why don't rastas eat pork

If you have been wondering, ‘why don’t Rastas eat pork?” you are certainly not alone.

It is likely that when you hear the word “Rasta,” you think of the Jamaican flag, dreadlocks, and the rhythm of reggae music.

But, many might not instantly think of the food they eat.

The dietary habits of Rastafarians, which are generally not as well-known, are more indicative of the underlying philosophy.

So, do Rastafarians eat meat or pork in particular?

Rastas do not eat pork because they believe that a diet free of most meat is the best way to maintain physical health and a spiritual connection to the planet. 

Why Don’t Rastas Eat Pork?

why the rasta dont eat pork

Yes, Rastafarians do not eat pork, and most meat, but to understand why you have to learn more about their philosophies and beliefs.

Fact: There are over a million followers of the Rastafarian religion around the world, with the largest population being in Jamaica. 

When Did the Rastafari Religion Become Popular?

Founded in Jamaica in the 1930s, Rastafari is a political and religious organization that emphasizes an African perspective on the Bible.

Over a million people, led by the late reggae artist Bob Marley, have adopted it since then, spreading it throughout the Caribbean and beyond.

Since Rastas consider it a commandment from God (Jah) to always wear their hair in dreadlocks, they are also known by these pejorative terms. 

Fact: Many Rastafarians are extremely particular about their cooking utensils and often swear by their clay and wooden tools.

What Do Rastas Believe in Terms of Diet?

the rastafarian diet beliefs

Rastas can be identified by their distinctive fashion and music, which includes a lion’s mane worn free or tucked into a colorful cap, the slow, billowing smoke of a massive joint, and rhythmic chanting or humming.

Why not a garden overflowing with fresh produce?

There is a specific diet practiced by Rastafarians who worship Jah (i.e., God) and are known as ital.

They will not eat anything that has been processed or canned because they consider it to be “infected” with artificial ingredients.

The diet they follow is called the “Ital” diet, which basically stems from the word “Vital”. 

Why Is There No Place for Pork in the Rastafari Religion?

The Rastafarian faith emphasizes a minimalist lifestyle that places a premium on preserving natural habitats and valuing all species.

So, are Rastafarians vegetarians?  Most of them are!

Most of them abstain from eating meat altogether, while others make exceptions for seafood.

Rastafarians’ faith is grounded in the Bible, and some traditional Rasta dishes even have a biblical origin.

When they say no to “meat”, pork goes right out of the window. But, not only this, sometimes they are so strict that they avoid fruits and veggies grown on a vine.

Regardless, alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited. Spices and herbs are used to improve the flavor of food rather than salt.

Fact: Many Rastafarians avoid metal cooking utensils and storage containers because of BPA liners.

Is Pork Strictly Forbidden in the Rastafarian Religion?

why is pork forbidden

Yes, it is.

They stick to this way of eating to cleanse and fill them with “good vibrations,” or purity and health.

Rastafarians believe that eating well—with an emphasis on the healthiest and most natural foods possible—increases “Life Energy” or “Livity”.

And meat does not meet these standards.

In fact, Rastafarians believe that eating meat converts the body into a “cemetery” because it is thought to be dead food. 

What are Health Reasons for Rastafarians to Avoid Pork?

For Rastafarians, eating organically is not just about health.

But, it is also about saving money on medical care, a concept that is only now gaining traction in the general population.

Rastas opposed processed foods when they first appeared in the 1950s, long before scientists showed their link to various health problems.

And they believe pork is associated with a number of health-related problems, which is why it should be avoided. 

Are There Health Concerns Associated with Pork?

health concerns to avoid pork

It is important to know that over 70% of pig meat contains harmful bacteria.

The adult tapeworm found in tainted pork is called Taenia Solium.  It is responsible for causing a disease known as “cysticercosis”.

Eggs (ova) discharged in feces are typically to blame for this condition. If the larvae invade the central nervous system, you may develop neurocysticercosis.

Research published in 2012 indicated that the extremely hazardous bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica was present in most samples of pork!

Even if pigs are grown, slaughtered, and processed correctly, the risk of infection remains substantial compared to other meats. 

Is There No Place for Meat in the Rastafarian Ital Cooking?

The origin of the word “ital” can be traced back to the Rastafarian tradition of inserting the letter “I” before an accented syllable.

Nature, pure and clean ingredients are used in Jamaican Ital cuisine, which translates to “vital to human existence.”  

Interestingly, with an increasing interest in health foods in recent years, new restaurants selling ital-inspired food have opened in major cities including London and New York. 

What are the Characteristics of Jamaican Ital Cooking?

characteristics jamaican ital food

The Rastafarian diet is modeled after the Jewish diet as outlined in Leviticus 11.

Therefore, it is free of any salt, meat, colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives.

Ital cuisine is practically the same as traditional Jamaican fare. It uses dry salted fish, but no shellfish, because they are among the available foods and ingredients.

Ital cooking allows for pragmatism, and it is okay to utilize some canned foods if fresh ones are not readily accessible, which is especially useful when traveling outside of Jamaica.

However, pimento, Scotch bonnet pepper, coconut, and thyme are staples in Jamaican Italian cuisine.

Ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, and scallions can be added to the standard fare. Fresh ingredients are always the focus. 

What Do Rastafarians Avoid Besides Pork?

why rastafarians avoid pork

Rastafarians give careful thought to everything they put into their bodies. Is there any risk to their health, or will they have an impure feeling from it?

They feel that their physical form is a sacred temple for Jah.

Despite the fact that this cuisine has its origins in Rastafarianism, many Rastafarians insist that it is just a way of life. 

All of the food they eat must be entirely natural and permitted by the Levitical law of the Old Testament.

That being said, there are certain things you can or cannot eat when following the Rastafarian religion.

For instance: 


Most Rastafarians avoid eating meat because they consider it an omen of death.

Most people do not enjoy being near dead animals, thus the act of eating them is akin to putting their own bodies in a cemetery. 


a seafoods

Some Rastafarians follow a more relaxed diet, in which fish is permitted. In any case, the fish cannot be any longer than 12 inches.

This is because the Babylonians, like larger fish, relied on the labor of others for their survival.

Some Rastafarians may eat chicken if they do not follow a strict Ital diet. It is because these animals are scavengers, and people often consider their meat unclean and potentially dangerous.

Fact: Some may enjoy fish to a certain extent, but those who follow the Ital diet are not likely to consume either pork or shellfish. 


The use of salt is not entirely prohibited in the Rastafarian religion. Some people try to steer clear of items processed with extra salt, particularly iodized salt.

Pure sea salt may be an alternative here.

Canned Foods

Canned foods are avoided by adherents of the most stringent interpretations because of concerns that they may contain substances harmful to human health.

They think pickled or fermented foods are bad for them. 


a caffeine

Although it is not strictly restricted, you should probably stay away from it because it is a stimulant.

Caffeine-rich foods include coffee, chocolate, and black tea.   


Not all Rastafarians eat chicken, and most of them also avoid eggs. They believe eggs are not natural food to include in the Ital diet. 

Artificial Preservatives

They do not eat foods that have been genetically engineered or that have artificial ingredients.

Anything that contains added flavoring and preservatives is off-limits. Chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides are not allowed in the production of ital foods. 


The moment you decide to learn more about the Rastafarian way of life, you ask, “why don’t Rastas eat pork?”

The truth is that there is no room for pork or any meat in the Rastafarian religion.

They only eat natural food and consider meat to be “dead food”. Be sure to educate yourself more about what other foods you would have to avoid if you convert to the Rastafarian religion.