April 3, 2006

4/3/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Passover/Material for “Greening” Passover

2. Seeking Information About Public Vegetarian Seders

3. Update on “Environmental Shabbat” Campaign

4. Jerusalem Post Article on the Postville Slaughterhouse/My Letter/Please Write

5. Connections Between Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Esperanto

6. Using the Global Warming Crisis to Promote Vegetarianism/Please Comment on Proposed Press Release

7. What We Are Up Against in Promoting Vegetarianism/Some Responses

9. Potential Counseling On a Vegan Lifestyle

10. You Can Hear Me Discuss Passover and Vegetarianism and the “Environmental Shabbat” on April 9

16. Comment On the Last Shabbat’s Torah Portion on Sacrifices

17. The Meatrix, Part II, Now On Line

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. Happy Passover/Material for “Greening” Passover

Best wishes for a chag kasher v’sameach -- a kosher and happy Passover. Please see JewishVeg.com/holidays.html for articles relating Passover to vegetarianism and to environmental activism. Also, please see JewishVeg.com/recipes#Passover for vegetarian Passover recipes.

Message from the “Coalition on the Environmental and Jewish Life” (COEJL) on “Greening” Passover:

March 28, 2006 / 28 Adar 5766

Dear COEJL Friends,

To help with the greening of Passover and to encourage the Jewish community to observe Earth Day 2006 as an "Environmental Shabbat," COEJL has created resource pages with links to readings and activities from our web site:
www.coejl.org/celebrate/passover.php (For “greening Passover”)
www.coejl.org/celebrate/shabbat.php (For an “Environmental Shabbat”)

If you have any information for our upcoming e-bulletin
including environmentally-themed seders or other Jewish or
interreligious environmental news and events, please send them
to: info@coejl.org.

Chag Sameach,

Barbara Lerman-Golomb
Acting Executive Director

Donate now to help COEJL create these and other environmental
holiday resources: www.coejl.org/donate
Passover and Earth Day
By Richard Schwartz

Several years ago, the first day of Passover and the annual Earth Day both occurred on April 22nd. Hence, this [was] a good time to consider environmental messages related to Passover and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt:
1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues:
* When we consider the threats to our land, water, and air, we can easily enumerate ten modern "plagues". For example: (1) acid rain (2) depletion of the ozone layer (3) destruction of tropical rain forests (4) global warming (5) soil erosion and depletion (6) loss of biological-diversity (7) water pollution (8) air pollution (9) an increase of severity of storms and floods (10) increased use of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and other toxic chemicals.

* The Egyptians were subjected to one plague at a time, while the modern plagues are threatening us simultaneously.

* The Jews in Goshen were spared most of the Biblical plagues, while every person on earth is imperiled by the modern plagues.

* Instead of an ancient Pharoah's heart being hardened, our hearts today have been hardened by the greed, materialism, and waste that are at the root of current environmental threats.

* God provided the Biblical plagues to free the Israelites, while today we must apply God's teachings in order to save ourselves and our precious but endangered planet.

Because of the above factors, there has been the beginning of a tradition to spill an additional ten drops of wine or grape juice at the seder to recognize the significance of the modern plagues.

2. The seder is a time for questions, including the traditional "four questions". Additional questions can be asked related to modern environmental threats. For example: Why is this period different than all other periods? (At all other periods only local regions faced environmental threats; today, the entire world is threatened.) Why is there so much silence in the Jewish community about current environmental threats? Why aren't Jewish values applied toward the alleviation of environmental problems?

3. Rabbi Jay Marcus, Spiritual Leader of the Young Israel of Staten Island, saw a connection between simpler diets and helping hungry people. He commented on the fact that "karpas" (eating of greens) comes immediately before "yahatz" (the breaking of the middle matzah for later use as the "afikomen" (desert) in the seder service. He concluded that those who live on simpler foods (greens, for example) will more readily divide their possesions and share with others. The consumption of animal-centered diets involves the feeding of 70% of the grain grown in the United States to animals destined for slaughter and the importing of beef from other countries, while 20 million of the world's people die of hunger and its effects. This simpler diet would also have positive environmental effects since modern intensive livestock agriculture uses vast amounts of water, fuel, chemical fertilizer, pesticides, and other resources, and contributes to the destruction of habitats and many other environmental problems.

