For those who are religious (in this sense, following a certain religion like Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity), their beliefs are far more than just reading holy books, adhering to religious instructions and living life as their particular religion advises. There is also another very important facet to religion and that’s food; the kind of food we eat, where and when we eat it and what it symbolizes.
Taking some major world religions into account, it’s interesting to see how meat is treated. In Hinduism, the cow is considered sacred and is never eaten. The milk and byproducts, however, are. This is because the byproducts from a sacred being are considered valuable to the soul. Hindus often abstain all meat, preferring a strict vegetarian diet.
Islam prohibits the eating of pork and birds with talons or claws (as well as depending on how they fly – flapping versus gliding) and Roman Catholics abstain from meat on certain Fridays every year (some still abstain every Friday).
Jews eat Kosher foods – meaning they are prepared correctly (no mixing of meat and dairy), they do not eat pork, nor the rear end of an animal. Shell fish is prohibited.
Buddhists are generally vegetarian although some incorporate fish in their diets.
Almost all religions have some sort of fasting periods, particularly Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and certain Christian sects.
Many religions outlaw smoking and drinking – these include Mormons (both smoking, drinking and stimulants like coffee), Islam (alcohol) Hinduism (in this case, alcohol is to be avoided if possible but is not prohibited) and Rastafarianism (no stimulants, including alcohol or coffee although marijuana is promoted extensively for medical and spiritual reasons) .
Many religions have dietary rules for pretty good reasons – alcohol, stimulants and smoking can be just plain bad for our health. Rastafarians are vegetarians and don’t allow added salt or condiments to their foods – probably a very smart move! Some of the dietary laws come from ancient religious instruction and other are based on advocating self-control, sacrifice and physical health.