September 14, 2005

9/14/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. My Vegetarian Talks at “Vegetarian Food Fair” in Toronto

2. My Article: “Improving Vegetarian Outreach”/Suggestions Welcome

3. Another Letter in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on Jewish Teachings on Animals

4. JVNA Member Creates New Blog on Judaism and Vegetarianism and Related Issues

5. Important New Vegetarian Book Published/Very Positive Review in the Library Journal

7. Update on Saving Animals Threatened by Hurricane Katrina

8. Article on a New Strategy for the Animal Rights Movement by JVNA Advisor David Cantor

9. Veganism: An Effective Way to Control 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. My Vegetarian Talks at “Vegetarian Food Fair” in Toronto

I attended the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s 21st annual “Vegetarian Food Fair” in Toronto on Sunday, September 11, and I gave 2 talks. The first was on “10 steps Toward a Vegetarian-Conscious North America by 2010” (the next item has my article related to this topic)and the second was part of a panel on “Spirituality, Animals and Vegetarianism.” The Toronto Vegetarianism Association has about 1,000 members and there was a huge crowd at the event, with 170 volunteers helping out. Kudos to Peter McQueen, president of the TVA for 21 years, and the other TVA members who planned and carried out this important event so well. My views about how to channel the people and energy in vegetarian groups to more effective vegetarian outreach is in the next item.

Return to Top

2. My Article: “Improving Vegetarian Outreach”/Suggestions Welcome

Below is my first draft of an article intended to unite vegetarian groups behind common goals and a common timetable. Your comments and suggestions are very welcome. Thanks.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

For the first “Earth Day” in 1970, a book titled “The Environmental Handbook” was published. It included a very perceptive article, “Survival U: Prospects for a Really Relevant University,” by John Fischer, an author and contributing editor for Harper’s magazine. The author discussed why many consider a liberal arts education irrelevant: “It doesn’t cohere. It consists of bits and pieces which don’t stick together and have no common purpose… [It involves] fragments [that are] meaningless because they are not organized around any central purpose or vision of the world. [it has] no clearly defined goals.” Fischer suggests that liberal arts education would be far more effective if it had an “organizing principle,” and he argues that the survival of humanity should be that organizing principle since society faces so many threats today.

I was reminded of this article after attending a vegetarian conference and a vegetarian fair this summer (2005). The events were very well organized, many people attended, the food was abundant, varied, and good, and many key vegetarian activists spoke well about many important aspects of vegetarianism. No doubt, many attendees moved further along their path to vegetarianism/veganism, and many resolved to do more to promote dietary changes. However, I got the feeling that not much would change in the general society. While people at the conference returned to their homes reinforced and inspired, the effects would wear off in most cases, and the dietary status quo of society would continue.

Like the liberal arts education criticized in John Fischer’s article, most aspects of the vegetarian movement today consist of bits and pieces which don’t stick together and have no common purpose or vision for moving our goals forward. There are talks and articles and discussions on the mistreatment of animals; on the connections between animal-based diets and the current epidemic of diseases; on how animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to global warming, widening water shortages, deforestation, rapid species extinction, and many other environmental threats; on becoming a vegetarian; on recipes; and many other vegetarian-related topics. But there is no coherence, no sense of a common purpose and common goals, insufficient sense of the urgency necessary to move people to make changes.

Like John Fischer, I suggest that the saving of humanity and preserving of the environment become a major focus of the vegetarian movement today. In his book, “The Earth in the Balance,” then Vice President Al Gore stated that the saving of the global environment should be the “central organizing principle” for civilization today. His arguments are even more apropos today as environmental threats become increasingly severe, and I think that the vegetarian movement should adopt this strategy for the benefit of our movement and for the benefit of the planet’s sustainability.

We should strive to get as many vegetarian groups and individuals as possible to assert that a shift toward vegetarianism is not only an important individual choice today – it is also a societal imperative. 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 up to 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.

