April 17, 2005

4/5/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Comprehensive Report Provides “Stark Warning” re Earth’s Future

2. Article from JVNA advisor Dan Brooks on “Eating as if the Earth Matters”

3. Article by JVNA Advisor Rabbi David Rosen on the Pope’s Positive Relationships With the Jewish Community

4. Article on Judaism and Vegetarianism by Jewish Scholar and Author Rabbi David Aaron, Followed by My Letter/Please Write

5. New Conservative Vegetarian Group Formed

6. PCRM Seeking Help in Suing the Dairy Industry for Misleading Ads

7. Availability of Veggie Burgers Increasing

8. Update re Earth Day (April 22, 2005)

9. Exciting Eco-Activist Program in Israel

10. Environmental Program in the Catskills

11. Raw Food Vegetarians Have Thin But Strong Bones

12. Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center Announces New Book and Author’s Speaking Tour

13. Force Feeding of Geese and Ducks Now Illegal in Israel

14. Opinion Article about the Canadian Seal Slaughter

15. New York Times Article on Foie Gras

16. Update on Shechita Post-Postville

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. Comprehensive Report Provides “Stark Warning” re Earth’s Future

While the report discussed below was also discussed in last week’s Newsletter, I am including this item because of its great importance, and because it might have been missed by some people in the midst of the great attention in the media to the Pope and to Terri Schiavo.

Forwarded message from Grist magazine:

Comprehensive assessment of world's ecosystems released; be very afraid

The largest and most comprehensive assessment of the world's ecosystems ever undertaken was released today, and the results constitute a "stark warning" that "the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," according to the 45-member board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The study was written by 1,360 experts from 95 countries, including government officials, scientists, members of civil-society groups and indigenous tribes, and industry representatives, under the rubric of the U.N. Environment Program, using widely agreed-upon scientific evidence. It warns of rapid decline in biodiversity and freshwater availability, and says the likelihood of disease outbreaks (a la SARS), "dead zones" in coastal waters, and destructive climate shifts will rise sharply in the coming 50 years. It recommends means of slowing some of the damage -- developing markets for freshwater, improving forestry practices, removing some agricultural subsidies -- but stresses that none of those means are yet being applied.

straight to the source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Seth Borenstein, 30 Mar 2005

straight to the source: Scripps Howard News Service, Joan Lowy, 29 Mar 2005

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2. Article from JVNA advisor Dan Brooks on “Eating as if the Earth Matters”

Vegetarians in Paradise regularly presents informative articles by guest contributors on subjects of interest to vegetarians and vegans. This month we feature a commentary by Dan Brook, Ph.D. who is a writer, poet, teacher, and activist, and has been a happy and healthy vegetarian since 1983. Dan lives with his vegetarian wife, vegetarian son, and vegetarian rat in San Francisco. Dan created and maintains Eco-Eating , The Vegetarian Mitzvah , No Smoking? and CyberBrook's ThinkLinks . He can be contacted via Brook@california.com. [This article is especially important and timely in view of the above item.]

Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters

Vegetarians in Paradise

By Dan Brook, Ph.D.

Are people still eating meat? Do some of them consider themselves environmentalists? Can they be both? More and more scientific evidence strongly suggests that a vegetarian diet is both good for our bodies and good for our environment. Eating lower on the food chain is clearly the way to go. I know how hard switching could be--I was there over twenty years ago--but I also learned how important it is and how good it feels! And more and more people, including celebrities and athletes, are becoming vegetarian too.

Many reputable health and science organizations--including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Cancer Institute, National Heart Foundation, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Health Organization, and others-all agree that a diet centered around fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, the top three leading causes of death in the US.

Eating meat and other animal products is also correlated with high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer's, atherosclerosis, aneurysm, impotence, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious ailments. According to the most recent data, in fact, about 2/3 of diseases in the U.S. are diet-related--and vegetarians are much less afflicted by all of them.

Further, because more than half of all antibiotics in the U.S. are given to livestock (plus immense amounts of chemicals, steroids, hormones, and other), resistant bacteria are increasing at an alarming rate. And don't forget mad cow disease, bird flu, hoof and mouth, E. coli, salmonella and food poisoning. Additionally, fish often contain arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, and toxic POPs including PCBs, DDT, and dioxin, which cannot be removed from the fish, even after freezing and cooking, and which bio-accumulate in consumers. Since the meat industry is unhealthy and unsafe, reducing your consumption is the best bet. Indeed, many people who stop eating meat report feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually better.

Jamie Adams of the Nutrition Care Division at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu explains that maintaining a vegetarian diet is an excellent way to promote health and reduce the risk of disease. Adams recommends reducing the consumption of animal protein and cholesterol (which is found exclusively in meat) and saturated fat (which is abundant in meat). Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in fat, especially saturated fat, and much lower in cholesterol. Vegan diets contain absolutely no cholesterol. Vegetarian diets also tend to be rich in health-protecting vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fiber, which is essential for good health, is totally absent in animal products.

