The winter holidays are synonymous with both food and religion. The tradition of eating latkes on Hanukkah, for example, is strongly tied to the story of the Festival of Lights. But during the rest of the year, many religions recommend diets that abide by doctrine and also demonstrate humane practices when it comes to eating animals.
Whether it’s in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the Quran, something about the ethical treatment of living things is mentioned in most every holy book. However, you don’t need to follow a religion to practice a humane diet—70 percent of consumers of kosher food aren’t actually Jewish.
The application of religious slaughter in the context of industrial agriculture isn’t perfect, however. The application of the Jewish laws of kashruth—the manner in which an animal is killed—was in the news in 2008 when PETA went undercover at an Iowa processing plant and found that things were far from kosher. Instead of a quick, precise cut to the throat, animals were tortured and writhed in pain before dying.
But when they’re done correctly, there’s a lot of good to be said for these practices. And religion aside, observing the dietary doctrines of a certain creed is another way to eat healthier food—especially if you feel guilty about chowing down on cheeseburgers.