4. A popular song at the seder is "dayenu" (it would have been enough). The message of this song would be very useful today when so many people seek to constantly increase their wealth and amass more possessions, with little thought of the negative environmental consequences.

5. An ancient Jewish legend indicates that Job's severe punishment occurred because when he was an advisor to Pharoah he refused to take a stand when Pharoah asked him what should be done with regard to the Israelites. This story can be discussed as a reminder that if we remain neutral and do not get involved in working for a better environment, severe consequences may follow.

6. The main Passover theme is freedom. While relating the story of our ancestors' slavery in Egypt and their redemption through God's power and beneficence, Jews might also want to consider the "slavery" of animals on modern "factory farms". Contrary to Jewish teachings of "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim" (the Torah mandate not to cause unnecessary "pain to a living creature"), animals are raised for food today under cruel conditions in crowded confined spaces, where they are denied fresh air, sunlight, a chance to exercise, and the fulfillment of their natural instincts. In this connection, it is significant to consider that according to the Jewish tradition, Moses, Judaism's greatest leader, teacher, and prophet, was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because as a shepherd he showed great compassion to a lamb (Exodus Rabbah 2:2).

2. Seeking Information About Public Vegetarian Seders

Before Passover, we sometimes get messages, like the one below, from people seeking public vegetarian seders. If you have any information about a public vegetarian seder in your area that we can share, please let us know. Thanks.
Dear Dr. Schwartz,

I came across your articles online while trying to find a vegetarian seder open to the public either in New York (where I live) or Philadelphia (where my parents live). I am hoping you may know of one.

Thank you.

Richard Ervais

Return to Top

3. Update on “Environmental Shabbat” Campaign

a. Here is an example of progress/message from the Earth Day Network:

Hi Richard,

Just to let you know what is happening for Earth Day with your requests. In our Religious Earth Day in a Box section we have put a link to your web site Jewish Vegetarians of North America with a blurb. We have also added on to the COEJL blurb regarding A Jewish Earthday and the Passover/Earthday connection. I don't know if there will be anything else at this time, but since the Climate Change Solutions Campaign runs for three years, there is the possibility that a fact sheet could be written up regarding the connection of industrial agriculture to climate change.


Barb Harrison (Earth Day Network staff member)
b. Another example of progress:

Richard: Please note the current edition of the Social Action on-line Newsletter (below) , specifically the part headed, "Save the Date - Earth Day is April 22, 2006." Hopefully, this will encourage many of our congregational worship leaders to devote some of their Shabbat programming to issues of environmental ethics on that date. I plan to forward this document to the rabbis in our region, in the hope that they will likewise focus on this issue. Best regards, Paul

Paul Kaufman
Assistant Regional Director
New Jersey-West Hudson Valley Council
Phone: 201.722.9090 - Ext. 201

From: Feldman, Rabbi Marla (Social Action)
Sent: Friday, March 24, 2006 4:56 PM
To: Regional Directors, Assoc & Assts.
Subject: News from the Commission on Social Action

Friends: Attached is the most recent Monthly Social Action Message. This has been sent to social action chairs in the iMIS database. It will also be sent shortly to the Commission on Social Action, including your regional social action chairs. If appropriate, please forward to appropriate lists that will not be duplicative.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Marla J. Feldman
Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
633 Third Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10017

This year, Earth Day falls on Shabbat! Consider planning anenvironmental-themed Shabbat service at your temple for the weekend of April 22nd. Materials to help you prepare for an Earth Day Shabbat-Jewish texts, activities, and resources for greening your synagogue-are available on the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life's (COEJL) website, www.coejl.org.

Return to Top

4. Jerusalem Post Article on the Postville Slaughterhouse/My Letter/Please Write

The following article is by JVNA advisor Rabbi Adam Frank. I had the pleasure of working with Adam during my speaking tour in Israel several years ago. He showed and discussed videos about animal abuses in Israel. He is currently active in promoting better conditions for animals in Israel. Lionel Friedberg and I videotaped an interview with Adam when we were in Israel last November.

The First Word: When 'kosher' slaughter is not Jewish
Mar. 31, 2006 Jerusalem Post

A Jerusalem Post headline on March 14, "Rabbinate OKs meat despite cruelty to animals" was deeply disturbing but, unfortunately, it seems, true. The rabbi quoted in the report demonstrates how Halacha, viewed myopically and without the assistance of Judaism's own moral compass, can contradict the core values our religion is supposed to represent.

