June 23, 2005

6/23/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Response to "So you'd like to... be an Orthodox/Hasidic Jew AND a political liberal"

2. My Letter in the Jerusalem Report

3. "The Song of the Trees," Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on Jewish Teachings on Animals and Nature

4. Interested in Cruelty-free Goose Quills for Pens?

5. Who is Rabbi Yonassan Gershom?

6. PETA Controversy Re Dumping Dead Animals in a Garbage Dumpster

7. Vegan Options More Popular on College Campuses

8. Healthy Food Festival Scheduled in NY City This Sunday

9. August Tennessee Vegan Conference

10. Update on Emes Kosher Gel

11. JVNA Advisor’s Group Awarded Grant

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, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, 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. Response to “So you'd like to... be an Orthodox/Hasidic Jew AND a political liberal”

I plan to return to our usual focus on vegetarianism and related issues in future JVNA newsletters, but since the last issue included an article by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom on how Orthodox/Hasidic Jews can be politically liberal, this issue has the following thoughtful message from JVNA advisor Yosef Hakohen:

The Torah's Challenge to Some Liberal/Progressive Activists:

Dear Friends,

I grew up in a family of progressive social activists, and when I discovered classical Judaism in my youth through our local Orthodox synagogue, I also discovered the spiritual roots of some of my parents' progressive and universal values. Nevertheless, I also discovered that the Divine teachings and mandates of the Torah offer a serious challenge to certain contemporary values which are popular among some people who consider themselves to be liberal or progressive. In this letter, I will discuss this challenge, in response to Rabbi Yonassan Gershom's article. But before I discuss the Torah's challenge to liberals, I want to also mention that I would agree with Rabbi Gershom that the Divine teachings and mandates of the Torah offer a challenge to certain contemporary values which are popular among some people who consider themselves to be conservatives. For example, there are some conservatives who believe in "laissez-faire" capitalism; however, any serious student of Torah knows that the Torah opposes the idea of "laissez-faire" economics through its various Divine mandates concerning "tzedakah" - the sharing of our resources with those in need. Although the obligation of tzedakah is upon the individual, the Torah also involves the local community, as well as the government in this mitzvah. A Torah article about the role of government in tzedakah appears in the archive section of "Hazon – Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

We need to remember, however, that the Torah opposes the entire concept of "laissez-faire" – including laissez-faire sexual expression, for all our drives and every aspect of our existence must be dedicated to serving the Divine purpose which is revealed in the Torah – the Divine teaching. To understand this idea on a deeper level, we need to discuss a Divine mandate which was given in the Garden of Eden:

And the Compassionate and Just One commanded the human being, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, you may not eat thereof; for on the day you eat it, you shall surely die." (Gen. 2:16,17)

A limitation is placed on the human being's ability to gratify his or her physical desires, and this limitation serves as a reminder that the human being is not the owner and sovereign of the Garden. When the human being was first created, he/she was given the understanding that the Creator was the owner and sovereign of the Garden, and that the human being was to be its caretaker (Genesis 2:15). The serpent in the story of the Garden, however, offers human beings a new way to view their role. In order to strengthen the temptation of the forbidden fruit, the serpent states: "You will surely not die; for God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad" (Ibid. 3:4). Human beings are now tempted to become like God, and thereby decide for themselves what is "good and bad." In this particular story, the human being decides that what is "good" is what gratifies the desires of the body, and what is "bad" is what denies the human being the complete gratification of these desires; thus, the forbidden fruit was eaten (Genesis 3:6).

Is this not the worldview of much of western civilization today? Does not the secular and liberal culture which has spread to many countries stress "moral relativism" - the ability of each person to be his own god and to decide what's bad or good according to his particular desires?

According to the philosophy of moral relativism, there are no absolute truths and values; they are all "relative," and each person is free to choose his own truths. In other words, no value is ultimately better than another, since it's all "relative." It simply depends on your point of view; thus, social selfishness can also be a legitimate truth. This philosophy speaks in the name of "tolerance," but by denying our common purpose, it increases the "brokenness" of our world. It is no wonder that some Jewish progressive activists have begun to join Orthodox Jews in challenging the philosophy of moral relativism which became popular within some progressive and liberal circles. The following statement from an article in the Forward, a progressive Jewish newspaper, can serve as an example. It appeared on March 18th, 2005, and the author is Joshua Halberstam, a New York writer who taught philosophy at New York University and at Teacher's College, Columbia University. The title is, "Will the Left Finally Talk About What Matters?" The article discussed how many progressive activists have abandoned the concept of absolute ethical and moral values, and he writes:

"Underlying this endemic inhibition to assert moral judgments is a pervasive, crude relativism. Perhaps nowhere is this stance more rooted than on the college campus, both among both professors and their students. Ethical relativists stipulate that no ethical position can be objectively true or false, for all values are simply reflections of one's culture (or, in some versions, one's personal taste). From the presumption, "It is true that everyone has an equal right to an opinion," they conclude blithely, "Therefore everyone's opinion is equally true." Such simplistic relativism is not only philosophically vacuous, but also socially pernicious. Not all points of view deserve respect. In fact, genuine moral equivalence is rarely the case — some claims are more legitimate than others."