To increase our effectiveness and provide an enhanced sense of urgency, we should 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 to see that everyone is at least aware of the many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, especially the need to respond to the many current societal threats, with the hope that many will act based on that knowledge.

Here are some additional suggestions for increasing our effectiveness in working toward the increasingly vegetarian world necessary for planetary sustainability, while keeping our focus on making people aware that the fate of humanity is at stake and that we have a timetable to meet:

* 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:
1. Animal-based diets increase risk factors for many life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, several types of cancer, and stroke.
2. Animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to many environmental threats to humanity.
3. 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.

* 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.

* 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. We should point out for example that if even the lower limits of projections by leading climate scientists about future temperature increases occur, we are in for many disastrous floods that may rival or exceed the effects from hurricane Katrina. 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.

* Start a Letter Writing Campaign

As a follow-up to the discussion in the above item, 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.

* Make a Shift to Veganism 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 veganism, even for a limited time, in addition to their other animal rights efforts, it could have a very powerful impact.

* 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 below, 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.

* 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.

* 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 and focussed, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but imperiled, planet.

Return to Top

3. Another Letter in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on Jewish Teachings on Animals

Not all articles in the series are included in JVNA newsletters. For the complete series of articles, please visit Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

The Journey to Unity - 138

Preserving the Species:

The following is an excerpt from an article in the Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin (August 24, 2005)

Wave of Marine Species Extinctions Feared:
For years, many scientists and regulators believed the oceans were so vast there was little risk of marine species dying out. Now, some suspect the world is on the cusp of what Ellen K. Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, calls "a gathering wave of ocean extinctions." Dozens of biologists believe the seas have reached a tipping point, with scores of species of ocean-dwelling fish, birds and mammals edging toward extinction. In the past 300 years, researchers have documented the global extinction of just 21 marine species -- and 16 have occurred since 1972.

Dear Friends,

It is unjust to destroy any species of life, for as the following verses indicate, the diversity of species is part of the Divine plan for creation:

"The Just One created the great families of fish, and every living small creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed, according to their species, and every winged bird according to its species. And the Just One saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:21)

"The Just One said: Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their species; tame animals, creeping things, and wild animals of the land according to their species. And it was so. The Just One created the wild animals of the land according to their species, the tame animals according to their species, and every creeping thing upon the ground according to its species. And the Just One saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:24,25)

"And the Just One saw all that He had made, and lo! It was very good! And it was evening and it was morning; the sixth day." (Genesis 1:31)

"It was very good!" – Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains: "Every single creation is good, when considered by itself. But only now, when all the stages of Creation have been completed, and each single part can be considered in relation to the whole, is everything not only good, but very good! (Commentary on Genesis)

On Friday evening, just before the Shabbos meal, we chant the "Kiddush" - blessing of sanctification. The Friday night Kiddush opens with the following verse:

"The heaven and the earth and all their host were brought to their destined completion" (Genesis 2:1).

One of the classical commentators, the Ramban, explains that the "host" of creation includes all creatures and plant life on earth. The Hebrew word for "host" is tzava - a group assembled and united for a common purpose. The Midrash on our verse therefore explains that this verse is conveying to us the following message: All species serve the Divine purpose, even those that a human being may feel are not needed, such as "flies, fleas, and mosquitoes" (Genesis Rabbah).

The human being, however, has the power to destroy species of life which are serving the Divine purpose. An allusion to this harmful injustice appears in the following verse: "Consider the deeds of the Just One – else how can one repair what he had made crooked?" (Ecclesiastes 7:13) The commentary of the Metzudas David explains that there is severe damage caused by the human being which only the Creator will be able to repair. As the Midrash on the above verse states:

In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first human being, He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: "See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I have created, for you have I created it. Think upon this and do not destroy and desolate My World, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you." (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28)

Human beings will not be able to find anyone in their midst who can fully repair the beautiful world that they have corrupted and destroyed. In the messianic age, however, the Compassionate Creator of all life will intervene to repair the world. This idea is expressed in the "Song of the Trees" which is found in Perek Shirah:

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

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

The Prophet Isaiah therefore proclaimed the following Divine promise:

"For Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth; the former (troubles) will no longer be recalled and will not be taken to heart." (Isaiah 65:17) - The creatures of the heaven and earth will be renewed (Ibn Ezra quoting Rabbi Judah Ibn Hiug).

