February 24, 2005

2/24/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. My Schedule

2. Relating Vegetarianism to Shabbat

3. Some Environmental Questions Addressed to Vegetarians/Suggestions Welcome

4. Newsweek Article Discusses Healthiest Foods

5. Environmental/Vegetarian/Animal Rights Publisher Starts a “Books Reading [Discussion] Club”

6. Protecting the Right to Purchase Natural Supplements

7. Stopping the Slaughter of Baby Harp Seals

8. A Travel Agency That Specializes in Vegetarian-Related Trips

9. “Kosher Today” Report on the Postville, Iowa Slaughterhouse and a Rebuttal from Failledmessiah.com

10. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate To Speak on “The Future of the Planet is in Your Hands"

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, information re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsements by JVNA, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.

Thanks,
Richard

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1. My Schedule

I am scheduled to attend a Shabbaton sponsored by he Orthodox Jewish environmental group Canfei Nesharim this Shabbat in Silver Spring, Maryland, followed by an environmental conference sponsored by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Sunday through Tuesday in Washington, DC. I am scheduled to speak on Monday at the COEJL conference on environmental impacts of our diets and the agriculture that produces our food.

I plan to report on the Shabbaton and conference in the next JVNA newsletter.

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2. Relating Vegetarianism to Shabbat

Suggestions for improvements of my article below are very welcome. Thanks. Please also consider using the material in the article for your own articles, letters, and talking points.

SHABBAT and VEGETARIANISM
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

There are many connections that can be made between vegetarianism and Shabbat (the Sabbath day):

1. Shabbat is very important in Judaism. The writer Ahad Ha'am stated that "More than the Jews kept Shabbat, Shabbat kept the Jews". Yet, if it could help save a life, one must (not may) violate the Sabbath (Pesachim 25a). One must not say: although this person is very sick and his/her life is threatened, I can't drive him/her to the hospital or call for emergency help until Shabbat is over. Better to violate the commandments on one Shabbat so that a person can live and fulfill many more commandments.

2. Animals, as well as people, must be able to rest on the Sabbath day. The kiddush (sanctification over wine or grape juice) that is recited on Sabbath mornings includes the following verse from the Ten Commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the Lord, thy God; in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.” (Exod. 20:8-10)

Similar statements occur in Exodus 23:12 and Deuteronomy 5:12-14. Based on these Torah statements, Rashi states that animals must be free to roam freely on the Sabbath day and graze and enjoy the beauties of nature. This is a far cry from conditions for animals today on factory farms.

3. It is not necessary for Jews to eat meat or fish on Shabbat. In a scholarly article in "The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society" (Fall, 1981), Rabbi Alfred Cohen, the editor, concludes that "If a person is more comfortable not eating meat, there would be no obligation for him to do so on the Sabbath" In a responsa, an answer to a question based on Jewish law, Rabbi Moshe Halevi Steinberg of Kiryat Yam, Israel, states, "One whose soul rebels against eating living things can without any doubt fulfill the commandment of enhancing the Sabbath and rejoicing on festivals by eating vegetarian foods. . . . Each person should delight in the Sabbath according to his own sensibility, enjoyment, and outlook." All of the above is reinforced by the fact that there are Chief Rabbis, including Rabbi Sha'ar Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, and Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, who are strict vegetarians, including on Shabbat and Yom Tovim (festivals).

4. Shabbat is a reminder of creation, as it is said, "For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, and on the seventh day, He rested." (Exodus 1:11) When God created the world, he was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today? What must God think when the rain he sends to nourish our crops is often acid rain due to the many chemicals poured into the air by our industries? when the ozone layer that He provided to separate the heavens from the earth is being depleted at such a rapid rate? when the abundance of species of plants and animals that He created are becoming extinct in tropical rain forests and other threatened habitats, before we are even been able to catalog them? when the fertile soil that He provided is rapidly being depleted and eroded? when the climatic conditions that He designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming? Modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major factor behind these environmental threats.

