The Jewish diet is a dietary pattern that is observed by Jewish people around the world. The Jewish diet is based on a set of dietary laws known as kashrut, which is derived from the Hebrew word "kasher," meaning "fit" or "proper." These dietary laws are found in the Jewish holy book, the Torah, and are followed by Orthodox Jews and some Conservative Jews.
- Kashrut sets out specific rules for what can and cannot be eaten. According to kashrut, the following foods are considered to be "kosher" and can be eaten:
- Animals that have cloven hooves and chew their cud, such as cows, sheep, and goats.
- Fish that have fins and scales, such as salmon and tuna.
- Birds that are not birds of prey or scavengers, such as chickens and turkeys.
- Insects that are not considered to be harmful, such as certain types of grasshoppers.
- Fruits, vegetables, and grains are generally considered to be kosher.
- In addition to these rules, kashrut also prohibits the consumption of certain foods, including:
- Pork and shellfish, which are considered to be unclean.
- Meat and dairy products cannot be consumed together or cooked together, as this is seen as mixing "life and death" and violating the principle of "separation."
- Animals must be killed in a specific way that minimizes pain and suffering, and a trained individual must oversee the slaughter process.
- Blood must be drained from meat before it can be eaten.
In addition to the rules of kashrut, there are several dietary customs that are observed by Jewish people. For example, there is a custom of eating a festive meal on Friday night to welcome in the Jewish Sabbath. This meal often includes challah (a type of bread), chicken soup, and roasted chicken or beef.
During the Jewish holiday of Passover, there are specific dietary restrictions that are observed. For example, leavened bread (chametz) is not allowed, and all products made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt are prohibited. Instead, matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten.
The Jewish diet has been shown to have several health benefits. For example, the emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and grains can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Additionally, the requirement for meat to be drained of blood before consumption can help to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.