Food, Feasts, and Faith
An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions [2 volumes]
by Paul Fieldhouse
April 2017, 672pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-411-7
$218, £168, 190€, A299
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-412-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Throughout the world, religious rites and cultural traditions play a key role in what we eat—for sustenance as well as in celebration and ceremony.

An indispensable resource for exploring food and faith, this two-volume set offers information on food-related religious beliefs, customs, and practices from around the world.

Why do Catholics eat fish on Fridays? Why are there retirement homes for aged cows in India? What culture holds ceremonies to welcome the first salmon? More than five billion people worldwide claim a religious identity that shapes the way they think about themselves, how they act, and what they eat. Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions explores how the food we eat every day often serves purposes other than to keep us healthy and stay alive: we eat to express our faith and to adhere to ethnic or cultural traditions that are part of who we are.

This book provides readers with an understanding of the rich world of food and faith. It contains more than 200 alphabetically arranged entries that describe the beliefs and customs of well-established major world religions and sects as well as those of smaller faith communities and new religious movements. The entries cover topics such as religious food rules, religious festivals and symbolic foods, and vegetarianism and veganism, as well as general themes such as rites of passage, social justice, hospitality, and compassion.

Each entry on religion explains what the religious dietary laws and guidelines are and how these were interpreted and put into practice historically and in modern settings. The coverage also includes important festivals and feast days as well as significant religious figures and organizations. Additionally, some 160 sidebars provide examples and more detailed information as well as fun facts.


  • Provides up-to-date factual information, introduces concepts of food as being more than just nutrients, and enables an understanding of diverse religious traditions and the importance of food in people's lives
  • Includes coverage of less well-known rituals and religions that are often skipped in world religion texts
  • Presents material in a way that is accessible to readers without previous exposure to, or command of, sociological or anthropological language and concepts
Paul Fieldhouse, PhD, is adjunct professor in human nutritional sciences at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, where he teaches about food, culture, and religion in the graduate program. He is author of Food and Nutrition: Customs and Culture and coauthor of The World Religions Cookbook as well as numerous articles on food and culture. Fieldhouse is a Fellow of Dietitians of Canada.


2017 Best Reference Title—Library Journal, February 28, 2018


"General readers at the high school level and above will appreciate the admirably clear and accurate writing. This richly informative work, introducing ties among food, culture, religion, and history, efficiently and accessibly adds to readers' understanding of diverse religious traditions and provides a solid jumping-off point for further research."—Library Journal, Starred Review, August 1, 2017

"Summing Up: Recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers."—Choice, November 1, 2017
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