The Freedom to Question: Choosing Sustainable Meat

Editor’s Note: Passover (coming up on April 18th) is one of the most important Jewish holidays. It is an annual celebration of our freedom from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. During the celebration, we sit around the dinner table (for hours before actually eating) in order to tell the story of how God helped us escape bondage.

One important part of the modern Passover Seder is the ritual of the youngest child asking four questions about the meal. The Four Questions are about the customs that make this night different from all other nights: Why do we eat matzo (unleavened bread)? Why do we eat only bitter herbs? Why do we dip our food in salt water twice? Why do we recline on pillows while eating? The leader of the Seder answers by saying, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord, our God, took us out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.”

As a logically-minded kid, I always found this answer fairly useless, prompting another whining question of why I had to learn to sing these questions in the first place, if no one was going to answer them. It was at this point each year that my parents explained that the point of the Seder was precisely to encourage questions. At Passover, Jews celebrate redemption from slavery in Egypt. A slave cannot question or think — he must follow orders or suffer the consequences. By asking our questions, regardless of whether they have easy answers, we celebrate the freedom to question our world and to search for truth.

One question is missing

Over a festive Seder meal, we question the matzo and bitter herbs, but when the golden-skinned roast turkey and the intoxicatingly aromatic brisket arrives dramatically on the holiday table, we usually just enjoy. If we do stop to question how it got there, we think of the hours the hostess has spent cooking. Rarely do we ask about what happened before the kitchen. Passover, though, reminds us to question things in our surroundings that we take for granted, prompting a reconsideration of the steps that brought that turkey and beef to the table.

As the modern food industry has consolidated over the last century, animals have been moved from pastures to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where they are fed grain until they quickly reach market weight. Feeding grain to naturally grass-eating animals changes their body chemistry in ways that are unhealthy both for the animals themselves and to people who eat their meat. Conditions at CAFOs make animals stressed and sick, and the antibiotics used to combat these infections contribute to the creation of “superbugs,” antibiotic-resistant human diseases that are hard to treat. CAFOs dump animal waste into the environment, contaminating air, soil and water.

Is this how we want to get our food?

At Passover, we are reminded that we can stop and question whether these practices are something we are comfortable with, something we want to support through our purchases. We are not slaves to the industrial system of meat production, and our questions and our choices have the power to shape new practices. By buying kosher, sustainable meat that meets higher standards of humane practices, environmental protection, and human health, we question the idea that we must accept whatever the conventional meat industry says we should eat. In doing so, we make our world a better place.

This year, my Passover table will feature a sustainable golden-skinned roast turkey and an intoxicatingly aromatic, sustainable brisket. When I think of its origins, I will recognize the time my mother spent in the kitchen, but I will also think about the efforts of Aaron, the Amish farmer who raised the turkey in a pasture, and George, the Pennsylvania farmer who ensured that the healthy cow ate grass and never came near a feedlot. I will recognize the efforts of the food company where I’m an intern, whose efforts enable this delicious meat to be available for kosher seder tables.

At Passover, I have the freedom to question and the freedom to choose, and I choose to eat meat that is the most ethically produced it can be.


Amy Radding is an intern at KOL Foods where sustainable kosher meat is acquired, and a senior at Yale University, where she is studying as much as she can about sustainable food. She hopes to work in the future towards making sustainable food the norm in American society. When she is not doing schoolwork, she cooks in a restaurant and caters events in her residential college. She prefers her kosher, grass-fed brisket braised with caramelized shallots and pomegranate molasses.


Related Stories:

Animals Are Essential To Sustainable Food (On the Other Hand)

Are The Democrats Losing Their Religion?

Feel Better About Sustainable Beer and Wine


Photo courtesy of revenante via flickr
Written by Amy Radding, an intern at KOL Foods.


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Helen Wu
Helen Wu5 years ago

Thank You for sharing :)

Berny p.
berny p5 years ago


Dan B.
Dan Brook5 years ago

so-called sustainable meat is an oxymoron

I'll stick with eco-eating:

Grace Johnson
Grace Johnson7 years ago

interesting thanks

Rachel H.
Rachel H7 years ago

Oh, and to those who are non-Christian, please understand my posts were not directed at you in order to try and force my beliefs on you. This was a comment from one Christian to another. I don't expect you to be pro-meat or anti-meat based on Biblical scripture if you're not a believer, so no worries! :D

Rachel H.
Rachel H7 years ago

(c)don't do it. Again, "But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). So clearly, your moral compass points to being a vegetarian. And for you, eating meat WOULD be a sin, because you doubt it so. And God's ok with that.

What's NOT right is judging people who eat meat! Again, it says SPECIFICALLY: "The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything MUST NOT JUDGE the one who does, for God has accepted them."

Of course, in the end, you know what? It doesn't really matter, because it all comes back to "For the kingdom of God is NOT a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval" (Romans 14:17-18).

I don't eat meat around my vegetarian friends unless they're ok with it (I check first). And they don't judge me if I eat meat. My Christian vegetarian friends don't because the Bible says they are not to judge me or hold me in contempt. (I have non-Christian, vegetarian friends, but these posts are directed towards Christians like Lisa S). Because as long as I'm humane (thus following the Good Stewardship rule you mentioned, Lisa), I'm doing my part. I love animals, and I love meat. Bible says I don't judge you, and you don't judge me. ;)

God Bless.

Rachel H.
Rachel H7 years ago

Sorry Lisa S, those verses don't condemn meat eating. They talk of peace, and 'the wolf shall dwell with the lamb' I always took to mean that an enemy shall be beside an innocent, and there will be no more bloodshed. And besides, I can quote Scripture to support meat-eating. :)

Old Testament laws on eating: there are also laws about wearing clothes with more than one kind of fabric, cutting hair and ear piercing, etc. When Jesus died, he BROKE the old laws and we were no longer bound by them - we were freed by Jesus' blood and his death.

As for meat eating... you're missing a whole CHAPTER in the NT devoted to things along the line of meat eating vs. vegetarians. Romans 14:2-3: "One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them." In other words: DON'T judge someone who eats differently. Both are accepted by God: "...Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God." (Romans 14:6).

However, you are free to be vegetarian because: "I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean." (Romans 14:14) If it's unclean for you, then don't do

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

nobody mentions religions from longer ago. "dead ones". it's just "All about Jesus"

I'm sure non believers have their own belief. but if they are wrong and the other is right. by default they are wrong.

plus, if people only believe in those things now, because neo paganism 'revived them", they still are outdated.

what if Christianity died out 1,000 years ago? and everyone knew the story of Eden as a myth story, like how some of us see stories of other people's religions.

the Norse really did believe in all that right? or did Vikings not have a religion based on things that Jewish and Christian, and Islamic faiths hold in importance.

if you go by "only Christianity is true
, but then what if Shinto beliefs are true and not Christianity.

you would bend your moral-based diet to that, right?

Lisa S.
Lisa S.7 years ago

I am a vegetarian/vegan by choice, and by freedom! Funny that these 2 words are mentioned in the article since these sentient beings we call "food" have absolutely NO freedom, nor choice! With all due respect, I have to say that people of "religion" should NOT eat meat! I am a Christian and GOD has commanded us to be"GOOD stewards" of what HE created! In Genesis 1:29-30 God gives us, along with all animals the fruit of the trees and the seeds of the earth as food, NO mention of animals eating animals, nor man eating animals! Before there was sin, there was NO death, NO pain, NO murder, NO violence of any kind. That's why it was Paradise! God even says it is VERY good, not just good. In the Mosaic legal system there are 150 laws about meat-eating. Leviticus prohibits eating anything with blood or fat. The law of Moses forbids eating flesh altogether. Daniel was a vegetarian. The Prophet Isaiah proclaims a vision of a peaceable kingdom, several passages condemn meat-eating. "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid" Is11:6-9. In Hosea God says HE will make a covenant where ALL living creatures may lie down without fear. While celebrating a religious Holiday, one should look deeper inside oneself! GOD IS a GOD of LOVE, COMPASSION, HUMILITY AND PEACE! Killing and eating animals is NOT part of that! The industry is heinous, inhumane, cruel in the utmost sense of evil one can imagine! GOD weeps for ALL HIS creation, on your plate and off it too!