March 16, 2005

3/16/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

Action Alert: Take Action For Farm Animals In Your State!

1. Our Objectives (And Significant Considerations) Re the Postville Slaughterhouse Controversy

Recent Writings in Jewish Weeklies on the Postville Kosher Slaughterhouse Controversy

Orthodox Union’s Recent Press Release Re Postville

Response by to the OU’s Press Release

My Comments on the Above Two Items Posted at and the Resulting Debate/Please Join in the Discussion

Purim Recipes

Comments of Breslov Chasid Rabbi Yonassan Gershom on Vegetarianism

Lowering Your Blood Pressure Through Consuming Fiber

More Information About the GARC 2005 Animal Activists Conference in Manhattan
[Please let me know if you would like to hand out JVNA literature at this conference. Thanks.]

11. Importance of Eating Locally Grown Food

Action Alert: Improving Conditions for Turkeys and Chickens

Update on The Foie Gras Situation in Israel

Annual Great American Meatout Is Just Around the Corner

Recent Effort to Ban Shechita in England Defeated

Animal Circus Acts Banned in Tel Aviv

New York Times Correction Indicates that Hitler Was NOT a Vegetarian

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.


1. Our Objectives (And Significant Considerations) Re the Postville Slaughterhouse Controversy

I had hoped that the Postville controversy would be settled by now, but since it isn’t, it might be valuable to revisit the material below, much of which was presented in previous JVNA Newsletters.

Points I think are important to keep In mind as we continue to respond positively and, I hope, creatively, to The Postville expose and controversy:

* Make sure that people are aware of Judaism’s strong teachings on compassion to animals, that shechita, if properly done, is a superior method of slaughter, and that the horrible scenes videotaped at the Postville slaughterhouse are not typical of Jewish ritual slaughter practices. For more information on Judaism’s very powerful teachings on the proper treatment of animals, please see the JVNA web site (, including the section on animals at One of JVNA’s main objectives is to see that these teachings are properly applied.

* Join others in advocating that the methods used in the Postville plant be changed as soon as possible and that the OU and other groups set up rigorous standards that will be strictly monitored through unannounced audits and strictly enforced so that there never be another situation like the Postville case. There have been recent positive moves by the OU and others toward improving conditions at the Postville plant and setting up better standards, and discussions are continuing. PETA has kept its focus on the abuses at the Postville plant and has acknowledged that, when properly carried out, shechita is a superior method of slaughter, and that Judaism has very positive teachings on compassion to animals.

* Make people aware that the Postville case should awaken us to the many ways that animal-based diets and agriculture threaten human health and the planet’s sustainability, and violate basic Jewish mandates re preserving health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people. Once the Postville situation is resolved, it is essential that people NOT think that everything is now fine and they can continue their consumption of animal products with a clear conscience. Jews and others have a choice re their diets, but they should make that choice based on a knowledge of the realities. As I have argued for many years, a shift toward vegetarianism is both a societal imperative and a religious imperative, because of the many Jewish mandates that are violated by the production and consumption of meat.

* While JVNA advocates that everyone consider switching to plant-based diets, we oppose efforts to single out shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) for special criticism. While we would prefer that there be no slaughter at all, we believe that shechita, when properly carried out, is a superior method of slaughter.

* We do not want the situation at the Postville slaughterhouse and the publicity that will follow to result, G-d forbid, in attacks on Jewish teachings, on kashrut, on shechita in general, and on individual Jews. Hence, it is important that it be clearly indicated that the horrible scenes at the Postville slaughterhouse shown on PETA’s video are not typical of shechita and that we help make people aware of Judaism’s strong teachings on compassion to animals and on other vegetarian-related issues.

* We should be careful not to attack the Orthodox Jewish community or any other segment of the Jewish community and to respond to unjustified criticisms of the Jewish community while we work to change conditions at Postville. I have lived in an Orthodox community and worshipped in an Orthodox synagogue for many years, and, while I differ strongly on some issues such as vegetarianism with most members, I have found them to be generally good people who are very charitable, strongly committed to Jewish practices and Jewish continuity, and involved actively in many programs to help others. In general, it is important to seek common ground and not to demonize people. Also, as I tried to bring out in my books and articles, the application of Jewish values can help address the many crises facing the world today.

There is much re the importance of a shift toward vegetarianism at the JVNA web site ( and at the two wonderful new web sites below.


The Vegetarian Mitzvah

* The basic facts of this controversy have been in previous JVNA Newsletters. However, if you want more information or an update, please do an Internet search (for Postville slaughterhouse, or PETA Postville, for example), or check out and and

* As Jonathan Wolf, a long time Jewish vegetarian activist, first president of JVNA, and a person to whom I owe much re learning about Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, has pointed out, since we are involved in both the Jewish community and the animal rights and vegetarian communities, JVNA has the potential of playing a very positive role in this controversy. We are ready to consult with people on both camps in seeking common ground and the best possible solution.

