December 25, 2006

12/24/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Our New Approach to JVNA Newsletters/Suggestions Welcome

2. Happy New Year

3. Getting Our Message Out Through Blogs

4. Pro-Animal Lobby Formed in Israeli Knesset

5. Another Article on Conservative Judaism's Statement on Ethical Issues Re the Production of Meat

6. Are Vegetarians Smarter Than the Average Person?

7. Vegetarian Rabbi Has “Vegetarian Car”

8. Vegan Retirement Village Forming

9. Article Summarizes Reasons For Being a Vegan

10. Good Analysis of Excuses Given for Not Being a Vegan

11. Excerpts From Canfei Nesharim Newsletter

12. Article by JVNA Advisor Dan Brook on Chanukah and Energy Conservation

13. JVNA Advisor Rina Deych's Letter to the Forward Re Conservative Judaism's Statement Re Working Conditions at Slaughterhouses

14. Environmentalist Creating Green Business NYC/Suggestions Welcome

15. Making Chanukah an Occasion for Energy Conservation/ My Letter

16. Religions' Contributions to Sustainable Development

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. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. Our New Approach to JVNA Newsletters/Suggestions Welcome

Through the efforts of JVNA Coordinator Noam Mohr, we are trying to improve the appearance of JVNA newsletters and to make it as easy for you to access the material that you are interested in as possible.

Please let us know what you think about the new approach and let us know if you have any suggestions for further improvements. Thanks.

I recognize that I have been sounding out much material in these JVNA newsletters, and I know that most of you will not have the time to read every item. I hope that the new format of the newsletter will help you get to the items you are interested in while ignoring others, if you wish. I plan to try to cut down on items. The problem is that so many items of interest are on lists that I get and are forwarded to me. Also, I like to try to help groups and individuals that share our objectives get their messages out. However, I have refrained from putting in some items this time that I normally would have put in, and I have shortened some other items when you can read the entire item using a provided link.

We will keep working to improve things, and once again, we welcome your suggestions.

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2. Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone,

I wish you:

A year of success in all of your endeavors

A year of good health

A year of prosperity

A year of fulfilling your dreams

A year of optimism and hope

A year when of great progress toward a more compassionate, healthy, just, peaceful and environmentally-sustainable world.
We have great potential for making much progress in 2007, especially if we get the funding we need to be more effective. We especially need much money to complete our movie, tentatively titled “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Heal The World.” (More about this in a separate message next week.)

Please make a year-end tax-deductible donation by sending a check made out to Jewish Vegetarians of North America, to

Israel Mossman
6938 Reliance Road
Federalsburg, MD 21632

Many thanks.

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3. Getting Our Message Out Through Blogs

As you probably know, blogs are increasingly becoming a popular way to get messages out to people and to have dialogues on issues of interest to specific groups. Please be on the lookout for blogs to which you might send a vegetarian message. Perhaps an Internet search might reveal some blogs run by rabbis and other influential Jews,

Remember that we do not have much re financial resources, but we have truth, justice, compassion and morality on our side, and it is essential that we try to get our messages out as effectively as possible, using all the available communication outlets that we can..

If someone would like to compile a list of blogs that have Jewish, vegetarian, animal rights, environmental and related themes, please let me know. This could be very helpful. You never know when you are reaching a person with a message that might change his or her life and possibly start a “snowball effect” that can lead to a major change. Thanks.


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4. Pro-Animal Lobby Formed in Israeli Knesset

Forwarded message:

Subject: Israel: pro-animal lobby formed in Knesset
Fri Dec 15, 2006 4:55 pm (PST)

[This is a very encouraging development. I plan to try to work with the members of the lobby to help promote vegetarianism in Israel. Also, as indicated in the messages below, there is a group, Noah, which is an umbrella group for animal rights groups in Israel. I think that we could use such a group in the United States so that we could get many groups working together toward common purposes.]

The following article appeared on Ynet, the internet edition of Yediot Acharonot, Israel's largest newspaper. The article describes a pro-animal lobby formed in the Knesset by Hakol Chai, the Israeli sister charity of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI). The purpose of the lobby is to promote pro-animal legislation.

