If you’re just starting out, you might want to experiment with biblical kashrut by trying first to remove all blood from your diet (abstain from gravy; avoid meat that is cooked “rare”; check eggs for blood spots). Then refrain from one or more of the traditionally forbidden foods (such as clams or pork). Does the first affect your compassion and concern for all living things? Does the second affect your relationship to God? As the range of your consumption contracts—as you limit your palate—does something else within you expand?

Rabinnic kashrut also provides a number of different entry points. Without making wholesale changes to your diet, you might decide, for instance, to observe the precept of tzaar baalei chayim (the prohibition against cruelty to living creatures) by buying only meat which has been slaughtered according to the rules of shechitah (i.e., kosher meat); to observe the precept of bal tashchit (the prohibition against wastefulness) by limiting your consumption of meat even further; and to follow a siyag ha-Torah (an additional stringency) by refraining from eating milk products and meat or fowl at the same meal. Does this discipline affect your compassion and concern for others? To what extend do these practices help to integrate secular and spiritual time for you? How much more aware are you of the web of life and your place within it?

If eco-kashrut speaks to your soul, you might want to experiment with a few additional practices rooted in bal tashchit and tzaar baalei chayim. Think about your role as a consumer, and consider how you might consume in more planet-friendly ways. Does one practice lead you to want to do more?

[Rabbi Rami Shapiro defines eco-kashrut as “ethical consumption.” He calls it “the Jewish way of making your consuming holy”; an attempt to ensure “that all your consuming is morally right and environmentally sound.” Rabbi Arthur Waskow sees eco-kashrut as “a constantly moving standard in which the test is: Are we doing what is more respectful, less damaging to the earth than what we did last year?”]

Kerry M. Olitzky, editor, Daniel Judson, editor in The Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life