While repeated research clearly demonstrates that the best way to protect our health is to eat a vegetarian diet, we increasingly discover that our individual rights and health are also related to our environmental rights and health. The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, was selected precisely for this belief-which she also puts into action. We need to think of the environment as being both outside and inside of each of us.

We eat much more than food with each meal; indeed, we cannibalize our environment. The editors of the prestigious World Watch (July/August 2004), a leading environmental institute and magazine, nicely summarize this vital issue in a recent report:

"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."

Vegetarianism, therefore, is literally about life and death-for each of us individually and for all of us together. Eating animals simultaneously contributes to their suffering and death, the ill-health and early death of people, the unsustainable overuse of oil, water, grain, and other vital resources, environmental destruction, including species extinction, deforestation, and global warming, the legitimacy of force and violence, the mis-allocation of capital, skills, land and resources, vast inefficiencies in the economy, massive inequalities in the world, the transmission and spread of dangerous diseases, and moral failure in so-called advanced societies. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies.

Being vegetarian has many environmental benefits. By choosing a vegetarian diet you will, for example:

* Save massive amounts of precious water, indeed up to 5,000 gallons for every pound of beef you don't consume
* Avoid polluting our streams, rivers, and other waterways, as well as our air and soil, with chemicals, feces, and other contaminants
* Reduce the depletion of topsoil, thereby better respecting and preserving our land
* Reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels, such as oil
* Prevent the destruction of tropical and rain forests, including the Amazon, protecting "the lungs of the Earth"
* Protect coral reefs as well as other ocean life and habitats
* Lessen the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, the two major greenhouse gases that significantly contribute to global warming, deemed the most dangerous threat to life on our planet, according to Oxfam International, the World Bank, the Pentagon, World Meteorological Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and other major reports (it is estimated that eating a single pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving a car for about three weeks)
* Scale down the destruction of wildlife habitat, helping to save endangered species from becoming extinct, thereby preserving vital biodiversity.

Besides significant environmental and health benefits, there are many ethical arguments for vegetarianism. Without going into detail, we can simply quote Alice Walker, who says: "[Animals] were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men." All the rest is commentary.

Being vegetarian is clearly the best diet for your personal health, your spiritual health, and our collective environmental health. We need to educate our families, friends, and others on the benefits of vegetarianism, trying to get everyone involved! In the meantime, congratulate yourself for making a healthy, sustainable, and life-affirming choice.

There's no need to feel guilty about what you eat or don't eat, do or don't do. Instead, there is a need for all of us to move in a positive direction--for ourselves as well as for the environment. Remember that being a vegetarian isn't about sacrificing anything; it's about making positive choices aimed at improving our health, saving animals, and protecting the environment that we all share. Being a veggie makes a world of difference. Enjoy the process!

For more information on vegetarianism with its many benefits, in addition to Vegetarians in Paradise, please visit some of the following web sites:


If you prefer the phone, you can also call toll-free 1-866-MEAT FREE for a free vegetarian starter kit.

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3. Article by JVNA Advisor Rabbi David Rosen on the Pope’s Positive Relationships With the Jewish Community

The real hero in reconciling Christians and Jews
By David Rosen
Sun., April 03, 2005 Adar2 23, 5765

Forty years ago, during the papacy of Pope John XXIII, the Catholic Church determined that the attempt to present the Jewish people as rejected by God was false, and cleared the Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus.

But it was Pope John Paul II who was the true hero of Christian-Jewish reconciliation. The late pontiff called for "a new and profound understanding between the Church and Judaism everywhere, in every country, for the benefit of all." He stated unequivocally that the idea that the Church has replaced the Jewish people in a covenant with God was wrong, and even questioned the attempt to proselytize among Jews.

The two most significant events in terms of Christian-Jewish reconciliation were his visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome in 1986 and his visit to Israel in 2000. The scene of John Paul embracing the chief rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, reached millions of believers who did not choose to or who could not read his writings. He described the visit to the synagogue as the most important event of that year, one that would be remembered for "hundreds of thousands of years" and gave "thanks and praise to Providence" for the occasion.

Full diplomatic relations were inaugurated between the Vatican and Israel in 1993, and then the Pope made an official visit to Israel in 2000, in a clear rejection of the traditional position of the Church that the Jews had been exiled from their land because of their refusal to accept Jesus and were condemned to wander. The visit had a powerful effect, primarily on the Jews of Israel. Most of them, especially traditional and Orthodox Jews, had never met a modern Christian. The common image of Christianity among them was negative, drawn from a tragic past.

The Pope's visit to Israel opened the eyes of Israelis to a new reality. Not only was the Church no longer an enemy, its head was a true friend! To see the Pope at Yad Vashem, demonstrating solidarity, weeping at the suffering of the Jewish people, to learn that he had helped save Jews during the Holocaust and that subsequently, as a priest, he had returned Jewish children adopted by Christians to their Jewish families, to see the head of the Catholic Church placing a prayer of atonement for the sins of Christians against Jews between the stones of the Western Wall - all of these scenes had a profound effect on many Israelis.