According to Jewish tradition, we can hasten the arrival of this new age if we begin to act justly with everyone and everything in creation. The Prophet Isaiah therefore proclaimed, "Zion shall be redeemed through justice, and those who return to her through righteousness" (Isaiah 1:27).

As the "Song of the Trees" reminds us, this justice is to extend to all species of life on earth.

Have a Good and Just Shabbos,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

P.S. Ibn Ezra, a classical biblical commentator, gives another explanation of the words, "Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth." According to Ibn Ezra, the atmosphere will be renewed, and the earth will gain new strength. The purified and good atmosphere, he adds, will enable people to live long and healthy lives.

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

Return to Top

4. JVNA Member Creates New Blog on Judaism and Vegetarianism and Related Issues

Forwarded message from JVNA member Michael Croland:

I recently started a blog that discusses Judaism and animal rights issues: There are a great many Jewish blogs and Jewish blog rings emerging, and it's about time there was a vegan voice out there to add to the conversation. It'd be great if people could leave comments so that we can create dialogue. I hope that my blog can help expose Jews in the "blogosphere" to animal rights issues that they simply may never have encountered before.

I already find myself linking to [the JVNA web site] and your work quite often!

[Please visit the web site and let Michael know what you think.]

Return to Top

5. Important New Vegetarian Book Published/Very Positive Review in the Library Journal

Forwarded message:

Following is an upcoming (October edition) review of the recently published book “101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian” in the Library Journal. [This is an extremely important review because many librarians depend on it for information when they make decisions on book selections.] Scroll down for information on the Lantern Books [my publisher] Reading Club, which will be discussing 101 Reasons... on September 26.

RICE, PAMELA. 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian. Lantern. Oct. 2005.
c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-59056-075-2. pap. $20. SOC SCI
Expanding on her popular pamphlet of the same title, vegetarian writer/activist Rice thoroughly covers all the practical reasons to go vegetarian, including (in addition to the welfare of animals) social, medical, economic, and-especially-environmental concerns while avoiding spiritual or religious reasons. Examples of her reasons include "The Cancer connection: The 'Big C' and meat" and "Fossil fuel alchemy: The oil in your meat." Rice aims to let the facts speak for themselves and not to attack anyone's eating habits or beliefs. She accomplishes this by thoroughly documenting all her 101 reasons, using respected mainstream sources, such as U.S. government reports, major newspapers, peer-reviewed journal articles, and other citations from scientists, doctors, and government officials. Although Rice jumps from topic to topic, intending to give readers the big picture, she includes a page that lists "reasons by category" as well as a comprehensive index for those interested in a specific aspect of vegetarianism. A well-written and -documented indictment of the meat industry and its impact on the world, this is an excellent source for students writing papers on or debating this topic. Recommended for all libraries. -Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ., PA

[I am hoping to review this book (and several others – my pile is growing, and I apologize to authors whose books I have but have not yet had a chance to review) for a future JVNA newsletter, but for now I want to state that I have been reading this book, and it has wonderful material on a very wide variety of issues that can help convince people to switch toward vegetarianism. I strongly recommend that you get a copy, read it to increase your ability to promote vegetarianism, and help spread its message to others. Thanks.]

Return to Top

7. Update on Saving Animals Threatened by Hurricane Katrina

I have received many messages on this subject. I could easily have an entire special issue of a JVNA newsletter devoted to this issue. A few messages are below:

Forwarded message from dawnwatch:

After a week of almost no coverage of the animal issue, this week the news shows are getting on it. Brian Williams has announced that NBC nightly news will cover the issue tonight, Thursday September 8. He mentioned that the network had been flooded with requests for animal coverage. Thank you to all who wrote.


