What Food is Taboo in Religion?October 25, 2015
Subscribe to Atkins or South Beach all you want, but no diet is as meaningful as one dictated by your own religion. Do you ever wonder why Jollibee comes out with tuna pie in March or April? Do you know the story behind your favorite slice of kosher deli pastrami? Have you ever wondered what makes Halal Guys—well—halal? Look no further, because we’ve compiled a list of the world’s most popular religions and the taboo foods of their respective cuisines.
1. Christianity (population of 2.1 billion)
The 80% of the Philippine population that is Roman Catholic will go meatless at the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and on every Lenten Friday thereafter. Smaller denominations (like Mormonism) refrain from drinking alcohol or caffeine for optimum physical and spiritual health.
2. Islam (population of 1.5 billion)
Muslims must eat only halal (lawful) foods, as prescribed to them by the commandments in the Qur’an. Haram (unlawful) foods include pork (swine is considered unclean), alcohol, and food not slaughtered in the name of God.
3. Hinduism (population of 900 million)
While they believe in the sacredness of nature (as per their belief in reincarnation), beef is especially prohibited in the Hindu religion as they consider cows to be sacred creatures. The cow is so well-honored by Hindus that the primarily Hindu country of India has laws against cow sale and slaughter.
4. Buddhism (population of 376 million)
Like Hindus, Buddhists believe in reincarnation and will refrain from slaughtering animals as there is a chance that their souls have once inhabited human bodies. Their belief in ahimsa (non-violence) encourages them to adopt a vegetarian diet.
5. Sikhism (population of 23 million)
While Sikhs may still choose to eat meat (though it is discouraged), they are encouraged to adopt a lacto-vegetarian diet. Like Buddhism and Hinduism, Sikhism puts a premium on ahimsa (non-violence), allowing them to consume vegetables as well as dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.
6. Judaism (population of 14 million)
Jewish dietary laws (also known as the kashrut) feature some of the most rigorous and complex religious eating guidelines. The list of prohibited foods runs long, but includes pork and shellfish. Jewish people may only eat kosher foods (conforming to dietary law), making Jewish-owned delis popular amongst the practicing.
7. Baha’i (population of 7 million)
Baha’i practitioners refrain from drinking alcohol because they do not consume intoxicants or anything that might affect their sense of judgment. They may, however, consume it for medicinal purposes.
8. Jainism (population of 4.2 million)
Like the Buddhists, Hindus, and the Sikhs, Jains believe in a peaceful, non-violent co-existence with nature. Meat is not the only thing absent from Jain cuisine, but also fish, eggs, honey, alcohol, root vegetables, and figs. Vegetables like garlic and onions are also prohibited because they are said to inspire dark, sexual desires.