5. The observance of Shabbat is an example of the imitation of God; since God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, so we too are to work for six days and rest on the seventh day. Judaism teaches that we are to emulate God's attributes of mercy, for "His tender mercies are over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145.9) A vegetarian diet that does no harm to animals, and does not waste large amounts of grain, land, water, fuel, and other agricultural resources while millions of people die of hunger and its effects every year, is an effective way to mirror the merciful ways of the Lord, who is our shepherd.

6. Psalm 96 which is recited at the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat (welcome to the Sabbath service) begins with, "Sing to Hashem (God) a new song. Sing to Hashem everyone on earth". According to Rabbi Everett Gendler our purpose is to join with all sentient creatures in singing praises to the Creator for all the wonders of creation. He states, "to respect the life of our fellow choir members by not killing them and eating their corpses would seem an obviously desirable condition for choral collegiality (Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition, edited by Roberta Kalechofsky, Micah Publications, 1995, p. 21).

7. Shabbat is a day of thankfulness for our blessings. On Friday night it is traditional for fathers to bless their children. So too, vegetarianism can be a blessing for the world, because of its health, ecological, and other benefits.

8. "It is forbidden to catch any living thing on the Sabbath, even a flea, … it is forbidden to kill on the Sabbath, anything that possesses life" (Code of Jewish Law). This mitzvah seems most consistent with vegetarianism, which also avoids the taking of any life.

9. On Shabbat, we thank G-d for His mercies during the previous week. This is also most consistent with a diet that does not require the cruel treatment of animals.

10. On every Shabbat (and festival) morning, Jews chant "Nishmat kol chai t'varech et shim'chah" ("the soul of all living creatures shall bless Thy name"). This would seem to be most consistent with enjoying Shabbat with a sumptuous vegetarian meal that doesn't involve cruel treatment of animals.

11. One of the highlights of the Shabbat morning service is the reading of the Torah. It is the Torah that contains God's original vegetarian law: "Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed - to you it should be for food." (Genesis 1:29). The Torah also has much about all the reasons for vegetarianism - taking care of our health, compassion for animals, protecting the environment, helping hungry people, and conserving natural resources.

12. Along with the commandment to observe Shabbat is the commandment of 6 days of labor: "Six days a week you should work and do all your creative labor, and the seventh day is Shabbat to the L-rd, your God." Judaism teaches that work enobles and sanctifies life, and that idleness may lead to temptation and sin. However, modern intensive livestock agriculture reduces jobs as farms get bigger and many smaller farms disappear.

13. Jews have sumptuous, joyous meals on Shabbat, and sing z'mirot (songs of praise of G-d and the holiness and beauty of the day). At the end of the meal, birkat hamazon (blessings in appreciation of God ‘s kindness and mercy in providing enough food for everyone) is recited. Yet, today over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as 15 to 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects.

14. Shabbat is viewed in the Jewish tradition as a foretaste of the Messianic period - a time of peace, justice, and harmony. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the Messianic period will be vegetarian. He based this view on the prophecy of Isaiah, "The wolf will dwell with the lamb . . .the lion will eat straw like the ox . and no one shall hurt nor destroy in all of God's holy mountain" (Isaiah 11: 6-9).

15. In addition to being a day of oneg (joy), Shabbat is also a day of learning - learning that people often don't have time for during a hectic week filled with work and other responsibilities. Vegetarians believe that if people learned about the incredible realities related to the mass production and widespread consumption of meat, many would change their diets so as to avoid continuing a diet with so many negative effects.

16. Shabbat is a time of renewal. We can help personal renewal occur by returning to the original human diet, the vegetarian diet of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), a diet that can help us feel renewed because of the many health benefits of plant-based diets.

17. Shabbat is a time of joyful rest. A person can be truly joyful when healthy, and this is best accomplished through a vegetarian diet.

18. The manna, vegetarian food provided to the Israelites in the desert after their exodus from Egypt, taught the Children of Israel several lessons, one of which is that they should refrain from labor on Shabbat. While only enough manna was provided on other days to meet that day's needs for nourishment, a double portion was provided on Friday morning so that there was no need to gather manna on the Sabbath, when none was provided. Hence, a vegetarian food was used to help show the Israelites that they were to rest on the seventh day. (see Exodus 16:5, 22-30.)

