June 8, 2005

6/8/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Chag Shavuot Samayach (Best Wishes for a Very Joyous, Meaningful Shavuot)

2. Toward a Vegetarian-conscious North America by 2010

3. Responding to Claims of Terrorism in the Animal Rights and Environmental Movements

4. An Important North American Vegetarian Group

5. Another Two Articles by Yosef Kakohen in His Series on Humans and Animals

6. Important New Book on Vegetarianism Published

7. Saving Trees Via Vegetarianism and Other Means

8. Some Short Vegetarian Items and Announcements

9. Action Alert: Stopping Foie Gras Production in New York State

10. Governor Schwarzenegger Declares War on Global Warming

11. What is the Vegan Status of Gelatin?

11a. Is Emes Kosher-Jel Parve (free of any meat or dairy products)?

12. Taste of Health Food Festival scheduled for New York City

13. "Zoo Rabbi" Announces Animal-Based Program

14. The Humane Society of the United States HSUS Fund for Animals Humane Action Network Alert on Foie Gras

15. Drink Milk and Lose Weight?

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. Chag Shavuot Samayach (best wishes for a very joyous, meaningful Shavuot)

Shavuot begins this year at sundown on Sunday, June 12. It commemorates the giving of the Torah to the israelites on Mount Sinai. My article on "Shavuot and Vegetarianism" and a related letter are at the holiday section of my over 100 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz. Please consider using some of the material in the article to respectfully make people aware of the many Torah teachings that point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet for Jews and others today. Thanks.

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2. Toward a Vegetarian-conscious North America by 2010

As indicated in the article below, in spite of the many important reasons why a shift toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative and a religious imperative, progress has been relatively slow. I hope that my article below may provide some helpful suggestions. I will be speaking on the issues in the article and my articles and letters on the issues should soon be appearing in vegetarian publications. Please let me know if you have suggestions re my 10 points below and/or if you have any additional suggestions. Also, please consider using the ideas for letters to editors, calls to radio programs, and talking points. Thanks.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

In spite of the increasing need for a shift toward vegetarianism to counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many environmental threats caused by the production and consumption of animal products, progress has been relatively slow. it is time for a consideration of new strategies to promote vegetarianism more effectively. The ten ideas suggested below are designed to start a dialogue that will lead to positive changes. It is my hope that this article will elicit additional suggestions and effective initiatives.

1) Set a Goal and a Time Table Toward a Vegetarian Conscious World

We should not be satisfied with the relatively slow progress currently being made toward vegetarianism, especially in the face of all the recent disturbing reports of environmental catastrophes ahead. One possibility is to declare a goal, such as "A Vegetarian-conscious world by 2010." This could inspire our efforts by providing something to work toward. Note the term "vegetarian conscious." We can’t hope that every person will be a vegetarian by 2010, or any other time, and we should not argue that each person must be a vegetarian. However, we can work, with a heightened sense of urgency, to see that everyone is at least aware of the many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, with the hope that many will act based on that knowledge.

2) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is Beneficial for People as Well as Animals

Many people resist vegetarian arguments, asserting that they can’t be concerned about animals when people face so many problems. We should stress that a shift to vegetarianism would be very beneficial to people as well as animals. Among the arguments we should use are:
*Animal-based diets increase risk factors for many life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, several types of cancer, and stroke.
* Animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to many environmental threats to humanity.
* The feeding of 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States (and almost 40 percent of the grain produced worldwide) to farmed animals contributes to an estimated 20 million of the world’s people dying annually from hunger and its effects.

3) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Societal Imperative Today

Humanity is arguably threatened as perhaps never before from global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many other problems. We should make people aware that all of these threats and many more are significantly worsened by the following: we are raising 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter annually worldwide; almost 40 percent of the world’s grain is used to fatten farmed animals; it takes 14 times as much water, ten times as much energy, and over 20 times as much land for an animal-based diet than it does for a vegan diet; animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases; and much more. We should also stress that diseases caused by the consumption of animal product results in soaring medical expenditures which are contributing to record budget deficits and the perceived need to cut basic social services.

4) Inform People That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Religious Imperative Today

Most people profess to be religious today and many claim to base their lives on moral values related to their religions. We should respectfully discuss with such people how animal-based diets and agriculture contradict basic religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace. We should stress such biblical teachings as "God’s mercies are over all of his creatures" (Psalms 145:9), "the righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals" (Proverbs 12:10), that animals as well as people are to be permitted to rest on the Sabbath day (part of the Ten Commandments), and similar teachings from other holy books and teachers.

5) Relate Vegetarianism to Current News Items

Vegetarianism touches on almost all phases of life – health, nutrition, animals, the environment, energy, water and other resources, economics, politics, family life, and many more – and we should make people aware of connections. When there are news reports re global warming and its effects, we should point out that animal-based diets contribute significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. When there are articles re taxes, budget deficits, and other economic issues, we should indicate that health costs are soaring in efforts to cure the many diseases that have been conclusively connected to animal-centered diets. When there are articles about water shortages and droughts, we should help make people aware that animal-based agriculture requires far more water and other resources than plant-based agriculture. Many additional examples can be given.