A related idea which is popular among some "progressive" people is that the human being is the owner of his or her body; thus, in their view, the human being is morally free to take harmful drugs, to commit suicide, to help others commit suicide, to have abortion on demand, etc. The Torah challenges this idea, however, as it is written, "To the Compassionate One belongs the earth and its creatures, the inhabited land and those who dwell in it" (Psalm 24:1 – Targum). We human beings are among the creatures that dwell on the earth; thus, we and our bodies belong to the Compassionate One! This is why Torah-committed Jews cannot support "progressive" political positions which go against this basic Torah teaching.

Throughout most of my life, I have strived to serve as a bridge between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews, and I believe that Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews can benefit from informal dialogue with each other. For example, progressive non-Orthodox Jews can challenge some Orthodox Jews who have been traumatized by the Holocaust and centuries of brutal anti-Semitism to rediscover the universal vision of the Torah. And Orthodox Jews can challenge some progressive non-Orthodox Jews to rediscover the Torah's path of mitzvos – Divine mandates which lead to the fulfillment of this universal vision. For through fulfilling the mitzvos of the Torah, our small people can create an ethical and spiritual model which can serve as an example for all the peoples of the earth. When we achieve this goal, states the Prophet, "Nations will go to your light" (Isaiah 60:3).

In the spirit of dialogue, I would like to offer readers of this newsletter the opportunity to receive copies of letters which discuss the following:

1. How a growing number of Reform Jews are returning to certain traditional Jewish values and practices

2. Why the Torah obligates us to be "streetwise" in our search for peace, especially when dealing with deceptive terrorists

3. The advice of a Torah sage to a Torah-committed Jewish man whose sexual orientation is homosexual – a letter which is full of compassion and respect for men and women with this sexual orientation

4. Memoirs of a progressive Jewish activist with a homosexual orientation who became Torah-observant

To receive copies of the above letters, please write to me at the e-mail address listed on the website of "Hazon – Our Universal Vision": www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/ .

I want to conclude by reminding us that the Torah offers life-affirming challenges to both liberals and conservatives. Let us therefore strive to put aside our western, secular bias, and study the teachings of Torah with an open mind and an open heart. For regarding Torah, it is written: "She is a tree of life" (Proverbs 3:18).

Have a Shabbat Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

[Just a few brief comments:

*Previous JVNA newsletters have spoken favorably of “Republicans for Environmental Protection” and its environmental statements, articles, and resolutions, and of a new group of conservative vegetarians, and we have urged its leader to submit an article on why conservatives should be vegetarians. We welcome vegetarian-related material from people of all political persuasions. Of course, as each JVNA newsletter states: "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." Material submitted should be consistent with our objectives to make people aware of Judaism’s positive teachings and to respectfully challenge the Jewish community to move toward a diet that is most consistent with Jewish values, and to work to reduce the current massive mistreatment of animals and the many environmental threats.]

Return to Top

2. My Letter in the Jerusalem Report

I have been informed by an editor that my letter to the editor will appear in the next issue of the Jerusalem report, I am including it here to encourage you to be on the lookout for newspaper and magazine articles that you can send letters to editors about. Thanks.

June 8, 2005

Editor, Jerusalem Report

Dear Editor:

As President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I believe that Temple Grandin is to be commended for her outstanding work improving conditions at kosher and other slaughterhouses ("The Slaughterer's Conscience;" June 12, 2005 issue). However, even if shechita is carried out perfectly, can we ignore the severe cruelty that animals are subjected to, and the other ways that the production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish teachings?

When Judaism mandates that we treat animals with compassion, they are raised on factory farms in cramped, confined spaces, without sunlight, fresh air, or opportunities to fulfil their instinctual needs. When Judaism stresses that we must diligently protect our health, animal-based diets are major contributors to the epidemic of heart disease, many forms of cancer, and other killer diseases and ailments afflicting the Jewish community and others. When Judaism
mandates that we be partners with God in protecting the environment, animal-centered agriculture contribute significantly to air, water, and land pollution, species extinction, deforestation, global climate change, water shortages, and many other environmental threats.

Because nutritionists have concluded that one can be properly nourished on a diet free of animal products, a fundamental question to be addressed is: since Judaism mandates that we should diligently guard our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people, and animal-based diets and agriculture have negative effects in each of these areas, shouldn’t Jews (and others) seriously consider a switch toward meatless diets?

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

Return to Top

3. “The Song of the Trees,” Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on Jewish Teachings on Animals and Nature

The Journey to Unity – 119
The Song of the Trees:

The word "creature" can refer to any created thing. "Perek Shirah" contains the songs of the creatures within creation, including the following song of the trees:

"The trees of the field are saying: 'Then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy before the Compassionate One - for He will have come to judge the earth' (I Chronicles 16:33)."