Return to Top

2. Recent Writings on the Postville Kosher Slaughterhouse Controversy

Below are URLs for two recent articles related to the Postville controversy: and in previous JVNA newsletters to respond to the articles and the press release. Thanks.

Return to Top

3. Orthodox Union’s Recent Press Release Re Postville
Friday March 11, 10:45 am ET

NEW YORK, March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbinic Administrator of the Kashrus Division of the Orthodox Union, today released the results of an audit of the AgriProcessors plant in Postville, Iowa by the Animal Welfare Audit Program (AWAP) of the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) that was conducted on February 17, 2005.

"We are extremely pleased the Food Marketing Institute based audit has vindicated AgriProcessors and validated what the Orthodox Union has said all along: AgriProcessors treats its animals humanely and meets our standards for kosher slaughter," Rabbi Genack said.

The rabbinic authorities that produce meat for their congregations through AgriProcessors have mandated the cut for religious slaughter be made while the animal is in a recumbent or inverted position. Recumbent kosher slaughter is considered humane under the federal Humane Slaughter Act. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel requires meat producers to slaughter their cattle in a recumbent position for their meat to be considered kosher. Recumbent slaughter is considered humane and is widely practiced in the European Union.

Rabbi Genack addressed the issue of recumbent and upright slaughter, adding, "The decision to conduct kosher slaughter with the animal in a recumbent position fulfills the requirements of both religious and federal law. Recumbent kosher slaughter is humane slaughter."

The FMI/NCCR standards require the cut for religious slaughter be made while the animal is in an upright position. For the past few months, Orthodox rabbinic authorities have been working with FMI to review its guideline requiring upright kosher slaughter on the basis that the animals were treated humanely during recumbent slaughter and that the decision to slaughter animals in a recumbent position was solely a religious issue.

In December, an unprecedented coalition of rabbis confirmed that kosher slaughter practices at AgriProcessors' plant conformed to the highest standards, of Jewish law and tradition. Elected officials, leading rabbis and veterinary scientists who subsequently visited AgriProcessors' plant confirmed that its practices conformed to federal law, kosher law and animal welfare standards.

For more on this story, please visit

Source: Orthodox Union

Return to Top

4. Response by to the OU’s Press Release

BREAKING! FMI: OU's Portrayal Of Rubashkin Audit "Not Accurate"
©2004, 2005 Failed
March 15, 2005

I spoke a few moments ago with Karen Brown, the Vice President of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in charge of the FMI's Animal Welfare Audit Program (AWAP).

I asked her about the recent AWAP audit passed by AgriProcessors, and the OU's characterization of that audit as a vindication of both AgriProcessors and the rabbis that provide kosher supervision to the plant.

Ms. Brown said that the OU's portrayal of the audit "bothers us a lot" and called the notion that the AWAP audit "vindicated" AgriProcessors and found its past behavior humane, "not accurate" and "unfortunate."

"I have always grown up thinking that, regardless of the religion, honesty, truth and integrity is a very important virtue or attribute – So I am always surprised when in a conversation or in communications from a religious organization there appears to be inaccuracy in the statements."

Ms. Brown pointed out that an audit measures only a plant's performance on a given day. It was not intended to and cannot be a measure of past activities.

The OU claims that the AWAP audit has been made public. In fact, as pointed out earlier, only a brief, non-detailed general summary of the detailed audit has been released.

I asked Ms. Brown if she had seen the audit. She had not.

"No. I haven't seen the audit. The way the program was set up … [the audits are] confidential information between trading partners, between buyer and seller. We did not want the audits to be used for a political standpoint … against companies or for companies. This is about the animals. This is about making sure the animals are treated humanely.

"This is not about politics, this is not about money, this is not about market share. This is about the humane treatment of animals."

Ms. Brown also noted that audits are meant to be an ongoing process, with some audits scheduled ambiguously – between this week and next week, say – to have an element of surprise built into the process.

"It is a stretch" to apply the findings of one audit to a plant's "past activities" or to its ongoing status, Ms. Brown said, noting that, in light of the OU's portrayal of the audit, the FMI was "concerned about the credibility of our own program," and is concerned that others may now attempt to misuse AWAP audits.

Ms. Brown agreed that Rabbi Genack and the OU must have known that the audit did not and could not vindicate past activities and is not a judge of whether humane slaughter laws were violated at AgriProcessors.

When told that Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, considered the leading rabbi in the ultra-Orthodox world, had ruled late last month that the laws governing cruelty to animals did not apply to the slaughter process or to the growing of animals as long as there was some benefit to man, and that Rabbi Elyashiv had specifically found tube force-feeding of geese for fois gras to be kosher and not a violation of tzaar baalei hayyim (cruelty to animals) law, Ms. Brown was surprised, noting that while she is not Jewish or versed in Jewish law, rabbi Elyashiv's ruling seemed to conflict with all the information on tzaar baalei hayyim law that she had seen.

