You may have never heard of Dimona Israel but it’s been around for 50 years. Long before Tel Aviv was the vegan capital of not only Israel but possibly even the world overflowing with plant based vegan options Dimona was busy being the “Village of Peace”.
Home to the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem it’s located inside Neve Shalom. Israel 21c says that they do not consider themselves to be Jewish but more like “spiritual descendants” of the religion.
To African Hebrew Israelites the Bible has all the answers they need including diet. Because Adam and Eve were on plant based diets in the garden of Eden they follow suit using scripture to back it up. Genesis 1:29-30:
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree on which is the fruit yielding seed; to you, it shall be for food … everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green herb for food.”
For most in the village this is the reason for a plant based diet and not health or ethical concerns, but that is changing as the modern world creeps in more and more with science proving their plant based diet as healthier.
“Very simply, humans are not designed to consume flesh,” village resident Ben Yehuda told Israel 21C. “we are designed to consume plants.” It’s not just about humans. The vegan diet protects God’s animals, too. “We have come to understand that humanity needs to take care of the creation better,” he added.
Yehuda, like many in this sect of Judaism is not originally from Israel but instead immigrated from Washington DC in the United States. The Majority of the original village members arrived in the late 60’s and 70’s primarily from Chicago.
Residents of Dimona not only eschew meat and other animal products but also alcohol, tobacco and they exercise regularly with monthly massages too.
Yehuda claims that he and his people started the vegan trend in Israel. He may very well be right since when the African Hebrew Israelites arrived there were no vegan foods like soy milk, seitan, or tofu available so they did what any enterprising vegan would and opened a factory to produce it.
Their operation is named Teva Deli. It’s successful and available throughout the nation with Domino’s Pizza having used their cheese in a vegan pizza trial back in 2013.
“We were the pioneers,” said factory manager Ben Koliyah. “[We] gave options when no one else gave options. And we are still the only totally vegan community.”