6) Start a Letter Writing Campaign

As a follow-up to the discussion in item #5, there should be a major campaign to get letters to editors on connections between various issues and vegetarianism. If only a small percentage of the people concerned about vegetarianism and related issues wrote a letter just once a month, it could have a major impact. A web site should be set up that gives talking points daily for letters based on current issues as well as sample letters.

As a related approach, since many people listen daily to talk radio shows, there should also be a concerted effort to get people to call such shows with vegetarian messages. While radio talk show hosts are generally very well informed on a wide variety of issues, I have found that many have major misconceptions re health, nutrition, and other vegetarian-related issues.

7) Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal Rights Movement

The vast majority of cases of animal abuses occur on factory farms. Yet, many, perhaps most, animal rights activists are working on other issues, such as circuses, rodeos, fur, pets, and animal experimentation. These are all important issues and it is essential to end all cases of animal abuse. But, animal-based diets and agriculture threaten most individuals’ personal health and the well being of humanity. If most animal rights advocates worked on promoting vegetarianism and veganism, even for a limited time, in addition to their other animal rights efforts, it could have a very powerful impact.

8) Challenge the Medical Establishment

Every person is concerned about his or her health and the health of loved ones. There is very strong evidence that incidents of heart disease, various types of cancer, strokes, and other chronic degenerative diseases can be sharply reduced by a shift to vegetarian and vegan diets, along with other positive lifestyle changes. Yet, the medical establishment, including most nutritionists, are ignoring this information, and are not making patients and the general public aware that many diseases can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, through dietary changes. It might even be called medical malpractice. I recently visited a cousin in a rehabilitation center, and was astounded at reading the daily menus, which had animal products at every meal. It is essential that we challenge medical practitioners and respectfully urge them to help educate people about healthy diets.

As indicated in point #10, others, such as educators, politicians, religious leaders, and reporters, should also be challenged to increase awareness of the health and many other benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

9) Form Alliances With Other Groups

Since vegetarianism has connections with many societal issues, we should try to build strong alliances with many other groups that are working for positive changes. For example, we should seek alliances with environmental groups, and inform them that the raising of 50 billion animals for slaughter annually, primarily on "factory farms," contributes to many environmental threats; we should seek alliances with groups concerned about hunger, poverty, water and energy shortages, global warming, and related issues, and inform them about how the production of animal products contributes to many environmental threats and is extremely wasteful of resources.

10) Challenge the Media, Politicians, Educators, and Other Members of the Establishment

Since, as indicated above humanity is threatened as perhaps never before, and a switch toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative, and there are vegetarian connections to many current issues, we should try to meet with influential members of society and urge them to take a stand re vegetarianism, or at least to put the issues on their agendas. We should urge educators to see that children learn about proper nutrition and are provided with tasty, nutritious options at every meal. We should exhort reporters and editors to make people aware of the many negative effects of animal-based diets and the many benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.
This is just an outline of some steps that I think would be helpful in moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many dedicated people in the vegetarian and related movements can add to my points and come up with additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become increasingly involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but imperiled, planet.

Sample Letter to the editor of a pro-vegetarian group:

Dear Editor:

I want to commend you for your important efforts to educate people on the need to shift toward plant-based diets. However, in spite of the increasing need for a shift toward vegetarianism to counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many environmental threats caused by the production and consumption of animal products, progress has been relatively slow. I believe that it is time for a consideration of strategies to promote vegetarianism more effectively. Here are ten suggestions designed to start a dialogue that will lead to positive changes:

1) Set a goal such as “A Vegetarian-conscious World by 2010.”

2) Make people aware that a shift toward vegetarianism is beneficial for people as well as animals.

3) Argue that a shift toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative today because of the many negative health and environmental effects of animal-based diets.

4) Argue that a shift toward vegetarianism is a religious imperative today because animal-centered diets violate many religious mandates.

5) Relate vegetarianism to current news items.

6) Start a letter writing campaign and a campaign of responses to radio talk shows.

7) Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal Rights Movement.

8) Challenge the medical establishment to inform people that many diseases can be prevented and sometimes reversed through a shift to vegan diets and other positive lifestyle changes.

9) Form alliances with environmental, health, animal rights, social justice, and other groups.

10) Urge the media, politicians, educators, and others to help make people aware of the many benefits of vegetarian diets.

This is just an outline of some steps that I think would be helpful in moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many dedicated people in the vegetarian and related movements can come up with additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become increasingly involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but imperiled, planet.

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3. Responding to Claims of Terrorism in the Animal Rights and Environmental Movements

JVNA is working on drafting a statement giving our position on the use of violence as a possible method of improving conditions for animals. Meanwhile, below is my letter to an editor in response to an article on the subject:


Dear Editor:

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I am completely opposed to acts of violence by animal rights and environmental activists ("Ignoring the ecoterrorist threat"). I am happy to report that in my over 25 years working with animal rights, vegetarian, and environmental groups and attending many conferences, I have not personally come across any people who advocated violence or terrorism.

