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Taboo food and drink

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swine are considered treyf, non-kosher ("unfit" or "unclean") in Judaism or haraam ("forbidden") in Islam
Swine are considered treyf, non-kosher ("unfit" or "unclean") in Judaism or haraam ("forbidden") in Islam

Taboo food and drinks are food and drink which people abstain from consuming for religious or cultural reasons.

Origins and rationale

Various religions forbid the consumption of certain types of food. For example, Judaism prescribes a strict set of rules, called Kashrut, regarding what can and cannot be eaten. Certain sects of Christianity also hold to these or similar rules. In Islamic practice, the laws of Haram and Halal dictate, among other things, certain foods which may not be eaten. Hindus, Jains and Buddhists often follow religious directives to observe vegetarianism and avoid eating meat. Hinduism has no specific proscriptions against eating meat, so some Hindus do eat meat. However, many other Hindus apply the concept of "ahimsa" (non-violence) to their diet, so they advocate and practice forms of vegetarianism. Due to philosophical differences and dietary needs among many modern Indian Hindus, all meat is considered a taboo except mutton (usually in India the goat's flesh, or sometimes sheep's flesh), chicken and fish.

Australian Aborigines traditionally had personal totems. While religious practices varied from group to group, it was common that the eating of the totemic animal was considered taboo, either by the entire clan, or the individual with the personal totem.

Aside from conscious taboos there are unconscious cultural taboos against the consumption of some animals. For example, even though there is no law against eating dog meat in the United States and Europe, it is widely considered unacceptable. In Southeast Asia, on the other hand, dogs are regularly eaten. Similarly, horse meat is rarely eaten in the US and UK, but is common in some parts of continental Europe and is considered a delicacy in Japan (basashi). Within a given society, some meats will be considered taboo simply because they are outside the range of the generally accepted definition of a foodstuff, not necessarily because the meat is considered repulsive in flavor, aroma, texture or appearance.

Some authorities impose cultural food taboos in the form of law. This is alleged to be dietary persecution and possibly human rights abuse. For example, even after resumption to Chinese rule, Hong Kong has not lifted its ban on supplying meat from dogs and cats, imposed in colonial times. A fairly recent addition to cultural food taboos is that of eating the meat and/or eggs of endangered species or animals that are otherwise protected by law or international treaty. Examples of such protected species include whales, sea turtles, and migratory birds.

The origin of food taboos is still being debated. Some claim they are a result of health considerations or other practical considerations [1], other say it's a result of human symbolic systems [2].

Taboo food

Amphibians and reptiles

Both Judaism and Islam strictly forbid the consumption of amphibians such as frogs and reptiles such as crocodiles and snakes. Nevertheless, frogs are raised commercially in certain countries and frog legs are considered a delicacy in France, Italy, China, Caribbean and in southern parts of the USA.

Consumption of snakes has a long history in China and Vietnam where it is seen as a special culinary dish. The snake's blood and bile is considered a male aphrodisiac and is often drunk along with the combination of rice wine. [3] [4] Rattlesnake is eaten to a certain degree in southwestern USA and is available in specialty meat shops. [5] In some countries such as Australia, Thailand and South Africa, the consumption of crocodile meat can be observed. In Australia the meat is typically available on some restaurants and specialty meat outlets. [6] [7]


Large domesticated fowl such as chickens, turkeys, and ducks are commonly eaten in many cultures, along with their wild game counterparts.

Pigeons are raised and eaten in parts of Asia and Europe, where the young birds are known as "squab". In North America, however, pigeons are more typically regarded as unfit for consumption. Many people also find the thought of eating the meat of crows and other scavengers repulsive, as evidenced by the expression "eating crow".

Small birds such as songbirds have also traditionally been eaten in Asian and European cultures; one such dish is the Ambelopoulia of Crete. In Western cultures today, most people regard songbirds as backyard wildlife rather than as food. In addition, migratory birds are protected by international treaty.