The public aspect of this story began in November 2004, when a video expose revealed abusive animal handling procedures at the largest glatt-kosher slaughter facility in the US. The slaughterhouse, AgriProcessors, Inc. in Postville, Iowa, was shown using electric prods to shock the faces of cows in order to guide them into the slaughter pen.

The pictures also showed an uncommon practice of speeding post-shehita blood flow by using large hooks to rip out the animals' trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (food pipe) while the animals are still conscious. Immediately after the procedure cows are seen standing and attempting to bellow and leave the killing-floor area.

It is important to note that the ideal kosher cut would sever the trachea, esophagus and carotid artery, thus immediately eliminating blood flow to the brain and rendering an animal unconscious in as quickly as 10 seconds. Contrary to widespread perceptions, however, a valid kosher slaughter requires only the cut of the trachea and esophagus. The post-cut scenes on the videos of staggering, mutilated animals seem to be cases in which the carotid arteries were not severed, thus leaving the animal conscious and able to suffer pain.

Two weeks ago, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the findings of its investigation of AgriProcessors. The report declared that the abattoir repeatedly violated provisions of the Humane Slaughter Act. American animal cruelty laws do not permit "carcass dressing," such as the ripping of the throat, while the animal is still conscious.

This horrible act, which has now been declared in violation of US animal cruelty laws, is not a necessary part of the shehita process. Importantly, the USDA did not criticize the process of shehita - on the contrary, kosher slaughter is affirmed by the USDA as being a humane form of slaughter. However, the investigation documented case after case of animal cruelty in the forms of pre- and post-slaughter handling of conscious animals.

Reacting to these published findings, the head of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's international ritual slaughter division, Rabbi Ezra Raful, said that he would permit the import of meat to Israel from the slaughterhouse in question, saying that "in the case of AgriProcessors, there is no halachic problem."

Rabbi Raful's statement is alarming and halachically problematic on a number of levels. First, he ignores the halachic category of dina d'malchuta dina whereby Jews are required to follow the laws of their host country as long as the law does not intrude upon Jewish law. The consequence of this statement is that the Israeli rabbinate publicly gives its approval that Jewish-owned business ignore US law because it prohibits a practice that is ostensibly permitted by Jewish law.

Second, the Israeli rabbinate characterizes Jewish law as holding a lesser standard of compassion to animals than even a secular government, creating the impression of moral failure in the eyes of both other nations and our own people. Third, by commenting that "there is no halachic problem," the rabbinate represents that the mitzva of tsa'ar ba'alei haim (prohibition against the unnecessary infliction of pain on an animal) as somehow non-applicable in the pre- and post-shehita process.

Rabbi Raful further says, "The Torah is not subjective and the same Torah that prohibits cruelty to animals allows shehita." This statement is a nonsensical red herring. The USDA report does not criticize shehita; it criticizes the causing of unnecessary suffering to animals before the shehita occurs and the torturous carcass dressing of conscious animals after the shehita takes place.

The Torah allows shehita, but the Torah does not allow cruel acts to be appended to the prescribed process of kosher slaughter.

RABBI RAFUL'S statements express the view espoused by the senior haredi posek Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who opines that Halacha permits causing animals any amount of suffering if, as a result, there is some tangible human benefit. That is, the mitzva of tsa'ar ba'alei haim exists exclusively to prohibit sadistic behavior toward animals.

Thankfully, many poskim, including Maimonides, believe that the prohibition against cruelty to animals informs our interactions with animals far beyond sadism.

Starting with the Israeli rabbinate and including the Orthodox Union (OU) which is responsible for supervision at AgriProcessors plant, we have an irresponsible representation of Jewish law and Jewish values. The Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism voiced consternation at the time of the expose, thereby continuing the concern for animal welfare exhibited by its 2000 ruling requiring upright holding pens during shehita. Sadly, the assembly has not initiated any action toward the implementation of the ruling nor the reforming of current kosher slaughterhouse abuses - rather, the organization has depended on Orthodox agencies to correct themselves.

Indeed, eventually, after the scandal broke and in cooperation with the OU and the USDA, AgriProcessors reportedly ceased the trachea-rip procedure and introduced a stun gun that immediately kills animals not rendered unconscious after the first cut. These animals are processed for nonkosher sale.

