May 7, 2006

5/7/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update on JVNA Video

2. JVNA Pamphlets

3. Relating Shavuot and Vegetarianism

4. Three of My Recent Letters to Editors

5. Article on New Video "If This Is Kosher..."

6. Great Letter on Foie Gras Ban in Chicago

7. Article by Rabbi Marc Gellman on Vegetarianism

8. Israel Joins Nations Opposing Whaling

9. Jewish Vegans Demonstrate Against Genocide in Sudan

10. Update on the Recent Ban on Foie Gras in Chicago

11. Animal-based Diets a Major Factor Behind Global Warming

12. Major Study Questions Health Benefits of Fish


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.

Thanks,
Richard

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1. Update on JVNA Video

We are continuing to make progress in producing our video, now tentatively titled: “So It Is Written,” with a sub-title, “Applying Jewish Values to Help Save an Imperiled World.” Suggestions on the title and subtitle are very welcome.

Recent reports about global warming (see below) and other environmental threats, and the general failure to recognize the huge effects that animal-based diets and agriculture are having, are making it increasingly clear that completing our video is essential and that it has the potential to make a major difference.

Lionel Friedberg, our multi-award-winning film producer has just completed a very successful visit to the East coast in which he:

* interviewed Roberta Kalechofsky, founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights and Micah Publications and author and editor of many books on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism and animal rights;

* interviewed Joel Fuhrman, MD, an expert on preventing diseases through proper nutrition, and an author of several books and frequent speaker about proper nutrition;

* interviewed me and videotaped me at work in my office;

* videotaped numerous Torah verses, and verses from the siddur, Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets;

* videotaped a simulation of the Torah being raised and then properly covered.

Lionel still has one trip ahead of him in which he plans to interview three additional Jewish vegetarian leaders. After that, we will move into the final production phases.

While we have made some progress re getting background footage, we are still seeking footage on the following topics:
*hospitals, including wards and surgery
* road accidents
* harvesting, reaping
* aftermath of terrorist attack,
* demonstrations in Israel
* the Israeli Knesset in session.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions re getting such footage or similar footage. Thanks.

So, we are making great progress, and have the potential of producing a documentary video that can make a tremendous difference in getting the Jewish community involved in efforts that can move our endangered planet to a more sustainable path. However, we are desperately in need of additional funds. We are very grateful to NALITH for two grants of $4,000 each, and to people who have already contributed. However, to complete the video, we still will need at least $20,000 to $30,000. We would need far more if Lionel and his wife, a professional film editor, were taking professional fees. They are only being reimbursed for their expenses. So, please contribute and help us complete this project that has so much potential. Many thanks. All contributions are very welcome and will be acknowledged, and as indicated, all contributors of $1,000 or more will be mentioned in the final credits. We have already received such contributions or more from Roberta Kalechofsky, Roberta Schiff, John Diamond, and an anonymous donor. I have contributed $15,000 because I believe so strongly in this project, with the hope, especially on my wife’s part, that somehow some of that money will be reimbursed.

Please make a tax deductible contribution online (at the bottom of the page click on "Donate") or by a check made out to Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and sent to
Israel Mossman
6938 Reliance Road
Federalsburg, MD 21632

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2. JVNA Pamphlets

We have a very strong case for vegetarianism based on Jewish values, but we must be more effective in getting it out. Please contact us at mail@jewishveg.com to order multiple free copies of our very effective JVNA pamphlets to distribute. We have plenty of these very well-designed pamphlets, and he is eager to get them to you so that you can help get them to many additional people. Thanks.

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3. Relating Shavuot and Vegetarianism

Now that we “counting” the days until Shavuot, I plan to send the article below to my Jewish media list and to my lists of rabbis. So, please review the article and let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements. Also, please feel free to share the article with others and to use it and the sample letter below for your own letters and articles. Thanks.

Shavuot and Vegetarianism
By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the important Jewish festival of Shavuot:

1. Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the time of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, dietary regimen: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food'" (Genesis 1:29).

2. To honor the Torah, many Jews stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to study Torah teachings. It is some of these teachings -to guard our health and our lives, to treat animals with compassion, to share with hungry people, to protect the environment, and to conserve natural resources - that are the basis for Jewish vegetarianism.

3. Shavuot is also known as "Chag Hakatzir" (the Harvest Festival), since it climaxes the year's first harvest. Hence, it can remind us that many more people can be sustained on vegetarian diets than on animal -centered diets. While the Torah stresses that farmers are to leave the corners of their fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the hungry, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as 15 to 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects.

