The term 'Kosher' is derived from Hebrew meaning 'fit to eat', and kosher refers to Jewish dietary laws termed Kashrut (or Kashruth / Kashrus). Jewish may not eat non-kosher food, but there are no restrictions for non-dietary use, for example, injection of porcine insulin. Foods that are not allowed under Jewish law are called treif. Treif meat is meat from a non-kosher animal or a kosher animal that has not been properly slaughtered according to Jewish law.
The laws of Kashrut are derived from the Torah and are very complex, so the key dietary principles which need to be noted are:
- Only meat from particular species are permissible:
- Mammals that chew their cud, i.e. ruminants, and have cloven hooves are kosher
- Birds must fit certain criteria; birds of prey are not kosher. There must be an established tradition that a bird is kosher before it can be consumed
- Fish must have fins and scales. Shellfish and non-fish water fauna are not kosher
- Insects are not kosher
- Meat and milk (or derivatives) cannot be mixed. This means that meat and dairy products cannot be served at the same meal, served or cooked using the same utensils, or stored together. A three hour time gap should be left between meals containing meat and those containing milk. Strict Jewish people will even have separate sets of plates and dishes for meat and milk
- Mammals and fowl must be slaughtered in specific fashion. The slaughter must be done by a shochet, i.e. a trained individual using a special method of slaughter called shechita. Shechita is complex and the slaughter must be by severing of the jugular vein, carotid artery, oesophagus and trachea in a single cut with an unserrated, sharp knife. Failure of any one of the criteria renders the meat of the animal non-kosher. Furthermore, the body must be checked post-slaughter so as to be certain that the animal had no medical condition or any defects that would have caused it to die of its own accord.
- All traces of blood must be removed from poultry or meat: Meat is soaked and salted, broiling or grilled over an open flame
- Utensils used for non-kosher foods are rendered non-kosher, and will transfer that non-kosher status to kosher foods. Some utensils, depending on the material they are made from, can be rekoshered by immersion in boiling water
- Food that is prepared by a Jewish in a manner which violates the Shabbat (Sabbath) may not be eaten
- Jewish Passover has special dietary rules, including the prohibition of eating leavened bread
- Certain foods must have been prepared in whole or in part by Jewish, including wine, certain cooked foods, cheese and, in some cases, dairy products and bread
- Certain rules control the use of agricultural produce, certain arable produce may be non-kosher
However more modern and conservative Judaism follows a number of leniencies, including permitting koshering with less than boiling water under certain circumstances, which permits a dishwasher to be used for meat and dairy dishes, although not at the same time, provided the dishwasher will not absorb particles of the food. Various chemical additives derived from non-kosher meat products have been classed as nonfood and are therefore permissible (for example, permitting rennet from cow's stomachs to be used in cheese and horse-hoof gelatin in foods).
The following example Kosher meal plan has been designed to be nutritionally balanced to suit a Jewish adult who follows a relatively sedentary job lifestyle, for weight maintenance. Of course, it assumes all kosher food preparation practices summarised above are adhered to. This plan is merely an example and needs to be adapted to suit an individual's own lifestyle, daily routine and nutritional requirements. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day. With manufactured products you are unsure of, please check food labels and if they are suitable they may be marked as suitable for kosher.
*check to ensure it is suitable for kosher
Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.