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Frequestly Asked Questions About:
Judaism and Vegetarianism

By Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.

1. What is Jewish about vegetarianism?

All the reasons for becoming vegetarian can be connected to important Jewish values.  These include taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, helping hungry people, and seeking and pursuing peace.  As later responses indicate, many teachings in the Torah, the Talmud, and other sacred Jewish texts can be used to argue that vegetarianism is the diet most consistent with Jewish values.

2. Don't Jews have to eat meat to honor the Sabbath and to rejoice on Jewish holidays?

Rabbi Yehudah, the son of Bathyra, one of the outstanding sages of the Talmudic period, stated that the obligation to eat meat for rejoicing only applied at the time when the Temple was in existence. (Talmud: Pesachim 109a) He added that after the destruction of the Temple one should rejoice with wine. Based on this, Rabbi Yishmael stated, "From the day that the Holy Temple was destroyed, it would have been right to have imposed upon ourselves a law prohibiting the eating of flesh.  (Talmud: Baba Batra 60b) The reason that the rabbis did not make such a law was that they felt that most Jews were not ready to accept it.  (It was also thought then that meat was necessary for proper nutrition.)
In a scholarly article in The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (Fall, 1981), Rabbi Alfred Cohen, editor of the Journal and spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Canarsie concludes that "If a person is more comfortable not eating meat, there would be no obligation for him to do so on the Sabbath" and... "we may clearly infer that, eating meat, even on a Festival is not mandated by the halacha (Jewish law) He also points out that..."the Shulchan Aruch (of Beit Yosef) which is the foundation for normative law for Jews today, does not insist upon the necessity to eat meat as simchat Yom Tov (making the holiday joyful)".
In a response, an answer to a question based on Jewish law, Rabbi Moshe Halevi Steinberg of Kiryat Yam, Israel, stated, "One whose soul rebels against eating living things can without any doubt fulfill the commandment of enhancing the Sabbath and rejoicing on festivals by eating vegetarian foods.... Each person should delight in the Sabbath according to his own sensibility, enjoyment, and outlook. In the same response, R. Steinberg pointed out that there is no barrier or impediment to converting a non-Jew who is a vegetarian, since vegetarianism in no sense contradicts Jewish law.
Eating meat is a distress and torment to those who loathe it.  Thus, the reverse of the argument applies: it is sinful for such people to suffer distress by eating flesh on the Sabbath and holy days.
Can sensitive, compassionate people enhance a joyous occasion by eating meat knowing that, related to the preparation of their food, animals are cruelly treated, grains are fed to animals while millions starve, the environment is threatened, and their health is being impaired?
   3. What was God's original diet for human beings?
   God's initial intention was that people should be vegetarians:
     And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed
     which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is
     the fruit of a tree yielding seed--to you it shall be for food."
   The famous Jewish Torah commentator, Rashi (1040-1105), stated the
   following about God's first dietary law:
     God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature and to eat
     its flesh. Only every green herb shall they all eat together.
     (Commentary on Genesis 1:29)
   Many other Torah commentators agree with this assessment, including
   Abraham Ibn Ezra (1092-1167), Maimonides (1135-1214), Nachmanides
   (1194-1270), and Rabbi Joseph Albo (died in 1444). Later scholars such
   as Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), Moses Cassuto (1883-1951),
   and Nechama Leibowitz (born 1905), also concur. Cassuto, for example,
   in his commentary "From Adam to Noah" (p. 58) stated:
     You are permitted to use the animals and employ them for work, have
     dominion over them in order to utilize their services for your
     subsistence, but must not hold their life cheap nor slaughter them
     for food. Your natural diet is vegetarian.
   The Talmud agrees that people were initially vegetarians: "Adam was
   not permitted meat for purposes of eating." (Sanhedrin 59b)
   The great 13th century Jewish philosopher Nachmanides stated that this
   initial dietary law was
     because living creatures possess a moving soul and a certain
     spiritual superiority which in this respect makes them similar to
     those who possess intellect (people) and they have the power of
     affecting their welfare and their food and they flee from pain and
   After stating that people were to adhere to a vegetarian diet, the
   Torah next indicates that animals were not to prey on one another but
   were also to have only vegetarian food:
     And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and
     to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a
     living soul, [I have given] every green herb for food. (Gen. 1:30)
   Immediately after giving these dietary laws, God saw everything that
   he had made and "behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Everything in
   the universe was as God wanted it, with nothing superfluous and
   nothing lacking, a complete harmony. The vegetarian diet was
   consistent with God's initial plan.
   There are other indications in early chapters of Genesis that people
   originally were to be sustained on vegetarian diets:
     And the Lord God commanded the man, saying: "of every tree of the
     garden, thou mayest freely eat..." (Gen. 2:16)
     ...and thou shalt eat the herbs of the field. (Gen. 3:18)
   4. Why did God give people permission to eat meat?
   People are not always ready to live up to God's highest ideals. By the
   time of Noah, humanity had degenerated greatly. "And God saw the
   earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their
   way upon the earth" (Gen. 6:12). People had sunk so low that they
   would eat a limb torn from a living animal. As a concession to
   people's weakness, permission to eat meat was then given:
     Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as the green
     herb have I given you all. (Gen. 9:3)
   5. What has the Jewish tradition stated about this permission to eat
   The strongest support for vegetarianism as a positive ideal anywhere
   in Torah literature is in the writing of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen
   Kook (1865-1935). Rav Kook was the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state
   Israel and a highly respected and beloved Jewish spiritual leader in
   the early 20th century. He was a mystical thinker, a forceful writer,
   and a great Torah scholar. His powerful words on vegetarianism are
   found primarily in A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace (edited by
   Rabbi David Cohen, "The Nazir").
   Rav Kook believed that the permission to eat meat was only a temporary
   concession; he felt that a God who is merciful to his creatures would
   not institute an everlasting law permitting the killing of animals for
   food, and stated:
     It is inconceivable that the Creator who had planned a world of
     harmony and a perfect way for man to live should, many thousands of
     years later, find that this plan was wrong.
   According to Rav Kook, because people had sunk to an extremely low
   level of spirituality, it was necessary that they be given an elevated
   image of themselves as compared to animals, and that they concentrate
   their efforts into first improving relationships between people. He
   felt that were people denied the right to eat the flesh of non-human
   animals, they might eat the flesh of human beings due to their
   inability to control their lust for flesh. He regarded the permission
   to slaughter animals for food as a "transitional tax" or temporary
   dispensation until a "brighter era" is reached when people would
   return to vegetarian diets.
