Ramadan

In the Muslim faith, the holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year and is devoted to prayer, fasting, and charity. Muslims believe that it was during this month that God first began to reveal the holy book of Islam, the Quran, to the prophet Muhammad. Most Muslims are required to refrain from food and drink during daylight hours for the entire month. The fast is broken in the evening by a meal called the iftar, which traditionally includes dates and water or sweet drinks, and is resumed again at sunrise. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Faith, which are the most important religious duties in Islam. The practice is meant to remind Muslims of the poor, to cleanse the body, and to foster serenity and spiritual devotion. Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr, the "Festival of Breaking the Fast."

—Paula Kepos

  1. Meat and dairy products cannot be eaten at the same meal or served on the same plate, and kosher and nonkosher foods cannot come into contact with the same plates.
  2. The law of health—the Word of Wisdom—contains the laws for proper eating and the rules of abstinence for tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, chocolate, and illegal drugs. Mormons must choose foods that build up the body, improve endurance, and enhance intellect. Products from the land, such as grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, are to take the place of meats; meats, sugar, cheeses, and spices are to be avoided. Reason and self-control in eating is expected in order to stay healthy.
  3. Members of this group are permitted to eat any food that is I-tal food, meaning that it is cooked only slightly. Therefore, meats are not consumed, canned goods are avoided, and drinks that are unnatural are not allowed. Fish under twelve inches long may be eaten, but other types of seafood are restricted.

Roman Catholicism. The dietary practices of devout Catholics center around the restriction of meat or fasting behaviors on specified holy days.

WORLD RELIGIONS, FOODS PRACTICES AND RESTRICTIONS, AND RATIONALE FOR BEHAVIOR

Type of religion

Practice or restriction

Rationale

Buddhism

  • Refrain from meat, vegetarian diet is desirable
  • Moderation in all foods
  • Fasting required of monks
  • Natural foods of the earth are considered most pure
  • Monks avoid all solid food after noon

Eastern Orthodox Christianity

  • Restrictions on Meat and Fish
  • Fasting Selectively

• Observance of Holy Days includes fasting and restrictions to increase spiritual progress

Hinduism

  • Beef prohibited
  • All other meat and fish restricted or avoided
  • Alcohol avoided
  • Numerous fasting days

• Cow is sacred and can't be eaten, but products of the

"sacred" cow are pure and desirable

• Fasting promotes spiritual growth

Islam

  • Pork and certain birds prohibited
  • Alcohol prohibited
  • Coffee/tea/stimulants avoided
  • Fasting from all food and drink during specific periods
  • Eating is for good health
  • Failure to eat correctly minimizes spiritual awareness
  • Fasting has a cleansing effect of evil elements

Judaism

  • Pork and shellfish prohibited
  • Meat and dairy at same meal prohibited
  • Leavened food restricted
  • Fasting practiced
  • Land animals that do not have cloven hooves and that do not chew their cud are forbidden as unclean (e.g., hare, pig, camel)
  • Kosher process is based upon the Torah

Mormonism

  • Alcohol and beverages containing caffeine prohibited
  • Moderation in all foods
  • Fasting practiced
  • Caffeine is addictive and leads to poor physical and emotional health
  • Fasting is the discipline of self-control and honoring to God

Protestants

  • Few restrictions of food or fasting observations
  • Moderation in eating, drinking, and exercise is promoted

• God made all animal and natural products for humans'

enjoyment

• Gluttony and drunkenness are sins to be controlled

Rastafarianism

  • Meat and fish restricted
  • Vegetarian diets only, with salts, preservatives, and condiments prohibited
  • Herbal drinks permitted; alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks prohibited
  • Marijuana used extensively for religious and medicinal purposes
  • Pigs and shellfish are scavengers and are unclean
  • Foods grown with chemicals are unnatural and prohibited
  • Biblical texts support use of herbs (marijuana and other herbs)

Roman Catholicism

  • Meat restricted on certain days
  • Fasting practiced

• Restrictions are consistent with specified days of the church year

Seventh-day Adventist

  • Pork prohibited and meat and fish avoided
  • Vegetarian diet is encouraged
  • Alcohol, coffee, and tea prohibited

• Diet satisfies practice to "honor and glorify God"

On the designated days, Catholics may abstain from all food, or they may restrict meat and meat products. Water or nonstimulant liquids are usually allowed during the fast.

Seventh-day Adventists. The Seventh-day Adventist Church advocates a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, including moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products and the avoidance of meat, fish, fowl, coffee, tea, alcohol, and to-boacco products (though these are not strictly prohibited). The church's beliefs are grounded in the Bible, and in a "belief in the wholistic nature of people" (Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Nutrition Council).

While the dietary practices of different religions vary, and the rationale for each practice is based upon different texts, there is also much commonality. The practice of fasting is almost universal across religious groups, and most regard it as a mechanism to discipline the followers in a humbling way for spiritual growth. Many fasting practices are connected with specific holy days. The variation in consumption of meat and vegetables has a much wider variation. see also Eating Habits; Fasting.

Ruth A. Waibel

Bibliography

Brown, Linda Keller, and Mussell, Kay, eds. Ethnic and Regional Foodways in the United States: The Performance of Group Identity. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Desai, Anita (2000). Fasting, Feasting. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Fishbane, Michael (1992). The Garments of Torah: Essays in Biblical Hermaneutics. Bloomington, MN: Indiana University Press.

Gordon, Lewis, ed. (1997). Existence in Black: An Anthology of Black Existential Philosophy. New York: Routledge.

Landman-Bouges, J. (1997). "Rastafarian Food Habits." Cajanus 9(4):228-234.

Siregar, Susan Rogers (1981). Adat, Islam, and Christianity in a Batak Homeland. Athens, OH: Center for International Studies at Ohio University.

Internet Resources

Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. "The Word of Wisdom." Available from <http://www.mormon.org>

"Judaism 101." Available from <http://www.jewfaq.org>

Orthodox Christian Information Center. "Living an Orthodox Life." Available from <http://orthodoxinfo.com>

"The Rastafarian Religion." Available from <http://www.aspects.net/~nick/religions. html>

"Rastafarianism." Available from <http://hem1.passagen.se/perdavid/rastafar.htm>

Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Nutrition Council. "GCNC Position Statements." Available from <http://www.andrews.edu/NUFS/resources.html>

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