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That means cows, sheep and goats are allowable, but pigs, rabbits, horses and cats are not. Allowable meats must be slaughtered in a specific manner to prevent undue suffering and then treated with cold water and coarse salt to draw out the blood. Fish with fins and scales are kosher, but shellfish, shark, sea mammals, frog, turtle and octopus are prohibited. Birds raised for meat is kosher if prepared under the supervision of a rabbi. Wild birds are prohibited. Animal by-products, such as eggs, are permitted if they come from a kosher species.

Dairy products are kosher, but they must be kept separate from meat to maintain a biblical prohibition that a “kid cannot be cooked in its mother’s milk. ” Eggs may be eaten with either milk or meat. In her book, “The Foods of Israel Today,” author Joan Nathan explains that in the ancient land of Israel, all Jews used olive oil as the main cooking oil. But as they moved into countries in Northern and Eastern Europe, olive oil was hard to come by, so they had to rely on butter and beef and poultry fats because lard (pork fat) was prohibited.

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Jewish feast days include Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Passover, and Shavout whose dates vary because Judaism uses a lunar calendar. Specific foods are associated with the feasts. Complete fast days with no food or water from sunset to sunset include Yom Kippur and Tisha b’Av. Partial fast days with no food or water from sunrise to sunset include Tzom Gedaliah, Tenth of Tevet and and Ta’anit Bechorim. Muslims also have dietary laws laid out in the Koran, and many are similar to the Jewish rules. They, too, require a specific treatment of meat “that involves bloodletting and calling the name of God at the time of sacrificing the animal”.

Such meat is called halal, which means permissible, and must be sold in a separate place from other non-halal produce in markets and shops. However, pork and alcohol are strictly forbidden by the Holy Quran. However, there is no rule about mixing meat and dairy. Fish is permissible, and shellfish with thin coverings are allowed. Hard crusts such as crab are not allowed. Christians have no daily dietary restrictions. In the New Testament, Jesus declares “nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him”.

Also the Lord says to Peter in Acts “It is not for you to call profane what God counts clean”. Acts 10:9-23 Some Christians do observe food restrictions during certain periods, such as Lent, or the 40 days of penance before Easter Sunday. Observant Greek Orthodox Christians do not eat meat, fish or dairy products during Lent. They also have special fast days during Lent and throughout the year. Some Catholics avoid meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent. Some bishops urge Catholics not to eat flesh on any Friday during the year. And some Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Jews avoid foods with leavening during Passover. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, considered the holiest day of the year, Jews fast throughout the day. Muslims, however, observe a most intensive fasting period during the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. Each day, devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to “increase one’s self-restraint, gain piety and righteousness”. Ramadan is considered a month of great blessing, and fasting is one way to obtain the blessing. Furthermore, voluntary fasting is encouraged at other times of the year as well for Muslims.

Many foods associated with the religions were adopted as symbols for the purpose of ritual. For Jews, the Seder plate for Passover observances often includes celery leaves dipped in salt water to represent the slaves’ tears, horseradish for the bitterness of slavery, along with other foods, each with a symbolic meaning. For Muslims in Turkey on the last Tuesday of Ramadan, seven dishes are served. Soup serves as a reminder of the importance of water to life; meat and vegetables symbolize the earth; pilaf and borek (meat and vegetables rolled in fillo dough) represent fire.

Eggs with pastirma (Turkish cured meat similar to pastrami) signify Divine generative power, combining the feminine symbol of the egg with the salty masculinity of the meat. Gullac, a rose-scented pastry boiled in milk, is an emblem of Divine love. The bread and wine Christ ate at his Last Supper are symbols for Christians today. The most shared and revered ritual for Christians is the eucharist, a re-enactment of the last meal. The wine is taken as a symbol of Christ’s blood; bread, his body. Thus to Christians, bread is life; to Jews, a symbol of the rush to freedom and to Muslims, a gift from Allah.

India, in South Asia bears the distinction being the birthplace of many religions, chief among them Hinduism and Buddhism. Hindus avoid all foods which are thought to inhibit physical and spiritual development. Although eating meat is not explicitly prohibited, many Hindus are vegetarian because they adhere to the concept of ahimsa, non-violence as applied to foods particularly the infliction of pain on animals. If meat is eaten, beef is never eaten because the cow is considered sacred, and pork is often avoided. Devout Hindus may avoid alcoholic beverages.

Foods that stimulate the senses, such as garlic and onions, are not recommended for anyone seeking spiritual unity. The concept that some foods promote purity of the body, mind, and spirit also influences Hindu dietary practices. Some foods are considered innately pure, such as products from cows especially milk, yogurt, and ghee-clarified butter. Foods which are not as pure can be improved by preparation with these pure foods, such as frying in ghee. Other foods such as alcohol and beef are considered inherently polluted and can never be made pure.

Buddhist dietary customs vary considerably depending on sect (Theravada, Mahayana, Zen etc. ). Most Buddhists subscribe to the concept of ahimsa, and many are lacto-ovo-vegetarians who also eat dairy products and eggs. Some eat fish, some only abstain from beef. Some believe that unless they personally slaughter an animal, they may eat its meat. Some of these practices are required by the God and described in scriptures such as the Christian Bible, the Muslim Quran and Hindu Code of Manu. Some are decreed by religious or political leaders.

Yet others arise through adaptation or co-option of existing food practices for religious purposes. Religious food practices are dynamic and are subject to continuous change and adaptation. Changes may occur as result of religious reform or revisionism, acculturation, individual, family or community adaptations. In conclusion, it can be seen that FOOD in all its myriad forms is present in all major religions. It is represented as Food itself for sustenance; as symbols that convey issues and morals; as representations of sacrifice and piety.Throughout all religions, Food — essential to the life of the body — takes on symbolic meanings for the life of the soul.

References Leopold, Joan Culture in Comparative and Evolutionary Perspective: E. B. Tylor and the Making of Primitive Culture. (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1980) Crapo, Richley H. Anthropology of Religion: The Unity and Diversity of Religions (2003) Fieldhouse P. Food and Nutrition: Customs and Culture. (1986) Booth, D. A. Psychology of Nutrition. Taylor & Francis, London. (1994) Bryant, C. A. The Cultural Feast: An Introduction to Food and Society.

Courtney, A. Markesbery, B. A. & DeWalt, K. M. Soler, J. The semiotics of food in the Bible. In: Food and Drink in History Civitello, Linda Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People Cunihan, Carole Food and Culture: A Reader Van Esterik, Penny Burke, Deidre Food and Fasting Joan Nathan The Foods of Israel Today Online References Religions and Food http://lilt. ilstu. edu/rtdirks/GENERAL. html – World Food Habits Bibliography Religions and Food http://www. eatonline. net/english/education/ religion_and_food/religious_determinants. html.

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