People can live without food for a few weeks, but they cannot live without water for more than a few days.
To fast is not to eat at all or not to eat certain foods for a period of time. Usually people fast for religious reasons. Some people have fasted for political or health reasons, too.
Muslims fast from dawn to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan so that their sins1
will be forgiven. Before dawn they eat a meal called suhur. After sunset they eat a meal called iflar.
Jews fast on the holy day of Yom Kippur to atone2
for their wrongdoings. From sunset to sunset they do not eat or drink anything, not even water. Christians3
fast during Lent, 40 days that commemorate4
the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert. At one time bread and water were the only foods allowed during Lent. Later, meat was the only forbidden food. Today, people fast in many ways, mainly by giving up favorite foods.
Mahatma Gandhi fasted seventeen times while he was the leader of the people of India. He fasted to be close to the people who were starving and to protest5
Cesar Chavez, a leader of the American farmworkers, fasted to stop violence in the struggle for equal rights and fair pay for the workers. His fast lasted 26 days.
Mark Twain, the American writer, thought fasting was a cure for illness. He would cure his colds and fevers by not eating for one or two days.