So I stumbled upon this Rastafarian religion called Ital (pronounced eye-tal). The diet that goes along with this belief system is one that is very similar to what we know as veganism. It’s a little different from the typical type of veganism we have come to know because it is based within religion, and they take it a step further by also refraining from using certain seasonings.
I decided to look into the Ital (pronounced eye-tal) movement after reading this article in The Fader. Within the article, they interview three restaurant owners who are keeping the Caribbean tradition alive in Brooklyn through their different types of restaruants. There was one part that really jumped out at me from Jahman Mckenize who is the co-owner of Veggies Natural Juice Bar in Brooklyn, reading this quote really threw me for a loop. It’s the reason why I wrote this post. In The Fader article he says
“the healthy eating and vegan lifestyle, that still is my father. What is called “vegan” eating, we called “Ital” since the ’60s. Now we see vegan becoming popular, when Ital always was part of our culture for years.”
Reading that got the wheels turning, it got the (dimly lit in my case) light bulb on.
I couldn’t stop thinking “man, has veganism BEEN a thing?!”
Like many things in the United States that are “in”, I started to wonder if veganism was born (read: stolen) from an old tradition of the Rastafarians, or if it had been created entirely on its own. This thought alone led me to look much deeper into the Ital movement.
Ok, what is Ital?
Ital gets it’s name from the word “vital” because the goal of it is to enhance your vitality.
Ital is more than a diet, it’s a way of life that is motivated by whole and healthy living and religion. Rumored to have started in the ‘60’s, Ital eating is a plant based diet that is built to keep your mind sharp. It is based on interpretation from biblical references in Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. In these passages, the point that your body is your temple and should be treated as such is consistent. According to an interview on BBC, Rastas originally lived in the hills of Jamaica and ate what naturally grew around them. Many Rastafari who practice Ital believe that processed foods affect your mind, body, & soul in negative ways.
Ital eating is based on plants and whole grains. People who practice this only eat fresh foods that are in season. Many people who follow this lifestyle don’t use salt to season their food. In some extreme cases, they don’t even eat with metal food utensils or out of metal containers because they have the ability to chemically contaminate food.
Clearly, Ital eating is fueled by keeping your body pure and not destroying it. They do not consume soda or coffee, and alcohol is strictly forbidden. Not only because of the negative effects it has on your body but because they believe that alcohol can have negative effects on the entire world.
What is most interesting to me about this lifestyle is that…. it’s a lifestyle. This isn’t a weight loss plan or something that people who take it on just try out, it’s a smaller part of living a whole and healthy all around life.
By the way…
I also found…
this video where 2 Sisters & A Meal visit a real Rastafarian and he explains more about Ital eating in detail. Check it out!
I couldn’t resist writing about this topic because of how popular veganism is now. It really piqued my interest to hear that a similar diet has existed for many years before veganism was formally created.
But, I’d like to know what you think. Is veganism simply a remixed version of Ital? Is Ital completely different? Does it not fucking matter?
Let me know in the comments below!