The Torah tells us about what animals to eat, but also what to do to prevent them from suffering when they’re slaughtered. If an animal is improperly slaughtered, it is unfit to eat. As you can imagine, animal welfare is a big deal to Judaism! Today we’ll focus on what animals are Kosher and why.
Mammals: those with split hooves and that chew their cuds, such as cows, sheep, goats, and deers. Examples of non-kosher animals include pigs, rabbits, squirrels, bears, dogs, cats, camels, and horses since they do not chew their cuds.
Birds: The Torah lists several non-kosher bird species, like scavenger or predatory birds. Nevertheless, it does not specify which ones are allowed to eat. Traditionally, some kosher birds are chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, and pigeons.
As we mentioned before, all warm-blooded animals have to be slaughtered in a certain way, called shechitah, to prevent them from suffering.
Fish and seafood: the only kosher water animals are those with fins and scales; for example cod, salmon, tuna, or herring. Shellfish, catfish, crabs, and all water mammals are strictly prohibited!
Reptiles, amphibians, and insects: are all forbidden except for some types of locusts. That said, it is discouraged to consume locusts since they might contain traces of pesticides.
Let’s delve into the shechitah; it is a religious and humane method of slaughtering permitted animals and poultry for food. The procedure consists of a rapid and well-thought incision with a sharp knife, which severs the major structures and vessels at the neck, causing an instant drop in blood pressure in the brain and therefore loss of consciousness and lack of pain. It certainly is the most humane way to kill an animal; needless to say, it is forbidden to kill an animal for fun (hunting), but only for clothing or food purposes.
Now you know a little bit more about the requirements for an animal to be Kosher and fit for consumption. We hope that you learn something new today, thanks for reading!
My Kosher Chef