Bactrian camel
Bactrian camel

Another animal that is not eaten in Europe and North America is the camel, although it is not unusual to eat it in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Although not often eaten in Australia, it is somewhat of a novelty – camel lasagne is available in Alice Springs. The eating of a camel is strictly prohibited by the Torah. Although the camel is a cud-chewer, the Levites still considered it "unclean". While the foot of a camel is split into two toe-like structures, it does not meet the biblical cloven hoof criterion. The meat of a camel may also have been spurned due to the camel's physiology. All of a camel's fat is stored in its hump. This makes the rest of the body very lean, making the animal look rather clumsy, not good for eating.

Although there are similarities in both Islam and Judaism regarding the Kashrut and Halal foods, when it comes to the issue of eating camel flesh there is a clear dispute between these two religions. According to the materialistic anthropologist Marvin Harris, since Arabs were nomads, camels were essential for their travels, but, in case of emergency, Muslims could not afford to starve because of the taboo.

A camel carcass can provide a substantial amount of meat. The male dromedary carcass can weigh 400kg or more while the carcass of a male Bactrian can weigh up to 650kg. The carcass of a female camel weighs less than the male ranging between 250 and 350kg, but provides a substantial amount of meat nonetheless. The brisket, ribs and loin are some of the preferred parts of the animal, however it is the hump that is considered a delicacy and most favored. It is reported that camel meat tastes like coarse beef but older camels can prove to be tough and not too flavorful.

Camel meat has been eaten for centuries. It has been recorded by ancient Greek writers as an available dish in ancient Persia at banquets, usually roasted whole. The ancient Roman emperor Heliogabalus enjoyed camel's heel. Camel meat is often eaten in countries such as Somalia (where it is called Hilib geyl), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and other arid regions where alternative forms of protein may be limited or where camel meat has had a long cultural history. Not just the meat but also blood is a consumable item as is the case in northern Kenya where camel blood is a source of iron, vitamin D, salts and minerals (although Muslims do not drink or consume blood products). A recent report leads to some caution since cases have emerged of where eating raw camel liver has led to human plague.[1]


Although caribou is popular as a dish in Alaska, Norway, Sweden, Finland (especially sautéed reindeer ), Russia and Canada, many people in the United Kingdom and Ireland are squeamish about the idea of eating reindeer meat. This relates to the popular culture myth of the reindeer as assistant to Father Christmas, as opposed to the “cows of the north” vision of the Northern countries. [8] [9] [10]

Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang was not allowed to bring dried reindeer with him as it was unthinkable for the Americans so soon before Christmas. He had to go with moose instead.[11][12]


Main article: Cat meat

Cats are eaten in parts of China. In Guangdong, China, cat is reportedly served along with snake and chicken in a dish called "The Dragon, Tiger and Phoenix". In desperate times, people have been known to resort to cooking and eating cats, in places where it is otherwise not usual to do so, as it occurred in a poverty-stricken shanty town in Rosario, Argentina, in 1996 (though the much-advertised cat meal was later revealed to have been set up by media from Buenos Aires).

Cats are also used to produce medicinal potions such as Korean "liquid cat", a remedy for joint pain made by boiling cats with spices, and for their fur which is used to make fur coats and other fur clothing.

Cats are sometimes confused with civet cats. This has led Americans to accuse some Chinese manufacturers of using cat fur in their products. Others worry that some traditional medicines imported into the United States are of unknown animal origin. In 2001, a shipment of cat toys imported into the United States from China were recalled and destroyed because they were trimmed with cat fur, which had just been banned in the U.S.

Some Australian Aboriginal tribes have been known to hunt the feral cats as a secondary source of meat. One tribe well known for this activity believe this cat to be either indigenous or of ancient, non-European origin. However, one recent DNA analysis has shown its genetic similarity to British shorthair cats. Feral cats in Australia are regularly hunted, but not eaten, by non-Aboriginals due to their being voracious pests. They are considered a danger to native species. There is a small minority of scientists who contend the cats are more likely to eat from rubbish dumps and other food sources provided by humans.

The term roof-hare (roof-rabbit) applies to cat meat presented as that of a hare, another pet used as a source of meat. Subtracting the skin, feet, head and tail, hares and cats are practically identical. The only way to distinguish them is by looking at the processus hamatus of the feline scapula, which should have a processus suprahamatus. Dar gato por liebre ("to pass off a cat as a hare") is an expression common to many Spanish-speaking countries, equivalent to "to pull the wool over someone's eyes" derived from this basic scam. There is an equivalent Portuguese expression Comprar gato por lebre, meaning "to buy a cat as a hare". However, especially in Brazil, cat meat is seen as repulsive and people often shun barbecue establishments suspected of selling cat meat (although this seems unlikely, since cat meat is very different from beef).


