Kosher means “pure” or “clean,” a word derived from the Hebrew word “Kasher”, meaning proper or lawful. A kosher diet is a diet that meets the dietary requirements of Jewish law. It is not only about food safety but also adherence to religious traditions. People who originated from Jew eat kosher foods. Throughout the years, we have heard a lot about the health benefits of kosher diet.
These foods are less vulnerable to parasites, bacteria and insects. Species of animals that are not permitted are hunters whose natures might affect the character of the human being consuming it. Kosher food is considered as the optimal diet that can lead to healthy and high spirited life. This article explores what kosher means, dietary guidelines, products included and everything else you need to know about kosher diet.
Kosher Food Rules:
Kosher food laws are referred to as kashrut and are found in their sacred book, Torah. They provide rigid rules about which foods may be consumed and which combinations should be avoided.
In kosher diet, foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve. The food is in accordance with Jewish food laws.
- Meat: Mammals, fowl and bones from them.
- Dairy: Milk, butter, yoghurt, cheese.
- Pareve: Foods excluding meat and dairy like fish and plant based food.
According to kosher tradition, foods categorized under meat and dairy are never consumed at the same time. Even the utensils used to cook them must be kept separate. Pareve foods are considered neutral and can be consumed along with meat or dairy.
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Animal products like meat and other products by unclean animals are not eaten in this diet. Birds like eagles, owls, vultures, and stork are prohibited. Chicken, turkey, duck, and goose are the birds which are considered kosher and can be eaten. Meat from pigs, rabbits, and squirrels are forbidden. The animal must be killed only by a shochet, a certified Jewish butcher. The meat must be soaked to remove any traces of blood.
In dairy products, only milk derived from kosher animals is allowed. Milk from impure cattle and donkey are strictly prohibited. Butter, cheese and yoghurt are permitted. The utensils for dairy must be kept separate from those used for meat. (1)
Milk And Meat Rule:
Milk and meat are not cooked together. There is a very interesting fact behind it. The Torah says: “You may not cook a young animal in the milk of its mother”. So this is the reason behind meat and milk not being cooked together. They should not even be served or eaten together at the same time on a dining table. This is strictly observed and followed in kosher diet. After the consumption of meat, one must wait for 3-4 hours before consuming dairy.
Types Of Fish That Can Be Eaten:
One may eat fish but only with fins and scales for example salmon, tuna and herring. Lobster, shrimp, crabs, squid, oysters, scallops and snails other types of shellfish should not be eaten. Fish does not require separate utensils for cooking. Fish may be eaten alongside meat or dairy.
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Plant Based Foods That Can Be Eaten On Kosher Diet:
The products which grow on soil, ground, bushes and plants are considered as kosher foods and can be simply consumed. Insects and animals with legs are not considered kosher. So vegetables, fruits and other products infested with insects must be checked and cleansed before eating.
Grains and grain based foods are considered kosher. However, certain processing methods may render them non-kosher. For example, if baking pans are greased with animal fat to cook bread, it is rendered nonkosher.
Nuts, seeds and oils have to undergo several processes before they are certified kosher
Beverages like wine must be produced with kosher equipment and ingredients certified to be kosher. The entire wine production process must be supervised by Jews. Otherwise, the wine cannot be deemed kosher.
How Does Certification Work?
Ensuring whether a food product is kosher or not can be very challenging because of complex production processes. Hence the concept of Jewish certification is in place.
Foods certified kosher are labeled indicating that they meet all the necessary guidelines.
Several dietary labels exist, from different organizations. If food is certified for Passover, it will have a different label. Milk, meat and dairy are all certified separately. They also help people having certain allergies refrain from those foods.
If you are trying to adhere to a strict kosher diet, be sure to check for kosher certified labels.
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Health Benefits Of Kosher Diet:
Kosher foods are extremely beneficial to the consumers because of the strict supervision of the processing, close inspection of supervision and monitoring. The strict certification laws ensure hygiene, quality and purity of kosher foods. The equipment for meat and dairy is also separate, limiting the spread of infections and maintaining proper hygiene. Vegetarians get certified vegetarian foods, meaning they are not processed on meat based equipment. Most kosher food followers use them for their certified quality, which leads to a healthy diet and lifestyle. (2)
Is Kosher Food Considered Safe Scientifically?
The ever increasing popularity of kosher diet is due to the fact that the food is safe, healthy and produced without any contamination or pollution. It is also considered extremely healthy due to strict certification processes ensuring quality of the food. Kosher poultry and meat are safer due to the salting process, used to remove blood from the flesh, kills bacteria like salmonella. Kosher beef is also claimed to have less risk of mad cow disease.
The kosher label however does not guarantee safety. The cooking processes remain the same for kosher foods. You should handle kosher foods the same way you would other foods, such as cooking meat at the same temperatures as other foods, separating raw from cooked foods etc.
Weekly Kosher Meal Plan:
A typical week of kosher meals will include few of the following meals:
- High fiber cereal with skimmed milk and sugar and fruit juice.
- Oat pancakes with coffee and one fruit.
- Handful of mixed nuts
- Selected fruits
- Drinks like tea, coffee or smoothie
- Sandwich with chicken/ beef/ turkey with salad.
- Mixed fruit and vegetable salad with a drink.
- Vegetable pizza
- Spaghetti with meat sauce
- Chicken breast with white rice and vegetables.
- Grilled fish with vegetables and fruit.
- Crackered Tilapia with rice and vegetables.
Keeping kosher and following a strict kosher diet is a commitment. It governs what you eat and how your meals are prepared every day. Would you want to try out the kosher diet too? If yes, did you like it?
We would love to hear from you!!