Taoist diet

While there are many historical and modern schools of Taoism, with different teachings on the subject, it is safe to say that many Taoist priests regard their diet as extremely important to their physical, mental and spiritual health in one way or another, especially where the amount of qi in the food is concerned.


Some early Taoist diets called for bigu (simplified Chinese: 辟谷; traditional Chinese: 辟穀; pinyin: bìgǔ; Wade–Giles: pi-ku; literally: 'avoiding grains'), based on the belief that immortality could be achieved in this way.[1] The ancient Taoist texts of the Taiping Jing suggest that individuals who attained the state of complete ziran would not need food at all, but instead could sustain themselves by absorbing the cosmic qi.[2]


The Chinese word for food or dishes, cai (Chinese: ) originally means green vegetables. The invention of the vegetarian food tofu was credit to a Taoist. Taoist religious orders and literatures often encourage practitioners to be vegetarian to minimize harms, because all life forms are considered sentient.[3] Taoist levels of dietary restriction, however, are varied.


  1. Kohn, Livia (1993). The Taoist Experience: An Anthology. Albany: SUNY. p. 149. ISBN 9780791415795
  2. Hendrischke, Barbara (2015) Scripture on Great Peace, University of California Press. sect. 44. ISBN 9780520286283
  3. Zai, J. (2015). Taoism and Science: Cosmology, Evolution, Morality, Health and more. Ultravisum. ISBN 978-0-9808425-5-5.

Further reading

  • Reid, Daniel P. – The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity: A Modern Practical Guide to the Ancient Way 2001. ISBN 978-0-7434-0907-0
  • Saso, Michael R., A Taoist Cookbook: With Meditations Taken from the Laozi Daode Jing. Tuttle, 1994. (ISBN 0-8048-3037-1)
  • Schipper, Kristofer. The Taoist Body. Berkeley: University of California, 1993.
  • Symonds, Mike. Tai Chi Diet: Food for Life. Life Force Publishing, 2007. (ISBN 0-9542932-8-2)
  • Soo, Chee The Tao of Long Life. Seahorse Books, 2006.
  • Welch, Holmes and Anna Seidel, eds.Facets of Taoism: Essays in Chinese Religion. New Haven: Yale University, 1979.

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