Main article: Sacred cow

Many Hindus, particularly Brahmins, are vegetarians, abstaining from eating any meat at all, including fish (save for Brahmins in Bengal who do consume only fish). Most Hindus, except some semi-tribals and Dalits in a few pockets of India, abstain from the consumption of beef, as the cow holds a sacred place in Hindu society. However, the taboo does not extend to dairy products, since the preparation of dairy products does not involve slaughtering or harming the animal.

According to the scriptures of later Hinduism, it is a grave sin to kill a cow, to take part in its slaughter, or to eat its flesh. While the injunctions against eating beef arose long after the Vedas had been written, it is assumed that the largely pastoral Vedic people and subsequent generations of Hindus throughout the centuries relied so heavily on the cow for all sorts of dairy products, the tilling of fields, and fuel or fertiliser that its status as a willing "caretaker" of humanity grew to identifying it as an almost maternal figure. The economic origins of the cow-eating taboo can be observed from etymology: The Sanskrit word for cattle is pashu, which is cognate with the Latin word pecu, from which derives words pertaining to money in Latin (and into English) : pecunia, impecunious.

Traditionally people from lower castes, like Dalits, ate beef and carabeef (buffalo). In modern times, beef-eating has gained some acceptance in various parts of India, but only by those Hindus who are sometimes considered (and sometimes even scorned) by the others as being "extra-modern" or "over-Westernized". Note that by Indian law, the slaughter of cattle is banned in almost all Indian states except the states of Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh. Slaughter of cows is an extremely emotional and provocative issue for both mainstream Hindus and the followers of more extremist Hindutva ideology. Hindu society considers eaters of cow's meat almost as barbarians.

Some ethnic Chinese may also refrain from eating cow meat, because many of them feel that it is wrong to eat an animal that was so useful in agriculture. Some Chinese Buddhists discourage the consumption of beef although it is not considered taboo.

Crustaceans and other seafood

Blue crabs for sale at a market in Piraeus.
Blue crabs for sale at a market in Piraeus.

Almost all types of non-piscine seafood, such as shellfish, lobster, shrimp or crawfish, are forbidden by Judaism, some schools of Islam, and some followers of Christianity because such animals live in water but do not have both fins and scales (Leviticus 11:10-12).

As with swine, crustaceans and many other forms of non-piscine seafood are scavengers that work at filtering the water. Improperly collected or uncooked seafood can be dangerous. It is probable that people who lived far from the sea and had no experience in choosing proper seafood would prefer to forgo all seafood as a question of safety.


Main article: Dog meat

In a number of countries around the world, apart from being kept as pets, certain breeds of dogs are slaughtered as a source of meat and specifically raised on farms for that purpose.

According to the ancient Hindu scriptures (cf. Manusmriti and medicinal texts like Sushrut-Samhita), dog's meat was regarded as the most unclean (and rather poisonous) food possible—it was worthy only for the lowest of the untouchable castes — who were therefore called shvapacha (those cooking dog's meat).

In the Philippines, it is against the law to slaughter dogs as food and most Filipinos find it repulsive to eat dog meat. However, illegal slaughterhouses exist, and these are located mostly in the northern part of the country. The brutality of the manner of slaughtering the animals has come to the attention of the media which showed television documentaries of the illegal trade of dog meat.


The meat of domesticated donkeys is not considered Halaal according to the Sharia of Islam.[citation needed]


In Western societies elephants have often been associated with circuses and used for entertaining purposes. However, in Central and West Africa elephants are hunted for their meat. Some people in Thailand also believe that eating elephant meat improves their sex lives and elephants are sometimes butchered specifically for this. [13] [14]

Judaism prohibits the consumption of elephant meat as an unclean land animal (similarly to the prohibition on camel meat) while Islam also forbids it.


