There are many different ways people can show their devotion to their faith — including how they eat. While not all religions have eating guidelines or dietary restrictions, many do, and they reflect the belief system of that religion, from caring for the earth to living in harmony with all living things to purifying the body and mind and reaching spiritual enlightenment. See how the major religions of the world have influenced the way people eat.
While not all Buddhists are vegetarians, many believe it is necessary to adhere to two of the "Five Moral Precepts" most Buddhists follow. These principles are "to abstain from taking life" and "to abstain from taking what is not given."
It is said that Buddha allowed the consumption of meat in small quantities of a very limited set of animals as long as the meat was not killed purely for the purpose of eating and if the meat was granted as a gift.
Buddhists believe making right food choices can lead to spiritual enlightenment.
Buddhists ask these questions about their food: What food is this? Why am I eating it? When should I eat and benefit from this food? How should I eat it?
Hindus strive to live in harmony with all living things on earth. Because of that, the most devout Hindus are strictly vegetarian.
Their dietary codes categorize food based on its effects on the body. There are three food categories:
Tamasic: food that is leftover, stale, overripe or spoiled.
Rajasic: food that is believed to promote activity like spices, hot peppers and eggs.
Sattvic: food that is non-irritating to the stomach and purifying to the mind like fruits, nuts and whole grains.
Followers of Islam, known as Muslims, believe the body must be kept healthy so the soul will also be healthy.
They are forbidden to eat pork or drink alcohol, and they must not overeat or waste food. Moderation in eating habits is strongly encouraged.
Fasting is used as way to emphasize spiritual focus and to observe certain religious holidays.
The Jewish "Kashrut" provides dietary guidelines (called "kosher" in English) for the religion.
Included are methods that must be used to slaughter animals before they can be eaten and lists of prohibited foods as originally given in the Bible such as pork, insects, shellfish, certain birds, most hard cheeses and mixtures of meat and milk (for example, a cheeseburger and milkshake would not be kosher).
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follow a dietary code given to the founder of their faith, Joseph Smith, nearly two centuries ago.
Mormons believe that God will give physical and spiritual blessings to followers of the "Word of Wisdom" regarding proper eating. Restrictions are placed on the consumption of coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. Additionally, adherents are encouraged to eat food in proper proportions and to show respect and appreciation for their food by not wasting or overindulging.
Mormons also observe a monthly fast, or abstinence from food or water for the equivalent of two meals, on the first Sunday of each month to both show self control and humility before God, but to also donate what might have been spent on the meals from which they abstained to the poor and needy.
Mormons are also encouraged to fast regularly when in need of additional spiritual strength and focus.
Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have practiced a strict vegetarian diet for more than 130 years based on the belief in a holistic nature of mankind and that God should be honored in eating and drinking.
Coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages aren't used because they are believed to interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients.
Traditionally, Roman Catholics have abstained from eating meat on Good Friday as an act of penance for Jesus' death on the cross.
Historically Catholics have abstained from meat on Fridays as an additional fast to show self-discipline, as an imitation of Christ, who fasted 40 days and 40 nights as recorded in the Bible, and as a means of performing penance.
In more moderns times, however, many Catholics abstain from meat only on Fridays during the observance of Lent, which is also a time of fasting and self-denial.
Most Rastafarians believe that by eating dead animals, the body turns into a cemetery, which is why a majority of the followers of the Rastafarian belief system are vegetarians.
The "Ital" diet they follow requires food in its natural state — unprocessed, even fruit, which they will not eat if it has been peeled.
Although they make an exception for fish, they will not eat any form of shellfish, based on teachings in the Old Testament.
Protestant Christians do not follow any specific, uniform dietary guidelines. Within Christianity, some denominations or sects may follow Old Testament, kosher-like laws; however, most Christians accept the New Testament statement of the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 6:12 that "all things are lawful" or permissible as long as they don't act as a stumbling-block to the faith of another person.