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebration of the spiritually meaningful Shabbat by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings, and one important way to do this is by moving toward a vegetarian diet.

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3. Some Environmental Questions Addressed to Vegetarians/Suggestions Welcome

The questions below were recently sent to the JVNA web site My responses are interspersed. Please let me know if you have further suggestions. Thanks.

Gentlemen/women:

I have been a vegetarian for many years, and am also Jewish. I would like to ask one question of you, as follows:

*** Thanks. Howard, for your thoughtful questions (below). My responses are interspersed between your paragraphs, preceded and followed by ***. Since you raise several very important questions and issues, I also plan to include your message and my response in a Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) newsletter (please let me know if you would like to receive future copies, with no cost or obligation to you), to see if readers have additional ideas or suggestions. It just happens that I am scheduled to speak at a national convention of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) next Monday on the environmental implications of our diets, so your question comes at a time when I am thinking about such issues. ***

My diet includes large quantities of fruits and vegetables, pounds of each a day. (Since these foods have such a low calorie density, and I exercise regularly, I am not at all overweight.) Of course, this is considered to be healthy, and I am fortunate that I truly enjoy eating foods that are healthy. However, I vaguely recall reading somewhere that truck farming (farming of fruits and vegetables) is an intensely gasoline-intensive process, such that consumption of fruits and vegetables is essentially equivalent to consumption of large quantities of fossil fuels. According to this model, future production of fruits and vegetables may be threatened by the expiration of the earth's resources of fossil fuels.

First, do you have any information on this model? Is this correct? I
could not find anything in a Google search just now, but perhaps I did not use the correct search terms.

*** It is true that fruits and vegetables and other foods are often shipped for great distances, and this does require large amounts of energy. ***

Does Jewish vegetarianism have anything to say about this dilemma? For example, are Jewish vegetarians ethically required to:

a) Limit their consumption of fruits and vegetables to a minimum amount, obtaining the majority of their calories from grain products?

*** I think at least part of the answer is to support local food coops that get their products from local farmers, hence reducing transportation costs. ***

b) Eat as much of these products as they wish, but advocate continued
research and development of alternative fuels or more efficient farming machinery?

*** I definitely think that Jews (and everyone else) should be concerned about current environmental crises, and this is why most issues of the JVNA newsletter have material on global warming and other current environmental issues. I think that it is essential that there be extensive efforts to increase conservation and the use of renewable energy sources. ***

c) Something else?

*** As indicated, we should strive to increase the use of locally grown products as much as possible. ***

***In general, based on many Jewish teachings on environmental stewardship (discussed in my books and the environmental articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz), I believe that Jews should be leaders in the environmental movement and that tikkun olam, the Jewish mandate to heal, repair and properly transform the world, should become a central principle for our synagogues, schools, and other aspects of Jewish life today. ***

Further questions:
Would it be considered unethical to consume more than one's share of the finite amount of fossil fuels?

*** As indicated above, based on many Jewish teachings, we should strive to minimize our impact in terms of pollution caused and resources used. Being a vegetarian (and even more so, a vegan) is an important step re this. ***

How do these questions compare in weight to the issue of killing animals for food?

*** It should be considered that animal-based agriculture requires far more land, water, fuel, and other agricultural resources than plant-based agriculture. I like to point out that while vegetarianism is an important part of the necessary response to current environmental and other threats, it is not the complete answer, and we must also work for improvements in other areas. ***

What ethical principles are relevant to this question?

*** The realities of animal-based diets and modern intensive "livestock" agriculture are inconsistent with Jewish mandates that we preserve our health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. ***

Can you suggest any relevant sources I might consider?

