When it comes to religious rules regarding food, there are some you might be wondering about, and some that you may have heard of as common knowledge.
Among the more well-known rules is the stated Jewish religious ban on eating pork – but is it fact or fiction?
No, Members of the Jewish faith are forbidden from eating any form of pork, or anything with pork products, even things containing bacon grease or similar substances.
What exactly are the rules involving Jews and pork? Keep reading to find out.
Can Jews Eat Pork?
Members of the Jewish faith are forbidden from eating pork. It is considered an ‘unclean’ animal, and as such is not considered acceptable for consumption in any form.
Practitioners of the Jewish faith are commanded not to eat bacon, pork chops, sausage, or any related items. They are also not permitted to eat items cooked in, or with, bacon grease.
For strict practitioners, this can include eating permitted items that have been prepared near or on a surface where pork has been prepared.
Why Do Jews Not Eat Pork?
According to Jewish tradition, the pig is considered an unclean animal.
Unclean animals are those which have cloven hooves, and do not chew their cud, or chew their cud, but do not have cloven hooves. Pigs fall into the first of these two categories.
Kosher Jewish practices not only forbid eating pork, they forbid touching the carcass of a pig in any way.
Are There Any Other Reasons For This Prohibition?
Pigs are highly omnivorous. They eat many different foods that are considered unpalatable, including carrion and sometimes feces.
Because of this, many people of ancient times regarded pigs as contaminated, or ‘unclean’ in the literal sense as well as the biblical.
Some historians who study ancient cultures believe that the ban on pork may have been as much a natural safety precaution as anything else.
Do All Jews Follow This Rule?
While it is a part of strict and Orthodox Jewish practices, there is a growing segment of the Jewish population that has discarded this rule.
According to those involved in the new movement to permit pork, it is because raising pigs is a more sustainable and planet-friendly farming practice than many cattle farms.
What Happens If A Practicing Jew Eats Pork Products?
In modern society, there is no direct penalty for accidentally or deliberately eating pork products in the Jewish religion.
While Israel, as a primarily Jewish state, does have laws against preparing or importing pork, they still do not have an actual penalty for consumption.
On the other hand, it is believed that strict adherence to a kosher diet is part of obedience to God’s word. Therefore, it is believed that even accidental consumption can contaminate the soul and damage one’s relationship to God.
Deliberate consumption of pork is seen by strict practitioners as trief, the eating of forbidden foods, and a way of straying from God’s path.
It is believed that while no penalties are assessed on Earth, refusal to return to proper practices may result in heavy penalties in the afterlife.
Can Jews Eat Items Like Veggie Bacon?
Meat substitute products are a growing industry, and vegetarian bacon and sausage are among them.
Since they have no meat in them, pork or otherwise, they are advertised as kosher, and therefore acceptable for Jewish consumption.
In fact, some brands of vegetarian meat substitutes, such as Morningstar Farms, specifically list the steps taken to ensure their products are kosher.
Do Jews Eat Vegetarian Bacon Substitutes?
While technically permissible, some strict practitioners may avoid even imitation bacon as a way of avoiding potential mistakes, or temptation to try the real thing.
Likewise, some Jewish practitioners may choose not to consume even imitation bacon as a form of adherence to both letter and spirit of the religious laws they were raised with.
There may be some Jews out there who consume bacon and other pork products, but as general, strict practitioners of the Jewish faith do not eat pork, as a part of their religion.
Ultimately, the consumption of pork is a matter of how much of an adherent to the original laws and practices of the Jewish culture an individual wishes to be, but you probably shouldn’t expect pork to become a Jewish household item any time soon.