What the article completely ignores is the violence and great harm caused by the production and consumption of animal products: the 50 billion farmed animals slaughtered annually worldwide after being raised generally under horrible factory farm conditions; the over a million Americans who die annually from heart disease, various types of cancer, and the many other diseases that have been conclusively linked to the consumption of animal products; the many environmental threats that animal-based agriculture significantly contributes to, including global warming, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and widespread water shortages; the deaths of an estimated 20 million people annually worldwide due to hunger and its effects, while 70% of the grain produced in the U.S. and almost 40 percent produced worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter.

I believe that the answer to these and other threats of animal-centered diets and agriculture is not violence, but neither is it ignoring the threats while properly trying to reduce violence. I also believe that an effective approach to reducing potential violence from environmental and animal rights groups is to work to end the many horrible current abuses of animals and the many current environmental threats, using the tools that our democratic society has provided.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

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4. An Important North American Vegetarian Group

Forwarded message from IVU ONLINE NEWS - June 2005, the publication of the International Vegetarian Union


The Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA) is the North American regional liaison of IVU representing a network of vegetarian groups throughout the US and Canada. VUNA completed its election process for members of its Board of Directors (also called the VUNA Council). The following individuals will form the incoming VUNA Council as of 1 June 2005:

Dilip Barman (North Carolina); Gerry Coffey (Alabama); Saurabh Dalal (Maryland); Madge Darneille (Maryland) ; Doug Graham* (Florida) ; Ruth Heidrich (Hawaii) ; Peter McQueen (Ontario) ; Bradley Saul* (California) ; Kay Sheehan (Colorado)
(* 1st time elected to the VUNA Council)

Sincere THANKS are given to the following outgoing members of the VUNA Council: Dennis Bayomi, Kevin Pickard, Kishor Pokharna, and Paul Turner

The Mission of VUNA is "to promote a strong, effective, cooperative vegetarian movement throughout North America." Membership in VUNA is free to all IVU members and individual IVU supporters in North America.

See www.ivu.org/vuna for more information.

The Goals of VUNA are:
- To support the formation and development of organizations promoting vegetarianism in North America.
- To promote cooperation and represent all diverse segments of the vegetarian community.
- To promote effective and responsible communication and presentation of issues related to vegetarianism on local, regional and international levels.
- To develop and support vegetarian lifestyles of individuals, families and communities.

VUNA welcomes additional candidates to fill the remaining four slots on the VUNA Council. Ideal candidates have strong experience in working with vegetarian groups or organizing vegetarian events, running a non-profit organization, and have more than a local interest in promoting the vegetarian movement. Particularly sought skills are newsletter coordination, finance/bookkeeping, and website design/update.

Council meetings are conducted by teleconference and occasionally at vegetarian conferences when a quorum of councilors is present.

Access to e-mail is important as many discussions take place via a Council e-mail list. At a minimum, nominees must be vegetarian (according to VUNA's definition) and individual members of IVU/VUNA residing in either Canada or the United States of America.

Candidates from member organizations are welcome to submit their candidacies for Council consideration.

The more diversity in background, culture, and expertise available, the better able VUNA will be to accomplish its goals. Please email vuna@ivu.org or call 202-362-VEGY #3

[While I was active working with VUNA in its early years, I have not been involved recently. However, since I think this is an important group, I have put up my name as a candidate for the VUNA Council.]

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5. Another Two Articles by Yosef Kakohen in His Series on Humans and Animals

The Journey to Unity – 114b
The Path to Peaceful Relations:

"And the beasts of the field will be at peace with you" (Job 5:23)

"On that day, I will seal a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heaven, and the creeping creatures of the ground" (Hosea 2:20) – All these creatures will be at peace with you (Targum, Radak).

Dear Friends,

In the previous letter, we cited the Midrash which indicates that the right of dominion is only given to human beings who actualize their spiritual potential and demonstrate that they are created in the Divine image. In fact, we have a prophetic tradition that when human beings actualize this potential through a knowledge of the Compassionate One, all the creatures will be at peace with them and willingly submit to their compassionate and caring stewardship. Even a young child will be able to lead the creatures, as the Prophet Isaiah proclaims, "The wolf will live with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the kid; and a calf, a lion whelp, and a fatling will walk together, and a young child will lead them" (Isaiah 11:6). And Isaiah also reveals the cause for this new era of peaceful relations: "for the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Compassionate One as water covering the sea bed" (Ibid 11:9).

