That Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian isn’t something that is widely known to most, as during his lifetime this type of lifestyle wasn’t thought about in the Renaissance Era. Either you had food or you were hungry and voluntary restriction of one’s diet was considered abnormal.
However, da Vinci was a practicing vegetarian and his notebooks have many passages that support this practice along with various letters from people who were personally acquainted with Leonardo.
He was known for some antics, such as his buying birds at the market and then freeing them to fly away. He was also obviously no weakling as he was noted for his great strength as stories of his ability to straighten horseshoes for fun. As a joke da Vinci actually removed the curve from a blacksmith’s entire stock of horseshoes, which made for an unhappy blacksmith!
How did being a vegetarian affect Leonardo’s creativity?
Hi vegetarianism may have had much more of an effect than many might think. Since his body was not spending time attempting to break down the complex proteins of meat, his body would have had more energy for other activities.
It’s fair to say that just the fact that he was able to think differently about food showed that he had a different way of thinking altogether. Today, vegetarianism is much more common, but it seems to be quite a bit more factionized – now there are degrees of vegetarianism (veganism is hard!) and meat eaters really seem to enjoy their meat. I like to think that his out of the box thinking in all aspects of his life affected everything he did.
He was also undoubtedly healthy as he lived to the ripe old age of 67 in a time when making it to 30 years was consider quite a feat of longevity.
Along with his creativity his mathematical skills were extraordinary
If Leonardo were not a consummate artist, he might have become known as one of the foremost mathematicians of the age. As it was, his grasp of mathematical concepts was far beyond most, even to this day. He, however, preferred to express his discoveries in graphical form as he himself would say,
Writing about something confuses, but a picture makes things perfectly clear.
Da Vinci was one of those special few that can transcend words – he took images in his mind and transferred them directly into a picture that created that same concept in the mind of the observer.
He could only do this if his mind was functioning clearly and not being clouded by meat toxins loading down his liver and kidneys as they attempted to filter his blood.
As he was left-handed, meant his dominate side of his brain was the right side he had to have an unimpaired access to both hemispheres as the language center in men is predominately on the left side even in the case of left-handers. This allowed him the ability to communicate himself clearly using words, mathematical formula as his optical observations show.
This requires a high degree of integration of both the left and right side of the brain and this can only be done if everything is running at optimum or in the “Zone” or a state of “Flow.” This has been shown to occur predominately with individuals who follow a vegetarian type diet and lifestyle.
Meat is undeniably tasty. I’d imagine that it was tough for da Vinci to give it up since food probably wasn’t as good during the Renaissance as it is now. I think those of us that have gone from a meat diet to a vegetarian diet know how hard it is to give up meat, and that it requires a substantial amount of self-discipline at times. But if you can have clearer mental states and be more creative, I think it’s worth it.