Vegetarianism can loosely be defined as the dietary practice of not consuming meat or fish. The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as being ‘someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs’. This is quite a broad definition as vegetarianism is practiced with varying degrees of strictness ranging from veganism (total abstinence from the consumption of animal products) to flexitarianism, which refers to people who follow a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat or fish.
People choose to adhere to these predominantly plant-based diets for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common motivating factors are based on moral and ethical values, health, concern about the environmental, and religious beliefs. Hinduism and Jainism, with their integral principles of non violence or ahimsa, are the most well known world religions that advocate following a vegetarian diet. Hence, I was really fascinated and curious when I came across an organisation called the Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) at Gefiltefest London Jewish Food Festival 2013.
The JVS was co-founded and established by Vivien and Philip Pick in the 1960’s with the aim of promoting a kinder society without killing animals for food. Another of their fundamental beliefs is that vegetarianism is aligned with the Jewish faith and dietary laws of Kashrut (Kosherism).
Fast forwarding to 2014, the JVS has grown and flourished, and provides advice, support and information to help people about transitioning to, and adopting a vegetarian diet. I recently visited the JVS’s Golders Green office and spoke to their director Lara Smallman about her organisation, as well as about the work that they do. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.