In his commentary to Genesis 1:26, Rabbi Hirsch refers to this prophetic tradition, and he writes:

"If the human being controls the creatures as one who is created in the Divine image and likeness, then they willingly accept the yoke of his control; his control does not constitute subjugation and degradation, but is an elevation for them, and involves them in Divine freedom. The whole world submits willingly to the human being who is pure and who serves his Creator. If, however, the human being misuses his position and does not control the world's creatures as a "human being" - as the representative and deputy of God - but instead exercises his control by his own power and by the might of his hand, then the living creatures do not willingly submit to him. As our sages have taught: Those human beings who demonstrate that they are in the Divine image and likeness shall have dominion over other creatures, but those human beings who demonstrate that they are not in the Divine image and likeness shall become lower than the other creatures (Genesis Rabbah 8:12)."

Throughout the generations, there are stories of how even the most dangerous creatures became peaceful in the presence of wise and righteous individuals who actualized their potential as human beings created in the Divine image. The following story can serve as an example:

Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz was a leading Torah educator of the 20th century. He was known by the affectionate term, "Reb Shraga Feivel." During the summer, he studied with a group of students at a rural branch of his yeshiva in Monsey, New York. One night the boys were gathered on the grass listening to Reb Shraga Feivel, who was sitting on the stairs leading up to the main building. As he was speaking, mosquitoes descended on the boys, and soon each student was scratching himself furiously. In the dark, Reb Shraga Feivel could not see what had happened, but he sensed the disturbance. When one of the students explained what had happened, he was perplexed and said: "If there was a swarm of biting insects here, I too would have felt it." For their part, the boys were equally amazed that he had not been bitten at all. The next day, however, as they were learning with Reb Shraga Feivel the Midrash Yalkut Shimoni on the Book of Proverbs, they had their explanation. On the verse, "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Compassionate One, even his enemies make peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7), the Midrash interprets the word "enemies" as referring to mosquitoes. Reb Shraga Feivel himself offered another explanation for the fact that insects never bothered him: He could not recall ever having killed a fly.

The above story serves as a reminder that if we fulfill our potential to be human beings in the Divine image, we can merit to experience peaceful relations with all creatures. The path of the Torah is designed to help us fulfill our unique potential; thus, the Compassionate One promises that if we walk on this path, we can once again experience all the blessings of the Garden of Eden, including peaceful relations with all creatures, as it is written: "If you will walk in My statutes and keep My mitzvos…I will cause violent beasts to disappear from the land" (Leviticus 26:1,6). In its midrashic commentary on this promise, the Sifra cites the interpretation of Rabbi Shimon who states that the beasts will remain on the land, but they will no longer be violent. Rabbi Shimon adds that an elaboration of this blessing is found in the following Divine promise:

"The wolf will live with the sheep and the leopard will lie down with the kid; and a calf, a lion whelp, and a fatling will walk together, and a young child will lead them. A cow and a bear will graze, and their young will lie down together; and a lion will eat hay like cattle. A suckling child will play by a viper's hole; and a newly weaned child will stretch his hand toward an adder's lair. They will neither injure nor destroy in all of My sacred mountain; for the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Compassionate One as water covering the sea bed." (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

P.S. The above story about Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz is found in the biography, "Reb Shraga Feivel" by Yonoson Rosenblum, published by Mesorah Publications: For more information about this moving book, visit: http://artscroll.com/linker/hazon/ASIN/RSFP

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

The Journey to Unity – 115
Our Kinship With All Creatures:


In "The Vision of Eden," Rabbi David Sears writes: "A fundamental premise of Judaism is belief in the absolute and encompassing Oneness of the Creator, Who brings all things into being (Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, Yesodei HaTorah 1:1). In addition to defining our view of the Creator, this premise informs our view of creation. Since creation in all its diversity flows from the Divine Oneness, it follows that in its Essence, all creation is one - a mystical concept that has profound spiritual and ethical implications. If all creation constitutes a unitary whole, then all things, from the highest to lowest entity in the hierarchy of creation, share a spiritual affinity with one another."

Rabbi Sears adds: "The spiritual affinity of which we speak exists by virtue of the Infinite One Who produces and imparts existence to all things, while at the same time transcending them." And Rabbi Sears cites the following verse, "How worthy are Your works, O Compassionate One; You have created them all with wisdom" (Psalms 104:24).

"For this paramount reason," concludes Rabbi Sears, "it is natural and proper for human beings to feel kinship with animals and all forms of life, despite the physical and spiritual differences between them."

Dear Friends,

In Letter 114 of this series, we cited the teaching of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch that the human being is a "brother" to other creatures; however, he holds the rank of the firstborn, since his task is to be the steward of the earth. The human being is therefore the "older brother" in the family. In "Horeb," Rabbi Hirsch's classical work on the Torah's mitzvos, he elaborates on the idea that other creatures are our brethren. For example, he writes:

"Compassion is the feeling of empathy which the pain of one being of itself awakens in another. The higher and more human the beings are, the more keenly attuned are they to re-echo the note of suffering, which like a voice from heaven, penetrates the heart, bringing to all creatures a proof of their kinship in the universal God. And as for the human being, whose function it is to show respect and love for God's universe and all its creatures, his heart has been created so tender that it feels with the whole organic world, bestowing sympathy even on beings devoid of feeling - mourning even for fading flowers. If nothing else, the very nature of his heart must teach him that he is required above everything to feel himself the brother of all beings, and to recognize the claim of all beings to his love and his beneficence." (Toros 17)