The widespread publicity given the Pope's visit to Israel had no less an important effect, and perhaps a more important one, on Christians, particularly on Catholics, in their relation to Jews, Judaism and Israel. Tension resulting from some of the Pope's actions was undeniable. Some of those acts involved the behavior of the Church and the Holocaust, such as the canonization of Edith Stein, a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism and was murdered by the Nazis. A still rankling problem is that Pope Pius IX is remembered for his support of the abduction of the Jewish boy Edgardo Mortara in 1858. However, I am convinced that none of John Paul's actions stemmed from insensitivity - quite the contrary.

The canonization of Pius XII, accused of inaction during the Holocaust, has been delayed to this day, and that apparently is a sign of the sensitivity of the Church and particularly of the late pontiff to the Jews.

I believe this issue will remain a source of tension between the Church and the Jews, even if the Vatican releases additional documents, given the subjectivity of historical memory and its interpretation.

Nevertheless, the contribution of Pope John Paul II to the new spirit in Vatican-Jewish relations was unprecedented. In a speech to the American-Jewish Committee in 1985, John Paul said, "I am convinced, and I am happy to state it on this occasion, that the relationships between Jews and Christians have radically improved in these years. Where there was ignorance and therefore prejudice and stereotypes, there is now growing mutual knowledge, appreciation and respect. There is, above all, love between us; that kind of love, I mean, which is for both of us a fundamental injunction of our religious traditions... Love involves understanding. It also involves frankness and the freedom to disagree in a brotherly way where there are reasons for it."

If such love does indeed exist today between Jews and Christians in general and Jews and Catholics in particular, we are grateful to Pope John Paul II for his great contribution in making this so.

Rabbi David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland, is director of the American Jewish Committee's Interreligious Affairs Department. He formerly served as the Anti-Defamation League's co-liaison to the Vatican.

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4. Article on Judaism and Vegetarianism by Jewish Scholar and Author Rabbi David Aaron, Followed by My Comments/Please Write

The morality of meat
By Rabbi David Aaron
Jewish World Review
April 1, 2005 / 21 Adar II, 5765

The Talmud (Bava Metzia 85a) tells a story about the famed author of the Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. The rabbi was walking down the street one day, when a little calf ran up to him and hid under his cloak. Apparently, the calf had run away from the slaughterhouse.

The rabbi said to the calf, "Go back to be slaughtered, for this you have been created." At this point, a Divine decree was made against him because he had not shown pity on the creature. As a result he became sick and suffered for many years, until one day he showed pity on a family of young rats and was suddenly healed.

We know that Judaism permits us to eat meat as long as the animal was slaughtered properly, so what did Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi do that was so wrong? He incorrectly said, "for this you were created." The Talmud is teaching us that, contrary to his declaration, animals were not created for human consumption. The first man and woman ate fruits and vegetables — not animals — in the Garden of Eden. It was only later, after the Flood during the time of Noah, that G-d allowed mankind to eat meat.

We cannot understand the exact connection between the sins of mankind and the subsequent permission to eat meat, but we do know that eating meat is a concession that G-d made.

One suggested reason for this concession is that humanity has an inclination for aggression and cruelty. Humans were not created cruel; they incorporated the characteristic over a period of time. And now that we are challenged with this inclination, we have to figure out how to sublimate it and eventually overcome it.

One way is through the consumption of meat. There is something cruel and vicious about eating meat; it is a way of releasing aggression. But sometimes people have a craving for it. Cravings are really our efforts to express and satisfy a need. Better we satisfy our need for aggression by eating meat than by doing something harmful to people, the Torah grants. Better we not have the urge for cruelty and aggression in the first place, but it is a reality that we now have to deal with and work to overcome.

Judaism does not advocate complete suppression of our negative urges, rather it gives us outlets to sublimate them while guiding us to gradually overcome them. Therefore, when we crave, we must satisfy the craving in some way while working towards kicking the habit.

Take a drug addict, for example. There are two approaches to treating the addiction. One method is cold turkey —just stay off the stuff and go through an excruciating period of withdrawal. The other approach is measured withdrawal, which looks like hospital-sanctioned drug abuse but is really medical intelligence. To wean the addict, the doctors slowly administer, each day, decreasing amounts of the drug until the addiction is gone. If a person who did not know anything about this method walked into the hospital, from his limited perspective he would conclude that this place promotes drug abuse as an ideal.

In the same way, there are Torah laws that do not express the ideals of Judaism but exist as a way to reach those ideals. In the case of consuming meat, whether it is to satisfy a craving and sublimate the need for aggression or some other divine reason unknown to us, the Torah temporarily concedes and allows us to do it in the interest of helping us eventually overcome the urge and become vegetarians.

People who are already vegetarian should not pride themselves and think that this is a sure sign that they are more spiritually and ethically evolved than anyone else. Who knows, perhaps, they are expressing their cruelty in other ways that are even more vicious and destructive.


