In an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, Orthodox Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz argued that kosher meat no longer represents the humane treatment it once did, and for that reason, he has chosen a strictly vegetarian diet. Yanklowitz’s article comes as new scandals hit kosher slaughterhouses, and as several European nations have attempted to ban kosher slaughter as inhumane.
“It pains me to say this, but given what I have learned in recent years, I cannot pretend anymore that kosher meat, poultry and dairy is any healthier or ethical than nonkosher food,” he writes. “I still promote how kashrut in its pure form aims to morally and spiritually elevate us, but the authentic realization of this timeless ritual is vanishingly rare.”
Yanklowitz explains that in the late 19th and early 20th century, kosher meat was often raised and slaughtered on small farms and in backyards, a far cry from the cruel and tainted practices of the commercial slaughter industries.
But eventually, kosher butchering merged with mainstream butchering; today, many ranches provide cows for both, raised under the same conditions.
Yanklowitz practices modern Orthodoxy, and is a major proponent of social justice in Judaism.
“I am committed to Jewish law in general and kashrut in particular as a means of bringing ethical and spiritual consciousness to food consumption,” he says. “I pray for a day when the kosher-meat and -dairy industries respect the sentience of the animal and venerate the divine in creation.”