|Part of the extensive vegetable gardens at Jefferson's Virginia estate.|
Thomas Jefferson: "I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables which constitute my principal diet."About those servants:
Ellen W. Coolidge, granddaughter: "He lived principally on vegetables. ... The little meat he took seemed mostly as a seasoning for his vegetables."
Edmund Bacon, Monticello overseer from 1806-1822: "He never eat much hog meat. He often told me, as I was giving out meat for the servants, that what I gave one of them for a week would be more than he would use in six months."
"Over the course of his life, Jefferson owned 600 people. His way of life always depended on the labor of people he held in slavery."A country founded on the principles of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" kept enslaved 20% of its population, not accounting for women, while inscribing these principles in a Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, while claiming "all men are created equal" and calling slavery an "abominable crime," spent much of his adult life finding ways to maximize the productivity of his slaves.2
2PBS: Scientific American Fronteirs: Thomas Jefferson, Slavemaster