Musings on veganism and Harry Potter below the jump.
Vegan Harry Potter megafans are out there, everybody. They largely focus on veganizing recipes inspired by the books in order to be able to enjoy their favorite wizarding foodstuffs. Sometimes they ask questions about the role of vegans in the books, but these discussions are few and far between. I did not honestly know the question came up until I started looking around online after having decided to write this post.
Tonight I was eating at Steak n Shake, as you do, and I was telling my wife how I had eaten a cherry in an attempt to see if my tastes had changed any. They haven't. Cherries are too sweet for me. My wife said, "So you would not eat cherries and ham, you would not eat them Sam I Am?" Then she commented that she couldn't remember if the ham was also green, or just the eggs.
I pointed out to her the fact that green ham would be inherently unappetizing, unless you were in the Harry Potter universe. The dragon steaks are green there. Also, dragon steaks are a thing. Hagrid throws one over his eye to help out with the whole continuous beatings from his brother thing.
So it goes.
It dawned on us then that while Harry Potter is a tale about many things – the defeat of prejudice, the hero's journey, the power of love – the books carry a single, very clear message throughout that doesn't get talked about very much. Harry Potter is about love, and respect, and acceptance of everyone. Except vegans. Fuck them, apparently.
Harry Potter and the Slaughterhouse of Secrets
The world of Harry Potter is highly unfriendly to vegans. House Elves will accommodate vegetarian students at Hogwarts "if asked nicely," but that's about the extent of the accommodation.
First of all, wands. In Britain, you're probably going to Ollivander's to get your wand. And Ollivander only uses dragon heartstrings, unicorn tail hairs, and phoenix feathers to make his wand cores. Other wand cores include Thestral tail hair (used in the Elder Wand), Veela hair, troll whiskers and other substances. Interestingly, only animal byproducts are used in wandmaking. Fawkes, at least, donated his feathers, though that presents a whole new range of questions – could a vegan witch or wizard use a wand if the core was ethically sourced?
Wands are only the beginning, though. Many potions require animal products to produce, and you can't just substitute ingredients. Common poison antidotes contain unicorn horns. Boil curing potions contain horned slugs, porcupine quills, and snake fangs. Herbicides contain flobberworm mucus. Polyjuice Potion contains boomslang skin, bicorn horn, leeches, and lacewing flies. Bezoars, which feature in many antidotes, are harvested from goat stomachs.
Wizarding history isn't so animal friendly, either. Golden Snidgets were hunted to near extinction so they could be used as a ball in Quidditch. Dragonskins are and have been harvested for use as protective equipment, including gloves. De-gnoming a garden is essential to keeping the garden healthy, but standard de-gnoming methods involve getting the gnomes dizzy and throwing them as far as possible. Dragons are kept underground to guard the oldest vaults in Gringotts. Owls are used to deliver the post. There is a book on charming cheese, called Charm Your Own Cheese.
But you know, you don't need a wand to do magic. It's harder to control, and you may not be able to partake fully of magical society, but you do not need a wand. You don't need to be able to make potions – Neville sucked at potions, and he went on to become a productive member of society. You don't need to consume potions, provided you never fall ill – Wizards seem to rely solely on potions for their medical care. Care of Magical Creatures is an elective, so you can avoid it if you feel it's unethical. Dragonskin gloves will be avoidable, provided you can cast spells to protect your hands in the situations where you might need them. Maybe you could set up a decoy garden for the gnomes to live in while they leave your real garden alone.
It'll be hard, but not impossible. Being vegan is hard in the real world. At least, that's what I'm given to understand.
Everything's pretty good, then. I guess maybe it isn't a big fuck you to vegans like I thought it was. Maybe—
Oh, right. That.
Gods damn it, Potterverse. Sentient plants. That don't like people. And attack us.
So now vegan wizards need to make an arbitrary distinction between what sort of plants are okay to eat and use in their potions and other products and what ones aren't. Are bubotubers okay? Maybe. But what about Mimbulus Mimbletonia, which makes odd crooning noises when touched later on in its lifecycle? Or the Monster Book of Monsters, which is a book? Could a vegan own a copy of the Monster Book of Monsters? Is it even remotely ethical if you're vegan to do so? I guess it depends on if you're a normal, regular vegan or a magical PETA vegan.
I mean, N.E.W.T. level Herbology students need to study from a book called Flesh-Eating Trees of the World. Magic, everybody. Our rules and assumptions just don't work. You can't just vegan in Harry Potter the way you can in the real world. You'll get eaten. By a plant. If that's not a giant middle finger to vegans, I don't know what is.
So, there you have it. Harry Potter has it out for vegans. So, if you're like me and read Harry Potter at a formative point in your life, the lesson is crystal clear. If you aren't like me, I'll spell it out. Don't be a vegan, because if you ever get that delayed Hogwarts letter we all waited for, you're going to want as easy a transition as possible.
Disclaimer: No animal byproducts were involved in the making of this post. This post is gluten-free, and the title is vegan approved.
For your entertainment, please enjoy the following food-based revisions of Harry Potter book titles:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Flambé
Harry Potter and the Prison Food of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Gluten-Free Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Spicy Phoenix Wings
Harry Potter and the Half-and-Half Prince
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Dine on Them
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Pizza Stone
Harry Potter and the Cake or Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Order of the Tofoenix