Some Kikuyu and Kalenjin people of Kenya observe a taboo against the consumption of fish. The rejection of fish may be attributable to the arid conditions and associated scarcity of water.

Certain species of fish are also forbidden in Judaism and Islam, such as the freshwater eel (Anguillidae) and all species of catfish. This is because they live in water, but have no fins or scales. (See Leviticus). A common interpretation of the Islamic prohibition is that animals that "live in both worlds" may not be consumed. This applies to primarily aquatic animals that nest or breed on land.

The Greenland Norse, a civilization that lasted about 300 years following a colonization from Iceland, probably had a taboo against fish. This is most odd, as fish was the main source of food of the Inuit, who arrived shortly after the Norse and displaced them, and fishing is actually one of the main activities of today's Iceland. No fish bones or other remains have been found in garbage from Greenland Norse archeological sites, nor fishing equipment: they sustained themselves on agriculture, cattle, pork, goats and occasionally (as a last resort) seal meat.

As is clear in the Catechism (section 1438), the Roman Catholic Church requires penance during Lent and on Fridays throughout the year. Traditional penance on Fridays is fasting from meat. However, a vegetarian, for example, would be required to fast in another way. In medieval times, meat was more expensive than fish; making meat taboo forced austerity on the believers.

Some Buddhists do not eat fish, because fish are believed to be reincarnations of their ancestors.


Some Buddhists avoid mushrooms as they grow in low places, and are believed to lower the eater by their consumption.[citation needed]

Guinea pigs

A guinea pig
A guinea pig

Guinea pigs (cavies) were originally bred for their meat, and only became an exotic popular pet when introduced to Europe from America.

Guinea pigs, or cuy, plural cuyes, continue to be a significant part of the diet in Peru, mostly in the Andes Mountains highlands, where they are an important source of protein and a mainstay of Andean folk medicine. Peruvians consume an estimated 65 million guinea pigs each year, and the animal is so entrenched in the culture that one famous painting of the Last Supper in the main cathedral in Cusco, Peru shows Christ and the 12 disciples dining on guinea pig. Today guinea pig meat is exported to the United States.

In 2004, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation took legal action to stop vendors serving skewered cuy at an Ecuadorian festival in Flushing Meadows Park. New York State allows for the consumption of guinea pigs, but New York City prohibits it based on a vague health code. Accusations of cultural persecution have since been leveled.

La Molina National University [2], Peru's most prestigious agrarian university, has bred a larger, faster-growing variety of the animal that it hopes will prove a nutritional boon to the country, as well as a source of export income. This breed grows to about 2 kg, or at least twice the size of the native breed.


Main article: Horse meat
Smoked and salted horse meat on a sandwich.
Smoked and salted horse meat on a sandwich.

Horse may not be eaten by observant Jews, since under Mosaic Law, horse meat is forbidden because the horse is not a ruminant. In Islamic countries too, horse is considered haram for not being cloven-hoofed and a ruminant.

The eating of horse meat is a food taboo to some people in the United Kingdom, the US, and Australia, and its supply is sometimes even illegal. It is also notable that the English language has no widely-used term for horse meat ("cheval meat" is sometimes used as a euphemism). In the UK, this strong taboo includes banning horsemeat from commercial pet food and DNA testing of some types of salami suspected of containing donkey meat. Like lobster and camel, it is forbidden in Judaism and some sects of Christianity. In 732 AD, year of the battle of Tours, which showed the emergent importance of cavalry, Pope Gregory III began an effort to stop the pagan practice of horse eating, calling it "abominable". Horses were far more necessary to stop the Muslim cavalry, threatening the Christian ascendant in Europe, with their own weapons. His edicts are based on the same scripture as the Jewish prohibitions and this ban remained unlifted until XVIII century. The people of Iceland allegedly expressed reluctance to embrace Christianity for some time largely over the issue of giving up horse meat.

Human meat

Main article: Cannibalism

Of all the taboo meat, human flesh ranks as the most proscribed. Historically, humans have consumed the flesh of fellow humans in rituals and out of insanity, hatred, or overriding hunger — almost never as a common part of their diet.


See also: Entomophagy

Except for certain locusts and related species, insects are not considered kosher. Many find the consumption of insects to be disgusting rather than immoral. In particular, some insects and insect larvae, such as weevils and maggots, are associated with food spoilage.