Commentary: "Where there has been disarray, a judge must restore order and replace chaos with justice. When the world is in turmoil, and justice is perverted, even the trees of the wild suffer, for the earth's resources are abused and depleted. When the rule of the Ultimate Judge is acknowledged and accepted, even the trees will express their joy by waving their branches ecstatically, because the health of nature will be restored." (Rabbi Nosson Scherman - ArtScroll edition of Perek Shirah)

Dear Friends,

According to Jewish tradition, the human being is to maintain the health of nature, as it is written, "The Compassionate and Just One took the human being and placed him in the Garden of Eden to serve it and to protect it." (Genesis 2:15). Within the Garden, trees had a central role, as the Torah states, "The Compassionate and Just One caused every kind of tree to grow from the soil, delightful to the sight and good for food "(Genesis 2:9). In fact, the health of nature is connected to the health of trees, as Rabbi Nosson Slifkin reminds us in his book on Perek Shirah, "Nature's Song":

"Forests are the symbol of ecology. They fulfill the essential roles of providing habitat for animals and even smaller plants; they convert lethal carbon dioxide into precious oxygen; and they form the backbone of rainforest ecosystems."

Rabbi Slifkin also reminds us that the human being is not properly fulfilling his role as the custodian of God's earth: "Vast areas of rainforest have already been destroyed in South America and Africa. Included in this destruction are fragile species of animal life that are dependent on such habitat for their survival." Rabbi Slifkin adds that many valuable organisms which might provide cures for illnesses have been lost in the process.

The trees of the forest are endangered, and as a result, say many scientists, the entire earth is endangered. Nevertheless, within the ongoing song of the trees, there is the following message of hope:

"'Then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy before the Compassionate One - for He will have come to judge the earth." (I Chronicles 16:33)
[Part 2 is scheduled for the next JVNA newsletter.]

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

A Related Teaching:

The Biblical Hebrew term for "judging" is "shfot" - a term which also refers to intervention on behalf of the oppressed. For example, it is written, "Shiftu dal v'yasom" - Render justice to the needy and to the orphan (Psalm 82:3). The commentators Radak, Ibn Ezra, and Rabbi Hirsch explain that the Hebrew term for "judging" in this verse refers to just intervention on behalf of the oppressed needy and orphans.

The phrase "He will have come to judge the earth" can therefore be understood in the following manner: "The Compassionate One will come to intervene on behalf of the oppressed earth." (I once saw this interpretation in the ArtScroll commentary on Chronicles, by Rabbi Moshe Eisemann.)


1. For information on the ArtScroll Perek Shirah, visit: http://artscroll.com/linker/hazon/ASIN/PSHH

2. Another book on Perek Shirah is "Nature's Song" by Rabbi Nosson Slifkin (Targum/Feldheim). For further information on this work, visit: www.feldheim.com

3. The majority of the previous letters of our new mini-series on other creatures now appear in the archive section of our website.

Hazon - Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

Return to Top

4. Interested in Cruelty-free Goose Quills for Pens?

The following message is from Rabbi Yonassan Gershom:

Regarding the question about tefillin made from cruelty-free leather, I don't know of a source. But I can supply cruelty-free goose quills for making pens -- naturally shed by my five pet geese, who are free-run and will live out their lives (average of 40 years) with us. The supply of feathers is limited, but if anybody is interested, have them contact me.
(Money from the sale of the feathers will go towards caring for the geese and my other animals.)

I was thinking -- if we take our mezzuzzot, tefillin, or Torah scrolls to be checked and repaired, or if we commission them to be made, perhaps we should provide a cruelty-free feather for the pen. This would hopefully open a dialog with the sofer [scribe]. My guess is that most feathers obtainable on the market are from commercially-raised geese who probably ended up as fois gras. Providing a cruelty-free feather would be a small step in the right direction.

Return to Top

5. Who is Rabbi Yonassan Gershom?

Rabbi Yonassan Gershom submitted the following biographical material for the newsletter. We may include similar material about other JVNA advisors in future JVNA newsletters.
Since you have been publishing so much of my material lately, I thought I'd better give you a bio for the next newsletter. Here it is. To save space, I'm providing links to things I'm doing that are already on the Web. This is an informal intro, just to give people some idea of who I am.