Since every paper has coverage of Hurricane Katrina, please consider a letter to your local paper discussing how the official attitude to animals has devastated people. Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor.

Here is the CBS story print version -- though it is worth watching the video on line at the link above if you can:

Katrina Leaves Pets In Peril
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8, 2005

They aren't counted among the dead, they aren't pointing fingers at who's to blame, but their suffering is hard to ignore.
Katrina's four-legged victims seem utterly alone, either left behind on purpose or turned away from evacuation buses.

We hear them barking from abandoned homes, we see them stranded on rooftops, and wandering the streets barely able to keep their heads above water, CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports from New Orleans.

"They're living out on the streets right now, and they're very sweet lovable dogs," New Orleans resident Kate Cummins says.

The rescue efforts we've seen are nothing short of heroic. A dog named Sam had to be cut out of a roof.

"Hey Joe, happy birthday dude, I've got Sam. I got him, he's alive," a man announces proudly to his friend over the phone.

Noah would have been proud. We've seen sea-going snakes, turtles, birds, even a pot-bellied pig.

"Once you get your hands on them, you can almost feel their body relax, they're so happy to have that human contact with them," Shirley Minshew of the International Fund for Animal Welfare says.

Shirley Minshew is the Dr. Doolittle of this disaster. She has a list of some 3,000 pets she's determined to save.

Minshew adds that she is basically going door-to-door, or, better put, rooftop-to-rooftop, to rescue the animals.

You might wonder who would risk their lives in this muck to save a dog, or a cat or a pot-bellied pig. It's not just about those eyes or those wagging tails. It's because the pets may very well be the only thing in these people lives that they can actually save.

"It's very heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching to see that they come here and all they want is their pets, because it's the only thing they have left," says Margaret Del Rossi, a pet rescue volunteer.

Daniel Lorentz lost his home and his two labs. "It would be the greatest thing to me to get my dogs back," Lorentz says. We watched as Lorentz searched every pen in this animal shelter, and nothing. "I guess you gotta really be a pet owner to know how much it hurts," Lorentz says.

In a community of so much loss, the power of a pet seems boundless.

More information on animal rescues is available on the Louisiana SPCA Web site.

(END OF CBS story)
You can view homeless pets on

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at To unsubscribe, go to If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)
An update on the Katrina disaster area: As of 9/13/05 they are still desperate for volunteers. I have spoken with friends at the shelter in Gonzales, Louisiana, who say they enough supplies but not enough people. They suggest that if you are able to go down there, please just go. Of particular need are large air-conditioned rigs that can transport many animals.

Mississippi is also in dire need of volunteers. There are thousands of animals and no people to care for them. Randy Grimm, guardian of Quentin, the famous dog who last year survived the gas chambers, is in Mississippi and is calling for help. I hope to speak with him tomorrow, Wednesday, and have more information for those who wish to go to Mississippi.

I have contact information for the HSUS shelter in Gonzales Louisiana and the Best Friends shelter in Tylertown, and a list of vaccinations one should get and supplies one needs to bring, compiled by Kinship Circle, all on my website at

Brenda Shoss of Kinship Circle is an excellent resource for information on volunteering. She is at
Animal rescue in the Katrina disaster area continues to fill the news. There was a wonderful story on the front page of Canada's Globe and Mail yesterday, September 12, which I have sent to Canada subscribers. On Saturday, September 10, Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal had a superb front page story on the issue, as did the Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday September 11. And the Chicago Tribune has a great story, and the Indianapolis Star has a particularly hard-hitting story today, Tuesday, September 13.
CNN's Anderson Cooper continues to cover the issue beautifully.

