July 7, 2005

7/7/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. I Was Inducted into the North American Vegetarian Society’s Hall of Fame

2. Producing a Jewish Vegetarian Video

3. Noam Mohr Article in the Jewish Journal

4. Responding to Recent News About Mad Cow Disease

5. Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on "Relating to Other Creatures"

6. Some Items From the COEJL Community E-bulletin #26

7. More On the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Lawsuit Against the Dairy Industry

8. Lantern Books - Publishers of Books on Animal Advocacy,
Vegetarianism, and Environmentalism - Announces Essay Contest

9. Two Challenging Analyses of Animal Welfare Issues in "War of the Worlds"

10. American Vegan Society Conference Scheduled

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. I Was Inducted into the North American Vegetarian Society’s Hall of Fame

Below is a news release announcing my induction into the NAVS Hall of Fame. Many thanks to JVNA advisor and editor Syd Baumel for his many valuable suggestions that greatly improved my initial draft. Suggestions welcome as I plan to send the release to the Jewish media and others soon. I believe that this shows how religious groups and individuals can work together cooperatively. Suggestions re building on this event to further the vegetarian cause are also very welcome.

I heard some wonderful talks at the NAVS Summerfest conference by many vegetarian experts, including Dr, John McDougall, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and Howard Lyman, that reinforced my belief that a major shift toward vegetarianism is essential for human health and environmental sustainability.

News Release

For Immediate Release:
July 7, 2005

Professor Richard Schwartz, 718-761-5876 (rschw12345@aol.com)


Longtime Jewish vegetarian and environmental activist Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS). The event at the NAVS 31st annual Summerfest on July 3 at the University of Pittsburgh marked the recognition by North America’s largest secular vegetarian organization of an activist who has worked tirelessly since 1978 to advocate ethical vegetarianism in the Jewish community and other communities. "This wonderful honor will inspire me to work even harder toward a vegetarian world,” said Dr. Schwartz, author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and Mathematics and Global Survival and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island. Dr. Schwartz also spoke at this year's Summerfest on "Judaism and Vegetarianism" and "Ten Approaches to Obtain aVegetarian-Conscious U.S. by 2010."

Founded in 1974, The North American Vegetarian Society (www.navs-online.org) is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting the vegetarian way of life. Previous Hall of Fame inductees include Mahatma Gandhi, Howard Lyman (the cattle rancher who persuaded Oprah Winfrey to swear off hamburger) and the founders of the American Vegan Society (AVS) and the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG).

“Animal-based diets and modern intensive animal agriculture violate basic religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace and nonviolence,” said Dr. Schwartz, adding that “animal-based diets and the production and consumption of animal products are having devastating effects on human health and the world’s ecosystems.”

Dr. Schwartz, the 71-year-old father of 3 children and grandfather of 9 grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel, is a resident of Staten Island, New York. He is the author of over 130 articles on Judaism and vegetarianism which can be read on the website of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America at www.jewishveg.com/schwartz. He is a frequent speaker in the United States and Israel and has published articles in numerous magazines and newspapers.

Dr. Schwartz is President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and Coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV).

“The world is threatened today as perhaps never before,” said Dr. Schwartz, “and a switch toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative, essential to help shift the world to a more sustainable path, and a religious imperative, necessary to show the relevance of ancient traditions to modern crises.”

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2. Producing a Jewish Vegetarian Video

While at the NAVS Summerfest, I saw “Honoring God’s Creation,” a wonderful 26 minute video produced by the Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA). This is a great tool for their outreach to churches. I think it would be marvelous if we produced a video based on Jewish teachings and statements by some of our leading Jewish vegetarian activists. The key people behind the production of “Honoring God’s Creation” were at the Summerfest and they all very generously offered to help if we decided to go ahead in producing a JVNA video.

If you have any suggestions re this possibility, please let me know. Thanks.

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3. Noam Mohr Article in the Jewish Journal

A Holocaust-Inspired Vegetarian
by Noam Mohr

Recently, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued an apology for its Holocaust on Your Plate campaign and exhibit, which showed concentration camp images next to photos of animal abuse on factory farms. The comparison was extraordinarily tasteless, and widely condemned. PETA expressed surprise at the negative reaction, and while they should have known better, their campaign has thankfully ended.