By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom

Since Richard Schwartz has been posting a lot of my material here lately, I thought I'd better formally introduce myself. Richard and I have known each other for many years by correspondence, and we met face-to-face in 1987. If you've read the latest edition of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," you might have noted that I'm quoted a few times there. (Not to brag, just a reference.) But, because I live in a rural area in Minnesota where there is no Jewish community and I don't travel much anymore, most of you probably have no idea who I am. So here goes:

I am best known as the author of "Beyond the Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust," which was published by A.R.E. Press in 1992 (see http://www.pinenet.com/~rooster/1book.html for more
info.) I also wrote "Jewish Tales of Reincarnation" (Jason Aronson, Inc., published in 2000). You can read of the 4 tales online at:
http://www.pinenet.com/~rooster/stories.html, although one tale that is not online is about "a Hasid" who became a vegetarian. This story, "A Dream of Eden," is based on my own life and my struggles with the "Raising Sparks" issues. As I recall, I first published this story in a somewhat different form, as "Animal Souls," in the JVNA newsletter in 1986 (when it was still a dead-tree publication) In the book, however, I thought it would be egotistical to make the story so openly about me, so it became an anonymous Hasid instead. But if you were wondering -- yes, I am the Hasid in the story.

Currently I am mostly retired from reincarnation work (that was over 20 years ago) and devoting my time to writing about peace and justice issues (I am a lifelong pacifist), my experiences with nature, and other projects. I live on a small 15-acre hobby farm in rural Minnesota with my wife, Caryl (Rachel). We have two dogs, nine cats, five geese, lots of chickens and plenty of wildlife -- all of whom live to a ripe old age. We are ovo-lacto vegetarians. You can read more about my hobby farm at: http://www.pinenet.com/~rooster/my-life.html

Regarding my role as a rabbi, I studied with Rabbi Zalman Schachter in the mid-70s and 80s, when he was still the B'nai Or Rebbe (Orthodox Hasidic). I was ordained by him in 1986. However, I am NOT currently affiliated with the "Jewish Renewal" movement. Reb Zalman's group and I parted ways in the late 80s, and I am now a Breslover Hasid. You can read more about my journey from B'nai Or to Breslov in my online memoir "What B'nai Or was like in the Old Days" at: (http://www.pinenet.com/~rooster/bnai.html)

At this point in my life, I am a maggid (storyteller-preacher), not a rav (halachach scholar). I have no congregation. I am a freelance writer, and function mostly as a cyber-rabbi, with the majority of my Jewish activity taking place on the Internet. Some of my cyber-credentials are:

Creator and webmaster of the Hasidism FAQ at: http://www.hasidism.info

Creator and webmaster of http://www.TrekJews.com

Owner-moderator of rural-frum, a YahooGroup for observant Jews living in the country at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rural-frum

A major writer-editor of the English language entries on Breslov Hasidism at http://www.wikipedia.org

Most of these activities are done gratis -- I earn my living as a substitute teacher in the local public schools (payos and all!), and by selling plants, veggies, and peace buttons at local flea markets in the summer. I n this I follow the tradition of the sages of old, who worked with their hands for a living (Hillel, you will recall, was a woodcutter.)

Richard recently asked me if I would be willing to serve on the JVNA Advisory Committee and I am honored. My two biggest contributions, I think, will be my ability to write clearly and my lifelong practical experience with animals on a day-to-day basis. Richard and I are also talking about doing a book together, working title "They Stole My Religion?" about the disturbing shift to the Right in the Jewish community, and how we have gotten away from many core values that are not only "liberal," but Jewish. At the present time we are only in the brainstorming stage, tossing ideas back and forth by email. Most of my writing happens in the winter, when I'm snowed in up here in Minnesota. Summer is for planting, harvesting, and enjoying literally the fruits of my labor.

In peace,
Rabbi Gershom

COMING SOON -- Rabbi Gershom's latest book:

"Jewish Themes in Star Trek" -- Where No Rabbi Has Gone Before!
More info: http://www.trekjews.com
Visit his homepage at: http://www.rabbigershom.com

To support Rabbi Gershom's web resources, use this link
to shop on Amazon:

Return to Top

6. PETA Controversy Re Dumping Dead Animals in a Garbage Dumpster

Below are:
a. Associated Press article, “PETA Workers Arrested for Alleged Cruelty”
b. Associated Press article, “PETA President Denounces Dumping, Defends Accused Workers”
c. Press Release from PETA
d. Letters to the editor from people in the area where the dumping occurred
a. PETA Workers Arrested for Alleged Cruelty

By Associated Press

June 17, 2005, 2:15 PM EDT

AHOSKIE, N.C. -- Two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were charged with animal cruelty for allegedly picking up dogs and cats from shelters and dumping their dead bodies in the garbage.

Police said they found 18 dead animals in the bin and 13 more in a van registered to the activist group, all from shelters in the state's northeastern corner.

Investigators arrested the two workers after staking out a garbage bin where animals had previously been dumped, police said Thursday.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said the workers were picking up animals to be brought to PETA headquarters for euthanization. Veterinarians and animal control officers said the PETA workers had promised to find homes for the animals rather than euthanize them, according to police.

Neither police nor PETA offered any theory on why the animals might have been dumped.

PETA spokeswoman Colleen O'Brien said the organization euthanizes animals by lethal injection, which it considers more humane than gassing animals in groups, as some counties do.

The group scheduled a news conference Friday in Norfolk, Va., where the group is based.

Police charged Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, Va., each with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals. They were released on bond.