4. The Talmudic sages also referred to Shavuot as "Atzeret" (the closing festival of Passover). This name implies not only that Shavuot completes the harvest begun at Passover time, but also suggests that the Torah completes the physical liberation celebrated during Passover. Yet, while the Torah has many teachings on compassion toward animals and indicates, as part of the Ten Commandments, that animals are also to be able to rest on the Sabbath day, most farm animals are kept in cramped confined spaces where they are denied exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and the fulfillment of their instinctual needs.

5. There are several other Torah teachings that are seriously violated by animal-based diets: a) While the Torah mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives (Deuteronomy: 4-9, 4-15), animal-centered diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several forms of cancer, and other illnesses. b) While many Torah teachings are concerned with protecting the environment, modern intensive animal agriculture results in soil erosion and depletion, extensive air and water pollution related to chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats. c) While the Torah mandates bal tashchit, (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20) that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, livestock agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources.

6. Shavuot is a festival of thanksgiving to the Creator for His kindness. The full Hallel, psalms of praise and thanksgiving from Psalm 113 to 118, are chanted during morning synagogue services. Since one must be in good health and have a clear conscience in order to fully rejoice and be thankful, the many health benefits of vegetarian diets and the knowledge that such diets are not harmful to hungry people or animals are factors that can enhance thankfulness.

7. On Shavuot, Jews read the Book of Ruth in synagogues. One reason is that its barley-harvest setting echoes the harvest just ending as Shavuot arrives. One of Ruth's outstanding attributes was her acts of kindness. Vegetarianism is a way of showing kindness, because it best shares food with hungry people and it doesn't involve the mistreatment and death of animals.

8. The Book of Ruth begins with Naomi, Ruth's future mother-in-law, and her family leaving Israel because of a severe famine. Today, major shortages of food in the near future are being predicted by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington DC think tank, and others, and one major reason is that people in China, Japan, India, and other countries where affluence has been increasing, are joining the US and other western countries by moving to animal-centered diets that require vast amounts of grain.

9. The Book of Ruth indicates that Naomi's family suffered the death of her husband and her two sons because the family fled in the time of famine rather than using their leadership to help others in need. In contrast to this selfish act, vegetarianism considers not only personal well being, but also encompasses broader concerns, including the global environment, the world's hungry people, animals, and the efficient use of the world's resources.

10. According to the Talmud, Shavuot is the day of judgment for fruit trees and there is an obligation to pray for them. Yet, to create pasture land for cattle, tropical forests are being rapidly destroyed. The production of just one quarter-pound fast food hamburger can require the destruction of almost 55 square feet of tropical rain forest along with much animal and plant life.

11. Shavuot involves the highest spiritual teachings (the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai) and down-to-earth considerations - the wheat harvest and the offering of the first fruits in the Temple. This reminds us that ideally we should relate heaven to earth and translate the Divine laws to our daily lives. Vegetarianism is an attempt to do this because it applies Torah teaching to our sustenance needs.

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Shavuot by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism’s highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegetarian diet.
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Sample letters connecting Shavuot and vegetarianism

Dear editor,

Since Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jewish people, and there is increased Torah study on this important holiday, with many religious Jews staying up all night engaged in Torah study, it makes me wonder why the many ways that animal-based diets and agriculture violate Torah values seem to be generally ignored in the Jewish community:

1. While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals -- including those raised for kosher consumers -- are raised on "factory farms" where they live in cramped, confined spaces, and are often drugged, mutilated, and denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any enjoyment of life, before they are slaughtered and eaten.

3. While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord’s" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, global warming, and other environmental damage.

4 While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, and that we are not to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources.

5. While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter (it takes about 9 pounds of grain to produce one pound of edible beef), while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, shouldn’t committed Jews (and others) sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products?

One could say "dayenu" (it would be enough) after any of the arguments above, because each one constitutes by itself a serious conflict between Jewish values and current practice that should impel Jews to seriously consider a plant-based diet. Combined, they make an urgently compelling case for the Jewish community to address these issues.
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Dear Editor:

Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jewish people. There is increased Torah study on this important holiday, and many religious Jews stay up all night engaged in Torah study. Hence, this may provide a good occasion to respectfully raise some questions, such as:

Since the Torah mandates the avoidance of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (causing unnecessary pain to animals), why isn’t there far greater concern about the horrible treatment of animals (10 billion annually in the US alone) on factory farms?

Since the Torah mandates that we should very diligently guard our health, why don’t Jewish leaders speak out about the many negative health effects of animal-based diets?

Since the Torah mandates that we are to be shomrei adamah (guardians of the earth – Genesis 2:15), why are the many current severe environmental threats (all of which are significantly worsened by animal-based agriculture) not being adequately addressed by the Jewish community?