In the following summary of Rabbi Hirsch's commentary on the verse, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), we find the teaching that all creatures are also our "friends":

The saying of Hillel is well known: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your chaver - friend." This was his response to the idol-worshiper who had asked Hillel to teach him the Torah in the shortest possible manner. And he added to his response: "This is the essence of the whole Torah; everything else is only the explanation and elaboration of this principle - now go and study it!" The saying of Hillel merely expresses in a negative form what is stated in the Torah in the positive form ("Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"). Hillel used the term "friend," which in its broader meaning includes not only all our fellow human beings, but also all our fellow creatures. In this wider sense Hillel's saying is truly the essence of the entire Torah. For this is the whole intention of the Torah: It keeps us from anything that is unfavorable to our welfare and to the welfare of all the other creatures with whom we share this world. At the same time, it also defines for us what is unfavorable to our welfare and to the world's welfare. We are not to rely on our subjective judgment, on our vague feelings, and limited insight to determine what is unfavorable. Rather, we are to receive from the Torah the standard revealed by the Divine wisdom and insight.

In "Horeb," Rabbi Hirsch also reminds us that we are to view another human being as our closest friend. In an essay on the verse, "Love your neighbor as yourself: I am Hashem," Rabbi Hirsch writes that the Loving One is conveying to us the following message:

"I am Hashem, the personification of love, Who has chosen the human being to be the instrument of this love. Do you, O human being, not see how this love is the finest flower of this mission? How do you raise yourself above the stone and the plant and the animal? Is it not through devoting yourself of your own free will to the welfare of the world around you? And this is just what love effects. Your whole activity belongs to God's world; first, then, belong to it with the source of your activity, with your heart. Carry in it love for God's world, above all for your fellow-human, the first and worthiest recipient of your beneficent activity. Carry love in your heart; it is this which makes you a human being and an Israelite." (Horeb - Toroth 16)

Although we have a bond of love with all the members of our "family," we have a special closeness to our brothers and sisters who are created in the Divine image and who therefore share our capacity and responsibility to lovingly further the welfare of all creatures.

When we study Torah in-depth, we discover that the Torah harmonizes paradoxical truths. For example, in one sense, the human being has a primary and central role in creation, for the human being is created in the Divine image. In another sense, the human being who fulfills the Divine purpose in a human way is equal to other creatures who fulfill the Divine purpose in their ways. When I started to read "The Vision of Eden," I discovered a statement of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, which discusses this idea. The Baal Shem Tov states: "In what way is a human being superior to a worm? A worm serves the Creator with all of his intelligence and ability." The Baal Shem Tov adds, "In this sense you are both equal in the eyes of Heaven. A person should consider himself, and the worm, and all creatures as friends in the universe, for we are all created beings whose abilities are God-given" (Tvava'as HaRivash 12). If we serve with the best of our ability, we are similar to the other creatures who serve with the best of their abilities.

The study of Torah in-depth reveals the unity of all the diverse creatures within creation. As Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, a noted 20th century sage, wrote:

"The essence of the sacred Torah is unity. This is because the Giver of the Torah is One." (Cited in "Consuting the Wise" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin)

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings: (Cited in "The Vision of Eden")

1. The Maharal of Prague, writes: "Love of all creatures is also love of God, for whoever loves the One, loves all the works that He has made" (Nesivos Olam, Ahavas Re'a, 1).

2. Rabbi Menashe of Ilya, Lithuania (1767-1832), a leading disciple of the Vilna Gaon, once wrote: "What am I in comparison to the many forms of sentient life in the world? If the Creator were to confer upon me, as well as my family members, loved ones, and relatives, absolute goodness for all eternity, but some deficiency remained in the world – if any living thing still were suffering, and all the more so, another human being – I would not want anything to do with it, much less to derive benefit from it.
"How could I be separated from all living creatures? These are the works of God's hand, and these too, are the work of God's hand." (Author's Introduction, Ha'amek She'eilah, cited in biography printed with Alfei Menashe, Vol. II).

"The Vision of Eden" is published by Orot: www.orot.com. It is distributed in Israel by Michael Rose, Judaica Book Centre, 5 Even Israel Street, Jerusalem, tel: (02) 622-3215, e-mail: info@jbcbooks.com.

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

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6. Important New Book on Vegetarianism Published

Forwarded message from Pamela Rice, director of the VivaVegie Center and author of the book:

The day has arrived. The book version of “101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian” is now available for purchase !!

And a companion Web site (dedicated to it) is now also available.

If you're a vegetarian, here is a very nice vindication for you, in a pretty little package.

If you're a meat eater, the "case for the prosecution" has just been made, and it's now time to hear your defense.

