Cook the Rasta way

Brixton is home to cuisines from all over the world and Rastafarian Ital food is one of them. Sister Marcia Cunningham of the Brixton-based Rastafari Movement UK explains its background and benefits and suggests some recipes you can try, buying your ingredients locally, of course – why not try one this weekend?

red yellow green peppers sliced

The diet of the Rastafari movement throughout the world is a vegetarian one, principally intended to improve health, wellbeing and energy.

It is thought by Rastafari that being vegetarian or vegan is to be closer to the universal energy and life force and that it is important to avoid bringing death to God’s creatures.

Being an “Italist” is one way of respecting life and doing no harm to others. And Rastafari see Ital living also as a way of doing no harm to oneself.

Following an Ital diet is one of the key spiritual practices of Rastafari.

Leonard Howell, one of the early leaders of the Rastafarian movement, is thought to have introduced the concept of Ital in the 1930s after becoming interested in the diet of indentured Indian servants in Jamaica.

Ital stew is a vegetarian dish aligned with the Rastafari movement globally, focusing on unprocessed foods and simple, delicate flavours. 

Recipes for two Ital stews and a lasagne on following pages