*** Yes, our JVNA web site (JewishVeg.com, including my over 100 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz)

My books, "Judaism and Vegetarianism" and "Judaism and Global Survival"

Many of Roberta Kalechofsky’s books on Judaism and vegetarianism and animal rights (www.micahbooks.com)

In the secular world, books by John Robbins ("The Food Revolution"). Howard Lyman ("Mad Cowboy"), and others.

Thank you for your consideration,

Howard Schaffer
Metuchen, NJ

Thanks for your very thoughtful questions. Best wishes,

Richard (Schwartz)
President, JVNA

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4. Newsweek Article Discusses Healthiest Foods

Thanks to Yosef Hakohen for forwarding this article to me.

Due to space considerations, only part of the article is included below, but the complete article can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6941995/site/newsweek/

MSNBC.com
Feel-Good Foods
New research shows some foods and beverages can improve your health as well as your diet. Our top picks

WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Jennifer Barrett Ozols
Newsweek
Updated: 2:16 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2005

Feb. 10 - Are you worried about high cholesterol? Try switching from sugary cereals to whole-grain varieties like Total or Puffed Kashi. Do you want to improve your night vision? Eat more blueberries. Depressed? Try eating more salmon, and you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, too.

Over the past several years, researchers have identified a range of health benefits—from lower blood pressure to improved memory skills and mental acuity—linked with the consumption of certain foods and beverages. A new study to be published next week in the journal Biological Psychiatry indicates that some foods could even help fight depression. A team of researchers at McLean Hospital, associated with Harvard University, found that omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, two substances that occur naturally in foods such as fish, walnuts, molasses and sugar beets, prevented the development of signs of depression in rats as effectively as antidepressant drugs. Another study published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea, which has already been shown to help fight heart disease, cancer and other diseases, may also fight fat.

“There are new studies out all the time about new health benefits that foods provide,” says Dee Sandquist, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. The ADA, which has reviewed scientific studies on everything from fatty fish to fermented dairy products, calls those with documented health benefits “functional foods.”

“They’re whole foods and fortified, enriched or enhanced foods,” says Sandquist. “Functional foods have evolved as food and nutrition science has advanced beyond the treatment of deficiencies to reducing the risk of disease.”

Several such foods fit into the federal government’s updated dietary guidelines, released last month, which put renewed emphasis on making healthy choices. The new guidelines boost the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables to four and a half per day, emphasize whole grains over other kinds of carbohydrates and encourage fat-free or low-fat dairy options. “Half your plate should be filled with fruits or vegetables; the other half should be evenly divided between whole grains and protein. Then add three servings of skim dairy products,” suggests Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, a registered dietician in Pittsburgh.

Which foods pack the most punch in those categories? NEWSWEEK spoke to some of the top nutrition experts and sorted through the latest studies to select foods and beverages that fit into those guidelines and provide a range of health benefits backed by strong scientific evidence. Here, in no particular order, are our top eight picks:

Fatty fish [My articles at http://JewishVeg.com/schwartz discuss negative effects of producing and eating fish.]

SNIP

Nuts

Both almonds and walnuts have been shown to lower cholesterol. For example, a study published last fall in the journal Metabolism found that participants who followed a specific dietary plan high in heart-healthy foods, including almonds, decreased their LDL or “bad” cholesterol (since it can clog arteries) by 35 percent—in just two weeks. And a study published in 2002 in the journal Circulation found that participants who substituted a portion of almonds for their usual daily snacks reduced their LDL cholesterol by 9.4 percent and raised their HDL cholesterol (or “good” cholesterol, since it has been shown to protect against heart attacks) by 4.6 percent in four weeks.

SNIP

Tip: Nuts are high in calories and fat, so eat only a small portion (23 almonds make up a serving).

Whole Grains
Research has shown that people who eat whole grains have lower body mass index, lower total cholesterol and lower waist-to-hip ratios. Various studies on a variety of different populations found that people who eat three daily servings of whole grains can reduce their risk of heart disease by 25 to 36 percent, stroke by 37 percent, type 2 diabetes by 21 to 27 percent, digestive system cancers by 21 to 43 percent, and hormone-related cancers by 10 to 40 percent, according to researchers at the Grain Institute at the University of Minnesota who reviewed various studies.