Since the Torah mandates that we are not to waste resources (bal tashchit – Deuteronomy 20: 19, 20), why isn’t the Jewish community addressing the fact that animal-based agriculture requires far more land, water, energy, and other agricultural resources than plant-based agriculture?

Since the Torah mandates that we are to share with hungry people, why isn’t the Jewish community (and others) addressing the fact that 70% of the grain produced in the United States is being fed to animals destined for slaughter while an estimated 20 million people die from malnutrition and its effects annually?

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4. Three of My Recent Letters to Editors

May 5, 2006

Editor, Staten Island Advance
letters@siadvance.com

Dear Editor,

As president of Jewish vegetarians of North America and author of the book, "Judaism and vegetarianism," I express kudos to you for the three wonderful articles on vegetarianism in the May 3, 2006 "Food" section. It is very heartening to read that "More people than ever are switching to diets rooted in fruits, vegetables and grains" and that "[Staten] Island is Fertile Ground for Vegetarians."

An increased shift toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative because animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to global warming, record species extinction, widening water shortages, deforestation, soil erosion and depletion and other environmental threats, and because animal-based diets have been shown in many scientific studies to be linked to heart disease, several forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

An increased shift toward vegetarianism is a religious imperative, because the widespread production and consumption of animal products violate religious mandates to protect our health, treat animals with compassion, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.

I wonder respectfully if anyone who eats animal products can please tell me why you have a diet that is so detrimental to your health, that is so devastating to our imperiled planet, that requires the annual slaughter of over 10 billion farmed animals in the U.S. alone, after they have been raised under very cruel conditions on factory farms, that requires massive amounts of scarce land, water, energy, and other resources, and that involves the feeding to animals of over seventy percent of the grain produced in the U.S. while millions of the world’s people die annually of hunger.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz
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Editor, the Forward
letters@forward.com

Dear Editor:

Re "Novelist Sharpens His Knife For Those Who Eat Animals" (April 7, 2006 article):

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I applaud the new video that respectfully discusses Judaism’s splendid teachings on compassion to animals and contrasts them with the major abuses of animals on factory farms and at the Postville slaughterhouse. I hope that it will be a wake-up call that will result in a consideration of the many ways that the production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish teachings.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator of the Orthodox Union's Kashrus Division, correctly states that "Video taken at any slaughterhouse would be gruesome." We should consider that this gruesome process creates a product that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, and that animal agriculture is contributing significantly to global warming, deforestation, widening water shortages, and many additional threats.

It is time for the Jewish community to address a fundamental question: Since Judaism mandates that we take care of our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people, and since the production and consumption of animal products seriously violate each of these mandates, shouldn’t Jews shift toward plant-based diets?

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April 16, 2006

Editor, Jerusalem Post
letters@jpost.com
[This letter was published in the Jerusalem Post.]

Dear Editor:

As indicated in your April 14 "Wellness" column, "Calcium is critical." But, how can we explain the fact that the countries where people consume the most dairy products, including Israel, the United States, and Scandanavian countries, have the highest rates of calcium, and that countries where most of the people are lactose intolerant, such as China, have far lower rates of osteoporosis. The answer is the high amounts of animal protein in meat and dairy products that delete calcium from the body.

The high amounts of nitrogen and sulphur in high animal-protein products acidify the blood and the body draws calcium from the bones in order to neutralize the excess acidity. This calcium is lost in the urine along with the excess protein. Hence people often have negative calcium balances, even though they consume high amounts of dairy products. The excretion of calcium and large amounts of animal protein also has very negative effects on the kidneys. The best solution is to reduce consumption of animal products, since they are also high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and often pesticides, hormones, and other dangerous additives, and to get calcium from plant-foods and enriched soy milk, orange juice, and cereals.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

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5. Article on New Video "If This Is Kosher..."

Forwarded message:

Jonathan Safran Foer Bedfellows with Pamela Anderson, Michael Bolton, Moby, k.d. lang; Takes on Kosher-Meat Industry in New Video
April 05, 2006
THE BOOK STANDARD
By Jerome Kramer

Jonathan Safran Foer, the Magical Judaism wunderkind author of 2002's Everything Is Illuminated and its 2005 follow-up, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, has apparently traded in his word processor for a muckraking videocam. Foer serves as host for a "video expos√©" of the kosher meat industry, entitled "If This Is Kosher …," in which he walks viewers through the investigation at AgriProcessors, described by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as the world’s largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse. Foer makes the case that modern animal farms violate Jewish law (halacha), which requires humane treatment of animals, and concludes that Jews should reject violence to animals and adopt a vegetarian diet.

