Can You Eat Beef In Bali? (Legality Check!)

Beef is legal in Bali, but people who believe in Hindu and Buddhist spirituality abstain from eating beef.

Bali is known for being a highly spiritual place, which contributes to its tourism too. It is a province of Indonesia and the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Most of the population follows Hinduism, which refrains from beef consumption.

So, does this mean you can not eat beef in Bali? If so, is it criminal to eat beef, or is it related to the religious sentiments of the communities living there?

This is what we will be covering in this article. We will also discuss if cows are considered holy animals in the province or if Balinese culture has codified religious laws for everyone in the community.

We will only be going a little into the legalities and technicalities of meat consumption. Still, we will base our entire study on whether you can eat beef in Bali.

Do People In Bali Eat Beef?

Can You Eat Beef In Bali?

People of diverse cultures live in Bali and help tourism flourish. However, the Hindus and Buddhists in the province refrain from eating beef.

Bali is known for its spirituality, given that people in the community follow different religions that have established their codified religious laws over time.

It is often described as an island where the East meets the West and where Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism co-exist peacefully next to each other. This is why Bali is famous for its temples, worship places, and beautiful and scenic nature.

Although most of Indonesia is mainly Muslim, Bali itself is firmly rooted in Balinese Hinduism, which originated from Java as ‘Agama Hindu Dharma.’

Hinduism is the dominant religion in Bali and has many adherents in Lombok. Local religions often branched out from Hinduism, and practices related to it, are practiced in some remote areas.

Thus, it can not be denied that Balinese culture has a lot of hints of Hindu culture embedded in it, which means that most people abstain from eating beef in Bali.

Although it can be argued that the Balinese Hindu culture is much more flexible than the Hinduism followed in India precisely. The community around them shapes the social laws and cultures related to religion. Generally, you will not see many people who eat beef in Bali.

There may be households or cafes, and restaurants that serve beef to tourists on request, but many refrain from cooking or eating cattle meat altogether.

Is Eating Beef Crime In Bali?

No, eating beef is not a crime in Bali.

Though many people refrain from eating or serving cattle meat in Bali, no law criminalizes the sale and consumption of beef. 

Many diners and restaurants serve beef to customers and tourists.

Beef is an essential food in Indonesian culture and traditional cuisine. However, consumption is relatively low compared to fish/seafood and broiler chicken.

Many argue that Balinese Hindus also sometimes indulge in cattle meat because of the absence of fanaticism and extremism among the sects.

However, most Hindus and Buddhists follow the codified religious laws that are not influenced by the Balinese community and culture and still refrain from eating beef.

Are Cows Holy In Bali?

Cows are holy animals to Balinese Hindus, who abstain from eating cattle meat whenever possible.

The cows, especially the indigenous white cows, are considered holy in the Balinese culture, and communities often abstain from selling and consuming their meat around the province.

The holy white cow in Taro Village is different than the other cows in Indonesia. This sacred cow has white leather and feather. The iris is limpid, the horn color is more faded than the other, and it can’t be exposed to direct sunlight.

There are currently about 40 indigenous white cows in Taro village, which are preserved by the local community, who are now building a cage for maintaining their health and keeping their population.

The indigenous white cows, often called Nandini or descendants of Nandini, are worshipped. A statue of it is also erected in Bali Safari Park. The indigenous cows of Bali do not produce milk; thus, no milking tradition is also found on the island.

However, this also sparks the interest of two schools of thought, one of which claims the cows to be the Holy Mother, as in Hindu culture. The other believes that Bali has no milking culture, so this can not be applied to Balinese Hindus.

Although many local people, as well as tourists, still eat beef in Bali. But it mostly depends on the religious faith of the people.

Do People In Other Parts Of Indonesia Eat Beef?

Yes, people in Indonesia, other than Bali, eat beef. Although the consumption is still relatively low as compared to other countries.

Beef is an essential food in Indonesian culture and traditional cuisine. However, consumption is relatively low compared to fish/seafood and broiler chicken.

Beef is purchased by a significantly lower proportion of Jakartan and Medanese respondents than fish/seafood and broiler chicken.

Beef is significantly more likely to be purchased for weekly in-home cooking in Jakarta, about 34%, than in Medan, about 28%.

Upper-class households also prefer beef consumption as their primary protein source to lower-class families. The difference between current consumption and preference for beef indicates that meat is still an aspirational protein choice for cooking in the home.

While seafood remains a primary protein source for people eating out of their homes, meal choice in Indonesia has been influenced by increased exposure to international cuisines. 

This is particularly evident in Jakarta, which is regarded as a melting pot of cultures, religions, and ethnicities for its transactionality. The people of Medan are less exposed to international influence, and adherence to traditional values and customs is more prevalent.

However, beef consumption in Indonesia has remained stagnant in the past four years. It is expected to be so in the next two years, primarily because of the increased consumption of cheaper beef alternatives.

Final Remarks

There needed to be more information regarding beef consumption in Bali. In this article, I tackled that by creating a definitive guide on the subject.

Let’s briefly go over this topic once again.

Can you eat beef in Bali? People in Bali who believe in Hindu and Buddhist spirituality abstain from eating beef. However, no law criminalizes the sale and consumption of meat.