What if I eat meat?

Meat eaters in the afterlife.

Then you are doomed to eternal damnation.


Seriously, ignore this blog’s tagline. We welcome carnivores, especially their comments and feedback.

Like many of his fellow vegans and vegetarians, The Beet-Eating Heeb believes that the evidence supporting a meat-free diet is overwhelming.  But he’s willing to see his ideas tested and challenged, as long as the carnivore’s comments are civil.

  1. I just embarked on a raw vegan diet 2 weeks ago and I agree that this society eats way to much meat and the original diet HaShem intended for us to have is a vegan one, but I don’t think we can rightfully assume that eating animal flesh goes against Torah as some seem to believe. If that is so, what can we make of Genesis 18:7-8 where Avraham took a young calf from his herd along with curds and milk and fed it to his angel visitors? Or what about the mitzvot to slaughter a lamb for Pesach and use it’s blood and also eat it’s flesh? I am more inclined to believe that HaShem made it optional whether or not to include meat/dairy in our diet even though it isn’t what He intended for us from the beginning.

  2. Hi “Beet Eating Heeb

    I was raised Jewish. My extended family includes cousins on both sides who are strictly orthodox, some other cousins who are very observant reform Jews, and a few (like me) who felt little connection to Judaism. For me personally it had a lot to do with observing Jews who were following “the letter of the law” or traditions, which I clearly know in my heart are wrong. Not very inspiring, nor compelling for me to be a part of. Then 20 years ago, I went to my first vegan conference and was amazed to find that other Jews like me were abundantly represented there. For the first time in my life, I felt really connected to other Jews and very proud of my heritage. (There must be something special about Judaism that so many from this tradition are on the forefront of social justice movements!)

    However, when I read the perspective of Yosef Baruch (above) I immediately feel my old huge allergy to Judaism. Heck I know there are passages in the Torah that appear to condone human slavery too — but thankfully observant Jews today, don’t keep pointing those out to the rest of us in an attempt to keep those traditions alive.

    Unfortunately I know that Yosef’s perspective-even if not often articulated, is part of what shapes Chabad’s paradigm — and that is a real barrier to me taking my children to Chabad sponsored events (which in other ways are a great fit for my young family) — even though I would like them to feel some connection with their Jewish heritage and to be knowledgeable about it.

  3. I’ve been vegan for a year, but I clicked on this post anyway (I’m not sure why). Eternal damnation – haha! Cheeky – I love it! Celeste:)

  4. So you say overwhelming, but I was vegetarian, Macrobiotic for about 10 years until I started to become religious and learned Torah. I learned that I was sinning by abstaining from meat, at least according to the Rambam. I then ate meat and realized that I really enjoy it. It is also a mitzvah to eat meat on Shabbat and Yom Tov and all that about Rav Kook saying there will be no animal sacrifices in the days of the beit hamikdash was a forgery.One who abstains from pleasures that G-d allows is considered a sinner (hilchot Deios, Perek 3 halacha 1) and the only reason that we have these kosher animals on the planet is to serve Hashem with them. Now, as I said before (as anonymous) the Gmara in Pesachim suggests that an Am Ha’Aretz should avoid meat since his kavana is not L’Shem Shamayim. I have also learned all of Chullin and most of Kodshim and there is no problem or concern of Tzar Ba’alei Chai when it comes to eating or sacrifices. In fact, if you learn Temura and Bechorot, you would see that the Torah demands pretty harsh and what you would call cruel treatment of the animals, so I think you should not call this a Jewish imperative and you are misleading people, including yourselves. If you like meat, don’t abstain.

    • The Torah demands pretty harsh and what you would call cruel treatment of the animals?

      That’s a rather peculiar interpretation.

      • Well, I can give a few examples and you can decide if you call it cruel.

        1. Parsha Veyahakel, G-d tells Moshe to use skins of the ‘Tachash’ and the reddened deer skins to cover the tent of meeting. We learn from the Bavli that the process for reddening these skins involved beating the deer with wooden rackets to bruise their flesh while alive so their blood would redden the skin. Then then slaughtered the deer shortly afterwards so that the skin had the nice red color which stayed on the skin, giving it that nice appearance. Sounds cruel to me, but this is what G-d asks us to do.

        2. Pasulei MuKdashim, i.e. a Chata that was designated and the owner died before getting Kapara has to be locked into a box and it is forbidden to give it food or water until it dies. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai holds that all psulei Mukdashim need to be starved to death in a Kippa, even when the beit hamikdash is no longer there. Sounds cruel to you?

