Undoubtedly the greatest humanist in history. Leonardo da Vinci. Painter, anatomist, architect, paleontologist, botanist, writer, sculptor, philosopher, inventor … He died five centuries ago in the French castle of Clos Lucé in the Loire. Until the last day of his life, he retouched his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. He was a great nature lover. Perhaps that influenced Leonardo Da Vinci’s vegetarian diet as well as his art.
The natural world surprised him. His diaries show that he had a particular interest in the movements of birds of prey. During his life, he cared for various birds and dedicated himself to buying cages to free them.
His love for nature led him to a strict vegetarian diet. It is believed that he mainly ate legumes, fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. Though his list included eels, more exotic fruits, and other fish. He always looked for what he called “easy” diets, but at the time it is extreme: “Doesn’t nature produce enough simple foods to please you? And if you are not satisfied with the simple ones, you can then not combine them into an infinite number of connections?
Leonardo perceived that animals, unlike plants, felt pain because they “had the ability to move the body”. “Nature has made living organisms sensitive to pain that has the power to move. It’s about preserving the parts that could be destroyed by the movement. No pain is required with plants. All of this was based on his tremendous sensitivity to the pain of others. His friends joked that Leonardo “was unable to kill a flea”.
The work of the Florentines is full of ecological arguments. On many occasions he reflected on his love for animals and nature: «An infinity of beings will have their young taken away. They will cut their throats and brutally butcher them, ”refers to the sheep and cows that people eat. “If, as you wrote, you are the king of the beasts […] Why don’t you help the other animals except so that they can give you their young for the sake of your gluttony? ‘
In “The Last Supper”, Leonardo also reflected this taste for vegetables and fruits. Historian John Varriano analyzed the food on the table in the piece. He found that many of the traditional meat dishes often depicted in this New Testament passage replace foods such as “eels garnished with oranges”. They replace the traditional lamb that is common in all Mediterranean countries.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s vegetarian diet reflected his love for nature. The man and the work were also one in this genius. Your shadow will never stop growing.