"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Israel Recap Part I: Vegan Wonderland

I wasn't particularly concerned about vegan food options going into my Birthright trip, but everything worked out better than I could have possibly expected. On the El Al flight over, our special vegetarian meals included soy pudding, rice milk for cereal, and lots of other goodies. I could see about six green "VGML" (vegetarian meal) stickers on seats to my left and one to the right. I knew I'd be in good company. It turned out that more than a third of the 39 participants on my "Peace, Pluralism, and Social Justice" trip were vegetarian or vegan.

I met my one true love in Israel, and its name is falafel. My love affair with Israeli falafel began at lunch in a Druze village on the first day, expanded substantially in Haifa the next night, and continued to grow over the course of a week and a half. I've had good falafel in the U.S., but there was something magical about the combination of falafel and various fixin's (including "chips," tehini, hummus, pickles, seasoned onions, and delicious salads) in a pita or laffa.

I got to have vegetarian schnitzel and hummus, as I'd talked about in my previous blog post. But I was most impressed by the amount of fresh veggies and the variety of salads, particularly when we ate at hotels. In particular, a Shabbat feast at the Regency in Jerusalem was quite possibly the best meal I've ever eaten! Fresh fruit (e.g., figs) and nuts (e.g., almonds) are pretty big in Israel. I ate quite a bit of potatoes, couscous, and other grains too.

While the falafel and chips were fried, just about all the other vegan food was as healthy as could be. I had a bag of potato chips toward the end of the trip and remember thinking that it was the first time I'd eaten junk food in a week. And I think my tempeh breakfast in the U.S. today was my first time eating soy since the schnitzel on Day 1 of the trip, which is a nice change of pace from American vegan diets that sometimes rely extensively on soy-based mock meats.

Two fascinating YNet articles were posted to the VeggieJews Yahoo group while I was off e-mail. Read more about the popularity of hummus in Israel (apparently, the average Israeli consumes 22 pounds of hummus a year!) and the 50-year anniversary of Amirim, a vegetarian community in Northern Israel.


  • At 6/18/2007 2:07 AM, Blogger KleoPatra said…

    All vegan stuff in and of itself really SHOULD be kosher, don't you think?

    Happy, safe travels!!


  • At 6/18/2007 7:41 AM, Blogger heebnvegan said…

    I agree in theory that all vegan stuff should be kosher. But of course the reality is that for something to be deemed kosher these days it has to go through rabbinical supervision and the certification of a kosher agency. But I do agree with you in terms of how I live my life. :)

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