[We have presented material on Rabbi Elyashiv’s ruling in a recent JVNA newsletter. While he is a Torah giant whose decisions must carry much weight, many outstanding Torah scholars in previous generations and today have different opinions.]

"I have a high level of discomfort" with the implications of Rabbi Elyashiv's ruling, Ms. Brown said. "We as humans have a responsibility to treat animals well – particularly if we are going to use them for food. I think that is a basic principle of humanity."

Representatives of the FMI and the OU are expected to meet in two weeks to continue work on the FMI's guidelines for kosher slaughter. The OU's representation of the AWAP audit as a "vindication" is expected to be addressed at that time.

Return to Top

5. My Comments on the Above Two Items Posted at and the Resulting Debate/Please Join in the Discussion

[Below is my response which was posted at the web site in response to their comments on the OU’s recent press release. Please note how I have attempted to widen the discussion. Please add your comments at the web site. Thanks.]


As the Postville slaughterhouse controversy seems to be going on and on, we should keep in mind that this discussion is related to the production of a product that is having devastating effects on the health of Jews (and others) and on the sustainability of our imperiled planet.

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," I would like to remind us that while changes are being considered that would make sure that shechita is properly carried out so that it remains a superior method of slaughter, we should also consider that the production and consumption of animal products violate Jewish mandates to preserve our health (v'nishmartem meod l'nofshotechem), treat animals with compassion, protect the environment (as partners of Hashem), conserve natural resources (bal tashchit), share with hungry people, and pursue peace (animal agriculture wastes/misuses water, energy, land and other resources, and our sages teach that shortages of resources make war more likely).

It is time that these issues be squarely considered by the Jewish community. Suggestions for getting the many moral issues related to our diets onto the Jewish agenda are very welcome.

Richard (Schwartz)

Posted by: March 16, 2005 08:18 AM
I find Richard Schwartz's above comment to be both a misrepresentation of Judaism and ridiculous.

Posted by: Shmarya March 16, 2005 09:56 AM

Dear Shmarya,

Please explain why preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, preserving the environment, conserving natural resources, helping feed the hungry and pursuing peace, which are TORAH MANDATES, are not violated today by the production of animal based foods.

I'm at a loss as to the source of your opinion, but I feel that you owe Dr. Richard Schwartz an apology.

With Hashem's blessings.

John K. Diamond
Member, Advisory Committee
Jewish Vegetarians of North America

Posted by: John K. Diamond March 16, 2005 11:05 AM
1. There is no credible evidence that meat consumption is damaging to our health. As I have written, many NEWER studies have vindicated meat-based diets like Atkins. Further, it is increasingly clear that heart disease is linked to inflammation – not to meat consumption.

2. The highest rates of heart disease, early death, diabetes, etc. are found in poor populations that consume high levels of starches, grains and sugars and LOWER than average levels of protein. You should be railing against Hostess Twinkies and Lays Potato Chips, not steak and chicken.

3. The 'evidence' Dr. Schwartz presents for conserving the environment and conserving natural resources is false. No one is starving today because of excessive animal farming. People are starving today because of corrupt (or non-existent) governments.

4. Dr. Schwartz's ignorance of the function of Jewish law is quite clear. Further, your understanding of what the Torah "MANDATES" has no source in Jewish law or tradition.

5. The only valid argument you have (outside of a moral-ethical appeal to VOLUNTARY vegetarianism like Rav Kook) are the abuses found in factory farming.

I owe Dr. Schwartz no apology. If anything, he owes his cause an apology for making arguments that do not do it justice.

Posted by: Shmarya March 16, 2005 11:37 AM
"why preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, preserving the environment, conserving natural resources, helping feed the hungry and pursuing peace, which are TORAH MANDATES, are not violated today by the production of animal based foods."

HEALTH. Meat is a food like any other. If you eat to much ice cream or uncarrots its unhealthy. Same w. meat.

COMPASSION. Yes, we must treat them with compassion but that does not mean we need to shift our aims with the animals. We are allowed to eat them but we have to treat them right along the way. Is compassion a reason we should stop animal experiments and instead rely on human contact or not not clearly complete computer modeling?

CONSERVING NATURAL RESOURCES. Where is this a Torah obligation?

FEEDING THE HUNGRY. See Shmarya's comments.
helping feed the hungry

PURSUING PEACE. What are you talking about?????

Yes, we probably do eat to much meat for our health. But that ain't really your argument, is it.

