Michael Croland

Michael Croland ran heebnvegan (http://heebnvegan.blogspot.com), a Jewish blog about animal protection issues, from August 2005 to August 2010. In 2007, he launched Counting the Omer (http://countingtheomer.blogspot.com), where he gave a different reason to go vegetarian for each day of the seven-week omer-counting period. He has also taught an animal rights course at Carnegie Mellon University.

Michael Croland's Website »

Jewish Vegetarian Chef on Iron Chef America

Tomorrow night on the Food Network, Amanda Cohen will become the first vegetarian chef to compete on Iron Chef America. After seeing an episode of Top Chef last year in which chefs had to make a vegan dish for guest Natalie Portman, I can see that the combination of a vegetarian and a reality cooking show is going to make for good television!

Here’s what I wrote about Cohen after she was named as one of the Heeb100 in 2009:

New Web Site Hosts Updated List of Veg-Friendly Kosher Restaurants in the NYC Area

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

Last year, I blogged about a list of vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the New York City area that have kosher certification. Cathy Resler, organizer of the NYC Jewish Veg*ns MeetUp group, has created a Web site featuring an updated version of her list. It’s now quite easy to navigate through the myriad options by alphabetical, geographic, or cuisine-based sorting.

As I mentioned in my previous post, “If you’re looking for a kosher establishment with plentiful vegetarian and vegan options, there’s no need to check both vegan and kosher restaurant guides when you can check only one list.”

Vegetarian Food and Kosher Meat in a Kosher Nation

Sue Fishkoff’s Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority (Schocken Books) doesn’t come out until October, but I was lucky enough to get a galley in advance. Frankly, what I enjoyed most about the book were topics I don’t have any particular reason to blog about: the true meaning of kosher wine, the globalization of kosher certification, how far people will go to make sure that insects aren’t in their food, and the life and times of a mashgiach. Fishkoff also has a great deal to say about the connections between vegetarianism and kashrut as well as kosher meat.

I might not agree with everything Fishkoff has to say, but she didn’t write an opinion-based eater’s manual. She’s a journalist who presented a very compelling, enlightening look at the scope of kashrut in 21st century America, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in Jewish connections to food issues of any kind.

Kosher Veganarchy in the U.K.!

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

Last month, the Redwood Wholefood Company, a vegan food manufacturer in Britain, issued a press release announcing “one of the first times that a UK manufacturer of vegetarian and vegan products has undergone the kosher certification process.” Celebrity animal rights advocate Heather Mills, who owns Redwood, said, “Achieving kosher certification is an endorsement of the care and attention we give to the sourcing of ingredients and to the manufacturing of our products.”

Perhaps a press release should be taken with a grain of kosher salt. While it is commendable that Redwood has reached out to clientele seeking a hechsher, kosher-certified vegan food is likely not a total anomaly in England. The press release highlights the rarity of kosher certification for companies that chiefly focus on vegetarian and vegan foods, but surely there must be a fair number of kosher foods that are vegan in the U.K. I took the below photo last year to show off the kosher section of a London supermarket, and I’m guessing that at the very least, the matzos that my friend was holding were both hechsher-bearing and vegan!

My Interview About Judaism and Vegetarianism on Our Hen House’s Podcast

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

My interview from earlier this month was featured on Our Hen House‘s podcast this weekend. We talked about Torah teachings about compassion for animals, how well Judaism and vegetarianism mesh together, kosher slaughter, the new Jewish food movement, and vegan versions of traditional Jewish foods.

Red, White, & Blue Vegan Shabbat Dinner

Photos: Lauren Krohn

The last time I hosted a vegan Shabbat dinner for friends, I planned it a couple of weeks in advance. Although I only came up with the idea of hosting this past Friday’s dinner four days earlier, there was still an “agenda.” First, I wanted to rely chiefly on produce purchased at the Union Square farmers’ market earlier in the day. Second, I wanted to use some red, white, and blue foods, as Independence Day was just two days away.

Eggs in Knesset Eateries and The Free-Range Myth

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

Last week, YNet reported that Israel’s Knesset is considering using free-range eggs in its on-site eateries. YNet noted:

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin is considering banning the use of factory-farmed eggs at the parliament’s eateries and instructing them to use free-range and organic eggs instead ….