"The video shows completely conscious cows who are writhing in agony in pools of their own blood," says PETA’s Ben Goldsmith. "Workers jab cows in the face with electric prods, rip their tracheas out of their throats while the animals are still conscious, and dump them onto a concrete floor, where they stumble and try to get up as blood pours from their throats. Many can be seen standing and walking around as their tracheas dangle from their necks."

"Not at all surprisingly, veterinary and animal welfare experts unanimously condemned AgriProcessors. Very surprisingly, though, both the plant and kosher certification agencies actually defended these cruel practices," explains Foer. Referring to plant owner Sholom Rubashkin’s claim that PETA’s video represents kosher slaughter "in its full glory," Foer asks, "Do you agree? Are these the highest standards of Jewish law and tradition? Or is this activity a perversion of our tradition, on the part of a massive corporation, whose interest in profits is all-consuming enough to allow such blatant cruelty to happen?"

Rabbis Irving "Yitz" Greenberg (Orthodox), president of the Jewish Life Network, and David Wolpe (Conservative), of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, also appear in the video in support of Foer and PETA’s suggestion that the best way for Jews to take a stand against cruelty is to adopt a vegetarian diet.

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6. Great Letter on Foie Gras Ban in Chicago

Forwarded message:

Re: Recent Chicago foie gras ban.
NY Times article
Chicago Tribune article

The following note was sent to the Chicago Tribune, which ran a piece on Chicago's ban on pate foie gras (the first city to do so). Mayor Daley -- a politician for whom the word "machine politician" was apparently coined, came out criticizing the ban on the grounds of frivolity. He scoffed at the City's council priorities, arguing that "with children being killed, we couldn't distract ourselves with lesser, ridiculous issues."

COMMENT REGARDING THE FOIE GRAS CONTROVERSY 4.27.06

To the editor:

The City of Chicago, and its enlightened aldermen, deserve praise for their courageous stands on behalf of public health (banning smoking in public places) and the humane treatment of animals, even if the foie gras ban only concerns a very small fraction of the creatures we subject to pain and death for the sake of a meat-based diet. (Sacré Bleu! No foie gras for you, 4.26.06)

Let me state for the record that I am no ascetic and I am no "goose-hugger" either--a term I find gratuitously derisive despite a rather robust sense of humor. I appreciate the good table as much as the next guy, but, frankly, I can't find a way to justify my pleasures at the expense of another sentient being, just because this being happens to be a creature our species can easily exploit, manipulate or destroy at will. I therefore celebrate this ban as a triumph of civilized behavior, compassion, and justice over selfish individualism, and the fact that "right" has prevailed--at least momentarily-over "might." The freedom to tyrannize is not a freedom worth honoring, a point that apparently eludes the ever opportunistic Richard Daley who, in typical demagogue style, chose to play it safe and hide behind what he perceived to be the mainstream viewpoint by advancing a ridiculous "either or" proposition. Fact is, we can't wait to have every problem besetting human society solved before we attend to other "non-human" issues. If the aldermen could pass a ban that held on killing children, and that really did the trick, of course they'd have passed that decades ago. But keeping children from being killed is not as easily regulated as banning cruelty performed by an industry, or group of industries-and any thinking person can see that, perhaps even Mr. Daley. Hence the appropriateness of this city ruling.

Incidentally, in one of those cases where the writer tries to be "balanced and fair," the article says that, "ban supporters claim [fois gras] production is barbaric." "Claim"? To produce foie gras, a duck or goose is restrained and a metal pipe is shoved down the bird's throat and into the stomach. A massive quantity of corn is pressure-driven down the pipe, often causing a rupture of the bird's stomach or esophagus, leading to a very slow and agonizing death. Vomiting is often prevented by tying an elastic band around the bird's throat. This force-feeding process takes place 3 to 5 times a day for a month, and transforms the 2 to 3 ounce liver into a 1 to 2 pound mass known as foie gras. If this is not barbaric, what is? I suppose your writer still can't decide.

PATRICE GREANVILLE

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7. Article by Rabbi Marc Gellman on Vegetarianism

The First Hamburger
A guilt-ridden carnivore makes the spiritual case for vegetarianism.
MSNBC.com
WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Marc Gellman
Newsweek
Updated: 3:58 p.m. ET April 20, 2006

April 20, 2006 - Reflecting on the Earth Day to come and on the lamb-besotted Easter and brisket-baked Passover that has passed, and still being emotionally tender from the death of my dog, I need to confess my steak-loving sins. Sins because there is simply no spiritual defense in either the Western or Eastern religious traditions for eating meat. The reason is not that meat is murder as some of my vegan friends claim. To say that is to also say that there is no moral distinction between cannibalism and dinner at The Palm. Eating animals may be right or wrong, but it is not wrong for the same reasons it is wrong to eat people. This is morally absurd and trivializes what is on its face an already daunting problem. The problem is that animals, though obviously not people, are also obviously not things. Animals are sentient beings and their deaths, particularly in the query of what is euphemistically called food processing causes them great pain and suffering. That is the nub of the spiritual problem. Animals are God's creations that, unlike plants, suffer when they die just to become food for us.