The first bill to be introduced is a law that will provide for animals in disasters. CHAI/Hakol Chai was active in rescuing and rehoming animals during the disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza, and during the war this summer between Israel and Hezbollah. 40 of the puppies rescued during the war were brought to the U.S. to find homes here (see website for details and photos). Improving conditions in the municipal pounds, another issue of concern promoted by Hakol Chai/CHAI over the years, is also being discussed.

ynet - 29.11.06

"From today, animals also have Knesset representatives"

Animal lovers in Israel take the credit for another achievement: the establishment of the first animals' lobby in the Knesset. The first subject on its agenda was the sad situation in the authority and municipal quarantine facilities, most of which lack basic animal confinement conditions. "Dealing with the enclosures is essential and urgent," says MK Yoel Hasson, who leads the lobby. "Among others, we will expand the activity of volunteer organizations in these facilities."

"From today, animals also have a home in the Knesset. They are also citizens of Israel, and they also deserve representatives who will speak for them," announced MK Yoel Hasson, who inaugurated yesterday (Tuesday) the first animals' lobby in the history of the Hebrew parliament. The lobby, led by Hasson, was initiated by Hakol Chai, and among its members are MKs Dov Hanin, Moshe Cahalon, Michael Malkior and Collette Avital.

The first meeting of the lobby was attended by dozens of representatives of societies acting for the protection of animals in Israel, along side Hasson, Hanin, and representatives of the Environment Ministry and Agriculture Ministry. The subject was the sad condition of dozens of municipal and authority quarantine facilities in Israel, run without regulated supervision. Most of them, as heard from the activists testimonies, lack basic confinement conditions for pet animals. In summer, they are subject to terrible heat, and in winter to freezing cold, and the cages are overcrowded with dogs and cats.

"It is essential to take care of the enclosures' condition," says Hasson. "The fact is that there are quarantine facilities in Israel. But one has to improve the conditions in them. In addition to the harsh physical conditions, they also lack humanity. Many of the people working there do not act out of love and compassion for the animals. One of the ways to change the situation is to expand the connection between the volunteer organizations and the enclosures, and to allow them to operate there freely."

"Terrible descriptions of the enclosures' situation"

"The establishment of the lobby is an essential move," says Adv. Yadin Elam, the director of Hakol Chai. "Until today, animal protection did not receive its proper expression in the Knesset, and it amounted to the random activity of some MKs who care. But this is an important issue, relevant to large parts of the population, not only pet owners, but everyone who believes that animals should be treated with dignity and compassion, and that their treatment should be changed. The sad condition of the pounds is only one example of the terrible treatment animals get in Israel. Precisely where the authority has to act as a role model, in taking care of the animals' well being, it treats them worse than the citizens themselves do.

Thanks to Herma Caelen, a leader of the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) for forwarding the following message:

From: Uri Jaffe

Establishment of Knesset Lobby for Animal Welfare

Uri Jaffe-the Chairperson of "Noah"-The Federation of Animal Protection Societies welcomed the establishment of the Knesset "Lobby for the Protection of Animals".

"The life of the citizens of Israel is healthier when diseases are prevented and when there is an awareness of helpless animals. "This was the reaction of Uri Jaffe to the first meeting of the "Knesset Lobby for Animal Welfare". The Chairperson welcomed the Lobby which is chaired by Knesset Member Yoel Hasson (Kadima).

The Lobby's first meeting was attended by Knesset Members, Representatives of Government Ministries, Animal Welfare Societies, Veterinarians and invited guests.

"Noah" believes that the Society's duty is to prevent the ill-treatment of animals. To this end we are active in promoting relevant legislation. The past ten years has seen much progress but there is still considerable work ahead".

"Noah" was founded 15 years ago and aims to unite all Israeli Societies to promote positive legislation that will result in the improving of the "Quality of Life of all Animals". "Noah embraces over 25 Societies which represent the overwhelming majority of Animal Welfare Societies in Israel. To this end during the past year the representatives of "Noah" have met many Knesset Members.


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5. Another Article on Conservative Judaism's Statement on Ethical Issues Re the Production of Meat

Jewish Fare With Side of Fairness
By Sue Fishkoff

[This is another indication of a lot of ferment going on now re food-related issues, and shows that our active involvement in promoting our messages might receive positive responses in some circles. Please be on the lookout for similar articles in your local Jewish weeklies or other publications and please consider sending a letter to the editor, commending the Conservative movement, but asking them to consider other issues related to the production of meat, including the treatment of animals and the negative environmental effects. Please see item #13 for a sample letter. Thanks.]