Why? In a study published in the December issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Harvard researchers found that whole grains lowered the risk of coronary heart disease in men, and suggested that the bran component could be a key factor. Another study, published a month earlier, that followed more than 27,000 men over an eight-year period found that those who consumed the most whole grains in their diets gained less weight. Harvard researchers concluded that components in whole grains may alter a person’s metabolism and reduce long-term weight gain. The ADA has also found “very strong” scientific evidence that beta-glucan in whole oat products can reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

Apples
In an analysis of more than 85 studies, apple consumption was consistently shown to be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes, compared to other fruits and vegetables, says Murray.

SNIP

Cruciferous Vegetables
One of the American Cancer Society's key dietary recommendations for reducing the risk of cancer is to regularly include cruciferous vegetables, which include: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. “Brussel sprouts are like eating a vitamin pill. It’s all nutrients,” says Gerbstadt.

But all members of the so-called “cabbage family of vegetables” contain more phytochemicals with demonstrable anti-cancer properties than any other vegetable family, says Murray. Most of these compounds are glucosinolates, which break down in the body and fight the development of cancer in different ways.

Legumes

Small red beans, a pea-sized legume often used in recipes for Mexican food, were found to have the highest antioxidant levels among 100 different types of fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts and spices tested last year by Ronald L. Prior, a USDA nutritionist and research chemist based in Little Rock, and his colleagues. Antioxidants reduce damage from oxygen, like that caused by free radicals, and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Diets rich in legumes—which include several varieties of beans (kidney, black, lima, pinto and garbanzo), peas (yellow and split green, though not garden) and lentils—are also known to lower cholesterol levels and improve blood glucose control in diabetics. Legumes contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals, and when combined with grains, they form a complete protein, says Murray. They provide at least 20 percent of the USDA daily recommended doses of iron, magnesium and folate, and are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber and B vitamins.

Blueberries

Like legumes, blueberries have consistently demonstrated antioxidant effects (they’re the second-most antioxidant-rich food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Some studies also indicate that blueberries might help improve night vision and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. After British pilots touted the vision-improving benefits of blueberries in World War II, researchers studying blueberry extracts found that they do improve nighttime visual acuity, and lead to quicker adjustment to darkness and faster restoration of visual acuity after exposure to glare, says Murray. Clinical studies have shown good results in individuals with sensitivity to bright lights, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Additional research points out that blueberries may be protective against the development of cataracts and glaucoma, and used in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids and peptic ulcers.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6941995/site/newsweek/

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5. Environmental/Vegetarian/Animal Rights Publisher Starts a “Books Reading [Discussion] Club”

Forwarded message from Lantern Books

Join the Lantern Books Reading Club to meet new friends and discuss issues of animal rights, vegetarianism, and social justice.

WHEN: Quarterly, beginning Monday, March 28, 6:45-8 PM

WHERE: Lantern Books, One Union Square West, Suite 201, New York City (southwest corner of 14th St. & University Place, 2nd floor)

FIRST BOOK: "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust," by Charles Patterson, 232 pages, $20

COST: Free. Munchies will be provided. RSVP not required.

At our inaugural session on March 30, we will be joined by the author, Charles Patterson.

To buy your book directly from Lantern visit: www.lanternbooks.com or order through your local bookstore. Availability at libraries is not guaranteed.

We look forward to active participation from our readers. Group facilitators will include moderator Jean Thaler, our readers, and Lantern publisher, Martin Rowe. Jean Thaler formerly ran Big Apple Vegetarians and the Makor Book Club. Her goal is to have a fun, informed, participatory discussion. She is pleased to support this unique publisher and its authors.

Please direct any questions to jeanthaler@yahoo.com, or Lantern Books, promotion@lanternbooks.com or 212-414-2275 x17.

If you wish to be on the Lantern Books "New York City Events" list in the future, please sign up on our homepage: www.lanternbooks.com

"Lantern Books publishes books for all wanting to live with greater spiritual depth and commitment to the preservation of the natural world."