"Keep Pets Safe During Disasters - Ask Red Cross to Adopt National Program"

Please ask Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. to make the Pet Safe program a National Red Cross program and to make sure that Red Cross chapters all across the country adopt this policy to help save our pets. If homes must be evacuated during a disaster, if these homes are not safe enough for us, they are not safe enough for our pets either!! Please sign the petition to help keep our pets safe during disasters.

Please help by signing this petition. It takes only 30 seconds and
will really help. Please follow this link:
you may have to cut and paste this address in your browser.
Urgent From PETA: Ask the Government to Allow PETA to Testify at Katrina Hearings; Plus, Updates From the Field


Urgent From PETA: Ask the Government to Allow PETA to Testify at Katrina Hearings; Plus, Updates From the Field

Dear Friend,

Please take a moment right now to send an e-mail to
Rep. Tom Davisand
Rep. Henry Waxmanof the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee, which will hold hearings thisThursday, September 15, on the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Please ask the committee chair, Rep. Davis, to allow PETA to testify about the plight of animals affected by disasters such as Katrina during their hearings. Let him know that the suffering of human hurricane victims was only heightened by the federal blockades that prevented humane agents from rescuing animals and by evacuators' insistence that animals be abandoned to die. Please also urge Reps. Davis and Waxman to ensure that the well-being of animals be included in any local, state, or federal disaster response plan. It is absolutely crucial to call or send an e-mailtoday and tell your neighbors to do the same.
E-mail Rep. Davisor call himtodayat (202) 225-1492.
E-mail Rep. Waxmanor call himtodayat (202) 225-3976.

News From the Front Lines

On Monday, another 10 PETA staff members and volunteers flew to New Orleans to help in the massive animal rescue and care efforts there. PETA's team of experienced rescue workers has been toiling around the clock to rescue stranded animals still suffering in the city.
Listen to our team leader's reports from the field as they become available and
read accountsof the team's life-saving efforts at


Animals Will Now Be Evacuated With Their Families!

At PETA headquarters, an official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency told us Friday afternoon that the agency had received many phone calls about the forced abandonment of animals in New Orleans and that such orders are no longer followed or issued.Congratulations—this is your victory!That same day, Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the First U.S. Army and the official in charge in New Orleans—
who PETA askedon September 6 to allow animals to be evacuated with their families—announced that his agents will have animal carriers to facilitate evacuating cats and dogs as they evacuate the city's remaining human residents.

Return to Top

8. Article on a New Strategy for the Animal Rights Movement by JVNA Advisor David Cantor

[While Judaism teaches that only human beings are created in God’s Image, we have very powerful teachings on compassionate treatment of animals. Unfortunately, the realities on factory farms and in other settings are very far from Judaism’s splendid teachings. David Cantor’s article challenges us to think about how we can end current animal abuses. Comments/suggestions welcome.]

Compassion: Boon and
Bane of Animal Rights
By David Cantor

Compassion can move people to act, but obtaining legal rights for nonhuman animals will require fundamental change. Expressing our feelings and getting others to express theirs, while important, are not sufficient to produce the necessary social and political movement.

A key objective of the animal rights movement is to bring a dramatic reduction in animal suffering – nonhuman animals need legal rights because humans routinely destroy billions of them and cause billions to suffer. So it makes sense to understand how compassion can contribute to the movement’s success. To understand that, we must understand that merely nurturing or expressing compassion is neither a strategy, an interim objective, nor a long-term goal of the animal rights movement.

Compassion as it applies to policies and practices concerning nonhuman animals mainly moves people to wish animals were treated better, sometimes to request better treatment, or at least to refrain from opposing it. It should go without saying that appealing to compassion is a basic necessity for establishing animals’ rights – a human world that does not care at all will not consider animal rights. But that is a far cry from saying any amount of caring in and of itself can ever establish animal rights.

Nearly every human being living today probably cares about nonhuman animals to some extent. The same was probably true for nearly every human being who lived in the past. The percentage of people believed to have no capacity for empathy whatsoever is very small. But for well over a century, organized efforts to promote compassion and to legislate better treatment of animals have had no effect at all on animals’ legal status and therefore cannot establish rights or end even the most severe mistreatment of animals. If anything, they have solidified other animals’ status as human property by promoting assumptions that compassion and rules based on it can protect animals.