The Talmud states: "G-d says, 'I created the evil inclination and I created Torah as its antidote.'" The Torah is an antidote to our negative and destructive inclinations. Therefore, the Torah may sometimes appear to be sanctioning some type of amoral behavior, but in fact, it is simply employing a realistic approach in order to empower people to stop doing what they otherwise may not have had the power to overcome on their own.

Keeping this essential principle in mind, we can now explore the meaning of eating kosher and some of the seemingly odd kosher laws.

Although, as we mentioned, Torah laws do not always indicate the ideal, without a doubt they outline a way towards reaching the ideals. Therefore, incorporated within such Torah laws are windows to the future.

The laws regarding kosher slaughter are one example. Although G-d allowed humanity to eat meat, one of the "Seven Laws of the Descendants of Noah" is the prohibition against eating a limb ripped off from a live animal. G-d deemed that although humanity needed an outlet for their cruelty this is too much.

As the world evolves G-d chose the Jewish people to become a model of ethical excellence for the rest of the world. Therefore, He placed upon them even more restrictions regarding the consumption of meat.

Many of these laws are meant to remind us that eating meat is not ideal and therefore we should not feel completely comfortable to eat any kind of meat we want — in any manner we want. Torah law states that we can eat the meat of only birds and animals that are herbivorous but not wild animals that are meat-eating. Judaism adheres to the principle that we are what we eat: an animal's character is infused somehow in its flesh and blood, so we have to be careful about which animals we eat. We want to release and sublimate our cruel urge, not fuel and increase it.


Torah Law also states how to slaughter the animal. The shochet (slaughterer), using a special razor sharp knife, must kill the animal with a single quick stroke against its throat. This type of slaughter ensures a quick death so that the animal is spared any prolonged suffering. In addition, this method expedites the maximal outpour of the animal's blood. Torah Law, besides discouraging the over-consumption of meat, does not permit us to eat the blood of an animal.

It is bad enough that we are eating animal flesh but to eat its blood is already too much. Judaism also teaches that the animal's soul is connected to its blood. Therefore, we want to refrain from ingesting animal spirit.

Torah law further obligates that we drain out any remaining blood absorbed in the meat. One way is through salting. Another way is by roasting the meat over an open fire. Interestingly, some meat, like liver, requires both techniques. Salting alone does not get the blood out of liver. You must also broil or roast it on a grill, where the blood can be drawn out.

Throughout history and even today, many countries have tried to make Jewish ritual slaughter illegal, claiming that it is inhumane. Through testing, they claim that they have found a more humane slaughtering technique — electric shock. By placing nodes on the animal's body, they attempt to show that an animal has a more traumatic death when it is slaughtered with a knife rather than by electric shock. Of-course, it is difficult to really know just how much pain an animal is experiencing once you are already killing it.

But for Judaism the issue goes deeper than the intensity of the pain experienced by the animal. The core of the matter lies in the definition of humane. Isn't humane about maintaining our humanness? What is less humane — a guy behind a glass booth going "buzz, buzz, buzz", killing, with the just a push of a button, hundreds of animals within minutes as they pass by on a conveyor belt, or someone who, one by one, is very conscious of the fact that he is slaughtering animals and very careful about how he does it?

Whether the animal is under greater pain with Jewish slaughter is debatable, although Jews do not believe that to be true. But even if we could prove such a thing, there is another, more important value to consider: maintaining the awareness that we are slaughtering animals. We can never feel comfortable about it. In fact, there is another Torah law that requires that we cover the blood once it pours out, to remind us that we should not feel so great about what is going on here. We must never become insensitive to what we are doing and forget that it is not ideal.

A Hassidic tale tells about a new shochet (kosher slaughterer) who arrived in the shtetl (villiage). To sharpen his knife between each slaughtering, he would spit on the sharpening rock. The great Baal Shem Tov approached him and said, "Your slaughtering ritual is very different from the fellow who was here before you."
"Really?" the man replied. "What's the difference?"
"It's the way you wet your sharpening rock," the Baal Shem Tov said.
"How do I do it differently?" the man asked.
"The other shochet used to wet the rock with his tears."

The kosher laws generate an atmosphere of discomfort and preserve, as much as possible, our humanness while we sublimate our cruel urges. Therefore, we cannot feel free to eat any animal we choose, certainly not those of a wild meat-eating nature. We cannot eat meat before removing its blood. And we must cover its blood and maintain a healthy sense of embarrassment. If we are not slaughtering our own meat then we must purchase only meat that we know has been slaughtered in this most uncomfortable and humane way.

JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron (http://www.rabbidavidaaron.com/) is the founder and dean of Isralight (http://www.isralight.org/) , an international organization

My Comments:

Please consider writing a letter to the Jewish World Review complimenting them and Rabbi David Aaron for the nice article and suggesting that they help put Jewish teachings on vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda. As positive and as scholarly as the article is, it, like so many recent articles on the subject, does not consider the devastating health and environmental effects of animal-centered diets, or the mistreatment of billions of animals on factory farms.

