Religious Dietary Laws
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Not everyone is allowed to eat any food he likes. In most religions, there are dietary rules to follow. For example, Hindus have be vegetarians, and Muslims are not allowed to eat pork. Here we shall introduce some different dietary laws of religions.
The Hindu believes in the sacredness of all life, and that life should not be destroyed violently. Most Hindus follow a vegetarian diet, and the Brahmin priests take only vegetarian food prepared with clarified butter and abstain from alcohol and strong foods such as onions and garlic. They take the precautions to preserve the ritual and their ritual purity.
The Sacred Cow
In English, "a sacred cow" refers to something that is immune to criticism, often unreasonably. But the cow is regarded by Hindus as sacred, and it is a profound symbol to Hindus because it is milked and used in farms.
Eating fish and meat is allowed in Buddhism, though vegetarianism is encouraged. As long as a monk is not seen or suspected of killing the animal, the meat can be eaten. One eats merely to sustain the physical body, hence he should eat without greed, without craving for any kind of food, and without direct involvement in the killing. However, Buddha advised the monks to avoid eating ten kinds of meat for their self-respect and protection: humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, boars and hyenas. Some animals attack people when they smell the flesh of their own kind.
Tibetans will not ever eat fish, and usually stay away from foul. The reason is that different kinds of meat supposedly give different kinds of obscurations. Fish, the obscuration of aggression; foul the obscuration of desire; and red meat the obscruration of ignorance. Evidently, they would take the ignorance over the others. Also, it was generally better to eat red meat because the animal killed was very large and only one life had to be taken to feed many people; with fish, you usually have to take many more lives to fill the same number of stomachs.
Christians are required not to eat blood because blood is the life of any creature. Hence they are not to eat pigs blood or meat which have visible blood on it.
Kashrut is the body of Jewish law dealing with what foods Jews can and cannot eat and how those foods must be prepared and eaten. These laws were formulated for health reasons. Foods that are kosher are allowed to be eaten. Jews only eat animals that have a split hoof and chew their cud, such as sheep, goats and cows. Reptiles and pigs are forbidden to be eaten. The food must be thoroughly drained of any blood. Ritual slaughter has to performed by a shochet who kills the animal with a quick deep stroke of a sharp blade. This method does not cause the animal any pain and is the most humane way of slaughtering. Meat may not be eaten together with dairy, and Jews can only consume wine produced by a Jew. Forbidden animals may not be eaten at all, be it the flesh, milk, eggs, or organs.
The dietary laws of Islam are quite similar to those of the Jews, and they forbid eating blood, pork, animals found dead, and food sacrificed or offered to idols.
This page has been authored for participation in
the 1997 Thinkquest Competition.