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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."
  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

Eliezer Posner is a former member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
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Anonymous May 28, 2017

I have to ask, whether home cooked food and such food served in temporary establishments (i.e. Pop-up restaurants) require certification in the case all ingredients used in vegan dishes are labeled kosher? Reply

Menachem Posner Chicago May 28, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Temporary establishments are the same as more established one. All the issues that exist with permanent restaurants apply to pop-up stalls. Reply

Kadesh Vega June 23, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

What if it's Kosher certified and still considered Kosher """"style""""? Reply

Chabad.org Staff June 23, 2017
in response to Kadesh Vega:

If the Kosher certification is a valid one, recognized by the local rabbinate and major kosher organizations, it would be considered Kosher. If it's still considered kosher style there may be an issue with the certification, in which case it would be best to consult with the local rabbi who should know all the details. Reply

Miryam Toroto April 28, 2017

The "animal products" being "used" are probably something like honey... Since vegans cinsider honey to be an "animal product" they would however never use any meat or dairy products in their foods as that goes against vegan ethics. Reply

Chabad.org Staff April 30, 2017
in response to Miryam:

That may be so but it's important to keep in mind that non kosher vegan restaurants are not careful with checking greens and grains for bugs, bugs are forbidden for consumption as per Kosher laws. Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org May 16, 2016

Re: Bakery? Seeing the ovens would not necessarily change anything. But as the author states as the end, "it is certainly much easier for a vegan eatery to receive and maintain kosher certification."

So if this "small bakery" is interested in exploring going kosher, they should contact a local orthodox rabbi. Reply

Eiver LeNahar Brooklyn May 16, 2016

Hygiene, etc. I did not mean this as a "cheap shot" or out of any rancor toward you, chas v'shalom. Just to support the position that a frum vegan still needs to obtain prepared foods with a hechsher. The points you raise about hygiene and the limitations of hashgachah are good. Reply

Anonymous NY May 13, 2016

Bakery? What about small vegan bakeries where you can see the ovens? Reply

Shloime Brooklyn January 18, 2016

Eiver LeNahar, your comment is a cheap shot to a subject that requires a more serious attention; not to give the source of your information is a basic lack of respect in a debate. What report are you talking about........or you are inventing a report just for the sake of refuting my previous comment?
It's a well known fact that Kosher supervisors don't check for hygiene issues whatsoever but only for kosher labeling and application of Kashruth rules.
Kashruth rules have nothing to do with hygiene in a manufacturing facility.
Human DNA in food? Of course, everywhere, every time when employees and management ignore OSHA Regulations in the US of A. Human hair or human sweat and human skin cells are present in Vegetarian, kosher, vegan, organic, halal and many other type of prepared foods that disregard the sanitation requirements imposed by the authorities, in any country in the world including Israel. Reply

Eiver LeNahar BROOKLYN January 17, 2016

Vegan and vegetarian hot dogs without kosher supervision I recently came across this report which is but one example of what can happen when vegan or vegetarian foods lack kosher supervision, you can search the web for the source as no urls are permitted here:

"Substitution: We encountered a surprising number of substitutions or unexpected ingredients. We found evidence of meats not found on labels, an absence of ingredients advertised on labels, and meat in some vegetarian products.
Hygienic issues: Clear Food found human DNA in 2% of the samples. 2/3rds of the samples with human DNA were vegetarian products.*" Reply

Shloime Brooklyn January 16, 2016

From Rabbi Eliezer Posner's words and after reading the comments herein I can only say: humbug! For a vegan restaurant to be kosher only because the application is easy and simple is not a reason to get a kosher certification, specially if there's no guarantee that the customer traffic will increase, but for sure it means quite a few troubles like using only ingredients and produce with rabbinical supervision (and thus more expensive), the issues of lighting the fires in the kitchen, consulting the Rabbi for several issues, opening on Saturdays, the handling of the Passover season and many more subjects. And, of course, to have a Rabbinical Certification cost money......every year. Reply

H. Stein New Jersey June 28, 2014

Kosher in South Jersey It would appear that none of you has gone south of exit 9 on the turnpike
There are two Shoprites in Cherry Hill that have "Kosher Experience" supervised sections.
The Cherry Grill on Route 70 is also under supervision by the local Vaad.
There is another restaurant on route 38 that I was looking for on your site when I discovered that you don't get into this part of the world. Reply

Josh Pactor Seattle, WA May 1, 2014

Tithing Re: Tithed Israeli produce, does that apply to restaurants owned entirely by a non-Jew? Reply

Eiver LaNahar BROOKLYN 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. Reply

Anonymous md 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. Reply

Polly plum miami, USA July 3, 2012

vegan/kosher very interesting! I've always wondered this Reply

Anonymous San Francisco, CA 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 Reply

Lesley Tampa, FL 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. Reply

Rachel Garber Phila, PA USA 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. Reply

Fayvl Berkeley, CA 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. Reply

Jampa Williams West Hartford, CT 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! Reply

Zippora Pittsburgh, PA 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!!! Reply

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