Being a vegan Jew most of the year doesn’t pose to many problems, many Vegans may refrain from putting on tefillin or using animal skins to make their Torahs and Mezuzot, but these are minor issues that never really conflict with their undying faith to Judaism. However, this all changes when the high holiday’s approach and every year around the world, Jewish vegans prepare to test their faith through another round of searching their souls for answers to the Jewish vegan problems of the day.
I was at my job in San Francisco one day preceding Rosh Hashanah, when my boss made mention of a local congregation that was searching for a vegan shofar, surely she must be pulling my chain or yanking my chef’s knife – but lo and behold this congregation had actually gotten a 100% vegan shofar made of mahogany. Sounded downright strange to me, but in true liberal fashion I couldn’t knock another Jew striving to find their faith in a shofar made from wood, could I? Could someone be so calous as to make fun of these heilige yidden trying to figure out how on earth they could make veganism and Judaism compatable, because quite frankly I didn’t think it was possible.
I guess it’s a good thing that the original reformers weren’t vegan, instead of totally changing certain traditons, they scrapped them and replaced them with Christian-like items. This may be the reason that the Reform movement and other borderline Jew-ish movements of today don’t have a real mesorah to use mahogany shofarot, soy based tefillin and sefer torah’s made from compostable post consumer materials.
It’s not only shofars that pose problems for the Jewish vegan during the high holidays, it’s the apple in the honey as well, many vegans have begun using agave as a substitute. Kaparos also pose a problem, because the really frum vegans will go out and protest with goyishe groups over the torture that chickens experience when the shochet forgets to put it in the barrel and runs around without its head through the streets of Williamsburg. Even though no secular vegan Jew-ish person ever did kaparos they are still dreading that some of the more right wing factions of secular Jewish movements may adopt such a practice because of it’s similarity to Christ dying for out sins.
In the past few years, there have been many to support the use of tofurky in yuntiff seuda’s, but many liberal Jews fear that the use tofurky is a morris ayin to those who may come to think that these helige vegans are in fact eating meat – because it all looks the same on the plate.
Succos on the other hand is a great safe haven for those vegans embarrassed around their suddenly religious friends who have ignored the temple all year. It’s quite rough when you don’t do those traditions which all your friends do, dipping the apple, reading from a parchment scroll, blowing the rams horn and eating brisket make the vegans look like zealots and do when succos finally arrives they can join their brethren again and be normal Jews for once.
Succos not only provides sanctuary for vegans, it almost redeems them for they can show everyone how important trees and shrubbery are to the truly pious Jew. Animals cannot provide the four spices and the sukkah and it’s a good thing that most of the vegan Jews out there don’t have to put on tefillin on chol hamoid.
Find out more about Jewish vegans on 4torah.com