However, we should not go as far as some who disavow any consideration of the Holocaust in reacting to cruelty to farm animals. PETA’s display was vulgar and offensive, but it taps into a deep call for justice that should speak to anyone who still feels the utter horror of the Final Solution, which continues to cast its dark shadow over the Jewish collective memory.

I remember as a child listening to survivors’ stories of utter inhumanity, trying to imagine the incomprehensible magnitude of suffering. I once started counting to 6 million, calculating that it would take months to do so even without stopping to eat or sleep.

Long after the war, my grandfather, an Auschwitz survivor, would cover his mouth in panic attacks, believing he smelled the gas. On Holocaust Memorial Day, I always confronted the unfathomable question of how so many people could act with a complete lack of compassion or basic moral decency. While such monstrous evil flourished, people went about their lives averting their eyes.

For me, these stories were defining elements of my moral character. The ethnic cleansings in Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda — these were different from the Holocaust in important ways. And yet, the specter of concentration camps and gas chambers hangs over my head when I read about these atrocities, while the world does nothing.

I still remember when I first learned about factory farms. Animals crammed in crates and cages so tightly they could not turn around, lie down or stretch a limb; living in their own filth, beaten with iron bars and electric prods. Body parts torn off with pliers or mutilated with hot knives. Animals’ bodies hormonally and genetically manipulated to grow so fast that their legs deform and break under their own weight. Animals never allowed to breathe fresh air, feel sunlight, experience any mental stimulation or feel any affection. And then meeting their final fate, often skinned alive or drowned in tanks of scalding water.

Raised with storybook pictures of pigs rolling in the mud and chickens pecking in the barnyard, the reality of modern agriculture shocked me. The enormity of it — literally billions of animals each year suffering this miserable fate in our country alone — was incomprehensible. I’d never heard about it before — why was nobody talking about it? Could I justify these horrific abuses just for the momentary pleasure of flesh on my tongue? After all, these cruelties were not driven by ideology, but by economics: they were doing it because I was paying them to.

Had I not been raised under the shadow of the Holocaust, I might very well have chosen simply not to think about it. How easy it would have been to avert my eyes and enjoy my chicken wings. But the memory of 6 million murdered Jews spoke to me. Not because of some offensive equating of concentration camp victims with animals, or of the Holocaust with farming, but because I could not let myself be like the Germans who allowed themselves to be complicit in a massive crime. One does not have to offensively compare Jews with cows, or an ideology of hate with profit-driven cruelty, to see the application of what for me was a central lesson of the Holocaust: When the strong abuse the weak, we should not remain silent.

This was how the Holocaust inspired me to stop eating animal products. And I am hardly alone. Just as Holocaust memories have inspired so many Jews to fight for civil rights, religious freedom and other forms of social justice, they have also inspired many of us to fight against the horrors of factory farming. Doubtlessly, PETA was hoping for this kind of thinking with their wildly inappropriate exhibit, expecting that the injustice of the Holocaust would wake our consciences about another, albeit completely different, injustice. Unfortunately, in spite of their repeated assertions that they were not equating humans and animals, their exhibit appeared to do just that. People were rightly outraged.

Nevertheless, I worry that many Jews will remember the Holocaust but forget its lessons. We should never avert our eyes to cruelty, and say, “I don’t want to think about it.” Critics of the PETA exhibit universally concede that the factory farm cruelties are wrong, but have let PETA’s exhibit distract them from speaking out against these cruelties. With the exhibit over, we no longer have any excuse.

Right now animals are being squeezed into trucks so tightly that their innards prolapse. Animals with broken legs are being dragged to the slaughterhouse by chains behind trucks. Animals are being branded with hot irons and castrated without painkillers. Sick or injured animals are left without medical care to die slow, painful deaths. The abuses go on and on. While we shouldn’t need to remember the Holocaust to know this cannot be justified merely to please our palates, that memory serves for me as a stark reminder that I want no part in mercilessness.

Noam Mohr is coordinator of Jewish Vegetarians of North America. The views expressed here, however, are his own.