The Web site: http://www.vivavegie.org/101book/ (FRAMES FUNCTION ON YOUR BROWSER IS NECESSARY FOR VIEWING.) ... is essentially one big links "page," categorized by "reason." The links in many cases correspond to references in the book, but not always. Some links are, in fact, entirely new. Others, you'll have to learn about by buying the book.

The Web site is still a "work in progress." And so far eleven "reasons," still do not have any links associated with them at all. (This will change soon. I did not want to hold up the launch of the site for them.) That should be reason enough to grant this Web site a bookmark!

Please notify the Webmaster, yours truly, of dead links - always a possibility. Web buttons are on every page.

And of course, please spread the word about “101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian.”

Happy reading!

Pamela Rice, author, 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian

[I have been working with Pam for many years and can attest that she is a very dedicated vegetarian who has done a tremendous amount of research to compile a wide variety of facts about vegetarianism. I plan to review her book in a future JVNA newsletter.]

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7. Saving Trees Via Vegetarianism and Other Means

The following item was sent to us by JVNA advisor Dan Brook. It was adapted from material that he wrote for his son’s school’s newsletter.


“What the trees breath out, we breathe in; what we breathe out, the trees breathe in”, says Rabbi Arthur Waskow and therefore “we breathe each other to life”. All of our paper comes from trees and all of our trees come from forests. Unfortunately, our forests are not only shrinking, but sadly some are disappearing. We need to save more paper in order to save more trees, as well as planting more trees. We could use both sides of paper, use scrap paper for some uses, reuse envelopes, greeting cards, and gift boxes (without new wrapping paper), use reusable coffee filters, use rags instead of paper towels, buy recycled paper and other recycled products, use canvas bags at the store, and always recycle paper, newspapers, boxes, cardboard, and more after we no longer need them. When we save paper, we save trees! And when we save trees, we save ourselves!

Two other major ways to save forests is to not smoke and to not eat meat. Smoking and meat-eating are major contributors to deforestation, overconsumption of resources, and global warming. Non-smokers and vegetarians help keep the forests breathing, the Earth cool, the animals alive, and themselves happy and healthy.

For more information, please see No Smoking?, Eco-Eating, and The Vegetarian Mitzvah.

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8. Some Short Vegetarian Items and Announcements

The following information is forwarded from the IVU ONLINE NEWS - June 2005, the publication of the International Vegetarian Union:

* VHE - Vegetarian Home Exchange - www.veghomex.com - A service enabling vegetarians to exchange homes for holidays at no cost with no meat or fish prepared in their kitchens whilst away.

* Grupo Editorial El Vegetariano, Argentina - www.el-vegetariano.com.ar - Vegetarian and Vegan specialized magazine

* Meatout - www.meatout.org - jpg Promotes plant-based eating through a thousand grassroots events on March 20 and a free weekly e-newsletter. 800-MEATOUT

* World Farm Animals Day - www.wfad.org - Sponsors hundreds of events on October 2 to memorialize the agony and death of billions of animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. 888-FARM USA

* Sabina Fund - www.sabinafund.org - Makes small annual grants to grassroots vegetarian groups, primarily in developing countries. See website for guidelines.

* Farm Animal Archive - farmanimalarchive.org - Provides retrievable database of articles on the benefits of vegetarianism and abuse of farmed animals

* Vegbay.com - www.vegbay.com - gif An online auction for the vegetarian/green community. Completely free, no fees. Storefronts available.

* Vitalconnection - Brisbane Soup Kitchen - www.vitalconnection-soupkitchen-brisbane.org - We provide a three course vegetarian meal mondays 7p.m. Emma Miller Park

* Healing Heart Foundation - www.kumu.org - We educate the public and physicians on preventing and reversing coronary artery (heart) disease through lifestyle - including a vegan, low fat diet.

IVU Online News is a non-copyright free public information service. You may distribute all or any part of it to other mail-lists, web sites, local newsletters etc. Please mention that free direct subscriptions are available at: http://www.ivu.org/news/online

International Vegetarian Union - www.ivu.org

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9. Action Alert: Stopping Foie Gras Production in New York State

Forwarded message:


The New York State Assembly's Agriculture Committee has passed a bill to ban the production of foie gras! This bill has been introduced for years, but never got even a hearing. It now goes to the full Assembly for a vote. If you live in New York State, please contact your Assemblymember and say, "I'm calling to ask the Assembly member to vote YES on A.B. 6212, which would ban the cruelty of foie gras production." Your help is critical! To find your state legislators, visit Congress.org or ask us at mail@jewishveg.com.

Also, contact the leadership of each house (Assembly member Silver and Senator Bruno, and urge them to support this legislation.

Assemblyman Silver: Phone: 518-455-3791 speaker@assembly.state.ny.us
Sen. Bruno: Phone: 518-455-3191 BRUNO@senate.state.ny.us

For more information on foie gras, please visit www.NoFoieGras.org.

