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May 27, 2009 03:30 PM

Kosher vegan restaurants

Hi. Does anyone know of kosher vegan restaurants that have opened recently? I know of one in Brooklyn, NY. I'm trying to track down others in the country. Any help would be appreciated.


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    1. re: Howard_b2

      For those who hold by Rabbi Steinberg, please note that the kashrut certificate on the website of this restaurant expired the day before Passover, 2008.

      1. re: queenscook

        I went there for lunch today. I specifically looked at the certificate before going in. It is good through Pesach 2010.

        1. re: momrn

          I do not get the impression that they vigilantly maintain their presence online. I had emailed them a while back, and followed up on the issue when I was in the restaurant a couple of weeks later; the manager remembered my email, but had never replied.

    2. Wouldn't all vegan restaurants be kosher, ipso facto, seeing as they do neither meat, shellfish, nor dairy?

      20 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        In theory, yes, but one issue I can think of to avoid restaurants without certification is that they don't check vegetables for bugs. I presume vegans, given a choice, would not want to eat bugs, but they probably don't have the same "halachot" as Orthodox Jews do to avoid them (by either checking them properly or by using the brands of frozen veggies that don't require checking). Another issue is grape juice/wine/balsamic vinegar or any other grape derivatives. Certainly vegan, but still problematic for Orthodox Jews.

        1. re: queenscook

          They would also need to use other ingredients that were processed under supervision (spices, oils, soy sauce, other flavoring agents, food dyes).

          1. re: queenscook

            Hey, I'm not kosher or vegan but I go out of my way not to eat bugs.

            1. re: pikawicca

              Do you wash, soak, and/or check your vegetables in order to avoid bugs? That's generally what is accepted in Orthodox circles. It's OK if you don't, but lots of people say they don't eat bugs, but many may not realize how infested some fruits and vegetables can be with very, very small bugs that aren't immediately apparent unless you go out of your way to look for them. I don't go crazy with it (certainly not as much as some others), but I have seen very small bugs in and on fruits and veggies (inside figs & dates, for ex.) This is why many Orthodox, kosher-keeping Jews won't eat at regular, non-kosher vegetarian restaurants; I don't think most non-kosher veggie places check for bugs.

              1. re: queenscook

                I rinse my farmers' market salad mix in 5 or 6 changes of water, soaking each time for a few minutes. It amazes me how long it takes for some little critters to drown and sink to the bottom of the bowl. I have no intention of eating bugs.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Generally in a kosher kitchen, after all that each leaf is held up to a light source and visually inspected. In home kitchens that just means the sun or the ceiling light; in a professional kitchen they'll usually have a light box, which is much more convenient and efficient.

                  Also, they'll use salt water, and/or vegetable wash, which loosens the critters' grip on the leaves.

                2. re: queenscook

                  I'm sorry but your comment is kind of rude toward us "non-Jews" here.

                  Of course any decent restaurant worth it salt - Jewish or not - is going to be VERY careful about things like hygiene and especially bugs. Believe me none of us non-Jew Americans want to eat bugs either!

                  I've been to some Asian/South American countries where they actually eat bugs (Thailand & Ecuador for example) but that is a topic for a WHOLE different board! Not that I have a problem with them doing that, but as for me - no thank you!

                  In any case in the western world a good restos kitchen will have lightboxes, special sprayer nozzles, and other equipment design specifically to get out bugs and dirt FAST that a home kitchen or home chef might not be familiar with. Vegan restaurants in particular normally carry a LOT of equipment design for these purposes and are actually very pick about how they store their fruit and veggies so as to minimize any such things. I am not vegan myself but have inspected the kitchens of several such restaurants for my research (I'm a medical anthropology major who concentrates on the intersection of food/health/disease/tourism) and to be honest they are as clean (maybe even cleaner) on average than many of the kosher kitchen's and stores I've been too - particularly when it comes to keeping the floors clean.

                  Next it is the law that one cannot eat outside food in the kitchen of the resto one works in and must wash throughly with hot water hands up to the elbow before coming back into the kitchen as well as robe or 'chef whites' over his 'street' clothes. So even if he ate something you'd consider treif before coming in there is no way that stuff is getting into your meal if he is applying the health laws properly.

                  This is not because of religious reasons but because of the State and city's healthcodes. If one is worried one should go to the city's health department's website to see how vigilant that particular resto is. Frankly if a resto's marks are below 85% I wouldn't eat there kosher or not - because they are other issues that will get you sick.

                  Now I'm totally fine with eating only Kosher food, using kosher one use recyclable bakeware, and using my kosher certified biodigradble one use utensils around my Jewish friends - as a rule I use most that recyclable one use stuff for parties anyway not for the fact it's kosher but for the fact that it makes it easier on me.

                  However if it's just me and my fellow non-Jewish husband and we want to go out for a treif cheeseburger I'm totally going to do that too.

                  In conclusion you want to look at the rating their city gives that resto.

                  1. re: Bookwormgal

                    Garbage. Non-kosher restaurants, including vegetarian and vegan ones, do NOT care about small bugs that the customer is unlikely to notice, and they certainly don't use lightboxes to find them. The law certainly couldn't give a stuff about bugs; indeed the FDA standards explicitly allow a certain number of insects per pound of food.