© 2005 The Jewish Journal, All Rights Reserved

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4. Responding to Recent News About Mad Cow Disease

Now that "mad cow disease" has been in the news again with the discovery of a cow in the U.S. with the disease, we should consider how to use news articles to further the vegetarian cause. As the sample letter and op ed article (written during the first mad cow scare in the US) below indicate, I have been trying to promote the idea that the recent publicity about mad cow disease should make us aware of an even greater problem is what I have dubbed "mad people disease." I have been receiving a general favorable response so far to this approach and would like to consider ways of expanding its use. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks,
Dear editor,

Its incredible. Just one cow in the United States is found to have "mad cow disease" and there seems to be tremendous concern throughout the United States, and at least twelve countries have stopped importing beef from the United States. However, I believe that far greater threats are associated with what, with some writer’s license, I call "Mad People’s Disease" (MPD).

MPD enables many intelligent people to be greatly concerned about eating meat after one "mad cow" is found in the US, while they ignore the many scientific studies that link heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, as well as various digestive problems to animal-based diets

MPD enables otherwise compassionate people to ignore the fact that ten billion animals in the U.S. alone are raised for food annually under cruel conditions, in crowded, confined spaces, where they are denied fresh air, exercise, and any natural existence.

MPD enables people normally concerned about the well being of their fellow human beings to disregard the fact that 70 percent of the grain grown in the United States and over one-third of the grain grown worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated twenty million of the world’s people die annually because of hunger and its effects.

MPD enables people who are concerned with the sustainability of the planet to ignore the significant contributions of animal-based agriculture to air, water, and land pollution, species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other precious habitats, shortages of water and other resources, global climate change, and many other threats.

I urge the Advance to do a tremendous public service by using your excellent reporters and editors to help make Staten Islanders aware of the urgency of a switch toward plant-based diets for our personal health and that of our imperiled planet, and thereby to help reduce "Mad People Disease."
Op-ed Article

Richard H. Schwartz

In the Torah’s story about Joseph, Pharaoh has a dream in which seven sickly cows consume seven healthy cows. Joseph interprets this, and Pharaoh’s other dream of seven withered ears of corn consuming seven full ears of corn, to indicate that there will be seven years of plenty in Egypt followed by seven years of severe famine. Today, we do not have a Pharaoh’s dreams to warn us of impending dangers, but we have a somewhat comparable situation in which cows with "mad cow disease" in England, Canada, the United States, and other countries are having devastating effects on cattle industries in these countries. Just as Pharaoh’s advisors were unable to interpret his dream, today’s "experts" assure us that people have little to fear from mad cow disease and that everything is under control. Kosher meat industry representatives assure us that the risk from eating kosher beef is especially small because the laws and practices of kosher slaughter, such as not stunning animals prior to slaughter and not slaughtering sick animals, reduce the risk of Jews who eat kosher beef getting the human form of mad cow disease.

As Joseph recognized Pharaoh’s dreams as a wake-up call to take steps to save people from a future severe famine, perhaps we need a modern day Joseph to recognize that recent instances of mad cow disease should lead us to recognize the many ways that the widespread production and consumption of meat and animal products threatens humanity.

I believe, respectfully, that a major reason that we are not able to foresee the potentially devastating effects of modern intensive livestock agriculture and the widespread consumption of animal products is that many people today, including many Jews, are afflicted with what I call, with some writer’s license, "Mad People Disease" (MPD).

MPD enables many intelligent people to be greatly concerned about eating meat after one "mad cow" is found in the US, while they ignore the many scientific studies that link heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, as well as various digestive problems, to animal-based diets

MPD enables otherwise compassionate people to ignore the fact that ten billion animals in the U.S. alone are raised for food annually under cruel conditions, in crowded, confined spaces, where they are denied fresh air, exercise, and any natural existence.

MPD enables people normally concerned about the well being of their fellow human beings to disregard the fact that 70 percent of the grain grown in the United States and over one-third of the grain grown worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated twenty million of the world’s people die annually because of hunger and its effects.

MPD enables people who are concerned with the sustainability of the planet to ignore the significant contributions of animal-based agriculture to air, water, and land pollution, species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other precious habitats, shortages of water and other resources, global climate change, and many other threats.

