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. 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.
The Chinese word for food or dishes, cai (Chinese: 菜) 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. Taoist levels of dietary restriction, however, are varied.
- Kohn (1993), p. 149.
- Barbara Hendrischke, University of California Press, Scripture on Great Peace, sect 44
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