“I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; a people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; …who eat swine’s flesh, and the broth of abominable things is in their vessels” (Isaiah 65:2-4).
Even though I “officially” cleaned the pork and other unclean foods out of my kitchen in 2007, it was quite some time before I realized how much “broth of abominable things” was still being served in our home.
I didn’t realize that pork and other unclean animals were used as ingredients all throughout our food supply. The day I learned some of this, I was truly overwhelmed! I felt I would never be able to shop at a grocery store or eat at a restaurant again. However, after I calmed down, I realized that I could learn how to use only clean ingredients—and that my food would usually taste better, cost less, and be healthier for it.
Pork is often used in baking goods and as a thickener. It is also often used in flavorings. Seafood and other unclean animals (such as beaver or human hair) can show up as a flavoring, a dough enhancer, or as a coloring.
Here are some of the ingredients to watch for. However, just because an ingredient is on this list does not mean it is always unclean. Many manufacturers can make these ingredients from clean animals or even from plants.
Foods to Watch Out For:
- Lard (pork), often used in pie dough and pastries
- Gelatin and glycerin, used to make many things, but especially marshmallows, frosting on some toaster pastries and doughnuts, fondant on icing, and as an ingredient in many medications and even vitamins and herbs. Many foods are processed through gelatin, such as high-fructose corn syrup. If the gelatin is made from a clean animal, such as beef gelatin, or from vegetables, it is clean; however, most gelatin and glycerin are made from pork.
- Juices and alcoholic drinks, some of which are clarified with pork gelatin, and some of which contain coloring or flavoring from pork, shellfish, and catfish. Watch for castoreum (beaver) in cream sodas and other soft drinks, cochineal (insects), canthaxanthin (sea creature), or carmine (insects and sea creatures). These can also be in candies and yogurts, especially those colored red or flavored with “berry” flavors.
- Fish sauces and fish gelatin, which are often made from a combination of fish, some clean and some unclean.
- L-cysteine, which is made from poultry feathers, hog hair, or human hair. This ingredient is often seen in breads, donuts, hamburger and hot dog buns, and any other yeast products. Be especially careful at restaurants.
- Mono- and dyglycerides, which can be made from vegetable or beef fat, but are often made from pork. These are often found in baked goods and breads.
- Enzymes used to make cheese, which are sometimes made from vegetables or beef but are often made from pork stomach. You will find these on any cheese products, including processed cheese food, chips and snacks, and frozen and restaurant pizzas.
- Pork casings, which are often to make beef, turkey, or chicken hot-dogs and sausages.
- Other ingredients which can be made with pork, such as pasta sauces, refried beans, or frozen and prepared foods. Also watch for ramen noodles, which are usually processed with shrimp.
Food preparation also has to be considered. Since YHVH declared that any surface that touches the carcass of an unclean animal must be washed and then declared unclean until evening, we have to think about the pots, pans, grills, plates, cook tops, deli-slicers, knives, and even people who touch our food. This does indeed make it difficult to eat at a restaurant!
Again, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by all of this information. Here are some tips to help you:
- Always read the ingredients of the food, medication, supplements, and even personal-care items you purchase. Always. You never know when an ingredient list will change.
- If you’re unsure what an ingredient is, or whether something is made with pork or processed with unclean animals, call the company! They are usually helpful. It is always good to ask questions.
- Make more of your food at home, in your own kitchen, where you can be sure of the ingredients and the cleanliness of your surfaces.
When you get discouraged, review why we keep these commands: We want to be set-apart people for YHVH, loving what He loves and despising what is disgusting to Him. When you think about the fact that YHVH sees a piece of bacon, for instance, as a hunk of rotting, dead flesh, you will start to get a disgust for things that truly are an abomination in our Creator’s eyes.
Milk and Meat
Many Jews will also avoid combining milk and meat together. They do that because of these commands:
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19).
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 34:26).
However, we also find that Abraham showed hospitality to the three strangers that visited him by serving them curds and milk with the calf he had prepared. One of these guests was YHVH Himself!
The context of these commands is the bringing of an animal to be sacrificed as an offering to YHVH. As one author states,
“The new born kid, calf, sheep, should not be killed within the early new life it has, then be cooked in its mother’s milk (possibly because it may give some added flavor to the meat) that it was depending on for life.”
Judaism adds a “fence law” to this command, forbidding someone from ever mixing a drop of milk with a tiny piece of meat. From this law also spring complex laws about how to separate dishes in your kitchen and how long to wait between eating meals. I don’t personally feel that these fences are necessary, since we are told that adding to YHVH’s commands is forbidden and can become a burden that turns people away from following YHVH.
However, if you meet someone whose conscience compels them to follow all of Judaism’s kosher laws, be gracious and do not harm their conscience by knowingly mixing dairy and meat (cheeseburgers, meat lasagna, meat pizza, etc.). If you are hosting them in your home, use paper plates and disposable flatware, put a disposable tablecloth on your table, and be sure that all foods prepared in your home are made with kosher-labeled ingredients and/or fresh produce.
Meat and Vegetables
With all of these complicated rules, wouldn’t it be easier to become a vegetarian?
Yes, it certainly can feel that way, and many people have decided to take that route.
This is the route that Daniel and his three Hebrew friends chose when they were asked to eat meat in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. It is extremely likely that the meat being served was both offered to idols and sometimes from unclean animals.
“And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, ‘I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.’
“So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.’ So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables” (Daniel 1:5-16).
