Hosting a Planet-Friendly Vegan Shabbat: It All Ties Together
I see the tie between a plant-based dinner and Shabbat so clearly. When I think about Shabbat, I think about slowing down so that we can be more intentional and peaceful with ourselves after a hectic and busy work week. By slowing down, we make ourselves whole.
A plant-based Shabbat celebration has the power to nourish us while also taking care of the planet, the workers, animals, and our health. As my friend recently said to me: “It’s not surprising that the style of eating that can be healthiest for us is also healthiest for the planet.”
Our tradition tells us that after God created the world, God rested, and that is why we observe Shabbat – to honor God and God’s creation – the world. To honor our world, we must take care of it. We are reminded frequently throughout our text and traditions, the planet is ours to care for but not ours to own or destroy.
How do we know that a plant-based Shabbat is the most compassionate and caring way to care for our planet? Because we know that animal agriculture is responsible for massive amounts of deforestation, water and air pollution, and is one of the worst industries in the world for its workers, who are often refugees with no rights and no protections.
We know that eating a delicious plant-based meal can help us feel refreshed and healthy, all of which are wonderful outcomes of a Shabbat tradition. How can we still have a delicious traditional Shabbat dinner while acknowledging the destructiveness of animal agriculture?
Great news! Vegan food has gained so much popularity recently that making an eggless challah or finding vegan cheese at the market should be a piece of cake! So much of how food tastes is how we prepare it. I want to assure you that vegan foods can taste just like you remember them, even as you start to use new recipes that make them dairy, egg, and meat-free.
If you have a tradition of serving chicken with your Shabbat dinners, there are many ways to replace that. In our house, we’ve made a delicious tofu piccata which everyone has loved (also oyster mushrooms can be a magical substitute for chicken when it comes to making a piccata dish for dinner). Speaking of mushrooms, many people love the delicious mushroom stroganoff recipe listed below, which will definitely impress your guests. Whether you’re moving towards being meat-free due to ethical reasons, environmental reasons, or health reasons, you’ll find that a lot of others are too and are excited to try all of these new recipes at the Shabbat table! These meal ideas show that you don’t have to skimp on flavor, taste, or tradition when you forgo the animal products at your Shabbat celebration!
If you’d like to create your own vegan Shabbat practice, Jewish Veg is here to help you and support you with anything from recipes to gathering your own Jewish Veg pod (or havurah) that meets regularly for plant-based Jewish celebrations, including Shabbat.
About the Author
Lisa Apfelberg is a Jewish vegan mother who lives on an agrihood (which is an organic farming neighborhood) in a tiny house in Austin, TX. She became a vegetarian at age six when she learned that meat came from an animal that was killed. She loves to share the deliciousness of plant-based meals and thinks that a plant-based Shabbat dinner is the best way to honor our traditions and our planet. She serves as the Deputy Executive Director of Jewish Veg which is a national nonprofit that educates and builds community to encourage plant-based lifestyles through celebrations and conversations about Jewish values.