MPD enables Jews, many of whom are very knowledgeable about Judaism, to ignore the inconsistencies between animal-based diets and agriculture and important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace

Consistent with our charge to be a "light unto the nations," "a holy people," and "rachmanim b’nei rachmanim" (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors), and with the wise advice of the biblical Joseph, I hope that the current mad cow disease publicity will awaken the Jewish community to the need to shift from current dietary and agricultural practices. This challenge to "mad people disease" would be a tremendous kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s Name) and would greatly improve the health of Jewish and other people and our imperiled planet.

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5. Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on "Relating to Other Creatures"

Previous letters in this series - "Relating to Other Creatures" – now appear in the lower section of the archive on Hazon’s website.

Hazon - Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/
The Journey to Unity – 121

The Song of the Date Palm:

"A righteous person will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall." (Psalm 92:13)

Dear Friends,

The date palm is a tree which gives forth sweet and nutritious fruits, and as the classical commentator, Rashi, explains, the palm tree flourishes when it gives forth its life-giving fruits. Through its song, the date palm is conveying to us the following message: When you see my special strength, you are seeing the special strength of the "tzadik" - righteous person. For just as I give forth sweet fruits which nurture and prolong life, so too, the words and deeds of the righteous person are sweet and nutritious "fruits" which nurture and prolong life.

The song of the date palm is taken from Psalm 92, and this song does not speak about the righteous person in the present tense; it does not state, "A righteous person flourishes like a date palm, like a cedar in Lebanon, he is tall." Instead, it speaks in the future tense by saying that the righteous person "will flourish" and "will grow tall." This alludes to the idea that righteous people are in a process of growth, and they are always striving to produce new "fruits"; thus, in its description of the righteous, Psalm 92 adds, "They will still be fruitful in old age; they will be full of sap and freshness" (verse 15).

I have a Jewish friend who is in his late 50's, and during the last decade, he has been seriously exploring his spiritual roots. The more he studied Torah, the more aware he became of the spiritual potential of the Jewish people. He then realized that the best way for us to contribute to the world is through developing this potential. He decided that he wanted to devote the future to teaching others about our spiritual heritage, and he therefore enrolled in a special program that will give him a degree in Jewish education. Not long after he told me about his decision, I heard a story about an African-American women, age 56, who has begun to study Judaism in order to convert. There are also stories of people who "retired" at the age of 65, and who began a new life of spiritual growth through study and/or community service. All these stories serve as a reminder that we can develop the strength of the date palm and continue to produce spiritual fruits throughout our lives. During our older years, we can be, in the spiritual sense, "full of sap and freshness," perhaps even more than when we were younger! As Bob Dylan used to sing, "But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Within the song of the date palm, we can find a special message of hope for people who are unable to have children and thereby fulfill the mitzvah to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). Such individuals may often feel that they are like a barren tree which produces no fruits. Many centuries ago, the Prophet Isaiah addressed this concern when he proclaimed the following Divine message to those without children: "Let not the barren one say, 'Behold I am a shriveled tree' " (Isaiah 56:3). After conveying this Divine message, the Prophet adds:

"For thus said the Compassionate One to the barren ones who observe My Sabbaths and choose what I desire, and tightly grasp My covenant. In My house and within My walls, I will give them a place of honor and renown, which is better than sons and daughters; eternal renown will I give them, which will never be terminated." (ibid 56:4,5)

People who are unable to have children are not to consider themselves to be "shriveled trees." If they do what the Compassionate One desires, then they can be compared to fruitful trees, such as the date palm. Their "fruits" are the good and holy deeds which they perform through fulfilling the teachings of the Torah – our Covenant with the Compassionate One. These fruits are "better than sons and daughters," and the Midrash elaborates on this idea:

Rabbi Judah Ben Shalom, the Levite, said that when a person departs from the world without children, he is troubled and weeps. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, says to him: "Why do you weep? Is it because you did not leave fruits in this world? You have left fruits which are more valuable than children!" The person then asks: "Master of the Universe, what fruits have I left?" And the Holy One, Blessed Be He, answers: "The fruits of Torah - the Tree of Life, as it is written (Proverbs 11:30): 'The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.' " (Midrash Tanchuma, Noah 2)

In his commentary on this verse from Proverbs, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains: "For the righteous person, everything he does is a tree of life. Out of his every deed grows something beneficial and life-giving to his surroundings" (From the Wisdom of Mishle, page 69). In the deepest sense, a righteous person is never barren, for such a person "will flourish like a date palm."