Many different kinds of insects have traditionally been consumed as food in non-European cultures, including locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets, and larvae such as caterpillars, bee grubs and witchetty grubs. For example, grasshoppers (inago) and bee larvae (hachinoko) are eaten in some regions of Japan, and silkworm larvae (beondegi in Korean or nhộng in Vietnamese) are a popular snack food in these countries. Mopane worms, a species of caterpillar, are an important protein source in South Africa. Bugs, as well as spiders, are popular all over Southeast Asia.

Casu marzu is a type of cheese made in Sardinia, Italy that has been deliberately cultivated with the larvae of the cheese fly to change the characteristics of the cheese.

Western taboos against insects as a food source generally do not apply to honey (concentrated nectar which has been regurgitated by bees). For example, honey is considered kosher even though honeybees are not, an apparent exception to the normal rule that products of an unclean animal are also unclean. On the other hand, many vegans avoid honey as they would any other animal product.


Main article: Kangaroo meat

Kangaroo meat consumption has a long history in Australia by Indigenous Australians (a staple meat in many cases) and early European settlers (Kangaroo-tail stew was a popular settler dish). However it has had a varied history as meat in Australia due to the emotive association, predominantly by foreigners, of kangaroos as pets and a national symbol. In actuality the relatively lower consumption compared to beef and lamb is primarily due to the higher relative cost and more exotic "gamey" flavour of the meat. Kangaroo meat is the base of dishes in many restaurants and is available at many butchers and major supermarkets as mince, sausages and steak. The meat can also be smoke cured and makes an interesting prosciutto.


In countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, many people are squeamish about eating offal, or the internal organs of butchered animals. Organ meats such as sweetbreads and kidney which are considered edible in other cultures are more often regarded as fit only for processing into pet food under the euphemism "meat by-products" in the United States; however, both are served in American restaurants specializing in European cusine. Except for liver (chicken, beef, or pork), and intestines used as natural sausage casings, organ meats consumed in the U.S. tend to be regional or ethnic specialties; for example, tripe as menudo or mondongo among Latinos, chitterlings in the southern states, scrapple in the Philadelphia region, and beef testicles called Rocky mountain oysters or "prairie oysters" in the west.


Main article: Religious restrictions on the consumption of pork

Consumption of pigs is forbidden among Muslims, Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and others. There are various theories concerning the origins of this law, but none has been universally accepted.

In the 19th century some people attributed the pig taboo in the middle east to the danger of the parasite trichina. This theory still circulates outside scientific circles, but is now rejected by most anthropologists.

The materialistic theories tries to prove that the pig taboo is just a product of practical considerations. The late Marvin Harris, in particular, posited that pigs are not suited for being kept in the Middle East on an ecological and socio-economical level; for example, pigs are not suited to living in arid climates and thus require far more water than other animals to keep them cool, and instead of grazing they compete with humans for foods such as grains. As such, raising pigs was seen as a wasteful and decadent practice.

A common explanation to the fact that pigs are widely considered unclean in the Middle East is that they are omnivorous: they do not discern between meat or vegetation in their natural dietary habits. They also eat their own feces and the feces of other animals; this is quite unlike other animals which humans consume (cows, horses, goats, etc.) who would naturally eat only plants. In most, though not all cases, mammals do not eat the meat of other meat-eaters; consumption of pigs by humans would thus seem unnatural.

It is often said that pig flesh is the closest thing in nature to human flesh, and in the past some peoples of Papua New Guinea used a phrase which translated as "long pig" to refer to human flesh; pigs have also been considered for xenotransplantation, as their internal organs are remarkably similar to humans. It has also been argued that since the pigs diet so much resembles the human diet that they become competitors over the same food, and thus that keeping them was decreed taboo due to its large negative utility in desert regions.

One other explanation for pork taboos given by some scholars is that some foods are prohibited so that humans will understand that they have limitations, basically as a reminder that they must keep to the discipline of their Creator, and that they should not take lightly their obligation to steward all the Earth's species well. This explanation is not universally accepted.

There is also a theory that there might have been a Scottish pork taboo many centuries ago.