My response sent to the publication is below.


Dear editor,
Thank you for publishing Rabbi David Aaron’s interesting, clear article on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism. To further the discussion on the many moral issues related to our diets, I hope that you will publish my article below. Thanks, and best wishes,

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.


There is a widely accepted aspect of modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms people, communities, and the planet: the mass production and widespread consumption of meat. High meat consumption and the ways in which meat is produced today conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:

1. While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals—including those raised for kosher consumers—are raised for slaughter on "factory farms" where they are confined in cramped spaces, are often drugged and mutilated, and are denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any opportunity to satisfy their natural instincts.

3. While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to global climate change, soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, and other environmental damages.

4. While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, or to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of land, water, fuel, grain, and other resources.

5. While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, an estimated twenty million human beings worldwide die each year because of hunger and its effects--a horror which could be partly alleviated by feeding grain to people rather than animals destined for slaughter. More than 70% of the grain grown in the U.S. is given to animals who will be killed, and it takes up to sixteen pounds of grain to produce just one pound of edible beef.

6. While Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that often lead to instability and war.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products, and the Jewish community should play a leading role in advocating vegetarianism as a moral and ecological imperative. Besides having great benefits for animals, such actions would greatly benefit the health of the Jewish people and others, move our precious, but imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, and show the relevance of Jewish teachings to the problems confronting the world today.


God's initial intention was that people be vegetarians: “And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food.’” (Genesis 1:29) While God later gave permission for people to eat meat (Genesis 9:3; Deuteronomy 12:20), many Jewish sages regarded this as a concession. Based on the arguments above, there are many reasons to believe that God prefers that people have vegetarian diets. Some scholars also believe that God attempted a second vegetarian experiment in terms of the manna from heaven, which kept the Israelis in good health for 40 years in the wilderness. When the people cried out for flesh, God reluctantly provided it, and this resulted in a plague that caused many deaths at a place called “The Graves of Lust.”

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel believed that the permission to eat meat was only a temporary concession to the practices of the times and that the kosher laws were an implied reprimand and were designed to keep alive a sense of reverence for life that would bring the Jewish people back to the original diet. Rav Kook felt that 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 on all of God’s holy mountain,” Isaiah 11:6-9) meant that during the messianic period people would be vegetarians.

Sources for Further Information:

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) http://jewishveg.com/
Richard Schwartz articles http://JewishVeg.com/schwartz
Judaism and Vegetarianism, Richard H. Schwartz (New York: Lantern Books, 2001)
Vegetarian Judaism, Roberta Kalechofsky (Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1998)
“A Case for Jewish Vegetarianism” (2005) Aaron Frank and others; for free copies, call 1-888-VEG FOOD.

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5. New Conservative Vegetarian Group Formed

[Just as I have been trying to make people aware of “Republicans for Environmental Protection” (www.rep/org) to show that preserving the environment can be a bipartisan issue, I plan to promote this conservative vegetarian group to show that one need not be liberal to be a vegetarian or a vegetarian advocate. I have asked the founder/leader to submit an article on why conservatives should be vegetarians.]

Forwarded message from Jennifer

Here's our short description.

The website conservativeveggie.com is a website that I started because I wanted a place for conservative vegetarians to express their views more openly. I wanted to show that conservative vegetarians have as much to say on environmental and animal rights issues as their liberal counterparts. This could also be a place where they can discuss their views on religion and politics. This website gives the conservative vegetarian an opportunity to share their similar values.

Thank you,

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6. PCRM Seeking Help in Suing the Dairy Industry for Misleading Ads

Forwarded message from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM):


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is working to bring public attention to the false and misleading dairy industry campaign claiming that eating dairy products helps you lose weight. We are looking for individuals who purchased milk, yogurt, or cheese in reliance on these ads and did not lose weight.

Adding dairy products to your diet is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss, and cow's milk has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and other serious health problems. Nevertheless, the dairy industry is falsely asserting that drinking cow's milk helps people lose weight. Clinical data shows this is not true.

PCRM would like to bring a lawsuit against the dairy industry for false advertising. The lawsuit would seek compensatory damages on behalf of an injured plaintiff and would use any information obtained to alert the public about this false weight loss claim and the health risks associated with dairy consumption. To bring this case, we need someone who bought and consumed dairy products (milk, yogurt, or cheese) to lose weight in reliance on these advertisements. If you or someone you know fits into this category and is interested in helping, please e-mail PCRM at dkinburn@pcrm.org or contact PCRM Associate General Counsel Dan Kinburn at 202-686-2210 ext. 308.

Thank you so much for your help.

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7. Availability of Veggie Burgers Increasing

Thanks to agriculture science expert and JVNA advisor Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding the following message:

Gardenburger's Hamburger-style Classic Burger is now featured on cafeteria menus in all 1,500 New York City schools.

