What Is a Kosher Diet?

L. Baran

Following a kosher diet is a tradition based on the Jewish law of Kashrut and entails knowledge of foods that can be eaten by those who follow the Orthodox Jewish faith. Kosher foods must be selected, eaten and prepared in a certain way in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. The kosher diet is eaten throughout the year, although it becomes particularly significant during certain religious holidays. Food products can be kosher certified, meaning that they are guaranteed to follow the many rules of Kashrut.

Turkey is kosher.
Turkey is kosher.

The majority of rules regarding food preparation and consumption refer to meat products. There are a number of animals that may not be consumed in any form, and only particular parts of allowed animals may be eaten. Land mammals must have cloven hooves and chew cud to be eligible, while oceanic species must possess both scales and fins. All insects, amphibians, rodents and reptiles are excluded from a kosher diet. If any animal is prepared, all of the blood from that animal must be completely drained before it can be certified as kosher.

Cows and other cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing animals are kosher.
Cows and other cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing animals are kosher.

Another rule concerning meat consumption relates to dairy products. Dairy, such as cheese and milk, cannot be eaten at the same time as any meat product. This rule is based on the traditional belief that combining these two food groups causes digestive problems. Furthermore, any cooking equipment that has been used to prepare meat cannot be used with dairy items. This law also applies to non-kosher food preparation equipment and utensils.

Pigs are not considered kosher.
Pigs are not considered kosher.

Any products made with grapes, including wine, must be made by Jews. If they are not, they are not permitted to be consumed as part of a kosher diet. Traditionally, families had far more involvement in their food preparation than they do today. For this reason, the kosher certification process is very important in helping Jewish families ensure that they are consuming allowed foods.

According to kosher dietary law, dairy should be kept separate from meat.
According to kosher dietary law, dairy should be kept separate from meat.

The word kosher refers more to the way in which food is prepared, rather than the food itself. Many traditional Jewish foods may not be kosher if they are not prepared in accordance with the dietary guidelines. Conversely, many foods that are traditionally from different religious and ethnic groups could be considered kosher if handled correctly. A lot of the rules surrounding a kosher diet originated from the need to create safe food preparation and cooking practices. While most of these issues are irrelevant as of 2011 due to modern hygiene and healthcare habits, kosher food is still considered to have numerous health benefits.

Those who are Orthodox Jewish must follow the kosher diet.
Those who are Orthodox Jewish must follow the kosher diet.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@ysmina-- I absolutely agree with you and I agree with @simrin. We all do our best to follow a kosher diet as well as we can. It is challenging and confusing sometimes, but a lot of it is also common sense.

I don't believe in the "only eat kosher certified foods" phenomenon that has been taking place lately. Kosher certification is great and I certainly look out for those when it comes to things like meat, dairy and grape juice. I also make sure that products made with these ingredients are labeled kosher.

But there are some things that obviously don't require the kosher label, like water and fruit. Believe it or not, there are markets that sell water with kosher certification. And fresh fruit as well! This seems really odd to me and I think it's more of an effort to make money off those who follow a kosher diet rather than really serving the Jewish community.


@ysmina-- I know it can get confusing, but the main premise of a kosher diet is that the food has to be fit for eating. This means that it must not be prohibited according to Jewish law and it must be pure and healthy. If you go by this main idea, what is kosher and not kosher does become straightforward.

For example, we know that only certain animals can be eaten and that they have to be cared for, slaughtered and prepared in a certain way. We know that meat and dairy cannot be eaten together. We also know that blood and grape products prepared by non-Jews are not allowed.

There are of course more rules, but these are the major ones. As long as you follow these, you are following a kosher diet. There are controversies about certain other foods and products. In regards to those, I suggest you study Jewish scriptures, do your own research, listen to community leaders and Rabbis and make a well informed decision based on these.


I find kosher diet to be confusing. Kashrut is not confusing but its application in the modern day is definitely complicated.

I hear different verdicts about different foods and products from different communities. For example, some Jewish communities pay attention to the basics like kosher meat and dairy products for example. But other communities are very strict and require that a rabbi oversee the entire production process of a product from start to finish. This means that only products certified as kosher can be eaten and used.

In areas where there are large Jewish populations, this is not much of a problem. Kosher products are found easily in such areas. But I live in an area where there aren't many Jews and finding kosher food at markets and groceries is near impossible. For Jews who are strict with their kosher diet, it's not easy to eat all kosher under such circumstances.

Post your comments
Forgot password?