As a vegan, I have noticed that so many vegan foods also tend to be kosher since they do not include any milk or meat products. However, when you get into the nitty-gritty details, there is a great deal more that you need to think about.
To answer your question straight up, is all vegan food kosher? Well, all vegan food is kosher, basically, but it does depend on how strictly you take your kosher diet and follow kosher laws.
Vegan food can actually fail to be kosher due to many things, such as the use of non-kosher equipment, preparation by non-Jewish persons, and food being made with no kosher supervision.
Kosher diets even have requirements for wine and grape juice to be kosher.
Today, we are going to cover the reasons why not all vegan food is kosher, and while it is kosher on a surface level, it may not be when you really look into it, especially if you are strict around the laws of kashrut.
Vegan Food Is Kosher…For The Most Part
Knowing that a meal is vegan gives you a hint that it is possibly also kosher, it is like 90% certainly, but you need to be mindful of that other 10%.
You see, when a meal is vegan, this means that there are no animal products in it, no dairy, meat, or eggs. As kosher laws also do not allow the mixing of meats and milk, vegan meals eliminate this whole problem.
You won’t have to worry about the animal the milk or meat comes from in a vegan meal as there is none, and there is no worry about mixing incorrect foods together or having to wait to avoid this issue. It makes it a lot easier.
An Israeli Orthodox Rabbi suggested that kosher laws may be in place as a way to nudge us towards a more vegetarian styled diet.
How Strict Do Jewish People Keep Kosher?
Most Jewish people will probably feel totally comfortable including all vegan food as kosher food, however, if you try to fully follow the stricter laws of kashrut then there will also be other requirements that need to be fulfilled.
Much like there are vegans who will follow their diet with varying levels of strictness, there will also be Jews who follow kosher laws with varying levels of strictness.
There are some people who will keep kosher and assume that pretty much any food in a vegan dining establishment is kosher. Some may demand to see certifications from an establishment and get more information.
Why Might Vegan Food Not Be Kosher?
Let’s take a look at the reasons why vegan food may not be kosher. While we look through these and consider vegan foods and how they are made, there are several factors that determine how kosher-friendly food is, and while most vegan foods comply, not everything will.
Insects Inside The Produce
This one is kind of gross and also ironic. Neither Jews nor Vegans want to be chowing down on bugs. However, if I am honest with you, vegan organizations take nowhere near as many measures to make sure that no product accidentally includes insects.
Sure, some vegan companies are super intensive, but not all are, and some could contain an accidental bug or two.
This usually happens during harvesting, when you are harvesting fruits or vegetables, some insects may get picked up in the process. We have all been de-leafing lettuce and there’s been a surprise bug hiding in a leaf at one point. Most of us will notice, it can’t always be helped.
So, it is entirely possible that some vegan foods which are certified as vegan may actually come with insects in tow.
Remember, while with lettuce this is not so bad, you can pick that insect out of the lettuce and let him roam free in your yard, no problem, but it’s a bit different when it’s a restaurant or pre-prepared meal!
Even a very small amount of non-kosher food could contaminate a kosher dish, certification to be kosher needs a much higher level of cleanliness to ensure no insects end up in the dish.
There is a passage in the Torah that notes just how important this is “All the swarming things that swarm on the ground you shall not eat” as is said in Leviticus 11:42.
It might be an idea for vegans to adopt this side of a kosher diet since neither vegans nor those on a kosher diet want to be eating any insects.
Food Prep Done By Non-Jewish Workers
Another factor is that in accordance with a proper strict kosher diet, there are some particular foods that need to be baked or cooked by an observant Jew in order to actually be kosher.
It is also ideal if all food that is prepared for a Jewish person to eat should be prepared in at least some way by a Jewish cook or chef.
At a certified kosher restaurant, this means they will have a Jewish person assisting in the preparation of all the food, this is sometimes done in simple ways, even if it is just having them light the cooker for cooking.
I am vegan, and not kosher, so, therefore, I do not know all of the rules there are around which foods need to be prepared by a Jewish person for them to be genuinely kosher. However, I am well aware that there is a rule that centers around food that is “fit for a royal table”, and it is to do with foods that are always to be cooked, and not ingested raw (i.e. potatoes).
Food May Be Processed Without Any Kosher Supervision
It is also interesting how a dish can end up non-kosher by even the smallest amount of non-kosher food.
This means that Kosher certification of supervision is needed for restaurants and processed goods.
The rule is that even one-sixtieth part of food could render a dish as being non-kosher. This standard is incredibly strict in order to make sure that no non-kosher ingredients can get into kosher foods.
A kashrut supervising agency or rabbi is able to certify a restaurant as being kosher, but even if a restaurant seems to be following kosher laws, without this certification they can’t be trusted at the peak of kosher standards.
Do not forget that this stands with processed foods as well as restaurants.
While we vegans do have certification processes, they are usually not quite as strict as this, so they can be flawed for those on a kosher diet who want to pick up a vegan dish.
The kitchenware Used May Not Be Kosher
For food to be kosher, it is also required that it be prepared with utensils, pots, pans, and even countertops that are kosher. If kitchen equipment is used to prep non-kosher food then it needs to be ‘koshered’ before it is allowed to prep kosher food.
This is another way in which kosher standards are much stricter than vegan standards.
Grape Juice, Wine, Balsamic Vinegar, Etc!
While a raw grape is kosher, wine and grape juice are special in Jewish rituals, therefore there are kosher laws around these products.
The wine offered at vegan restaurants is unlikely to be non-kosher, however, this wine is still not actually kosher unless its entire production process is also kosher-certified.
This also means that balsamic vinegar is also not kosher unless strictly labeled as being so, as it contains grape juice, so store-bought and vegan restaurant balsamic vinegar may not be kosher.
Flip It: Is All Kosher Vegan?
What if we flip it? Are kosher foods vegan? Nope! Some kosher food includes eggs, meat, and some milk types, but we vegans do not eat animal products, period.
Kosher is actually not like veganism at all, and while Jews can eat a vegan diet, vegans can’t eat a Jewish kosher diet most of the time.
On a kosher diet, meat can be consumed as long as the meat that is eaten was slaughtered in a certain way. So you can be sure a kosher diet is definitely not vegan!
Are All Jews Vegan?
In modern times most Jews will eat meat. However, in the high idea of God, the initial vegetarian dietary law is still supreme in the Torah and is the goal most Jews will strive for.
Jewish law does not strive for veganism, although veganism would not be too difficult. However, a vegetarian diet is ideal for a Jewish person.
Jewish law imposes very strict rules around which animals can be consumed and how they should be killed, but the Torah does very clearly permit meat consumption
Is Kosher Only For Meat?
Kosher foods can be meat, dairy or pareve. Pareve means any food which is not meat or dairy, not kosher for all foods.
Kosher meat includes any mammals and fowl and the products which come from them.
Kosher dairy includes milk, butter, cheese, and yogurt. Then Pareve is any food that is not meat or dairy, so includes fish and egg, as well as all plant-based foods.
What Religion Is Completely Vegan?
There are 3 religions that have plant-based diets deep-rooted in them. This includes Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. They all believe in Ahimsa which is a reference to the non-violence and kindness of living creatures.
Can A Vegetarian Eat Kosher?
Vegetarians can be kosher, but you would need to have a strict kosher diet that eliminates meat, sticking to God’s original plan for humanity. This means it is actually easy to be Jewish and vegetarian.