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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 6.9:
Is vegetarianism kosher?


In principle, vegetarianism is compatible with Judaism. In fact, there are those who find reasons within Jewish thought supporting vegetarianism. However, Judaism categorically rejects the radical animal rights position that animals have the same rights as people. It should also be kept in mind that, in traditional circles at least, vegetarianism may be considered somewhat "strange".

From the traditional viewpoint, vegetarianism for anything other than health reasons is not supported, for the following reasons:

Non-traditional movements do hold with the notion of "Ethcial Kashrut". Gates of Mitzvah, the Reform guide to Mitzvot, notes: "One might opt to eat only kosher meat or even to adopt some form of vegetarianism so as to avoid the necessity of taking a life. (This would be in consonance with the principle of tsa-ar baalei chayim--prevention of cruelty to animals.)"

According to most halachic authorities, when the Temple is rebuilt, all Jewish men will be obligated to partake of the paschal lamb with their families. Nothing short of a severe lamb allergy permits abstaining from this sacrificial meal (of course, it is believed that when the Temple is built, G-d will heal the sick, so the allergies will go away). There are various positions on this issue, which have been written about in Kashrus magazine and on the net. Consult your local rabbi for details.

Note that, while Judaism defines animals as below humans and does not give animals the same rights as people, it does take very strong pro-animal stance. Animals must be treated with care and respect; recall that the Torah says that a hungry animal must be fed before its master.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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