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Related Teachings and Comments:

1. It is interesting that in the song of the date palm, we also find praise of the cedar tree: "like a cedar in the Lebanon, he will grow tall." The ArtScroll commentary writes: "Just as the palm tree includes the cedar in its praise, so the righteous are generous in praising others." ("The Lebanon" is a biblical term for a region of mountains in the north of the Land of Israel.)

2. According to the Talmud, the reason why the date palm and the cedar of the Lebanon are mentioned in the same song is because each has a quality which the other lacks (Ta'anis 25a &b). The date palm produces fruits, while the cedar does not. But when the date palm is cut down, its trunk dries in the ground. When the cedar of the Lebanon is felled, however, its roots and stumps remain alive and a new cedar shoot will sprout in its place. According to the Etz Yosef commentary on the Talmud, this power of renewal within the cedar of the Lebanon represents the power of renewal in the "tzadik" – righteous person. As it is written, "For though the tzadik may fall seven times, he will arise, but the wicked will stumble through evil" (Proverbs 24:16).
There is a beautiful explanation of this verse by the rebbe of my rebbe, Rav Yitzchak Hutner, a leading sage who headed the Chaim Berlin Yeshiva. Rav Hutner explains that the real meaning of this verse is not that the tzadik manages to rise again after falling seven times, but that the essence of the tzadik's rising is through his seven falls. Through these falls, he gains new insights and strengths which enable him to rise higher. (Pachad Yitzchak – Letters and Writings, p. 217)

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6. Some Items From the COEJL Community E-bulletin #26

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
June 29, 2005

IN THIS ISSUE: (not all items are included in this newsletter)

TAKE ACTION: Action Updates on Pesticides; Climate Change
CELEBRATE: Something Old, Something Pristine; Something Borrowed,
Something Green
LEARN: What's Jewish About Community Supported Agriculture?
GO GREEN: Green Mitzvot
ISRAEL'S ENVIRONMENT: Threats to the River Jordan
SPOTLIGHT ON THE FIELD: Jewish Community Briefing on Energy Policy
and Climate Change

Action Updates on Pesticides; Climate Change

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2005) - Earlier today, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offered an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from accepting, considering, or relying on the results of human pesticide tests. The amendment would also prohibit the EPA from funding such tests during the next fiscal year. Without this provision, the Federal government could have relied on data from pesticide experiments conducted on pregnant women, infants, and even fetuses in utero.

Thankfully, the U.S. Senate passed the amendment today by a vote of 60-37. The support of the religious community was crucial to its passage and COEJL played a lead role in organizing this effort. Please contact your Senators and thank them for their support (yea) of the Boxer amendment, or, if necessary, let them know that you are disappointed with their vote (nay). To see votes, go to: www.coejl.org/action/alert/20050629.php

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution in favor of mandatory greenhouse gas controls. To read COEJL's statement on the Senate climate change debate and votes, go to: http://www.coejl.org/news/20050623_climate.php

What's Jewish About Community Supported Agriculture?

Summer is officially here and naturally our minds and taste buds turn to sustainably farmed fruits and vegetables. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a way to support farmers while helping people in urban and suburban communities connect with the land, understand how their food is grown, and relate to the farmers who grow it. And, if the farm is organic, you can greatly reduce your exposure to unnecessary chemicals. CSA farmers often diversify their seed selection and offer many crop varieties including heirloom produce such as Purple Calabash and Green Zebra tomatoes - both flavorful and colorful. Enjoying the array of available fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers gives new meaning to these biblical words:

Mah rabu ma'asecha Adonai! Kulam b'hochmah asita, malah ha'aretz kinyaneha -- (How many are your works, God! All of them You created in wisdom; the world is filled with your possessions.)

To learn more about CSAs, visit:
To read about Tuv Ha'Aretz, the first ever Jewish CSA project piloted
by the Jewish environmental organization, Hazon, see:
http://hazon.org/go.php?q=/projects/CSA/05-whatIsTuvHaAretz.html -
COEJL plans to integrate the Tuv Ha'Aretz program into our Greening
Synagogues initiative in New Jersey.