Posted by: a March 16, 2005 12:10 PM
Dear Shmarya,

There is overwhelming scientific and medical evidence today that the production and consumption of animal based foods are destroying human health and are as destructive of the earth's environment as the burning of fossil fuels. Please don't take my word for it. Before responding to this, I very respectfully ask that you read "The China Study" by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman as well as study the information on the PCRM website.

With Hashem's blessing's,

John K. Diamond
Member, Advisory Committee
Jewish Vegetarians of North America

Posted by: John K. Diamond March 16, 2005 12:13 PM
Junk science is not evidence. Peer reviewed studies, please.

Posted by: Shmarya March 16, 2005 01:56 PM

Interspersed below are my brief responses to the points that you [Shmarya] raise. My responses are preceded and ended with ***
"why preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, preserving the environment, conserving natural resources, helping feed the hungry and pursuing peace, which are TORAH MANDATES, are not violated today by the production of animal based foods."

HEALTH. Meat is a food like any other. If you eat too much ice cream or carrots it’s unhealthy. Same w. meat.

*** Are you saying that all foods are equally healthy? We were created as vegetarians (Genesis 1:29). Our stomach acids are only one twentieth as strong as that of carnivorous animals, our colons are 4 times longer than carnivorous animals (per unit height), and we differ in many other ways. As a result, as verified by epidemiological studies, migration studies, wartime studies, and much more, animal-based diets are very harmful to human health. ***

COMPASSION. Yes, we must treat them with compassion but that does not mean we need to shift our aims with the animals. We are allowed to eat them but we have to treat them right along the way. Is compassion a reason we should stop animal experiments and instead rely on human contact or not clearly complete computer modeling?
· We are not treating them with compassion on factory farms. Many examples can be given.
· We are not treating them right along the way. Shouldn’t Jews be protesting against this.
· Animal experimentation is poor science and many misleading results have been obtained because of species differentiation and because diseases are artificially induced. If a medicine is beneficial for a cat, does that mean that it will also be beneficial for a dog? ***

CONSERVING NATURAL RESOURCES. Where is this a Torah obligation?

***Please consider bal tashchit, based on Deuteronomy 20:19,20. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, bal tashchit is violated when one uses far more resources than necessary to accomplish a purpose. ***

FEEDING THE HUNGRY. See Shmarya's comments.
helping feed the hungry

*** While this is a complex issue, the fact that we are feeding over 70% of the grain produced in the US to farmed animals while so many people lack sufficient food is scandalous. And Lester Brown, an expert on global food issues, points out that grain stores are at very low levels and the effects of global warming and widening water shortages, both worsened substantially by animal-based agriculture, point to the potential for major future food scarcities. We need a modern day Yosef to warn us about future famines. ***

PURSUING PEACE. What are you talking about?????

*** You are probably unaware that the slogans of the vegetarian movements and the peace movements are the same: “All we are saying is give PEAS a chance.” Seriously, our sages. Noting that the Hebrew words for bread (lechem) and war (milchamah) come from the same root, deduced that shortages of grain and other resources increase the potential for war and violence. Thus, since animal-based diets use far more water, energy, land and other resources than plant-based diets, they make disputes far more likely.

Yes, we probably do eat too much meat for our health. But that ain't really your argument, is it.

Only partly. If people ate far less meat, it would have many benefits. But why not work toward the ideal? Jews have a choice re their diets, but that choice should be based on a consideration of the realities of the production and consumption of meat and how they impinge on basic Jewish teachings. ***

[Please consider joining the discussion]

Return to Top

6. Purim Recipes

With Purim coming, JVNA Coordinator Noam Mohr has pulled together some Purim recipes from the web. They are up at the JVNA web site at JVNA web site, as well as many additional Jewish recipes. Esther was a vegetarian while queen.

Purim Recipes: Eat Like Esther - Chickpea Pizza Mushroom-Barley Soup Caraway Bundt Cake - Fesenjan-e Bademjan (Eggplant & Pomegranate Braise), Moroccan-Style Vegetable Stew
CyberKitchen - Poppyseed Candies, Poppy-Seed Candies: Mohnlach, Noodles with Cabbage, Hungarian, Halvah with Walnuts
RecipeZaar - Purim chocolate covered nuts
Cat-Tea Corner - Bean cakes
JewishFood List - Hamentaschen, No Eggs
Jewish Food - Hamantaschen X

Return to Top

7. Comments of Breslov Chasid Rabbi Yonassan Gershom on Vegetarianism

[While I have unfortunately not been in touch with Rabbi Gershom for many years, he was a much appreciated advisor who provided very valuable suggestions re my articles and earlier editions of my book. I hope to be in touch with him again]

Can a Hasidic Jew be a vegetarian?