The consumption of apes and monkeys such as chimpanzees, gorillas, mandrills and guenons is quite common in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. [15] [16] [17] [18] Bonobos (also known as pygmy chimpanzees), have a DNA more than 98% identical to that of humans, but have been extensively hunted in Congo to the level that they are now considered an endangered species. In certain parts of Congo the hand and feet of gorillas are regarded as a delicacy and are served to special guests. Apes are also eaten in southeast Asia (especially Indonesia). Some consider the consumption of apes to be too close to human cannibalism due to the similarity of our own species. The similarity increases the danger of viruses. Most of it is "bushmeat" or caught from the wild, in area of high non-human primate populations such as Central Africa and southeast Asia. One of the major theories for the origin of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in humans is the eating of primate meat infected with a similar virus. (see: Kuru).


Cottontail rabbit
Cottontail rabbit

Leporids such as European rabbits and hares make friendly pets for fanciers or those allergic to cats and dogs. They are also a food meat in Europe, South America, North America, some parts of the Middle East, and China, among other places. The consumption of rabbit meat, however, historically pre-dates their use as pets, and is therefore not considered taboo by most people.

Rabbit meat was once commonly sold in Sydney, Australia, the sellers of which giving the name to the rugby league team the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but quickly became unpopular after the disease myxomatosis was introduced in an attempt to wipe out the feral rabbit population (see also Rabbits in Australia).

The hare is specifically stated to be unclean in the book of Leviticus in the Bible, making it taboo for Jews and those Christians that hold these rules to be binding for themselves.

Alevis and Alawites consider the meat of rabbit and hare haraam.

Rats and mice

In most Western cultures, rats and mice are considered either unclean vermin or pets and thus unfit for human consumption, traditionally being seen as carriers of plague. However, rats are commonly eaten in Ghana and in rural Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Indochina. Cane rats (Thryonomys swinderianus and Thryonomys gregorianus) and some species of field mice are a rich source of protein in Africa. Bamboo rats are also commonly eaten in the poorer parts of Southeast Asia. Historically, rats and mice have also been eaten in the West during times of shortage or emergency, such as during the Battle of Vicksburg and the Siege of Paris. Dormice were also domesticated and raised for food in ancient Rome. In some Asian countries, mice are eaten, and go by the name of vole. In France, rats bred in the wine stores of Gironde were cooked with the fire of broken wine barrels and eaten, dubbed as cooper's entrecôte. In some communities the muskrat (which is not a rat at all) is hunted for its meat (and fur) (e.g. some parts of Flanders); see also under "Fish" above for consumption of beaver tails.


In certain versions of Buddhism, onions and chives are taboo. Specifically, Kashmiri Brahmans forbid "strong flavored" foods. This encompasses garlic, onion, and spices such as black pepper and chili pepper. Brahmans believe that pungent flavors on the tongue inflame the baser emotions.

In Yazidism, the eating of lettuce and butter beans is taboo. The Muslim religious teacher and scholar, Falah Hassan Juma, links the sect's belief of evil found in lettuce to its long history of persecution by Muslims and Christians. The Caliphs of the Ottoman Empire carried out massacres against the Yazidis in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the faithful slain in the lettuce fields then dotting northeastern Iraq. Another historical theory claims one ruthless potentate who controlled the city of Mosul in the 13th century ordered an early Yazidi saint executed. The enthusiastic crowd then pelted the corpse with heads of lettuce.


See also: Whaling

Over the last couple of decades, the eating of a whale has become increasingly tabooed. The International Whaling Commission passed a moratorium on commercial whaling on July 23, 1982 that came into force for the 1985-86 season. Norway resumed commercial whaling of minke whales in 1993 and it is still a popular meat, especially on Norway's western coast. Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006. Japan's whaling is officially done for research purposes. This is specifically sanctioned under IWC regulations that also specifically require that whale meat be fully utilized upon the completion of research. Many international scientific and environmentalist groups argue that the killing is not necessary to conduct the research.

Despite the general ban on whale hunting in the United States and Canada, some indigenous groups are allowed to hunt for cultural reasons.

