As there is some custom of vegetarianism in the Jewish culture, plus there is in Nazism the use of the swastika that implicitly leads back to Hinduism where there also is a much stronger culture of vegetarianism (let aside the fact it is a reversed swastika that certainly was in Hitler’s mind since he met Lenin in Vienna… the swastika was frequently used in early Soviet state documents, like bills & paper money – see Lenin’s Kalmuk background i.e. Buddhist culture – plus it looks like a wheeled mechanical rotating piece in an industry (cf. Nazi promises of economic revival), or a dented wheel coming to destroy, in war), it was for Hitler absolutely imperative to pretend vegetarianism to have a kind of cover for the persecution and then extermination of millions of Jews. This and “Jews live in the cities, far from nature, we Nazis defend the environment & its animals”. A very well organized propaganda machine.
The existing documentation on “Hitler, the vegetarian” notes that it was strongly a product of Goebbels’ propaganda, but seems nevertheless to finally abide by the idea that he “went totally vegetarian by 1942” (I’m thinking of the Wikipedia article & its many sources), not at all noticing the obvious parallel developments that are the “strengthening” of Hitler’s vegetarian regime, the increased closure of the Nazi regime, and the beginning of the Final Solution, Porajmos etc.
One very interesting testimony is the one of Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, in 1932 (this is crucial) :
Princess Sophie later met the Nazi leader at her home.
‘As Goering was insistent we should meet Hitler personally, we decided to ask him to lunch at our flat,’ she wrote.
‘I had been warned he was a vegetarian…
I am underlining. It’s important to note that it’s Göring making the presentations, Göring also in charge of “animal welfare propaganda” later as Hitler came to power. Dione Lucas’ indication he loved pidgeon meat while dining in Hamburg where she was hotel chef, for instance, leads another way.
There is also this very interesting New York Times archive from the 30th of May 1937 :
As a rule official business is out of the way by lunch time. It is well known that Hitler is a vegetarian and does not drink or smoke. His lunch and dinner consist, therefore, for the most part of soup, eggs, vegetables and mineral water, although he occasionally relishes a slice of ham and relieves the tediousness of his diet with such delicacies as caviar, luscious fruits and similar tidbits.
(I am underlining too)
Where we see that “vegetarian” is used in the way we use “flexitarian” today (first point).
And I argue even this flexitarianism was solely propaganda in front of visitors (second point) : when away, dining at the hotel in Hamburg for instance, we see he was eating more meat.
Third point : as he could less easily go to restaurants outside as war began, Hitler still undertook the “vegetarian show” during the war but got his doctor Theodor Morell to prescribe him many drugs that included lots of products taken from animals such as plasma, vesicles, fat… The little diary where Morell kept list of all drugs which he gave to Hitler includes “euflat” (with beef bile), “omnadin” (w/ animal fat), “orchikrin” (bovine testosterone extract), “prostacrinum” (extract of animal glands)…
As concerns Nazi antivivisection laws for instance it is also important to note that in one case at least the initial stringent provisions (Aug 16th 1933) were quickly amended through decree (Sept 5th) and many waivers were distributed. Wikipedia notes that :
1. Pfugers Archiv für die Gesamte Physiologie (Pfugers Archive for the Total Physiology), a science journal at that time, notes that there were many animal experiments during the Nazi regime (source given is C. Ray Greek, Jean Swingle Greek (2002). Sacred Cows and Golden Geese: The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 90).
2. In 1936, the Tierärztekammer (Chamber of Veterinarians) in Darmstadt filed a formal complaint against the lack of enforcement of the animal protection laws on those who conducted illegal animal testing (source given is Frank Uekötter (2006). The Green and the Brown: A History of Conservation in Nazi Germany. Cambridge University Press. p. 57. ISBN0-521-84819-9).
Many other laws on animal protection were also enacted but one can easily expect the same fate as for the above vivisection law : many gestures and loud noises, propaganda for the masses (Hermann Göring promising concentration camps for those who treat animals as inanimate property – he does the PR work as for what I suggest was, from very early on, the presentation of Hitler as “vegetarian” – see Princess Sophie’s report) and, in fact, behind the curtains, nothing really changes, except that there is a strong possibility that the new regulations are used to e.g. get bribes from private sector businesses looking for waivers. Another important point is the compulsory membership of the “Nazi hunting guilds” (Jägerschaft) for hunters – animal protection happens to be a great opportunity for actually organizing the systematic registering of a big group of weapon owners and, moreover, the banning of Jews from membership i.e. the beginning of the Nazi policy of barring Jews from owning weapons…
However Hitler survived as he escaped in a submarine after faking death with a corpse and he lived long thanks to more vegetarianism or perhaps even veganism (died at 131).