Do you ever wonder why Jews cannot eat pork or why Mormons cannot drink coffee? The obvious reason is because it is against their religion, but do you know why it is against it? I plan on breaking down some of the top forbidden foods for three different religions: Judaism, Hinduism and Mormonism, to help you better understand why your Hindu friend cannot eat beef or why I am not supposed to eat shrimp.
Being a Jew has allowed me to eat some pretty interesting foods but has also forbidden me to eat some really tasty foods. The most common foods Jews are supposed to refrain from eating are pork, shellfish, and milk and meat (together in the same meal). These all break the kosher rules which are part of kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. This may come as a surprise, but a food that is kosher is not one that has been blessed by a Rabbi. A food that is kosher is one that has been prepared under the specific kosher regulations.
A food is deemed un-kosher if it includes ingredients from non-kosher animals, kosher animals not properly slaughtered, milk and meat combined, wine or grape juice made without supervision, the use of produce from Israel that has not been tithed or the use of cooking utensils or machinery that has been used for other non-kosher foods. Kosher rules become more strict according to different Jewish holidays. For example during Passover, Jews are not supposed to eat any foods with leavening products. As I have mentioned before that I do not keep kosher myself, so I try to avoid pork and limit my milk shakes with my hamburgers.
Moving on to the fascinating religion of Hinduism, where they are forbidden to eat beef and exotic wild animals. Since the cow is the most sacred animal in the Hindu religion, beef is exempt from their diet. According to an article on Hinduism.ygoy.com, the philosophy “you are what you eat is a concept behind a man and his food habits as it decides our mental growth as well as physical growth and well being.”
Hinduism emphasizes vegetarianism because eating animal products blocks mental and spiritual growth. They also feel killing innocent and helpless animals for food is bad karma. This brings harmful consequences to the person eating the food and to the entire planet.
Lastly I want to talk about Mormonism, the religion that may one day put Starbucks out of business. The top forbidden drinks and substances include coffee, tea, alcohol (caffeine), drugs and tobacco (alhough they can drink herbal teas — just not the black, grey, green actual tea leaf varieties).
Mormons base there are rules on “The World of Wisdom,” which is a spiritual and physical health code they believe in. It involves them to seek out a healthy diet thus refraining them from consuming the above drinks and substances mentioned. Mormons’ primary reason for not consuming these popular items is for spiritual reasons. According to yahoo.com, “our bodies and spirits are very connected, and a lot of it has to do with keeping our spirits sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.”
I hope this cleared up some of the more frequently asked questions on these religions and their dietary rules. By understanding why they cannot eat certain foods or drink certain beverages, it helps us in not being so surprised when they cannot do something. So the next time you invite your Jewish friends over for dinner, cook them up a kosher meal and surprise them with your knowledge of knowing a Rabbi does not need to be present.