Yes. I myself am a vegetarian, as I have stated elsewhere in this FAQ. This question really belongs in a general discussion of the Jewish dietary laws (keeping kosher). But, because of a recent (Dec. 2004) kosher-slaughter controversy at Agriprocessors, Inc., (located in Postville, Iowa), the world's largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse, I've been getting lots of queries about Jewish vegetarianism. (If you eat Rubaskin and/or Aaron's Best meats, you really should look into the Argriprocessors controversy for yourself.)

The majority of Hasidim are meat eaters, based on the fact that eating meat is permitted in the Torah (Bible), as well as on traditional recipes, Sabbath and holiday traditions, etc. However, a growing number of Hasidim and other Orthodox Jews are beginning to limit their meat intake, many for health reasons, others for philosophical reasons. Still others, including myself, have serious concerns about the treatment of animals in today's highly-mechanized "factory farms," feedlots, and slaughterhouses. These are not the flocks of our ancestors.

Even PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) admits that the kosher slaughter process itself, if done correctly, is kinder than the standard practices in non-kosher USA slaughterhouses. But what about the way the animals are raised and treated before the final moment? These are serious questions that all Jews should look into.

Keeping kosher is not only about how the animal is killed. The law of tzaar baalei chayim (no cruelty to animals) teaches us that we must not be the cause of pain to other living things.

Rabbis have declared veal non-kosher because of the cruel way in which the veal calves are raised -- kept in tiny pens where they cannot even lie down. Similar objections have been raised concerning the force-feeding of geese to produce pate de fois gras (a type of gourmet goose liver.) This cruel process is now banned in Israel -- read more about the August 2003 Israeli Supreme Court decision on that...

Some Hasidim object to vegetarianism on the grounds that there are serious mystical aspects connected with eating meat, such as "raising the sparks" of holy energy in the animal back to higher spiritual levels. Vegetarian Hasidim, on the other hand, question whether "holy sparks" can really be elevated under the conditions of today's meat industry. If you are interested in this aspect of meat-eating and how it relates to vegetarianism, there is an excellent discussion of this Hasidic teaching on the Jewish Vegetarian FAQ, written by Dr. Richard Schwartz, a Modern Orthodox (non-Hasidic) vegan and current president of the Jewish Vegetarian Society. (I helped Dr. Schwartz write this answer.) While you are there, take time to explore the rest of their website. They cover just about anything you would want to know about Jewish vegetarianism.

In addition, I highly recommend Dr. Schwartz's excellent book, Judaism and Vegetarianism.
He not only covers the dietary aspects, but also the social issues such as world hunger, treatment of animals, etc. from a Torah perspective. You can read more about this book (including my review) and order it on

For more Jewish books on ecology and vegetarianism:

Return to Top

8. Action Alert: Take Action For Farm Animals In Your State!

State legislatures are in full swing, and many are considering farm animal welfare bills that need your help! If you live in any of the states below, please write or call your state legislators in support of these critically important bills:

CALIFORNIA humane slaughter bill
CONNECTICUT ban on horse slaughter
ILLINOIS bills banning foie gras and tail docking
MARYLAND bill prohibiting cruel confinement of pigs
MASSACHUSETTS bills banning foie gras, veal, and gestation crates
NEW JERSEY veal ban
NEW YORK bills banning foie gras, tail docking, downers, and regulating slaughterhouses.
OREGON bills banning foie gras, veal, and gestation crates

Find out about the bills at theFarm Sanctuary website at You can look up your legislators at or just ask us at State legislators don’t get many calls and letters, so a few can make a huge difference! (For nationwide bills, visit

Thanks for speaking up against cruelty!

Return to Top

9. Lowering Your Blood Pressure Through Consuming Fiber

Thanks to Dan Brook for forwarding the item below:

Eat This. Lower Your Blood Pressure?

A high fiber diet can not only lower your blood pressure, but also can improve healthy blood pressure levels, according to new research from Tulane University that examined data from 25 clinical trials representing 1,477 adult study participants.

It works like a magic pill--only better because it's not. The study participants who ate 7.2 to 18.9 grams of fiber a day in the form of fruits, vegetables, and cereal experienced a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. "...All the data pointed to one strong conclusion: Adding fiber to a person's diet has a healthy effect on their blood pressure," said study leader Seamus Whelton in a news release announcing the study results. "Analyzing a large number of studies lends strength to the conclusions of clinical trials that involved too few participants to show an effect of dietary fiber on blood pressure." []

The bottom line recommendation: The researchers recommend that all of us -- no matter our blood pressure--add fruits and vegetables to our diets in order to increase dietary fiber intake. People can also get dietary fiber from cereal, whole wheat bread and pasta, and in pill form.

Almost 50 million Americans and 1 billion people worldwide have high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes that can lower blood pressure include weight loss, exercise, reduced sodium intake and increased potassium intake, moderating alcohol use, and following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

The study was published in the Journal of Hypertension.
Dan also reminds us: Remember that fiber is present in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables; animal products never contain any fiber. ---

Return to Top

10. More Information About the GARC 2005 Animal Activists Conference

[Please let me know if you would like to hand out JVNA literature at this conference. Thanks.]

