produced goods for both internal use and sale at market.

This is not to say the monks didn't work or didn't follow ascetic regimens, but they weren't doing all the work of keeping the monastery running.


Looking forward to the Templar Knight Diet Program. Only 99.99$ a month! Approved by the Pope!


Given the history of the templars, I'd rather sell this as "Secrets the Pope didn't want you to know!"


"Keep your army fighting fit with this one simple trick!"


'Sultans hate him!'


Now with a plenary indulgence for gluttony!



I don't know, some Popes were more, uh, tolerant than others.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sexually_active_popes


@templartraining and @God sponsored athlete. Link in description!


I read something about Met fashion show being pope approved. So perhaps this is not such a distant possibility.


People probably don't know what you're talking about. Happened to walk through it a couple of days ago on the way to something I wanted to see. It was... different and somewhat weird in the context of the medieval wing in general.


Omg that article took so long to get to the point!


and what an underwhelming one - they ate meat, veg, bread and cheese! Sometimes even a lot, but usually not too much


Curious why I’m getting downvotes for this


> They were not permitted even to speak to women.

There's the secret.

I'm kidding, non-male members of HN!

On a more serious note: "even though it was “understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body.”

As a vegetarian, I find this intriguing. Why, if it was understood thus, did meat eating become so prevalent?


> On a more serious note: "even though it was “understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body.”

The source material [0] that the quote is taken from has a footnote that says "The Cistercians held that rich food increases sexual appetite"

It would seem that the "corruption" here is related to keeping ones libido in check.

[0] https://books.google.com/books?id=cBqgOXfMxAoC&pg=PA26&lpg=P...


The thing is, everyone always wanted to eat meat - it's good and filling.

The problem is that, before modern refrigeration was introduced, it was very easy for meat to go bad and make people ill. This was very common in warm countries, and so it ended up codified in religious cultures from those areas. Around the Med, it was no biggie: vegetables were pretty easy to grow in large quantities.

However, the type of doctrine that ended up as commonplace in Europe (because of military and economic developments) was a very Northern interpretation of Christianity, coming from places where people had to eat meat because vegetables were hard to grow in cold climates. A lot (or rather most) of the Templars themselves were French or German knights; they came from places were meat was a firm staple of rich diets.

And so most of the warnings against meat went out of the window, never to return. It probably helped that "the Enemy" had gone the opposite way.


How can you publish historical articles without knowing people actually grew old?

Sure life expectancy was low, but that’s mainly because people died young. Out of 14 children in a royal family you’d expect less than 5 to reach the age of 15, and that was for royalty.

That doesn’t mean the people who didn’t die at birth or as young children died before they grew old.

If you factor out all the child deaths, the average life expects wasn’t that much lower for a Knights Templar than it is for you. Hell, if you’re a poor 20+ American, you’ll probably live shorter, even with the help of modern medicine.


You said:

> Sure life expectancy was low, but that’s mainly because people died young ... If you factor out all the child deaths, the average life expects wasn’t that much lower for a Knights Templar than it is for you

Where literally the second damn line of the article:

> For even wealthy landholding males, average life expectancy was about 31 years, rising to 48 years for those who made it to their twenties.


The cited study appears to be based on a review of public records of English high society, which is a very limited perspective on the question.

https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-98...


I hate humanities publishing.

https://www.academia.edu/24376948/Estimation_of_life_expecta...

Tl;dr: Life expectancy at 25: ~50 in 1300-1350ish, lower during the plague.


what was the median life expectancy?

on edit: they said factor out all the early childhood deaths - which probably aren't factored out for 'average' life expectancy.


If you condition the average on reaching at least the age of twenty, that does factor out childhood deaths.


Right, which puts the average at 48. A perfect time for wisdom teeth to take you out. The statistical language people use about talking about lifespan in before-times is rotten! That whole paragraph lays it out in its mathematical glory.

> For even wealthy landholding males, average life expectancy was about 31 years, rising to 48 years for those who made it to their twenties.

Even for wealthy families infant mortality was a problem.

The AVERAGE is always the wrong metric!


This is why they provided a Windsorized average too. (of people who lived till 20s)


oops - reading fail.


