Vegan is the new kosher, rabbis worldwide declare

Rabbi David Rosen says Jewish dietary laws - kashrut - should encompass the harm caused by eating meat. Rabbi Rosen says that vegan is the new kosher.
Israeli butcher Ronen Solomon arranges a display of non-kosher meats in his delicatessen June 14, 2004 in Ranana in central Israel. (David Silverman/Getty Images)
First and foremost, the purpose, according to the sages of the Talmud, of the dietary laws is to refine the human personality. In other words, It's meant to have an impact upon our ethical conduct.- David Rosen

Rabbi David Rosen, one of the leading Jewish interfaith activists, would like Jews to consider veganism as the new kosher. He joins more than 70 rabbis worldwide who have signed a declaration urging Jews around the world to embrace veganism.

"Today, there are important ethical reasons why the whole world should be living according to a plant-based diet.

"But from a Jewish perspective, there are specific particular concerns that relate to specific Jewish injunctions which are born out of the religious tradition of Jewish practice law ... that should demand that people should no longer if you like, collaborate or party to an industry which is problematic ethically, environmentally, even in terms of economic justice," says Rosen.

Rabbi Rosen is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee in Jerusalem.  He's also the Honorary President of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society

"Eating meat, paradoxically, in the past, was done in a much more moral and compassionate fashion than it's done today," says Rosen, "If I could use the metaphor like dropping bombs from airplanes is little more clinical than slitting people's throats but there's no moral difference between the two."

He's based in Israel where veganism is taking off with both the Muslim and Jewish populations. In fact, Israel is credited with having the largest number of vegans in the world per capita.

Don't go cold turkey

"This movement has much more come from the secular elements in Israeli society than the religiously observant. Of course, this terminology is a little bit misleading," says Rosen. 

"Very often the spiritual motivations within those that call them secular can sometimes be far more profound than those that call themselves religious." 

Rosen joins more than 70 rabbis worldwide who have signed a declaration urging Jews around the world to embrace veganism. (Submitted by David Rosen)

Rabbi Rosen began his own dietary changes by becoming vegetarian before following a completely vegan diet. He recommends that people, when possible, make more plant-based choices when they can, and simply scale back the amount of meat in their daily diets.

"I will tell people just reduce your meat consumption, reduce your animal product consumption. You're already doing something good, making a contribution. Don't try to go cold turkey overnight."