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9 Jehovah’s Witness Dietary Restrictions You Probably Didn’t Know

Jehovah’s Witnesses form a Christian group that believes that the Bible is the inspired word of God and the final authority for their faith and practice.

They follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as their Saviour and King.

They are well-known for their door-to-door preaching, refusal of blood transfusions, and expectation of a future paradise on earth.

But did you know that Jehovah’s Witnesses also have some dietary restrictions that may surprise you?

Here are 9 restrictions you probably didn’t know about.

1. No Blood or Blood Products

This is the most important and distinctive dietary restriction for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They believe that the Bible prohibits the eating of blood in any form, whether it is animal or human, whole or fractional, fresh or processed.

They base this on scriptures such as Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:10-14, Acts 15:28-29, and Acts 21:25.

They view blood as sacred and belonging to God, and they respect it as a symbol of life.

Therefore, they avoid eating foods like blood sausage, blood soup, black pudding, haggis, or any meat that has not been properly bled.

They also reject blood transfusions and some blood-derived products for medical reasons.

2. No Tobacco or Illicit Drugs

Jehovah’s Witnesses abstain from smoking or using any form of tobacco, as well as from abusing any drugs that are illegal or harmful to their health.

The JWs believe that the Bible commands them to keep their body clean and holy and to avoid anything that defiles or damages it.

They base this on scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, and Galatians 5:19-21.

 They view tobacco and illicit drugs as addictive substances that impair their mental and physical abilities, harm their relationship with God, and endanger their life and that of others.

3. No Excessive Alcohol

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not prohibit the moderate use of alcohol, as long as it does not cause drunkenness or addiction.

They believe that the Bible allows the consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages for enjoyment and health benefits, but also warns against the dangers of overindulgence and intoxication.

They base this on scriptures such as Psalm 104:15, Ecclesiastes 9:7, 1 Timothy 5:23, Proverbs 20:1, and Ephesians 5:18.

 The community view alcohol as a gift from God that can be used wisely or foolishly, depending on one’s self-control and conscience.

4. No Food Is Offered To Idols

Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid eating any foods that have been dedicated or sacrificed to idols or false gods.

JWs believe that the Bible forbids them to participate in any form of idolatry or to have fellowship with demons.

They base this on scriptures such as Exodus 20:3-6, Deuteronomy 12:29-32, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, and Revelation 2:14-16.

They view foods offered to idols as contaminated by pagan practices and beliefs and as a potential source of spiritual harm.

5. No Foods Containing Gelatine From Pigs Or Cows

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not eat gelatine derived from pigs or cows, because they consider it to be a blood product.

 They believe that gelatine is made from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals, which contain blood cells and plasma.

They base this on their interpretation of the biblical prohibition of blood (refer to the explanation in point 1).

They view gelatine from pigs or cows as a violation of their conscience and a disrespect for God’s law.

6. No Foods Containing Cochineal or Carmine

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not eat foods that contain cochineal or carmine, which are red colorants derived from insects.

The JW community believe that the Bible prohibits the eating of insects (except for locusts) because they are unclean animals that crawl on the ground.

They base this on scriptures such as Leviticus 11:20-23, Deuteronomy 14:19-20, and Isaiah 66:17.

They view cochineal or carmine as disgusting and unfit for human consumption.

7. No Foods Containing Rennet from Animals

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not eat foods that contain rennet from animals, such as cheese or yogurt.

Rennet is an enzyme extracted from the stomachs of calves or other ruminants, which is used to coagulate milk into curds for cheese making.

The organization believe that rennet is a blood product (refer to point 1) because it comes from an organ that contains blood vessels and cells.

They view rennet from animals as a violation of their conscience and a disrespect for God’s law.

8. No Foods Containing Vanilla Extract or Alcohol-Based Flavorings

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not eat foods that contain vanilla extracts or alcohol-based flavorings, such as rum, brandy, or whiskey.

They believe that these substances are alcoholic and can cause intoxication or addiction (as explained in point 3).

They base this on their interpretation of the biblical command to be sober and alert.

The faith view vanilla extract or alcohol-based flavorings as a potential source of spiritual weakness and temptation.

9. No Foods Containing Caffeine or Other Stimulants

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not prohibit the use of caffeine or other stimulants, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, or energy drinks, but they advise their members to use them with caution and moderation.

The JW community believe that the Bible encourages them to be balanced and reasonable in all things and to avoid anything that can harm their health or affect their judgment.

They base this on scriptures such as Philippians 4:5, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Romans 14:17-18.

They view caffeine or other stimulants as substances that can have positive or negative effects, depending on one’s response and situation.

Are There Any Exceptions Or Special Occasions When Jehovah’s Witnesses May Deviate From Their Dietary Restrictions?

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have any exceptions or special occasions when they may deviate from their dietary restrictions.

They believe that their dietary restrictions are based on God’s will and principles and that they should obey them at all times and in all circumstances.

They base this on scriptures such as Matthew 4:4, John 14:15, and 1 John 5:3.

 The organization view their dietary restrictions as a way of showing their love and loyalty to God, and as a means of protecting their physical and spiritual health.

However, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not judge or condemn others who do not share their dietary restrictions.

They respect the freedom and conscience of each individual, and they do not impose their views on anyone.

They base this on scriptures such as Romans 14:1-13, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, and Colossians 2:16-23.

The JW community view their dietary restrictions as a personal choice and a matter of faith, not as a requirement for salvation or a cause for division.

Also Read:

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15 Jehovah’s Witness Wife Rules You Probably Didn’t Know

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe In Vaccinations?

50 Questions Jehovah Witnesses Cannot Answer

How to Navigate Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only, offering insights into Jehovah’s Witness dietary restrictions. Readers are encouraged to approach the content with an open mind, acknowledging diverse interpretations and practices within the faith. It does not impose judgments or dictate beliefs but fosters a respectful exploration of the subject matter. For specific advice, consulting authoritative sources within the Jehovah’s Witness community is recommended. This post does not replace guidance from religious authorities.

Faith Zion

Faith Zion is a passionate expert in African culture, history, and mythology, with a focus on ancient African history. As a PhD candidate in History, she has dedicated her academic journey to unraveling the mysteries of African art, religion, and mythology, particularly during the Predynastic period. With years of experience in the field, Faith's extensive research has enriched her knowledge in various mythological traditions, including African, Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, Japanese, and more.

Faith Zion
Faith Zion is a passionate expert in African culture, history, and mythology, with a focus on ancient African history. As a PhD candidate in History, she has dedicated her academic journey to unraveling the mysteries of African art, religion, and mythology, particularly during the Predynastic period. With years of experience in the field, Faith's extensive research has enriched her knowledge in various mythological traditions, including African, Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, Japanese, and more.
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