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7. Stopping the Slaughter of Baby Harp Seals

Forwarded message

We've all seen the baby harp seal pictures -- adorable dark eyes staring out at us benevolently from pillowy white fur. But cruelty season is fast-approaching in Canada. Sign the petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/21459

In a month's time, hunters armed with clubs and rifles will bludgeon and shoot to death hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals out on the ice floes of Eastern Canada. Shockingly, at least 95% of the seals killed will be less than three months old and more than 40% may be skinned alive.

Canada's seal hunt is the largest deliberate slaughter of marine mammals in the world. The government has set a legal quota of up to 319,500 seals this year. The seal pelts are served up to the fashion industry, with additional profits from meat, oil, and the sale of genitalia to Asian markets. But the killing of baby seals doesn't make sense economically or ecologically, nor is it sustainable.

The Canadian government wants the media and public to believe that no one cares about the innocent blood spilled each year. That's why we must create a public outcry!

Tell the Canadian Parliament that you DO CARE about the cruelty inflicted upon these seals and that the hunt is indefensible!

Sign the petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/21459

Thank you for taking action today!

Dawn S
Care2 and ThePetitionSite team

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8. A Travel Agency That Specializes in Vegetarian-Related Trips

Forwarded messages

Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page P08

Tired of asking, "Is there meat in this?" [Of course, observant Jews have to raise questions about kashrut.] Then book a hotel, cruise or trip that caters to vegetarians. Among the options:

VEGETARIAN ACCOMMODATIONS:

Donna Zeigfinger (with her husband) is a vegan travel agent. (Green Earth Travel)

* The White Pig B&B (5120 Irish Rd., Schuyler, Va., 434-831-1416, www.thewhitepig.com) is run by a vegan couple and is home to 13 pigs -- that you can pet, not eat. The three rooms run $150 to $230 per night and include a vegan breakfast and afternoon treats, such as vegan brownies. Chef/innkeeper Dina Brigish will also prepare a gourmet dinner for $45 (basket) or $60 (full meal) per person; lunch is $10. Doubles from $80, including veggie or pescatarian (no meat, but eats fish)

SNIP

RESORTS/SPAS:

* Rio Caliente (800-200-2927, www.riocaliente.com), about 45 minutes from Mexico's Guadalajara, pairs rejuvenating activities (i.e., nature hikes, hot springs, yoga) with gourmet vegetarian meals. Nightly rates from $128 per person double include three veggie meals a day, lectures, exercises, etc.

* The Regency House Natural Health Spa, near Fort Lauderdale. Fla., stresses fitness and healthy (meat-less) eating; a five-day package ($799 per person double until April 23), for one, includes room, three vegetarian meals daily, vegetarian cooking demos, etc. Info: 800-454-0003, www.regencyhealthspa.com.

SNIP

ACTIVE/CULTURAL VACATIONS:

* WanderbirdCruises (866-SEA-BIRD, www.wanderbirdcruises.com) is a 90-foot Dutch fishing vessel that sails along the Maine and Canadian coastline. Besides catering to vegetarian sailors, its captains (one is vegetarian) also plan a handful of vegetarian cruises, such as the Sept. 5-9 "Sail With Whales Featuring Vegetarian Fare" for $1,150 per person.

* Bicycle Beano Cycling Holidays (011-44-1982-560-471, www.bicycle-beano.co.uk) organizes cycling holidays in Wales and England with vegetarian meals. The three-day Wye Valley trip on July 1, for example, starts at $453 per person for camping and veggie meals.mill. The April 17-23 trip is $3,165 per person double, land only.

TRAVEL AGENCIES:

* Green Earth Travel, of Cabin John, specializes in vegetarian vacations. Vegan owner Donna Zeigfinger can also supply a list of meat-free restaurants in various destinations (free for clients who book with her agency; otherwise $10 per city). Info: 301-229-5666, www.vegtravel.com

* On the International Ecotourism Society's Web site (www.ecotourism.org click on Travel Choice to find travel operators worldwide who specialize in environmentally aware trips and organic and/or vegetarian cuisine.

