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Ital Food and The Rastafarian Lifestyle: Eating Vegan and Organic in Jamaica

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I recently went on a trip to Jamaica with my husband, where we enjoyed some beautiful weather just prior to the impact of Hurricane Tomas.  Unfortunately, we had to cut our relaxation time a little short because the waves were actually coming up from the ocean right on top of the roof of the cottage that we were staying in! The locals told us that this was completely normal and that we were not in any danger, but being our first ever experience of these kinds of weather conditions it felt a little risky for us to stay there overnight.

We spent most of our time in Negril and while we were there we discovered a wonderful vegan and organic roadside eatery. While we are at home, which for most of the last year has been Costa Rica, we eat a very high amount of raw foods in our diet ranging from at least 80% up to 100% if we are going through a cleansing or detox phase. However, when traveling we take a more relaxed attitude because it is often easier to eat out where good quality raw foods are not always available.

After we realized that it was going to be difficult, if not impossible, for us to find raw leafy greens and vegetables in Negril, as well as being shocked at the very high prices of fruit in Jamaica we were really happy to discover Ras Rody’s organic food stall. If you are ever in Negril I encourage you to take a visit. We ate in a few other restaurants while we were there and the food served in this simple establishment was hands-down the best we tasted as well as the cheapest.

Ras Rody prepares his food in accordance with Ital principles of the Rastafarian culture. The word Ital is derived from the English word “vital” with the primary goal of this way of eating being to increase life energy. Ital food should be pure and in its natural form and no oils or salt are used in the cooking process. The use of fire is seen as a purification process, which enhances the digestibility and nutritional value of the food. While some Rastafarians do eat fish, for the large part their diet is vegan as was all of the food prepared by Ras Rody and his children.

We had many conversations with him during our trip and he told us that most of the vegetables he used were grown organically on his own farm and the rest were sourced from other organic suppliers in the area. The daily offerings were pretty much the same each day but we enjoyed the food a lot and felt energized afterward so we ate there almost every day.

There was always a pot of soup containing red beans, onion, herbs, spices, potatoes, pumpkin, and other local root vegetables. Also available was a combo plate that contained a selection of dishes including pumpkin and coconut stew (my favorite), soy ‘meat’ curry, brown rice, callaloo (a local green vegetable that tastes similar to spinach), cabbage and carrots. Occasionally a small portion of salad was also provided.

Personally I stayed away from the soy because I don’t enjoy the texture and find it a challenge for my digestion. But all the rest of the food felt really good to me and I also greatly appreciated the fact that the cabbage and carrots weren’t overcooked and still retained their crunch.

Sometimes fresh juices were available such as carrot, beet, and ginger. Ras Rody also graciously helped us out by supplying us with organic fruit and vegetables from the market such as bananas, papaya, jackfruit, oranges, lettuce, and cucumber, which we used for our breakfast each day.

Even though I prefer eating raw foods most of the time I don’t necessarily believe that a 100% raw food diet is ideal for everyone. There is certainly value in adhering to a purely raw diet for cleansing and detoxification but there can also be a place for high quality cooked vegan foods in a balanced approach to living.

The Ital food we enjoyed in Jamaica felt healthy and nourishing and the experience of eating there and talking with Ras Rody was one of the highlights of our trip. Apparently his recipe book is on the way and this will be a wonderful opportunity for people to learn about Ital food and the Rastafarian culture.

Or better yet. Take a trip to Jamaica and experience it for yourself!

9 comments

    1. Ital diet would be ideal if it took into consideration true grass roots traditional Afrkan food utilizes animal protein both flesh and dairy, cooking and proper food prep, the hard core diet will kill you or send you loopy to say least, we all know its good to add a bit of cucumber to the salad, thanks rasta the grass eating lion GRRRRR

  1. Hi Tazzmia,

    I’m not that familiar with the Ital diet but I think you could make anything using whole and unprocessed vegetarian foods.

    Sweet potatoes and cooked whole grains would be examples, maybe with fresh coconut. We had brown rice in Jamaica and Ras Rody also prepared a kind of pancake made from rice flour with bananas.

    Fresh fruits would also be acceptable. You could make smoothies with banana, pineapple, mango etc.