No home telephone number was listed for either Hinkle or Cook, and a message left for Cook at PETA headquarters was not returned. A PETA spokesman said he did not know how to reach Hinkle.

b. PETA President Denounces Dumping, Defends Accused Workers

Associated Press Writer

(AP) - Dumping the bodies of dead dogs and cats in the garbage is wrong, but the president of Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Friday that animal cruelty charges against two employees won't stick.

"It's hideous," Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal rights group, said of the dumping. "I think this is so shocking it's bound to hurt our work."

But she told a news conference there was no indication of "pain or suffering" among the 18 animals that police in Ahoskie, N.C., found in a shopping center garbage bin or the 13 found in a van registered to PETA. The animals received lethal injections, Newkirk said.

Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, and Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, appeared Friday in Hertford County District Court and their trial was set for July 19. Each faces 31 felony charges of animal cruelty and nine misdemeanor counts -- eight of illegal disposal of dead animals and one of trespassing.

Each felony charge carries a maximum of 15 months in jail, and the maximum term for each misdemeanor is 60 days.

Investigators arrested the two workers after staking out a garbage bin where animals had previously been dumped, police said Thursday.

Newkirk said the workers were picking up animals to be brought to PETA headquarters in Norfolk for euthanization.

Veterinarians and animal control officers said the PETA workers had promised to find homes for the animals rather than euthanize them, according to police.

"PETA has never made a secret of the fact that most of the animals picked up in North Carolina are euthanized," Newkirk said.

Neither police nor PETA offered any theory on why the animals might have been dumped. Newkirk said no one from PETA noticed that over several weeks Hinkle was returning from her weekly trips to North Carolina without animals to be euthanized.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said at least 60 to 70 animals were dumped in the garbage over four weeks.

"It just gets to you after awhile," he said.

PETA spokeswoman Colleen O'Brien said the organization euthanizes animals by lethal injection, which it considers more humane than shooting or gassing them in groups, as some counties do.
Hinkle was suspended following the arrest, but Cook, a new employee, was not. Hinkle has been with PETA for two years in its community animal project division.

Neither Hinkle nor Cook had any comment as they left court.

Newkirk said PETA also runs a program in the three North Carolina counties to sterilize animals, and has encouraged them to set up programs for animal adoptions.

PETA has euthanized animals for years. In Virginia last year, the activist group euthanized 2,278 animals, sterilized 7,641 and found homes for 361.

(Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2005 WorldNow and WAVY. All Rights Reserved.
c. PETA Press Release

June 17, 2005
PETA Responds To Charges Of Animal Cruelty

PETA issued the following press release in response to the arrest of two of its employees on animal cruelty charges:

It is against PETA’s policy to put the bodies of animals in dumpsters, and we are appalled that a member of our staff apparently did that. There is no excuse for that and, despite the fact that she is a caring soul, we have suspended her from work.

PETA has always supported and spoken openly about euthanasia. It is easy to throw stones at those doing the dirty work for society, but euthanasia is a necessary evil until the massive animal overpopulation problem can be solved. We invite anyone who can offer a home to any animal, pay for one or a hundred spay/neuter surgeries, or persuade others not to go to a pet shop or breeder, to please join us in doing these things. In the last year, we have spayed/neutered more than 7,600 dogs and cats, including feral animals, many free of charge and all others at well below our own costs. Support for this program is much needed.

To clarify, we do not run an adoption facility, although we do place animals, approximately 360 in the last year, despite having run out of friends and family members to approach. We are a “shelter of last resort,” taking in and giving a painless death in loving arms to animals who would otherwise have been shot with a .22 or gassed in a windowless metal box, which is what happened in North Carolina before PETA offered free euthanasia services to agencies there. North Carolina has the second highest rate per capita of euthanasia in the country—35 animals killed annually for every 1,000 residents—and most do not die a humane death. Sadly, the shelters we work with have no adoption programs or hours set aside for adoption. At the Bertie County dog shelter, residents were throwing unwanted dogs over an 8-foot-high fence, where they became infected or injured by other sick or aggressive dogs from whom they could not escape. Bertie County also had no facility for cats and used to let them go to breed in the woods and fend for themselves until PETA built a shelter for them this year. PETA has begged for years, through formal proposals and numerous meetings to have the county allow PETA to implement an adoption program as part of a larger picture of sheltering that would also include a spay neuter program, a humane education program, 24/7 emergency services, and rabies clinics.

We try never to take in adoptable animals unless we know we have a home for them—only those who are mange-covered, have parvovirus, are injured, old, unsocialized from life on a chain, or unwanted and for whom there are no good homes available. We also work at the roots, spending more than $240,000 in one North Carolina county alone, to provide shelter in winter for animals left out in the cold, to spay/neuter, to get vet care for animals in dire straits, to send Bertie County’s one animal control officer to professional training, to pay a cleaner to maintain two shelters, and much more.

We have always outspokenly advocated fixing the problems of overpopulation through practical methods. Sadly, those stories don’t get coverage in the media.

