What is the Ital Diet?
of reading - words
You've heard of it but you don't really know what it is? Would you like to know why this eating practice is adopted? Do you want to know what the Ital Rasta diet is?
You've come to the perfect place! I'm Caroline, if you don't know me yet, I've been a great lover of Rasta customs and traditions for decades. Having embraced this way of eating myself, today I'm going to explain to you what it is and where it comes from.
The Ital diet is the eating pattern of the followers of the Rastafari movement. Precursor of the vegan diet, animal food, alcohol and salt are banned. Vegetables, fruits and spices compose the meals of the rastaman.
Throughout this article, you will have the pleasure to discover :
- The origins of the Ital regime
- What are its main foundations
- The inspiration provided to many artists
- Its flexibility
1- The rastaman's diet
Far from the atypical image associated with rastafarians, who wear a leonine mane and smoke ganja, Jah's followers adopt a very healthy diet with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Indeed, Rastas eat Ital, which is a diet based on fresh organic produce. Most often the fruits and vegetables are grown by themselves. But for those who can't afford it, they can always get it from the market.
This diet bans all industrialized foods such as canned goods or products containing preservatives and other additives. These are perceived by the community as denatured foods. This is why the Ital diet is considered the precursor of the vegan and healthy food. Indeed, the Rastafarian diet existed decades before the vegan, raw food, organic or 100% natural food trends.
Rastafarians are very close to nature, respecting all life forms. Many of them are vegetarians, who eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables. However, some of them may eat fish, but not other types of meat.
2- Origins of the Ital diet
This way of eating emerged thanks to one of the pioneers of the Rastafari movement, Leonard Howell. It is said that this leader introduced vegetarianism to the Rastafarians because of his interest in the diet of Indian indentured servants in Jamaica. It should also be remembered that Rastafarianism was greatly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism. Therefore, the adoption of vegetarianism, very common in these two beliefs, was quite normal, especially since such a diet is part of the respect for life, advocated by Rastafarians.
This way of eating is considered healthy and a way of not harming oneself. Gradually, the ital diet has become part of the rastas' habits and has become an integral part of their lifestyle. To immerse yourself in this lifestyle, you can start by wearing our reggae necklaces.
3- Why do rastas adopt this way of eating?
The choice of Ital diet of rastas finds its essence in the Bible. In this regard, the Holy Scriptures and more precisely the passage of Genesis (1:29) says: "Now I give you every herb bearing seed, on all the face of the earth, and every tree bearing fruit...They shall be for your food." Because of this passage, followers of the Rastafari movement exclude the consumption of alcohol from the vine from their diet, as well as salt, which is replaced by aromatic herbs and spices, which gives the cooked dishes more flavor. The spiritual side of this diet is very present in the beliefs of the Rastas who believe that abstaining from desirable things, following an Ital diet, guides the individual in his spiritual quest, for a healthy life, with more love and harmony.
a) The Ital diet for a healthy lifestyle
By adopting this diet, Rastas seek to preserve their health and boost their vital energy. They believe that a healthy and pure body generates positive vibrations. By choosing fresh, organic food, they increase their livity, or life energy. The reason for eating fruits and vegetables and not meat is that meat is perceived as a dead food and does not fulfill its role of increasing energy. They even believe that eating meat turns the body into a graveyard. It is not surprising that the motto of the Jamaican Rastafarians, which has been in use for several decades, is "Ital is vital".
This precept is confirmed by the words of Ras Bobby Morgan: "Ital food is a remedy to nourish not only the body but also the spirit, to elevate it, and to ensure a healthy and pure livity. "
b) More than a hippy cuisine, it is a culture
In order to signify that the dishes are prepared in accordance with the beliefs of the followers of Jah, the Rastafarians use the term "Ital" which derives from the English expression "vital". From then on we speak of Ital soup, Ital mixed salad, etc. On the other hand, the ingredients used in Rastafarian dishes contain the prefix i, which leads to i-banana, i-pumpkin, i-apple, i-pepper, among others. The Ital diet is well rooted in Rasta culture and several reggae hits attest to this, such as the song "No bones no blood" by Lutan Fyah or "Wha Me Eat" by Macka B. The clip of this song shows the singer refusing the food served in a restaurant, being incompatible with his diet. Then he forces himself into the kitchen to prepare and distribute Ital food to all the customers.
c) Breaking with the dependence on imports
The rastafarians want to be locavores, having for desire to break with the dependence on imported products to go towards the local production and the self-sufficiency. Rastafarians in Jamaica use exclusively fruits, vegetables and plants from the surrounding countryside. Their food includes yams, bananas, callaloo, chochos, among other local products. This habit dates back to the time of the slaves who used vegetables from the garden for their food and medicinal plants for their remedies.
Since then, Rastas have maintained this practice by cultivating a plot of land to feed themselves and keep in touch with nature. Rastafarianism, for its followers, is more than a simple belief, it is a way of life and a livity.
4- A customizable diet
Far from being a constraining dogma, the Ital diet to which good Rastafarians submit can be adjusted and adapted according to the convictions and feelings of each person. The famous Jamaican musician Levi Roots was behind the creation of bottles of Reggae Sauce and he even launched in England a line of snacks and prepared meals. Meanwhile, fellow Jamaican Ras Mokko, chef on the cooking show "Ras Kitchen," has added chicken and several varieties of fish to his menus. He adds powdered chicken flavoring to his Ital soup to enhance its flavor. However, he is careful not to add salt, which is harmful to health and does not allow you to eat enough. The chef says that salt eats away at the bones and causes high blood pressure, in addition to pain in the body and stomach. Therefore, by avoiding salt, it would be possible to eat more food and stay healthy.
The Ital diet is interpreted freely according to the personal beliefs of each person, so no follower can judge the practices of other brothers, especially since Rastafarianism advocates brotherhood, unity and tolerance. It is also a mainly vegetarian diet designed to improve health and energy.
5- For even more Rasta fun in the kitchen
You will have understood that the Ital diet, very popular among Rastas, is in line with the founding principles of Rastafarianism. The harmony with nature, fauna and flora.
You now know the origins and the main foundations. You know that for Rastafarians, animal welfare rhymes with human welfare. The Rasta wants to eat what is healthy for his body and mind. You are also aware that this method of eating is relatively lax and people can adapt it to their own will. So you know what this famous Ital diet is.