In this episode of the Vedge Your Best podcast, I’m pleased to welcome my guest, Rabbi Akiva Gersh, aka the Vegan Rabbi. We discuss his journey from a non-religious upbringing to becoming an Orthodox Jew and a vegan. He shares how his college experiences led him to environmental activism and vegetarianism, and that he eventually adopted a vegan lifestyle at the age of 19. His spiritual journey intertwined with his growing awareness of environmental stewardship and animal welfare in Judaism.
Rabbi Gersh explains that while Judaism permits the eating of animals, it prohibits causing unnecessary pain and suffering to them and that there is a definite disconnect between traditional Jewish teachings on compassion towards animals and the realities of modern factory farming. He also discusses the original plant-based diet outlined in Genesis and how modern practices have strayed from these ideals.
We discuss some of the challenges faced by vegans in Orthodox Jewish communities, where eating meat is often seen as a cultural norm. He emphasizes the importance of awareness and gradual changes in dietary habits.
Rabbi Gersh is also a matchmaker for Jewish vegan and vegetarian singles, a niche that he discovered through social media interactions. He is involved in dating coaching and matchmaking, helping people find partners who share their vegan lifestyle.