Why do some people not eat pork

The world can be divided into pig-haters and lovers. Depending on the culture, the pig is demonized or idolized. Why don't Muslims eat pork? In this regard, let's dive into the American's anthropological vision Marvin Harris and his book Cattle, pigs, wars and witches one that explains the possible causes of the religious taboo that prohibits Muslims and Jews from consuming pork. The anthropologist asks why some peoples reject the animal that others love and examines the diets that appear contradictory in the various groups.

The origin of the ban

Judaism, the oldest of the Middle Eastern monotheistic religions, is the first to reject the pig in Genesis and Leviticus. 1500 years later, it is the prophet Mohammed who also describes the pig as unclean. Yahweh and Allah forbid meat for millions of Jews and hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Harris examines the various hypotheses and explains the exclusion and prohibition of the pig; the most obvious and well-known up to the Renaissance is the belief that the pig is a very dirty animal, because it rolls in its own excrement. Nevertheless, the anthropologist assesses this reason as insufficient and incorrect to explain the ban for the Muslims, since other animals, such as cattle, do the same in the fenced pasture.

The pig compensates for the inability to sweat by refreshing itself in clean mud, but if it has no mud and no space in its surroundings, it cannot refresh itself in any other way than in its own excrement. The higher the temperature, the dirtier the pig and the hot climate of the Middle East encouraged the dirt from these animals. The ban on pork to protect general health was promoted in the 18th century by Maimonides, the influential doctor and Jewish theologian.

For Harris, this theory is outdated because such a comprehensive ban is inappropriate and this diet taboo was refuted in the mid-19th century with the discovery that trichinella arose from the consumption of undercooked pork. But even this explanation does not satisfy the anthropologist, because too other diseases caused by other animals during this period were more severe than trichinella and can even be fatal, although these carriers of the disease have not been banned.

Another theory is that the pork ban stems from that the pig a totem animal for some tribes was. Even so, this theory does not explain how the consumption of divine animals could be so absolutely forbidden.

The ecology as a determining factor

For the anthropologist, this is the most likely explanation why Jews and Muslims do not eat pork. Harris explains that The pig was banned because of the natural ecosystems as well as the breeding of these animals at the time Middle Eastern cultures threatened. They were arid areas more suitable for ruminants, such as cattle, sheep, and goats. The pig needs pastures and rivers, does not produce milk or leather, is also not a pack animal and eats the same thing as humans. The pig was definitely a luxury, a temptation, and even a competitor to humans.

Using the example of India's ban on eating beef, the expert explains that the greater the temptation, the greater the need for one holy prohibition. The anthropologist thinks that "large-scale pig breeding was a burden on the environment. Smaller production would only have increased the temptation. So it was better to ban the consumption of pork altogether.”.

And how do you explain the ban that is still in force today? Harris explains his thesis in the book Cattle, pigs, wars and Hexen: the taboos also have social functions so that groups can differ from others, which also explains the preservation of these ancient rules in our day and age.

Understanding what is behind some culinary customs can help us learn more about what we eat and how we eat it. Spain can consider itself lucky to enjoy a unique ecosystem in which a culture around the pig arose and where it can be found as a delicacy but also in the pasture.




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