Why Taoist Cannot Eat Beef? A Full Guide

Have you ever wondered why some Taoists avoid eating beef?

While many religions promote a vegetarian diet, Taoism takes it a step further by abstaining from certain types of meat, particularly beef.

This dietary restriction is not only based on religious beliefs but also on the concept of maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual health.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this practice and its significance in Taoist culture.

So, let’s dive in and discover why Taoists cannot eat beef.

Why Taoist Cannot Eat Beef?

Taoists believe that the food they consume affects their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In traditional Taoist teachings, the diet consisted mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, with little meat and no cereals. The belief was that during the digestive process, demonic creatures would be released from the rotting grains in the stomach, and they would try to eat the person from the inside out.

Furthermore, Taoists believe that consuming beef goes against their principles of compassion and non-violence. The cow is considered a sacred animal and a holy incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy. Many devotees of the Goddess feel that in respect of her, it is best to avoid consuming beef entirely.

While there are many historical and modern schools of Taoism with different teachings on the subject, many Taoist priests regard their diet as extremely important to their physical, mental, and spiritual health. They believe that consuming certain types of meat, particularly beef, can negatively impact their energy levels and overall well-being.

The Concept Of Yin And Yang In Taoism

In addition to the principles of compassion and non-violence, Taoism also emphasizes the concept of yin and yang. The yin-yang classification suggests the idea that opposites are needed in order for harmony to exist. In Taoism, balance is crucial, and this balance is represented by the yin-yang symbol.

The black and white portions of the symbol are equal to one another, suggesting that both opposites are equally important. This means that extremes should be avoided, and moderation should be practiced in all aspects of life.

This concept of balance applies to the diet as well. Taoists believe that consuming too much meat, particularly beef, can upset the balance of yin and yang in the body. They believe that meat is a heavy food that can weigh down the body and lead to sluggishness and lethargy. Consuming too much meat can also lead to an excess of yang energy, which can cause aggression and restlessness.

Therefore, many Taoist priests promote a vegetarian diet in order to minimize harm to other sentient life and maintain the balance of yin and yang in the body. They believe that a plant-based diet is lighter and easier for the body to digest, allowing for a clearer mind and greater spiritual awareness.

The Importance Of Balance In Taoist Diet

Balance is a fundamental concept in Taoist diet. According to Taoist teachings, the body is a microcosm of the universe, and everything in the universe is interconnected. Therefore, balance is essential for optimal health and well-being.

In Taoist diet, balance is achieved by consuming foods that are in harmony with the yin-yang and five-element principles. The yin-yang principle refers to the balance between opposing energies, such as hot and cold, or light and dark. The five-element principle refers to the balance between the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood.

To achieve balance in their diet, Taoists consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and small amounts of meat. They avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and excessive amounts of salt. They also pay attention to the seasonality of foods and consume foods that are appropriate for the current season.

Taoists believe that consuming a balanced diet not only promotes physical health but also supports mental and spiritual well-being. A balanced diet can help regulate energy levels, improve digestion, and enhance overall vitality.

The Negative Effects Of Beef On The Body

Research has shown that consuming beef, particularly red and processed meat, can have negative effects on the body. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that regular consumption of red meat and processed meat can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer. The study also found that one daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease or cancer, while one daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 20% increased risk of death from these diseases.

Another study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that consuming high levels of both unprocessed and processed red meat was linked to an increased risk of all-cause mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality. The study also found that substituting one serving per day of other healthy protein sources like fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains for red meat could lower the risk of mortality by 7% to 19%.

Furthermore, a compound called carnitine found in red meat has been found to cause atherosclerosis or the hardening and clogging of arteries. This compound converts to a heart-damaging compound called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) via bacteria in the intestine. Increased levels of carnitine have been linked to increased risks for cardiovascular disease.

The Spiritual Significance Of Avoiding Beef In Taoism

In Taoism, there is a strong emphasis on living in harmony with nature and all sentient beings on earth. This includes animals, and the practice of avoiding beef is a reflection of this principle. The cow is considered a gentle and peaceful animal, and taking its life for food goes against the concept of non-violence.

Moreover, the cow is seen as a symbol of the Goddess of Mercy, who represents compassion and kindness. By consuming beef, Taoists believe that they are disrespecting the Goddess and going against her teachings. Therefore, avoiding beef is not only a dietary choice but also a spiritual one.

In addition to the spiritual significance, there are also practical reasons for avoiding beef in Taoism. According to traditional Chinese medicine, beef is considered a hot and heavy food that can create imbalances in the body’s energy levels. This can lead to health problems and disrupt the flow of qi (life force) in the body.

Alternatives To Beef In Taoist Diet

For Taoists who choose to avoid beef, there are a variety of alternatives available. One popular option is mock meat, also known as plant-based meat or meat analogs. These products are made from soy, legumes, and cereals that are blended with flavoring, fat, and coloring to replicate the taste and texture of beef. Mock meat is often used as a substitute for beef in classic Chinese dishes like Peking “duck,” “beef” and broccoli, and lemon “chicken.”

Another alternative to beef in the Taoist diet is poultry and game birds. These meats are considered acceptable for consumption, as they are less likely to negatively impact a person’s energy levels and overall well-being. Fish and other seafood are also acceptable in moderation, but highly Yin fish like salmon, shark, swordfish, and mackerel should be avoided.

Ultimately, the Taoist diet emphasizes the importance of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables that are free of any man-made intervention. It is important to eat vegetables in the right seasons and to either steam or stir fry them, as boiling can take out their natural goodness. While consuming certain types of meat like beef may go against Taoist principles of compassion and non-violence, there are plenty of alternatives available for those who choose to avoid it.