No amount of better treatment for animals considered property or life unworthy of life will ever amount to rights. Rights can reduce animal suffering, but working to reduce suffering without establishing rights is a massive wheel-spinning exercise. Just as I think it would be inhumane to induce a nonhuman animal to run on a treadmill until he or she dropped from exhaustion, I think it is inhumane to lead well-intentioned humans to believe they can significantly reduce animal suffering without making animal rights their explicit goal and the basis of their language, tactics, and strategies.

But the enormity of the animals’ suffering and the difficulty of promoting rights for beings who cannot speak for themselves and for thousands of years have been treated as property and life unworthy of life (many not treated as property are destroyed or driven from their homes for even the most frivolous human uses of land) move some advocates to abandon rights advocacy, having engaged in it little or not at all. Wishing animals could have rights and believing they are promoting rights by expressing compassion for animals and revulsion at cruelty and supporting any effort that conceivably can “help animals,” some call their activities “animal rights” when even their “victories” have nothing to do with establishing rights and in fact further separate the animals from their rights.

Particularly with the news industry failing to distinguish between animal rights and animal “welfare” practices over a century old, confusion reigns. Compassion for animals and revulsion at cruelty are in no way wrong, of course. But for specific undeniable reasons, they cannot form the basis for animal rights. For related reasons, neither can eating only plants and urging others to do the same, getting people to “care” by exposing cruelty, and other practices that, even though well-intentioned and worthwhile, will always in and of themselves fail to establish animals’ basic rights.

Compassion is a personal trait. Present to different degrees in different people, manifested in a variety of ways in a variety of circumstances, it can move people to want changes in laws and policies. But without clear and complete understanding of the sources of suffering and of the need for fundamental rather than superficial change to eliminate those sources, it can move people to accept what amounts to a cough drop to treat pneumonia. Official displays of compassion and legislation superficially appearing to require improved treatment mollify and even elicit celebrations when nothing fundamental in the animals’ plight changes. Compassion is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, any other rights-conferring document, or even any anticruelty statute I know of. The Declaration of the Rights of Animals, too, is mute on compassion. That is highly significant for how we should view the role and limits of compassion in advancing animal rights.

Rights are legally enforceable; compassion is not. The goal of the animal rights movement is to establish nonhuman animals’ moral rights in law and custom, somewhat as human rights are established in the U.S. Rights do not afford complete protection against injustice, nor are they always enforced. But basic rights are easy to understand – Americans constantly infer their “right” to this or that from their basic rights – and they work to a large extent. They prohibit the state from inflicting certain kinds of harm on individual persons, because the state possesses overwhelming power to inflict harm.

Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, in his 2005 book Rights from Wrongs, explains how rights come from wrongs – from injustices. Justice, not compassion, is the basis of rights. Opinions can differ on what resolution to a given situation will best serve “the interest of justice,” but justice is observable in the world outside of the individual person. It is not a personal trait like compassion, even if one’s “sense of justice” is and even if compassion may inform one’s sense of what is just. Government, with overwhelming might, must be prevented from tyrannizing individual people; likewise humans, due to their capacity to inflict harm, must be prevented from tyrannizing nonhuman animals. That is the case no matter how much suffering may be caused or how much compassion elicited from any particular manifestation of tyranny or injustice. Rights obstruct imposition of the conditions for suffering, not suffering itself.

My right not to be the property of another human being does not depend on individual people’s compassion but on the Constitution and laws and customs flowing from it. Perhaps someone would like to enslave me or sell me into slavery if they could. My rights as a human being in the United States trump their greed, cruelty, lack of compassion – any personal trait – so they would have to go to great lengths to succeed in making a slave of me. No claim to being compassionate can suffice in a U.S. court to enable someone to enslave me. Not so for nonhuman animals, who have no legal rights. And their current legal status is inherently a basis for constant human-inflicted suffering and destruction, notwithstanding laws and regulations that may appear on the surface to mitigate them. Compassion leads many animal advocates to treat nonhuman animals as if they had legal rights – we seek loving homes for them, swear off eating them, and more – but in and of themselves those practices do not lead to establishment of any legal rights.