Threats to the River Jordan

With the River Jordan in danger of disappearing, high-ranking Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian officials met in March under the auspices of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME). The three parties urged their governments to move quickly to save the river before the damage becomes irreversible. The biblical river -- a holy site for Christians, Jews and Muslims -- could dry up altogether during the summer season and be reduced to a meager flow during winter because of water diversions to Israel, Jordan, and Syria. "We have placed the future of the River Jordan on the public agenda in each of the affected lands," FoEME Israeli director, Gidon Bromberg, said afterwards.

Click http://jgenisrael.org/home2.html to learn more about Israel's environmental challenges and the Jewish Global Environmental Network.

Jewish Community Briefing on Energy Policy and Climate Change

COEJL co-hosted a Jewish community roundtable on energy policy and climate change in Washington on June 23. Jewish community leaders representing over a dozen national organizations attended the event. The program included briefings on national energy policy from Reid Detchon, executive director of the Energy Futures Coalition and Sara Hessenflow, national security and climate policy analyst at Environmental Defense. Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and Joe Goffman, legislative assistant and counsel for Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), led our discussion of climate policy.

Finally, we considered the proposed U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act. This legislation, which COEJL helped develop, would provide $20 million in new U.S. funding for energy and environmental technology projects in Israel. Don MacDonald from the office of Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), the lead Democratic sponsor of this bill, discussed the importance of the bill, along with Sarah Stern, director of governmental and public affairs for the American Jewish Congress.

Other event sponsors included the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, American Jewish Committee, and American Jewish Congress.


* New Release: In the Beginning: the Story of Genesis and Earth Activities for Children by Michael Caduto was recently published by Paulist Press. Contact michaelcaduto@p-e-a-c-e.net for more information or call (800) 218-1903 for orders.

* Energy Action is leading a group of young people on the "Road to Detroit" tour in a 40-foot, painted, souped-up school bus that runs on biodiesel and veggie oil. Along the way, they will advocate for state clean car bills, work with local environmental, eco-justice, and religious groups, gather signatures for a clean car pledge, and demonstrate to U.S. automakers that the American Dream can include more sustainable, cleaner, efficient vehicles. For more information and a trip schedule, visit: www.roadtodetroit.org

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7. More On the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Lawsuit Against the Dairy Industry

The Washington Times www.washingtontimes.com

Dairy industry sued for weight-loss ads
By Marguerite Higgins
Published June 29, 2005

A Washington health group yesterday sued the dairy industry to stop its national advertising campaigns that promise weight loss with increased dairy consumption.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group with 5,000 doctors in its 100,000-person membership, filed two lawsuits, a class-action and a personal injury suit, in the Circuit Court of Alexandria.

The group, which has supported obesity-related lawsuits in the past, said in court documents that several dairy associations and food companies deceived consumers with unsubstantiated scientific claims in its national campaigns, which include "3-a-Day of Dairy" and "24/24 Milk Your Diet."

The group advocates a plant-based vegetarian lifestyle, known as vegan.

The campaigns, which were based on six clinical and 21 observational studies, have cost the dairy industry about $200 million since they were introduced in 2003.

The campaigns say consumers can lose more weight by having 24 ounces, or three servings, of dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, daily with a reduced-calorie diet.

"The dairy industry is relying on suspect science" to support the weight-loss claims, said Mindy Kursban, the group's executive director and general counsel, at a press conference in the District yesterday.

The International Dairy Foods Association, a Washington trade group, and Dairy Management Inc., a Rosemont, Ill., umbrella organization for the National Dairy Council and the American Dairy Association, responded that the ads are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and extensive scientific research.

"This is not a 'dairy diet;' it's a recommendation that people shouldn't cut out milk and dairy products when they're trying to lose weight," the groups, both defendants in the lawsuits, said yesterday.

The organizations intend to continuing running the ads, said Susan Ruland, spokeswoman for the International Dairy Foods Association.

Kraft Foods Inc., one of the food manufacturers listed as a defendant in one suit, also said it had not received any court documents. The company currently is not running any ads associated with the dairy weight-loss program, said spokeswoman Alyssa Burns.