  2. Pingback: Anonymous
  3. Concerning whole grains nuts and beans you would do well to investigate PHYTIC ACID, true grass roots Afrikan cooking utilized foods fermented, actually all grass root traditional cooking cultures of the world, Americas soaked sprouted and fermented their beans and corn to make tortillas. All traditions had their methods of fermentation. Nobody drank milk from the cow’s udder, yogurt curds keffir cheese butter ghee etc. Milk is digested in it raw state by very few.
    As grains nuts beans are high in phytic acid, fermenting soaking sprouting, neutralizes phytic acid by phytase production. roasting toasting boiling and cooking help in part. The other frowned on method is to remove husk and germ, hence from ancient days [egypt etc] to now, grain is used and stored this way. Ever wondered why the Asians won’t eat brown rice?, there is ancient wisdom in ancient tradition.
    Unfortunately due to the science of the west which disreguards the east traditions and use of herbs as hocus and due to unthoughtful invasive takeovers, few cultures have retained their time consuming traditions for the instant noodle, instant broth and manufactured tofu powered miso etc, actually most cultures have forgotten the ways of tradition.
    Rasta with knowledge could restore traditional world cuisine, Shaman herbs n healing as cooking for health is right down their ally and it is their duty to mankind in service of GOD as the royal priest hood, unfortunately they are too religious selfish and supersticious to see the truth of who they could be to the world, they rejected the great, their GREAT reformer and trample his grave to this day, they hold to the ways of the first gong first rasta and founder of the racist black supremist white hater sect of PINNACLE mountain top, they are kkk in reverse but worse, worse than the antisemitic islamists and nazi.??? Not unlike islam they want america destroyed, not unlike islam they are the chosen, but unlike islam they are the true ISRAEL and africa is the true ZION.
    They havn’t noticed they every bit as competent as the white man in everything they put their hand to, actually leaps and bounds ahead considering the sewer they were raised from, but they winge and bitch while their brothers succeed and surpass white in everything, the greatest men on earth were black, but they hate KING Malcome x Mandela Gandhi and the likes and opt for a dead tyrant that can do nothing for anyone apart from making rasta feel exclusive, so sad so deceived they are no light
    Their messenger, most likely the last the world will recieve on such a personal level was rejected.
    Very sad indeed, the elders hold them in chains of ignorance, abhoring school and education, they cling to the path of ignorance using the bible they hate to justify certain ungodly practices they cling to stubbornly
    on the other hand
    The world needs what they claim to be, experts in herbal medicine, experts in enviroment, experts in caring for and teaching the needy and the greatest of all experts in the worship of the ONE ONLY AND TRUE GOD. KING DAVID was the greatest leader ever known, he was a jew he was a muscian a great muscian and to the jew a great example in word and deed. They rejected their messenger, but BOB lived like David and went out like Sampson, Bob studied worked hard rejected voodooish superticians and devoted his life to GOD in word deed and music, his legacy his example is abhored
    SAD SAD SAD, where is the GOD FEARING rastaman

  4. Concerning whole grains nuts and beans you would do well to investigate PHYTIC ACID, true grass roots Afrikan cooking utilized foods fermented, actually all grass root traditional cooking cultures of the world, Americas soaked sprouted and fermented their beans and corn to make tortillas. All traditions had their methods of fermentation. Nobody drank milk from the cow’s udder, yogurt curds keffir cheese butter ghee etc. Milk is digested in it raw state by very few.
    As grains nuts beans are high in phytic acid, fermenting soaking sprouting, neutralizes phytic acid by phytase production. roasting toasting boiling and cooking help in part. The other frowned on method is to remove husk and germ, hence from ancient days [egypt etc] to now, grain is used and stored this way. Ever wondered why the Asians won’t eat brown rice?, there is ancient wisdom in ancient tradition.
    Unfortunately due to the science of the west which disreguards the east traditions and use of herbs as hocus and due to unthoughtful invasive takeovers, few cultures have retained their time consuming traditions for the instant noodle, instant broth and manufactured tofu powered miso etc, actually most cultures have forgotten the ways of tradition.
    Rasta with knowledge could restore traditional world cuisine, Shaman herbs n healing as cooking for health is right down their ally and it is their duty to mankind in service of GOD as the royal priest hood, unfortunately they are too religious selfish and supersticious to see the truth of who they could be to the world, they rejected the great, their GREAT reformer and trample his grave to this day, they hold to the ways of the first gong first rasta and founder of the racist black supremist white hater sect of PINNACLE mountain top, they are kkk in reverse but worse, worse than the antisemitic islamists and nazi.??? Not unlike islam they want america destroyed, not unlike islam they are the chosen, but unlike islam they are the true ISRAEL and africa is the true ZION.
    They havn’t noticed they every bit as competent as the white man in everything they put their hand to, actually leaps and bounds ahead considering the sewer they were raised from, but they winge and bitch while their brothers succeed and surpass white in everything, the greatest men on earth were black, but they hate KING Malcome x Mandela Gandhi and the likes and opt for a dead tyrant that can do nothing for anyone apart from making rasta feel exclusive, so sad so deceived they are no light
    Their messenger, most likely the last the world will recieve on such a personal level was rejected.
    Very sad indeed, the elders hold them in chains of ignorance, abhoring school and education, they cling to the path of ignorance using the bible they hate to justify certain ungodly practices they cling to stubbornly
    on the other hand
    The world needs what they claim to be, experts in herbal medicine, experts in enviroment, experts in caring for and teaching the needy and the greatest of all experts in the worship of the ONE ONLY AND TRUE GOD. KING DAVID was the greatest leader ever known, he was a jew he was a muscian a great muscian and to the jew a great example in word and deed. They rejected their messenger, but BOB lived like David and went out like Sampson, Bob studied worked hard rejected voodooish superticians and devoted his life to GOD in word deed and music, his legacy his example is abhored
    SAD SAD SAD, where is the GOD FEARING rastaman

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