A nonhuman animal’s right not to be the property of a human being, when that right is established in law, will trump even a majority human preference that nonhuman animals remain property. Thousands of years of learning human supremacist ideologies from birth will make animal rights more difficult to enforce than human rights, perhaps, but without rights, nonhuman animals can have no meaningful protection.

The animal rights movement arose from the failure of animal “welfare” – now the status quo – to protect meaningfully, to provide genuine welfare, or overall wellbeing. Regulation and exhortation based on compassion could not possibly do the job, no matter how dedicated or talented animal “welfare” proponents or how large their ranks. Cruel mistreatment of animals, animal exploitation, and wanton destruction of animals grew rapidly under animal “welfare.” And it is no coincidence that their growth coincided with the emergence of a massive corporate oligarchy as the dominant force in the U.S., threatening human rights as well as making it all the more difficult to protect nonhuman animals.

As non-animate entities, incapable of any experience, perception, thought, or feeling, corporations cannot have or show compassion. Public-relations doublespeak and advertisements easily confuse. “A message of caring from Johnson & Johnson,” concluded a recent television ad. Driving the problem, the Supreme Court long ago ruled that corporations have the same legal rights as actual persons. Wielding tremendous power and being able to devastate sentient beings without themselves feeling anything or risking retaliation in kind, corporations are always potentially dangerous. Unjustly treated human beings used to get together and burn down unjust aristocrats’ mansions, tar & feather their lackeys, and the like. Now responsible parties are nearly impossible to locate, and corporations go on as before no matter what happens to individual directors, managers, or workers, like the surface of a lake hit by a rock.

Slaughterhouses, factory farms, colleges of agriculture, shampoo manufacturers, zoos, dog tracks, timber companies, and others take their terrible toll on nonhuman animals as decided by boards of directors. Front-line workers can quit because of cruel mistreatment of animals, but their jobs will never be vacant for long. Corporate capitalism relies on a desperate, impoverished human underclass willing to suppress their compassion to have a roof overhead and food on the table and powerless to influence policy or practice. Some feel it is right to place compassion for their children and other dependents above compassion for nonhuman animals and wrong to do otherwise. Some feel taking property – sentient or not – from owners shows a lack of compassion since speciesist ideologies learned from birth place even minor human interests over the most basic nonhuman interests.

Exercising compassion on a personal basis will not create the needed boundaries between corporations and nonhuman animals. And individual people tend to imitate corporations – their latest “slave masters,” as pointed out by attorney Gerry Spence in his book Give Me Liberty!: Freeing Ourselves in the Twenty-First Century – just as scholars have shown actual slaves tend to imitate slave masters, prisoners their guards, and so on. So until all sentient beings’ moral rights are established in law and custom, we can expect more and more suppression of compassion, evasion of responsibility, pleadings of conflict between compassion for animals and compassion for family members and other “shareholders,” and the like.

So informed, focused, persistent abolitionist educational and political activities are required to advance animal rights. I believe legislatures in the U.S. are as yet unripe for seriously advancing animal rights and today can only be counted upon, for the most part, to make “welfare” improvements, which are counterproductive with respect to rights. It is important to educate legislators constantly, though, because they are influential people connected to many other influential people including corporation directors. And because there are occasional openings for progress through legislation, I wrote “Get Political for Animals: What Does That Mean?” (Animal Writes, March 27, 2005; also available on the “Animal Rights” page at , outlining specific factors distinguishing abolitionist legislation that can advance animal rights from legislation that merely tinkers with the animal-exploitation status quo.

