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 friend Will modeled some of the kosher offerings at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in London in August 2009. I am so pleased to find a constructive use for this photo.

Photo by Michael Croland

I don’t mean to detract from the point that growth in the number of heeb and vegan foods in England is worth celebrating. Here’s something else that’s worth celebrating: With Rosh Hashanah right around the corner, the all-vegetarian British company Manna is selling two vegan gift boxes that are certified kosher: “Dark Magic” and “Vegan Rosh Hashanah.”

The Vegan Rosh Hashanah gift basket includes date honey, apples, wine, and chocolate. Manna Gifts notes, “Some Jewish scholars suggest that the ‘honey’ from the biblical ‘land of milk & honey’ referred to the abundance of sweet date and fig syrup in the Land of Israel. This beautiful gift box offers a jar of this biblical date honey as a delicious kosher and vegan alternative to traditional bee honey, making an original, delicious and symbolic Rosh Hashanah gift.”

Manna founder (and member of the tribe) Shelley Caro realizes that there might not be a huge market of kosher-keeping consumers seeking explicitly vegan products in the U.K. Nevertheless, she points out, “Gifts are about giving as well as receiving. While there may not be many Jewish Vegans in the UK, I believe that those living abroad with friends and family in the UK & Europe will want to send Rosh Hashanah gifts that are consistent with their ethical choices. I would be delighted if they did so through us!”

Caro does see a connection between selling products that cater to both the kosher and vegan niches. “From a product perspective, there is often a large area of overlap between kosher dairy & pareve products and those suitable for ovo-lacto vegetarians and vegans,” Caro says. “Kosher dairy and pareve products will be generally be free of meat-derived additives, but since fish, eggs and honey are considered pareve, for example, we need to be as thorough as possible in checking the ingredients and additives used.”

Let’s hear it for kosher veganarchy in the U.K.! British Yiddish vegans, I leave you with the out-of-context vision of the Sex Pistols: “Your future dream is a shopping scheme!”

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2 Responses to “Kosher Veganarchy in the U.K.!”

  1. Becca Says:

    After spending the past 6 weeks in London and the UK as a Jewish vegan, I’ve come to look for the little “V” on products the same way I would search for a hechsher. I’m glad to hear certain companies are moving towards providing both. Thanks for the great post!

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