Thursday, March 31 - Sunday, April 3
Holyrood Episcopal Church,715 W. 179th Street, New York City.

GARC 2005 is aimed at experienced activists who wish to sharpen their activism skills and work on coalition building within and outside of the movement.

Registration is only $20 ($10 for students), and can be waived entirely in cases of need. Free housing and free or low-cost vegan meals will be provided on a first-come, first-served
basis. Register at

Confirmed speakers include:

Lorri Bauston, Co-founder, Farm Sanctuary
Josephine Bellaccomo,
Lawrence Carter-Long, Issues Specialist, In Defense of Animals
Rod Coronado, Coordinator, Chuk'shon Earth First!
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
Michael Greger, MD, Vegan Research Institute
Alex Hershaft, PhD, Founder/President, FARM
Kevin Jonas, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)
pattrice jones, Coordinator, Eastern Shore Sanctuary
Melanie Joy, PhD, Professor of Psychology, U of Mass, Boston
Marti Kheel, Founder, Feminists for Animals Rights
Julie Lewin, Animal Advocacy Connecticut (AACT)
Lance Morosini, Organizer, Speak Out for Animal Rights
Carol Moon, Humane Educator, Farm Sanctuary
Peter Muller, President, League of Humane Voters of New York State
Charles Patterson, Author, Eternal Treblinka
John Phillips, Vice President, League of Humane Voters of New York City
Hillary Rettig, Author, How Not to Burn Out
Nathan Runkle, Founder, Mercy for Animals
Richard H. Schwartz, President, JVNA
Marjorie Spiegel, Director, Inst. for the Development of Earth Awareness
Adam Weissman, Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve
... and many more

More program details at

More general information at, 781-834-0696
Register your Meatout 2005 event at!
Register for the AR2005 conference at!

Return to Top

11. Importance of Eating Locally Grown Food

From the BBC-

Local food 'greener than organic'
Local food is usually more "green" than organic food, according to a report published in Food Policy journal.

The authors say people can help protect the environment by buying food produced within a 20km radius.

They claim British consumers are not fully aware of the severe damage done to the environment by driving food long distances around the UK.

Proportionately, "road miles" account for more environmental damage than "air miles", the authors claim.

Therefore the message to consumers is this: It is not good enough to buy food from within the UK - it must come from within your area.

However, the authors admit that consumers are prevented from "doing the right thing" because of inadequate labelling.

"The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes and food businesses," said co-author Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex, UK.

"Food miles are more significant than we previously thought, and much now needs to be done to encourage local production and consumption of food."

Clean-up costs

Professor Pretty and his colleague Tim Lang, from City University, UK, painstakingly estimated the environmental "price tag" on each stage of the food production process.

That price might reflect, for example, the clean-up costs following pollution, or the loss of profits caused by erosion damage.

"The price of food is disguising externalized costs - damage to the environment, damage to climate, damage to infrastructure and the cost of transporting food on roads," Professor Lang told the BBC News website.

The authors calculated that if all foods were sourced from within 20km of where it is was consumed, environmental and congestion costs would fall from more than £2.3bn to under £230m - an "environmental saving" of £2.1bn annually.

They pointed out that organic methods can also make an important contribution. If all farms in the UK were to turn organic, then the country would save £1.1bn of environmental costs each year.

Consumers can save a further £100m in environmental costs, the authors claim, if they cycle, walk or catch the bus to the shops rather than drive.

Each week the average person clocks up 93p worth of environmental costs, the report concludes.

These costs should be addressed by the government, companies and consumers, the authors believe.


Return to Top

12. Action Alert: Improving Conditions for Turkeys and Chickens

Forwarded message from

Hi Richard,

Did you have turkey or chicken in your lunch today? Whether or not you eat poultry, as someone who cares about animals, you might like to read on...

Many of us eat chicken and turkey regularly, but take solace in the belief that these animals don't suffer much before they die. This is why I was shocked to discover that poultry animals are not protected by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). HSMA is supposed to protect animals raised for food from inhumane treatment, but animals like chickens, turkeys, and ducks suffer tremendous pain because they are exempt from protection.

Please sign this petition sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States to include turkey, chicken, ducks, and other birds among the animals protected from cruel and inhumane treatment:

The poultry industry argues that because poultry animals are being treated and killed humanely, they do not need protection from the HSMA. Yet the industry has proven incapable of self-regulation; time and time again companies have shown blatant disregard for animal welfare.

In July 2004, horrifying abuses -- including large numbers of chickens thrown against walls and stomped by workers -- exposed at the Pilgrim's Pride slaughterhouse in West Virginia highlighted the need for federal protections. Pilgrim's Pride was one of the worst known cases of cruelty in the commercial slaughter business, but it will not be the last.