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 20 (JTA) -- The Jewish community's increased concern for social justice may soon be translated to the food Conservative Jews put on their tables.

A joint commission of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly is working to create a tzedek hechsher, a certification for food produced in a socially just way, particularly with regard to safe, fair working conditions.

The label would be used in addition to traditional kosher certification.

If the label is approved at the Rabbinical Assembly's April convention in Cambridge, Mass., it would represent the first such national attempt by any Jewish stream. The commission's initial reports have been unanimously approved by the assembly's executive committee and United Synagogue's national board.

“As Jews, we need to understand our responsibility to the people who produce the food we eat," said commission head Rabbi Morris Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, Minn.

The new label isn't intended to replace existing kosher certification, which is under Orthodox supervision, but it constitutes a broader definition of kosher food that incorporates ideas of social justice from the Torah and Talmud.

Allen said that includes paying attention not only to what kinds of food are consumed and how the food is prepared -- including minimizing the pain caused to an animal during slaughtering -- but also how those who produce the food are treated: Are they paid appropriately? Are their working conditions safe? Is their dignity as human beings respected?

“I believe most Jews who are serious about kashrut as a means for sanctifying the world in which we live are concerned that both the product and the means by which it is produced" are in keeping with Jewish values, Allen said.

Allen's five-member commission was created this summer in response to an article in the Forward detailing unsafe and unfair labor practices at the AgriProcessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa. The plant employs nearly 800 workers, most of them Hispanic migrants.

The commission visited the AgriProcessors plant in August and September, found violations of health and safety standards and shared those findings with the plant's owners.

Allen said there has been “some progress" in addressing those problems, but “more needs to be made."

Earlier in the year, Allen had asked AgriProcessors owner Sholom Rubashkin to Poduce more non-glatt kosher meat for his Conservative constituents. That relationship helped the two discuss labor conditions, Allen said.

“We believe engagement between one Jew and another can lead to a positive impact on the lives of the people who produce the food we are eating," he said.

The tzedek hechsher initiative is not the first time Jewish groups have broached the idea of incorporating Jewish ethics into notions of kashrut.

The 20-year-old eco-kashrut movement popularized by Rabbi Arthur Waskow and other Jewish Renewal leaders, known as kosher vegetarianism [this seems inaccurate to me], and Reform support for Caesar Chavez's boycott of non-union grapes and lettuce three decades ago came from a similar impetus.

A number of Reform rabbis, emboldened by their movement's 1999 platform that opened the door to greater ritual observance, are working on new ideas of “Reform kashrut" that would include respect for workers' rights along with sustainable agriculture and other elements of social justice.

But the Reform movement is “not nearly as far along" as the Conservative movement in terms of translating discussion into action, said Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman, director of the department of worship, music and religious living at the Union for Reform Judaism.

“Probably in the next year or two you'll see something, but I'm not sure we're headed in the direction of creating our own hechsher," or kosher certification, she said.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of kashrut for the Orthodox Union, said that concern for worker's rights and animal welfare “are worthy goals," but trying to create certification for such things within the context of kosher food production “is a little bit subjective."

“There's not always an absolute standard of what's the right thing to do," he said.

If the Conservative movement is able to develop such certification, “that would be fine," Genack said, “but if it's going to be accepted by people, it has to be clearly defined."

Rabbi Joel Meyers, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, acknowledged the difficulty of setting and monitoring such standards, but said that shouldn't stand in the way of trying to do so. He said he has received “very good feedback" about the idea from Conservative lay leaders.

“They want to know the kosher food they're buying is produced in an ethical way," Meyers said.

Kosher food producers have been receptive to the idea as well, he noted.

“No one has said, 'we don't care,' " Meyers said. “The question has always been how to do it, the costs involved.''

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6. Are Vegetarians Smarter Than the Average Person?

Thanks to JVNA advisor Rina Deych for forwarding the following article:

Kids With High IQs Grow Up to Be Vegetarians
December 15, 2006 08:40:46 PM PST
By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Yahoo! Health: Children's Health News

FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- As a child's IQ rises, his taste for meat in adulthood declines, a new study suggests.

British researchers have found that children's IQ predicts their likelihood of becoming vegetarians as young adults -- lowering their risk for cardiovascular disease in the process. The finding could explain the link between smarts and better health, the investigators say.

"Brighter people tend to have healthier dietary habits," concluded lead author Catharine Gale, a senior research fellow at the MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre of the University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital.

Recent studies suggest that vegetarianism may be associated with lower cholesterol, reduced risk of obesity and heart disease. This might explain why children with high IQs tend to have a lower risk of heart disease in later life.

The report is published in the Dec. 15 online edition of the British Medical Journal.

"We know from other studies that brighter children tend to behave in a healthier fashion as adults -- they're less likely to smoke, less likely to be overweight, less likely to have high blood pressure and more likely to take strenuous exercise," Gale said. "This study provides further evidence that people with a higher IQ tend to have a healthier lifestyle."

In the study, Gale's team collected data on nearly 8,200 men and women aged 30, whose IQ had been tested when they were 10 years of age.

"Children who scored higher on IQ tests at age 10 were more likely than those who got lower scores to report that they were vegetarian at the age of 30," Gale said.

The researchers found that 4.5 percent of participants were vegetarians. Of these, 2.5 percent were vegan, and 33.6 percent said they were vegetarian but also ate fish or chicken.

There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who said they ate fish or chicken, the researchers add.

Vegetarians were more likely to be female, of higher social class and better educated, but IQ was still a significant predictor of being vegetarian after adjustment for these factors, Gale said.

"Vegetarian diets are associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk in a number of studies, so these findings suggest that a such a diet may help to explain why children or adolescents with a higher IQ have a lower risk of coronary heart disease as adults," Gale said.

One expert said the findings aren't the whole answer, however.

"This study left many unanswered questions such as: Did the vegetarian children grow up in a household with a vegetarian parent? Were meatless meals regularly served in the household? Were the children eating a primarily vegetarian diet at the age of 10?" said Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

"In addition, we don't know the beliefs or attitudes of the parents of the children, nor do we know if there was a particular event that led these children to becoming vegetarian in their teens or adulthood," Sandon said.

As the study showed, more women than men chose a vegetarian diet, Sandon noted. "Other research shows that women in general will focus more on their health than men. So, if they believe that a vegetarian diet will have health benefits, they are more likely to follow it," she said.


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7. Vegetarian Rabbi Has “Vegetarian Car”

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this article:

The miracle of the (veggie) oil
Remnants of Vietnamese dinners power a rabbi's car
by joe eskenazi
J. staff writer
Friday December 15, 2006


The 33-year-old Conservative rabbi and congregant at Berkeley's Congregation Netivot Shalom indeed drives a diesel car. But for the past year, he has not spent dollar one at a gas station. In fact, for many months he hasn't spent any money on fuel at all. And that's because he runs his hulking, two-ton Mercedes on the vegetable oil left on the bottom of the wok at one of Oakland's finest Vietnamese restaurants. And they're all too happy to let him cart off the grease for free.

The rabbi's decision to go veggie stems from a relationship with Judaism that compels him to respect the environment in the same way he respects the Sabbath and kashrut edicts. Isaacson, a yarmulke-wearing man, does not believe that one 'puts in; his or her Judaism several hours a week at shul. And while you obviously don't need to be either Jewish or
religious to be an environmentalist, Isaacson is all of the above. Environmental responsibility and spirituality are not mutually exclusive in his worldview.

“Sensitivities to our impact on the world, what we do, what we buy, what we conserve, these are all spiritual questions,” he said while cruising to the gas station, Le Cheval restaurant in downtown Oakland.


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8. Vegan Retirement Village Forming

Posted by: Maida W Genser mi_vegn

Sun Dec 17, 2006 8:41 am (PST)
Please cross post widely!!

You are considering moving toward a more enriched life with time for your AR work but less busi-ness and "stuff." So what are your options? Retirement home?...assisted living?...senior housing?...moving in with your kids in Duluth? Does this frighten you because you wouldn't fit in? You may be concerned about smelling meat cooking or keeping your beloved companions as you age. So are we.

You are invited to join a group of like-minded friends as we search for a retirement refuge that is free from all forms of animal exploitation. We will live close to nature...wildlife will be respected because most of the land will be left untouched. At Vegan Village we'll have our own homes but will share a veganic garden, animal care, and luscious meals when possible.

Because some of us will still be working or continuing education, we will not be too far from a good sized city.

Instead of a glitzy clubhouse for BINGO games, our gatherings will be in a climate controlled barn! Instead of the annual Luau, ours might be a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving open to all.

