Today there is no need to cook or eat meat on Passover. The eating of the
Paschal lamb is no longer required now that the Temple is not standing. One is
required to commemorate this act, not participate in it. The late Dayan Feldman
stated that mushrooms, which have a fleshy appearance can be used on the Seder
plate to commemorate the Paschal lamb. Rabbi Huna, a Talmudic sage, stated that
a beet can be used for the same purpose. (Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 114b) In
a personal note to the author, Rabbi David Rosen pointed out that the objects
on the seder plate are symbolic, and hence there is no sin in improvising. He
suggested that vegans use a beet to represent the Paschal offering (instead of
a shank bone), and a mushroom to represent the Festive offering (instead of an
The proper celebration of Passover requires the absence of leaven
and the use of unleavened bread, which we are commanded to eat "throughout
your generations." There are many vegetarian recipes
and vegetarian recipe books appropriate for Seders and
other Passover meals.
Because Passover is the celebration of our redemption
from slavery, we should also consider freeing ourselves from the slavery of harmful
eating habits. As our homes are freed from leaven, perhaps we should also free
our bodies from harmful foods. Because Passover is a time of regeneration, physical
as well as spiritual, the maximum use should be made of raw fruits and vegetables,
which have cleansing properties.
There are other Passover themes related to vegetarian
ideas. The call at the Seder for "all who are
hungry to come and eat" can be a reminder that
our diets can be a factor in reducing global hunger.
The Passover theme of freedom may be extended to
the horrible conditions of "slavery" under
which animals are raised today.
The Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb (see
References) has many ideas
and concepts related to Passover themes from a perspective
of treating animals compassionately and can be used
to supplement traditional Haggadahs.
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