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Keeping Kosher, Eating Traditional, & Dealing with Food Allergies

Photo by Ttowfiqu Barbhuiya/ Unsplash

by Contributing Author

When you are keeping kosher and have food allergies, eating out or at someone’s house could be difficult. There are many different foods that cause allergies, and the rules of keeping kosher can prevent Jewish people from eating specific foods. If you like all kinds of cuisines, you must pay attention to what you eat. Whether you have food allergies or are just trying to keep kosher, it can feel difficult to eat in certain situations.

Are you trying to eat foods from around the world, keep kosher, and handle food allergies at the same time? Luckily there are some things you can do to make sure that you are staying healthy while staying kosher and eating food that you enjoy. Whatever your situation, below are some tips to navigate food, religion, and allergies.

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Take a Food Sensitivity Test

If you think that you have a food allergy, one great option is to take a food sensitivity test. These tests provide information that enable us to know what you are allergic to and what you have a mild sensitivity to. It can help you find what foods to avoid. With one of these at-home tests, you can find out if you are sensitive to almost 100 different foods.

Not only will it let you know what foods you’re sensitive to, it will give you the information you need to determine what stage of reaction you will have. It begins with 0, meaning no reaction to 3, which is a high reaction. With one of these tests, you can determine what foods and ingredients you are sensitive to, and which ones are free to consume.  

Keeping Kosher

Eating kosher is another thing that Jewish people need to worry about when they are religious. When eating kosher, you can’t eat pork or shellfish. Kosher fish are out there, but they can’t touch the same surface as shellfish. If there are other types of seafood and fish that aren’t kosher produced at the location, it isn’t technically kosher.

When it comes to fish, you can look for a kosher certification. Furthermore, there are other rules of staying kosher. For example, you can’t eat meat and fish at the same time. You can’t eat birds of prey, but poultry is acceptable. Orthodox Jews may even have separate refrigerators for their meat and dairy.

Vegetarianism & Veganism

When you’re a vegetarian or vegan, keeping kosher is often easier but it comes with its own set of obstacles. A lot of Jewish people are conscious of what they eat because of their upbringing. This can lead to a lot of Jews choosing to eat vegetarian or vegan. Veganism can make eating kosher a secondary concern, but it can also lead to other issues when it comes to eating traditional food. You won’t be able to eat Jewish delicacies like lox, matzo ball soup, and gefilte fish. If you’re a vegan, you won’t be able to eat shakshuka, which is eggs in spicy tomato sauce. When you have food allergies as a vegan or vegetarian, it can make you a pretty finicky eater.

Eating Cultural & Traditional Foods

It isn’t too hard to make Jewish cultural and traditional foods vegan. For example, potato knish can be made vegan. Latkes can be vegan without the sour cream or with a vegan alternative. Breads like mufletta can be made and eaten vegan. However, there are many foods from other cultures and traditions that you can’t eat.

A lot of Southeast Asian food is difficult to eat if you’re vegan or kosher because much of it includes fish sauce. You won’t have to worry about meat and dairy on the same plate, but there is also a lot of pork. While pork is forbidden in both Judaism and Islam, there are other differences in the food practices of each religion.

Wherever you are eating and whoever you are eating with, staying kosher, vegan, or dealing with food allergies can be difficult. If you are always honest with yourself and do your best, you won’t bear the responsibility if you accidentally eat something you’re not supposed to eat. When you can’t eat a lot of things, it can be difficult to eat with people, but there are a few things you can do.

Dining with People

As a religious Jew, saying you can’t eat something because you keep kosher is a great way to avoid eating certain foods. They may not know what it means, but if you politely explain that it is against your religious beliefs, most people will be polite. On the other hand, if you have food allergies you can tell them that you are allergic to the ingredients and that you may have a reaction if you eat them.

For vegans and vegetarians, it may be a bit more difficult to explain your food preferences and restrictions, but if you approach it politely, they should understand that you have convictions about what you eat. When you’re Jewish and vegan, you can avoid the conversation about veganism by just saying that you are kosher. Depending on the situation, if you are polite, you should be able to avoid complications around food.

Going to Restaurants

Whatever you eat, you will want to go to restaurants. One option is to only go to kosher, vegetarian, vegan, and restaurants for people with food allergies. However, you can’t always eat at specialized restaurants. When you are eating with a group at a restaurant, just ask questions about the menu and if you can’t take out specific items.

It’s always prudent to go with the simple order, don’t try to make your own menu item. Instead, make your order as simple as possible. If the restaurant is good, they will make you something you can enjoy. When you don’t want to worry about it, there are plenty of kosher and food allergy directories for restaurants.

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When you’re kosher, dealing with food allergies, have diet preferences, and still want to eat the good stuff, there are plenty of things you can do. With food restrictions, it’s still possible to eat well and stay healthy. Whatever your situation, making the effort is half the battle.

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