The Surprising Diet of the Vikings

The Vikings are well-known for their warlike nature. It is no wonder then that images of a Viking feast often contain large platters of roasted meat and mugs of some strong alcoholic beverage, with little else as an accompaniment besides perhaps some type of bread.

You might be astonished to learn, then, that the Viking diet was actually quite varied and healthy for that time period. Even poor Vikings typically ate well, much better than many of their European counterparts, in fact.

vignette.wikia.nocookie.net

So, what did these almost mythical warrior people eat?

They did eat a lot of meat. The difference between Vikings and other societies, though, is that pretty much everyone had access to meat, including the poor. While poor peasants in the rest of Europe were living off barley and peas, Viking peasants were chowing down on pork, beef, goats, mutton, and even horses as often as once a day.

They also consumed other sources of protein, besides red meat. Since they were a seafaring people, they ate a lot of fish. They would often preserve their seafood by pickling or smoking, and some popular Scandinavian fish dishes today make use of these fish preservation methods. They also ate whales that had beached themselves and died, though this sounds really unappetizing.

In addition to this, they ate all kinds of fowl, both domestic and wild. The eggs of domestic birds would also be eaten. They also hunted for such game as elk, bear, wild pig, and squirrel.

The biggest difference between the Viking diet and that of other Europeans was their inclusion of vegetables. In many other countries at that time, vegetables were not eaten much, especially by the wealthy. The poor often had to eat them because they didn’t have access to much else. The Vikings ate lots of vegetables and fruits, though.

They ate a lot of wild vegetables and fruits, like wild carrots, apples, and berries. But they also had farms where they grew things like beans, cabbages, spinach, onions, and even endive. One of their most popular meals, skause, was a type of stew made with meat and a variety of vegetables. To have access to fruits and vegetables year-round, the Vikings preserved their produce by drying it.

Their food wasn’t totally bland, either, as they made use of a number of spices and herbs that were available to them. For example, they regularly used wild horseradish to spice up their dishes. They also coriander, poppy seeds, mustard, mint, thyme, and cumin to give their food some flavor. What they couldn’t get locally, they sometimes traded for, especially during the Middle Ages. International trade gave the Vikings access to such spices as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper, which they used often.

While their diet was much better than one would expect, this does not mean that the Vikings were a completely healthy people. Examination of Viking cesspits (basically ancient toilets), archeologists have found that many of them suffered from intestinal parasites. These would have caused illness and even early death in some cases. These parasites could have resulted from poor hygiene or improper food preparation. They also used wild plants that are known to be poisonous to humans, and used their seeds in baking bread.

Had modern medicine been available, though, and had proper handwashing and food preparation techniques been known, the Vikings probably would have been a very healthy group of people. This may explain why their modern descendants, the Scandinavians, have such a high life expectancy today, since many of their eating habits are similar to those of their warrior ancestors.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Twenty-Two Years Of Poop Removed Surgically From One Man

    Remember that last time you could not go to the toilet? You just sat there in agony, with just nothing coming out? Or that constipated bloated sensation that never goes away, well now think that you have had that feeling for wait for it... 22 whole years. Impossible, right? Yes, one Chinese man has defied...

    Read More
  • Yes, There Was A Black Nazi

    Meet Hans Massaquoi, one of the very rare and few biracial Germans who were born and grew up during the Nazi regime. Though do not be mislead by the photo, he was not actually allowed to join the Nazi Party. This does not really make much sense when you remember...

    Read More
  • Marijuana Farms Are Killing Owls

    In California the great marijuana legalization growing revolution is having some dire consequences to the local ecosystem, notably, it seems to be killing Northern spotted owls! Unfortunately the profitable of the marijuana legalization vote in California has seen the rise of numerous unpermitted private grow sites. These grow sites are...

    Read More
  • Napoleon’s Biggest Loss Was Against A Horde Of Rabbits

    Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French emperor who dominated European and even global affairs for over a decade from 1804 to 1814. Renown for being one of the greatest military commanders ever to rule, his campaigns and victories are still studied around the world today. He won the vast majority of his battles, which means his...

    Read More
  • Surf’s up Or Sled's Up? The Magical Slurpee Waves

    If you happen to be out in Nantucket around Nobadeer beach, then we hope you dressed up warm. The air is currently so cold that the waves have been frozen! The well-documented cold that has come down on the U.S. East Coast has been freezing everyone, but in Massachusetts, it...

    Read More
  • The Luckiest Flying Ace Alive

    Captain John Herbert Hedley flew fighter planes for Britain during World War I. He once fell out of his plane and survived. I know what you are thinking, he simply opened his parachute? Well back in the days of World War I, the army thought pilots would not be aggressive enough if they had an...

    Read More
  • Is That Batman Or Is It Raining Bats?

    Is what you would say if you are currently living in New South Wales in Australia. Temperatures have reached soaring highs, causing the poor bats to just drop from the sky. The current heat wave is one of the most extreme this side of the planet has ever seen, rising over 111 degrees Fahrenheit. And...

    Read More