Some companies are making it easier for consumers to choose whole grain products by using a black-and-gold label shaped like a postage stamp. Bruegger's Bagels, Kashi, Gardenburger and Snyder's of Hanover are among those using the stamp, which was developed by Oldways Preservation Trust, a Boston-based think tank that specializes in food issues, reported ABCNews.com.

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8. Update re Earth Day (April 22, 2005)

Earth Day Network (EDN) US Network Update

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the environment in 2005? Let us know at: http://www.earthday.net/involved/thread/topicView.aspx?id=2. Your addition to our new message board can be seen by hundreds of viewers each day!

Also, be sure to check out Earth Day Network's new partnership with theOrganic Trade Association, Go Organic! At: http://organicearthday.org/.

The 35th Anniversary of Earth Day is right around the corner, April 22, 2005! If you know of an Earth Day event, we encourage you to list it at: http://www.earthday.net/_groups/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f_groups%2f_groups%2fdefault.aspx for others to learn about, possibly participate, get ideas,etc. We look forward to celebrating Earth Day with you!

We encourage you take full advantage of our various Web site features, from the What’s in Your Water guide to our event data base where you can register your Earth Day events for the entire network of over 12,000 organizations to see. Please feel free to email us at earthday@earthday.net if you have questions, comments or suggestions.

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9. Exciting Eco-Activist Program in Israel

This is forwarded from Ezra Weinberg, an rabbinic student studying this year in Jerusalem. His email is ezrox@aol.com

Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo (Introduced by Rabbi Shalom Bradt)

I am very excited to let you know about a fantastic new program set to launch, G-d willing, Fall 2005 in Jerusalem. The "Eco-Activist Beit Midrash," a project of Sukkat Shaleym Inc., will be the first learning center focused on truly integrating modern day ecological activism and traditional Jewish teachings concerning the environment.

Program participants will spend 3 days a week learning texts; and 2 days a week hiking, volunteering, and contributing in the field to the work of organizations addressing a wide range of environmental issues in Israel. Students will visit problem sites, work alongside local activists, and learn to examine and integrate the spiritual and practical dimensions of issues such as land use, pollution, bio-diversity, consumerism, and environmental responsibility. Coursework in pedagogy, certification coursework in either permaculture design or outdoor guiding skills, and opportunities to initiate programs in local communities will all prepare students for Judaism as a resource and guide in organizing ecological programming to improve the world around them.

This is a very special program and we are seeking students who already have a background in environmental and/or social activism. Classes will be taught in English. All traditional texts will be utilized in Hebrew and/or Aramaic with translations provided where necessary. Prospective students need not have any Hebrew language skills.

We are looking for twelve highly motivated activists interested in exploring what their tradition has to offer the environmental movement. If you or anyone you know might be interested, or if you have any questions please feel free to contact us at: shulim26@actcom.co.il by phone: 02-622-1456 or check out our website www.shlomoyeshiva.org/eco

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10. Environmental Program in the Catskills

Forwarded message from Elat Chayim (Introduced by Mia Cohen)

At Elat Chayyim: Jewish Spiritual Retreat Center
May 30 - June 5, 2005
With Josho Somine and Mia Cohen

Spend a week in the Catskill Mountains camping in the woods, living in community, working with your hands and heart, and learning sustainable solutions for the earth's future!

This week long intensive will be a combination of classroom time and hands on as we begin to explore the terrain of our ecological footprint as human beings, our relationship to the natural world, and the role we play as individuals and communities in thinking about our environment, our use of resources, and how we supply our needs.

Together we will learn Ecological Place Making & Permaculture and build a special place in the landscape of Elat Chayyim for reflection and connection.

We will utilize a mixture of spiritual and ecological observation exercises, practical techniques for construction and restoration, journaling and reflecting, and hands-on mindful labor.

This course is geared towards the environmental enthusiast, earth activist, nature lover, gardener, landscaper, artist, community planner, urban dweller, and anyone who wants to get their hands dirty and learn techniques for connecting to the flows and processes of the natural world.

*Evenings will be devoted to slide shows & dialogue on Urban Sustainability, City Repair projects, and Social Issues regarding sustainability and earth awareness.

To register contact Kristen toll free 800-398-2630 or email info@elatchayyim.org

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11. Raw Food Vegetarians Have Thin But Strong Bones

[Thanks to the several people who forwarded me messages re this item.]

Raw food vegetarians have low bone mass

[from Washington University School of Medicine]

St. Louis, March 28, 2005 -- Vegetarians who don't cook their food have abnormally low bone mass, usually a sign of osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. But a research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis also found that raw food vegetarians have other biological markers indicating their bones, although light in weight, may be healthy.

The study, published in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, was led by Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., research instructor in medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science. Fontana and colleagues studied 18 strict raw food vegans ages of 33 to 85. All ate a diet that not only lacked animal products but also included only raw foods such as a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains and legumes, dressed with olive oil. They had been on this diet for an average of 3.6 years.
Fontana says more study is needed to prove that raw food vegans have light-but-healthy bones. One study could involve following large groups of them for years to look at fracture rates. Other, more imminent studies will involve using micro MRI to get a 3-D look at bone architecture and structure. Those studies could begin soon.

