As you may have guessed/already know/are crying over because you can’t eat bread, Passover is upon us. Which, for observant Jews (or those that sort of feign observation) means NOTHING THAT RISES for a whole week, to remember the struggles of the Israelites who just did not have time to let their bread rise as they escaped Egyptian slavery. This is my first Passover as a vegetarian, and for the past five days I’ve been wandering the cafeteria during mealtime, trying to make a plate that is both meat- and gluten-free.
I guess, if you think about it, it has the potential to be a very healthy diet. Gluten is not so great for you anyway, and an elimination of bread is definitely a reduction in somewhat empty carbs. That is, unless you eat your weight in everybody’s favorite Jewish ‘cracker.’
I love me some matzo. Give it to me with hummus, PB&J, cream cheese and jalapeños (don’t judge); I will devour it. It is perfectly crunchy and has that subtle flavor that can pair with both savory and sweet toppings. The problem is that it’s not particularly filling unless I eat it in bulk and, as I mentioned, not so nutritious.
Here’s some more devastating news I found out yesterday: technically, all legumes and soy products are forbidden on Passover. I’m sorry, what? A friend of mine who is a vegetarian chooses to eat meat on Passover for this reason. He’s taking the survival path like our friends the Israelites. I, on the other hand, am taking the practical route. I personally don’t feel I need to sacrifice my vegetarianism (or risk getting sick) for ancient rules I was just informed of. Because this would mean no beans (which also eliminates hummus), no tofu or soy milk, and no peanuts (which are legumes, not nuts. Apparently). I was momentarily concerned about being a bad Jew, but then I thought “Hey, I’m still thinking about the plight of the Israelites when I remember I can’t eat bread AND I think I’d get a pass for caring about the environment/animals/my health.” It’s like fasting on Yom Kippur: kids, the elderly, pregnant women, or other at-risk people are exempt. (This makes me think about the first year I decided to fast but my siblings didn’t; they got Slurpees and I was so upset but my parents were proud of me so I rubbed that in their faces).
As long as I’m controlling my matzo intake, Passover is really a great time for a cleanse. It’s not forced, but it is sort of guilt-induced, which makes me a lot more likely to stick to it. It allows me to think even further about what I have the privilege to eat, and what my body really needs as nourishment, as opposed to what I want to eat for pleasure.
So I’ll push through the last two days with gladness, starting with a kosher express lunch—that includes chocolate macaroons. I’m sold.
(And in case you were wondering, yes, I did type most of this while eating dark chocolate peanut butter on matzo).