10 April 2011

Why an Observant Jew Should Follow a Plant-based (Vegan) Diet

Why an Observant Jew Should Follow a Plant-based (Vegan) Diet, by Rabbi Simchah Roth

In this day and age, a vegan diet is to be highly commended, especially in the case of a Torah observant Jew. Since this statement will come to many as a surprise (and perhaps a shock), it demands of me a full and reasoned response, particularly since many do not know what veganism is or how it is different from vegetarianism. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products and honey. A healthy and varied vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

We live, today, thank God, in an era in which more and more Jews are seeking greater spiritual fulfillment. This is probably a reaction to the moral laxity and vacuousness of much of modern society. Modern society has brought many blessings to our world. People today are more knowledgeable and more affluent. This is due to the enormous development of scientific knowledge over the past five hundred years. Modern man's scientific capabilities have been developing at an ever increasing rate; and the exponential increase in the speed of innovation today is incredible. But this great blessing also nurtures a curse. Sometimes we surge ahead with the innovations of the industrial and post-industrial age without realising that we may inadvertently be causing a greater harm to our terrestrial environment than the blessing that we hope to bring to our material comfort.

It is now accepted by the greater part of the scientific community that climate change is upon us. And it is generally accepted now that human activity probably contributes to a very large extent to this ecological change – a change that will inevitably affect the life of every human being on God's Earth. One way in which each and every one of us can help heal our world is by switching to a plant-based diet. However, most religiously motivated Jews will reject this change outright, mainly because it seems to run counter to their accepted lifestyle which, they feel, has acquired an aura of sanctity.

It is my intention in this article to demonstrate that, if an observant Jew switches to a plant-based diet, he or she will be fulfilling some very great religious precepts [mitzvot], some of which have been ignored in recent times. I hope to detail four important and ethical precepts of Judaism that prompt the modern observant Jew to adopt a vegan diet. Since the article is quite long you might find it easier to read its four sections separately. You can click on one of these links to access the section that you wish to read. (I do suggest that you read them in sequential order.)
Link: Why an Observant Jew Should Follow a Plant-based (Vegan) Diet