Interfaith Dietary Considerations

Banner with five different images of food, including mediterranean foods, pomegranates and honey, a Hindu puja, breaking bread, and vegetables

General Principles

In order to best accommodate a variety of religious dietary considerations, we recommend the following general rules:

  • Keep meals predominantly vegetarian or offer a quality vegetarian option
  • Avoid all pork products like ham, bacon, sausage, and gelatin
  • Offer non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages options at your events
  • Avoid foods with alcohol as an ingredient
  • It is always a good idea to connect with your guests in advance to make sure dietary needs are being met, as not all practitioners follow the same dietary guidelines.


See below for notes On Fasting, What is Halal, and What is Kosher.









More Info


Can include times of fasting. See below on fasting in different 






Many Buddhists refrain from eating meat, but not all.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) / Seventh-Day Adventists / Jehovah's Witnesses

Prohibited items include alcohol,
coffee, non-herbal teas, and tobacco.

Eastern Orthodox

Can include times of fasting. See below on fasting in different traditions.


Can include times of fasting. See below on fasting in different traditions.




Anything with pork, lard, or gelatin is forbidden. See below about the Halal designation and about fasting.


Not with Dairy

Not with Dairy

No Shellfish

Not with Meat

See below about the Kosher designation and about fasting.

Protestant Christianity

No specific restrictions, but some instances of fasting. See below.

Roman Catholicism

Can include times of fasting where restrictions apply. See below on fasting in different traditions.






Many Sikhs refrain from eating meat, but not all. Food served in temples is vegetarian.

An Important Note

In many cultures that follow specific dietary laws, it is not only the food itself that may or may not be allowed. The preparation of food is of equal importance in many instances.

What is Halal?

Halal is an Arabic word meaning "lawful or permissible." When it comes to food, this means food that is allowed according to Islamic dietary laws as outlined in the Qur'an. Halal foods run counter to those considered Haram or "not permitted." Standards of Halal can and do vary due to different understandings of Islamic Law by Islamic Scholars. 

While the laws are intricate and extensive, some general rules to follow include: 

  • Pork and pork products (e.g. lard, rennet, etc.) are strictly forbidden. Other animals must be slaughtered according to Islamic law (zabihah) in order to be considered Halal.
    • Gelatin is a pork byproduct and is not permitted. This means a number of candies, desserts, puddings, etc. are haram.
  • Alcohol is not permitted. Special attention should be paid to prepared foods / desserts that can include alcohol in their preparation.
  • Most fruits, vegetables, grains, and pastas (not processed with alcohol or other haram products) are allowed.
  • Cross-contamination with non-Halal meats or products in processing or preparation renders food no longer Halal.
Various Mediterranean foods
Seder plate with matzah and cups of wine

What is Kosher?

The term kosher is a Hebrew term meaning "fit or proper" in reference to Jewish dietary laws. These laws originate in the Bible and are followed to varying degrees by Jews around the world. It is also important to note that not all Jews keep kosher. 

While the laws are intricate and extensive, some general rules to follow include: 

  • A series of laws exist surrounding the appropriate slaughter and preparation of permitted animals. Pork is strictly prohibited.
  • Meat and milk should never be combined. Separate utensils should be used for each, and there is often a waiting period between their consumption.
  • Unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and most grains are almost always considered kosher, although they should be checked for insects.
  • Cross-contamination with non-kosher foods or substances can render a food no longer kosher.
  • Contrary to popular belief, a rabbi does not 'bless' food to make it kosher. In order for food to be considered kosher, all elements involved in the preparation of a meal, including utensils and equipment used, must be kosher-certified. Supervision of this process can be performed by a rabbi or a rabbinic Agency.  

During Passover, an 8-day festival commemorating the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt, additional dietary laws are in effect. For example, Jews who keep kosher refrain from eating leavened bread (chametz) (or any products within which fermentation has taken place) during Passover. The reason being that, when the Jews escaped Egypt, they did not have time to wait for their bread to rise. 

On Fasting

A large number of traditions practice some form of fasting at different occasions throughout the year. This can range from specific foods being temporarily forbidden to complete abstinence from food and water for specific periods of time during the day. Fasting can serve a variety of purposes for practitioners, as well, from reestablishing one's commitment or connection to the divine to atonement to commemoration, among others. Below are a few examples of predominant times of fasting in various traditions.

This list is by no means exhaustive; it is instead a brief sampling of some of the more common fasts. Similarly, it should be noted that not all practitioners practice in the same way! Some may not observe the fasts listed at all, while others may adhere to them strictly, and anywhere in between. In many cases, exceptions from fasting are made for specific groups of people, as well. 


Ramadan: Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and consists of a month-long fast during which most practicing Muslims will refrain from eating food and drinking water every day from pre-dawn until sunset (roughly 6am-8pm, depending upon the season). The month of fasting ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. The dates of Ramadan vary substantially as Islam follows a lunar calendar.

Lent: During the season of Lent in preparation for Easter Sunday, many Christians practice some form of fasting, sometimes in tandem with other forms of abstinence - though practices vary widely across the Christian tradition. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as days of fasting, along with every Friday during the Lenten season. Most forms of Protestant Christianity allow for an individualistic approach to fasting during this season, which can range anywhere from abstinence from certain foods to refraining from social media for the month. Orthodox Christianity views Good Friday as a day for complete fast, while other weekdays in Lent see the restriction of meat, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, and oil.

Yom Kippur: This Day of Atonement in Judaism consists no eating or drinking along with four additional prohibitions: no bathing, no use of perfumes or lotions, no wearing leather shoes, and no sexual relations. Fasting begins at sundown and continues until after nightfall the following day. Yom Kippur takes place in the early Fall, though the specific date varies.

Nineteen-Day Fast: During the 19-day fast, practicing members of the Baha'i faith abstain from both food and water from sunrise to sunset. This fast takes place in early Spring and concludes with the celebration of Naw Ruz, or the Baha'i New Year. 

Fasting in Hinduism: Many practicing Hindus incorporate fasting into their monthly or even weekly routine, such as on Purnima or the full moon day each month. Different days of the week are considered auspicious for certain gods or goddesses, and so fasting on a particular day of the week could be a sign of devotion or gratitude toward a particular deity. Fasting can involve abstaining from food completely, abstaining from specific foods such as salt, or eating only fruits (a diet known as phalahar), which is one form of fasting that takes place during the nine-day festival of Navratri.

Page last modified July 24, 2023