The Knesset speaker told Anonymous [an Israeli animal rights group] that he has instructed Dan Landau, the Knesset’s director-general, to check whether the change to free-range eggs can be made during the signing of the next contract with the owner of the parliament’s eateries.

Chief Rabbinate to Revoke Hechsher of Meat From Shackled-and-Hoisted Animals Because of Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

A couple of months ago, I noted that the office of Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger in Israel had released an encouraging statement that seemed to mark the end of Israel’s imports of meat from animals killed by shackling and hoisting in South America. (The cruel slaughter method is no longer used in Israel or the U.S.) I was, however, skeptical because a similar forward-looking statement in 2008 was never enforced. This time around, it looks like the Chief Rabbinate’s plan will be enacted.

On June 18, Haaretz reported that “by 2011 the Chief Rabbinate will no longer certify [as kosher] meat from slaughterhouses that use shackle-and-hoist – a controversial method employed in almost all South American kosher slaughterhouses, which provide 80 percent of all the meat imported into Israel.” This is a major step forward, both because it means action will be taken within the next half-year and because business considerations (e.g., the fact that an overwhelming majority of Israel’s imported meat comes from the slaughterhouses in question) will not be allowed to determine what’s right.

Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim at AgriProcessors and Local Pride

Following my post last night about the federal sentencing of former AgriProcessors executive Sholom Rubashkin, several comments called into question my claim that there had been inhumane treatment of animals at AgriProcessors. This claim was not a significant focus in yesterday’s post. I offered a comment with a succinct explanation, which apparently provided inadequate evidence for at least one of the skeptics. Because it will require a lengthy response to show why I overwhelmingly believe there was tza’ar ba’alei chayim (unnecessary animal suffering) at AgriProcessors, I have decided to put up a new post rather than a mere comment. This information is not new for many readers of The Jew & The Carrot, but demands for it arising out of last night’s post are.

Sholom Rubashkin Gets 27-Year Jail Sentence

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

Today it was announced that tomorrow, former AgriProcessors executive Sholom Rubashkin will be sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $30 million in restitution. In November, Rubashkin was found guilty on 86 of 91 federal charges related to financial fraud. Although an appeal is likely and the trial of at least one more AgriProcessors defendant has yet to start, I’d like to think of this sentencing as at least a temporary end to a long-running scandal that has divided the Jewish community.

Do Fish Feel Pain?

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

For those of us who base our total or partial vegetarianism on the ethical principle of not inflicting suffering on animals who are capable of suffering, one question deserves to be asked but is frequently relegated to the realm of “ignorance is bliss”: Do fish feel pain?

In April, Oxford University Press published Do Fish Feel Pain? by animal welfare scientist Victoria Braithwaite. Many people think the answer to that question is obvious, but depending on whom you ask, that “obvious” answer varies considerably. For once, we have a credible book that attempts to answer that question with science.

Vote for the Cuteness of The Jew & The Carrot (I.E., Me)

Last week, I wrote about how I, dressed as “Chris P. Carrot,” had led the Veggie Pride Parade in New York City under my dual Jew-carrot identity. Now you can vote for a photo of Chris P. Carrot (with his “wife,” Penelo Pea Pod) from the event as the cutest photo in a PETA contest!

A post on PETA’s blog announced, “Calling all connoisseurs of cuteness: We need your help deciding which of the following pics from recent PETA demonstrations is the most aww-inspiring.” (Note: Although PETA owns the costume that I borrowed, the event was not a PETA demonstration.)

The Jew & The Carrot (i.e., I) Led a Parade

Yesterday, I embodied the dual identity of the Jew and the carrot once again to lead the third annual Veggie Pride Parade through the streets of Manhattan. Trailing a police escort and walking in front of hundreds of enthusiastic herbivores, I frequently shouted “Eat Your Veggies, Not Your Friends!” while dressed as Chris P. Carrot.

Tips for Vegetarians and Vegans on Birthright Trips

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

Birthright trips are a wonderful opportunity for 18- to 26-year-olds to travel to Israel for free. I sometimes receive e-mails from vegetarians and vegans who are going on Birthright trips and came across my old posts on heebnvegan via a Google search. Here is a compilation of the tips I give them.

Food Advice

  • First and foremost, you should communicate with your trip organizers in advance to let them know about your dietary restrictions or food allergies. You should also let your trip’s staff know when you meet them on the first day.