Just to add a link for perspective:

It's not the middle ages but Victorian Britain, so still before widely available modern medicine, but in this lecture (transcript available):

https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/return-of-the-...

the professor mentions as an aside that

> And what is interesting, if you take out the childhood mortality, the Victorian person between 1850 and 1880 lived slightly longer, if he was a male, than you do today. So, your life expectancy at five, in England, as a male, in 1870 was slightly longer than it is now, which is an extraordinary statistic, slightly shorter then if you were a female.

So it seems to me that medicine's main contribution to life expectancy is for women (making giving birth much less risky) and for children. The rest of life expectancy gains probably is from gains in sanitation, clean water, nutrition, life/work conditions. It seems that the lives saved by antibiotics did't actually move the statistics by all that much, never mind all the other stuff medicine came up with.

Note: This isn't saying "there was no progress" (it comes from a professor of medicine after all, and obviously there was a lot of progress overall), it is about identifying the specific areas where progress was made, and what specifically lead to progress in what area. So you don't look at different groups and strata and not one single population number.


"It seems that the lives saved by antibiotics did't actually move the statistics by all that much, never mind all the other stuff medicine came up with."

According to the person you're quoting, that's because Victorians ate more good food, ate less bad food, and smoked less. Medicine got better at fixing us, but we got more inclined to break ourselves, so the needle didn't move much


The median may not have changed much, or even the age of the oldest. However,the distribution has changed significantly. Check out this chart of mortality curves from 1851 to a forecast for 2031. Mortality curves they have become much more "square" than they used to be.

https://i.imgur.com/ONRm4Ep.jpg


My quote explicitly stated that it excluded children and women. What is included in that image? I assume it's everybody ("persons"), so I'm not sure why you want to use it as a counter-point to what I quoted. What I wrote already acknowledged the huge amount of progress for children and women. Of course the curve shows significant improvement when you include those groups. See my last paragraph in the comment you replied to.


The chart shows all persons, and all ages. You can see the decrease in child mortality at the left of the curve, and the relatively small change in the age of the oldest at the right part of the curve. In the central part you can see where the biggest effects have been seen, i.e. in the annual risk of death for all persons.

E.g. for the cohort born in 1851, and who survived childhood disease, there was an annual risk of dying between the ages of 20 to 60 that was very much greater than the same for the cohort born in 1931.

You are correct in that most of this improvement can be accounted for by improvements in treating and preventing communicable disease, and prevention of septicemia, including but certainly not limited to those acquired during childbirth, as well as better management of the birth process itself.


>"The rest of life expectancy gains probably is from gains in sanitation, clean water, nutrition, life/work conditions."

Its just cheap energy behind all those factors (ie, burning fossil fuels).


We have "spent" a lot of those gains on technology and chemistry. Trading natural life for extended life, but arriving at the same age.


That's an interesting point:

- Plato died at 80.

- Confucius at 72.

- Michelangelo at 88.

- Sun Tzu at 75.

- Etc.

When we point out that our current life hygiene practices may be unhealthy, people tend to respond that "we live longer than ever".

Yes.

But then you have security: you are much less likely to get killed by a thief today, or a rapist.

Then you have the comfort: we have running water, electricity, much easier work load, holidays, transportation and we eat everyday.

well, if you take the rich, famous or protected people from many years ago, they already lived quite long because they had security and comfort.

So basically, yes it's good to be able to eat everyday. Yes we live longer because of it. No that doesn't mean it's ok to avoid the debate about pesticides or nanoparticles.

Yes, it's good that vaccines eliminate the most terrible disease on earth. Yes we live longer because of it. No that doesn't mean it's ok to avoid the debate about a new vaccine or vaccine policy.

Yes it's good that we have less very hard physical work. Yes we live longer because of it. No that doesn't mean it's ok to avoid the debate about the stress or lack of meaning we created in our society.


> - Plato died at 80.

> - Confucius at 72.

> - Michelangelo at 88.

> - Sun Tzu at 75.

> - Etc.

These men were also not your common laborers or soldiers.

Being rich and/or powerful has always been a benefit to your lifespan.


