Dear R’ Heshy: Are vegans going against halacha?

meat is murder hebrew jewish vegansDear R’ Heshy,

I know we’re friends on Facebook, but I’m not sure if you saw the tumult on HaRav HaGaon Eliyahu Finks Facebook beis medrish today. He asked his chassidim, whether or not Heimishe Vegans were a possibility. Naturally, being classifying as heimishe myself, I instantly became incensed that anyone would even have the hava mina that one could be a frum vegan. Everyone likes to cite the famed Rav Kook as being a vegetarian, but most people forget to mention that he ate a small piece of chicken on shabbos to fulfiill the seudas mitzvah. 

Unfortunately Reb Fink didn’t actually answer the question and his readers didn’t provide much insight, they are all mindless chassidim who listen to his every word after all. OTD posek Rachmuna Litzlon did mention that humane is a liberal idea and hence anyone who calls themselves a heimishe vegan/vegetarian would have to prove that they don’t hold of their lifestyle due to moral reasons. Still, I noticed that you didn’t take part in the conversation and was wondering what Reb Heshy would have to say on the subject.


Heimishe Carnivore

Dear HC,

I was probably hugging trees or walking around a farmers market when this was going on, I’m sorry I missed such an important discussion. So important that poskim and chassidim decided that it wasn’t bittul z’man to discuss something that is hard to discuss because no one actually knows what Heimishe means. It one were to look at the classic texts of mussar, they would see concepts that urge man (heimishe women don’t know from such things) to refrain from physical things in order to learn self control. Meat is one such item, however, meat is a necessity on shabbos and as you stated above with your example of Rav Kook, I’m fairly certian that one would be hard pressed to find a gadol of any dor who was a vegan.

The only reason that the heimishe community (my father was shocked when he learned of the practice) knows about vegans is because of the influx of Baalei Teshuva in the last 30 years. Vegans can only exist in times of plenty, because without meat in the shtetl, our ancestors would have surely starved (they starved anyway, but all the shochtim would have gone out of business and potatoes are not a source of protein) I also know that being a vegan for moral reasons is just another chance to denounce the Torah, does that mean that karbanos are all inhumane? Then again, we’re supposedly going to all be vegans once moshiach comes – this may explain the high numbers of vegans within Chabad.

I would argue that vegans are going against halacha if they do it for moral reasons. If they do it for health reasons, they are actually doing a mitzvah. If they do because it’s cool, than they probably aren’t that heimishe.

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