Yet the cessation of cruel practices at one plant does not address the problem of rabbis who continue to defend such practices. The rabbis whom we have entrusted to interpret Halacha and represent the honor of Jewish character have been derelict in their duties.

It is fair for the Jewish community to expect people of integrity, vision and courage to represent it. We have a right to expect our leadership to raise the alarm at the ethically atrocious, even in the face of popular criticism.

Fortunately, Judaism has a self-correcting mechanism that does not rely solely on rabbis discerning truth. The Jewish community is empowered to voice opinion, to hold its leadership accountable and to demand reforms of abusive industries.

The writer, a Conservative rabbi, is spiritual leader of Congregation Moreshet Yisrael and teaches at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, both in Jerusalem.

March 31, 2006

Editor, Jerusalem Post

Dear Editor:

Re Rabbi Adam Frank's article, "When 'kosher' slaughter is not Jewish" (March 31, 2006 issue), in which he points out the inconsistencies between practices at the Postville, Iowa glatt kosher slaughterhouse and Jewish teachings on compassion to animals:
As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I believe, respectfully, that Rabbi Frank’s challenging article discusses only one of the many ways that animal-based diets and modern intensive livestock agriculture are inconsistent with basic Jewish teachings.

Even if shechita is carried out perfectly, can we ignore the severe cruelty that animals are subjected to on factory farms, where they are raised in cramped, confined spaces, without sunlight, fresh air, or opportunities to fulfil their instinctual needs. When Judaism stresses that we must diligently protect our health, can we ignore that animal-based diets are major contributors to the epidemic of heart disease, many forms of cancer, and other killer diseases and ailments afflicting the Jewish community and others? When Judaism mandates that we be partners with God in protecting the environment, can we fail to consider that animal-centered agriculture contributes significantly to global warming, air, water, and land pollution, species extinction, deforestation, water shortages, and many other environmental threats.

Rabbi Frank’s article should be a wake-up call that results in the Jewish community addressing the fundamental question: since Judaism mandates that we should diligently guard our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people, and animal-based diets and agriculture have negative effects in each of these areas, shouldn’t Jews (and others) seriously consider a switch toward meatless diets?

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

Return to Top

5. Connections Between Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Esperanto

By Aliza Carol

I feel there is no need for me to comment about the relationship between Judaism and Vegetarianism for the Jewish Vegetarians of North America Newsletter. I do feel there is a need to comment here about the other two sides of the triangle: the relation between Esperanto and Vegetarianism, as well as the relation between Esperanto and Judaism.

Esperanto and Vegetarianism

Esperanto is more than a language, it is also a "movado", a social movement that aims to improve the quality of life on the earth, the same as Vegetarianism does. Discussions round the use of Esperanto do not involve only linguistic problems; there are also talks about the "language ecology" of the planet, the necessity to protect endangered languages and cultures that may be destroyed by the pressure of dominant languages and cultures. As the communication systems develop, the need for an easy-to-learn, quick-to-learn, cheap-to-learn, neutral international language grows and Dr. Zamenhof's dream becomes more and more topical. So does the dream about a vegetarian world. People who care about the quality of life on the earth have a tendency to go enthusiastic about both movements. The World Esperantist Vegetarian Association (TUTMONDA ESPERANTISTA VEGETARANA ASOCIO) was founded in 1908 and its first honorary president was Leo Tolstoy. The aim of the association was (still is!) to spread vegetarianism among Esperanto-speaking people and to spread Esperanto among vegetarians. The association publishes a review called "Esperantista Vegetarano". Here is the address of the association:


I must add that for me, as an Israeli Jewish writer, both Esperanto and Vegetarianism are sources of poetic inspiration. Food becomes more than food when you contemplate it as divine gifts of the earth; words become more than words when you contemplate a language as an instrument of increasing peace and harmony on the earth.

Esperanto and Judaism.

Dr. Zamenhof's native languages were Russian and Yiddish and he began to learn Hebrew and the Torah at the age of 5. As a result of these biographical circumstances, Yiddish and Hebrew are among the languages that he used when he created Esperanto. His knowledge of Hebrew and of the Torah was so deep, that he succeeded to translate the whole Tanach [Torah, Nevi’im (prophets)., and ketuvim (writings, including the books of psalms and proverbs)] into Esperanto in an exquisite poetic way.

