8. Milk, Meat, Fish, and Feelings: Gender, the Taste of Animal Ethics, and the Development of Religious Food Laws in the 21st Century
Aldea Mulhern [+]
California State University, Fresno
While there has been significant scholarly interest in religious food law as containing dietary restrictions, rules, and regulations (whether rational or irrational), there have been fewer attempts to re-think religious food law as a matter of bodily, lived experience. In this chapter, I consider statements of gastronomic pleasure, disgust, joy, satiety, pain, and conflict as sites for thinking about how religious actors narrativize bodily experience through the lens of religious identification, and organize and integrate that experience as practice. In particular, I focus on stories of dissonance and integration of food experiences in the narratives of Jewish and Muslim interlocutors who participate in religioning via food, farming, and ecology. When vegans eat fish, when eaters of religiously-slaughtered meat eat conventionally-slaughtered animal flesh, or when meat-eaters swear off meat or sing praises of vegetable food, there is an opportunity to understand embodied ideologies (broadly understood) of what is appropriate, desirable, endurable, and also tasty. Manifestly obvious and individualistic though “food preferences” may seem, the phenomenon glossed by “preference” or “non-preference” for particular foods is, rather, a richly interpersonal and experience-laden matrix of meaning-making. Pleasure, far from being a straightforward, received experience, is actively reconstructed in tandem with an architecture of value that contextualizes the mouth-feel and body-feel (and perhaps even a mind-feel, or soul-feel) of food.