We urge you to look closer and do your part to help us help these animals. For information and resources on how to do that, visit HelpingAnimals.com.

d. Letters to the Editor of the Newspaper in the Area Where the Dumping Occurred

Letter 1.
Look at the bigger picture

While it would be easy to vilify and condemn PETA right away after this animal dumping incident, it is more important to look at the bigger picture as you pondered in your op-ed. Sadly, these animals that were disposed of, no one wanted to begin with.

PETA has provided (at great expense to their organization) a spay/neuter mobile van to help in getting the message out to a very apathetic public the importance of animal population control. They have made no excuses to their stance in humane euthanasia, and indeed Ms. Newkirk herself has said as much.

However, PETA has always offered free doghouses and animal care equipment for those whose standard of living barely provides for themselves, let alone animals in the same area were the incident occurred. One only has to visit their beautiful dog park next to their headquarters in downtown Norfolk to see how much they care about companion animals.

Every organization that has an ideology as its mission will always have a few individuals who believe they are helping further a cause when in fact they are nothing more than zealots, damaging a company or group or even their country with their twisted vision of what is right or wrong.

There are thousands of shelters for all sorts of animals throughout this country that prove PETA has a point: We are a throwaway society. Animals are an enormous amount of responsibility, and caring for them should be no different than that of our children.
Most people who have animals consider them members of their family. It is those millions of people out there who view them as toys or pastimes. It is these people who allow the large litters, start the puppy mills, open the filthy and inhumane pet stores, and then dump them on a shelter's doorstep like the one in North Carolina.

The trash in those Dumpsters don't just hold the neglected or abused. They hold a problem that's not going away anytime soon.

- Michael A. Carey, Virginia Beach

Letter 2.
Blessed by a PETA dog

We adopted one of the many dogs PETA has rescued from North Carolina over the past several years and must respond to your article ("PETA president condemns dumping, defends euthanizing animals," June 18). PETA did a wonderful thing by bringing Bea into our lives. She was dumped at a North Carolina county pound two days before giving birth to nine puppies.
Emaciated, filthy and suffering from heartworm disease, Bea was discarded by an uncaring person who thought nothing of having their own dog give birth on a cold, wet cement floor. X-rays later showed that her body was riddled with bird shot.

Every day of our lives has been brightened by having Bea with us, but giving her a happy, healthy life is just a small part of the solution. There are not enough homes for dogs, cats, kittens and puppies as long as people fail to have their animals fixed or if they buy animals from
pet shops or breeders instead of adopting a homeless animal.

PETA's local spay and neuter clinic, their national campaigns to promote spaying and neutering, and the tireless work that they've quietly done in improving conditions in North Carolina for years - such as donating dog houses, training for animal shelter workers, and veterinarians' care
- are efforts that deserve support from every caring person.

- Frances and Roger Spuler, Virginia Beach

Who are the real hypocrites?

At the dog park I take my adopted greyhound to, at least once a week I hear people discussing the breed they "just have to buy" and the "responsible" local breeder they go to. I was appalled to hear these same people berate PETA for euthanizing unwanted animals in North Carolina.

PETA did not create the overpopulation problem. People need to realize that there are too many animals, not nearly enough homes, and that if they're buying animals from breeders and pet stores, they are only exacerbating the problem. PETA has spent over $240,000 in our southern
neighbor's counties to try to implement adoption and spay/neuter programs, improve their dilapidated shelters, and give the often mange-ridden, starved, uncared for and unwanted animals a humane death - as opposed to a gunshot to the head, life in a cage, or other horrors.
So if we should be calling anyone "hypocrites," it's not PETA - it's the irresponsible people who keep bringing these animals into the world and then cry foul when caring groups have to "clean up" the resulting mess.

- Jacqueline Drake, Virginia Beach

Letter 4.
Bertie County is no Hilltop

Regarding the story about PETA euthanizing unwanted animals in North Carolina, I think most people have no idea how extreme the situation is for unwanted animals in that area. Bertie County is no Hilltop; much of the human population there lacks the essentials, so of course homeless dogs and cats are allotted next to nothing.

It seems that PETA's ultimate intention was to try to compensate at the very least for the basics that the county is financially unable to provide - a humane death for those unfortunate dogs and cats that nobody wants.

- Ann Radcliff, Norfolk

Letter 5.
Not just a PETA problem

I'm sure that the caring souls who work at PETA are as devastated by the allegations facing two of their staff as the rest of us are.

Those involved with PETA's Community Animal Project have a thankless task. We humans have created a massive animal overpopulation problem by supporting breeders and pet stores while unwanted animals languish by the millions in shelters; by failing to spay and neuter our animals; and by tossing animals away when they become "inconvenient."

Now we have the responsibility to find a solution. Throwing stones at those who are trying to help does none of us any good.

