Countries That Forbid Consumption Of Common Food

Tolerance is not something that works in the food department. Imagine someone coming to you and saying “From now on, chicken is forbidden. Instead, you will have to enjoy spinach.” Or the other way around – “You don’t have enough proteins, so from now on give up on your vegan lifestyle (and throw away your salad) and embrace pork chops.” How much tolerance would you show to a proposal like that? Would you “embrace” other foods just as you embrace other cultures?

In fact, we are touchy about foods, not only because we are used to specific meals or because we like certain dishes, but also because our body reacts well to some and not so well to others. The freedom to choose your own food is one of the most important freedoms you have. But, guess what – you cannot choose your own food in some countries because some things are just taboo.

Eating cow meat in India can probably bring the capital punishment. Sure, the legal punishment is only 5 years of imprisonment, but if you live in a very religious community, things might get worse. Cows are literally gods, roaming Indian cities and villages, and even in their death they are not to be disturbed, but left to rot. With cows being holy to Indians and even their urine considered to have miraculous properties in Indian culture, how would you think to enjoy some beef there?  Steak tartare, carpaccio, beef jerky, corned beef and the rest are simply awful, awful sins.

Pork is a no-no food for Muslims and Jews around the world – another prejudice based on religious grounds. Apparently, pigs are “unclean creatures” and are not for human consumption. One could argue all creatures that we eat can be dirty, even if they take care of their hygiene like cats do. Ham? Bacon? Inconceivably dirty foods!

You might not enjoy the above foods not because of the cultural prohibition (and maybe even a legal one), but because of the shortage of animals. In Asia, particularly in Korea or Vietnam, you will mostly consume dog meat. Or even cat meat. Recently, the eating of such animals has diminished, but in the past, when saying “I want to eat meat”, you would invariably refer to dog meat.

You might consider going to Africa on a holiday trip and think about all the different fish that you will eat, but you couldn’t be far from the truth. “Speak not to me with a mouth that eats fish” is a saying of Somali people. But not only Somali people refrain from eating fish – in many parts of Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya or Tanzania, fish consumption is a taboo. They live off their cattle and agriculture products, but the fish taboo doesn’t have a clear explanation. And, as another fun fact, children eating eggs in Nigeria is prohibited, since that will probably turn them into thieves, according to Nigerian culture. Also, coconut milk would make them stupid. However, oddly enough, once they grow up, such prohibitions disappear.

You can’t change traditions although you might think they are really strange or at least outdated. What you can do when you travel to those countries is pay attention to these “small details” so as to not offend the locals.


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