        3. Bechorot, the first born sheep or goat or cow who is holy from birth. Hazal tell us that since there is no beit hamikdash, the farmer is instructed to reach into the womb and use a knife to form a permanent wound that will never heal in the ear or lip or eyes of the animal before it is born so that the animal can be given to a Cohen. Here we are told to cause the wound in-utero, sounds cruel to me. What do you think?

        The one place in Pesachim where we learn compassion for animals before we eat them is related to purchasing the Pesach lamb from the farmer immediately before bringing it to the BH”M because we understand that the farmer knows better how to raise the animal than an individual. This law holds to this day that even the large farmer, if he is using standard farming methods knows best how to take care of the animals.

        My wife and I were both vegetarians until we learned that G-d really wants us to eat meat, unless you are an Am HaAretz who does not learn Torah or who may not be careful in Kashrut, then you are encouraged to please keep it green.

        • Yosef, the examples you cite are relatively obscure compared to the verses of the Torah itself in which compassion for animals is presented as an important virtue.

          • Where do we learn the issue of tzar Ba’alei Chai? do you know the source is itself a machloket dioritah or dirabannan. The verse is ‘when you see the donkey of your enemy struggling under its weight, you should help unload and load it properly.’ The concern for animals is only for its value, not its ‘happiness’. We are concerned that a suffering animal will not work well for its master. We have no halachic restrictions on animals raised to eat other than we keep them kosher and avoid the 72 mumim that would make it a treifa. However, putting a permanent wound in every first born animal still seems pretty ‘cruel’ and not obscure. Beating up poor deer for red skins is also not so obscure. What passim are you talking about implying compassion, to the point of not eating them. We are warned to have compassion for other Jews, for people, but I know of no such passage suggesting that we don’t eat meat. Perhaps you will enlighten me.

            • Yosef, The Beet-Eating Heeb’s most recent post quoted a passage directly from the Torah itself that suggests we shouldn’t eat meat. Anyone can use a theological filter to distort the plain meaning of the text, but the wording of Genesis 1:29-30 is unambiguous.

              As for concern for animals, your continued reading of this blog is greatly appeciated. The Beet-Eating Heeb will be addressing the Torah’s teachings on that subject in future posts.

        • One might have thought, that, being on the receiving end of so much cruelty throughout history, ALL Jews, including Yosef Baruch, would be inclined to promote healing in the world and reduce suffering, rather than defending the continuity of suffering by quoting obscure writings of from the past. One sadly, would be wrong. Any religion can be used to justify suffering, or compassion. When one can make a case for either, the choice becomes our own, and the choice we make reveals the content of our character.

  5. O Beet Eating Heeb, I am but a lowly commenter but I think you misspoke slightly in this response here: doesn’t the BEH desire to explain the benefits of eating *vegan* on his great blog?

  6. OK I know there were recipes on this site- including a 2 week vegan plan- but now I can’t find them! The search box brings up nothing for recipes. Where can I find them?

  7. The one suggestion from the Gmara on abstaining from meat is in Pesachim where they suggest that an Am HaAretz should not eat meat since he may not be careful in its preparation or kashrut, which would be forbidden; as opposed to a goy who has no restrictions. Other than that, the Torah and Gmara are extremely clear that animals are on this planet “Only to serve Man” and the kosher animals are most appropriately used to serve on man’s table (properly slaughtered and salted of course). What evidence is there that there is any benefit to avoiding meat other than you don’t like the taste (which I highly doubt anyone really hates meat).

    • The Beet-Eating Heeb sincerely appreciates the tone and thoughtfulness of this comment, if not the anonymous-ness. Your comments are indeed civil.

      What evidence is there that there is any benefit to avoiding meat? The benefits — from the perspectives of Torah, animal welfare, the environment, and personal health — will be thoroughly explained during the life of this blog.

      Please consider following The Beet-Eating Heeb by submitting your email address at the bottom of the column to the right.

      • This piece is clearly not rellay mocking this precocious, obviously talented young person, but rather, the Jewish communal conversation which doesn’t progress or change.Obviously, Ariel will be far ahead and working on more refined and ever more complicated Jewish issues in ten years. But much of the Jewish community will not. They hit on the same two or three notes like a plastic toy trumpet from the 70s.

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