* The Specialty Travel Index has a vegetarian tours category, such as a retreat in Hawaii. Info: 888-624-4030, specialtytravel.com.

* Vegan Tours (877-233-0146, vegantours.com) offers trips to some of Costa Rica's top natural attractions. Cost: $350 per person double, for lodging, three meals a day and tours.

FULL STORY:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35264-2005Feb18.html

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9. “Kosher Today” Report on the Postville, Iowa Slaughterhous and a Rebuttal from Failledmessiah.com

“Kosher Today” report

AgriProcessors Passes Albertsons (FMI/NCCR) Audit

(Postville, Iowa) An independent audit of the AgriProcessors plant last Thursday gave high marks to the glatt kosher slaughterhouse. The audit was conducted on behalf of the Albertsons supermarket chain, a large Agri customer, and was based on guidelines for animal handling developed by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in collaboration with the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR). "The audit once and for all put to rest the shameful accusations against the kosher schechita at our plant," said Sholom Rubashkin of Agri. The Albertsons audit did not include the controversial Section 5 on kosher slaughter, which sources say is in the process of being changed. Supermarket News quoted Karen Brown, FMI's Senior Vice President, as saying that a much-delayed meeting with rabbis and certifying agencies is in the works. Kosher Today has learned that the meeting will take place next month, although final details are still being worked out. Albertsons had agreed to the suggestion of the Orthodox Union not to include Section 5 in the Agri audit which the rabbis and the agencies say conflicts with the religious practice of schechita itself. A broad coalition of rabbis and agencies had requested a meeting with FMI more than a year ago to discuss their objections to the guidelines adopted by FMI in January 2003. Sources say that the kosher slaughter audit will be changed to satisfy the Jewish religious requirements, which will ultimately be confirmed by the long awaited meeting between FMI/NCCR and the Orthodox leaders.

-------------------------
Response from failedmessiah.com:

Rubashkin Passes FMI Audit -- Actual Slaughter Not Part Of Audit -- Removed To Accommodate Rubashkin

AgriProcessors has apparently passed an independent audit done for Albertsons according to the Food Marketing Institute standards.

However, the audit did not include any aspect of the slaughter itself. This special accommodation was made on a one-time basis until the FMI standards are specially rewritten to accommodate Rubashkin. All other kosher facilities can pass the original FMI audit without accommodation.

Even though the OU has trumpeted newly-changed and improved procedures in the plant, AgriProcessors CEO Sholom M. Rubashkin said the new Albertsons audit:

[O]nce and for all put to rest the shameful accusations against the kosher schechita at our plant.

How an audit that did not include shechita itself and was conducted months after the PETA exposé and after plant procedures were publicly changed can be said in any way to clear Rubashkin of any past wrongdoing is unclear.

The USDA investigation is still "ongoing" and, two months after the investigation's findings were expected to be made public no report has yet been issued.

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10. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate To Speak on “The Future of the Planet is in Your Hands"

Forwarded message:

The Cooper Union and Lantern Books are pleased to present:

Prof. Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Environmental and Peace Activist
Founder of the Green Belt Movement

"The Future of the Planet is in Your Hands"
Lecture and Book Signing in the Historic Grand Hall

FREE
Tuesday March 8
7:15 to 9:00 p.m.
Please be seated by 7:00 PM

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
7 East 7th Street at Cooper Square
6 train to Astor Place or R or W trains to West 8th Street
No RSVP necessary

Donations to the Green Belt Movement are welcome at the door.
Two-thirds of book sales will go to the Green Belt Movement.

for more information please visit:
www.gbmna.org
www.lanternbooks.com

for map of, and further directions to, Cooper Union visit:
http://www.cooper.edu/administration/about/how_to.html

The Green Belt Movement
Sharing the Approach and the Experience - New and Expanded Edition
Wangari Maathai
ISBN: 159056040X
$15.00
to order visit:
http://www.lanternbooks.com/detail.html?id=159056040X

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