Religion & Beliefs

Food as Prayer

When I moved to Israel for a year abroad, I was a vegetarian. Not long after arriving at my kibbutz, I ate meat for the first time in about 6 years, because… well, because so much about my life felt … Read More

By / November 15, 2006
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When I moved to Israel for a year abroad, I was a vegetarian. Not long after arriving at my kibbutz, I ate meat for the first time in about 6 years, because… well, because so much about my life felt regulated, and my vegetarianism was one thing I could decide for myself.

But when I came home, a meat-eater, I made another decision. I decided to stop eating pork and shellfish. After years without steak, I wasn't willing to go back on that one… so I gave up the bacon.

Why?

I mean, I don't call myself kosher. Why give up random foods for no dietary reason? I don't know, it just felt… right. It felt Jew-ish, connected to Judaism, and it was a less limiting set of limitations (I'd had some trouble with anemia).

For me, it's about intention. About carefully considering what I eat, as I eat it. For me, when you observe kashruth, hallal, vegetarianism, gluten-free, macrobiotic, organic rules… you are joining a club of people who… when at a party, have to THINK before popping canapes into their faces.

And in a weird way, it's a kind of prayer. A moment of thought, meditation. A moment of eschewing one thing, or being grateful that what you want… you can have. It feels good. Limitations can be broadening. I really do try to take a minute before I eat… to think about what I'm eating.

So I guess I'm saying that I think Slow Food = Prayer, in a way.

In a world where we run around like chickens with our heads cut off, it's nice to stop and think. And I'd advise that for those who've never been restrictive with their diets might enjoy the experience. Just pick something… nuts, the color red, oil… and spend a week seeing if food tastes different when you can't "have it all."

It's true, the things we can't have… make the things we can have taste sweeter.