The fact that Dr. Ludovikus Lazarus (Eliezer) Zamenhof, the creator of the international language Esperanto, was a Jew and the fact that a great percentage of the early supporters of the language were Jews were not hazardous facts. It was at the end of the 19th century that the Esperanto phenomenon appeared in Europe, as a result of the anguish and deep dilemmas haunting the Jewish hearts and minds. Esperanto was the beautiful dream of a Jewish poet and physician, that is why Esperanto has the beauty of a poem and at the same time aims to cure some of the deep wounds of mankind. Esperanto means "the hoping one" in Esperanto language. It was the pen-name used by Dr. Zamenhof and gradually his pen-name became the very name of the international language he created.

Esperanto meant hope for some of the Jews who had to live in Nazi camps. Here is one of the most moving stories about the use of Esperanto in the Nazi camps:

In 2003, when the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon embarked in his cosmic journey, he took with him as a symbol of the Shoah, a copy of a painting entitled "Moon Landscape", which may be found in the Yad VaShem Museum. That painting had been made in 1945 by a Jewish teenager of Prague, who was to be killed in Auschwitz soon after. The name of the boy was Petr Ginz; he belonged to a Jewish Esperantist family; Esperanto together with Czech were his native languages. During his stay in the Theresienstadt camp, the boy began to compile an Esperanto – Czech dictionary and a few pages from it are still kept in the archives of Yad VaShem.

Esperanto as an international dream belongs to international culture of course, but at the same time, for many reasons, one can see it also as a significant part of Jewish history.


[I took the information about Petr Ginz from Doron Modan's article "The Esperantist Who Journeyed From The Getto To The Cosmos" ("La esperantisto, kiu vojag^is el la getto al la kosmo") in the Esperanto review "Israela Esperantisto", Dec. 2004. This review is published by ELI (Esperanto-Ligo en Israelo).
For those who want to read a serious study about Esperanto and Judaism, I can recommend the book "Zamenhof and Judaism" ("Zamenhof kaj judismo", 1997 Memeldono) by Andre Cherpillod. Besides the Esperanto edition, there is also a French edition available.]


Return to Top

6. Using the Global Warming Crisis to Promote Vegetarianism/ Please Comment on Proposed Press Release

a. Article: The best way we could battle global warming is stop consuming animals

[opinion from Asheville Citizen-Times]

Thousands of peer-reviewed climate scientists agree that global warming is a very real threat to our existence, yet the concept is still being challenged. Wealthy and powerful business interests have put a stranglehold on meaningful federal legislation that would help reverse the warming of our planet. In the last presidential election, the environment was barely mentioned. Local governments have been taking the lead, resulting in some progressive laws. Industry is slowly responding to consumer demand by producing hybrid cars, energy efficient appliances, wind and solar power systems, green building products, etc. These advances are important, but still fall far short of the changes needed to reverse the damage that has been done.
Actually, there is something everyone can do which doesn't take any extra money or an act of Congress, and will significantly effect climate change. What is ironic is that "environmentalists" steer clear of the idea and rarely mention it, probably not wanting to make the change themselves, or appearing too out of the mainstream. I read about this important environmental action in a London newspaper; it has been ignored in the United States, even though the research was done here.

What is this human activity that is more important than driving an eco-friendly car? It's what you put into your mouth. Jonathon Porritt stated in an article in the Guardian on Jan. 4 that, "Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin at the University of Chicago have calculated the relative carbon intensity of a standard vegan diet in comparison to a U.S.-style carnivorous diet, all the way through from production to processing to distribution to cooking and consumption. An average burger [eating] man (that is, not the outsize variety) emits the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes more CO2 every year than the standard vegan. By comparison, were you to trade in your conventional gas-guzzler for a state-of-the-art Prius hybrid, your CO2 savings would amount to little more than one tonne per year." (http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~gidon/ papers/nutri/nutri.html)

Eliminating animal products from your diet significantly helps the planet, not to mention your health and the animals.
The science is clear. A vegan diet is more effective in reducing CO2 emissions than driving a hybrid car. A vegan diet can also eliminate a major source of methane, which, according to EarthSave, is "responsible for almost half of the global warming impacting the planet today." It's time that environmental groups and the government, at all levels, embrace what is a highly effective strategy for reducing global warming, advocating a vegan diet.

Most environmental groups can barely spit out the words, "eat lower on the food chain," but they would better serve the earth if they made veganism the cornerstone of their global warming campaigns. They should be shouting about it, but, instead, won't even have the conversation.

