Eating plays a prominent role in every major religion, from the Christmas ham in Christianity to the Passover Seder in Judaism, comprised of matzo ball soup, roast chicken, and many more traditional foods. Specially prepared feasts mark significant occasions that trace back to ancient times when food was scarce, and while famine still exist in areas today, feasting is more common than ever. The abundance of food has led to issues such as obesity, organic vs. inorganic farming, ethical agricultural practices, and fair trade, to name a few. Religion publishers are shedding light on some of the problems in three new books, examining how faith can change common attitudes about food and improve eating habits.

Let’s Eat: Jewish Food and Faith

By Lori Stein and Ronald H. Isaacs (R&L, Nov.)

Author Stein teams up with Rabbi Isaacs to demonstrate the connection between Jewish food and the values, traditions, and history of Judaism in order to help readers better understand the religion. The book, which features 40 recipes, follows a timeline of Jewish history with a focus on food, including how foods have appeared on the Jewish menu and the ways Jews have influenced, and been influenced by, other nations. 

Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food [With CD (Audio)]

By Jan Chozen Bays (Shambhala, Nov.)

Pediatrician and Zen teacher Bays argues that bringing one’s full attention to the process of eating can lead to a healthier relationship with food. According to the author, mindful eating can result in feeling greater satisfaction while eating less, smarter food choices, and more. The book comes with an audio program featuring specific introductory exercises. 

Eating Ethically: Religion and Science for a Better Diet

By Jonathan Crane (Columbia Univ., Dec.)

Crane, an ethicist and philosopher, examines why eating has become an ethical dilemma today due to conflicting scientific studies and confusing environmental and economic factors. He presents a strategy for eating healthier that draws on medicine, philosophy, biology, and teachings from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that promote personal health and social cohesion.