Were Roman Gladiators Vegetarian? The Protein Myth #2

Roman Gladiators Were Vegetarian!

The Protein Myth #2


One of the things I was surprised to learn was that ancient Romans, some of the greatest athletes and warriors in history were also vegetarian. Until recently we were led to believe that gladiators were fed the best meat in order to build their bodies and develop stamina that would help make them into fighting machines.

This theory was debunked by Austrian forensic anthropologists Dr. Fabian Kanz and Prof. Karl Grosschmidt, as a result of scientific research on the bones of gladiators. Results proved that the fighters were well fed, but not on the best red meat; but on vegetarian food that was rich in carbohydrates, Untitled-1such as barley, beans and dried fruits. In addition to this evidence it is also historically recorded that gladiators were nicknamed “hordearii”. This term literally means “barley eaters”. The Roman legions were aware of the power of barley to the point it could be said that its army marched on it. Our ancestors were aware that barley was good for them, although in those days it wasn’t called a super food. It was more of a case of knowing it was good but not knowing why. Today we know it as an incredible source of fiber, selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.

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