Food for monks in the middle ages consisted of what was grown within the monastery and what could be begged from nearby towns. Their main foodstuffs included vegetables such as turnips or salad, dark breads, porridges, an occasional fish, cheese curds, beer, ale, or mead. Fish was smoked and meat dried to increase their longevity.
Having said this, Cistercian monks were adamant that neither meat nor lard should be eaten within the monastery, although an allowance was made for the seriously ill and hired craftsmen.
The Cistercians also objected to the laxity and gluttony of other orders and ruled that, in accordance with chapter 61 of the Rule of St Benedict, the monks should eat once a day.
How did medieval monks survive on such a lacklustre diet?
In this video, Dan Snow tries some of the food options for those monks who lived a life of chastity, solitude and gratitude in the medieval period.