Israel is a vegan’s paradise. For those not educated from Whole Foods, the preschool or from yoga class, veganism is the practice of not eating any animal-derived product. This includes milk, cheese, fish, and even honey which is derived from bee spit. There are a few reasons why the constellations aligned and made it very easy for people to forego an animal-based diet in Israel, and even without trying it often happens that I eat this way too.
This is what I explain to my friends from other countries as to why Israelis are so good at vegan.
Israel’s food is industry is tightly controlled by the Jewish laws of kashrut. You might also know it as Kosher food, or the K symbol you see on products outside of Israel. Jews have a struct dietary law full of details on ingredients that go into what they eat and how they are prepared and on what dishes things are cooked. Every step of the way is overseen. For observant Jews, and the ones who regulate the food industry here there are very big distinctions made between a meat meal, a dairy meal, and a parve meal. Observant Jews are not allowed to eat meat and milk together, so the separation of food items are essential at the source.
A meat meal is one that includes kosher meat such as chicken or beef in any kosher form. Life a hamburger, hold the cheese.
A dairy meal is one that includes dairy items, like a pizza, hold the pepperoni.
A parve meal contains neither meat nor milk so it can be eaten with or after any of the meals listed above. Except for the issue of fish gelatin or honey (you need to ask if you are vegan) most parve dishes are 100% perfect for vegans. So if you want to get around Israel and eat like a vegan even in the middle of nowhere, ask for a parve dish (said par – veh). You can even find parve (I mean vegan) Nutella in Israel!
Israel is smack dab in the Levant area of the Middle East and it’s also a part of the Mediterranean so plant based meals are already a natural part of the daily diet. Many people in Israel from all walks of life will eat hummus for breakfast (a parve vegan meal) and falafel (parve vegan meal) for lunch.
Israelis are super health conscious. There are probably just as many yoga studios over here as there are in the trendiest neighborhoods of LA. Israelis love to be on the cutting edge of new health trends – like Rolfing, Gaga dancing (Israeli invention), Feldenkrais (Israeli invention). People love to ride bikes, stroll around the city and hike in nature. And if you are worried that your health-conscious bod can’t take the lack of meat or cheese check out the Vegan Liftz. Some vegans rely on whey supplements, but many I know get their full proteins and vitamins (except B12) from a conscientious diet and healthy eating habits.
Israelis love to be on the forefront of new ideas. Just refer to what Israelis have contributed to hightech (even vegan hightech!) and research in medicine to get the point. Israelis love to be where no one else is. From all areas of art like great movies, listening to awesome music, or seeing and creating dance performances to the latest gadgets, gear and places to travel, you will find an Israeli or a few hundred. Consider that Israel had a vegetarian village, Amirim, in the 50s! Veganism is a trend that I hope is here to stay. Eating animals contributes to a huge environmental tax on our planet. Smart food choices like eating a healthy vegan diet – or trying one 4 out of the 7 days of the week is a smart move that your body will also bless.