In the meantime, Fontana isn't telling people to follow such an extreme diet.

"I think over the long term, a strict raw food vegan diet could pose some health problems," he says. "But it's not my role to tell them to eat differently. I'm simply interested in learning about the positive and/or detrimental health effects of this diet.

"However," he concludes, "if someone wishes to improve their health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, I would definitely suggest that they get away from the refined and processed foods that Americans usually eat and try to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and fish."

full story:
AnimalConcerns.org: Forums (discussion boards), More News Headlines, Events, E-Mail Lists, Jobs, and Organizations! Try searching for the news item on Animalconcerns! http://www.animalconcerns.org/

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12. Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center Announces New Book and Author’s Speaking Tour

"Spiritual Nutrition" Released by Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H)

Spiritual Nutrition: Six Foundations for Spiritual Life and the Awakening of Kundalini, by Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H), explores the spiritual, scientific, intuitive, and metaphysical aspects of nutrition and the awakening of consciousness. It is a blueprint for creating the critical mass of conscious people necessary for planetary transformation. This book is written by the founder of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, a living model for the Culture of Liberation, and a spiritual teacher coming from the direct experience of his own life. Spiritual Nutrition shows the Jewish way as a complete path to Liberation. It gives you both the inspiration and technology to live in a way that enhances the Divine unfolding, creating an attracting focus for the lightning bolt of grace.

“…a new age Kosher for the Spiritual aspirant.”
Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, author and leader in the Jewish renewal movement

“This book will become a standard for ages to come... The author leads us beyond the limited precepts of nutrition into the realms of Divinity."
From the Preface by Viktoras Kulvinskas, author of Survival Into The 21st Century

Book Tour events (details at www.treeoflife.nu/spiritualnutrition.html):
- Los Angeles (April 3)
- San Francisco Bay Area (May 6-7, 8)
- Sacramento (May 8)
- Sedona (May 20-21)
- New York City (May 22, 23, 24)
- Newport, RI (May 26)
- York, Maine (May 29)

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13. Force Feeding of Geese and Ducks Now illegal in Israel

From: Menashe Eliezer, Leader of the Israeli animal rights group Anonymous for Animal’s Rights [ menashe@anonymous.org.il ]

Starting today (1 April 2005): force-feeding of geese and ducks is illegal in Israel!

Israel , The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on August 2003 in a detailed decision* that force-feeding of geese and ducks is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, and that the regulations that had allowed this practice were not valid. The Court allowed an extension of about a year>and a half, ending at the end of March 2005, before the ban was to be enforced. Yesterday, on 31 March 2005, the Supreme Court rejected a request by the Ministry of Agriculture to extend the delay by an additional year. Israel is the world's fourth largest producer of foie gras, and most of its production is designated for export to the European Union and Japan.

Anonymous for Animal Rights, which manages this campaign for the last 6 years, wishes to thank every person and organization who took part in this campaign, wrote letters to Israeli authorities, attended vigils in front of Israeli Consulates, provided us with information, and gave us moral or financial support. Special thanks to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), whose financial support made possible our public campaign, and Noah, The Israeli Association of Animal Protection Organizations, which managed the legal struggle against force-feeding.

Best wishes,
Menashe Eliezer Coordinator Anonymous for Animal Rights

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14. Opinion Article about the Canadian Seal Slaughter

All God’s creatures

March 15 was designated the International Day of Protest Against the Canadian Seal Hunt. Rallies were organized in 41 cities around the world. I attended a rally in Toronto organized by the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA). With protesters from across the Greater Toronto Area, we challenged the Canadian government’s legislation allowing the seal hunt and informed them that a strong majority oppose this cruel, horrific and unnecessary action.

The Canadian seal hunt is the largest single mass slaughter of a mammalian wildlife species in the world. More than one million harp seals are condemned to be cruelly slaughtered over a three-year period. This figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of seals wounded that never recover.

The seals are slaughtered mainly for their fur. There is a small market for seal oil and almost no market for the meat, so carcasses are left to rot on the ice. Seal penises are sold in Asian markets as an aphrodisiac.

Whether they bleed to death from the stabbing of the hakapiks (large ice picks), are struck with wooden clubs, or are shot – the seals suffer an agonizing and terrifying death. The screaming baby pups are heartlessly killed while their mothers watch.

The seal hunt has been ongoing for years. Three decades ago, a small group of concerned citizens joined together to stop the massive and brutal commercial hunt of “whitecoat” harp seals on the east coast of Canada. It was then a new breed of animal advocacy organization, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), was born. Two million contributors worldwide now support it.

I am proud my mother volunteered for IFAW in those early years. She told me, “I read about the plight of the seals and felt I had to do something. In university, I got students to sign a petition banning the hunt and secured pages of signatures which I sent to [IFAW founder] Brian Davies.” When I was 15, my mother handed me a thank-you card with a picture of a baby seal that Davies sent her. With this, she also passed on the desire to stand up for what I believe in.