We envision walking, biking or using electric golf carts instead of cars on the property. Solar, composting, recycling, native vegetation, use of reclaimed water and earth friendly building will be encouraged.

And most important, this all in a warm to moderate climate. By a river or lake??

Bring your ideas to the next planning meeting which will be at the Action for Animals Symposium in Orlando Florida on January 26-28th, 2007. Call Zia for more information or to RSVP for the meeting. 352-256-0169 or 352-375-7207 or email to to be added to e-mailing list.

The discussion continues at

"Old vegans never die...they just find greener pastures"

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9. Article Summarizes Reasons For Being a Vegan

The Vegan Thing

When people ask me why I'm vegan, I have to decide which reason to give them. There are so many, each seemingly more important than the other. First of all, animal agriculture disastrously effects the environment. A just released 400 page report by the Food and Agricultural Organization, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow explains that "livestock are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming: more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together." The fuel it takes to produce the fertilizer and feed, and then to transport the animals to slaughter and distribution produces 9 percent of all the emissions of carbon dioxide (the most common greenhouse gas).

In addition, the methane emitted by the cows makes up more than one third of the overall methane which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide. And to top it all off, nearly half of our precious water supply goes to these factory farms even as they dump their waste into our rivers and lakes.

Livestock (which includes chickens and turkeys) also produces ammonia which causes acid rain. And of course all the pesticides, hormones, and the vast array of medicines used to treat these animals wind up polluting not only the meat and dairy consumer's body, but also the water we drink and the ocean that is becoming deader by the day. And lest you think "free-range" is the solution, keep in mind that ranching is "the major driver of deforestation." Yikes.

Then there is the argument for health. Cornell University's Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who is the former Senior Science Advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research, says "The vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet. Apparently, there is something naturally occurring in animal flesh which inflames the body and turns on cancer. Organic or not, according to Dr. Campbell, it's in the animal protein (dairy included). Read The China Study for more information; it is eye-opening in its scope of research and discovery.

Finally, and most important to me, is that what happens to animals on the way to becoming our meal is so shockingly inhumane that it cannot be good for our soul to partake. Whether chicken, lamb, cow, or pig, these animals are raised in conditions that would likely horrify you if you saw it up close (if you still eat meat, please check out Alec Baldwin's video at There is a reason that these factory farms and slaughterhouses (processing centers) are behind locked gates without public access. The animals are packed so tightly that they can hardly move; millions every year are driven crazy by their inability to turn around or even lie down. They are often boiled, scalded, dismembered, and skinned while still alive just so that production needs can be met. Their beaks are cut off, tails "docked," and toes/claws removed – all without anesthesia - so that their desperate attempts at escape or survival are foiled. In one year, there is a 100 percent turnover of laborers in these animal factories; if the people who work there can't even bear to stay there for more than a year, why in the world would anyone want to eat the product of what happens in one of these hellish places? If you're eating meat, you're supporting abuses that would warrant felony cruelty to animals charges if chickens and other farmed animals were protected by the same laws that protect dogs and cats. So when I sit down to a delicious meal of braised tofu and grilled vegetables, I feel good. I feel like I'm doing my part for the environment. I'm nourishing and protecting my body. And I'm not participating in the rampant cruelty towards animals that takes place at every second of every day.

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10. Good Analysis of Excuses Given for Not Being a Vegan

Thanks to Pamela Rice for forwarding the following article to us:

Beyond the Grave
by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Published on Thursday, December 14, 2006 by
Part 2 of Cradle to Grave, published October 31, 2006


I've heard every excuse in the book for eating animals, but I've yet to hear a convincing reason. It's a pretty simple equation: since humans don't need to consume animals to survive, killing them simply to satisfy our taste buds amounts to senseless slaughter. But our eating habits and appetites have very deep roots, and we prefer convenience over conscience. With a determination that belies an irrational attachment to animal flesh and secretions, otherwise sensible and sensitive people spend vast amounts of time and energy concocting outrageous excuses to justify this unnecessary habit. Using lyrical and exalted language, they extol the virtues of tradition, glorify the need to conserve "heritage breeds," and wax poetic about our "evolutionary heritage." With "humane meat" gaining popularity, non-vegetarians have co-opted the ethical argument. They are winning, but it's not the vegetarians who are losing. It's the animals.


