1. According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine
of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived
in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able
to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping
her Jewish identity secret.
2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not
evyonim" (added charity to poor and hungry people).
In contrast to these acts of sharing and compassion,
animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70
percent of the grain in the United States to animals,
while an estimate 20 million people die of hunger
and its effects annually.
3. During the afternoon of Purim, Jews have a "seudah"
(special festive meal), when family and friends gather
to rejoice in the Purim spirit. Serving only vegetarian
food at this occasion would enable all who partake
to be consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve
health, protect the environment, share with hungry
people, conserve resources, and treat animals with
4. Jews make noise with "groggers" and other noisemakers,
to drown out the infamous name of Haman when it appears
during the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther).
Today, vegetarians are "making noise" in attempting
to educate people and drown out the very well-funded
propaganda of the beef and dairy industries.
5. On Purim, Jews emphasize unity and friendship
by sending gifts of food ("shalach manot") to friends.
Vegetarians act in the spirit of unity and concern
for humanity by having a diet that best shares the
earth's abundant resources.
6. Because of the deliverance of the Jewish people
that it commemorates, Purim is the most joyous Jewish
holiday. By contrast, animals on factory farms never
have a pleasant day, and millions of= people throughout
the world are too involved in worrying about their
next meal to be able to experience many joyous moments.
7. Mordecai, one of the heroes of the Purim story,
was a nonconformist. As the book of Esther states,
". . . And all of the king's servants . . . bowed
down and prostrated themselves before Haman . . .
But Mordecai would not bow down nor prostrate himself
before him" (Esther 3:2). Today, vegetarians represent
non-conformity. At a time when most people in the
wealthier countries think of animal products as the
main part of their meals, when McDonald's and similar
fast food establishments are expanding, vegetarians
are resisting and insisting that there is a better,
healthier, more humane diet.
8. Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jews
from the wicked Haman. Today, vegetarianism can be
a step toward deliverance from modern problems such
as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.
9. Purim commemorates the time when conditions for
the Jews changed from sorrow to gladness and from
mourning to festival. Today, a switch to vegetarianism
could result in similar changes for many people, since
plant- based diets would reduce health problems and
10. Jews hear the reading of the Megillah twice
during Purim, in order to reeducate them about the
terrible threats to the Jewish people and their deliverance.
Jewish vegetarians believe that if Jews were educated
about the horrible realities of factory farming and
the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of
our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting
the environment, conserving resources, and helping
hungry people, they would seriously consider switching
to vegetarian diets.
11. The primary food associated with Purim, hamantaschen,
is a vegetarian food.
In view of these and other connections, I hope that
Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful
and spiritually meaningful holiday of Purim by making
it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to
Judaism`s highest moral values and teachings by moving
toward a vegetarian diet.