- Maura McClure, Virginia Beach

Letter 6.
Pair will be vindicated

I worked in PETA's Community Animal Project and was always inspired by Adria Hinkle's compassion, enthusiasm and deep concern for the animals. I assisted her at a few animal "shelters" (sometimes nothing more than a shack) by helping clean, feed and care for the animals.

One shelter was simply dumping food over the fence for the dogs a couple of times a week. Many dogs are protected from the elements because of the sturdy, free doghouses PETA has provided.

In North Carolina, I saw Adria cry at the treatment animals received at the hands of cruel people and I saw suffering that would turn a strong person's stomach.

I know that when the investigation is complete, Adria and Andrew Cook will be vindicated. I only wish their good deeds captured the headlines as quickly as their misfortune.

I will always be proud of the work I did at PETA and always be proud of Adria Hinkle.

- Misty Collins, Hampton

Letter 7.
Euthanizing isn't cruel

PETA would not have to euthanize any animals if more people would have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered.

Everyone wants to believe there are plenty of good homes for needy animals, but when millions of them must be killed in shelters all over the country every year, that belief is obviously not grounded in reality. Euthanizing animals isn't cruel, it's kind - and necessary. What does veterinarian Patrick Proctor think happens to the thousands and thousands of other seemingly "very adoptable" kittens who are born every year? Where are we supposed to put them? On the roof? There just aren't enough homes for them all. That's the bottom line. I support PETA and respect them for doing what needs to be done. Thanks to them, unwanted animals in North Carolina won't die painful deaths or spend their lives on the streets or in cages.
- Elaine Sloan, New York City

Look at the real scandal There are three rescued cats in my home who are alive today because of PETA, and at least a dozen others in my neighborhood would have given birth to unwanted litters if not for PETA's low-cost spay-neuter clinic.

Unfortunately, as long as people continue to allow their animals to breed and as long as people buy dogs and cats from pet shops and breeders instead of adopting them from shelters, the "extras" will have to be euthanized. That's the real scandal.

- Emily Williams, Norfolk

Return to Top

7. Vegan Options More popular on College Campuses

Forwarded from Animalconcerns Community

(US) Vegan Options More Popular Than Ever on College Campuses; ARAMARK Focuses on Meeting Customer Needs in Honor of Vegan World Day

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 21, 2005--ARAMARK nationwide
research has revealed that, out of more than 100,000 college students surveyed, nearly a quarter said finding vegan meals on campus – which contain no meat, fish, poultry or other products derived from animals such as dairy, eggs or honey -- was important to them.

To better serve its customers and in honor of Vegan World Day on June 21st, ARAMARK (NYSE:RMK), a worldwide provider of managed services, has increased its number of vegan menu items on campuses and continues to work with campus vegetarian and vegan resource groups to meet customer demand.

full story

Return to Top

8. Healthy Food Festival Scheduled in NY City This Sunday

Forwarded message from Caryn of EarthSave

Sunday, June 26 11am - 7pm Lincoln Center North Plaza

TASTE OF HEALTH, the healthy food festival is this Sunday. We have many wonderful speakers, demos and exhibitors. Go to www.tasteofhealth.org

New additions have just been added!

Victoria Moran, Keynote speaker, certified life coach, and author of books including Younger by the Day, Creating a Charmed Life, and Fit from Within will be joining the program.

Gary of Linda's Natural Kitchen will be making environmentally friendly fruit smoothies in a blender powered only by human energy with a bicycle using no electricity. This is not to be missed!

Mark Becker of New Life Magazine and the Serenity Yoga teachers with be giving a 15 minute yoga demo at 3:05pm.

For those of you that don't know Josh Steinhauser, our Keynote speaker, he is quite passionate about organic, fresh produce. He has been an innovator and leader in the development of wholesale organic fruit & vegetable distribution throughout the New York Metropolitan area for fifteen years. Attending his talk will give a unique 'insiders look' into the organic produce industry, unveiling the myths and realities of the produce you buy. Josh has spent the last ten years motivating farmers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers on the importance of converting to an organic, fresh and seasonal lifestyle. The journey had begun on a 3.7 acre farm on Long Island, New York. He created one of the largest wholesale produce distribution companies in the NY metropolitan area, which he sold and remains on as their organic produce consultant. This has enabled him to go back to the land where he is clear we all belong. Josh will provide you with practical, organic facts. Discover what stores and restaurants you can find organic fresh and in season produce, where, when and why.

