6. What Does religion Taste Like?

Tasting Religion - Aldea Mulhern

Graham Harvey [+-]
Open University
Graham Harvey is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the Open University, UK. His research is concerned with the performance and rhetoric of identities among Jews, Pagans and indigenous peoples. He is particularly interested in the 'new animism', embracing relational and material approaches to interactions between humans and the larger than human world. His recent publications include The Handbook of Contemporary Animism(2013) and Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life (2013).


Religions are replete with feasts and fasts, with food rules (explicit or assumed). They are social acts that are often structured around shared meals or shared rules about what can or cannot be consumed. Religious festivals are often identifiable by the specific foods. Some mythologies emphasise the consumption of helpful or salvific beings or substances. Sub-arctic bear ceremonies, Christian eucharists, meals during or after periods of fasting in many religions all illustrate the centrality of consumption. Foods and drinks often play significant roles in the oppositions that highlight the key themes of particular religions, especially when these view physicality as problematic. In the everyday lives of religious people, foodways act to reinforce affiliations. But they also flavour commitments and communities. This chapter surveys the tastes of selected religions to experiment with a definition of religion as social foodways.

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Harvey, Graham. 6. What Does religion Taste Like?. Tasting Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Feb 2025. ISBN 9781000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44089. Date accessed: 29 Feb 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44089. Feb 2025

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