The Truth About Pork: Why is it Considered Unclean to Eat?

The Truth About Pork: Why is it Considered Unclean to Eat?
The Truth About Pork: Why is it Considered Unclean to Eat?

The Truth About Pork: Why is it Considered Unclean to Eat? For those who weren’t raised with the religious ideals that abstain from unclean meats, the idea can seem outdated and unreasonable.

The ebb and flow of pork’s popularity have been a topic of conversation for centuries. The Bible states that “animals who have a split hoof and chew the cud,” are safe to eat. But what does that mean?

While pigs do have a split or cloven hoof, they do not chew the cud, which is why they are deemed unclean by these ancient biblical standards.

But, what are these the standards set to classify this meat as unclean? Why do the hoof type and chewing habits matter? Is pork bad for you?

Read on to find out why is pork unclean, and discover some tasty alternatives so you can enjoy every meal in peace.

Why is Pork Unclean?

When you look at unclean food in the Bible, it can be hard to find reason in the “split hoof” and “chewing cud” requirements. Why is this the basis, and why should we consider this when choosing what to eat?

  • Pork is not Kosher, meaning that it doesn’t fall within the requirements of religious texts.
  • Whatever you eat, you take into your body, and it becomes part of you. (You are what you eat!)
  • When you ingest unclean foods, you become less clean.
  • It’s said not only to withhold from eating pig, but you also shouldn’t touch their flesh, living or dead.

When did Pork Fall Out of Favor?

It is well known that both the Islamic and Jewish communities don’t eat or touch pigs.

But, early history shows that people once ate all domesticated farm animals. Around 1,000 B.C., everything changed as people were on the move more. Pigs are slow and lazy by nature, so they don’t make the best travel companions.

Pigs also require more space, food, and water to thrive, which makes them less efficient than smaller food sources, like chickens. Also, since pigs aren’t picky eaters, they would be competition for food with their owners. In hot, dry regions where these religions originated, this would mean that pigs would be a threat to human survival.

Throughout Medieval times, as people cleared land to build homes and villages, pigs were often found roaming the streets. They often dined on dumped chamber pots (toilets) or the unburied dead, since both were abundant.

Pig meat was a popular food choice through the east and for those exploring the oceans. Since pigs can have about 15, fast-growing piglets a year, they were smart choices for those who needed sustenance. They are also able to feed on plants, grains, and food scraps, which was helpful for those starting lives in new regions.

With grocery stores on almost every corner now, the need for these fast producing, high-fat meats aren’t necessary. We don’t walk for miles every day or hunt for our foods, so why are pork products still a staple on many dining tables?

Why is Pork Unhealthy?

Not only is pork one of the most notably unclean meats, but it’s also one of the least healthy. While it may be inexpensive to buy from your grocer, here are some more reasons why you shouldn’t choose it for you and your family.

  • Pork is high in cholesterol and can increase your risks of deadly diseases.
  • Pig farms let off high levels of odor and waste, which is damaging to the environment.
  • Most pig factories are overcrowded without adequate ventilation or cleanliness practices in place. Filth in these concentrations means that your meat will become contaminated.
  • Pigs can’t sweat, so whatever they eat and how they live will stay in their fat even after death. Since they are scavenger feeders, this includes feces and decaying matter.
  • Pig livers are one of the leading carriers of Hepatitis E. This disease can cause several acute health problems, but can also lead to liver failure and death.

What Other Meats are Clean & Which are Unclean?

There are four major groups that the Bible has split into clean and unclean for consumption. Below are a few of each to get you started.

Flying Animals

Clean: These are the birds that you will usually see at the market.

  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Pheasant
  • Turkey

Unclean: The Bible recommends NOT eating these

  • Carrion birds like vultures, gulls, crows, owls, and hawk
  • Bat
  • Albatross
  • Heron


Clean: Insects that have jointed/jumping legs.

  • Locust
  • Some Crickets
  • Grasshoppers

Unclean: All other insects outside of this family are unclean.

Land Animals:

Clean: This is where the cud and hoof outline comes into play. Clean land animals are those like:

  • Cows
  • Deer
  • Sheep
  • Goat

Unclean: This section has several subcategories:

  • Swine like pigs and boars
  • Canines like dogs, coyotes, and foxes
  • Felines like cats, lions, and panthers
  • Equine like donkeys, horses, and zebras
  • Others like armadillos, bears, kangaroos, and rats

Water Animals:

Clean: Fish that have fins and scales like:

  • Bass
  • Cod
  • Grouper
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

Unclean: Those without fins and scales are in groups as well.

  • Fish like catfish, eels, and marlins
  • Shellfish like clams, crabs, and shrimps
  • Soft body like jellyfish, octopus, and squids
  • Sea Mammals like dolphins, seals, and whales

How to Maintain a Clean Diet

Now that you know why is pork unclean, keep track of your dietary habits, so you always know what you’re eating.

To keep yourself on a clean, pure diet, you will need to watch what you eat. If you stick to whole foods, you will easily know every ingredient.

Anytime you buy prepackaged foods, read every label.

If you eat out at a restaurant, make sure that you know how they prepare your food and what is in it.

According to religious texts, your food shouldn’t touch unclean food either. Many dishes could become cross-contaminated in the kitchen. If you let the staff know that you have food requirements, the establishment should be respectful of your needs.

Often, it comes down to your personal beliefs and how strict you feel you should be.

If you want some help creating a clean diet, consider searching the rest of this site for professional guidance on food. It doesn’t get much easier than a whole meal plan with recipes that can help you stay on track to your goals!





The Truth About Pork: Why is it Considered Unclean to Eat?

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