I have long believed that the Torah was not just given by God, but given by God on different levels simultaneously. There is a low Torah and a high Torah in the same Holy Writ. For example, the high Torah teaches us that there should be no war, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Micah 4:3). The low Torah, on the other hand, teaches that if you must make war, you must allow besieged people to go free, never cut down your enemy's fruit trees, and treat captives of war with respect. (Deuteronomy 20:19-20 and also Maimonides “Laws of Kings 6:8). The same is true for eating meat. As Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of the State of Israel taught, in Genesis 1:29 God clearly limits the diet of the first people to fruits and vegetables. Only after ten generations of corruption from Adam to Noah, at the end of the flood God offers a low Torah carnivorous concession to Noah and his descendants, “Every living thing that moves shall now also be yours for food.” (Genesis 9:3) However, God quickly adds the limitation of not eating meat with its blood in it (v.4) and the caution that there will be a reckoning for all blood we shed (v.5). The end result is a clear though subtle spiritual message that we can eat meat if we must, but we should work toward the high Torah goal of not wanting to.

Gandhi wrote that “There is no transcendence without renunciation.” This means to me that we, natural or habitual or meat-imprinted-from-childhood, carnivores should constantly try to overcome our baser instincts and rise to the level where we eat as low down on the sentience food chain as we can. It just makes sense to cause the least suffering possible to get through lunch or dinner.

As for me, I consider my love of meat a morally corrosive habit. I went eight years once as a vegetarian, but I ended up chiefly a dessert-atarian. I know however, that God is not finished with me, and I keep trying to love lettuce, humbled in the knowledge that when I die and am judged, a long line of chickens and cows will be clucking and mooing when I pass, “That's the man!! He's the guy who ate me!” Hey, if you want a teacher who knows what is true, stick with me. If you want a perfect teacher you'd better go somewhere else…I have burgers on the grill.

The first children's story about the Bible I ever wrote is a tribute to Rav Kook, and all the vegetarians living the high Torah in a broken world. And it goes something like this…

The First Hamburger

Once animals talked just like people. Once every living creature ate only grass and nuts and a few berries when they could find them. No living thing ever thought about killing another living thing to eat it, until the day Noah wanted a hamburger.One night Noah dreamed of a hamburger, and when he woke up, he wanted one really badly. But Noah wasn't exactly sure how to get a hamburger, so he asked his friend the cow, “I dreamed about a hamburger last night. Do you know where I can get one?”

The cow gave Noah a puzzled look and asked, “What's a hamburger?”

“I don't know exactly,” Noah replied. “All I know is that in my dream the hamburger was something delicious between two buns with lettuce, onions, pickles and some special sauce.”

“Have some more grass and forget about it,” said the cow.

Noah asked the snake, who was the smartest of all the animals, “What's a hamburger and how can I get one?”

The snake whispered in Noah's ear, “To get one you have to make one.”

“I don't know how to make one.” Noah sputtered.

The snake laughed, pointed at the cow who was peacefully munching some grass, and said to Noah, “To make a hamburger, you have to kill that cow, chop up her meat, and fry it in a pan--or flame broil it!”

Noah's mouth opened wide, “But...but...the cow is my friend! She is a living thing just like me! I can't kill her, chop up her meat and fry it in a pan! And what is flame broiling anyway?”

By now the snake was rolling around on the ground laughing, “Kid, if you want a hamburger, that's what you gotta do.”
Well...Noah really wanted a hamburger and so that's what he really did! The first hamburger tasted delicious. But when Noah came again to the fields everything was different. When he walked towards the birds, they flew away. When Noah went over to say hello to the cows and the sheep and the buffalo, they ran away from him. Even the fish swam away when they heard Noah coming.

Noah could not understand what had happened to his friends the animals, and he could not find one single animal that would explain it to him. In fact, since the day Noah ate the first hamburger, no animal has ever talked to a person. They are still too angry.

© 2006 MSNBC.com

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12409517/site/newsweek/

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8. Israel Joins Nations Opposing Whaling

Thanks to Charles Stahler, director of the Vegetarians Resource Group (VRG) for sending this item.

Israel Joins the Ranks of the Whale Defenders

With Japan on the threshold of seizing control of the International Whaling Commission, Israel has bolstered the ranks of the anti-whaling nations by joining the International Whaling Commission.

