Can I Eat Soy on Passover?

Dear Reb Shohama, Your guidance would be greatly appreciated regarding the following. We maintain a traditional style Jewish home, and Passover is very important to us. As vegetarians, how do we incorporate soy into our diets during Pesach without compromising the holiday? Each year we struggle with this situation, because soy is the major staple for us, providing a natural source of protein in our heart healthy meals. Thank you for your advice! Respectfully, George

Dear George,

The main mitzvot for Passover are to clean one’s house of hametz (leavened foods) and to eat matzah (unleavened bread). The details of implementation inform your question, which is an excellent one which comes up more and more frequently as people are committed to observing the mitzvah of shmirat haguf, "care of the body," and tzaar baalei chayyim, "prevention of cruelty to all life forms." These two mitzvot work together with the mitzvah of kashrut, keeping kosher, which ideally is a health-conscious eating practice as well as one that is tradition-conscious.

Passover traditions differ greatly by region. Sefardim (Jews from countries bordering the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia) customarily eat kitniyot (legumes), which include beans, peas, rice, millet, sesame and sunflower seeds, corn, and peanuts. Ashkenazim (from Eastern Europe and Russia) do not. Those who follow halachah, Jewish law, find these communities actually have created different rules for Pesach food preparation regarding these items.
Until our times, it was customary to follow the practice of the region of your family of origin. But today families are far more blended than at previous times, so choice is increasingly involved in setting up a Passover practice for oneself and one's family. AND, it is recommended by many rabbis and endorsed by some decisors of Jewish law for strict vegetarians to adopt the Sephardi practice of eating unfermented soy products on Passover.

I hope that this helps you in your dilemma. Please also see articles on eco-kosher on this website.

Blessings for an uplifting and joyful Pesach,

Reb Shohama

P.S. Here’s a recipe I found from searching Google for soy-based Passover dishes.

High-Protein Vegetable Bake #69768
by Cheryl Trooskin

This a great, flexible main dish for vegetarians trying to increase our protein intake. It's low-carb
and even small portions are quite filling. Eat it hot for dinner or cold for a post-gym lunch. You can use
any dark greens you prefer, but it's my favorite way to eat broccoli. Add or substitute whatever spices
tickle your fancy -- try it with a tablespoon of dill; go Italian with shredded fresh basil, ground rosemary, and extra garlic; or go Mediterranean with cumin and coriander. If you substitute matzoh meal for the wheat germ, this can be a fun gefilte fish substitute for a vegetarian seder. Makes 8 side dishes

1 1/2 cups broccoli, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup kale, shredded
3 eggs or 5 egg whites
6 tablespoons milk or 1/4 cup heavy cream
28g isolated powdered soy protein concentrate (one scoop, about 24 grams protein)
2 cups textured vegetable protein, flakes ("TVP", one cup dry flakes, reconstituted, or prepared chunks, shredded)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh salsa
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed very fine
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon wheat germ or matzo meal
2 ounces parmesan cheese or romano cheese, grated very finely, divided into two one-ounce portions (or more, if you prefer, especially if you're using high-quality hard grating cheese)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Lightly coat the inside of a 9x9 square (preferably glass or ceramic) baking dish with butter,
vegetable shortening, or cooking spray.

3. Boil or steam vegetables until tender.

4. Drain if necessary.

5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and protein powder until smooth.

6. Add TVP, olive oil, salsa, garlic, 1 oz cheese, and spices.

7. Mix well.

8. Add green vegetables.

9. Mix well.

10. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

11. Sprinkle wheat germ and remaining ounce of cheese evenly on top.

12. Bake in 350F oven for 35-45 minutes, until firm.

13. If necessary, broil for five minutes to melt cheese and brown top.