Taboo foods in Judaism date back thousands of years, as modern Jewish people take their dietary direction from laws spelled out in the Torah, known as kashrut or kosher.
General Dietary Laws in Judaism
Some foods like pork and shellfish can never be consumed. Other foods, like dairy products and meat, are kosher as long as they never come in contact with one another.
While cattle, sheep, goats, deer, bison, tuna, salmon, chicken and ducks are considered kosher foods, any food that must be slaughtered must be killed according to the laws of Judaism.
Kosher laws also dictate that you must not eat the blood of any animal, the sciatic nerve, the limb from a living creature, or an animal that has died without a ritual slaughtering.
Pork: One of the Most Taboo Foods in Judaism
Pigs, or any food derived from the animal, cannot be eaten as the creature is seen as unclean. The religion has no prohibitions against raising pigs, selling pork, or using their hides for leather or other purposes.
The only meat that’s permitted for eating is that of animals who have cloven hooves and chew their own cud, such as cows, and pigs do not fall into this category.
The strictness of this dietary law, and many others, varies depending on each follower’s personal level of observance. Some Jewish communities, especially Hassidic and Orthodox, are far more strict than others, such as Reformed.
Shellfish: Food Taboos From the Sea
Water animals with fins and scales are kosher to eat, like salmon, tuna, herring and other popular fish. On the contrary, every creature that doesn’t have these distinctions is considered taboo food, such as lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams and crabs.
Mixing Meat and Dairy: Taboo Combinations
Most meat and dairy products can be considered kosher until they come in contact with one another. A true kosher kitchen has separate plates, knives, serving dishes, sinks and food storage for meat and dairy.
Taboo foods following this law would include cheeseburgers, while combining dairy products with fish or eggs is considered Kosher.
Of the many cultural and religious food taboos in Jewish society, the mixture of meat and dairy is one of the hardest to avoid, particularly if followers are living within a larger culture that doesn’t adhere to these restrictions.