The Israeli decision was the result of a direct plea from the United States to help defend the 20-year old moratorium on commercial whaling. The moratorium came into effect in 1986 after centuries of whaling nearly drove several species to extinction.

Japan, along with outlaw whaling nations Norway and Iceland, have been bribing small, poor nations to join the IWC to vote in favor of resuming commercial whaling operations.

Finally, the whale-defending nations are beginning to do the same except that Israel did not need to be bribed. They were simply asked and accepted.

The International Whaling Commission, established in 1949, is an international organization responsible for the management of whaling and the conservation of whales. It currently has 66 signatory nations, split almost evenly between two camps – the pro-whaling nations, led by Japan, and the anti-whaling nations, led by the U.S. and Australia.

Israel will make this 34-33.

Japanese attempts to reintroduce commercial whaling were narrowly defeated at last year's annual meeting, and both sides have been attempting to shore up support ahead of the annual meeting in May, to be held in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Israel has no whaling industry and to date has yet to formulate an official policy on the contentious issue, but it is certain to join the anti-whaling bloc.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev confirmed the American request and said, "Israel is responding to concerns of friends and allies."

Stewart Tuttle, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv, said the U.S. ambassador made a personal appeal to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. A formal request also came from the U.S. representative to the whaling commission to the Israeli environment minister, he said.

"The U.S. believes that countries such as Israel can help make a difference in ensuring the long-term conservation of whale species and opposing attempts to weaken or minimize regulations for future whaling operations," Tuttle said.

Petsuya Mori, a spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in Tel Aviv said he would have not comment unless Israel formally joins the coalition.

Valerie Brachya, an Israeli Environment Ministry official, said whaling had previously not been high on Israel's agenda. But Israel is committed to global conservation efforts and will support "anything that we would see in a positive light from an environmental point of view," she said.

"Israel is active in international forums and sees itself as part of the global community for the protection of the environment," Brachya said.

Tuttle said Israel's input would be appreciated in the global body.

"Even in the absence of critical marine issues in Israel, the country can export its principles and sound environmental ethic to the IWC to effect change that will be seen for generations to come," he said.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society welcomes Israel and applauds their
conservation objectives. Sea Shepherd’s Founder and President Captain Paul Watson said, “Israel may be getting some bad press in other areas but today this nation is a friend of the whales and any friend of the whales is a friend to us.”

Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (1977-
Co-Founder - The Greenpeace Foundation (1972)
Co-Founder - Greenpeace International (1979)
Director of the Sierra Club USA (2003-2006)
Director - The Farley Mowat Institute
Director - www.harpseals.org

www.Seashepherd.org
Tel: 360-370-5650
Fax: 360-370-5651
Address: P.O. Box 2616
Friday Harbor, Wa 98250 USA

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9. Jewish Vegans Demonstrate Against Genocide in Sudan

On April 30, 2006, Jewish vegans demonstrated that a compassionate world that takes to heart Jewish teachings will take a stand against violence and cruelty, when inflicted on animals and on humans alike, as part of the rally in Washington, DC calling for action to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.


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10. Update on the Recent Ban on Foie Gras in Chicago

Forwarded message from Karen Dawn of dawnWatch:


On Wednesday, May 3, both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have articles on the recent ban on foie gras in Chicago and the intention of expanding the ban to other areas and perhaps to other cruel practices.

The New York Times article, (Pg F 3) is headed, "Organizing for an Indelicate Fight." It opens:
"Fresh from a victory in Chicago, where the City Council voted last week to ban the sale of foie gras, animal rights activists have set their sights on Philadelphia, where they are collecting signatures on a petition to ban the delicacy there."

And we learn, "Their influence on Whole Foods Market has led a foie gras producer to file a lawsuit against the natural-food grocery chain....

Whole Foods told Grimaud Farms last fall to stop processing and distributing Sonoma's ducks and foie gras or the grocer would no longer do business with the company. Grimaud, which sells ducks to Whole Foods, will terminate its contract with Sonoma at the end of this month."

"Events like these have spurred the foie gras industry, which estimates its sales were $20 million last year, to organize and to take on its opponents." The industry has hired a public advocacy and lobbying group.

We read:
"Until now, producers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs have not been organized, and they have been ineffective in countering the messages of their opponents, which include videos of the force-feeding of the birds, advertisements that include Pope Benedict XVI's position on force-feeding, and celebrities speaking out against the process."

A chef in California, where foie gras is banned from 2012, is quoted:
"If force-feeding a duck is cruel, then packing chickens in a cage is cruel, and then the veal and the beef. We are all going to be vegetarians soon if they have their way. We should probably start converting now.''

