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Are vegan restaurants automatically kosher?

Are vegan restaurants automatically kosher?

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A vegan restaurant would not have a hard time getting kosher certification. However, as long as there is no such certification one should not eat there.

There are many reasons why a strictly vegan establishment requires kosher certification. Here are a few of them:

  1. It is possible for a minute quantity of animal products to be included in a vegan-certified food. According to the Vegan Society, an outfit which licenses vegan foods, "vegan products must, as far as is possible and practical, be entirely free from animal involvement." Furthermore they state, "Animal products are sometimes used in instances that are not immediately obvious."1
  2. All utensils used to prepare kosher food, as well as countertops, ovens, etc., must be kosher. Meaning, if they were previously used for non-kosher foods, they must be koshered before being used for kosher food preparation.
  3. Wine and grape juice are not kosher unless they are certified kosher (see Wine and Grape Products). Even if the restaurant doesn't have a wine list, many dishes include wine or grape juice in their ingredients.
  4. Certain foods must be cooked or baked by a Jew in order to be kosher (see Baked and Cooked Foods).

To repeat, however, it is certainly much easier for a vegan eatery to receive and maintain kosher certification. If your neighborhood has a kosher consumer base, perhaps ask the restaurant management to consider this not-so-difficult option which could increase its clientele.

Rabbi Eliezer Posner

FOOTNOTES
1.

See http://www.vegansociety.com/html/food/criteria.php.

Eliezer Posner is a former member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (9)
February 16, 2014
Tithes
In addition to the issues raised above, vegetables and fruits from Israel need to be tithed. By rights, this should be done prior to importation, but a kosher vegan or vegetarian restaurant would need to make by consulting a kosher supervisory agency.
Eiver LaNahar
BROOKLYN
January 28, 2014
checking for bugs
I think that the restaurant crew will wash and check the lettuce just as a matter of course. I remember working in a restaurant, and we soaked and rinsed and checked three times, and rinsed for good measure. No lightboxes. I'd say that's pretty clean lettuce.
Anonymous
md
July 3, 2012
vegan/kosher
very interesting! I've always wondered this
Polly plum
miami, USA
June 17, 2011
Vegan vs Vegetarian
Its very important to state which one your talking about, when this subject matter is brought up; Vegan and Vegetarian is VERY different, they are not the same thing. Vegan's, and Vegan Restaurant's are VERY strict, in many cases much more strict than Kosher. Vegetarian on the other hand is not strict at all. Those of you who eat Vegan-Kosher food, and need some assistance, check out: living tree community.com and shalom holistics.com
Anonymous
San Francisco, CA
September 27, 2010
To Rachel regarding 3rd comment
I don't know how Zippora justifies her comment that vegetarian restaurants don't check for bugs. They certainly do clean their produce and you are likely to have more carefully checked produce at a vegetarian place than at a more mainstream one. It is true that the average non-Jewish-run establishment is very unlikely to be using a lightbox or other officially "kosher" procedure, though.

Any establishment can be at fault as far as hygiene is concerned, however my bet is you are far better off in a vegan restaurant than any fast food joint.
Lesley
Tampa, FL
July 27, 2009
That's a bit scary
Reading the 3rd comment made me a bit scared. I am not a vegetarian or vegan, however, once in a while I have bought food, from places that serve non-meat products. I find it a bit unsettling that some restaurants don't ck their vegetables. I would think that aside from offering their patrons vegetarian or vegan food that is clean at the very least. I've heard of some fast food joints and even other types of restaurants not being free of various unsanitary conditions. Do these places think that they don't have to worry about being clean, just because they don't serve animal products. That thinking is downright offensive.
Rachel Garber
Phila, PA USA
May 4, 2009
Vegan Society certification
I don't think the Vegan society permits even small amounts of animal products in certified food. The statement Rabbi Posner quoted refers to "animal involvement," which they seem to define as involving animal testing. When it comes to actual food, they write, "The manufacture ... must not involve ... the use of any animal product[.]" No qualifications.

The second quote from them also doesn't indicate that they sanction animal products in the food they certify.
Fayvl
Berkeley, CA
August 15, 2007
Vegan Restaurants
This is such a helpful article, as are the posted comments. I am a Jewishly observant vegan who would like to be truly kosher, and I am going to make it a project this fall to contact vegan restaurants in my region and ask them to consider obtaining kosher certification.

Thank you!
Jampa Williams
West Hartford, CT
August 8, 2007
There's more...
Two other items that can make a vegan restaurant non-kosher:

1. Oils that are used need to be kosher and if they are heat-processed (rather than cold-pressed), that could be an issue;

2. Vegetables, especialy leafy greens, need to be checked for presence of bugs. This is not regularly done in either vegetarian or vegan restaurants. Bugs in the vegies certainly make the food not kosher!!!
Zippora
Pittsburgh, PA