Have Your Pork and Eat it Too


I had a BLT for lunch today. Last night for dinner, shrimp scampi. The day before that, chicken parmesan.  And you know what – I don't feel guilty about any of it. How could a self-professed Orthodox Jew flaunt such utter disregard for the laws of kashrut, you wonder. One word, baby. Soy.

Since I was raised on all sorts of treyf delicacies before I became religious: bacon, lobster, cheeseburgers, you name it, I never gave up liking those foods, I just gave up eating them. But after a while I realized that with all the soy technological breakthroughs out there (and, yes, there are many), you can trick your taste buds whilst remaining true to your Torah. Which in my mind is a recipe for success. So I wanted to share some of my secrets with you, my dear readers, because although there's a prohibition against eating it, there ain't no prohibition against liking it.

For the record, I'm not getting paid to endorse any of these products (although maybe I should)! Soy meat can replace nearly every type of regular meat out there: ground beef, steak strips, breaded chicken, ham, and pepperoni. The key to making something taste fake treyfabulous is to pick the best soy meat on the market, sautée it in a little olive oil (since real meat comes with shmaltz and soy meat doesn't) and replace it wherever the real meat would normally go. So for instance you can make foods like tacos, lasagna, baked ziti, and stick the soy ground beef  in place of the real ground beef. Chicken parmesan can be made with a breaded soy chicken patty, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Pollack is kosher fish that is made into imitation shrimp and crab meat and can be prepared with all the same ingredients as the real stuff.

Here are the winners for the various categories:

Best Soy Ground Beef: Morning Star
Best Soy Breaded Chicken Patties: Morning Star (used to be another brand that is no longer kosher, but Morning Star is still pretty good for this)
Best Soy Ham substitute: Yves Canadian Bacon
Best Soy Pepperoni: Yves
Best Kosher Shrimp and Crab Replacement: DynaSea
Best Soy Steak Strips: Morning Star
Best Soy Bacon: If you like your bacon crispy, then go with Morning Star; if you like your bacon chewy, go with Lightlife
Best Veggie Burger: None, so instead go for a real MEAT burger with melted non-dairy Tofutti cheese

I've made nearly every fake treyf dish out there, so if anyone has a request for a particular recipe, just shoot me an email and I"ll be happy to share. Happy Kosher Treyf eating, everyone, and beh-tay avon (Hebrew for bon appetit)!




  1. As a kosher vegetarian (for over 25 years now) and almost vegan, i love this post! Go you!

  2. As far as soy burgers. Try Morningstar Farms Vegan Grillers. They are fantastic!

  3. Amy’s has some great burgers and frozen meals and the best frozen pizza IMHO.

    As someone raised secular I have had lots of fun turning my favorite treyf meals into my favorite kosher meals. I can still have spaghetti carbonera, baked clams (fish is even better than the clams), SPAM anything (yes I loved SPAM but now use kosher salami or hot dogs), even some of my favorite pork dishes have been even better when I use kosher turkey, chicken or beef as a pork replacement.

  4. I have to raise the same theological issues that were raised on facebook. See, I wonder about the issues raised when we accept an imitation of something we’re not supposed to eat. It might be a giant loophole in the system but, having grown up not observantly Jewish and thus developing quite a taste for trayf, I still feel like it’s cheating to accept a substitute when the purpose of the laws is for us to CHOOSE not to eat those things because it’s not holy to eat them. Can you expand on this for me??

    • Thanks for your question, KE. First off, I’m obviously not the only one who thinks that soy ham or mock shrimp are kosher since these foods are covered in hechsherim (kosher symbols). Second, I’ve heard people raise similar questions when it comes to using timers for lights on Shabbos. They think it’s a loophole and a cop out. What one really needs to do to understand why these things are allowed is to study halacha (Jewish law) in depth to see that there’s VERY much a rhyme and reason to the system, but to answer your question briefly here, the Torah is full of commandments – specific ones even.

      Did you know that when it comes to mixing milk and meat the prohibition is not just in eating it, it’s also in cooking it and in deriving benefit from it? The rabbis extrapolate this from the Torah through tools that were given in the oral law (i.e., what is now the Talmud). So what I’m trying to say is that if the Torah meant to prohibit tastes, textures, and smells that were like treyf food it certainly would have included it somewhere.

      Also, think about the mannah that the Children of Israel ate in the desert. It could taste like anything you wanted it to. That means if someone who grew up non-religious and remembered how cheeseburgers tasted there’d be no reason for her to not have her mannah taste like one! What I mentioned on FB I’ll say again here. I think the discomfort that people have with things that remind them of treyf is the association. But halacha is not based on feelings or what things remind us on. It’s based on a legal system with rules. My basic feeling is that if the Torah doesn’t prohibit something we shouldn’t try to be more religious than the Torah!

  5. The best parve chicken nuggets (which can be made into an awesome chicken parmesan) are the Trader Joes brand!

  6. Lightlife Foods (http://www.lightlife.com/index.jsp) and Yves (http://www.yvesveggie.com/) are also great!

    I’ve been living in Israel for 8 years and the availability of vegetarian ‘meat substitutes’ doesn’t come close to what’s available in the U.S.

  7. Is turkey ham necessarily kosher?

  8. Is there a good kosher recipe for fake fried shrimp and also for lobster?

  9. My husband used to eat treyf as well and the only thing he still talks about is a ruben sandwich. any suggestions? thx.

  10. Hello to all. I was wondering what people have to say about “Maras Ayin” ?

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