In our secularized society, people seek for religions without God. That is, something that can provide them with a guide to live, a meaning, a community and ideals. Truths that speak about good and evil. Lately, this is more and more sought in food. But religions without God soon turn into cults, and that’s the adjective that certain fad diets deserve. Read this article and don’t let them fool you!
Pure and impure foods
The focal point of these new pseudo-religions are foods. Some are good, clean and pure; others, bad, dirty and impure. That’s how they call them, using hashtags like #cleaneating. Eating ones or others means that we as people are described by the first or the second groups of adjectives. Attributing these kind of moral features to food is very dangerous and can cause serious damage to physical health (nutritional deficiencies, binge-purge cycles, etc.) and, above all, to mental health, because of the linking our personal worth to what we eat.
This language about food reminds me, alarmingly, to Manichaeism, the heresy that St. Augustine battled in the 4th century. Manichaeans had a “seal of the mouth” that regulated the amount and kinds of food they could eat. Some foods were considered impure. For example, meat was forbidden, since animals had their origin in demons; moreover, they reproduce by carnal generation, which is a work of concupiscence. Although, in their opinion, alive animals contained some elements of the divine principle, those were gradually released with their activities and when they died nothing was left except a dirty mass. Eating meat meant getting dirty through this contact with impure matter, and postponing the process of separating light from darkness in the world.
Food pseudo-religions lose this philosophical background and keep the superficial part: the purity and impurity of foods. Where do they find the justification for this classification, then? In pseudo-scientific theories, as we shall see.