Adopting a vegan diet is as easy as shopping in a different aisle at the grocery store or ordering from a different section of the menu (www.GoVeg.com).

Terri David is an 18-year vegan living in Asheville. She has a B.S. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from Northwestern University. She can be reached at terri_david@bellsouth.net.

b. Proposed resolution on global warming



For Immediate Release:
April ______, 2006

Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
Rschw12345@aol.com Phone: (718) 761-5876

New York: A broad coalition of groups and prominent individuals (list, in formation, at the end of this release) announced today the start of a broad campaign to make people aware that a major shift toward vegetarianism is essential to avoid many environmental, health, and other severe threats that face humanity today.

The coalition cited the following facts as examples of the urgency of major dietary shifts and other positive lifestyle changes if disaster is to be averted:

* The negative effects of global warming are increasingly apparent, in terms of record heat waves, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, increasing numbers and severity of hurricanes and other storms, widespread droughts and flooding, unprecedented migration of species, and increases of sea levels.

* Several climate experts, including James Hansen, NASA’s leading expert on global warming have indicated that the world may face a "tipping point" in ten years, after which global warming effects may spiral out of control. Even mainstream Time Magazine, in a cover story, indicates that people should be "very worried" as it details the many negative results of climate disruption.

* While recent increased concern about global warming very welcome, the many connections between typical American (and other Western) diets and global warming have generally been overlooked. Current modern intensive livestock agriculture and the consumption of animal products greatly contribute to the four major gases associated with the greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and chlorofluorocarbons. The burning of tropical forests releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and eliminates the ability of these trees to absorb carbon dioxide. Also, the highly mechanized agricultural sector uses enormous amounts of fossil fuel to produce pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and other agricultural resources, and this also contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. Cattle emit methane as part of their digestive process, as do termites who feast on the charred remains of trees that were burned to create grazing land and land to grow feed crops for farmed animals. The large amounts of petrochemical fertilizers used to produce feed crops create significant quantities of nitrous oxides. Likewise, the increased refrigeration necessary to prevent animal products from spoiling adds chlorofluorocarbons to the atmosphere

"People who eliminate all animal products from their diet," said Gidon Eshel of the University of Chicago, "reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 1.5 tons of CO2 per year. That's a 50% greater impact on climate change than switching from a typical gas guzzling car to a hybrid."

* It is estimated that at least half of the world’s people will live in areas chronically short of water by the middle of this century. Here too, the effects of the widespread production of animal products is generally overlooked -- It takes up to 14 times as much water (and far more land, energy and other resources) on an animal-based diet than it does on a vegan diet.

* The combination of widening global warming effects and chronic water shortages threatens to reduce food productivity and thus to threaten major future food shortages. Once again, there are strong connections to the widespread production and consumption of animal products: The world is not only trying to feed 6.5 billion people, but also the over 50 billion farmed animals that are raised worldwide for slaughter annually; Seventy percent of the grain produced in the US (and over a third produced worldwide) is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people already die worldwide of hunger and its effects worldwide.

* Due to increased flooding and droughts, water shortages and hunger, there is an increasing chance for violence, terrorism, and regional wars over scarce resources. In a major London address, British Defense Secretary John Reid warned that global climate change and dwindling natural resources are combining to increase the likelihood of violent conflict over land, water and energy. Climate change, he indicated, "will make scarce resources, clean water, viable agricultural land even scarcer" -- and this will "make the emergence of violent conflict more rather than less likely."

* Additional current environmental threats that are worsened by animal-based diets and agriculture include the rapid loss of biological diversity, as species are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, and destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats.

The coalition also stressed that a shift toward plant-based diets would greatly reduce the current epidemic of heart disease, several forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, and also reduce threats from avian flu, mad-cow disease, and other diseases that have been associated with modern intensive livestock agriculture.

"In summary, the world is threatened as perhaps never before," stated __________, "and it is essential that the major impact that animal-based agriculture is having be recognized and changed. A shift to plant-based diets would also reduce the epidemic of heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases afflicting so many people and the widespread mistreatment of billions of farmed animals on factory farms." [I hope to get someone well known to make this or a similar statement.]

The coalition is urging its members to contact media, political, educational, and religious leaders, and neighbors, friends, and relatives, in efforts to make people aware that a shift to vegetarianism is not only an important individual choice, but that it is also a societal imperative, necessary to shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable course.

