I’ve done a few month-long challenges now: A month without sugar, my month of living zero-waste, and of course my totally failed month of waking up early (expect an update on that one as I re-attempt to become a morning person). This April—kind of in honor of Passover—I decided to give going a Kosher a try. How hard could it be?
As a kid, I always had a vision that Kosher food involved some rabbi standing in front of an assembly line of package food, blessing it as it passes. This isn’t exactly how it works (unless is secretly is, in which I need someone in the know to contact me immediately!) Eating Kosher isn’t just about hunting down packaged foods with the little Kosher label printed on them and opting out of bacon at breakfast. It’s a much more comprehensive set of rules for what you can and can’t eat, how it’s prepared, and how your kitchen is arranged/used. Keeping a Kosher kitchen goes beyond the process of avoiding particular foods—one must take extra steps to avoid cross contamination with cookware, knifes, plates, utensils etc. To further complicate the matter, these rules are written in the Torah in sometimes broad, lofty sounding terms. After reading a few different informational site, I settled on following a generally agreed upon interpretation of the Kosher law, which I will summarize thusly:
This is seriously just a brief overview of Kosher law. There are way more details if you’re going to follow it strictly and I’ll put a list of resources in the sidebar for anyone looking to try eating Kosher or just curious and want to know more.
So how’d my month of Kosher eating go? Well, I was vegetarian for the entire month. I eat like 99 percent vegetarian diet to begin with so that’s really not a big shift for me. Being vegetarian makes abiding to Kosher law so much easier! Keeping a Kosher kitchen isn’t so difficult when you’re cooking all your own food, not sharing cookware with roommates, and, of course, not introducing meat into the mix. Pro Tip: Trader Joe’s has a nice selection of packaged foods that are labeled Kosher. What ended up being really difficult for me is eating out. I just don’t trust most restaurants to be following Kosher law when it comes to cooking and food prep. I ended up not really eat out during April to avoid any unknowns. The couple of times I did end up eating out, I attempted to be very careful about where and what I ate (so if something I ate ended up not being as strictly Kosher as I hoped, at least I tired my best).
The funniest part, to me, is that abiding to Kosher law kind of lingered with me after the month was over. It’s been more than a week since I stopped being Kosher, but I continuously forget and get a tinge of anxiety if I’m going out or grocery shopping. I keep checking if something is Kosher and I’m constantly reminding myself that April is over.
As of now, I am totally free to eat cheese from a charcuterie board… or go really crazy and order pepperoni pizza!
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.