Was Dick Turpin Really a Vegan?

In Apple TV+’s historical comedy series ‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin,’ Dick Turpin is a vegan who doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his father to become a butcher. He rather play with courgettes and pet animals than butcher them. In reality, however, the highwayman was not really a zoophilist. The protagonist series creators Claire Downes, Ian Jarvis, and Stuart Lane conceived differ extensively from the highwayman’s real-life counterpart, including in the case of his veganism. The trait is fictional and carefully integrated into the character for comedic effect!

The Vegan Turpin

In the series, Dick Turpin is a vegan who doesn’t eat or harm animals. Due to his principles, he even walks away from his home and father since he doesn’t want to become a butcher. In reality, Turpin was a butcher and the profession was an integral part of his life as a felon. Turpin became a proper criminal after joining the Essex gang, led by Samuel Gregory, his brothers, and his allies. In the early 1730s, the gang was focused on livestock robbery. Even though they could steal animals, they needed an outsider to butcher the stolen goods so they could sell them easily. That was how Turpin became a part of the group.

“The activities of the Gregory brothers and their associates would have been pointless without the existence of contacts that would allow them, either locally or on the London market, to dispose of the deer they stole. One of their local contacts was a young butcher who plied his trade in the area: his name was Richard [Dick] Turpin,” wrote James Sharpe in the biography ‘Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman.’ Furthermore, there aren’t any accounts, written in the lifetime of Turpin or the modern period, that state that he avoided eating animal products.

In addition, the word “vegan,” repeated by Turpin several times in the series set in 1735, was coined only in 1944 by Donald Watson and Dorothy Morgan. The creators of the show intentionally made Turpin a modern man to explore the humor of placing such a figure in the 18th century. Making him vegan is seemingly just a part of the process. “We wanted to have this sort of modern character in this quite hard world with these sort of scary characters and people are getting killed around him and shot,” clarified Noel Fielding, who plays the protagonist, to The Independent.

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