General Mills Inc., the Minneapolis cereal and food company that also was listed as a defendant, planned to "defend itself vigorously in this matter," said spokeswoman Marybeth Thorsgaard.

In addition to seeking a court order to stop the dairy campaigns, Arlington resident Catherine Holmes is suing for the weight she said she gained while trying the three-servings advice from November to April.

Ms. Holmes, a 46-year-old project manager for an undisclosed government contractor, said she added about 4 pounds onto her 5-foot-5 frame by following the campaign's dietary advice.

She "significantly" added dairy products, like yogurt and milk, to her diet while cutting out meat and limiting her intake of peas, brown rice, lentils and other carbohydrates, the court papers said.

Ms. Holmes would not say whether she changed her caloric intake or exercise level.

Even though she has been a member of the physicians group for two years, Ms. Holmes said she believed the dairy diet could help her lose two dress sizes.

"I really want those ads to get yanked," Ms. Holmes said, adding she is seeking $236 in reimbursement for the dairy products she bought during the diet period.

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8. Lantern Books - Publishers of Books on Animal Advocacy, Vegetarianism, and Environmentalism - Announces Essay Contest

Forwarded message from Lantern Books:

Dear Friend,

Lantern Books - publishers of books on animal advocacy, vegetarianism, and environmentalism - is pleased to announce our first annual essay competition. The aim of the competition is to allow new thinking to emerge on the key subjects of Lantern's publishing program and to encourage new voices to step forward to shape the debate for the future.

The first prize is $1000. There is no entry fee. Essays should be no longer than 1500 words. The deadline is December 31, 2005. Complete guidelines can be found at:


We encourage you to share this announcement with your students and colleagues through emails, websites or in print.

If you require any more information do not hesitate to write.

Warmest regards and many thanks,
Olivia Lane
Publishing Associate
Lantern Books
1 Union Square West, Suite 201
New York, NY 10003
212 414 2275 x16

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

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9. Two Challenging Analyses of Animal Welfare Issues in “War of the Worlds”

a. "War of the Worlds" -- Spielberg version hints at animal welfare issues

by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom

This week, the Steven Spielberg version of "War of the Worlds" opened in the theaters. Being a science fiction buff, I went to see it. This is not E.T. or even Jurassic Park -- its a much darker, heavier film (rated PG-13), with images reminiscent of 9/11. Having read the book and seen two previous film versions, I knew the basic plot: Space aliens invade, seem invincible, conquer the Earth, but are done in by our bacteria (no immunity). However, the Spielberg version adds a new detail: It explains WHY the aliens invade in the first place.

It seems they have returned to harvest their crop --humans -- and they do it with total ruthlessness. Their tripod ships clear-cut the Earth and leave nothing living behind. There are scenes of terrified humans in cages, waiting to be grabbed up into a big machine and made into fertilizer. I found myself thinking, this must be how animals feel when humans come in and raze the forests to plant whatever, with total disregard for the existing ecosystem. This must be how cows feel, standing in line waiting to be slaughtered. If people find the film disturbing (I certainly did) then maybe that is a good thing. Seeing ourselves treated "like animals" is serious food for thought.


b. War of the Worlds: The Best Animal Rights Movie of all Time!

There has been an ongoing debate in the animal rights community about what is, or would be considered, a major motion picture with an animal rights message. There was Babe which was hailed as a positive movie with a strong animal rights message, as was Chicken Run. Personally, I do not think that either of those movies deliver the sort of message I would expect to find in a true animal rights movie, yet it surprised me to find a movie that did deliver that message: War of the Worlds.

I have been a fan of H.G. Wells for many years, and the original War of the Worlds has always been one of my favorite movies. I have seen that movie so many times, but never once, while watching it, did the true message of the movie come though. It wasn’t until seeing the remake of this classic that it was sent home for me.

