Do Jews Eat Shrimp?

Many religions and cultures have quite strict guidelines about what is and is not okay to eat, so you might be wondering, do Jews eat shrimp?

No, people that follow the Jewish dietary laws known as Kashrut cannot eat shrimp. They are considered treif (or trefah) and are not kosher. In fact, no shellfish is considered kosher for Jewish people. Many Jewish people, however, do not follow these laws strictly.

Read ahead to find out more about Jewish dietary laws, and what is and is not on the menu for people that adhere to them.

Can Jewish People Eat Seafood?

Shrimp is not considered clean or kosher for Jewish people, but some seafood is allowed.

Seafood must have fins and scales in order for it to be kosher. Shrimps, prawns, squid, and even eels are not strictly kosher because they either do not have scales or do not have fins.

Many other kinds of seafood, however, can be kosher and are allowed under Jewish dietary guidelines.

What Are The Jewish Dietary Laws?

Overall, the Jewish dietary laws are known as the Kashrut Laws. This is a specific body of regulations that teach about what Jewish people can and cannot eat.

Most people are aware of the term “kosher”, which means “to be pure, proper, or suitable for consumption” in Hebrew. Food that Jewish people are allowed to eat is described as being kosher.

These laws are laid down in the Torah. Although the Torah does not specify exactly why these laws are in place, those who follow traditional Jewish practices are expected to observe what the Torah states in order to show obedience to God.

Many followers of Judaism believe that kosher rules are designed to help them treat plants and animals with great care.

It encourages them to consider what they are eating, the life that the animal might have led, and how the animal was slaughtered.

Some believe that the dietary laws are part of a group of rules known as the “chukkim”. These are not meant to be understood by man.

They are instead divine decrees that should be followed whether you can comprehend their rationality or not.

What Foods Are Forbidden For Jewish People?

The Kashrut dietary guidelines are quite strict, and there are many foods that Jewish people who follow them are therefore not permitted to eat.

  • You cannot eat forbidden animals. Land animals must have cloven hooves and chew the cud. Animals from the water must have fins and scales. Birds of prey are forbidden, as are most insects (besides locusts and grasshoppers). Rodents, reptiles, and amphibians are also forbidden.
  • You cannot eat blood.
  • Meat and dairy must be separated.

While all fruits and vegetables are kosher, bugs and insects that might be found on them are not, so they should be inspected carefully.

Some Jewish people also follow additional restrictions, including not eating grape products that have not been made by non-Jewish persons and requiring a Jewish person to be present at the time of milking.

Do All Jewish People Keep Kosher?

Although the Kashrut laws are written down in the Torah, not every person who considers themselves Jewish will follow them strictly.

Orthodox Jews are expected to adhere to the rules of Kashrut, but many Reform Jews do not. Reform Jews believe that the Torah was inspired by God, rather than written by Him directly, so they believe that some of the rules that are laid out within the text are guidelines rather than strict laws.

Many Jewish people partially observe Kashrut, and some do not choose to keep kosher at all.

It’s also worth remembering that many people are considered Jewish – and would define themselves as such – without following the religion of Judaism.

Polls have suggested that most Jewish people view the concept of being Jewish as an ancestral and cultural idea rather than a religious one.

Therefore, someone who is ethnically Jewish might not be a follower of the Jewish faith, and therefore not keep to the kosher dietary rules.


So, do Jews eat shrimp? The dietary laws of Kashrut do not permit the consumption of shrimp, so Jewish people who follow these rules do not eat them.

With that being said, many Jewish people do not follow the Kashrut Laws completely.

Some followers of Judaism have different beliefs about how strict the dietary rules are, and many people consider themselves Jewish due to their ancestral and cultural background rather than their religious beliefs.