Going kosher seems a daunting task. There are so many rules, so many details to consider! I certainly know that in the beginning I felt I would never be able to do all of that. So is it useless to try? No. The secret lies in going slowly, step by step. And then suddenly, the task is not so daunting at all.
Here is a proposal for small steps to try one after the other. How long you stay at each step or if you switch them around somewhat is up to you. But whatever you do, don’t take on too much at a time. Do one step and stay there until you are comfortable and it comes automatically. Only then continue. Don’t despair if you fail now and then. It might take months, a year or even longer. It does not matter. It is a process of internalization that everybody has to tackle at his own pace. And how hard it is depends also on your surroundings. If there is no way of getting kosher meat for you, you can still do other things.
So here is my proposal for steps:
- Avoid insects in your salad and vegetables, i.e., wash them properly – that wasn’t so hard, was it? In fact, you may already do that.
- Eliminate animals that can never be kosher from your diet, e.g., pork, shellfish, rabbit, snake, shark, eel, …
- Avoid milk-meat combinations that were cooked at the same time or are eaten together, e.g., pizza or lasagna with meat, cheeseburger, sauces for meat that use cream, …
- Avoid eating milk and meat at the same meal, e.g., no coffee with milk after a steak, no yoghurt dressing for the salad before the steak, …
- Buy only kosher meat at a kosher butcher.
- Wait the appropriate amount of time between eating meat and milk (check with your local rabbi).
- Separate your dishes, one set for meat, one for milk.
- Check the kashrut for non-meat products and buy only those with kosher symbols or if they are on the kosher list (depending on your country). This is again best done step-by-step, chose two items you buy regularly and switch to a kosher version, then another two, until everything you buy is kosher.
- Kasher your kitchen.
Congratulations! You made it!
I know many people who have different standards in their home and outside. This is ok. For example you are at step 5 in your home, but at your mother’s you are still at step 3 because she refuses to buy kosher meat. That is fine for the time being. Honoring your parents is also very important and they should not become resentful towards your new (or new-found) religion. Take your time and let them make their own journey alongside you. Or if you are completely kosher at home but still eat vegetarian meals in your non-kosher canteen at work. Chose the pace you are comfortable with and don’t try everything at once.
Going kosher is like a diet or in fact any other deep change in your habits. If you want it to stick, you need to go slow and give yourself the time to make it an integral part of your self. Good luck!
[Edit Feb 25th: Adding separate dishes]