Then we read:

"Mr. Keller might have been joking, but animal activists are not. Their opposition to the force-feeding of ducks and geese is just the beginning of a campaign against what they consider inhumane farm practices.

'''It's only a matter of time before practices like cramming nine hens into an 18-by-20-inch wire mesh cage for their entire lives is made illegal,' said Bruce Friedrich, a PETA official."

You'll find the whole article on line


The Los Angeles Times article, on the cover of the food section (F1) is headed, "Chicago says no to foie. The city bans foie gras, but chefs refuse to give in quietly. California awaits the same fate."

It opens:
"Chicago's ban on the sale of foie gras has left chefs in the one-time big-shouldered hog butcher to the world shaking their heads and wondering what the next forbidden menu item will be.

"Last Wednesday, the Chicago City Council drew headlines by outlawing the sale of the luxury ingredient. The ordinance, which was proposed by Alderman Joe Moore, passed on a voice vote. It takes effect in mid-June. A similar measure was approved by the California Legislature in 2004, but doesn't take effect until 2012. That law will also prohibit production of foie gras.

"Animal rights groups have long criticized the making of foie gras — fattened duck or goose liver — as cruel because to produce the delicacy, the fowl must be force-fed for two weeks before slaughter.

"'My biggest fear is what's next,' says Grant Achatz, chef at the cutting-edge restaurant Alinea. 'Veal? Then rabbit? Squab? Let's face it, you can take apart just about any commercially grown animal and find some flaw in the raising process. It just depends on how far people want to push it.'

"Paul Kahan, chef at Blackbird and Avec, agrees. 'The implications are so far-reaching,' he says. 'Do we want politicians deciding what we can and cannot eat? I feel it's incredibly hypocritical because there are so many things people eat every day that are raised in an inhumane way. The way chickens are raised, if people saw it … commodity pork, I could just go on.'"

Indeed we read that Farm Sanctuary, one of the groups behind the foie gras ban, is "trying to educate people to the cruelty of factory farming." Their campaign manager, Meghan Beeby is quoted: "People just aren't aware of the psychological torture animals undergo in modern agriculture. What we are mostly concerned with is the cruelty involved in factory farming, and foie gras is one of the cruelest of the industries."

You'll find the whole Los Angeles Times article on line.

Both articles offer great opportunities for letters about the plight of animals raised for food. A great source of information is www.FactoryFarming.com.

The New York Times takes letters at letters@nytimes.com
The Los Angeles Times takes letters at letters@latimes.com

And why not keep an eye out for this issue in your local media and send a letter to your editor when you see something about foie gras?

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

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 http://www.DawnWatch.com. To unsubscribe, go to http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/dawnwatch_unsubscribe.cgi If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)

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11. Animal-based Diets a Major Factor Behind Global Warming

Forwarded message:

Meat-Eaters Aiding Global Warming?
New Research Suggests What You Eat as Important as What You Drive

April 19, 2006 -- Your personal impact on global warming may be influenced as much by what you eat as by what you drive.

That surprising conclusion comes from a couple of scientists who have taken an unusual look at the production of greenhouse gases from an angle that not many folks have even thought about. Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, assistant professors of geophysics at the University of Chicago, have found that our consumption of red meat may be as bad for the planet as it is for our bodies.

If you want to help lower greenhouse gas emissions, they conclude in a report to be published in the journal Earth Interactions, become a vegetarian.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that both researchers are vegetarians, although they admit to cheating a little with an occasional sardine. They say their conclusions are backed up by hard data.

Eshel and Martin collected that data from a wide range of sources, and they examined the amount of fossil-fuel energy — and thus the level of production of greenhouse gases — required for five different diets. The vegetarian diet turned out to be the most energy efficient, followed by poultry, and what they call the "mean American diet," which consists of a little bit of everything.

There was a surprising tie for last place. In terms of energy required for harvesting and processing, fish and red meat ended up in a "virtual tie," but that's just in terms of energy consumed. When you toss in all those other factors, such as bovine flatulence and gas released by manure, red meat comes in dead last. Fish remains in fourth place, some distance behind poultry and the mean American diet, chiefly because the type of fish preferred by Americans requires a lot of energy to catch.

Eating Red Meat Like Driving an SUV?

Can changing your diet really have much of an impact?

"It is comparable to the difference between driving an SUV and driving a reasonable sedan," said Eshel, who drives a Honda Civic, and only when he has to.

Eshel, who grew up on a farm, has always been interested in ecology and the impact we have on the planet. He got into this research, he says, because "now that I'm a professor of geophysics, I have tools in my tool kit that I can apply much more quantitatively and rigorously to evaluate what we do."

