The unapologetically Zionist vegan chef who refuses to be ‘cancelled’ for supporting Israel

Instagram’s champion of Jewish pride and food talks to the JC about cooking up a storm despite the haters


(photo: Ben Rebuck)

Ben Rebuck lost twenty thousand Instagram followers in the fortnight after October 7 and last month thousands more dropped off when he was “outed” as a Zionist. But the Jewish chef behind Ben’s Vegan Kitchen is not worried – his following has more than doubled since the war started.

With over 400,000 Instagram followers and 2.5 million TikTok likes, Rebuck has been cooking up culinary content for the last seven years to a growing global community. With his gold Chai necklace visible in most of his videos, the 32-year-old father-of-one from Radlett says, “Everything I do is Jewish, it’s who I am and it’s what I stand for.”

Antisemitic comments started coming when the food influencer addressed the terror attack on his channel in the days after October 7. More recently, Pesach recipes and a sketch with comedian Zach Margolin have caused a storm, with some anti-Israel vegans harassing him with hundreds of hateful comments.

On the day the video collaboration with Margolin – who alone has 4.2 million TikTok likes – was released, Rebuck lost 1500 followers and another 1000 a day later.

Soon after, an Instagram channel called “Vegans 4 collective liberation” posted a four-page rant “outing” Rebuck as Zionist; a torrent of antisemitism followed. The influencer started appealing to Instagram to step in and act against Jew hate, explaining “The channel was posting 'exposés’ but all they were doing was saying that some people were Jewish.” When the chef’s fans came to his defence, their supportive comments were deleted by the anti-Israel account. Eventually, Instagram took the post down, but the Rebuck says the social media company took too long to act.

Used to fielding antisemitic comments, Rebuck says the response to his Pesach content, which featured matzo bourekas and cinnamon balls among other recipes, triggered the worst tide of abuse he has seen. He’s turned off comments on some of the videos.

“When I make a video about Judaism and people equate it to Palestine, it shows what their intentions are: they are just interested in harassing Jews. I say to them, ‘You really think you’re going to make a difference by harassing a British Jew on his Instagram?’ People aren’t harassing Muslims on Instagram with Israeli flags, it’s not how we behave.”

“I have no issue with people not liking Israel, but to go out of your way to harass me because I’m Jewish, that’s wrong. It’s the same as spray painting a Magen David on the door of someone’s house in Germany in the 1930s.”

With ‘vegans for Palestine’ staging encampments across college campuses, Rebuck’s Zionism, accompanied by his shaven head, beanie hat and tattoos, stands out in the crowd.

“People are saying you cannot be a Zionist and be vegan,” he says. Others have told him that he cannot support justice for animals if is a Zionist: “It’s stupid and ridiculous.”

“People keep messaging me to say they heard I was a Zionist and that I support genocide. But who do you meet in day-to-day life who supports genocide? People are using these sentences full of buzzwords, but they don’t understand what they mean.”

He calls the haters “misguided idiots with no skin in the game,” whereas for him, Israel is “home.”

“Most of my family live in Israel and I lived there for three years; for us this stuff is real. These people [the anti-Israel campaigners] are jumping on the bandwagon because they think this is what they’re supposed to do but I will never do that. I know I am on the right side of history.”

Rebuck is not going to shy away from the Z-word anytime soon: “People keep saying I’m an unapologetic Zionist in a bad way. But why do I need to apologise for being a Zionist?”

“Being a Zionist has nothing to do with Palestine. You can be a Zionist and be pro-Palestine, but people have forgotten that you can hold two truths at once, you can support both,” he says.

“Being from a country or supporting a country doesn’t mean supporting everything it does,” he adds, mentioning that he was on the streets of Tel Aviv protesting Netanyahu’s government and the judicial overhaul before the war.

He was fast to raise money for Israel and co-hosted a Shuk-themed Israeli food event in October which raised over £16,000 for Israel; some of the funds went towards providing vegan meals for Israeli soldiers.

In March, he travelled to Israel and hosted a pop-up menu in a cafe in Jaffa. While some unfollowed him at the time, he explained to his followers on Instagram, “Whatever your political stance is, my goal is to provide a different viewpoint for some people and to provide vegan recipes, which are also a different viewpoint for some.” He added, “I don’t get asked my political opinion of any other country I visit.”

The proud Zionist vegan is determined: “The lion does not care about the opinion of the sheep,” he muses. And Ben’s Vegan Kitchen is roaring, gaining 200,000 followers in the last half a year.

His global audience has flooded his channel with appreciation and he’s had appearances on prime time TV. One Instagram user commented that Rebuck’s matzo ball soup had allowed them to remember their mother’s chicken soup. Thousands more appreciate what the chef does to make vegan and Jewish food accessible.

“My recipes are not 100% kosher but by definition, they’re all kosher friendly.” He adds, “Observant Jews have said they love my recipes because they can easily mix milk in. When the recipe is vegan there is never the worry of milk and meat.”

“People still follow me because I make vegan recipes,” says Rebuck, keen to keep doing what he does best.

“My page is flying, and I will not be cancelled.”

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