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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
“Bun fire pon dat” is the exclamation of every Rastaman in Jamaica when you ask if they eat pork or not. Yes, something as simple as a type of protein, one that is highly loved in many other parts of the world can elicit very strong reactions from Rastafarian men. Not just Rastafarians either but the seventh-day Adventist Christians and the “baldhead rastas” as well.
Yes, not as much as many parts of the world but there are many Jamaicans that enjoy pork. Some classic Jamaican Pork dishes are jerk pork, brown stew pork and stew peas with pigtails.
Jamaicans don’t only enjoy pork either, the breeding and raising of pigs is a thriving business in Jamaica, especially in the rural areas. These are usually supplied to neighbourhood meat shops and members of the community.
While the “pork eating” Jamaicans might not be strong they are definitely proactive about getting the freshest pork possible. Many place their order with the butcher weeks before the hog is even killed.
Jamaica is regarded as a Christian nation and has the most churches per square mile in the entire world. Why then does a sizable portion of this Caribbean nation abstain from eating pork? Why do not all locals consume pork while only a small number of Jamaicans practice Islam and Judaism?
The primary cause of this is religion. There are a few practising Muslims and Jews on the island but the majority is as a result of Rastafarians and Seventh Day Adventists refraining from eating pork.
They are described as a conservative Protestant group that teaches Christ's second coming. 11% of Jamaica's population belongs to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Since the church's founding in 1863, its members have promoted healthier diets.
They consider their bodies sacred sanctuaries that should only be fed the healthiest foods. Due to their emphasis on entire plant meals such grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and nuts, strict Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarians. Meat is divided into two categories by Seventh-Day Adventists; clean and unclean meats. Rabbit, pork and shellfish are examples of unclean meats.
Seventh Day Adventists will also use Leviticus 11:27 to explain their reasons for not eating pork. It states, “Every animal with hooves not completely divided or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you. Whoever touches any of them will be unclean.”
Unfortunately for the pig (or maybe it's actually fortunate?), they fit into the unclean category.
Strict Rastafarians have ital diets. This means no salt, chemicals, meat, alcohol, oils, animals or animal by-products for a Rastafarian. The significance of hygiene and the notion that food is medicine are the reasons for this diet's popularity.
Ital adheres to Bobo Ashanti's teachings, one of the purest forms of Rastafarianism. Since coconut milk is frequently boiled as a thick "stew," coconut is a staple ingredient in Rastafarian cuisine.
Other well-known components of the ital diet include Scotch bonnet, pimento (allspice), thyme, garlic, onions, spring onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. Don’t let the lack of salt and meat deter you from trying ital food as it definitely makes up in flavour.
So again, do Jamaicans eat pork? Yes, they definitely do. Not a great percentage though. Despite that there are (a few) awesome Jamaican pork dishes that anyone would enjoy.
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