Last March, Adam Gorod co-founded Chesed and Hummus, a group that meets to discuss Judaism, veganism and vegetarianism.
Gorod, 32, lives in Washington and works as a lawyer for the federal government.
How did you decide to give up eating animal products?
I grew up in South Carolina in Charleston, where the culinary scene is very much praised and glorified. But as someone who kept kosher, there was often a constant questioning game around food. Most people wouldn’t have any reason to question any of the smaller ingredients that may find their way into a meal, but I had to figure it out.
Then, I also wondered why if there are certain animals that are treif [ritually unfit] that we don’t eat, why is it acceptable to eat certain animals such as cows and chickens? Gradually I stopped eating certain things. When I was 14, I stopped eating beef and when I graduated from high school I stopped eating chicken. Later, after I graduated from college and was living in New York, I decided to stop eating animal products altogether.
Talk a bit about being vegan or vegetarian in a Jewish context.
So much of Jewish life, especially these days, is focused around food. As someone who’s been a vegetarian for more than 14 years and a vegan for a good bit of that, it’s often difficult to feel like I’m able to engage with the religion in the same way as some of my peers. It was important to have a real rigorous discussion about how one can conform the Jewish practice to vegetarianism and not feel left out. It’s important to discuss things like how it isn’t necessary to eat meat on Shabbat and it isn’t necessary to have an egg at the Passover seder.
Chesed and Hummus is really about connecting veganism and vegetarianism to Jewish practices. It’s only within the past couple of years that I learned about the rich tradition that connects Judaism and vegetarianism and veganism.
On your Twitter account, you say that you like to hike. Can you talk about that?
My Twitter account, as you probably saw, is very new. After the election, I was thinking more about how to be more of an active citizen and certainly Twitter is a way people express themselves. We’ll see how it carries on.
But yeah, I love to go hiking. You have to live the life that speaks to you. I want to reflect the values that I think are important, whether that’s the food I eat, the products I consume or what I do for a living — all of these things, I think, add up to be a reflection of what’s important to me. Hiking is a way of remembering that there’s some things that are much larger. It helps me not get caught up in myself and remember that I’m a small speck in this larger magnificence.
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