Can Jews Eat Ham?

It is mentioned in movies and tv shows that Jewish people are not allowed to eat ham. Is this based on the truth? Can Jewish people eat ham? If they can’t, why not? 

No, Kosher dietary laws state that Jewish people can only eat Kosher food. Kosher laws dictate the way food is prepared, processed, and inspected. Kosher meat must come from animals with split hooves that chew their cud.

Pigs do have split hooves but they do not chew their cud. To follow Kosher laws Jewish people can not eat pork. 

Below we will look at what Kosher is, how it governs Jewish food, and If Jews eat ham. 

Kosher History

Some scholars believe that the Jewish dietary laws are the first food laws on record.

They are a part of the Torah, one of the five books that make up the Jewish bible.

It contains the 613 mitzvahs or commandments to follow to obey god.

The dietary laws haven’t changed over the years, but they have been updated to keep up with the current technology. 

Kosher Categories

According to Kosher laws, all food falls into 3 different categories: meat, dairy, and parve


All Kosher meat must only come from certain animals.

The animals must all have split hooves and chew their cud. Cud has partially digested food that returns from their stomach for them to chew again.

Cows, sheep, and goats all fall under these categories.

Pig, however, does not. They have split hooves but do not chew their cud. This means pork and ham from pigs are not considered Kosher. 


Any dairy products must come from Kosher animals. All ingredients to produce any dairy product must be Kosher also. This will include butter, cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk


Any food product that is not meat or dairy will fall under this category. It covers coffee, eggs, fish, and fruits. 

Other Requirements

There are many other requirements that must be followed for a food to be considered Kosher. The meat from an animal will not be Kosher if the animal died naturally.

They must be slaughtered and processed according to Jewish law to be considered Kosher.

Some parts of an animal such as the blood, nerves, and certain types of fat can not be considered kosher.

Prohibited Pork

Pork consumption by Jewish people has been prohibited for more than 3000 years. Jewish people have abstained from pork since the Roman period.

Forms of Jewish Christianity have restrictions on the consumption of pork also. 

Can Jewish People Eat Pork? 

There is no single answer to this question.

Some Jewish people strictly follow the Kosher dietary laws and do not eat pork or other food that is not considered Kosher. Some may choose to eat pork but follow Kosher rules in different ways. 

Some Jewish people do not follow the Kosher diet and eat pork anytime and anywhere. Many Jewish people find pork to be a sustainable and economical meat.

Pork from animals that are free to root on organic farms is becoming preferable to Kosher-certified foods.  

Is a Kosher Healthier? 

Many Jewish people that follow the Kosher diet do it because their religion dictates it, not for the health benefits.

The Kosher certification on each food product means that it meets strict regulations. This can be especially helpful if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions. 

It can also be helpful if you are following a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle as well.

Kosher food labels must indicate when a food is shared with equipment that is shared with a meat or dairy product. 


Kosher diet laws developed over 3000 years ago forbade eating animals that do not have split hooves and chew their cud.

Pigs do have split hooves but they do not chew their cud so they are prohibited under the Jewish dietary laws and are not Kosher.

For that reason, Jewish people will not eat any pork products such as ham. 

Some Jewish people will not follow Kosher laws and will consume pork anytime and anywhere.

Others may eat pork and pork products but follow other rules and requirements for Kosher food.

They may choose only to eat pork outside their family home.