It actually may not be wealth and power that make the difference here, although that would be the simple answer. Those men were also not laborers who stopped working when their physical bodies slowed down. Imagine being a farmer or blacksmith who has turned 40 years old. You probably can't read, or contribute much to society anymore. Retirement is an indicator for mortality even today, so the effect was likely just as strong back then, possibly enhanced by the inability to make alternative contributions to society.


Being rich and/or powerful has always been a benefit to your lifespan.

Unless you were Japanese nobility centuries ago. Then your noble diet of polished white rice caused thiamine deficiency, leading to the development of kakke and an early death.


Socrates died, aged 71, executed by poison.

He was a stonemason's son, a stonemason himself, and an infantry soldier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates


A stonemason is an artist--Socrates carved statues; he didn't quarry rocks from hills.

In addition, holding the Prytany at one point indicates that Socrates was far from common ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prytany


That's pretty much my point.


Something isn't right here. At the time of the Templars nobody ate like this. Nobody could. Rich or poor, holy or not, food changed according to the season. Vegetables were only available at certain times of the year. The rest of the time it would be a combination of bread (grain) and meat. The diet described in this article would only have been possible in relatively temperate climates with long growing seasons. But even so, there would have been seasons.

The concept of a weekly diet, one that can be followed month after month, is a very modern thing. You ate what was in season. You didn't eat meat when there was plenty of vegetables available. You shoved the extra vegetables into animals, which you then ate during the seasons when the vegetables weren't available. This concept of a "balanced" diet between the two would have been impractical and extremely wasteful.

Also, be careful with the word meat in old texts. The meaning changes depending on context. Western cultures generally don't count fish as meat but others do. Similarly, 'game' and even 'fowl' are sometimes not included, with 'meat' reserved for the slaughter of domesticated animals. So a text about people not eating meat at particular times doesn't necessarily mean they weren't getting a pile of fats and proteins from something that we today would consider meat.


> Rich or poor, holy or not, food changed according to the season.

Tha's true.

> Vegetables were only available at certain times of the year. The rest of the time it would be a combination of bread (grain) and meat.

That's not. Plenty of fruits & vegetables can be put up for quite a long time. Root vegetables can be stored for many months (almost a year) by digging them up and piling in 'silos,' which alternate layers of soil or sand & vegetables. Apples can be stored in barrels. Cabbages can be covered in leaves, or fermented. Beans & peas can be dried. Almonds can be used to make milk (in fact, in the middle ages almond milk was more common than cows' milk).

Christians have been fasting on Wednesdays & Fridays, Lent & Advent for millennia, well before refrigeration and modern foodstuffs.


> in fact, in the middle ages almond milk was more common than cows' milk

Got a link for that? Seems highly unlikely to me...


I don't know about more common, but this was in the related links: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/almond-milk-obsession-...


Try storing food that way for a few months. The results aren't pretty. What survives are carbs. All the vitamins are gone. You have carrots suitable for pottage, not salad. Seeds (peas, nuts, grains etc) can indeed be stored but they too are just blobs of carbs. When we talk about "eating vegetables" we don't mean porridge and dried nuts. Scurvy was a thing for a reason.


Scurvy was a thing on sailing ships. If it had been universal for everybody everywhere, wouldn't we have retained the ability to produce vitamin C like other creatures do - and not lost it through evolution?

I am amazed if you truly cannot imagine a root cellar, just a generation or two ago.


Scurvy "was a thing" because for centuries they didn't know why it happened in the first place.

A Scottish surgeon in the Royal Navy, James Lind, is generally credited with proving that scurvy can be successfully treated with citrus fruit in 1753.


> Also, be careful with the word meat in old texts

Reminds me of the barnacle goose.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnacle_goose#Folklore

Folks in the middle ages had some confused ideas about where the adult geese came from (thinking they started life as barnacles!) and thus meat from this one particular bird was approved to eat on fast days.


The diet described in this article would only have been possible in relatively temperate climates with long growing seasons.

Temperate climates, perhaps like the Mediterranean? Which is where most of the Templars lived?


> Similarly, 'game' and even 'fowl' are sometimes not included, with 'meat' reserved for the slaughter of domesticated animals.

The article explicitly discusses meat, fowl, flesh, fish etc as different things.




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