That would mean no bacon bits, no bacon cheeseburgers, no BLTs, and no bacon-and-cheese omelettes. For most people, going without bacon would seem a little extreme, but for those who practice Judaism, it’s just part of living their religion.
Jews aren’t the only ones who observe a strict diet in the name of religion. Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, and Mormons all follow religiously mandated ways of eating.
Observing a strict, religious diet in a modern world can be challenging. But many people do manage to live their religion faithfully, even down to the details of what they can put in their mouths. Here are the diets of some of the world’s religions.
Jewish dietary laws were initially set forth thousands of years ago in the Torah. These kosher laws deal with foods that are fit to eat. Modern food production has required some modification so that Jews can continue to eat a kosher diet in modern society.
Jews avoid eating certain animals entirely, like pigs, camels, and shellfish. The animals that can be consumed must have split hooves and chew their cud. Some examples include cows, sheep, goats, and bison. Milk and eggs from kosher animals may be consumed, but the mixing of meat and dairy is forbidden.
If you remember this episode from Seinfeld, you’ll recall that Jews can’t have lobster, either.
The Mormon dietary plan is called the Word of Wisdom. It divides food items into two categories—those that should be eaten and those that should not be eaten. Mormons are free to eat:
•Any vegetables and fruits, especially when they are in season.
•Any grain, such as wheat, corn, oats, and rye.
•Any meat or fowl, but these should primarily be eaten in times of winter or famine.
Mormons are restricted from consuming:
•Coffee or tea.
•Tobacco in any form.
A person must be following the Word of Wisdom to be baptized into the Church or to enter any Mormon temples.
Muslims divide food and drink into two main groups: those that are allowed (halal) and those that are forbidden (haram). Muslims eat most any meat or seafood, but they do not eat pork (no bacon!) or “carnivorous animals with fangs.” For meat to be considered halal, the animal must have been slaughtered according to Islamic law.
Alcohol and other intoxicants are also prohibited. Muslims do not drink beer or wine, and they even skip alcohol-based cooking liquids like soy sauce or vanilla extract.
Fasting is a major element within Catholicism.
Traditionally, the Catholic fast was used as a form of penance, allowing members to work on self-denial and refocus spiritually. While the specifics of fasting have changed over time and in various locations, in general, Roman Catholics observe the fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This means that Catholics reduce their food intake to one meal on these days. They also abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent (the approximately 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday). Some Catholics avoid meat every Friday of the year, which has made fish a popular dish on these days.
Baptists do not have many dietary restrictions imposed by their religion, but as a Christian denomination, the church officially prohibits alcohol use. Baptists are encouraged to observe moderation in their diets. Beyond that, the church condemns drunkenness, overeating, or eating a diet that purposefully harms the body.
Hindu texts condemn violence and encourage compassion for all life, including animals. For this reason, many Hindus choose a vegetarian lifestyle. They eat pure, simple foods in moderation, and they fast on holy days or special occasions. Pork and beef are strictly off-limits, but Hindus do not have to choose to abstain from all meat to live their religion.
The Hindu health code comes from the belief that four basic elements make up the human body:
Hindus try to eat foods that balance these elements correctly. They also use meditation and yoga as ways to harmonize the body, mind, and intellect.
Seventh-Day Adventist Diet
Seventh-Day Adventists are encouraged to eat a well-balanced, vegetarian diet, one that focuses on “legumes, whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.” Gluttony and harmful substances of any kind are to be avoided.
One interesting aspect of this health code is how it is regulated. Instead of forced compliance, Seventh-Day Adventists are simply encouraged to live it but are allowed to choose how to care
In the Gurdwara (the Sikh temple), only lacto-vegetarian food is served. The decision of whether to eat a meat-free diet is made by each individual in the Sikh faith. After Sikhs are baptized, they are forbidden from eating ritually slaughtered meat. Sikh scholars, however, do not find evidence that vegetarianism is required for strict adherence to the Sikh faith.