I live in the capital of "sustainable food," where Michael Pollan has practically been canonized, and "ethical ranchers" are idolized. Though I agree with the need to support local farmers and educate the public about the corporate take-over of our food supply, I worry sometimes that the proponents of the "sustainable/humane meat" philosophy are going to hurt themselves patting each other on the back. Despite the fact that they're responsible for the needless killing of animals, who, if given the choice, would choose to live, they're lauded for their "ethical eating." I wonder: if it's considered ethical to eat the bodies of animals who are harmed a little less before their throats are slit, isn't it still more ethical not to end their lives at all?

Affixed with meaningless labels that make it seem as if the animals sacrificed themselves for the pleasure of humans, the Holy Triumvirate of meat, dairy, and eggs remains the sacred foundation of the human diet, regarded as more of a right than a privilege. The marketing that surrounds these "products" suggests that not eating meat is downright un-American, and this is echoed by the mainstream public as well as "progressives." One popular environmental magazine self-righteously suggested that vegans fast on Thanksgiving, since vegans are merely "mimicking dominant culture" by serving an "atrocious and non-local tofu log," an insulting, inaccurate generalization of vegetarians if I ever heard one. Those who argue that we should eat meat because it's traditional seem to imply that the meat-eater's desires, traditions, culture, or taste buds are superior to anything - or anyone - else. Just because we've always done something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Culture and tradition are not excuses for cruelty.


Perhaps the most audacious example of how the "humane meat" proponents have so adeptly usurped the ethics of eating is in the case of "heritage-breed" animals. The self-congratulatory founders and followers of Slow Food USA and Heritage Foods USA commend themselves for saving these "delicious American treasures" from the "brink of extinction" and declare that "we must eat them to save them." The idea is that by creating a marketplace for these (dead) animals, they are, in effect, saving their lives. That kind of Doublespeak would make George Orwell proud. When Michael Pollan boasts how he and his Thanksgiving guests, feasting on a "heritage-breed" turkey, were "in some small way contributing to its survival," I wonder how so intelligent a man can't detect the absurdity of such a statement. I state the obvious when I say that if they really cared about those breeds, there are ways to protect them without killing and eating them. That's not to say they don't care. They do. But ultimately what they care about is how the animals taste, and they use sensual, lyrical language to describe it: the "complex, succulent flavors" that "echo a bygone era"; the delicate herbaceousness of the meat [that] is like an edible postcard from the animal's hometown." I've even heard "humane meat" consumers attribute the superior taste of the "steaks" to the fact that the ranchers "say a prayer for each cow before they slaughter it." The romanticizing of something so ugly belies a desperate attempt to deny what's true.


One of most ludicrous justifications I've heard is that we did animals a favor by domesticating them, having created a "mutual agreement" that protects animals from their natural predators and grants humans the gift of the animals' flesh and secretions in return - an arrogantly anthropocentric perspective that echoes the sentiments of slave masters. Until we remove the cages, fences, tethers, and barbed wire, I'm apt to believe the animals aren't consulted in this "mutual agreement."

While congratulating themselves for protecting domesticated animals from the cruelties of nature, these same people defend modern consumption of other animals on the basis that early humans ate animals. Michael Pollan even charges vegetarians with turning their backs on their "evolutionary heritage" on the grounds that "eating meat helped make us what we are," totally disregarding the fact that up until very recently, meat was generally used as a condiment and considered a luxury. By eschewing meat, he says unabashedly, we're "sacrificing a part of our identity," a tenuous argument, at best.

Is Pollan suggesting that we look to Darwinian evolution as a moral system by which to justify our actions? In no other aspect of our lives do we use evolution to justify our behavior, so why should this be the exception? We have the ability and responsibility to make moral and rational decisions, not abdicate our ethics to a mindless and amoral process. Arguments such as these deny every aspect of what makes us rational, compassionate, and moral creatures. We're not forced to obey the dictates of evolution, just as we don't obey them when we write novels, build flying machines, and stare at computer monitors all day. Darwin's theory is not a substitute for morality - except when we want to justify eating animals.