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10. Governor Schwarzenegger Declares War on Global Warming

Forwarded message from Grist magazine:

"I say the debate is over. We know the science, we see the threat, and the time for action is now." With those words, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) yesterday defied Bush administration orthodoxy, announcing ambitious plans to reduce his state's emissions of greenhouse gases. The Governator issued an executive order that would set targets -- cut emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 -- that are less stringent than the Kyoto Protocol's in the short-term, but one of the world's most aggressive in the long-term. Some analysts say that if the targets are met (a big if, obviously), California would cut more emissions than Japan, France, or the U.K. Schwarzenegger was vague about how the targets would be met, but his eco-adviser Terry Tamminen said that accelerating current programs and adopting proposals the governor has already made would achieve the short-term goals, and that a cap-and-trade system was not out of the question for the longer term.
*************** SSI SPECIAL NOTICE ****************

Yesterday, June 1, 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order committing California to achieve major reductions in heat-trapping gas emissions that contribute to climate change. This is a precedent-setting goal with national implications. Articles about these emissions reductions targets are running in several California and national papers today.

Just one month ago, nearly 500 California-based climate change experts urged the Governor "to take significantly stronger action to protect our health, economy, and environment." Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger answered that call. Flanked by scientists from the state's leading academic institutions (and the Union of Concerned Scientists) at the opening of the UN World Environment Day in San Francisco, the Governor announced that he has signed an Executive Order committing California to the following major reductions in heat-trapping gas emissions:

- By 2010, California emissions will be reduced to 2000 levels, or by 11%
- By 2020, California emissions will be reduced to 1990 levels, or by 25%
- By 2050, California emissions will be reduced to 80% below 1990 levels.

**Why This Announcement Is Significant In size, international significance, and political importance, California's global warming reduction targets are the latest step forward in building the state's legacy as a global leader on energy and environmental policy. As one of the largest economies in the world and the most populous state in the nation, California is the 10th largest carbon emitter in the world. If met on schedule, the Governor's targets will lead to greater emission reductions over the next five years than will be achieved in the larger economies of either Britain or France.


-- To read the California Scientists' Climate Letter and to see the Sacramento Bee ad

-- http://www.governor.ca.gov/state/govsite/gov_htmldisplay.jsp

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11. What is the Vegan Status of Gelatin?

Forwarded by a JVNA Member from the International Vegetarian Union (slightly modified):

Frequently Asked Questions

What is gelatin/gelatine? Is there any alternative to it?

Gelatin (US spelling) or gelatine (British spelling) is made from the boiled bones, skins, and tendons of animals. An alternative substance is called Agar-Agar, which is derived from seaweed. Another is made from Kuzu root. Agar-agar is sold in noodle-like strands, in powdered form, or in long blocks, and is usually white-ish in color. Some Kosher gelatins are made with agar-agar, but most are not. Some things that are vegan that are replacing gelatin are guar gum and carrageenan. Only some 'emulsifiers' are vegan.

What is kosher gelatin / gelatine?
from the Vegetarian Resource Group:

Kosher gelatin can be made with fish bones, and/or beef skins. Contrary to assumptions, it is also considered Kosher to use it with dairy products. Kosher law is very complex and the bones and hides used in gelatin production are considered Pareve. The general meaning of Pareve refers to foods that are neither milk nor meat, and many people assume this means that the product is vegetarian. However, OU Pareve certified ingredients can have animal products, such as fish, eggs, and gelatin, in them.

"Kosher Gelatin Marshmallows: Glatt Kosher and 'OU-Pareve,' " an article that appeared in Kashrus Magazine, explains the distinctions. A key quote from the article is: "...since the gelatin product is from hides or bones -- not real flesh -- and has undergone such significant changes, it is no longer considered 'fleishig' (meat) but 'pareve,' and can be eaten with dairy products."

Is there vegan gelatine?

Many substances exist that are vegan and have the same properties as gelatine: Cellulose (Amid), Agar-Agar, Biobin, Guar gum, Xanthan gum, Carob fruit gum, and others. So if you read on a product's ingredient list that gelatine is used, then you can be sure that it is NOT vegan. But if one or more of the other alternative substances appear on the list, you can be sure that it is acceptable even according to vegan standards. These substances have become increasingly common in Kosher gel desert, etc.

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11a. Is Emes Kosher-Jel Parve (Free of any Meat or Dairy Products)?

Emes Kosher-Jel is a product which the company claims is "parave" and "contains no meat or dairy products." However, there seems to be some controversy re their statement. More information about this issue can be found at

Many thanks to Zel and Reuben Allen, editors of “Vegetarians in Paradise,” an online publication that has much valuable information on vegetarianism, for alerting us to this issue.

Zel and Reuben Allen
Vegetarians in Paradise

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12. Taste of Health Food Festival scheduled for New York City

Forwarded message from Caryn Hartglass, Earthsave:

TASTE OF HEALTH, a healthy food festival presented by EarthSave NYC.

We Need Your Help!

Dear Friend,

The fourth annual Taste of Health is coming up soon - Sunday, June 26, from 11am until 7pm in the North Plaza at Lincoln Center. Taste of Health, the largest vegan event in NYC, is wonderful. But we can't do it without your help!

