By Simon Rocker
January 7, 2013
Should the 21st century ideal of kashrut include giving up eating meat altogether? A recent article in the JC has reignited the debate between veggies and fleishniks.
In a letter in this week’s JC, Masorti’s Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, puts the meat-free case.
“I care deeply about kashrut. I appreciate the importance of shechitah as truly intended — the way to respect animals and cause them the minimum of suffering at their death. Were the right to practise shechitah again in jeopardy in the UK, I would of course join the community in defending it.
“At the same time I am a non-meat-eater by strong and increasing conviction. Kosher slaughter does not on its own address all the issues involved in the production of meat. Key among these is the principle of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, avoiding animal suffering, which most rabbinic authorities regard as a Torah-based injunction. There are also wider ecological and economic concerns in regarding meat as a staple food.
“Vegetarians have no less responsibility in ensuring that dairy products and eggs are sourced in ways which do not entail cruelty. We are all answerable as consumers for the conditions in which those who produce our food work. My true ideal is therefore to keep kashrut within the wider Jewish ethical values of avoiding animal suffering, minimising waste, trading justly, respecting the world as God’s creation and working to mitigate poverty and hunger.”
But for a carnivore's view, see Geoffrey Alderman’s comment piece.