It's probably safe to say that both he and Martin figured the vegetarian diet would come out on top, but demonstrating that wasn't easy.

The first hurdle, Eshel says, was coming up "with those semirealistic diets." We don't all eat the same way, of course, so how do you figure out the accumulative impact of our widely varied diets?

The researchers began with data from the U.S. Department of Energy that quantifies the "food disappearance" rate.

"What they are referring to is the rate at which food disappears from supermarket shelves," Eshel said. On the basis of that data, they were able to construct the five semirealistic diets.

Then they collected data from a wide range of sources, mostly available to anyone on the Internet, concerning the amount of energy required to grow, harvest and prepare the foods that make up those five diets.

The centerpiece is the "mean American diet." About 72 percent of the calories from that diet are plant-based.

"Of course, most of it is tomatoes and ketchup and potatoes and french fries, but none the less it is plant-based," Eshel said.

Of the remaining 28 percent, about half comes from meat, and the rest from dairy and eggs.

When they looked at only carbon dioxide emissions associated directly with energy consumption, they came up with the vegetarian diet far less damaging to the planet than the others.

However, the researchers admit that their findings can't be considered exact. Take fish, for instance.

"The seafood portion of American diets is heavily skewed toward what is called charismatic predator fish," Eshel said, which are harder to catch. "Sword, shark and tuna and so on require long-distance ocean journeys, and those efforts are not efficient. They require a lot of labor and a lot of fossil fuel."

Switching from red meat to fish won't necessarily help the planet, unless you can develop a taste for anchovies, which prefer to remain closer to shore and travel in large schools that can be easily caught and harvested.

Considering the fact that so much of our energy goes into such areas as transportation, is it realistic to think of lowering greenhouse gases by changing the typical American diet?

The researchers insist it is. The United States, Eshel says, accounts for about 28 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.

"The U.S. has five sectors of the economy that are large emitters," he said. "Those are transportation, industrial, commercial, residential and agriculture."

Energy used in agriculture has grown substantially in recent years, he says, and now stands at around 18 percent or 19 percent of the nation's energy use.

The researchers say their findings show that at least 6 percent of that use comes from the production of foods that are not energy efficient, like cattle and the food to feed them. Considering that the "mean American diet is responsible for an additional ton-and-a-half of greenhouse gas emissions a year from each of us," the savings could be substantial.

"It's a huge deal," Eshel said.

So do these two vegetarians want us to give up our hamburgers and tuna and eat cauliflower?

"I hate to sound preachy," Eshel said, but it wouldn't hurt to give a little.

"I say eat whatever works for you, but just keep in mind that the less animal-based food you eat, and the more you replace those calories with plant-based food, the better off you are, in terms of your health as well as your contributions to the health of the planet. Bring on the anchovies!

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

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12. Major Study Questions Health Benefits of Fish

Article forwarded by JVNA advisor Dan Brooks:

Major Scientific Review: Eating Fish May Be Unhealthy

A major review of the 89 best studies between 2002 and 2006-published in the March 24, 2006, issue of the British Medical Journal-finds that there is no evidence of health benefits from eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements. Researchers from nine institutions analyzed the 89 most rigorous studies that looked at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on various health issues. Researchers said that they found no strong evidence that fish consumption had an effect on overall deaths or the prevention of heart disease, cancer, or strokes. Mike Knapton, a director at the British Heart Foundation, even noted that "some studies have shown a slightly increased risk associated with eating very high amounts of oily fish, which is possibly related to mercury levels." The magazine New Scientist summarized the review: "An analysis of studies found little evidence that fish oil supplements cut the risk of heart problems and even suggests that they could increase risk of heart attack in men with angina."

Although the study's authors did not find the expected increase in cancer rates as a result of eating fish, the authors suggested that the harm from "[t]oxic compounds, such as fat-soluble methylmercury, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls . found in oily fish and fish oils . would be seen only after long-term [consumption]." They wrote that the "dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls increase the risk of cancer" and that the mercury in fish "may increase the risk of myocardial infarction and cause neurological damage." Most concerning, the authors wrote that "harmful effects of methylmercury could be cumulative."

Learn more about thehealth effects of the toxins in fish flesh.

Read the British Medical Journal study.

If you really want to improve your health, adopt a vegan diet rich in whole
grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and soy. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity than meat-eaters do. Read more about the health benefits of a
vegetarian diet. It's never too late to turn over a new leaf-you can take control of your health by going vegetarian. Request a free vegetarian starter kit today!

Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters
www.brook.com/veg

The Vegetarian Mitzvah
www.brook.com/jveg

CyberBrook's ThinkLinks
www.brook.com/cyberbrook

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