   Joseph Albo stated that God's commandments were designed to inculcate
   in people a higher level of spirituality; but in dealing with people
   as they were, not as they should be, God permitted the eating of meat.
   Evidently people's appetite for flesh was such that God felt it better
   to permit the eating of meat and regulate it, rather than to have
   people harbor a lust, which before the flood had led to corruption.
   6. What Torah teachings were associated with God's giving of
   permission to eat meat?
   Just prior to granting Noah and his family permission to eat meat, God
     And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast
     of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all wherewith
     the ground teems, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hand
     are they delivered. (Gen. 9:2)
   Now that there is permission to eat animals, no longer do people and
   animals work together in harmony, but living creatures fear and dread
   human beings. In his commentary on Genesis 9:2, Rabbi Samson Raphael
   Hirsch, a famous nineteenth-century Torah commentator, stated that the
   attachment between people and animals was broken, which initiated a
   change in the relationship of people to the world.
   The permission given to Noah to eat meat was not unconditional. There
   was an immediate prohibition against eating blood:
     "Only flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall
     ye not eat." (Gen. 9:4)
   Similar statements are made in Leviticus 19:26, 17:10,12 and
   Deuteronomy 12:16,23,25, and 15:23. The Torah identifies blood with
   life: "...for the blood is the life" (Deut. 12:23). Life must already
   have departed from the animal before it can be eaten.
   A modern rabbi, Samuel Dresner, commenting on the dietary laws
     The removal of blood which kashrut teaches is one of the most
     powerful means of making us constantly aware of the concession and
     compromise which the whole act of eating meat, in reality, is. Again
     it teaches us reverence for life.
   Biblical commentator Moses Cassuto stated:
     Apparently the Torah was in principle opposed to the eating of meat.
     When Noah and his descendants were permitted to eat meat this was a
     concession conditional on the prohibition of the blood. This
     prohibition implied respect for the principle of life ("for the
     blood is the life") and an allusion to the fact that in reality all
     meat should have been prohibited. This partial prohibition was
     designed to call to mind the previously total one.
   Immediately after permission was given to eat meat, God stated, "And
   surely, the blood of your lives will I require" (Gen. 9:5). The rabbis
   base the prohibition of suicide on these words. But coming directly
   after flesh is allowed, a vegetarian might reason that this passage
   hints that eating meat is a slow form of suicide. Perhaps God is
   warning us: "I prefer that you do not eat meat. But, if you must eat
   meat, there will be a penalty--your life blood will I require." That
   is, your life will be shortened by eating something that you were not
   meant to eat. In other words, if people choose to live in violence, by
   slaughtering and eating animals, they must pay the necessary penalty.
   Note that this speculation is consistent with the decrease in life
   spans that occurred after permission to eat meat was given and also
   with modern research in health and nutrition.
   7. Weren't people given dominion over animals? Didn't God put them
   here for our use?
   Dominion does not mean that we have the right to conquer and exploit
   animals. Immediately after God gave people dominion over animals (Gen
   1:26), he prohibited their use for food (Gen. 1:29). Dominion means
   guardianship or stewardship -- being co-workers with God in taking
   care of and improving the world.
   The Talmud interprets "dominion" as the privilege of using animals for
   labor only. (Sanhedrin 59b) It is extremely doubtful that the concept
   of dominion permits breeding animals and treating them as machines
   designed solely to meet our needs.
   Rav Kook stated that dominion does not imply the rule of a haughty
   despot who tyrannically governs for his own personal selfish ends and
   with a stubborn heart, that such a repulsive form of servitude could
   be forever sealed in the world of God whose "tender mercies are over
   all His work." (Psalm 145:9)
   Rabbi Hirsch stressed that people have not been given the right or the
   power to have everything subservient to them. In commenting on Genesis
   1:26, he stated, "The earth and its creatures may have other
   relationships of which we are ignorant, in which they serve their own
   purpose. Thus, above people's control over nature there is a divine
   control to serve God's purposes and objectives, and people have no
   right to interfere. Hence, people, according to Judaism, do not have
   an unlimited right to use and abuse animals and other parts of
   8. Did God make any other attempt to establish a vegetarian diet?
   According to Isaac Arama (1420-1494), author of Akedat Yitzhak, and
   others, after the Israelites left Egypt, God tried to establish
   another non-meat diet, manna. Manna is described in the Torah as a
   vegetarian food, "like coriander seed" (Num. 11:7). The rabbis of the
   Talmud wrote that the manna had whatever taste and flavor the eater
   desired. It must also have had sufficient nutrient value because Moses
   stated that "It is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat"
   (Exod. 16:15).
   Rabbi J. H. Hertz commented on the manna: "God in His ever-sustaining
   providence fed Israel's host during the weary years of wandering in
   His own unsearchable way."
   The manna taught the Children of Israel several lessons, which are
   interesting from a vegetarian point of view:
    1. God provides for our needs; manna was available for each day's
       requirements. In the same way, vegetarian diets could result in
       enough food for all. Meat diets lead to scarcity of food for some
       and an increased potential for violence.
    2. We should be content with what we have. As the Talmud (Ethics of
       the Fathers) indicates: "Who is the rich person? The one who
       rejoices in his (or her) portion." (Pirke Avot 4:1)
    3. Each person was to gather one omer (a measure of manna), but some
       gathered more and some less. When they measured it out, they found
       that whether they had gathered much or little, they had enough to
       meet their needs. Enough was provided on Friday morning so that
       there was no need to gather manna on the Sabbath. The people were
       commanded to rest on the seventh day.
   Similarly, a vegetarian diet would provide enough for everyone's
   needs. With a meat-centered diet, the few eat more than they need, and
   many millions are malnourished.
   9. How did this second vegetarian experiment work out?
   The people were not satisfied with the simple diet of manna, which
   sustained them in the desert. The mixed multitude that was with the
   Jewish people lusted for meat, and the Children of Israel complained,
   "Would that we were given flesh to eat." They said they remembered the
   fish and other good food that they had had in Egypt, and regretted
   that now they had only manna to eat. Reluctantly, God provided meat in
   the form of quails, which were brought by a wind from the sea. While
   the flesh was in their mouths, before it was chewed, the anger of God
   was kindled against the people, and God struck them with a great
   plague (Num. 11:4-33).
   Note the following key points from a vegetarian point of view:
     * God wanted the people to be sustained on manna, and was very angry
       when they cried for flesh to eat.
     * God provided meat, and it resulted in a plague. Perhaps this
       incident was designed to teach people that they should not eat
       meat, and if they did, it would have very negative consequences.
     * The place where this incident occurred was named "The Graves of
       Lust," to indicate that the lust for flesh led to the many deaths
       (Num. 11:34). While the manna, the staple food in the desert, kept
       the Israelites in good health for forty years, a plague occurred
       when they deviated from this diet.
   10. If God wanted us to have vegetarian diets and not harm animals,
   why were the Temple sacrificial services established?
   During the time of Moses, it was the general practice among all
   nations to worship by means of sacrifice. There were many associated
   idolatrous practices. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides wrote
   that God did not command the Israelites to give up and discontinue all
   these manners of service because "to obey such a commandment would
   have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that
   to which he is used," For this reason, God allowed Jews to make
   sacrifices, but "He transferred to His service that which had served
   as a worship of created beings and of things imaginary and unreal."
   The elements of idolatry were removed. Maimonides concluded:
     By this divine plan it was effected that the traces of idolatry were
     blotted out, and the truly great principle of our Faith, the
     Existence and Unity of God, was established. This result was thus
     obtained without confusing the minds of the people by the abolition
     of a service they were accustomed to and which was familiar to them.
   The Jewish philosopher Abarbanel reinforced Maimonides' argument . He
   cited a Midrash that indicated that the Jews had become accustomed to
   sacrifices in Egypt. To wean them from these idolatrous practices, God
   tolerated the sacrifices but commanded that they be offered in one
   central sanctuary:
     Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, said "Let them at all times
     offer their sacrifices before Me in the Tabernacle, and they will be
     weaned from idolatry, and thus be saved."
   Rabbi J. H. Hertz, former chief rabbi of England, stated that if Moses
   had not instituted sacrifices, which were admitted by all to have been
   the universal expression of religious homage, his mission would have
   failed and Judaism would have disappeared. After the destruction of
   the Temple, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai stated that prayer and good
   deeds should take the place of sacrifice.
   Rashi indicated that God did not want the Israelites to bring
   sacrifices; it was their choice. He bases this on the haphtorah
   (portion from the Prophets) read on the Sabbath when the book of
   Leviticus which discusses sacrifices is read: "I have not burdened
   thee with a meal-offering, nor wearied thee with frankincense".
   (Isaiah 43:23)
   Biblical commentator David Kimchi (1160-1235) also believed that the
   sacrifices were voluntary. He ascertained this from the words of
     For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them on the day
     that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning
     burnt-offerings or sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them,
     saying, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my
     people; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that
     it may be well unto you. (Jeremiah 7:22-23)
   Kimchi noted that nowhere in the Ten Commandments is there any
   reference to sacrifice, and even when sacrifices are first mentioned
   (Lev. 1:2) the expression used is "when any man of you bringeth an
   offering," the first Hebrew word ki being literally "if", implies that
   it was a voluntary act.
   Sacrifices, especially animal sacrifices, were not the primary concern
   of God. As a matter of fact, they could be an abomination to God if
   not carried out together with deeds of loving kindness and justice.
   Consider these words of the prophets, the spokespeople of God:
     I desire mercy, not sacrifice. (Hosea 6:6)
     "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me?" says
     the Lord. "I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of
     fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs
     or of he-goats... bring no more vain oblations.... Your new moon and
     your appointed feasts my soul hates;... and when you spread forth
     your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; yes, when you make many
     prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood." (Isaiah
     I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your
     solemn assemblies. Though you offer me burnt-offerings and your meal
     offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the
     peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise
     of thy song; and let Me not hear the melody of thy psalteries. But
     let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
     (Amos 5:21-4)
   Deeds of compassion and kindness toward all creation are of greater
   significance to God than sacrifices: "To do charity and justice is
   more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice" (Prov. 21: 3 ).
   11. Under what conditions did people eat meat in Biblical times?
   When the Israelites were in the wilderness, animals could only be
   slaughtered and eaten as part of the sacrificial service in the
   sanctuary (Lev. 17:3-5). As indicated above, Maimonides stated that
   the sacrifices were a concession to the primitive practices of the
   nations at that time. Later, when the people were not all concentrated
   near the central sanctuary, God permitted people to eat meat even if
   it wasn't part of a sacrificial offering:
     When the Lord thy God shall enlarge your border as He has promised
     you, and you shalt say: "I will eat flesh," because your soul
     desires to eat flesh; you may eat flesh, after all the desire of
     your soul. (Deut. 12:20)
   This permitted meat was called basar ta'avah , "meat of lust," so
   named because meat is not considered a necessity for life. Also,
   animals to be used for meat had to be picked from the flock, an
   impossibility for the vast majority of people today.
   12. What is the tradition's outlook on the consumption of meat?
   Flesh foods are often mentioned with distaste and are associated with
   lust (lack of control over one's appetite). The Talmud indicates that
   there is a negative connotation associated with the consumption of
     The Torah teaches a lesson in moral conduct, that man shall not eat
     meat unless he has a special craving for it...and shall eat it only
     occasionally and sparingly. (Chulin 84a)
   The sages also felt that eating meat was not for everyone:
     Only a scholar of Torah may eat meat, but one who is ignorant of
     Torah is forbidden to eat meat. (Pesachim 49b)
   Based on this prohibition, how many Jews today can consider themselves
   so scholarly as to be able to eat meat? And those who do diligently
   study the Torah and are aware of conditions related to the production
   and consumption of meat today should come to the conclusion that
   eating meat is not consistent with Jewish values.
   It should be noted that the above stricture reflected concern for the
   scrupulous observance of the many technicalities of the laws of
   kashrut . While there are few conditions about the consumption of
   vegetarian foods, it was then thought that only a diligent Torah
   scholar could fathom the myriad regulations governing the eating of
   Rabbi Kook believed that the permission to eat meat "after all the
   desire of your soul" was a concealed reproach and a qualified command.
   He stated that a day will come when people will detest the eating of
   the flesh of animals because of a moral loathing, and then it shall be
   said that "because your soul does not long to eat meat, you will not
   eat meat."
   13. What is the tradition's view about vegetarian foods?
   The Torah looks favorably on vegetarian foods. In the Song of Songs,
   the divine bounty is mentioned in terms of fruits, vegetables, vines,
   and nuts. There is no special b'racha (blessing) recited before eating
   meat or fish, as there is for other foods such as bread, cake, wine,
   fruits, and vegetables; the blessing for meat is a general one, the
   same as that over water or any other undifferentiated food.
   Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, a modern chassidic rebbe from Minnesota, notes
   that "concerning the priority given to blessings, meat is at the
   bottom of the hierarchy". He notes that on festivals and Sabbaths,
   wine comes first. Otherwise bread comes first, and a blessing over
   bread covers all other foods except wine. If there is no bread, foods
   are blessed in the following order: (1) wine, (2) grains, (3) tree
   fruits, (4) vegetables, (5) all other foods, including fish, meats,
   etc. In other words, meat has the lowest priority in the b'racha
   system. Also, when bread is eaten a full bircat hamazon (blessing
   after meals) is to be recited. For the grains and fruits mentioned in
   the Torah (the seven species), there is a shorter blessing recited
   after meals (al hamichya ), but if only other foods such as meat or
   fish are eaten, only one sentence is to be recited afterwards (borei
   nefashot ). Since, as our sages taught, words have replaced sacrifices
   today, flesh foods are least honored.
   Typical of the Torah's emphasis on nonflesh foods are the following:
     For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of
     brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys
     and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig-trees and
     pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey; a land wherein thou
     shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in
     it...And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord thy God
     for the good land which He hath given thee. (Deut. 8:7-10)
     I will give you the rain of your land in its due season, the first
     rain and the latter rain, that thou may gather in thy corn, and thy
     wine, and thy oil. (Deut. 11:14)
   14. Why were the laws of kashrut (the kosher laws) given?
   Along with permission to eat meat, many laws and restrictions (the
   laws of kashrut ) were given. These laws were designed to sanctify the
   act of eating, and to keep people from taking the everyday act of
   eating for granted.
   Rabbi Kook's belief that the regulations related to the consumption of
   meat implied a reprimand and is an elaborate apparatus designed to
   keep alive a sense of reverence for life, and to lead people away from
   their meat-eating habit is echoed by Torah commentator Solomon Efraim
   Lunchitz in K'lee Yakar, his commentary on the Torah:
     What was the necessity for the entire procedure of ritual slaughter?
     For the sake of self-discipline. It is far more appropriate for man
     not to eat meat; only if he has a strong desire for meat does the
     Torah permit it, and even this only after the trouble and
     inconvenience necessary to satisfy his desire. Perhaps because of
     the bother and annoyance of the whole procedure, he will be
     restrained from such a strong and uncontrollable desire for meat.
   A similar statement is made by a modern rabbi, Pinchas Peli, in his
   book, Torah Today :
     Accordingly, the laws of kashrut come to teach us that a Jew's first
     preference should be a vegetarian meal. If however one cannot
     control a craving for meat, it should be kosher meat, which would
     serve as a reminder that the animal being eaten is a creature of
     God, that the death of such a creature cannot be taken lightly, that
     hunting for sport is forbidden, that we cannot treat any living
     being callously, and that we are responsible for what happens to
     other beings (human or animal) even if we did not personally come
     into contact with them.
   15. During the Messianic Period, when the Temple in Jerusalem is
   rebuilt, won't the sacrificial services be restored and won't people
   have to eat meat?
   Rav Kook and Joseph Albo believed that in the days of the Messiah
   people will again be vegetarians. Rav Kook stated that in the
   Messianic Epoch, "the effect of knowledge will spread even to
   animals...and sacrifices in the Temple will consist of vegetation, and
   it will be pleasing to God as in days of old.... He believed that at
   that time human conduct will have advanced to such high standards that
   there will no longer be need for animal sacrifices to atone for sins.
   Only nonanimal sacrifices (grains, for example) to express gratitude
   to God would remain. There is a midrash (teaching based on Jewish
   values and tradition) that states: "In the Messianic era, all
   offerings will cease except the thanksgiving offering, which will
   continue forever. Rav Kook based his view on the prophecy of Isaiah:
     And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
     And the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
     And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
     And a little child shall lead them
     And the cow and the bear shall feed;
     Their young ones shall lie down together,
     And the lion shall eat straw like the ox....
     They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.
     (Isa. 11:6-9)
   Other prophetic visions that depict vegetarian diets for people
     And it shall come to pass in that day that mountains shall drip
     sweet wine and the hills shall flow with milk. (Joel 4:18)
     And they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they
     shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them. (Amos 9:14)
     And the earth shall respond to the corn, the wine, and the oil.
     (Hosea 2:24)
   In his booklet "Chalutzim of the Messiah -- The Religious Vegetarian
   Concept as Expounded by Rabbi Kook", Joe Green, a recent Jewish
   vegetarian writer, concluded that Jewish religious ethical vegetarians
   are pioneers of the Messianic era, who are leading lives that make the
   coming of the Messiah more likely.
   Today most Jews eat meat, but the high ideal of God, the initial
   vegetarian dietary law, is supreme in the Bible, an ultimate goal
   toward which all people should strive.
   16. Wasn't Genesis 1:29 (the first dietary law) overridden by later
   Biblical commandments and teachings?
   As indicated previously, while God's original intention was that
   people be vegetarians, God later gave permission for meat to be eaten
   as a reluctant concession to people's weakness. As also indicated,
   many Biblical commentators look at vegetarianism as the ideal diet,
   and modern science has verified that our body structure and digestive
   system are most consistent with this type of diet.
   In a teshuvah (response to a question related to Jewish law), R. Moshe
   Halevi Steinberg expressed his belief that the fact that meat was
   initially forbidden and later permitted indicates that each person is
   thereby given a free hand to either be a vegetarian as was the first
   human, or to eat meat, as Noah did.
   The question is then on what basis should that choice be made. Should
   it be on the basis of convenience, habit, and conformity, or on
   considerations of basic Jewish values and teachings.
   Rabbi Alfred Cohen wrote that, "the Torah does not establish the
   eating of meat as a desirable activity, only as something which is not
   forbidden to do."
   Judaism does not command that people eat meat. Rabbinic tradition
   indicates that it is people's desire to eat flesh and not God's edict
   that people do so. Even while arguing against vegetarianism as a moral
   cause, Rabbi Elijah Judah Schochet, author of Animal Life in Jewish
   Tradition, (1984), concedes that "Scripture does not command the
   Israelite to eat meat, but rather permits this diet as a concession to
   lust." Another critic of vegetarianism, Rabbi J. David Bleich, a noted
   modern Torah scholar and professor at Yeshiva University, concedes
   that, "the implication is that meat may be consumed when there is
   desire and appetite for it as food, but may be eschewed when there is
   not desire and, a fortiori, when it is found to be repugnant."
   According to Rabbi Bleich, "Jewish tradition does not command
   carnivorous behavior..."
   Rabbi Israel Salanter felt that the Talmudic laws relating to the
   consumption of meat on the Sabbath were for the benefit of the poor,
   who depended on charity to appease their hunger. Hence the needy would
   be provided what was then considered nutritious food, at least once a
   17. Inconsistent with Judaism, doesn't vegetarianism elevate animals
   to a level equal to that of people?
   Concern for animals and a refusal to treat them brutally and slaughter
   them for food that is not necessary for proper nutrition (indeed, is
   harmful to human health) does not mean that vegetarians regard animals
   as equal to people.
   The test of our behavior toward animals should be, as the British
   philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) put it, "not can they reason,
   nor can they talk, but can they suffer?" And, the great Jewish
   philosopher Maimonides felt that animals are like people in fleeing
   from pain and death.
   18. By putting vegetarian values ahead of Jewish teachings, aren't
   vegetarians, in effect, creating a new religion, with values contrary
   to Jewish teachings?
   Jewish vegetarians do not place so-called vegetarian values above
   Torah principles. They are saying that Jewish values mandate that we
   treat animals with compassion, guard our health, share with hungry
   people, protect the environment, conserve resources, and seek peace,
   and hence point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet for Jews today,
   especially in view of the many problems related to modern methods of
   raising animals on factory farms. Rather than rejecting Torah values,
   Jewish vegetarians are challenging the Jewish community to apply Torah
   values to their diets in a daily meaningful way.
   19. If Jews don't eat meat, won't they be deprived of the opportunity
   to do many mitzvot (commandments).
   There are other cases where laws were provided to regulate things that
   God would prefer people not to do. For example, God wishes people to
   live at peace, but he provides commandments related to war, because he
   knows that human beings quarrel and seek victories over others.
   Similarly, the laws in the Torah related to slavery are a concession
   to human weakness.
   As indicated before, by not eating meat, Jews are acting consistently
   with many mitzvot, such as showing compassion to animals, preserving
   health, not wasting, feeding the hungry, and preserving the earth.
   Also, by not eating meat, a Jew cannot violate many possible
   prohibitions of the Torah, such as mixing meat and milk, eating
   nonkosher animals, and eating blood or fat.
   20. Judaism considers it an averah (sin) not to take advantage of the
   pleasurable things that God has put on the earth. As he put animals on
   the earth and it is pleasurable to eat them, is it not an averah to
   refrain from eating meat?
   Can eating meat be pleasurable to a religious person when he or she
   knows that as a result health is endangered, grain is wasted, and
   animals are being cruelly treated? There are many other ways to gain
   pleasure without doing harm to living creatures. The prohibition
   against abstaining from pleasurable things only applies when there is
   no plausible basis for the abstention; vegetarians abstain because
   eating meat is injurious to health, because their soul rebels against
   eating a living creature, or because they wish to have a diet that
   minimizes threats to the environment, and that best shares resources
   with hungry people.
   There are other cases in Judaism where pleasurable things are
   forbidden or discouraged, such as the use of tobacco, drinking liquor
   to excess, sexual relations out of wedlock, and hunting.
   21. Won't a movement by Jews toward vegetarianism mean less emphasis
   on kashrut (the Jewish kosher laws) and eventually a disregard of
   these laws?
   Quite the contrary. One of the purposes of the laws of kashrut is
   reverence for life, which is consistent with vegetarianism. Another
   purpose is to avoid pagan practices, which often involved much cruelty
   to animals and people. This too is consistent with vegetarian ideals.
   In many ways becoming a vegetarian makes it easier and cheaper to
   observe the laws of kashrut; this might attract many new adherents to
   keeping kosher and eventually to other important Jewish values. As a
   vegetarian, one need not be concerned with separate dishes, mixing
   milchigs (dairy products) with fleichigs (meat products), waiting 3 or
   6 hours after eating meat before being allowed to eat dairy products,
   storing four sets (two for regular use and two for Passover use) of
   dishes, silverware, pots, and pans, and many other considerations that
   must concern the non-vegetarian who wishes to observe kashrut
   strictly. In addition, a vegetarian is in no danger of eating blood or
   fat, which are prohibited, or the flesh of a nonkosher animal. It
   should be noted that being a vegetarian does not automatically
   guarantee that one will maintain the laws of kashrut as, for example,
   certain baked goods may not be kosher. When in doubt, a trusted
   rabbinic authority should be consulted.
   A growing problem in the American Jewish scene today is the possible
   unreliability of kashrut supervision. As diligent as supervising
   agencies attempt to be, there is always the chance of an error. An
   issue of the Jewish Press several years ago listed 84 food
   establishments that paid fines related to violations of the Kosher
   laws. Some observant Jews have chosen to avoid all possible problems
   by not eating meat.
   Many people today reject kashrut because of the high costs involved.
   Since a person can obtain proper nourishment at far lower costs with a
   vegetarian diet, this may prevent the loss of many kashrut observers.
   In a personal letter to the author, Rabbi Robert Gordis, late
   Professor of Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary, indicated that
   vegetarianism, the logical consequence of Jewish teaching, would be a
   way of protecting kashrut. He stated, "Vegetarianism offers an ideal
   mode for preserving the religious and ethical values which kashrut was
   designed to concretize in human life."
   There are several examples in Jewish history when a change to
   vegetarianism enabled Jews to adhere to kashrut. As indicated in the
   Book of Daniel, Daniel and his companions were able to avoid eating
   nonkosher food by adopting a vegetarian diet. (Daniel 1:8-16) The
   historian Josephus relates how some Jewish priests on trial in Rome
   ate only figs and nuts to avoid eating flesh that had been used in
   idol worship. Some Maccabees, during the struggles against the
   Syrians, escaped to the mountains where they lived on only plant foods
   to avoid "being polluted like the rest"
   22. What are the main reasons for Jews to consider vegetarianism
   The primary Jewish case for vegetarianism today lies in the
   inconsistencies between the realities of the consumption of meat and
   the livestock agriculture associated with it and basic Jewish values
   related to preserving human health, showing compassion to animals,
   protecting the environment, conserving resources, sharing with hungry
   people, and pursuing peace.
   23. Isn't a movement toward vegetarianism a movement away from Jewish
   traditions with regard to diet? Isn't there a danger that once some
   traditions are changed, others may readily follow, and little will be
   left of Judaism as we have known it?
   Jewish law is based on a two part structure: written law (the Jewish
   Bible) and oral law (Talmud, response literature, and other rabbinic
   writings). Although the written law remains the unchanging base, the
   oral law is constantly adapting to current conditions. This system has
   kept Judaism as alive and applicable today as it was centuries ago. In
   contemporary times, the vast response literature of this century has
   enabled new traditions to form within halachic bounds.
   A move toward vegetarianism is actually a return to Jewish traditions,
   to taking Jewish values seriously. A movement toward vegetarianism can
   help revitalize Judaism. It can show that Jewish values can be applied
   to help solve current world problems related to hunger, waste, and
   pollution. Hence, rather than a movement away from Jewish traditions,
   it would have the opposite effect.
   24. Weren't the Jewish sages aware of the evils related to eating
   meat? If so, why does so much of Talmudic literature discuss laws and
   customs related to the consumption of meat? Are you suggesting that
   Judaism has been morally wrong in not advocating vegetarianism?
   Conditions today differ greatly from those in Biblical times and
   throughout most of Jewish history. Only recently has strong medical
   evidence linked a meat-centered diet to many types of disease. As
   indicated above, modern intensive livestock agriculture results in
   conditions quite different from those that prevailed previously.
   25. Aren't vegetarians being more righteous than God, since God gave
   permission to eat meat?
   There is no obligation to eat meat today. God's first dietary law
   (Gen. 1:29) was strictly vegetarian; also, as discussed before,
   according to Rav Kook and others, the Messianic Epoch will be
   Jewish vegetarians believe their diet is most consistent with God's
   desires that we protect our health, be kind to animals, share with
   hungry people, protect the environment and conserve resources. Rather
   than being more righteous than God, they are urging people to live up
   to God's highest ideals.
   This viewpoint is conceded by Rabbi Alfred Cohen: "If a person tends
   toward vegetarianism because he sees it as a lifestyle consonant with
   the way the All-Mighty really wanted the world to be, there can be no
   denying that he has a valid point of view."
   26. How can you advocate making changes in Judaism?
   First, change has historically been part of Judaism. In the past Jews
   practiced polygamy, for example. As Israel Zangwill put it, '"Like a
   language, a religion was dead when it ceased to change."
   Second, what is really advocated is a return to Jewish values of
   showing, compassion, sharing, helping the needy, preserving the
   environment, conserving resources, and seeking peace.
   Finally, global threats today -- pollution, hunger, resource scarcity,
   violence -- are so great that, a new thinking or rethinking about
   values and new methods is necessary. Albert Einstein's statement, "The
   unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our ways of
   thinking; hence we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe," can be
   applied to the effects of our diets today.
   Jewish vegetarians are not advocating changes in the Torah, but that
   the Torah be used to master present world conditions, as it has in the
   past. Global survival today requires the application of Torah values
   to our diets as well as other aspects of our lives.
   27. While vegetarians are not violating halacha (Jewish law) by not
   eating meat, isn't their failure to eat meat at least on Yom Tov
   (holidays) and the Sabbath in violation of the spirit of Jewish law?
   This question is based on the fact that many Jewish sages felt that
   one could only experience joy by eating meat on holidays. Maimonides,
   for example, states that "... there is no joy except with meat and
   It should be noted that while in the days of the Talmudic sages
   vegetarians were generally ascetics who rejected life's joys, today
   vegetarianism is viewed as life-sustaining and life enhancing.
   It is also important to note that (a) the above quote from Maimonides
   fails to include the previously mentioned Talmudic qualifier in
   Pesachim lO9a that the obligation to eat meat to rejoice on holidays
   only held "in the time when the Temple is standing", and (b) that
   earlier in the same quote, Maimonides indicated that people rejoice in
   different ways: sweets and nuts for children and new clothing for
   28. Because the majority of Jews will probably continue to eat meat,
   isn't it better that they do so without being aware of the Jewish
   principles such as bal tashchit, (the mandate not to waste resources),
   tsa'ar ba'alei chayim (the mandate to avoid causing unnecessary harm
   to animals), and pikuach nefesh (the mandate to protect human life)
   that are being violated? Shouldn't a Jewish vegetarian abstain from
   meat quietly and not try to convert others to his or her type of diet?
   Judaism teaches that one should try to teach others and assist them to
   carry out commandments. A Chassidic teacher asserts: "Man, the master
   of choice, shall say: "Only for my sake was the whole world created!"
   Therefore every man shall be watchful and strive to redeem the world
   and supply that wherein it is lacking, at all times and in all
   places." The importance of speaking out when improper actions occur is
   indicated by the following powerful Talmudic teaching:
     Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of his own
     family and does not do so is punished for the transgressions of his
     family. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the
     people of his community and does not do so is punished for the
     transgressions of his community. Whoever is able to protest against
     the transgressions of the entire world and does not do so is
     punished for the transgressions of the entire world. (Talmud:
     Shabbat 54b)
   The Talmud also relates a story of how apparently righteous
   individuals were punished along with the wicked because "they had the
   power to protest but they did not." (Talmud: Shabbat 55a)
   Related to these principles are the following teachings of the Jewish
     If a man of learning participates in public affairs and serves as
     judge or arbiter, he gives stability to the land. But if he sits in
     his home and says to himself, "What have the affairs of society to
     do with me?... Why should I trouble myself with the people's voice
     of protest? Let my soul dwelt in peace!" If he does this, he
     overthrows the world." (Tanchuma to Mishpatim )
     If the community is in trouble, a man must not say, "I will go to my
     house, and eat and drink, and peace shall be with thee, 0 my soul."
     But a man must share in the trouble of his community, even as Moses
     did. He who shares in its troubles is worthy to see its consolation.
     (Talmud: Ta'anit 11a)
   29. What about the Chassidic view that, when one is religious and
   performs Torah mitzvot, that person elevates the animal by consuming
   its flesh since the energy produced from the animal is used to perform
   mitzvot which the animal could not perform in any other way?
   This concept is related to the following kabbalistic teachings: during
   the Creation of the world, the Holy Vessels (sephirot ) which were
   intended to contain the Holy Light were shattered. Sparks of holiness
   fell into lower levels, becoming entrapped in material things. When
   done with the proper kavannah (intention), mitzvot can "elevate" these
   sparks back into their proper place in the universe. This process
   helps to bring the Messiah. Chassidim see meat eating as part of this
   process since they believe that animals are thus elevated into
   Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, a modern vegetarian Chassidic rebbe, believes
   that this concept can be reconciled with vegetarianism. He feels that
   the process of raising sparks is cumulative and that the process of
   raising sparks through the consumption of meat has been completed. He
   bases this on the recent increase in vegetarianism and the brutal
   treatment of animals today, which means that there is no longer
   holiness in raising animals for food. After visiting a slaughterhouse,
   he asserts that shochtim (ritual slaughterers), no matter how sincere
   and dedicated, can't maintain a spirit of holiness while slaughtering
   animals under the mass-production conditions of today's
   slaughterhouses. He asserts that we are now left with the empty shell
   of fleshpots without holiness.
   30. Do you believe that flesh should not be served at Jewish
   functions? that all Jews should be vegetarians?
   Because the realities of livestock agriculture are inconsistent with
   basic Jewish values, Jews should be vegetarians and flesh should not
   be served at Jewish functions. But since the Torah does give
   permission for people to eat meat (as a concession to human weakness),
   people have been given the free will to make a decision. The purpose
   of these questions and answers is to give Jews and others the
   information to help them make a decision that is informed and is based
   on Jewish teachings.
   31. Doesn't Vegetarianism place greater priority on animal rights than
   on the many problems related to human welfare.
   Vegetarian diets are not beneficial only to animals. They also improve
   human health, help hungry people through better sharing of food and
   other resources, put less stress on endangered ecosystems, conserve
   valuable resources, and reduce the potential for war and violence. In
   view of the many global threats related to today's livestock
   agriculture, working to promote vegetarianism may be the most
   important action that one can take for global survival.
   32. Doesn't the Torah mandate that we eat korban Pesach (the Passover
   sacrifice) and other korbanos (sacrifices)?
   Without the Temple, these requirements are not applicable today. And,
   as indicated, Rav Kook felt, based on the prophecy of Isaiah, that
   there will only be sacrifices involving vegetarian foods during the
   Messianic Period.
   33. In Jewish literature, it is stated that with the advent of the
   Messiah a banquet will be given by God to the righteous in which the
   flesh of the giant fish, leviathan, will be served. Isn't this
   inconsistent with the idea that the Messianic period will be
   These legends concerning the leviathan are interpreted as allegories
   by most Jewish scholars. According to Maimonides, the banquet is an
   allusion to the spiritual enjoyment of the intellect. Abarbanel and
   others consider the expressions about the leviathan to be allusions to
   the destruction of the powers that are hostile to the Jews.
   34. How would a Jewish vegetarian celebrate Pesach (Passover)?
   Today there is no need to cook or eat meat on Passover. The eating of
   the Pascal lamb is no longer required now that the Temple has been
   destroyed. One is required to commemorate this act not to participate
   in it. The late Dayan Feldman stated that mushrooms, which have a
   fleshy appearance can be used on the seder plate to commemorate the
   Pascal lamb. The Talmud indicates that a broiled beet can be used.
   The proper celebration of Passover requires the absence of leaven and
   the use of unleavened bread, which we are commanded to eat "throughout
   your generations." There are many vegetarian recipes that are
   appropriate for seders and other Passover meals.
   Because Passover is the celebration of our redemption from slavery, we
   should also consider freeing ourselves from the slavery to harmful
   eating habits. As our homes are freed from leaven, perhaps we should
   also free our bodies from harmful foods. Because Passover is a time of
   regeneration, physical as well as spiritual, the maximum use should be
   made of raw fruits and vegetables, which have cleansing properties.
   There are other Passover themes related to vegetarian ideas. The call
   at the seders for "all who are hungry to come and eat" can be a
   reminder that our diets can be a factor in reducing global starvation.
   The Passover theme of freedom is related to the horrible conditions of
   slavery under which animals are raised today.
   35.Are there any famous Jews who are (were) vegetarians?
   In addition to the chief rabbis mentioned above, the former Chief
   Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Goren, is a vegetarian. Among other famous
   Jewish vegetarians were Nobel Prize for Literature winners, Shmuel
   Yosef Agnon and Isaac Bashevis Singer, authors Aaron David Gordon,
   Franz Kafka, and Issac Lieb Peretz, and Rabbi Chaim Zundel Maccoby
   (The Kaminitzer Maggid).
   36. I enjoy eating meat. Why should I give it up?
   Though pleasure is important, actions in Judaism are governed by
   mitzvot (commandments). And, as indicated above, vegetarianism is the
   diet most consistent with important Jewish mandates.
   Even if one is primarily motivated by considerations of pleasure and
   convenience, the negative health effects of a meat-centered diet
   should be taken into account. One cannot enjoy life when one is not in
   good health.
   37. What is the definition of a vegetarian diet?
   A vegetarian diet is one that includes no flesh foods, that is no
   meat, poultry, or fish. There are three types of vegetarian diets: the
   lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which includes dairy products and eggs; the
   lacto-vegetarian diet, which includes dairy products, but not eggs;
   and the vegan (pronounced "vee-gan") diet, which uses no dairy
   products or eggs. Vegans do not use honey and avoid using non-food
   animal products such as leather, wool, and fur. Many base their
   practice on a belief that it is ethically wrong to kill animals or
   exploit them in any way. Others feel that it the healthiest diet
   and/or the diet that does the minimum harm to the environment, uses
   the least amount of natural resources, and is least harmful to the
   world's hungry people.
   38. Aren't people who abstain from eating meat but who consume eggs
   and milk being hypocritical?
   Many of the arguments made for not eating meat are valid with regard
   to eggs and milk, although to a lesser degree. Factory farming also
   cruelly treats egg-laying chickens and dairy cows, wastes resources,
   and pollutes the environment.
   The vegan diet (non-use of any animal products) is a more humane diet.
   However, an estimated 90 percent of vegetarians today are lacto -ovo
   vegetarians. Many hope to become vegans eventually.
   Rather than looking at vegetarians who consume eggs and milk as
   hypocrites, I prefer to look at them as people who have made an
   important ethical decision, but who have not yet gone as far as they
   should in terms of a humane, sensible diet. One can become a
   vegetarian by degrees. What is important is to take the first step and
   then progress toward your goal.
   39. Isn't it hypocritical for a vegetarian to wear leather shoes and
   use other leather products?
   It depends upon one's reasons for being a vegetarian. If it is based
   upon health, rather than concern for animals, for example, it would
   not be inconsistent.