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! Please let us know if you can help with the following:

. Contacting restaurants and companies that are potential exhibitors - details on exhibiting at www.tasteofhealth.org

. Updating the website as new information is added.

. Sending out Information about the event to the media and calendar listings.

. Helping set up and/or cleanup before and after the event.

. Work one of the booths during the event.

All volunteers receive a free t-shirt!

Vegan Dessert Contest: We will be having a competition for the best vegan dessert. If you are interested in participating please let us know.

Food Demos: We still have some openings for people interested in doing a food demo. Contact us for details if interested.

Thanks for your support and participation! We will see you on June 26, 2005.

Yours for the Earth,

Caryn Hartglass

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13. "Zoo Rabbi" Announces Animal-Based Program

[This is not an endorsement of zoos in general but an acknowledgment of how much the zoo rabbi is doing to educate people about animals, especially animals named in the Bible, and the wonders of nature.]

Forwarded message from the “Zoo Rabbi”:

On Sunday, June 26th, you can join a Zoo Torah program at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, New Jersey, with the Zoo Rabbi! The program will include a tour of this small but fascinating zoo, and various indoor presentations featuring live animals!

1pm Torah Tour of the Turtle Back Zoo
3pm Wonders of the Animal Kingdom
4:30 Serpents and Crocodile Kings
6pm Kosher Signs and Symbolism
7:30 Perek Shirah - Nature's Song

Cost: $10 per lecture plus entrance admission to the zoo. There is a limit of 60 people per presentation, so reservations are recommended - write to zoorabbi@zootorah.com.

You can download a poster for this program at www.zootorah.com/Locations/turtleback.pdf. Please help spread the word! Details on other programs in the New York area, including weekday lectures in Queens, will hopefully be forthcoming within a few days.

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14. The Humane Society of the United States Alert on Foie Gras

Forwarded message from HSUS:

Americans don't eat horsemeat -- there simply is no domestic demand for it. So, why do our horses wind up on dinner plates on European and Asian tables? Last year, more than 90,000 American horses were either killed in one of three foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the United States or shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Our thoroughbreds, show horses, mustangs, carriage horses, and family ponies are shipped in inhumane conditions and butchered.

Last month, we contacted you to help restore protections for wild horses after 41 mustangs were sold by the government and sent to slaughter. Thousands of outraged Americans spoke out, and Congress responded by passing an amendment to stop it.

Now we need your help again to protect thousands of our domestic horses -- our loyal and trusted companions -- who are at grave risk, every day. We cannot let this continue. Take action today to help stop this inhumane slaughter for foreign meat markets.

Congress will be taking another critical vote on horse protection. Representatives John Sweeney (R-NY) and John Spratt (D-SC) plan to offer an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill to ensure that tax dollars are no longer used to allow the slaughter of horses. We expect the vote to occur on Wednesday, June 8 or Thursday, June 9. We don't have much time to reach all the Representatives in Congress and secure their votes for the Sweeney-Spratt amendment.

1. Take action. Contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to vote YES on the "Sweeney-Spratt horse slaughter amendment." Click here to contact your Representative now.

2. Make a call. The vote on this amendment is expected to be on Wednesday, June 8 or Thursday, June 9. Please take a moment to make a short phone call urging your Representative to vote YES on the Sweeney-Spratt horse slaughter amendment.

(Not sure what to say? Click here)

3. Spread the word. Every single U.S. Representative needs to hear from constituents who care about animals. Ask your friends and family to call their Representatives as well. Click here to
tell five friends to take action now.

Knowing that thousands of beautiful animals have already been slaughtered is simply devastating. Please stand with us and do everything you can to spare the lives of our wonderful horses.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of animals,

Wayne Pacelle

President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States
Copyright (c) 2005
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
All Rights Reserved.

humanelines@hsus.org 202-452-1100 www.hsus.org
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

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15. Drink Milk and Lose Weight?

Thanks to Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding this item:

A study of more than 12,000 children nationwide found that the more milk they drank, the more weight they gained. Those consuming more than three servings each day were about 35% more likely to become overweight than those who drank one or two. The dairy industry disputed the idea that the new study challenges its ads, saying it had said only that adults may be able to lose more weight if they drink milk while cutting calories, reported MSNBC.com.
Full Story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8122905/

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"God is good to all, and His mercy is upon all of His works" (Psalms 145:9). understands the needs of his animal" (Proverbs 12:10).

"Just has God has compassion for humans, so He has compassion for animals" (Midrash: Devarim Rabbah 6:1).

"We should regard all creatures as our friends in the universe, for we are all created beings whose abilities are God-given" (Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov ["Master of the Good Name"] 1698-1760)

Just as [God] is merciful, so shall you be merciful. (Talmud: Sota 14a).

God watches over and shows mercy to all. Similarly, a person should be benevolent to everyone, and no creature should seem despicable to him. Even the smallest living thing should be exceedingly worthy in his eyes. (Rabbi Moses Cordovero).

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