If you asked me right now if I keep kosher, I’d have to say “sort of.” By Orthodox standards, not at all, as I don’t yet buy properly shechted (slaughtered) and prepared meat (it’s hard to come by in this town, so I leave it for those of them who are obligated to buy it), and none of my cooking and eating utensils have been tovelled or kashered (made kosher).
I do, on the other hand, maintain separate cutting boards and knives for meat and vegetables/everything else (I actually started doing this years ago for hygiene reasons — I’ve read Fast Food Nation and therefore basically consider meat toxic waste until cooked), enforce temporal separation (I usually wait a minimum of three hours, because that’s what various of my friends said, and I don’t have my own tradition/custom to follow) between eating meat and any halavi (dairy kosher) food I do eat (which is not much), and I no longer buy pork or shrimp to cook in the house, although I still occasionally eat pork. I haven’t yet managed to wean myself completely off the delicious barbecue pork from my favourite Chinese place, which is really my only weakness when it comes to pork. I’m going to miss it. (And the owners of said Chinese place are going to miss me.)
I don’t have separate dishes because I am still using my housemate’s dishes (this falls under “moving house”), and in any case, I’m not going to need to keep separate sets of basari and halavi dishes because I don’t eat dairy products. I am both lactose intolerant and have a milk allergy, so I get the fun gastrointestinal symptoms, plus an itchy rash on my hands, feet, and face, wheezing, and extra snottiness. It’s great fun.
Anything I do eat that’s dairy kosher is basically what I think of as “CYA halavi,” because while it contains no discernable actual milk products, it’s probably made in a facility with halavi certification, or something. My friend RH tells me that years ago, some products carried hechshers that said things like “Pareve made on dairy equipment,” which basically meant that if you didn’t want to be super-strict about it (presumably under the rule about batel b’shishim, or the principle that 1 part in 60 of a non-kosher substance makes something otherwise kosher non-kosher), you could eat those products as pareve foods and not worry about it. I’m given to understand that things trend much stricter now, so those hechshers are passe.
Usually my CYA halavi foods are things like protein bars or cookies, so no point in having plates for them.
Funny thing is, even at this point, I keep better kosher than my other Jewish ex’s Conservative-affiliated (as in went to a Conservative synagogue nearly every week) parents did. I’m not obligated yet, and I’m not really set up to do everything yet, so this is a work in progress.
Other things I’m going to miss include eating out on a regular basis, pizza (because what’s the point of a vegetarian cheeseless pizza anyway?), balsamic vinegar, and who knows what else that I won’t be able to get. Oh, also probably not having to plan my meals with the precision of a military drill, although I’m already moving in that direction just to get used to it.
See? I told you. Crazy.