* * * * *

[So far, this is just a small sample of groups that I think would support this initiative. I have not obtained permission yet to include these groups, but I believe that they and many additional vegetarian, animal rights, environmental, health, and other groups will endorse this press release.]

Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI)

Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM)

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature (ICPAN)

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)


People for the Ethical treatment of Animals (PETA)

Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV)

Return to Top

7. What We Are Up Against in Promoting Vegetarianism/Some Responses

Below are my letter to the editor of a magazine for teen age Orthodox girls, responding to a generally negative response from the editor to a question on vegetarianism, the editor’s response, in which she indicated that “many of the issues you raised, such as health, protecting the environment, helping the hungry, etc., are indeed very important, but they are only tangentially related to vegetarianism,” and responses from two JVNA advisors to the editor’s response.
March 29, 2006

Editor, Shoshanim

Dear Rebbitzin Rochel,

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and author of the book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism," I would like to comment respectfully on your response to the girl whose sister is a vegetarian. I agree that the Torah does not demand that Jews be vegetarians. As you indicate, we have a choice of diets, but shouldn’t our choice consider the negative effects of animal-based diets on human health and that of our imperiled planet, and how the consumption and production of animal-foods violate basic Jewish teachings on taking care of our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people.

There are many ways to elevate sparks of holiness, but it seems hard to do this by eating animals, when the animals are treated so cruelly on factory farms, when the consumption of animal products is causing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish community and other communities, and when the raising of animals contributes significantly to global warming, rapid extinction of species, widening water shortages, destruction of tropical rain forests, and other environmental threats.

How about a respectful dialogue/debate in the pages of Shoshanim on "Should Jews Be Vegetarians?" I believe that it would be a kiddush Hashem.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
The editor’s response:

BS"D [with the help of Hashem]

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. I admire your passion about vegetarianism. However, I view it as a personal choice and not as a passionate issue from the perspective of Judaism. Also, many of the issues you raised, such as health, protecting the environment, helping the hungry, etc., are indeed very important, but they are only tangentially related to vegetarianism.

If you are not already a subscriber to Shoshanim, please consider subscribing, either for yourself or for your children or grandchildren.

Best wishes for a chag kosher v'sameach,
Rebbetzin Rochel
Responses from two JVNA advisors:

What we have going for us is that Rebbetzin Rochel is into passionate Judaism. This is appropriate for someone who works with teens. She also states that health, environment and helping the hungry are very important.

The only thing missing is that Rebbetzin Rochel is not aware of the direct link between the issues she says are important and vegetarianism. I think we should commend her for her caring, and her sensitivity to issues of the hungry, health and the environment which are of vital interest from the perspective of the Torah. We can also refer her to vegetarianism as being a cause of idealism that would be very attractive to a significant number of teens. Even for those who are not ready to go all the way, a vegetarian-oriented diet, that is reduced meat eating, even if not purely vegetarian would help us do promote Torah values: protect our lives, help us adhere to the Torah's admonition to take care of the widow, the orphan and the stranger, facilitate the keeping of the prohibition of wantonly cutting down trees, help preserve the rainforests of Brazil including 20% of the oxygen supply of the world, and many species of flora and fauna there for which future medicationsmight depend.

Here is something that every young girl can do to help make herself healthier, the world a better place, help all people and help the Jews be a light unto the nations. Each person can make a difference irrespective of age, educational level, or income.

Steve Kelter
Response 2 (from JVNA founder and present advisor Jonathan Wolf):

Did you tell her that you (and your daughters and sons in law and grandchildren) are Orthodox? Unfortunately, it can make a big difference in your credibility to such people.

Also, she is gravely (though not atypically) misinformed in not understanding how meat production and consumption are central, not peripheral, to issues of health, pollution, hunger, and destruction of resources. Does she realize that (--what are the current figures?) more grain is fed to animals for meat than to people in the USA? That solid waste from animals is much greater than from humans? That the important international studies of hunger identify greatly increased meat production in poorer countries as the most significant reason that they will not be able to sufficiently reduce hunger over the next decade or two?