I feel that this passage summarizes the wisest approach we can take with our food. When we purpose in our hearts that we will not defile ourselves with anything, YHVH miraculously provides for us! What a gracious God He is!
Other than that, the rule in Scripture is that we should be considerate to the feelings of others. If a friend has chosen to eat only vegetables, then we should not serve them meat!
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:1-4).
We know that this passage is not talking about whether we can eat pork or shrimp. That’s not a “doubtful thing”!
However, wondering if an ingredient is truly clean, or if a preparation surface has been unknowingly contaminated with an unclean carcass, or if a food has been sacrificed to idols – these are often doubtful things!
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:14-23).
Isn’t the Torah beautiful? It truly is made so that we can both show our love for YHVH and our love for our neighbor as well.
Other Food Laws
As you spend the next months and years of your life learning the Torah, you will come across other food laws. I will give you a brief overview here, but for the sake of space in this already-long post, I encourage you to study these Scripture passages together with your family.
- The mixing of seed, which affects GMO-seeds in our food supply and gardening methods – Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:9.
- Laws for fruit trees – Leviticus 19:23-25; 27:30.
- Wine – Psalm 104:15; Nehemiah 8:10-12; Ephesians 5:18.
- If you are uncertain how to handle common objections used in the New Testament, please see my blog post:
- A listing of manufacturers and companies that use both clean and unclean ingredients, see this website:
http://www.theisraelofgodrc.com/CUPL.html (This list is possibly outdated but still helpful. Remember to do your own homework!)
- For a discussion of Kosher food laws from a Messianic-Jewish perspective, see the book Biblically Kosher, by Aaron Eby, published by First Fruits of Zion, http://ffoz.org.
All Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 You can find common kosher symbols for other countries at
 Genesis 18:1-8
 Deuteronomy 4:2; Acts 15:10
Jackie B says
This is very helpful and encouraging, Anne! I am always blessed by your posts and am so thankful that YHWH led me to this.
Thank you, Jackie! (((hugs)))
Thank you for this really helpful article Anne! This has actually been weighing heavily on my mind, maybe because I’m starting to think towards our “spring cleaning” for Pesach 🙂 I actually have Biblically Kosher and two Jewish books on keeping kosher on my desk right now (How to Keep Kosher by Lise Stern and Kosher for Everybody by Trudy Garfunkel – so grateful my library system was able to get them for me!)
It does seem overwhelming to think about the “extra” ingredients in what we commonly buy. It’s especially tough to think that I need to check everything we get from Sam’s Club (which really helps stretch the budget with a large family). But since we generally buy the same things every month, I figure I’ll inspect each item and replace with kosher varieties from this point on. Thank you for the reminder that the LORD will provide.
How do you handle it if you want to go out for a “date night” with hubby and have no kosher restaurants nearby? Hubby and I take one night a month for a date night so I’m trying to think of how we might handle that in light of knowing that additives/etc. may not be clean.
We do date nights here, too, and it HAS changed how we do it. First of all, calling the restaurant ahead of time is a great idea. Tell them you need to eat a kosher diet, no pork or shellfish, no lard, and your food cannot be cooked on any surface with these products. They have always been very understanding, probably because others (vegans, gluten-free, allergens, etc.) also call and ask questions like this. I’ve found that if I smile and am polite, they are happy to answer my questions. I’ve even asked the greeters at the door. They usually go right back to the kitchen to ask. One time a mistake was made and my food had bacon in it. They apologized profusely, took my food back and made it again, then gave me the meal for free! Again, be polite and ASK.
I have found, though, that the cheaper the restaurant (ie. chains and fast food), the less likely they will be able to help. You’re looking for restaurants that value fresh ingredients.
At worst case scenario, if you can’t find anything else, go vegan and fresh for the day.
It makes me smile how HEALTHY our Creator God is! 🙂
Our difficulty is when we are invited to friends or family for a meal. We pork & shellfish out of our diet a while ago now but have realized recently we need to be more diligent about ingredients. So, how do we handle dinner invites? We have made it clear no pork or shellfish but what about ingredients in food prepared. We tend to eat whole foods at home anyway but our families do not. Recently had a meal invite from a family member who made grilled cheese with store brand white bread & American cheese, both of which I know have ingredients mentioned above. I had already started buying kosher cheeses as I had read about the enzymes. This person is already pretty hostile about our beliefs, not eating pork, etc. We are just not sure how to handle this in love. Thanks for your thoughts & can’t wait to get a few of these books to learn more. Blessings!
Heather, i would just eat the food and ask no questions. We should live at peace with one another and love one another. Your friend is providing hospitality,; I wouldn’t want to offend. Think about it like this: If you lived in Nazi Germany and was hiding Jews and was asked by the gestapo if you knew the whereabouts of any Jews, you would lie to protect the Jews. God said not to lie. In other words you would sin in order to protect a life(a greater good). I think the greater good here is to love your friend. So, my two cents for whats its worth is to eat the food.
Hi, great site! really helped me, thank you for that. I would like to ask if I could eat certain amounts of tahini or avoid this as part of eliminating Seeds? I m from Israel and here Tahini is an integral part of the food and considered nutritious.
I don’t think it’s wrong to eat seeds, so yes, I think tahini would be fine. I think intentionally producing and planting GMO seeds (seeds that have been artificially bred with UN-like kinds, such as implanting DNA from sheep into vegetables, etc.) is the thing forbidden in the Torah. I hope this helps!
Diana Ladd says
I am so thankful to HaShem for showing me your blog. Wow, just wow!!!