Just say "no" to Turkey, Dog, and Eel!

There are quite a few Daoist precepts about food. Food precepts are one of the more flexible categories of precepts, firstly because humans are so dynamic and secondly because so many other precepts can trump food precepts.  After all, if you are starving eat!

On the other hand, most of the precepts have some solid reason behind them.  Monastic Daoists often followed their Buddhist roots and went with vegetatianism.  While hermit Daoists usually had more limited food choices, so more flexibility.  However, if you have a choice and you are practicing meditation, the category of "hot" or 'heat producing" foods is to be avoided because it has a tendency to make you alternately horny and sleepy. 

Sexual fantasy and sleepiness make it difficult to stay still.  But in my experience, being with extended family is even more disturbing to a meditation practice.  Family quirks that you have managed to escape for most of the year, screaming children, an annoying conversation--these all have a tendency to make us squirm.

So a piece of advice, if you are just starting a meditation practice (meaning less than five years of practice) avoid the turkey.  Turkey is called Huoji in Chinese, Fire Chicken.  It falls in to the category of "hot" foods along with dog and eel. 

Besides being "hot," dog was used (and probably still is) as a blood sacrifice.  Black dogs specifically were used to replace human sacrifices in an earlier era.  Daoists are of course forbidden from participating in blood sacrifice as any deity which drinks blood is by definition demonic.

Eel is also "heat producing," and I believe that fresh water eel somehow competed with rice cultivation in traditional Chinese villages. 

If there is a lot of pressure on you to participate in the turkey ritual, perhaps you can limit your precept violations by compromising with just a little Wild Turkey.  While it is "heat producing," it may dull the influence of extended family entaglements.