The term kosher has its roots in Jewish traditions. Kosher means appropriate, and regarding diet, kosher food is anything prepared and cooked using proper ingredients and cooking techniques. Kashrut is the Jewish dietary law that people must follow when preparing and cooking kosher food. Certain types of food are not allowed in this type of diet, and if you are strict in keeping with the kashrut, then you must follow these specific rules. The number of non-Jewish people eating kosher food grew exponentially throughout the years, thanks to a growing number of kosher eateries and restaurants all over the world. You can go to one of the many Upper West Side restaurants if you are not inclined to cook your own food but still want adhere to Kashrut.
Those who are on a kosher diet can eat certain types of meat, specifically those with cloven hooves and those that chew their cud. Examples of this are sheep, cattle, deer, bison and goats. Apparently pork is prohibited as it does not pass the requirements of having cloven hooves and chew their cud.
The general rule with seafood is that shellfish and different types of fish without scales are not kosher. So if you want to start a kosher diet, you can say goodbye to shrimps, crabs lobsters and oysters.
Birds of prey, reptiles, amphibians and insects are a big no-no in kashrut. But there are specific Jewish communities that allow the consumption of certain types of insects. The varieties of these allowable insects are distinct in each Jewish community.
Fruits and vegetables
All fruits and vegetables are kosher but beware of any bugs or insects that inhabit them because insects are not kosher. Make sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them. Grape products belong to a different rule. Only those grown by Jews are allowed.
Un-kosher animal parts
You cannot consume any part or by-product of any animal included in the prohibited list. It includes their eggs, milk and other organs. You can consume eggs and other animal products from kosher animals. If you are unsure of a particular product, check for the kosher label. Some products derive their ingredients from un-kosher animal products.
Even if you can eat kosher animals, but they do not adhere to the kashrut law of slaughtering them, you will still break the kashrut law. It states that the humane and quick slaughtering of kosher animals is the only acceptable way. There should also be no traces of animal blood, as consuming blood is against Jewish laws. If the meat’s label indicates Sh’Chita, it means that it adheres to the proper way of slaughtering the animal.
Following a kosher diet is not too hard, as you don’t always have to prepare the food yourself. For days when you feel lazy, you can still go to a nearby kosher restaurant. Or if you are going to eat ready-made kosher food, always check for the kosher label.
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