It made it difficult initially to figure out just how observant we wanted to be about dietary laws. When you would try to get a handle on "how to be Jewish" in our temple community you got a different opinion from everyone. Each person you asked (not surprisingly) thought their way of doing it was "correct." I remember there being a few big controversies over the years around whether we, as a temple, were going to be Ashkenazi or Sephardic at Pesach - the big 'do we or do we not eat legumes' debate.
In many ways it might have been easier to join an Orthodox synagogue or a very Conservative one where rules are followed more explicitly. All this ambiguity can be challenging for new Jews. When you convert as an adult (especially if you already have a partner/children) it is especially tricky. It's not just your OWN eating practices that you are changing, but theirs as well.
For many of us who have not adopted kashrut laws (or pick and choose when and where we will abide by them) the sense that somehow you are inadequate if you do not follow them to the letter saddens me. We all can express our Judaism in different ways and while one person may be in touch with their Judaism through setting themselves apart from the secular world and being conscious of their Jewishness with their food choices there are others who may adhere to other mitzvot in a very public and passionate way.
I may be mixing meat and dairy but I sometimes find myself on a street corner with an Israeli flag counter protesting a hate-filled crowd of people in my own community calling for the destruction of Israel. I have raised a family of children to be passionate about TikkunOlam - making it their life's work and speaking out in the secular world on behalf of the Jewish community -organizing Holocaustrememberance days and fighting for the separation of church and state in the public square.
So, who is the better Jew? And do we need to judge one another about the food we eat? We all find our place in the tribe in our own way - arriving with different gifts, possibilities, hopes and limitations. While I applaud those who keep kosher, I'm not beating myself up over the fact that I do not.
By CP, a Female Reform Jew