Poultry animals must be protected from cruel and inhumane practices by federal law to spare them at least some pain before they die.
Sign this petition to help today:

Thank you for receiving ACTION and caring to help today,

Environmental Activism Manager,

Return to Top

13. Action Alert: The Foie Gras Situation in Israel

Please take the time out to fill out the petition to implement the Israeli Court's decision to ban force feeding

The force feeding of geese is a cruel procedure in which a long tube is violently inserted into the goose's throat. The aim is to induce a liver disease, which causes damage to many of the body systems of the goose. The goose is practically dying, can hardly walk or breathe and is suffering intense pain when he is finally slaughtered. Many countries have prohibited the force feeding of geese. In Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court found it to be in violation of the Animal

Protection Law and ruled that it should end no later than March 2005. The Ministry of Agriculture now tries to make new laws that will allow force feeding to continue, without an ending date. We plead the members of the Education Committee of the Knesset not to approve of any regulations that do not specify a date from which force feeding would be banned.

14. Annual Great American Meatout Is Just Around the Corner

Forwarded messages from Dan Brook and from FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement):

-LOGICAL! The annual Great American Meatout is on Sunday, March 20th this year. Eating less meat can really help you, the animals, and the planet. Eating meat simultaneously contributes to the suffering and death of animals, the ill-health of people, the overuse of oil, water, and other natural resources, the destruction of the environment, the legitimacy of violence, inefficiency in the economy, inequality in the world, and moral failure in a so-called advanced society. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies. Try eating less meat, or cutting it out altogether, to help the animals, your health, and the environment! For more information, see and

There's still time to participate!

Plan an action that suits your schedule and your resources. Remember, your event can take place any time in March, and every person who turns vegetarian as a result of your efforts saves 2,000 animals from the horrors of factory farms and slaughterhouses. Here are a few suggestions for last-minute actions

Provide a veggie work lunch to your coworkers. Share with them the wonderful meat-alternatives available in your local grocery store. Email, visit our online registration page, or call 1-800-MEATOUT to let us know about your plans and to request informational materials to set out with the food. Spend an hour handing out literature

Request literature from us to hand out to your friends, family, or religious or social group... or get a little more adventurous and find a busy street corner or college campus and pass the information along to passersby. Request Meatout Mondays postcards to turn people on to our weekly e-newsletter packed full of vegetarian recipes, new veggie products, and nutritional information.

Need materials right now? You can download a Pledge Sign-up sheet by clicking this link, or download a leaflet master by clicking this link. Photocopy and distribute widely! No time to organize an event?
There are still important actions you can take to carry the Meatout message! Meatout Mondays cards
Launched in 1985, The Great American Meatout has become the world's largest diet education campaign promoting a wholesome compassionate plant-based diet On or around March 20--the first day of spring--thousands of caring people in all 50 US states and a host of other countries hold informative and educational Meatout events. Events will include colorful 'lifestivals,' street theater, lectures, public dinners, cooking demos, food samplings, leafleting, information tables called 'steakouts,' and a Congressional Reception in Washington,

Please join us for our 20th Anniversary observance of Meatout and represent your city! FARM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public interest organization promoting meat-free and dairy-free foods for a healthy, well-fed world.

15. Recent Effort to Ban Shechita in England Defeated

Thanks to animal welfare expert and JVNA advisor Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding the two articles below:

Ritual Slaughter Avoids Censure
By: Daniella Peled

LONDON, March 14 (JTA) — Jewish groups are welcoming the British
government’s decision to reject a recommendation to ban kosher slaughter as a victory for their unified campaign.

The threat to ritual slaughter, known as shechitah, was raised after a June 2003 report from the government-sponsored Farm Animal Welfare Council advised that the practice should be outlawed.

The council had argued that shechitah and the Muslim method of halal
slaughter — both of which demand the animal be fully conscious when its throat is cut — contravened British laws against animal cruelty, which mandate that all animals butchered in Britain must be electrically stunned before they are killed.

But a specially formed Jewish coalition, Shechita UK, fought the
recommendation by emphasizing scientific evidence that shechitah — which involves cutting an animal’s throat with a surgically sharp blade, leading to rapid loss of consciousness — is a humane method of slaughter.

The British authorities initially appeared inclined to accept the council’s
assertions, the result of a four-year investigation, that “animals
(especially cattle) slaughtered without pre-stunning are likely to
experience very significant pain and distress.”

But in its final statement, issued last week, the government emphasized that it was “committed to respect for the rights of religious groups.”

Describing the council report as “inaccurate and biased,” Henry Grunwald, the chairman of Shechita UK, said, “The government’s response means that the Jewish community can continue freely to practice the Jewish religious humane method of animal slaughter for food in this country.