   Some vegetarians use leather products because these are byproducts of
   slaughter, rather than prime causes of it. Many vegetarians have
   changed to shoes of natural or synthetic non-animal materials. It has
   become easier to get such products recently as the demand for them has
   40. Some people believe that vegetarians are supposed to aspire to
   become vegans (people who don't use milk, eggs, leather, honey, or any
   product from an animal). How can an orthodox Jew be a vegan since he
   would not be able to use tefillin, a shofar, a sefer Torah, and other
   ritual items?
   If a person became a vegetarian but not a vegan, he or she would still
   do much good for animals, the environment, hungry people, and the
   preservation of his or her health. If a person embraces veganism
   except in cases where specific mitzvot require the use of some animal
   product, even more good will be done.
   Perhaps a day will come when people will become more aware of how
   animals are treated and the powerful Jewish teachings on compassion to
   animals. Maybe then, ritual objects will be made from animals who were
   not mistreated and who died natural deaths.
   41. Are there any Jewish Vegetarian Societies?
   There has been much movement among Jews toward vegetarianism recently.
   In 1966 the London-based International Jewish Vegetarian Society was
   established to help awaken Jews throughout the world to the vegetarian
   teachings of the Torah. Since then, it has been sending its quarterly
   journal, Jewish Vegetarian -- edited for many years by Philip Pick
   (died in November, 1992), its founder and president emeritus -- to its
   members throughout the world. All the issues have articles on travel,
   nutrition, recipes, ethical and religious aspects of vegetarianism,
   and news from and about members. The address of the Society is 855
   Finchley Road London NW 11 8LX, England. The International Society's
   motto is "...they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain".
   This is the conclusion of Isaiah's Messianic vision that "...the wolf
   will dwell with the lamb...and the lion will eat straw like the ox."
   (Isaiah 11:6-9)
   There have been several recent vegetarian activities in Israel,
   including conferences and the establishment of many vegetarian
   restaurants and health food stores. A "Housewarming Ceremony" was held
   on April 2, 1992 at the newly established headquarters for the
   International Jewish Vegetarian Society at 8 Balfour Street in the
   heart of Jerusalem, fulfilling a long-held dream of the Society and
   culminating years of efforts. Messages of greetings and
   congratulations were given by Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, the Chief
   Rabbi of Haifa and a Patron of the Society, Rabbi David Rosen,
   President of the Israel Jewish Vegetarian Society and former Chief
   Rabbi of Ireland, and Philip Pick.
   In the early 1980's the Jewish Vegetarians of North America was
   established. Its president is Rabbi Noach Valley, spiritual leader of
   the Actor's Synagogue in Manhattan. Chapters of the group exist in a
   number of cities, including New York, Atlanta, and Phoenix.
   Information about these and other chapters, contact people, and Jewish
   teachings related to vegetarianism can be obtained by writing to the
   Jewish Vegetarians of North America at: 6938 Reliance Road,
   Fredericksburg, MD 21632 (phone: (410) 754-5550). The group publishes
   a quarterly newsletter and holds conferences occasionally.
   Today, it appears that almost every Jewish family has a relative who
   is vegetarian. It seems clear that a higher percentage of Jews are
   vegetarian than is the case for other groups, except those whose
   religions promote vegetarianism, such as Seventh-Day Adventists and
   Hindus. Jews are leaders of vegetarian and vegetarian-related groups
   in numbers far higher than the Jewish percentage of the population.
   Also, many vegetarian processed food products are certified kosher and
   many natural foods stores and companies are owned by Jews.
   42. What are good sources for further information on connections
   between Judaism and Vegetarianism?
   1. Berman, Louis. Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition. New York:
   Ktav, 1982. A comprehensive review of connections between Judaism and
   2. Bleich, Rabbi J. David, Vegetarianism and Judaism," Tradition, Vol.
   23, No. 1 (Summer, 1987).
   3. Cohen, Rabbi Alfred, "Vegetarianism From a Jewish Perspective,"
   Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society , Vol. I, No. II (Fall,
   4. Kalechofsky, Roberta. Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb . Marblehead,
   Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1985. Valuable material for
   conducting a vegetarian Passover seder. Her Haggadah for the
   Vegetarian Family is due to be published in 1993.
   5. Kalechofsky, Roberta, editor. Judaism and Animals Rights --
   Classical and Contemporary Responses. Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah
   publications, 1992. A wide varieties of articles on animal rights,
   vegetarianism, animal experimentation, from the perspective of
   6. Kalechofsky, Roberta, editor. Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving
   Tradition. Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah publications, 1995.
   Articles on vegetarianism by 17 rabbis from different backgrounds and
   7. Kalechofsky, Roberta. Vegetarianism and the Jewish Holidays.
   Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1993. (A Green Mitzvah
   Booklet) Questions and answers about vegetarian connections to Jewish
   festivals. Recipes are included.
   8. Schochet, Rabbi Elijah J. Animal Life in Jewish Tradition . New
   York: Ktav, 1984. Thorough, well-documented consideration of all
   aspects of animal issues, from the perspective of the Jewish
   9. Schwartz, Richard H. Judaism and Vegetarianism . Marblehead,
   Massachusetts: Micah Publications, (2nd edition) 1988. The case for
   vegetarianism, from a Jewish perspective. Includes 37 questions and
   answers. Much of the material in this booklet was based on material in
   this book. Hence people seeking further information and/or
   documentation should consult this book.
   10. Wasserman, Debra and Stahler Charles. No Cholesterol Passover
   Recipes. Baltimore: Vegetarian Resource Group, 1986. Contains 100
   recipes without animal products that are suitable for Passover.
   11. Jewish Vegetarians of North America, Israel Mossman, 6938 Reliance
   Road, Federalsburg, MD 21632 (410) 754-5550
   12. Jews for Animal Rights (JAR), Roberta Kalechofsky, director, 255
   Humphrey Street, Marblehead, MA 01945, (617) 631-7601.
   If you have comments or suggestions about the above questions and
   answers and/or suggestions for additional questions, please contact
   Richard Schwartz ([email protected]).
   You might also wish to review Frequently Asked Questions about Jewish
   Vegetarian issues, such as health, compassion for animals, ecology,
   resource usage, hunger and war/peace. These can be found in the ARRS
   collection of essays,

Richard H. Schwartz
Professor, Mathematics    College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard  Staten Island, NY 10314  USA  (718) 982-3621
Email address: [email protected] Fax: (718) 982-3631

Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and Mathematics and Global Survival.
Patron of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society.
My articles on Judaism and Vegetarianism are on the internet at

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