VEGETARIANISM IN JEWISH TRADITIONS AND CULTURE
Vegetarianism, the theory or practice of living solely upon vegetables, fruits, grains, is found in many cultures and religions around the world. These can be traced to a belief that any plant that bears or manifests the vital forces at work in the world, such as growth and renewal, may host divine or magic powers that would transfer to those who eat them.
Jewish practitioners of vegetarianism, however, point to Genesis 1:29 as the first dietary law allowing only vegetarian foods: “God said: behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree…to you it shall be food.” Also cited by many practitioners is the prohibition of causing needless suffering to animals (tsa’ar ba’alei hayim).
This exhibit represents some aspects of modern Judaism’s debate about vegetarianism’s values and place within Jewish tradition and thought.
Numerous articles on this topic are available.