Plant Powered Shabbat: Kobi Goodwin

Written by: Kobi Goodwin
April 2022

Plant Powered Shabbat: Kobi Goodwin

Plant Powered Shabbat is a OneTable series that celebrates the Jewish values of nourishing ourselves and the world around us through plant-based cooking and eating. Hear from OneTable hosts and guests how they’re bringing these values to the Shabbat table!

OneTable NY host Kobi Goodwin (he/him) shares how he’s exploring how to bring slowness into each act of creation, from veganism to his chocolate business to Shabbat.

I grew up in a small suburb of Boston with a prominent Jewish population and attended Jewish day school. As part of that cultural upbringing, I enjoyed regular Shabbat meals with my family. It was the main time of the week when we all gathered together — surrounding ritual. I can picture my mom leading candle lighting and us scurrying around prepping food, especially my mom’s French onion soup (a favorite still to this day)!

Fast-forward several years. I moved to New York for college, became less dependent on my family for Jewish ritual, and also went vegan. At the time, I thought of being vegan as a diet—it was primarily a health choice. As I learned more, my veganism became more meaningful to me. It transformed into a new way to occupy space in this world.

Recently, Shabbat has been a new way for me to connect to my deeper values through food and also a reminder of other values. Shabbat is family, intentionality, and ritual. Creating ritual around food and Shabbat is a helpful way to find stability and reconnection to important traditions that I grew up with.

Even though I grew up with Shabbat — a time for grounding and slowness — ironically, there was very little slowness. There was often, dare I say, stress involved. The combination of Shabbat starting, preparing food for many guests, the anticipation surrounding new recipes, and cleaning the whole house at times led to a stressful environment. This is not quite what one would associate with slowing down. And then, the contrast when we would finally sit down to eat and enjoy the fruits of our labor… something always felt off to me about this juxtaposition.

I want to create moments where the process to get there can include some of that slowness, some of that Shabbat. When I think of slowness, it’s not about the time it takes — it’s about recognizing the process as unfolding and not needing to be tied to a deadline. Recognizing that the process itself will reveal what it needs and embracing the result of our efforts: that, to me, is slowness and intentionality. It’s learning to recognize what we create and what we have at each moment. It’s a contrast to all the pressures of consumerism, living in a big city like New York and constantly trying to achieve perfection.

I created a business with slow actually in the title, slowcocoa, making (vegan!) chocolate with one of the core values being intentionally around the process. My goal is to enjoy the end product — whether it’s a Shabbat meal or a chocolate bar — with the same mindfulness that went into creating it. It doesn’t have to be this stark contrast between the process and the result. I try to create more harmony.

To me, veganism is a choice to consider the process specifically when it’s painful or inconvenient. It’s a recognition that the choices we make can cause harm and, at the very least, have an impact. The vegan choice (if possible for someone) says that given that reality, I will take on the responsibility of not turning away from the consequences of my choices. I can’t always think of a way to avoid harm, but I can slow down.

Eating vegan or practicing Shabbat once a week are steps that feel sustainable toward slowing down. It’s not black and white: it started because I just stopped buying certain animal products. Even after many years of being fully vegan, a lot of what I enjoy and consume on a regular basis absolutely still causes harm at some point in the supply chain. And I think that’s one way we can all connect. Choosing to do the best we can with whatever our means are: that is intentionality and mindfulness.