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"Ital" Vegan Diet

"Ital Offering" - Silhouette Artwork by Lois Buelow-Osborne - loiscordelia.com

The word Ital is most often used in the context of food. It usually means 'pure' or 'natural' - that is, without additives of any sort, organically produced, and non-processed.

In theory, Ital is also strictly vegan, or at least vegetarian, though as with many aspects of Rastafari culture, there may be considerable diversity of practice. Hence, some Rastas have absolutely vegan and even salt-free diets, while others consume dairy products including eggs, and at least some also eat fish and even meats.

However, pork is generally avoided, in accordance with the Old Testament dietary restrictions. On similar lines, the Ital diet may also be linked strongly with the biblical
Nazirite Vow, which requires abstinence from wine and other fermented drink.

Another scriptural verse that is often cited is
1 Corinthians 6:19, which speaks of the 'temple' of the human body. The idea that the physical body should be kept pure and holy as a temple for the Divine is a very ancient concept indeed, based on a paradox in which the part contains the whole, the finite contains the infinite, the microcosm contains the macrocosm. Today this idea appears to be re-emerging as a powerful metaphor in a number of modern religious movements. Abstaining from the intake of 'polluting' or 'defiling' substances is one important way of observing boundaries of respect for the sacred, just as is the case in spatial terms within an actual temple.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, including exotic varieties, are easily come by in Jamaica. Hence, the Ital diet seems an especially natural choice for Rastas living in the Caribbean. Moreover it fits very closely with the recommendations of modern health experts and dieticians, who advocate the timeless wisdom of such sayings as 'Nature knows best', and 'You are what you eat'.

At its best, Ital cuisine is anything but dull!





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