All the best-- -Jon

Return to Top

9. Potential Counseling On a Vegan Lifestyle

Forwarded message:

Hello Richard,

I am a vegan life coach, specializing in coaching animal advocates and vegans and vegetarians who want to be effective at talking with non-veg people about their choices. Often it can be difficult for new veg*n people to navigate relationships or traditional meals after they have made the switch. Sometimes people can be very distressed when they realize how much suffering happens on factory farms and can feel helpless when it comes to making a difference, or misdirect their anger at loved ones who don't see things their way.

My company is called Living With Purpose, I coach on the phone and cover the long distance charges for any client within the United States. I've been vegan for over 10 years, and am a certified coach with a background in management and non-profit campaign coordination. I do personal coaching, as well as facilitate group coaching sessions, etc.

I wanted to let you know that I exist and what I do, in the event that you may know some people who would be interested in coaching. I've found that the animal advocacy and vegetarian community has been excited to know that there is a coach that specializes in the areas of most importance to them.

Thank you for writing in to the MN Daily - it's been fantastic to read so many supportive letters on response to the cage-free egg campaign and Peter Singer's visit to Minnesota.


Dallas Rising
Certified Professional Coach, CTACC
Living With Purpose, LLC
3024 Harriet Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612-824-2072 | http://www.DallasRising.com
"Developing Effective Advocates for Social Justice"

Return to Top

10. You Can Hear Me Discuss Passover and Vegetarianism and the “Environmental Shabbat” on April 9

In a message dated 3/22/06 8:29:06 AM, sjd@monmouth.com writes:

April 9 from 1:30-2pm is solid with me.

You can hear the interview at www.wctcam.com

People can call in at:
732-545-9282 or 1-888-545-9282. Talk with you then. Thanks.

Return to Top

15. It’s Time to Celebrate Kindness

Forwarded message from NAHEE:
67 Norwich Essex Turnpike, East Haddam, CT 06423-1736

It's Time to Celebrate Kindness!
Are you ready for Be Kind to Animals Week (May 7-13)? NAHEE has some fun, hands-on ways for children to participate.

* Kids will get hooked on helping when they visit the Project Pond and Activity Tree at www.kindnews.org.

* From a relay race for pet supplies to making treats for backyard birds, each Critters with Character Lesson Plans book features 30 engaging, educational group activities.

* Hold a "story time" event at your library, elementary school, or animal shelter. For good stories with humane themes, check out our Troubadour’s Tales Storybook and CD and “Best Books” picks.

* The super-sized 100 Ways to Be Kind to Animals Megaposter illustrates simple ways kids can show kindness all year long.

* Just for preschoolers: Teach the basics of kindness with songs, puppets, games, and movement activities in the Let's Be Kind to Animals! Activity Kit.

* For middle- and high-school students: www.HumaneTeen.org includes plans for starting an animal protection club, step-by-step projects, downloadable study and activity guides on important issues affecting animals, and more.

Deadline approaching! Be sure to place your KIND News orders by July 1 so that teachers and students receive the September 2006 issue.

Return to Top

16. Comment On the Last Shabbat’s Torah Portion on Sacrifices

Forwarded message from JVNA advisor Steve Kelter:

This Shabbat we begin reading the 3rd book of the Torah, Leviticus - Vayikra. In this weeks portion, we read of the sacrifices to God. The purpose of the sacrifices was to help a person draw closer to God. Most of them were animal, some were vegetarian. This presents an issue for me as a vegetarian. There are some who pray even now for a return of animal sacrifices at the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbi Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, in the land of Israel, who lived in the pre-State period, taught that in the messianic period in the first stage animal sacrifices would still be offered and in the second stage all sacrifices would be vegetarian. That would be the period when the lion would lie down with the lamb and even the animals would be vegetarian. No one would hurt anyone else.

I was taught by my teacher Rabbi Shlomo Riskin that the ideal of kashrut is not to kill at all. Does God really want us to kill animals in order to draw closer to Him? When the sacrificial laws were presented in the Torah, the culture of all peoples, at least in that part of the world included animal sacrifice. The pagan sacrificial cult included idolatry, immorality and corruption. I see the Torah sacrificial system as a means to wean His people away from immorality and towards holiness.

Ultimately, I believe, His objective is to bring us to the point of not hurting anyone or any living being. If animal sacrifices are what the people need at least do it morally. If people are not ready to give up eating meat, at least do it in a way that will cause the least hurt.

Return to Top

17. The Meatrix, Part II, Now On Line

"The Meatrix II: Revolting" is now live at:

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.