Israel Goes Vegan
By Ariel Schwalb, Class of 2016
On Tuesday, October 5th, an Israeli vegan food journalist, blogger, and TEDx speaker with over 94,000 views on YouTube visited Rutgers Hillel. Ori Shavit was on a tour and on a mission to visit a dozen colleges throughout the US including Stanford, Tufts, and UVM. Rutgers was her second stop.
Ori started the presentation talking about how her eyes were opened wide when she met someone who turned out to be a vegan. She was a food journalist and critic at the time, and was very curious why this person politely refused to eat the meat, dairy and eggs on the menu of the restaurant at which they met. When he told her about the issues with factory farming, she began to investigate for herself and found that she knew less about where her food came from than she had ever realized before. Next Ori discussed her findings, sharing information from the UN about how eating animals actually pollutes more than all cars, trains, planes, trucks and ships combined.
She told the audience that doctors are finding a pretty clear link between saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic western diseases. Ori concluded with a slideshow of cute and friendly rescued animals and dozens of delicious vegan meals she has eaten over her journey. One restaurant Ori Shavit mentioned is Nanuchka, a well known and long-established Russian-Georgian restaurant in Tel Aviv, which became completely vegan over a year ago and has remained highly successful since. She also told us that last year the Israeli branch of Domino’s Pizza launched a vegan vegetable pizza topped with soy cheese, a global first for the company.
8.5% of Israelis are vegetarian and 4% are vegan, which makes it the “most vegan” country on the planet. Ori also talked about how Tel-Aviv was voted the most vegan friendly city in the world, and that animal rights, health, and the environment are important to Jewish law.
After the question and answer session, we all ate Gardien’s vegan veggie burgers together with organic tomatoes, vegan mayo, ketchup, and pickles. We were very hungry after seeing all of Ori’s amazing food pictures! We were grateful for the chance to meet Ori because we both learned her story and the story of how Israel has become so vegan so quickly.