Ital is Vital


If you’re even a casual listener of reggae music, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard the word “Ital” mentioned at one time or another. Ital has been translated from Jamaican patois slang as “pure,” and that’s appropriate, especially when taking into account that Ital is usually mentioned in connection with food or cooking.

So what is Ital food? Simply put, Ital food is organic, non-processed food from the earth (that is, vegetarian, by most definitions). “Ital is vital” best summarizes the Rastafarian belief that pure food from the earth is the most physically and spiritually beneficial. Interestingly, while table salt is not considered Ital because of the chemical processing it undergoes, ganja (marijuana) is considered Ital since it is smoked in its natural state. Even more, ganja is considered as an holy herb that can be used in pretty much any recipe.

An Ital diet is nearly vegan (some recipes contain honey as an optional sweetener) and prohibits tobacco (because of the heavy processing), alcohol, and other drugs. Milk is referred to as “white blood” (Rastafari Selassie I Center, Finland) and is therefore not included in an Ital diet.

So, no milk, no flesh, no processing… the recipes must be bland, right? If you’re visiting the Veg Blog, you’re probably well aware of how satisfying vegetarian meals can be. Indeed, Ital dishes often contain a variety of herbs and spices as well as a wide range of exotic fruits and vegetables. While some of these may be hard to hunt down if you’re not on a Carribean island, others are readily available to be cooked up “inna Ital stylee.”

A good place to start looking at Ital recipes is online, through one of the links below. As far as cookbooks go, there’s only one that I know of, and that is The Rasta Cookbook: Vegetarian Cuisine Eaten With the Salt of the Earth, compiled in 1993 by Laura Osborne. The eggplant dish is especially good.

Ital Links

Earth Culture Roots
Click on “Ital recipes” on the right side (it uses frames and doesn’t allow direct links). Contains a good number of ital vegan recipes.

An active, quality discussion list that focuses on ital/raw vegan food as well as the Rasta lifestyle.
A series of recipes in several categories: Drinks, Soups, Porridge, Main Courses, Breads and Cakes

Ital cooking – necessity or religious fervor?
A lengthy article about why Ital cooking may have been born more out of necessity rather than religious ideology.

Root Nattie: Ital is Vital Discussion/Reasoning Forum

Rastafari Selassie I Center, Finland

16 Responses to “Ital is Vital”

  1. Gaby

    La importancia de recurrir a métodos alternativos que no lastimen la vida, que no violen la integridad física y moral de animales y personas, es el derecho a la vida misma, es la justica que la naturaleza respeta, no pasar ensima del otro, tolerar y reconocer la diferencia entre cada uno de los individuos integrantes de esta raza, la única, la raza humana.

  2. Fred

    Praise be unto the most High for giving InI the strength & energy. Well let me thank you for good work you are doing. I’ve gat a problem that I think you help me out, I have this skin problem that i’ve tried treating but i’ve nto been able to. So an Ital brethren advised on Ital diet but i dont where to start from, so please help me out

  3. zahira

    very informative, thank u!

  4. kittee

    I thought you might also like to know about Delicious Jamaica, Vegetarian Cuisine, by Yvone McCalla Sobers available from the Book Publishing Company.


  5. semra

    hi to all, i am a turkish woman married to a jamaican rasta. since i ‘ve learnt about ital food many years ago, i have never looked back, my whole family have benefited from wholesome food my children only eat food prepared from natural ingredients as my husbands way of life has greatly influenced my family. Ital is definatly vital. thanks

  6. Mimi


    I am looking for some good Ital shake recipes, such as ones using Irish moss, so it is good and thick and filling, also protein…


  7. Rocky Chin

    Ital recipes all the way

  8. Jen

    Where can I find the eggplant dish recipe??? I bought The Rasta Cookbook thinking it was in that, but it isn’t. Is there a link somewhere for the recipe??


  9. Jen

    Nevermind… I realized that aubergine is actually the eggplant… thanks :)

  10. Jesse Pauly

    Health is Wealth…..Rastas may be the largest community worldwide that supports natural and organic. For creation and from creation. Give Thanks, Jah Provides ATTN: Abandon unnatural customs

  11. MauricioZ

    Hi hey I like the info… actually I am gonna include a link on my blog… but… I really dislike the “I kill…” thing… I think we must respect all life, and that includes the vegetables… I am a vegetarian and I eat many vegetables that die for me to eat, but that is a transitional thing… I will get to a point when I will not need to kill anything to eat… and that is a bit utopic, but frutarianism, is the way… and even further… but well… I like your blog… except for that little part… good info!

  12. Rasjoseph

    Ital is Vital!
    Checkout my website for Jamaican Ital stews, Natural juices, Ital curry stews and Vegetarian/Rastafarian recipes.
    Universal Love to you all!

  13. italandveganworld

    Keep up the good work.
    One love, One heart!

  14. Lucy

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been interested in this diet plan for a long time. You can learn more about it here: It’s another resource which talks about this diet.

  15. Rasta Clothing

    Ital is the way. Feed the body with clean food not processed. Thanks for the rasta cook book link.

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