Paganism, in general, has no prescribed dietary restrictions, though it has developed a few customary dishes for feast days over the past 50 years. There are some noticeable tendencies in our dietary habits, while by no means universal or necessarily defining, there are a few notable commonalities.
For example, you may find a higher number of Pagans who prefer to buy natural and organic meat and produce, as reverence for nature is one of our defining doctrines, Pagans tend to be especially environmentally and morally conscious in this regard.
Nor is vegetarianism mandatory, though you may find a higher number of vegetarians among Pagans than some other religious groups. Some Pagans adopt vegetarian or vegan diets at certain feast days, or before certain rituals as an observance, and to cleanse the system, and yet others believe that humankind, having evolved to be able to eat animals, ought to continue doing so. The argument goes that it’s just as natural; in reality it’s as much a matter of comfort and individual choice.
As you can see, conscious eating can play a significant role in choosing one’s diet. Respect for the Earth and sustenance gained from Her plays an active part in deciding what one consumes. Cliché or not, it’s a fact that we are what we eat, physically and psychically.
At any Pagan festival or event you’re like to see an assortment of dishes, though there are a few foods and beverages that are more likely to be present than others. Mead, for example, has become standard Pagan fair, and ale, but more in name than anything else, as beer is more often drunk in its place.
At each festival seasonal fruits and vegetables will be found on the altar and table as physical representations of the bounty of the season, or certain flowers or boughs in the colder months. These can vary depending on one’s local produce.
Several Pagan cookbooks have entered the market in the past decade or so, both for local fundraisers and the commercial market providing recipes which have become reoccurring staples in my house.
First published on Suite101.com on 10 April 2006.
Image credit: Ali Karimian