Earlier this past year, Matisyahu began tweeting another major lifestyle change: One to veganism.
The American Hasidic reggae artist was born Matthew Paul Miller in West Chester, Pennsylvania, as a Reconstructionist Jew. After participating in an Israel program,
Miller was inspired to go back to his religious roots and aligned himself with Chabad-Lubavitch Judaism beginning in 2001.
However, in 2007, Matisyahu had by then learned more about different sects of religious Jews and no longer wanted to limit himself to one denomination. He now has a preference for attending services with the Karliner Synagogue in Boro Park, Brooklyn, a congregation where the custom is to ecstatically scream their prayers.
And now in 2010, veganism.
There are some Jewish beliefs that stand more in favor of eating meat than becoming vegetarian or vegan, due to all the laws made specifically around the treatment of meat in the diet.
This is not universal though. There are several examples in Jewish history that show a change to vegetarianism or veganism enabled Jews to maintain the dietary laws. For example, Daniel and his companions avoided non-kosher food while they were held captive in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, through a vegan diet (Daniel 1: 8-16).
Other proponents of veganism point out that it actually makes keeping kosher easier. In many places, kosher meat is not available, or is only available at high costs. In addition, a vegan doesn't need to concern themselves with using separate dishes and other utensils for meat and dairy foods, waiting three or six hours after eating meat before being permitted to eat dairy products, and other rules of kashrut (keeping kosher).
Matisyahu has not only tweeted about his own vegan choices, but also gets into active conversations with others on Twitter about his new lifestyle.
-Updated 12 days ago: "@matthue: O @RealFoodDaily, your vegan fettucine alfredo still tastes good..." here's a reminder for you big guy. http://yfrog.com/0omt9oj" (the link goes to a photo of the vegan pasta).
-Updated 14 days ago: "Me and the chef @ New kosher restaurant in BK. Food is amazing. He gave me the vegan hook up. http://yfrog.com/6wuvfkj" (link is photo of Matisyahu and the chef at Pardes Restaurant).
When the blog The Jew and the Carrot caught up with Matisyahu a couple weeks ago, he told them how he gets by on tour now as a vegan:
"Since I started touring in 2003, I’ve always kept kosher, so I don’t know any other way. But last February I became vegan and that has changed everything. Basically I typically don’t depend any more on others for my food. I have to cook myself and therefore I am much more grateful and conscious of what I am eating."
As for what he eats: "My diet consists of quinoa, miso, almond milk, kashi cereal, flax seed oil, oatmeal, veggies, fruit, juice, veggie burgers, etc. I guess the thing I was really into on the last tour was quinoa with flax seed oil and tamari."
Matisyahu attributes beginning his Vegan diet to reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
He can be followed online at @Matisyahu on Twitter.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life