As an activist, I learned there is strength in numbers and that we have the ability to change policy and various forms of cruelty to animals. Thanks to IFAW’s vigilance and supporters, it is now illegal to hunt “whitecoat” seal pups for commercial purposes off Canada’s east coast. However, the Canadian government continues to heavily subsidize the hunt of harp and hooded seals off the Atlantic Coast.

Another organization currently helping the seals is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). On the society’s website, www.protectseals.org, it is stated: “The slaughter will begin in late March. By the end of this year’s hunt, more than 300,000 baby seals will have been brutally killed, many as young as 12 days old.”

Seal hunting is an off-season activity conducted by fishers. They earn a small fraction of their incomes from sealing and the rest from commercial fisheries. The connection between the commercial fishing industry and the seal hunt in Canada gives consumers worldwide the power to end this cruel and brutal slaughter.” A U.S. boycott on Canadian seafood products has been launched by the HSUS.

If you want to send the fishers and the government a strong and clear message and help curtail this brutal expression of cruelty to animals, stop eating Canadian seafood. You can also protest by e-mailing Prime Minister Paul Martin at pm@pm.gc.ca and/or contacting the organizations mentioned in this column.

I believe, together, we can end the seal hunt. Just as my mother did, I will pass on my passion and animal rights literature to my children and continue the mesorah (Jewish tradition) of helping all God’s creations through the value of tikkun olam (healing the world).

Miriam can be reached at Miriam@jtvproductions.net.

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15. New York Times Article on Foie Gras

One Man's Liver...
Published: April 4, 2005

The Chef Recommends That You Enjoy the Sauternes All by Itself Tonight

The list of things we do to animals before we eat them is constrained only by the limits of human hunger and ingenuity, which means it is not constrained by much. Trapping, hooking, netting, plucking, bleeding, butterflying, beheading, gutting - the search for delicious knows few bounds or qualms.

That's why it is surprising that a prominent chef, of all people - Charlie Trotter, the TV celebrity and author from Chicago - would decide to draw the line at a practice as old and esteemed as the force-feeding of ducks and geese to give them fatty, luscious livers.

That's right: Chef Trotter has renounced foie gras, on ethical grounds.

He says he stopped serving it about three years ago, after becoming unnerved at the sight of farm ducks being tube-fed into obesity. He kept quiet about it, but the conspicuous absence of foie gras from his menus led to rumors in the restaurant world, and he was outed last Tuesday in The Chicago Tribune.

Don't be frightened, foodies, but this may be a trend - another example of how far the animal-rights cause has come in from the fringe. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year banned the production or sale of foie gras in California. (The law takes effect in 2012, to give the state's tiny foie gras industry - basically, a guy in Sonoma named Guillermo - time to adjust.) A similar bill has been introduced in New York, the country's only other foie gras producer. Other chefs, perhaps fearing the unthinkable, have jumped all over Mr. Trotter, calling his gesture hypocritical grandstanding by a media hound (and author, so you know, of "Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game," with recipes like Foie Gras Five Ways and Sweet-and-Sour Braised Lettuce Soup With Foie Gras and Radishes).

They should knock it off. Fine cooking is fine art, and Mr. Trotter should feel free to use whatever materials he likes. He says foie gras is cruel, but he could have also called it boring - a cliché slurped by too many diners who, we suspect, would swoon just as easily over the velvety succulence of Spam or schmaltz on rye, if they were prohibitively priced and listed on the menu in French. By spurning an easy fix of fancy fat, Mr. Trotter is simply making his job a bit harder, and this man-eat-duck world a slightly kinder place. There is much to admire in that.

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16. Update on Shechita Post-Postville

The following appeared in the latest issue of “Kosher Today”

Concern Over OIE Standards for International Schechita

(Paris) An international organization devoted to animal welfare is in the process of adopting standards for the "Slaughter of Animals for Human Consumption" that has schechita leaders in several countries concerned. Known as the OIE, the World Organization for Animal Health, appointed an ad hoc group to adopt guidelines for animal slaughter. "The ad hoc group acknowledged the significance of religious requirements, cultural and ethnic factors associated with some forms of slaughter. The ad hoc group felt it important that these should not be treated as exempt from these guidelines…" The OIE guidelines appear to inject regulation into the act of schechita itself. The OIE, an intergovernmental organization was created by 28 nations in January 1924. In May 2004 the OIE included 167 member countries. Schechita organizations in the US were hopeful that the humaneness of schechita would be defended by the USDA and by such internationally recognized animal welfare experts as Dr. Temple Grandin, who forcefully defended schechita in the UK when it was under attack. Comments on the guidelines were due today but schechita advocates were hoping to make their views known prior to OIE's adoption of the guidelines.

The head of the ad hoc group is Prof. Arnon Shimshony of Tel Aviv, Israel.

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