Is a Jew permitted to be a Vegetarian?
Question submitted to “Ask the Rabbi” by:
“how do Jews who are meambers of peta and/or vegans handle Passover lamb slashing?????????????”
Rabbi Tully Bryks responds:
While there may be some observant Jews who are vegetarians or vegans, such a choice is perfectly acceptable due to health reasons or personal taste preference. However, meat should not be rejected due to any moral stance against eating animals. As believers in G-d and the Divine origin of the Torah (Bible), our sense of right and wrong is not determined by the (often changing) subjective values of a particular society or generation. Rather, we believe that the Torah is the absolute source for morality. As such, Jewish law is very clear that both animal sacrifice (in Temple times) and animal consumption are permitted, and sometimes even commanded.
For more details about this topic, please see my article on Animal Sacrifice.
Regarding Shabbos (the Sabbath), we are supposed to eat foods that we enjoy. As such, meat and fish are recommended. However, if someone does not like the taste of meat at all, it may be permitted for them to consume alternative foods. On Yom Tov (Holidays), it could be that the meat requirement is not dismissed as easily simply due to subjective taste preferences. But even then, if there are potential serious health issues, ensuring one’s safety would take precedence.
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