"Food Ethics and Religion"

In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text with Readings. Oxford University Press (2016)
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How does an engagement with religious traditions (broadly construed) illuminate and complicate the task of thinking through the ethics of eating? In this introduction, we survey some of the many food ethical issues that arise within various religious traditions and also consider some ethical positions that such traditions take on food. To say the least, we do not attempt to address all the ethical issues concerning food that arise in religious contexts, nor do we attempt to cover every tradition’s take on food. We look at just a few traditions and a few interesting writings on food ethics and religion: What do they say about the ethics of eating? Why do they say these things? Here we use the terms “food ethics” and “religion” ecumenically as big tents under which many importantly different sorts of things may be grouped. Among the wide range of food ethical issues we consider in this chapter, for example, are religious views about the ethics of keeping, hurting, and killing animals, killing plants, dominion over creation, wastefulness, purity, blessing, atonement, and the connection between food and character. We realize, moreover, that it might be a stretch to label some of the views engaged by selected readings in this chapter as “religious” on a stringent understanding of that term; Lisa Kemmerer’s “Indigenous Traditions,” for instance, addresses some views that are recognizably spiritual but perhaps not religious in a strict sense. We hope that our ecumenical usage of the term can bring these important traditions to bear on the discussion without reducing them to something they are not.

Author Profiles

Tyler Doggett
University of Vermont


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