In the wide world of food taboos, great variations exist between cultures, countries and religions. What one culture finds suitable to eat may not apply to another, from pork and cows to domesticated animals and insects.
Different Food Customs in the World’s Religions
Many religions around the world dictate what their followers can consume. Some foods are regarded fiercely as taboo and followers are highly offended when confronted with such products.
Common religious food taboos include:
• Hinduism: Cows can never be killed or eaten in Hindu culture as the animals are considered holy symbols of life, care, selflessness and more.
• Islam: The consumption of pork and all pork products are forbidden in Islamic cultures. Animals must be slaughtered in a way spelled out by the religions for the food to be acceptable to eat.
• Judaism: This religion’s dietary laws forbid the eating of animals that do not have cloven hooves or chew their cud, such as pigs and rabbits. Sea creatures that do not have fins and scales, like lobsters and oysters, are also taboo.
Taboo Foods: Eating Domesticated Animals
While it may be hard to imagine in the United States, because these creatures are often held in such high regard by families, domestic animals like cats and dogs are often eaten in other parts of the world.
Residents in Asian countries like China and Korea have been known to consume dogs, and many are raised simply for human consumption. Cat meat is commonly found on menus in China, Vietnam and parts of South America.
As these countries work to be global economic powers, a battle with the culinary tradition of eating dogs and cats has begun. Many Western countries with whom they do business with find this practice disgusting, but many residents see no problem with the cultural difference.
Eating Insects: Taboo Foods Full of Health Benefits
Despite being a rare occurrence in the United States and Europe, eating insects is common in many parts of the world.
Some of the most commonly consumed insects include:
• Agave worms: Mexicans often place these worms in bottles of liquor.
• Bee larvae: Chinese beekeepers consume the larvae to gain strength and energy.
• Cicadas: Like ants and tarantulas, these insects are popular dishes in Latin America.
• Dragonflies: With coconut and ginger, de-winged dragonflies are beloved in Bali.
• Fly larvae: People in Japan love to eat aquatic fly larvae in sugar and soy sauce.
• Grubs: One of the world’s live animal food taboos, eating grubs is common in New Guinea and aboriginal Australian communities.