Am I a Buddhist Because I am Vegetarian?

Teaching at the Intersections of Religion and Food


  • Jason W. M. Ellsworth Dalhousie University / University of Prince Edward Island



Buddhism, Food, Pedagogy, Classification, Identity


Food can be a wonderful way to approach the theoretical realm in studying and teaching on the concept of religion. In this article, I share what I find to be a successful approach for teaching social theory via my own research on food and religion. This approach is as much about how the categories of food and religion “intersect,” as it is about comparing how they are socially constructed and how social relations are constantly being constituted in these processes. I provide two short examples of how I go about this task followed by some final remarks on what helps structure my courses in this manner. This is but a brief glimpse into the trajectory I aim for in my teaching methodology- one that helps students see the relevance of social theory in their everyday lives.

Author Biography

Jason W. M. Ellsworth, Dalhousie University / University of Prince Edward Island

Jason W. M. Ellsworth, a doctoral student in the Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University, and is a Sessional Lecturer in the Departments of Religious and Studies and Sociology & Anthropology at the University of Prince Edward Island. His research interests include the Anthropology of Religion, Food Studies, Buddhism in North America, Marketing and Economy, Transnationalism, and Orientalism.


Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities. London: Verso.

Brown, Dan. 2003. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Doubleday.

Dalai Lama. 1999. Live in a Better Way: Reflections on Truth, Love, and Happiness. Edited by Renuka Singh. New York: Penguin Compass.

Ellsworth, Jason W. M. 2010. “Transcending Cultural Borders via the Sak Yant: Angelina Jolie’s Adoptive Buddhism.” Over Dinner: The Laurier M. A. Journal of Religion and Culture 2: 133–46.

———. 2017. “Is Tom Brady Vegan, Vegetarian, or Just Another Ominvore?” Culture on the Edge blog.

Howard, Dan, John Calley, Brian Grazer, and Akiva Goldsman. 2006. The Da Vinci Code. Directed by Dan Howard, Columbia Pictures.

Chaudhuri, Soma. 2013. Witches, Tea Plantations, and Lives of Migrant Laborers in India: Tempest in a Teapot. Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books.

Martin, Craig. 2012. A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion. London: Routledge.

McCutcheon, Russell T. 2001. Critics Not Caretakers. Albany: State University of New York Press.

———. 2014. Studying Religion: An Introduction. London: Routledge.

Nattier, Jan. 1998. “Who Is a Buddhist? Charting the Landscape of Buddhist America.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America, edited by Charles S. Prebish and
Kenneth K. Tanaka, 183–95. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ramey, Steven. 2014. “Changing Symbols and the Swastika.” Culture on the Edge blog.

Tweed, Thomas. 2002. “Who Is a Buddhist? Night-Stand Buddhists and Other Creatures.” In Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia, edited by Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann, 17–33. Berkeley: University of California Press.



How to Cite

Ellsworth, J. (2017). Am I a Buddhist Because I am Vegetarian? Teaching at the Intersections of Religion and Food. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 46(2), 26–29.