Religion and dietary choices
A healthy varied diet is essential for health, growth and development. Many religions include guidance on what is appropriate to eat in order to demonstrate faith.
Data from the 2011 census shows that the five most common religious affiliations are Christian (59.3%), Muslim (4.8%), Hindu (1.5%), Sikh (0.8%) and Jewish (0.5%).1
Due to the diversity in religions, cultures and individual beliefs, it is always good practice to ask the patient or their representative about dietary requirements.
The predominant religion in the UK is Christianity. Generally there are no dietary restrictions. Individuals may choose to forgo alcohol and may choose whether or not to eat meat.2 During Lent Christians may stop eating certain foods.
Muslims eat halal (lawful) foods, which include fruit, vegetables and eggs. Any meat and meat products they consume must be from a halal slaughtered animal. Milk and dairy foods are halal, cheese may be halal depending on ingredients. There are concerns that not all meat sold as halal actually is, so careful sourcing is important.3
Haram (prohibited) foods include pork, crustaceans, blood, non-halal animal-derived additives such as gelatin or suet, alcohol and any foods containing alcohol as an ingredient.3
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