Are you finding yourself looking for a healthy, delicious, and conscious food style, but aren’t ready (or able) to go vegan or vegetarian? Kosher foods meet all the requirements – and they’re suitable for every lifestyle!
What Makes Food Kosher or Not?
Kosher comes from the Hebrew word kashér, which means “fit [for consumption].” There are some limits on the type of food sources considered kosher, as well as how different food groups may be paired together.
For example, kosher meat must come from an animal that chews its cud and has cloven hooves, or from domesticated birds like chickens. Just as important, the kosher animal must be slaughtered according to the shechita practice, with a very sharp, flawless knife.
If you’re looking to be more mindful of your food choices, then kosher meat is a great option. The kosher laws are all about having respect for life, including how the animal is treated while alive. Even PETA recognizes kosher meat is the more humane option.
When it comes to dairy products, the milk must come from a well-treated kosher animal, with no exploitation or abuse. And there must be a total separation from meat, which includes using different utensils.
Some cheeses are made using gelatin or rennet, both of which are animal-based products that fall under the kosher definition of meat. So if you’re a Lacto-vegetarian, kosher cheese is the best way to avoid accidentally eating something with non-dairy animal-based content!
Kosher food also includes fatty fish like tuna and salmon (which are great sources of omega-3 fatty oils) and every plant-based food you can imagine. The only limitation: fish must have fins and scales to be considered kosher, while fruits and vegetables can’t be processed using the same utensils and tools used for processing meat.
This gives another inherent benefit for all – there’s guaranteed to be no cross-contamination!
If I Want to Be More Mindful With My Diet, Why Not Go Vegan?
Veganism can be a drastic change for some, and experts agree if you’re considering going vegan, you should start by making small dietary changes. This way, you give your body enough time to adapt to the new diet.
But some people simply can’t go vegan, even with a slower approach. Because the truth is, not all of us have the genetic makeup and gut health necessary for getting all the nutrients we need with a vegan diet.
For example, about 45% of the population can’t absorb enough vitamin A from plant-based foods alone. They might even get vitamin A deficiency on a lacto-vegetarian diet!
Similarly, if your genetic makeup, use of antibiotics, or chemotherapy left you without the bacteria necessary for producing vitamin K2, a vegan diet will leave you with a severe deficiency.
This makes you more susceptible to things like diabetes and heart issues. Vitamin K1 is found in leafy greens, but vitamin K2 can only be found in meat-products and fermented soybean, which is a very acquired taste.
There are a few other factors that make it dangerous for some people to go vegan. Men and menopausal women, for example, are especially at risk due to higher choline requirements and the extremely low level of choline that can be found in plant-based foods. Without enough choline, you risk organ failure!
But this isn’t meant to scare you away from being more mindful about your food choices. If a medical professional advises you against going vegan, then kosher foods are a great choice. And you can still make small changes – like switching to vegan ice cream!
The two dietary lifestyles are also very compatible, with a lot of kosher food being vegan-friendly.
Where Can I Find Kosher Foods in New York?
New York has the biggest Jewish population in the United States, so there are plenty of options available for finding kosher food!
The top kosher restaurants in New York City include:
- Reserve Cut – 40 Broad Street (2nd floor)
- Wolf & Lamb – 1635 Coney Island Avenue and 16 East 48th Street
- Noi Due Cafe – 143 West 69th Street
- Tiberias – 45 East 43th Street
You can even have delicious kosher gift baskets delivered to your house – or to a friend – perfect for celebrating birthdays, Purim or the holiday season. You can order kosher gourmet gift baskets online at Broadway Basketeers!
Being mindful about what you eat doesn’t mean you need to rob yourself of delicious foods. Whether you decide to go vegan, vegetarian, or remain an omnivore, kosher food is a great choice for all.