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Carnivorous Classifications

In the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy and her companions find themselves stranded in a scary forest, prompting them to cry out: “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Well, if you are a carnivore with carnivorous cravings, then on the holiday of Shavuot you might find yourself exclaiming “Latkes and tzimmes and blintzes, oh my!” You would do so because, much to the chagrin of meat-lovers, the custom on Shavuot is to abstain from eating meat. There is, however, a very good reason for this custom.

Most scholars agree that there are several possible explanations for the meatless tradition on Shavuot, including one beautifully enunciated by the Chofetz Chaim (1839-1933):

“[W]hen Bnei Yisrael stood at Har Sinai and accepted the Torah… and they went down from the mountain to their homes they found nothing to eat immediately except for dairy foods because for meat they would need much preparation to slaughter [meat in accordance with the newly-given laws of Kashrut]… Also [they would have] to cook in new vessels because their previous vessels had been used to cook meat (that they now discovered was actually not kosher)…, therefore they choose on account of the time to eat dairy foods and we do this as a commemoration of this.” (Mishna Berura 494:12)

Thus, eating a dairy meal on Shavuot has deep and significant meaning. Of course, a dairy meal may be problematic for those who are lactose intolerant, but there are plenty of non-dairy (pareve) options for the lactose intolerant among us. Speaking of lactose intolerance, imagine describing other conditions in life in a similar fashion, e.g., students who need more free time are Homework Intolerant, those who speak before they think are Wisdom Intolerant and those who judge a book by its cover are Fairness Intolerant.

Shavuot’s meatlessness obviously is a good thing for most vegetarians. Nowadays, however, there are many different types of vegetarians. A lacto vegetarian eats meat, fish, fowl or eggs but does consume dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt. Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, fowl or dairy products but they do consume egg products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or fowl but consumes both dairy and egg products. Pescatarians do not eat meat or fowl but they do eat fish, whereas Pollotarians do not eat red meat or fish but they eat poultry and fowl. Vegans do not consume any animal products or by-products whatsoever while on the other end of the spectrum Flexitarians mostly eat a plant-based diet but they also selectively eat some meat, fish and fowl from time to time.

In the Jewish world, there are plenty of people who may fall into one of the above categories and they all should be embraced with open minds and arms. That said, an argument could be made that Jewish meat-lovers also deserve special names and classifications. Here are a few examples:

  • • Cholentarian- eats only meat and beans slow-cooked in a crockpot
  • • Ho-do Cholentarian—eats only cholent cooked with chunks of hot dogs
  • • Spuds Suds Cholentarian—eats only cholent cooked with potatoes and beer
  • • Pastramitarian—eats only pastrami sandwiches
  • • Sal Bal Pastramitarian—eats only sandwiches consisting of pastrami, salami and baloney
  • • Schnitzeltarian—eats only chicken that is breaded and deep-fried
  • • Hum Hot Schnitzeltarian—eats only schnitzel smothered in humus and hot sauce
  • • Brisketarian—eats only certain primal cuts of beef that have been baked, boiled or roasted
  • • Kug Kash Brisketarian—eats only brisket with kugel and kasha varnishkes
  • • Shawarmatarian—eats only meat slow-cooked on a rotating spit
  • • Laff Stuff Shawarmatarian—eats only shawarma in a laffa stuffed with every available condiment and salad
  • • Chopped Livertarian—eats only chopped liver
  • • Tam Fam Chopped Livertarian—eats only chopped liver served on a Tam-Tam (or equivalent) cracker or at a family gathering
  • • Schmaltztarian—eats only rendered chicken or goose fat
  • • Sch-Sch-Schmaltztarian—eats only Schmaltz but not if prepared by a Schmendrik or a Schlemiel
  • • Gribenestarian—eats only chicken or goose skin cracklings
  • • Gran Gribenestarian—eats only Gribenes made in accordance with their grandmother’s secret recipe
  • • P’tchatarian—eats only pickled calves feet
  • • P’tcha-Cha-Cha-tarian—eats only P’tcha with Charoset and Challah
  • • Cornatarian—eats only corned beef and cornish hen
  • • Wurst Delicatessentarian—eat only at a deli serving Liverwurst and Knockwurst

Final thought: If you do not eat dairy on Shavuot, then your rabbi may have a beef with you, figuratively (but not literally).

By Jon Kranz

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