Food, Taste, and American Religions


The scholarship that brings together food and foodways (all of the activities and meanings surrounding food in a particular cultural setting) and religion in North America is widely interdisciplinary, drawing from history, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, American studies, folklore studies, performance studies, and religious studies. This article surveys the scholarship on food and religion in American history and culture. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals controversial placement between 1998 and 2005 of billboards that used Christian imagery and language to promote vegetarianism serves as an example of the complex relationships among religion, food, and taste. The article then considers three book‐length studies of religion and food, followed by studies of religion and foodways during the colonial period, in utopian communal groups of the nineteenth century, as a means of reproducing ethnic and regional identities, and as an ethic for transforming society and the planet. The article closes with a discussion of the future of the study of American religion and food.


Religious Studies

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

Religion Compass