With various religious practices come various dietary restrictions, and it can be confusing to determine which foods are acceptable to which religious groups.
For example, if you’re considering Judaism, you might wonder if practicing the Jewish faith allows you to eat meats like chicken.
Yes, members of the Jewish faith can eat chicken, among other types of fowl, so long as it’s prepared and eaten according to certain guidelines and religious rules, making it ‘kosher’.
So what are the different rules surrounding the consumption of chicken in the Jewish faith?
Can Jews Eat Chicken?
Jews can eat chicken, along with other domesticated fowl such as turkey, dove, quail or geese.
However, for strict practitioners of the Jewish faith, the chicken must be slaughtered and prepared according to certain rules in order to be acceptable, or kosher.
Among other rules, the meat must come from the forequarters and must be handled in a certain way.
What Rules Are Involved In Ensuring Chicken is Kosher?
There are a number of rules and practices devised to meet standards for kosher chicken consumption. These include:
The animal must be slaughtered by a shochet.
A shochet is someone specifically trained in the Jewish laws regarding the slaughter of animals. Shochets must often be certified before they are permitted to butcher animals for a living.
The chicken cannot eat non-kosher foods prior to being slaughtered.
If the chicken consumes non-kosher foods, it may be considered contaminated or non-kosher as a result.
The chicken cannot come into contact with non-kosher meats or other foods.
Coming into contact with non-kosher foods such as improperly prepared or forbidden meats makes the chicken contaminated, and therefore no longer acceptable.
Chicken cannot be consumed with any sort of dairy product, not even as a coating for breading.
The Torah specifically commands against combining meat and milk, therefore kosher chicken cannot be consumed with any sort of dairy product.
Chicken may not be eaten with cheese, milk-based gravy, or any sort of coating that requires dairy as a component.
Why Do Jews Have So Many Rules Surrounding The Consumption of Chicken?
For the most part, the rules involved are part of their religious observances. Certain foods are considered ‘unclean’ according to Jewish religious texts and practices.
Unclean foods are considered inedible, and steps such as ‘keeping kosher’ are meant to prevent these foods from entering the diet, even by accident.
In practice, many of these rules also double as wise safety practices, as they prevent various forms of contamination that might make chicken unhealthy.
Do Jews Commonly Enjoy Chicken?
Chicken is, in fact, one of the parts of the Jewish diet that has remained for thousands of years. There are many iconic Jewish meals that use chicken, including the famous and much loved chicken noodle soup.
Jews prepare chicken in hundreds of ways, including roast chicken, and items like chicken matzo balls.
Chicken is even the focus of certain religious rituals, most notably Kapparot.
What Is Kapparot?
Kapparot is a ritual performed on the eve of Yom Kippur, which involves swinging a chicken over someone’s head before slaughtering it.
The practice is meant to transfer the sins of the individual to the bird, as a way to receive absolution, or at least safety from punishment for one’s sins.
Do Jews Eat Eggs?
Jewish consumption of eggs is estimated at about 250 eggs a year, per person. There is no rule against eating eggs, though strict adherents may only eat eggs from kosher chickens.
There are generally fewer rules surrounding egg consumption, but there is one major one: Eggs cannot have any sort of blood in them.
Bloodless, or unfertilized eggs, can be eaten, even with dairy, as they are not technically meat.
Members of the Jewish faith have been eating chicken and eggs for thousands of years, and have contributed to many popular chicken-based recipes worldwide.
As long as it’s not a preparation involving dairy, Jewish friends and family are likely to enjoy any chicken recipe you can find, as long as you’re using kosher meat.
It’s safe to say that as long as there are kosher chickens in the world, and shochets available to properly prepare them, chickens will most likely be a part of the Jewish diet for many years to come.