The animal rights movement is suppressed when advocates rely on compassion while identifying their cause as animal rights. That is because compassion-based advocacy does not threaten the industry-government-media complex that perpetuates animal exploitation and destruction; therefore some legislators are willing to team up with compassion advocates; and concrete short-term “welfare” victories are illusory with regard to animal rights. Except when they abolish exploitive practices altogether without providing exploitive alternatives, they bring no progress toward rights for nonhuman animals.

All of this is not to deny compassion is a wonderful trait. But rights are more likely to stimulate compassion than vice versa. Justice for nonhuman animals must be achieved under the rule of law that our system aspires to. It is the non-personal nature of justice that minimizes tyranny, for today’s liberator quickly becomes tomorrow’s tyrant. Does “compassionate conservative” ring a bell? And will Bush’s “tidal wave of compassion” carry a rescue fleet to those in need or just wash away concerns that the President “doesn’t care”? Even the Nazi Holocaust was billed as solving a “problem” for the truly worthy and thus an act of compassion. Some participants spoke of killing Jewish children “humanely.”

When our society confers rights, it draws boundaries others cannot cross with impunity when the system functions properly. Ensuring that the system functions properly requires constant vigilance – that will be the same for nonhuman animals as for human beings, even after animals’ rights are established under the law. But vigilance for animals with only moral rights ensures nothing. Respecting the boundaries rights establish gives people the experience of treating others as they themselves would like to be treated. Whether people treat others appropriately is more important than whether they do so out of compassion.

So, when people who would like nonhuman animals to have rights limit their advocacy to nurturing compassion and favorable personal practices rather than on clear strategies for changing society’s institutions and the use of public funds, they hurt their ostensible cause and transform it into another that perpetuates the status quo. No wonder the industry-government-media complex treats animal rights as a threat but embraces animal “welfare”! Slaughter can never be humane despite a “Humane Slaughter Act.” To operate as if compassionate, human society must eliminate nonhuman-animal slavery and unworthy-of-life categories, not merely regulate speciesist practices.

Compassion toward nonhuman animals will always be desirable. But when the animal rights movement succeeds, the animals will not have to rely on such an undependable personal trait as compassion, because far fewer animals will live under the boot and the backhoe. The fact that the goal is so terribly far off does not mean it is unattainable – unless we fail to pursue it.

David Cantor is a full-time animal advocate since 1989 and directs Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.

Return to Top

9. Veganism” An Effective Way to Control Weight

Thanks to JVNA advisor John Diamond for forwarding this press release:

News Release
Friday, September 9, 2005
Contact: Jeanne Stuart McVey, 202-686-2210, ext. 316,
EMBARGO until 9 September, 5a.m., Eastern Time

New Study Shows High-Carb, Vegan Diet Causes Major Weight Loss
Even with No Calorie-Cutting or Exercise, Diet is More Effective Than a Typical Low-Fat Diet

WASHINGTON—A low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet, shows a new study appearing in the September issue of The American Journal of Medicine. The study, involving 59 overweight, postmenopausal women, was conducted by Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), together with colleagues at Georgetown University Hospital and George Washington University. Half of the study participants followed a vegan diet; the other half followed a control diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines.

“The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry,” says Dr. Barnard, the lead author. “As they began to experience the positive effects, weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, the women in the intervention group became even more motivated to follow the plant-based eating plan.”

Scientific studies show that obesity and overweight are far less prevalent in populations following a plant-based diet. In a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women, Tufts University researcher P. Kirstin Newby and her colleagues found that 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese while only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. A new study appearing in September’s Journal of Urology shows that a low-fat, primarily vegan diet may slow the progression of prostate cancer.
The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to people who are busy with work and family, and many familiar recipes are easy to adapt. At least four studies published in peer-reviewed journals show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating in terms of acceptability, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.

For a copy of the new paper published in The American Journal of Medicine, please contact Jeanne S. McVey at 202-686-2210, ext. 316, or

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.

Return to Top

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