Despite strict laws regarding the use of certain foods, finding kosher vegetarian foods is often quite easy. There are many different types of kosher vegetarian foods, including most fruits and vegetables, grains, and most dairy products. Depending on specific religious traditions and a person's interpretation of kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws, it may be more important for vegetarians to pay attention to the source of the food, rather than the type of food.
Vegetables are one of the easiest types of food for a kosher vegetarian to find. According to Jewish dietary laws, raw vegetables are kosher and can be consumed without worry. Care should be taken to wash all vegetables carefully before consuming, to make sure no insects are accidentally ingested. Insects are not considered kosher, and thus need to be removed before eating. If a vegetable is combined with dairy or meat, it is considered part of the dairy or meat and thus may not always be kosher.
Fruits are generally considered kosher, with the exception of grapes. Jewish dietary law regulates the growing and correct processing of grapes, grape juice, and wine, so any of these products may only be kosher if they are certified by a Jewish governing body. Products that are certified as kosher typically display a small “K” on the package, often in a triangle or circle. While raw fruits are considered pareve, or automatically kosher, prepared fruit products should be checked for certification. Dried fruit, canned fruit, and fruit pies or desserts may all contain non-kosher ingredients, meaning that certification is necessary for total assurance.
While raw grains are considered kosher, the kosher vegetarian may run into trouble finding kosher breads, cereals, and other processed products. Some processed grain products may contain non-kosher gelatin or enzymes from pork. Non-pork enzymes, such as beef-derived additives, may pose a problem if the product contains any dairy ingredients. Some interpretations of kashrut also warn against purchasing products that are made on equipment shared with non-kosher items. Additionally, some kosher interpretations require certification that a Jewish baker has been involved in the production process, for the product to be considered acceptable.
Dairy products are generally considered kosher, as long as they are raised according to acceptable standards. Milk, cheese, cream, and butter can all be certified as kosher. While some commercial yogurts are kosher, it is important to read ingredients labels carefully, as many contain non-kosher gelatin. Eggs are also a good choice for a kosher vegetarian, though some interpretations forbid the consumption of an egg that has a blood spot.