THE PROGRAM: 12 pm - 7 pm
12:10 pm FOOD DEMO: Andrea Beaman
Simple, Quick and Easy Meals
1:10 pm LECTURE: Victoria Moran
Younger by the Day -- Getting the Fountain of Youth Up and Running
2:20 pm FOOD DEMO: Loren Bruni
Raw and Living Food Cuisine
3:05 pm LECTURE and DEMO: Serenity Yoga for Health
Mark Becker and the Serenity Yoga Teachers
3:20 pm FOOD DEMO: James Tu
Zen Palate Restaurant Specialties
4:20 pm LECTURE: Joel Furhman, MD
Normal Weight: The ideal diet-style for longevity
Overweight: Lose 50 pounds in 6 months
5:30 pm KEYNOTE: Josh Steinhauser
Where, When and Why
6:30 pm Dessert Competition
Announce Winner and Auction Entries
KID’S TENT: 12 pm - 5 pm
Sponsored by: UFT Humane Ed Committee


Return to Top

9. August Tennessee Vegan Conference

Speakers include:

Joanne Stepaniak, author of the UnCheese Cookbook
Brenda Davis, author of Dairy-free & Delicious
Vesanto Melina, author of Becoming Vegan
Karen Davis from United Poultry Concerns
Cherie Soria, Raw Food Chef
Alan Goldhamer, Eating and Fasting expert
Elysa Markowitz, author of Warming Up to Living Foods
Freya Dinshah, founder of the American Vegan Society

If you have not registered, it's not too late!

For more information, contact Freya Dinshah at the American Vegan Society:

American Vegan Society
PO Box 369, Malaga NJ 08328
Tel: (856) 694-2887, Fax: 694-2288

Return to Top

10. Update on Emes Kosher Gel

Forwarded message from Jenny Humphrey of VegNews

Just [a few] weeks ago, Vegan Supreme Marshmallows and its key ingredient Emes Kosher Gel were pulled from stores everywhere due to allegations that the popular vegan gelatin contained animal products.

Long praised for its amazing likeness to animal-based gelatin, many concerned members of the veg community are starting to wonder about the suspiciously close resemblance.

In 2004, Dr. Ken Burke of Loma Linda University received a sample of the gelatin from colleague Kay Hansen. He tested the substance and found that fresh fruit responds to it in such a way as to indicate the presence of bromelain, which occurs in gelatin but not plant-based gums.

Hansen, who runs the Live for Health Wellness Center in Oregon, had it sent to a lab, which indicated the sample to be 55% gelatin. When presented with lab results from Emes, she responded that their test only checked for contaminants. She told VN that the company's declaration that the substance “contains no animal matter” refers to E. Coli, not collagen.

An associate of Hansen's, Carrie Beets, also had Emes Kosher Gel tested in a lab, and the results matched those of Hansen’s.

Emes Kosher Gel Vice President of Operations Ted Loomos told VN that the allegations are false. Companies like Vegan Supreme who used the gelatin were not aware that there was any possibility of animal matter in the product.

Jenny Humphrey
Subscriptions Manager
More Than Recipes™
VegNews Magazine

PO Box 320130
San Francisco, CA 94132
p: 415.665.NEWS (6397)
f: 415.665.6398
Visit us! http://www.vegnews.com

Return to Top

11. JVNA Advisor’s Group Awarded Grant

Forwarded message from JVNA advisor David Cantor:

Dear Members & Friends of Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA),

Moments ago, I was informed that Responsible Policies for Animals is being awarded a $1,000 grant from a for-profit corporation -- RPA's first such grant!

RPA will use the grant to publicize its work educating the local community about animal rights and its availability to give presentations in schools and to other community groups. The grant is specifically for local nonprofit work -- not for RPA's nationwide 10,000 Years Is Enough and This Land Is Their Land campaigns.

If you live in the greater Philadelphia area and would like to recommend any publicity venues, speaker series, or other venues or media, we're "all ears." We'll also gladly have you join us for events we may be able to schedule thanks to this grant, if you would like to.

Wherever you are located, thank you for supporting RPA and animal rights! Without your helping RPA come this far, and without your helping to bring animal rights into public discourse, this small but big-to-RPA result would not be possible.

If you are not yet an RPA member or have not donated in a while, please consider sending a donation in the next few days. You can donate by mail or at RPA's website. The grant will help publicize locally RPA's work to establish non-human animals' basic rights. But RPA also very much needs financial support for its participation in AR2005 in Los Angeles (see http://www.AR2005.org), where I'm scheduled to give five presentations and RPA will set up an exhibit and distribute literature. And as always, you can help greatly by supporting the 10,000 Years Is Enough and This Land Is Their Land campaigns.

For details on RPA's campaigns, see www.RPAforAll.org or contact me at the e-mail address or phone number below -- or request information by mail. RPA members receive Thin Ice: The Newsletter of Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc. Thin Ice is not posted at the website, and a new issue is due out soon.

Thank you for your support and for any assistance you can provide.

Best wishes,
David Cantor
Executive Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 891
Glenside, PA 19038

Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization showing influential people how to establish responsible policies for animals that are also responsible policies for people and ecosystems and showing animal rights advocates how to pursue activities that avoid the “welfare” trap. RPA’s 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign aims to end the teaching of animal agribusiness at U.S. universities. Its This Land Is Their Land campaign aims to protect wildlife by ending direct abuses and human land-use practices that harm wildlife, people, and ecosystems. Donations to RPA are tax deductible as allowed by law.

[Congratulations, David!]

Return to Top

** 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: