Operation Vegetarian

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Operation Vegetarian was a British military plan in 1942 to disseminate linseed cakes infected with anthrax spores onto the fields of Germany. These cakes would have been eaten by the cattle, which would then be consumed by the civilian population, causing the deaths of millions of German citizens. Furthermore, it would have wiped out the majority of Germany's cattle, creating a massive food shortage for the rest of the population that remained uninfected.[1] Preparations were not complete until early 1944. Operation Vegetarian was only to be used in the event of a German anthrax attack on the United Kingdom.[2]

The cakes themselves were tested on Gruinard Island, just off the coast of Scotland. Because of the widespread contamination from the anthrax, the land remained a no-go area until 1990. The five million cakes made to be disseminated in Germany were eventually destroyed in an incinerator shortly after World War II ended in 1945.[3]

In his novel The Impossible Dead (2011), author Ian Rankin mentions the clandestine events surrounding the removal of contaminated soils from Guinard Island by the Dark Harvest Commandos and the island's removal from maps by the British Government. [4] It also features as the principal setting for the novel "El año de gracia" by Cristina Fernández Cubas, in which the protagonist spends a winter shipwrecked on the island. Originally published in 1985. (Tusquets Editores, ISBN 978-8-47223-750-6).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arthur, Charles (1999-08-27). "Porton Down's secret human guinea pigs". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  2. ^ Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-war Strategic Defence, 1942-47 by Julian Lewis
  3. ^ Toner, Ed (2001-10-22). "Anthrax: An Old Scare". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  4. ^ Rankin, Ian (2011-10-13). The Impossible Dead. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 9781409112143. 

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