As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, I suggest that we commemorate the redemption of our ancestors from slavery this Passover by ending the current slavery to harmful eating habits.
An increasing number of Jews are finding ways to celebrate vegetarian Passovers consistent with Jewish teachings. Contrary to a common perception, Jews are not required to eat meat at the Passover seder or any other time.
Several Passover themes have vegetarian connections:
• At the seder, Jews say, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Vegetarian diets require far less land, water, fuel, pesticides, fertilizer, and other resources, and thus enable the better sharing of God’s abundant resources, which can help reduce global hunger and poverty.
• Passover is the holiday of springtime, a time of nature’s renewal. It also commemorates God’s supremacy over the forces of nature. In contrast, the production of meat has many negative environmental effects.
• The main Passover theme is freedom. While relating the story of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt and their redemption, many Jewish vegetarians also consider the “slavery” of animals on modern “factory farms.”
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Newport News, VA