The new War of the Worlds shows, without compromise, that a future for human beings would look like if we were the animals being harvested and exterminated by a more advanced species. Humans live on this planet safe in the assumption that we are at the top of the food chain, and therefore safe from the abuse and exploitation we dole out to all animals on this planet. But what if there was something greater than us out there, that was also as spiritually un-evolved as human being, that would come to this planet and use us as the building blocks to create their world, which is the exact same thing we do to animals every day on this planet? What if overnight, humans were not the supreme rulers anymore, and our fate became the fate of the creatures we exploit to exist? What if we became the hunted, instead of the hunter? Would we be able to survive? Imagine a planet, where it is us, not rats or bunnies, which have their homes destroyed? Families broken apart? Bodies used as objects? Imagine the fear! Imagine if all of our human interests did not matter because the superior species looked at us and did not think that we were worthy of any rights? Imagine if we were discounted just like we discount the needs of non-human animals on this planet?

In a very memorable scene in the movie, Tom Cruise gets to see just what the aliens are doing with all the people they pick up with there tentacles. He witnesses a human man, being dangled by his feet (very reminiscent of a cow in a slaughterhouse) lowered to the ground, whereby a scary metal tube is thrust into the human and all of the humans body fluids are drained. The fluids were then used to spray over the planet to change the Earth to suit the needs of its new dominant species. The world was being fashioned to accommodate them, at the expense of us รถ sound vaguely familiar? Either the aliens killed you, or they used your body as materials for their needs. In this scene, the man Tom Cruise was hiding with lost his mind and started digging a hole, shouting that they were not going to have his blood. He realized his fate, and it terrified him to the bone. Now can you tell me that a cow, being herded into a slaughterhouse, does not know he is about to die? Maybe you can say that they don’t, because we have humans who have decided that with science. But think about it; isn’t that what the aliens did to us in the movie? They discounted us, or just didn’t care. What we felt didn’t matter; it was all about them. We can never know what the cow thinks or feels because we are not a cow, but chances are, seeing how very similar all life on earth is, they do know and we are merely blind to that fact.

This movie tackles all of these issues, but the majority of people watching the movie will never see this message. To them, the movie is a blockbuster hit with Tom Cruise about aliens wreaking havoc on planet Earth. And yes it is that, but if you open your mind, and see what else the movie really is about, there is no doubt that this has to be one of the strongest animal rights movies made.

I enjoyed the movie, and I hope that others will see it with this message in the back of their minds. One thing I wish the movie did do was show what happened next. So the aliens died, thanks to a simple organism we take for granted: bacteria. Humanity ended up relying on nature, something we have spent thousands of years trying to dominate, to save us. Ironic? Yes. Before they died though, they killed the vast majority of humans on Earth, and destroyed much of the infrastructure we had built. So what next? Would the humans learn from the experience and no longer treat animals as the aliens had treated them? Or would they continue in denial and simply re-fashion the civilization that existed before the attack? Are humans ever going to get it? Are we ever going to spiritually evolve to a place where we see that our interests are not the only ones that matter? Is there any hope?

Shannon Elliott
University of Victoria Faculty of Law
Executive Director, Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
PO Box 2400, STN CSC
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W 3H7 - Canada
E-mail: sde@uvic.ca

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10. American Vegan Society Conference Scheduled

Forwarded message from the American Vegan society:

Register now to attend

American Vegan Conference
at The Farm in Summertown Tennessee
Wednesday August 10 to Sunday August 14 2005

*Nutrition & Health Education
*Food Production and Preparation
*Environmental Sanity
*Compassion for Animals
*Relax & Refresh

The Farm is known for its pioneering work in soy-food production, environmental initiatives, midwifery, international aid, and nonviolent activism. Speakers, a unique blend of Farm experts and authors with Book Publishing, include: Louise Hagler, Jo Stepaniak, Cynthia and Bob Holzapfel, Karen Davis, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, Barb Bloomfield, Cherie Soria, Albert Bates, Vesanto Melina, Doug Stephenson, Frank Michaels, Brenda Davis, Elysa Markowitz

A Kids Vegan Summer Program (for ages 7 -14), directed by Andy Mars PhD (Kids Make A Difference), will run in conjunction with this Conference in The Farm's Ecovillage Training Center (7-day and 4-day options).

See www.americanvegan.org
Write American Vegan Society, PO Box 369, Malaga NJ 08328
Phone (856) 694-2887

Some financial assistance scholarships available. Apply to AVS.

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