“We are pleased that the government has recognized and understood our concerns,” he added.

Jewish leaders say the campaign not only has served to preserve the right of British Jews to produce and eat kosher meat, but also highlighted a rare example of community unity.

Shechita UK took pains to incorporate members of the Board of deputies — the representative body of Anglo Jewry — along with various shechitah bodies and all the British authorities that oversee kosher food.

“It’s been a real example of cooperation,” said Shechita UK’s campaign
director, Shimon Cohen. “The Orthodox community from left to right pulled together in a major way and had the full support of the progressive community. This is the first time anyone can remember that we all sat around together and actually delivered something.”

The last serious challenge to kosher slaughter in Britain came in 1985,
when the council recommended that the government “require that the Jewish and Muslim communities review their methods of slaughter so as to develop alternatives which permit effective stunning.”

The community overturned that threat, but the lessons learned in fighting that campaign — “It’s vital to be united,” Cohen said — were put to use in the latest lobbying effort.

European animal rights laws demand that livestock must be stunned before slaughter, but most countries — except Sweden and Switzerland — make exceptions on the grounds of religious liberty.

However, kosher slaughter is seen by the public to be an act of cruelty to animals.

It was that view that was the main focus for the Shechita UK campaign, which set out to put across the concept of shechitah as a compassionate method of slaughter.

There may be further challenges ahead, though, with the council preparing to publish a report on the slaughter of “white meat” animals, which includes poultry.

“The work of Shechita UK is not yet complete,” said Grunwald. “We believe that shechitah should be unequivocally acknowledged as a humane method of animal slaughter for food.”

Second article:

British Jews win right to shehita
Mar. 9, 2005

British Jews have won an 18-month battle to gain government assurances protecting the community's right to practice ritual slaughter (shehita).

The future of shehita in Britain had been threatened following a June 2003 report from the Farm Animal Welfare Council recommending the government repeal the right of the Jewish community to carry out kosher slaughter. The council asserted that animals killed according to Jewish law, without being pre-stunned, were "likely to experience very significant pain and distress." But the government decision Tuesday accepted evidence presented by Jewish lobbyists that demonstrated ritual slaughter was a humane method of killing animals for food.


Return to Top

16. Animal Circus Acts Banned in Tel Aviv

Thanks to long-time vegetarian and animal rights activist Miriam Gross for forwarding the message below from Israel’s largest animal rights group “Anonymous for Anima Rights.”

Tel-Aviv banned animal circus acts

We are happy to announce that we successfully completed our campaign against animal circus acts, as the Municipality of Tel-Aviv banned animal circus acts. The Mayor of Tel-Aviv, Ron Huldai, instructed the municipality to avoid any future contracts with circuses that use animals of any sort in their shows. This pioneering achievement is a result of an Anonymous for Animal Rights campaign, which included a public campaign (demonstrations, petitions, etc.) as well as political lobby. As far as we know, Tel-Aviv is one of the only cities in the world that banned animal circus acts. We hope that other cities – both in Israel and abroad – will follow Tel-Aviv. Since Tel-Aviv is the center of the Israeli urban life, and international circuses were staying in Tel-Aviv during most of their Israeli tour, the new instruction may influence animal circus acts in the entire country. Wild animal circus acts are already banned all over the country since 1995.

Best wishes,
Menashe Eliezer
Anonymous for Animal Rights

Return to Top

17. New York Times Correction Indicates that Hitler Was NOT a Vegetarian

Kudos to author, scholar, long time vegetarian and animal rights activist and JVNA advisor Lewis Regenstein for his great success as indicated in his message below:

Dear friends:

Today, Tuesday, p. 2 of the New York Times, "Corrections" box, carries this small but important item:

"A film review...about 'Downfall,' which looks at Hitler's final days,
referred incorrectly to his diet.

Although the movie portrays him as vegetarian, he did eat at least some meat."

This small item represents a big victory, the result of many hours of
research, copying, and sending information to the Times to try and correct this mistake, a myth that has long been used to try & discredit vegetarians.

In the future, we now have the nation's Newspaper of Record to refer to when this inaccuracy is repeated, as certainly it will be, as sure as night follows day.

Many thanks to the Times for setting the record straight, especially to the public editor Daniel Okrent and his assistant Arthur Bovino, and to all of you who were so helpful in sending in supporting documentation.

Lewis Regenstein

[As indicated, Lew deserves much credit for his work on this. I know that many messages were exchanged between Lew and the Times, as they sought documentation for Lewis assertion that Hitler was not a vegetarian. After I commended Lew for his splendid success, he kindly responded as below:

Toda Rabah, Richard, for all your help. I could not have done it without
you & all the good material you had available,

Best, Lew]

Return to Top


You must be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi

“The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future---deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.”
Editors, World Watch, July/August 2004

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

No comments: