by Roberta Kalechofsky

Myself Surprised at Becoming a Jewish Vegetarian

If, as the author posits, in Judaism the sensual precedes the intellectual, how do you give up Bubbie’s delicious brisket for tofu?

Like most Eastern European Jews, my Jewish roots were intertwined with Jewish culinary traditions. Shabbos meant challah baked by Bubble, chicken soup, and meat cholent. On summer Friday nights, when windows were open, the entire neighborhood smelled oi Shabbos cooking. Every Jewish holiday had its own particular smells and tastes. The Jewish calendar is a calendar of the senses—not only of historical moments. Like most others in my wider culture, Jew or non-Jew, I regarded vegetarians with bemused tolerance and wondered what you fed them. The break with my culinary heritage occurred when I began to learn about meat containing DES, the sex hormone that causes vaginal cancer in women and breast development in young boys. I had two pubescent sons at the time.

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