Most people who practice the Jewish religion eat a balanced diet that includes all the five major food groups. These five food groups are fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, grains, cereals, and pasta, dairy products, including yogurt, and meats, fish, eggs, and nuts. Some food pyramids include a sweets or desserts category as well. All the while, the Jewish people ensure that the foods they are consuming are kosher according to Jewish tradition.

Some people; however, decide to become vegetarians or vegan. But what does this mean when it comes to kosher eating and maintaining this important part of the Jewish faith?

First, let’s define what it means to be vegetarian. A person who adheres to the vegetarian diet is one who eats only fruits and vegetables. Of course, very few vegetarians may include fish and eggs in their diet, but these individuals are few and far between. Vegan, on the other hand, takes vegetarianism to the extreme. People who follow a vegan diet do not eat anything that is from an animal or made by animals. This means that they follow rigorous eating habits and avoid all kinds of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, as well as honey. Also, most vegans do not use any product that is tested on animals. If you would like to know more about the vegetarian diet, is a good place to start.

So how do vegetarians remain faithful to the dietary laws within the Jewish faith? It’s not a difficult as you might think. Did you know that in the Book of Genesis God told Adam and Eve what foods they were allowed to eat?

Since Judaism is a religion that speaks to all aspects of life, it has much to say about one of life’s most commonplace activities, eating. The Jewish dietary laws, also known as the Laws of Kashrut, or Kosher Laws, are fundamental in Judaism. They regulate virtually every aspect of eating for members of the Jewish community… Kashrut includes which foods may be eaten.

Since eating vegetation and foods from the earth was God’s original plan for humanity, it is easy for a vegetarian to practice Judaism and keep its Kosher Laws. Jewish Kosher Laws not only dictate what foods may or may not be eaten, but they also have specific instructions for slaughtering and butchering the animals. These slaughtering guidelines were put in place because the Jewish faith also teaches that animals are part of God’s creation and must be respected. When Jewish butchers slaughter an animal, they make the process as fast as possible so that the animal experiences minimal pain. This process is out of compassion and respect for the animal.

Another benefit of being a vegetarian within the Jewish faith is that you do not have to have two separate place settings, cooking utensils, and cookware for your dietary needs. The Kashrut instructs that all meat and dairy products be prepared on and eaten with different kitchen items, including separate sinks and ovens. This is not a problem for a person who consumes a vegetarian diet even if they eat eggs and fish as they are considered parav (neither milk or meat).

There is one stipulation that needs to be followed in order for vegetables and fruit to be kosher.  They need to be carefully inspected for insects.  It is strictly forbidden to eat insects in the Jewish religion and many vegetables such as lettuce and broccoli are prone to having insects on them.  These vegetables need to be thoroughly cleaned and inspected before they can be eaten.

As you can see, there is not a conflict in being vegetarian or vegan and a person who practices Judaism. They easily go hand in hand.

You maybe wondering why a meat restaurant and deli like Kohn’s is writing an article on how easy it is to be a kosher vegetarian.  Even though we are known for our “Killer” pastrami we also serve many delicious vegetarian dishes such as our Veggie Chef salad or Falafel in pita.  The next time you are thinking of a place to eat consider Kohn’s where we cater for all palates, the meat eater as well as the vegetarian.