When the word Rastafarian comes to mind, many people tend to think of ganja smoking Jamaicans. Though being of Jamaican descent myself, I never took a closer look at the Rastafarian movement (I just knew my mother would kill me if I ever dated one). It wasn’t until I first watched the Bob Marley documentary Marley that I learned the rich set of principles that guides the Rastafarian way of life.
Besides the deeply spiritual aspect, Rastafarians follow specific diet, exercise, and environmental guidelines in accordance to the Bible. Rastas eat a limited amount of meat (or none at all) and as instructed in the Old Testament, they do not eat pork or shellfish. Those who do not eat meat, believe that to touch meat is to touch death (which is stated in the Bible). In fact, many Rastafarians maintain a vegan diet and fast to cleanse the body. Alcohol and smoking cigarettes is also frowned upon in the Rastafarian culture due to the idea that the body is Jah’s temple (marijuana is considered okay because it is a natural herb, which they smoke as part of their worship to Jah). Along the same lines of treating the body well, Rastafarians also believe in exercising the body daily to keep it strong and healthy. Because Rastas also believe in living close to nature, they try to treat the earth, air, and water with the utmost respect by not contributing to pollution and being an active voice against environmental degradation.
As an individual of Jamaican descent, I have a disposition of fondness for all color, kinds, and creeds of the Jamaican diaspora. However, I feel a deeper connection to the Rastafarian movement because of these guiding principles. In all of the things they do, Rastafarians treat other people and the environment with the highest of care. These principles are something that many people could learn a thing or two from.
By Danielle Palmer