                    1. re: zsero

                      Thanks for saying exactly what I was about to write!

            2. re: pikawicca

              No. There are several rules of kashrus that can not be assumed to be observed in vegan restaurants.

              1. Anything a Jew cooks on Shabbat is not kosher. If a restaurant is open on Shabbat, not only must it not be owned by Jews, but the cooks must not be Jewish.

              2. Any insect that is visible to the naked eye, even if it's the size of a dot on this screen (.) is not kosher, and if there is a reasonable suspicion that a vegetable might have such a bug it must be inspected carefully enough to find and remove it. That's a labor-intensive job that vegan restaurants cannot be assumed to perform.

              3. Just because a restaurant is vegan does not mean that the staff are themselves vegan, and it's quite common for staff to bring in their own food and cook it in the kitchen. That can be anything, including pig.

              4. Wine, grape juice, and any extract from them, must be produced and handled only by observant Jews, unless they have been heated to a high temperature. Note that heating does not turn treif grape juice or wine into kosher, it only preserves the kashrus of that which is already kosher. A vegan place with no hechsher is certainly not going to have kosher wine or grape juice, or colourings and flavourings produced from grapes.

              5. Any food which cannot be eaten raw, and which is fit to be served at a formal dinner, must have had some participation by an observant Jew in its preparation. That can be as small as lighting the fire on which it was cooked, or stirring the pot while it's on the fire, or adding an ingredient. But if it was cooked start to finish without any such participation it is not kosher.

              6. Just because a restaurant claims to be 100% vegan doesn't necessarily mean that it's so. It's a sad fact that people in business sometimes don't tell the truth. Somebody has to inspect it from time to time, audit the books, etc., to make sure that it isn't buying ingredients that are not vegan (and not kosher).

              1. re: zsero

                Thanks for the info -- had no idea this was so complicated.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  You can also refer to to answer questions regarding kosher food.

                2. re: zsero

                  Your make very good points, but I think it is a bit absurd to suggest that a vegan restaurant would allow members of the staff to prepare and eat meat on the premises.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    It all goes back to how "kosher" your expectations are. Thirty+ years ago, vegetarian was usually satisfactory for many observant people. Today, most people want confidence in the way the place is run, so supervision is necessary. As with any prepared food, the staff may have even stricter standards than necessary but unless an observant individual is there to inspect, it's a crapshoot.

                    1. re: ferret

                      Thirty+ years ago there was a lot more ignorance around, and many people made bad assumptions and ended up inadvertently eating treif.

                      1. re: zsero

                        Now THERE's a broad unbased generalization.

                        1. re: ferret

                          It's a FACT that a lot of people did end up eating treif through ignorance.

                    2. re: gutsofsteel

                      It is not at all absurd, in fact it can be *presumed* to happen in every restaurant unless you have definite information that it doesn't. Ask anyone who's in the restaurant industry.

                    3. re: zsero

                      "3. Just because a restaurant is vegan does not mean that the staff are themselves vegan, and it's quite common for staff to bring in their own food and cook it in the kitchen. That can be anything, including pig." This statement is WRONG! The health codes of most cities are quite strict about this and don't allow you to bring outside food into the kitchen of a resto. Places have been closed for this reason. Check the city healthcode rating and that is a good measure of the honesty and integrity of those who own and work there.

                    4. re: pikawicca

                      you would think so but if you read this blog they write "Is your vegan food really vegan? We pull out all the stops to test 17 LA area vegan restaurants for non-vegan ingredients, and to find out why seven of them failed miserably...Really? Regular readers of will recall us publishing an email and photos from “Mr. Wishbone” detailing the contents of a dumpster at LA Vegan Thai with non-vegan ingredients plainly visible, and presumably used as ingredients in the food (pancakes in this case).

                      After we published Mr. Wishbone’s findings, several people wrote in with stories about potentially non-vegan ingredients being sighted in vegan restaurants, and one particular thread on the quarrums “Vegan Dirt” began to get rather busy, with accusations flying here and there about shrimp paste being spotted in some restaurants, and “vegan cheese” that looked and tasted exactly like dairy-based cheese being served in others."

                      Unless there is an independent supervisor, you cannot count on it.

                    5. I've not been, but both the Manhattan and the Portland, Maine branches of Little Lad's are kosher:

                        1. re: emacat

                          A place called Olga's opened in early May on Court Street.

                          1. re: Claire

                            It's not vegan. It has items that are vegan, but so do lots of places.

                            1. re: Claire

                              Olga's is located on Smith Street (but delivers to the downtown Brooklyn area), right near the Carroll Street F train station.

                          2. There's also Wild Ginger, on Broome between Mott and Mulberry. It's been open for a while, but I haven't tried it yet. I do hear good things about it, and intend to try it real soon now.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: zsero

                              Does that mean that Wild Ginger meets the six criteria you listed?

                              1. re: Kosher Critic

                                According to Rabbi Zev Schwarcz, who certifies it as kosher, the food at Wild Ginger does meet all of them, but there are non-kosher wines on the drinks menu, which are not used in cooking.