Taboo drinks


Some religions—most notably Islam, Sikhism, the Bahá'í Faith, Latter-day Saints, the Nikaya and most Mahayana schools of Buddhism and some Protestant denominations of Christianity—forbid or discourage the consumption of alcoholic beverages.


Drinking blood is a strong social taboo in many countries, often with a vague emotive association with vampirism (the consumption of human blood).

Although blood sausage, or blood made to cake form, is quite popular in many parts of the world, it is considered repulsive in most of the United States. In Britain and some Commonwealth countries, "black pudding" or "blood pudding" is made from blood and some filler grains and spices, often oatmeal. Blood sausage is also popular in Finland (mustamakkara) and some Baltic nations like Latvia and Estonia, as well as in Germany (Blutwurst). In China, Thailand and Vietnam coagulated chicken, duck, goose or pig blood, known in Chinese as "blood tofu" (血豆腐 xuě dòufǔ) is used in soups, such as the classic Thai dish kuay tiaw reua (boat noodles). In Sweden, the blood soup svartsoppa is traditionally eaten on certain holidays. Polish cuisine, has a version, czernina, which in enjoyed by many adherents, in certain regions. In Laos, and sometimes Thailand (especially the Northeast), a raw version of laap, a meat salad, is made with minced raw-meat, seasoned in spices, and covered with blood.

Followers of Judaism, Islam, and Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden to drink blood or eat food made with blood. Some fundamentalist Christians follow the teaching in Leviticus 17:10-12, that since "the life of the animal is in the blood", no person may eat (drink) the blood on pain of excommunication. Jehovah's Witnesses interpret this prohibition against drinking blood as a prohibition against blood transfusion, although Jews and Muslims do not.

Coffee and tea

In addition to alcohol, coffee and tea are also taboo drinks for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some other Mormon groups. For some Mormons this taboo extends to cola and other caffeinated beverages, but usually not to chocolate.

See also

  • Cannibalism
  • Halal
  • Fasting
  • Kashrut
  • Kosher foods
  • Muslim dietary laws
  • Teetotalism
  • Temperance movement
  • Unclean animals
  • Vegetarianism
  • Veganism


  • Stewart Lee Allen. In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food. ISBN 0-345-44015-3.
  • Calvin W. Schwabe. Unmentionable Cuisine. ISBN 0-8139-1162-1.
  • Frederick J. Simoons. Eat Not This Flesh: Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present. ISBN 0-299-14250-7.
  • Marvin Harris. Good to Eat. ISBN 0-04-306002-1.
  1. ^ Harris, Marvin, Good to Eat, ISBN 0-04-306002-1
  2. ^ Douglas, Mary, Purity and Danger, ISBN 0-415-28995-5
  3. ^ BBC News - China snake craze threatens crops. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  4. ^ BBC - Holiday - Destinations - Vietnam. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  5. ^ BBC NEWS - Rattlesnake round-up draws crowds. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  6. ^ Queensland Government - Recipes and tips for cooking crocodile meat. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  7. ^ KOORANA SALTWATER CROCODILE FARM, Central Queensland, Australia. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  8. ^ BBC - Food. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  9. ^ This is Travel - Sweden's greetings.. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  10. ^ Rudoplh, the dried up reindeer. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  11. ^ Christer Fuglesang redo för rymden efter 14 års träning. Retrieved on 2006-11-19.
  12. ^ "Torkat renkött störde julfriden", Sydsvenska dagbladet.
  13. ^ BBC News - Elephants 'killed as aphrodisiac'. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  14. ^ WWF - African elephant programme. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  15. ^ National Geographic News: Consuming Nature Pt1. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  16. ^ National Geographic News: Consuming Nature Pt2. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  17. ^ CNN - Growing demand for 'bushmeat' threatens great apes. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.
  18. ^ Ape Alliance - Bushmeat working group. Retrieved on 2006-09-06.

External links

  • Americans squeamish over horse meat
  • Korean Animal Protection Society
  • China exotic food FAQ
  • Traditional German gourmet recipes with horse meat
  • Insects as food
  • Karl Ammann, wildlife photographer and bushmeat activist
  • Cats - Friend or Food?
  • Guide to Migratory Bird Laws and Treaties
  • Crow recipes
  • Taboo Food in Buddhism

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