Appreciating the Underdog


OK. So, it may be a stretch to say that this week’s Jewish Times gives a shout-out to the underdog, but bear with me.

As usual, this week’s issue offers a slew of stories, much of which highlight ideas, people, events and, well, even foods, that have taken a back seat to the more popular or well-known among their ilk.

For instance, while in recent years vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians have all made headway in becoming better understood and accepted, many vegans, including those that want to dovetail their Judaism with their diets, may still get harrumphs or eye rolls from family and friends when announcing their intention to stop eating animal flesh for health, ethical or religious reasons.

In Victoria Brown’s first cover story for the JT, “On This Night We Eat Vegetables,” Brown highlights Jewish vegans who strive to make the best of Jewish holidays by, for instance, substituting vegetables for traditional Passover fare like brisket and gefilte fish.

As underdogs in the food world, vegans may struggle for acceptance and to even find a variety of foods that suit their diets at groceries and restaurants.

“But not all vegans find Passover a challenge,” Brown writes. “Diane and Sid Bravmann, of Pikesville, became vegan for their health. For Diane, Passover is not difficult at all. She finds it easy to make any recipe vegan by making substitutions such as mashed bananas or flax seed for eggs and she makes a mock chicken soup.”

Meanwhile, religious leaders, such as Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, find evidence in the Torah that God would prefer humans to avoid eating animals.

“God does not want humans to eat meat, Rosen explained, but grants permission as a compromise, perhaps with the idea that in the future, humans will once again be eating a vegan diet,” Brown writes.

Brown follows up her investigation of vegan Passover with some yummy recipes. Why not try one out this Passover, which is only weeks away?

In Connor Graham’s story about a diversity-training game called “Factuality,” participants from agencies with The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore learned how much legacy wealth and racial privilege can affect how others, the country’s social, ethnic and religious underdogs, lose out when trying to make their way toward the American Dream.

If you love rooting for the underdog, please read along with us this week.



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