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Jamaican Ital Food
The Rastafarian Ital Sip Recipe


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Jamaican Ital Food | Rastafarian SipJamaican Ital Food | Rastafarian Sip

Rastafarians believe wholeheartedly that what you put inside your body is very important and I think we all can agree. To maintain their fully vegan or ital diet, Rastafarians have found creative ways to use the very same ingredients available to us, and yet, we have never thought of these recipes.

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What does the Jamaican word “ital” mean?

The word ital describes the diet of the Rastafarian faith. The word is derived from the English word vital, and has two meanings, to be full of energy or lively and to be necessary, essential to life. Both these meanings explain the Rastafarian faith.

It is common for Rastafarians to refer to themselves as “I” as well as add the vowel to the beginning of certain words. This is to signify their connection and unity with all of nature.

What is considered Ital food?

Ital food is all-natural, organic food. This means the food is kept clean and away from manufactured chemicals during the growing stages. Most Rastafarians will not use chemicals on their farms.

This stretches to seasonings and manufactured foods as well. Rastafarians refrain from eating salt, other manufactured seasonings, processed foods such as rice, oil and flour as well as store-bought dairy alternatives and artificially flavoured products.

What is Ital Sip?

Streetfood is big in Jamaica, whether it is the large square with different stands or it is the small shops and shacks along the side of the road on our road trips. Ital Sips fall into the latter category.

You will be able to find Ital sips in the cities, but there is something about a roadside sip that is so delicious and almost comforting. The sip is essentially vegan soup.

While Jamaicans will rant and rave about Chicken soup, red peas, pumpkin and the works, there are very few people who will bypass a good cup of sip.

Jamaican Ital Sip Recipe


  • 1 pound Pumpkin (Peeled and sliced)
  • 1 pound Yam (Peeled and sliced)
  • ½ piece Sweet Potato (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 pound Callaloo (cleaned and Shredded)
  • ½ pound Carrots (cleaned and sliced)
  • 1 whole Cho Cho (peeled and diced) (cut the heart out)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Pimento Seeds (whole) (remove when finished)
  • 2 medium Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper (ripen) (optional) (remove when finished)
  • 2 stacks Scallion (fold completely) (remove when finished)
  • 2 pints Water
  • Coconut milk (canned, powdered or blended)
  • 6 corns


  1. Peel, wash, and prepare all the root vegetables and set them aside. (Don’t forget to remove the seeds from the pumpkin!).

  2. Wash and strip the callaloo, chop finely and set aside.

  3. Set a pot of water to boil.

  4. When it comes to a boil, begin adding in your root vegetables beginning with the yams and allowing a few minutes before adding the leafy vegetables and the pumpkin. If you have naturally grown corn, add them here but if they are store-bought, add them about 10-15 minutes before your soup is done.

  5. Cover and leave to boil for 10 minutes before adding your herbs and spices. Cook for another ten minutes before adding your coconut milk.

  6. After this, it is just a matter of waiting until your root vegetables are cooked through. Be careful not to overcook them.

  7. When your soup is done, remove the escallion, thyme and pepper and allow the soup to “sit” and cool down a little. Allowing the soup to sit or to simply not share immediately is believed to make the seasonings incorporate better into your soup.

After your soup sits for about 10 minutes, serve and enjoy. Save some for the tomorrow, soup is even better on the second day!

There are many Jamaican ital food dishes to try. The delicious Ital Stew is just as delicious, you can try that recipe next.

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Return to Jamaican Vegan Restaurants from Jamaican Ital Food 
Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from Jamaican Ital Food

References & Sources For Jamaican Ital Food

  1. Ital - the vegan Rasta movement you've probably never heard of until now... - BBC Three,'vital,it's%20a%20plant%2Dbased%20diet. 
  2. Jamaican Ital Food | Jamaican Ital Stew | A Healthier Meal Alternative,
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