Living in an area with few Jews is always tough. And, sometimes, practicing Judaism in an area with few Jews separates us even more from the larger community. In the 21st century most progressive Jews (Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist) think it’s important to not only maintain a Jewish identity of some kind, defined by some kind of Jewish practice; but to also be part of the larger community that may not be entirely Jewish.
Still, kashrut is ultimately about how we treat the animals who have given their lives to sustain ours. Some Jews won’t eat meat products they know to be unkosher because it would, in effect, signal that they didn’t care about the animal that gave it’s life for that meal. And it would disregards God’s specific command in the Torah to have a specific dietary practice. There is a lot to consider in your question.
Cold dairy, or specifically examples like cold salad, are ways of maintaining strict kashrut practices when eating at non-kosher establishments. It’s a way of making sure that you aren’t eating unkosher meat or had any unkosher products cooked into your food. Still, many progressive Jews will eat hot dairy or parve food in establishments that are not kosher. They might eat plain cheese or veggie pizza, or a veggie burger, or a grilled salmon or tuna dish. One safe way to eat hot food that generally isn’t assumed to have been mixed with a meat product is to eat at all vegan or vegetarian places.
Your question about “priority” is an interesting one. What would maintaining your kosher practice be in priority to? Is it in priority to the team’s food budget? Your relationship to your teammates and not sticking out? Your health and strength as an athlete who generally needs certain foods to maintain the level of athleticism they play at? Is it a priority for you to teach your teammates about who you are and your Jewish heritage by eating kosher food publicly? It’s hard to give answers to these questions without knowing specifically what you are prioritizing your kashrut to. Consider those options and consider how important kashrut is to you.
If it’s easy for you to find kosher food options then you should maintain kosher standards. But if it’s not, and kashrut becomes difficult to maintain, even troublesome, then you may need to consider how important kashrut and kosher food are to you. In terms of priority I would suggest that you look at eating while traveling for sports competitions as isolated incidents where eating kosher food is not that easy; and to not consider these instances as precedent setting. But that also means that when you are home and kosher food is available that you maintain that kosher practice.
Answered by: Rabbi Noam Raucher