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Food Related Customs

Food choices from religious and cultural backgrounds.


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This is a guide around some of the main differences in food choice commonly observed by those from other religious and cultural backgrounds.
When caring for a child or a young person from other minority or ethnic groups it is essential to be familiar with their relevant customs. At the same time, it is important not to make assumptions about anyone’s food preferences and to find out about each child or young person, either from themselves, from family members, previous carers or their social workers.
  Jewish Hindu1 Sikh1 Muslim Buddhist Rastafarian2
Eggs No blood spots Some Yes Yes Some Some
Milk/yoghurt Not with meat Yes Yes Yes  Yes Some 
Cheese Not with meat Some Some Possibly  Yes  Some 
Chicken Kosher Some Some Halal No Some
Mutton/lamb Kosher Some Yes Halal No Some
Beef/beef products Kosher No No Halal No Some
Pork/pork products No No Rarely No No No
Fish With fins and scales With fins and scales Some Some  Some Yes 
Shellfish No Some Some Some No No
Butter/ghee Kosher Some Some Some Some Some
Lard No No No  No No No
Cereal foods Yes Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes
Nuts/pulses Yes Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes
Fruits/vegetables Yes Yes3 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fasting4 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


Additional notes:

  1. Strict Hindus or Sikhs will not eat eggs, meat, fish, and some fats
  2. Some Rastafarians are vegan. Check with the individual child
  3. Jains have restrictions on some vegetable foods. Check with the individual child
  4. Fasting is unlikely to apply to young children

Adapted from Caroline Walker Trust (2001) “Eating well for looked after children and young people”


  • Hindu – person who adheres to Hinduism, a common religion of India
  • Sikh - a member of an Indian religion that separated from Hinduism - founded in the 16th century
  • Jain - an adherent of Jainism, a dualistic religion founded as a revolt against current Hinduism
  • Rastafarian - a follower of Rastafarianism, a religious cult, originally of Jamaica, that regards Africa as the Promised Land, to which all true believers will someday return
  • Kosher - term used for food that conforms to the regulations of ‘kashrut’ which is Jewish dietary law
  • Halal - foods that are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic Shariʻah (law) (The most common example of non-halal (or haraam) food is pork (pig meat))
  • Ghee - is a class of clarified butter, prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream, and removing the liquid residue


When you look after a person from another ethnic background, never assume that the person would or wouldn't eat certain things. Always discuss and check with the individual child. You can use the FOOD RECORD SHEET which you can find in the 'Encouraging to eat well' section of this website, to support the discussion. Each child/young person is different, an individual approach should always be taken.


More information from the 'Special diet' category

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