Outside of the synagogue, the Jewish holidays are celebrated in large part by enjoying communal meals and eating (too much) special food. For many of us, these special meals are meat or dairy rich.
When I last checked, most Jewish people do not want to celebrate the holidays with 100% vegan or vegetarian meals because it does not feel right. Unfortunately many view diet, and specifically meat and dairy eating, as a black and white issue. Either you eat meat and dairy or you don’t. Either you serve meat or dairy or you don’t. What if we could drop this all-or-nothing idea and take a middle way during the Jewish holidays (and the rest of our lives)?
Meat and Dairy Reductionism Explained
For many people, meat/dairy reductionism is a more reasonable moderate approach that feels less extreme and therefore more possible. Reductionism means that you are committed to eating less red meat, poultry and fish, and less dairy and eggs in your diet for health and/or environmental reasons.
Here are 7 simple ways to reduce your meat and dairy consumption during the Jewish holidays.
Serve more fresh vegetables and fruits
Add delicious fresh vegetable salads and fresh whole fruits to your menu. Here are 17 plant- based recipes that your eyes, mouth and gut will love.
Serve more tubers, whole grains, and legumes.
Tubers, whole grains and legumes are satiating and give us the feeling of being full. And no, they will not make you fat! We cannot live on vegetables and fruit alone. Here are three recipes:
- a delicious toasted almond brown rice salad with dried cherries recipe
- simple baked potato fries recipe that is a perfect side dish
- a double baked sweet potato tzimmes recipe that is a modern remake of a Jewish classic.
Serve less meat and dairy
If you want to prepare your favorite meat and dairy recipes for the holidays, you can simply focus on reducing the amount of meat, fish, dairy, eggs on your table. This means that you can reduce the amount of meat or dairy in the recipe or look for vegetarian substitutes for your recipes. For example:
- If your recipe calls for beef, you might reduce the meat in half and add mushrooms to the recipe
- If your recipe calls for a yogurt or a milk based ingredient you might use plant milks and yogurts instead.
Ethical Animal Products
If you are going to eat meat and dairy during the holidays, you can serve ethical less kosher meat and dairy products. Yes, these higher quality and ethical animal products are more expensive but they are also healthier for our bodies and the environment.
Serve animal protein in only one course at each community meal. In today’s world, there is no need to have an animal protein appetizer and an animal product based soup and then an animal protein main course.
Serve smaller portions of meat
If we focus on meat, fish, and dairy as condiments, not the focal point of the meal, we can serve smaller portions of animal products. As a guideline, no more than 4 oz (113 g) or less per meal.
1 Vegan/Vegetarian Meal
Consider preparing and hosting 1 vegan/vegetarian holiday meal during the holidays .
I am proposing meat and dairy reductionism as an approach for the Jewish holidays.
Here are some benefits to eating more plant-based foods:
Benefit #1: Mood and Energy Levels
Ever notice how a few hours after you eat that cookie, your energy plummets and your mood worsens? Eating plant-based food can stabilize your mood and energy levels throughout the day.
Benefit #2: Environmental
Food consumption and agricultural practices impact the health of our environment, too. In particular, factory farming and other large-scale meat and dairy production contribute to climate change.
Benefit #3: Disease Prevention
Here’s a sample of the common health problems that can be prevented or improved when you eat a plant-based diet:
diabetes, heart disease, obesity, acne, intestinal diseases, depression, fatigue, liver disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and more.
Your turn: Of the 7 tips, which one seems the most possible?