I am so a walking hazard for marit ayin (the idea that you’re supposed to be careful about what you do, lest someone get the wrong idea about what you’re actually doing).
Yesterday, I was trying to work in coffee shops. That’s pretty much what I’m going to be doing all summer: trying to work. In coffee shops. In lots of different places. I wasn’t having much luck focusing at Caffe Strada, because there were too many people and stimuli around, and I had to get up to feed the meter every dang hour, which made it hard to get into a groove. So I trucked over to the north side of town, where I hoped parking would be better and I could just sit and work. I found a place with 2 hour parking. Okay, an improvement, but not by a lot. And then suddenly I was hungry. So I needed someplace close where I could just sit, get a salad, and do my thing.
I went into Saul’s Deli. I knew it wasn’t kosher. I only eat cold salads in non-kosher restauraunts. I asked to see a menu. They didn’t have anything good for me. The woman promised to whip up a special salad for me. I was irritated and cranky and didn’t feel like going on a search for edible food, so I agreed. I was in my kippah and tzitzit. She seated me in the window, right in front, so I could be an advertisement for the kosher deli that wasn’t really kosher. I’m pretty sure no clueless religious Jews saw me, assumed the place had supervision and went in and ordered meat, but I felt like a bad monkey anyway. Worst part about all of it is that it wasn’t even that good a salad. They were very nice about trying to accomodate me, but I still had to ask for stuff like 3 times. Sigh.
I forgot how hard it is to find food to eat when you don’t live in Jerusalem. Even in a city that I know well, the drama of finding a 100% vegetarian restauraunt (the kosher ones are few and far-between around here) is exhausting. Was it this exahusting before? I don’t remember. Certainly, I don’t remember hating having to drive this much. I think I just accepted it as a fact of life. But now, now I am not so hot about spending so much dang time in the car.
It’s a good thing I’m in such a fantastic city right now, or this would all be even more annoying.
And on that note, I think it’s time to seek out something for lunch.
so, in my efforts to be more kosher (instead of just vegan) Im wondering if i must limit myself to only kosher restaurants? (which i have come to find out offer very few vegan options) and if its an entirely vegan restuarant (which is very normal in southern california) is that considered kosher?
You’ll be my first kosher vegetarian, so advice would warrant a package of vegan/kosher/fair trade/organic cookies sent your way haha!
Well, there is no one “right” answer. Different people draw different lines. I have kosher vegan friends who only eat in kosher kitchens and only at restauraunts that have kosher supervision. I personally have chosen to draw a few different lines because I place connection with the people in my world (as almost all of my dear friends are either not Jewish or less traditionally observant than I am) as a very high priority. I eat hot meals in kosher or 100% vegetarian restauraunts (as issues of eating out of pots in which treyf, non-kosher meat or mixed milk and meat have been cooked are gone in veg restauraunts) and cold salads in non-kosher restauraunts (I try to find a place that is either kosher or veg first, but will eat a salad out if there isn’t another available option.) I will also always eat in the homes of the people I love, because I trust them to be careful in terms of cleanliness, using well-cleaned pots, not accidentally dropping something I don’t eat into my food, etc. A lot of the Shulchan Aruch halakhot around kosher vs. non-kosher pots connected wtih the fact that people didn’t, back in the day, wash vessels with soap and use fresh clean water each time they washed–so the residue of non-kosher food was much more likely to be a real issue. Restauraunts are not as careful as my friends (I’ve been on the receiving end of more than a few mistakes), so I don’t trust non-kosher places not to screw up or not to be careful, and I err on the safe side and only order cold there. Veg sushi in a regular sushi joint is debatable–one can argue that since the only cooked thing is rice (which is done in a rice cooker), and since it’s all cold, it’s cool, or you could argue that the high proximity to treyf makes it a bad call. I have erred on the side of eating sushi, mostly b/c I have a few dear friends who are chronically ill and limited in food choices, and so sushi becomes the lowest common denominator for what we can all eat, and my desire to have the option to eat with them and the fact that it is cold helps tip the scales for me on that. I might ever choose differently, but for now, that’s what I choose. My kitchen is dairy and heksher (rabbinic certification) only. I have friends/rabbinic colleagues who eat cooked hot dairy out (ie in non-kosher restauraunts) and argue convincingly that that’s fine. But that’s not the choice I make for myself, personally–primarily because of my concern for the kashrut issue there, and also because, frankly, as a vegetarian it’s relatively easy, as you kind of point out, to act just like you always have and not to have kashrut make any sort of mark, and for me, it’s important to find that balance between living in the world and having my spiritual practice affect my behavior, so that I remember that my food choices are not just about vegetarianism, but also my commitment to Jewish practice.
Does that help? At the very least, Real Food Daily in Beverly Hills is both vegan and has rabbinic certification.
I am remembering an evening when, in an attempt to find you food you could eat at the Bagdad Cafe, a strong argument was raised in favor of waffles since that’s the only thing that gets cooked on a waffle iron…
yes thank you danya that did help. I had considered limiting myself to just kosher restaurants but that would indeed mean that i could never eat out with any of my friends, or at their houses, or even at kosher restaurants really, because seriously I dont think they understand veganism haha… im just trying to find a balance, because although I consider being vegan as my own kosher it really hasn’t had the same spiritual effect on me as it has just been a title. Hopefully I will find a balance that hangs more on the side of kashrut than veganism.
Thanks for the help!