Vegetarian Judaism
A Guide for Everyone
by: Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D.

A compelling and informative argument for vegetarian diet, based on both Jewish religious insights and science

An examination of dangerous aspects of the modern meat industry, the relationship of modern meat to chronic diseases, and the new pathogens infecting our meat, including salmonella, which now affects 80% of chickens; e.coli 0157, the number one cause of kidney failure in children; and campylobacter, which can cause fatal nerve damage and has been associated with arthritis and meningitis. In readable, powerful language, the author examines such issues as Mad Cow Disease, which is linked to Jacob-Creutzfeld disease, a fatal deterioration of the human brain, the potential misuse of genetic engineering in food animals, and the illusion of safety in irradiation.

Applying traditional Jewish principles to her analysis, Kalechofsky concludes with Rabbi David Rosen’s judgment that “…meat consumption has become halachically unjustifiable,” and that it is now time to make vegetarianism into the new kashrut.

Includes practical information about organizations and activism.


“Kalechofsky offers a sensible defense of Judaism’s view of animals, suggesting ways in which vegetarianism is not only compatible with but actually fulfills the basic teachings of Judaism.”


“Writing in a direct, smart, but easily readable style, the author examines in detail the history of our relationship to meat and to ideas of kashrut….a good all-around modern treatment of a subject of growing interest throughout the Jewish community. Recommended for all libraries.”

Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, Sept/Oct., 2000

“A gold mine of information and ideas about Jewish history as a guide to modern dietary choices and values….The book proposes, and gives substantive evidence for the proposition, that a vegetarian Judaism is the historical fulfillment of our dietary commandments and of our ethos…

Karen Davis, PhD, Poultry Press (Vol 9, No 3, Fall, 1999)

“…applies Jewish principles and looks at traditional sources promoting vegetarianism….will be a useful book for parents and grandparents of vegetarians.”

Josie Mowlem, Jewish Book World

“Anyone who is concerned about how food ends up on their plate and the effects of animal agriculture will be enlightened by Kalechofsky’s work…. her enthusiasm and command of language render even familiar material the power to inspire….”

Susan Kalev, Satya

“…carries a universal message….Readers are left in no doubt that the only difference between kosher (ritually clean) and non-kosher meat occurs at the instant of slaughter, for the animals have all been subjected to the same cruel existence up to that point….

David Ryde, for Oxford Vegetarians

“…contains a wealth of historical information with chapters on kashrut….The chapter on Pikuach Nefesh is a comprehensive and balanced summary of the harm to human health from eating an animal-food based diet, that speaks to all readers, not only those concerned with Judaism….”

Emanuel Goldman, Ph.D., Prof. of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, New Jersey Med. School, columnist in Vegetarian Journal 


Vegetarian Judaism combines the author’s literary talent and wit with her knowledge of kashrut and her zeal for the vegetarian way of life….”

San Diego Jewish Times

“This powerful, inspiring, and important book deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible.”

Charles Patterson, Ph.D., author of The Civil Rights Movement and The Oxford 50th Anniversary Book of the United Nations

  “…a notable contribution to the subject of Jewish vegetarianism….”

Rabbi Noach Valley, Jewish Vegetarian Newsletter

About Author:

Roberta Kalechofsky is the author of seven works of fiction, a monograph on George Orwell, poetry and two collections of essays. She has been published in quarterlies, reviews and anthologies, and was the recipient of Literary Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts.

Several of her stories, and two novellas, La Hoya and Stephen’s Passion, have been translated into Italian and published in Italy. La Hoya received excellent reviews in major publications, such as Corriere Della Sera., and was included in a college curriculum in Italy under the title, Veduta di Toledo.. Stephen’s Passion has also been included in a college curriculum in courses in American Fiction in the University of Florence, under the title, La Passione Di Stephen. Her novel, Bodmin, 1349: An Epic Novel of Christians and Jews in the Plague Years, was included twice in a college curriculum in the United States.

She began Micah Publications in 1975 and has received publishing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, in addition to her literary fellowships. As a publisher, she created The Echad Series, which includes five anthologies of Jewish writing from around the world, and has published 40 different titles in poetry, fiction, scholarship, vegetarianism and animal rights. She is active in the animal rights and vegetarian movements and began the organization, Jews for Animal Rights, in 1985, and coordinates publishing projects with this organization.

She has also been a contributing editor to various magazines, such as Margins, and On The Issues, and taught at Brooklyn College for four years.

She was a participant in a round-table discussion, “Please Use Other Door: Literary Creativity and the Publishing Industry,” with Cynthia Ozick, Hugh Nissenson, Gordon Lish, Elizabeth Sifton and Robert Boyers, which was published in RSA Journal, #3 (March, 1992).

She graduated from Brooklyn College and received a doctorate in English literature in 1970 from New York University.

A critical essay on her work can be found in the Dictionary of Literary Biographies, Volume 28: Jewish Fiction Writers. A list of her published work and/or extended resume is available upon request.

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