Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Veganism and Judaism

There is much of interest at the intersection of a plant-based diet and the oldest monotheism. Although many Orthodox Jews have claimed that the two are mutually exclusive, statistics show that to be untrue. A hint towards that is that Jewish State of Israel counts the highest percentage of vegetarians and vegans in the world. But let’s go into some detail how Judaism actually might discourage non-plant foods.

Not all restrictions of the Jewish diet concern animal produce (non-Jewish wine, bread, cooked food, leavened foods on Pesach, grain before it’s time, fruit from too young trees, veggies of the Seventh year, etc.) but much of it centers around forbidden meats (and eggs, milk and cheese). I understand this through the following two parallels.

There is a prohibition to step on ants on Shabbat purposely, unless it can’t be helped. Only on Shabbat. But it sends a message for every day. Ants are alive — don’t just destroy them as you don’t want people to be destroyed. So when I want to remove ants from my house, I first scare them (banging) and then plug up the wholes after they left. If needed, only then I spray some poison. That’s what a kind person should do.

One should not go drink non-Jewish wine (or uncooked kosher wine that a Gentile opened, poured, moved or touched) because one should avoid marrying Gentiles — not because there is anything wrong with Gentiles, but rather because we should perpetuate a Jewish lifestyle, which cannot be expected of Gentiles (unless they want to convert). Now, one could ask: may drinking beer together not also lower thresholds and lead to intermarriage? Yes, it could, but wine is kind of ceremonial and just the wine rule sends enough of a message. Judaism is full of hints.

So I take the many injunctions against eating this and that kinds of bloods, beasts, birds, creepers, insects and fish also as saying: how certain are you that you want to eat animals at all? And the Torah trice mentions an Injunction for Jews against cooking meat in milk. In itself that’s cruel, because milk (as eggs) is for the young to survive, for perpetuation of the species. Then how can one use it to prepare the result of killing?

Some other details on Jews and veganism you may find already in my How to be a partial vegan – pros and cons: Religious obligations.

PS: News of honors for an in-vitro-meat grower proves how confused the scientific world is about artificial meat or how much it caters (pun not intended) to financial interests of the bio industry. See: this post.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust survivors in The Netherlands (Westerbork), and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (of young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners, and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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