Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

 Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi for Masorti Judaism UK spoke to VfL in 2021.

He told us: “Food is central to our identity and I would hope that stays with us for however long we live. I know this as a Jew and as a Rabbi and I am aware that is the same for my Muslim colleagues, and Hindu colleagues, and people of different religions. And then within that I am a passionate vegetarian with vegan leanings, and for the last year I have also been diabetic so I am conscious of the importance of what we eat. It’s at the core of identity.

"Now, were it the case I was at some point living with dementia and had to move out of the family and community setting that has supported me and protected me and be dependent on the care of a home, I would deeply want all of those aspects of my identity to be respected. I’m sure nobody would think of giving me loads and loads of sugar, because medically it would be dangerous. But I feel at least as passionate, or more passionate, about being Kosher and about being vegetarian. Those things are the rhythm and meaning of my life. It’s protected under the Human Rights Act to support people in their diet and their choices. But it’s also a part of honouring someone’s dignity and personhood. I would hope that personhood stays with us for however long we live."

V for Life is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Vegetarianism and Veganism. In 2021 the group published the report Respect for religious and philosophical beliefs while eating in care. You can learn more about the APPG and the report here.