Kashrut Made Easy: Milchig Forever

People always assume that because I don’t eat meat I am somehow offended by its very presence. As a vegetarian I am expected to whip out a soapbox at the slightest provocation and let loose a gospel of animal cruelty, and condemnation of the meatpacking industry. I am supposed to be filled with love for all living things, a warm fuzzy type who could no more eat a cow than she could step on an ant.

Truthfully, I became a vegetarian sixteen years ago because I wanted ice cream for dessert and my family had just had chicken for Shabbat dinner. Faced with waiting three hours before a bowl of mint chocolate chip, I vowed never to be fleishig again, and have stood by my word ever since. I don’t eat poultry, beef, or lamb. I do eat fish, and eggs, and I maintain my belief that a day without good cheese or ice cream is not worth living.

I have never been a preachy self-righteous vegetarian simply because there’s nothing particularly righteous about my choice. I always want to have the possibility of ice cream in my near future. No, that doesn’t make me a good person, or even a better person than someone who buys a Big Mac from McDonald’s every day. But it does make my life much easier when it comes to keeping kosher.

I have one set of dishes in my kitchen, which leaves more room in my cupboards for fun cooking gadgets, like a standing mixer, and a food processor. I never worry about accidentally stirring something with the wrong spoon, or something meat dripping into something dairy. I never have to check my watch to see when I finished eating, and I kasher my oven once a year before Passover.

Because I don’t spend lots of money on kosher meat I feel comfortable paying more for organic produce and dairy products, free range cage free eggs, and wild fish caught from healthy, well-managed populations using low-impact fishing gear; or farmed fish raised in systems that control pollution, chemical use and escapes.

Milchigatarianism, as I’ve come to call it, isn’t going to win over any hardcore meat-eaters or vegans. If you love hamburgers almost as much as you love your spouse, this is not the kashrut program for you. And if you think drinking milk is the ultimate act of cruelty, you’re also not likely to adopt my diet. But if you adore veggies and cheese, and you are daunted by the scores of halachot governing your kitchen, there is an easier way to live. Go milchig forever. Embrace the simplest way of keeping kosher.

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15 Responses to “Kashrut Made Easy: Milchig Forever”

  1. Kivi Shapiro Says:

    It’s always the mint chocolate chip ice cream, isn’t it?

  2. KRG Says:

    I’ve pretty much done the same thing – spouse and I will eat (kosher only) meat, if we go to someone’s home and it’s served, but just can’t see the point of eating it at home and besides, there’s not room for all those extra dishes, anyway.

  3. shev Says:

    Love it. Tough for me to adopt for my family (everyone but me is lactose and soy intolerant – outrageous!), but seems like an easy way to eat healthily and holistically – and kosherly! I love that you use your no-meat funds on eating organic /local /ethically raised food. Great article.

  4. rachel Says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life and grew up in a vegetarian home (despite my father being a meat-eater). I also adhere to the non-preachy way of vegetarianism – except when I get to rub it in the face of my meat-eating friends that I can have a delicious ice-cream cake or or cheesy spinach artichoke dip anytime I’d like :-) love it.

  5. Steve Says:

    Sorry, you’re not a vegetarian when you eat fish.

  6. Lisa S. Says:

    I’m a semi-vegetarian for the very same reasons. I eat meat outside the house but only bring it into mine on Thanksgiving. The few fleishig utensils in my kitchen are for that annual date with a dead bird, when I prepare the turkey myself). I realize that I’m not going to sell the rest of the world on the vegetarian ideal, and I feel pretty good about my compromise.

    Living in Nashville, I always thought kashrut would be easier when I moved to New York. I’ve found that it’s as hard to be a vegetarian in the frum community I inhabit now as it was to be in the “kosher minority” before. Now that I’m rooming with a carnivore who loves her daily chicken as much as I love my milchig, things are getting complicated.

  7. bluespapa Says:

    My son became a vegetarian when he was five or so, once he understood the relationship between aminals and dinner, about fifteen years ago.

    I worried about his development as a result of not getting big healthy slabs of flesh–until one day I got in his face and saw I was looking up at him.

    He says he’s an ice cream and French fry vegetarian, not a stand in the kitchen chopping one.

    He avoids having people assume he’ll lecture them because he’s shy and unassuming, so I gather people think he’s afraid the animals will strike back if he eats them.

  8. therealdeal Says:

    you are not a vegetarian. Vegetarians do NOT eat meat in any form, including fish.You probably also wear leather and use products that are inflitrated with animal fats. You are a joke and give vegetarians a bad name, just admit it already you aren’t a vegitarian you are a MORON!

  9. dave Says:

    if wouldnt step on a ant why would you eat fish.

  10. Jem Says:

    In my conversion process, I was intrigued by how many vegetarian Jews I was meeting. I didn’t understand until I began keeping kosher myself. I still eat meat but its slowly working its way out of my diet. I’d rather go without meat than forgo covering my food in cheese.

  11. seamus Says:

    You eat fish ..your not a vegetarian so dont call yourself one

  12. Kari Says:

    oh please. lets get it straight, real vegs do it becuase we value ALL life

  13. Sarah Says:

    I’m also a vegetarian, but not a vegan, and not a pescetarian either- which is actually what you are. To all those who yelled at you for eating fish, forget them, it’s your choice. I became a vegetarian in second grade after a field trip to a dairy farm where i played with chickens and milked a cow, and I haven’t eaten meat, poultry, or fish since that day.
    I definitely hear you on how easy it is though to remain kosher this way! I’m a college student and I could never afford two sets of dishes and pans, nor would my roommates understand the concept, but they understand the vegetarian thing pretty well. The only thing I have to watch out for is when I go home to my parents house and I eat a veggie patty/boca burger etc with my dinner while they have chicken or meat, I need to use milchig place settings and dishes because almost all veggie burgers except for ones that clearly read vegan contain whey! So watch out kosher milchigetarians/vegetarians, and don’t eat that morningstar farms griller on a fleishig plate!

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  15. MarkR Says:

    I follow the same diet: plants, fish, eggs, milk.

    The correct term however is “pescatarian”, rather than “vegetarian”.

    Some vegans/vegetarians prefer that we call ourselves “pescavores”, rather than “pescatarians”, because they feel we are trying to appear like them by using the suffix “-atarian”. That’s fine with me – pescavore, if you prefer.

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