There is perhaps no other lifestyle habit we spend so much time defending. Every excuse we make is an attempt to absolve ourselves from our participation in the gratuitous exploitation, mutilation, and death of non-human animals. If we have to disguise, rationalize, romanticize, and ritualize eating animals to such a degree that we're no longer living in truth or reality, then perhaps we're not comfortable with it at all. Adopting a vegan diet is the best choice I've ever made, and I've never had to offer any excuses for it.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau founded Compassionate Cooks to empower people to make informed food choices and to debunk myths about eating vegan. Through cooking classes, podcasts, articles, recipes, and her first-of-its-kind cooking DVD, she shares the joys and benefits of a plant-based diet. She can be reached at

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11. Excerpts From Canfei Nesharim Newsletter

December 19, 2006 28 Kislev 5767

Remarks from the Executive Director
Dvar Torah: Chanukah and the Miracle of Saving Oil
Science Article: Today's Climate Change Corporate Leaders
Action Corner: Save Energy with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Inquiries for the Eagle: The ABCs of Green Cars
Organizational Update
Upcoming Events
On A Wing

This email contains an abbreviated version of our latest newsletter.

Please click on any of the links below in order to view the full
article from our website, or visit for the entire newsletter.

The miracles of Chanukah remind us that the small can defeat the mighty, the few can conquer many, and what seems impossible can become reality. The miracle of the oil also reminds us that although our energy reserves are so apparently finite, with Hashem's help, we can find energy that lasts and provides for us. In this time of finite energy and environmental concerns, perhaps the miracle of the oil can teach us to change our own ways to save energy and, in so doing, protect Hashem's world. For our Chanukah issue, Canfei Nesharim has gathered a wealth of articles and ideas to inspire and encourage you to save energy.

Since Canfei Nesharim launched four years ago, our programs have reached tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews, inspiring them to change their thoughts and actions to protect our precious world. We know that you share this mission. Your participation has been, and continues to be, vital to our success. That is why, for the first time, Canfei Nesharim has organized a Membership Campaign so that we can join together to fulfill our goals. Our immediate goal is to sign on 180 new members by January 15. For more information and to join, visit We hope you will join with us as we take flight!

With best wishes for a bright and energy-efficient Chanukah,
~Evonne Marzouk

Chanukah and the Miracle of Saving Oil
By: Drew Kaplan, Rabbinical Student

The famous and oft-told miracle of one jug of oil lasting eight times its expected yield is certainly quite the miraculous happening. The idea of the utilization of a fuel resource for eight-fold of its expected output would be miraculous today, as well. Would it only be that our gasoline and other fuel supplies would yield such abundance! However, if we take a different look at an aspect of this story from over twenty-one and a half centuries ago, we can see in it an environmental lesson for ourselves nowadays.

To read the full article, click here:


- Join Canfei Nesharim in our first-ever membership drive! For Canfei Nesharim, having members provides us with credibility to help leverage funding, partnerships with other organizations, and further connections within the community. It also provides you with the satisfaction to know you are an integral part of our mission. Our immediate goal is to sign on 180 new members by January 15! Join today to earn special gifts and discounts. Visit to learn more and join on our secure server.

- Help Canfei Nesharim take flight by donating in our "Learn-a-Thon: Begin 5767 Right" fundraising campaign. Dedicate an individual parsha in our upcoming "Jewish Environmental Parsha Initiative" in honor or in memory of a loved one, or many other wonderful opportunities for sponsorship ranging from $100 to $18,000. It makes a great Chanukah gift for your environmentally concerned relatives! For more information, contact us at or 212-284-6745. Or visit to learn more and donate!

- Thanks to all who participated in Canfei Nesharim's very successful 2006 Organizational Survey. Visit to read the details.

- Tu b'Shevat is Coming! This year, Tu b'Shevat is the Shabbos of February 2-3. As part of our annual Tu b'Shevat Learning Campaign, Canfei Nesharim will offer articles by Orthodox rabbonim to share with your community, sample sedarim and other programming ideas. Tell your community to save the date! If you have sample sedarim or other appropriate materials to share, email them us at


Thank you for taking the time to focus on the importance of our natural world and our obligation to protect it. We look forward to sharing more Torah and avodas Hashem with you in the future.

Canfei Nesharim is eager to share our learning with many different Orthodox Jews around the world. Please forward this newsletter to anyone who would find it interesting, and print out the full version from to share with your synagogue, so that we can continue to develop our connections and engagement in the Orthodox community! And please encourage the people who would be interested to subscribe directly to our mailing list by sending an email to

Canfei Nesharim expresses its sincere gratitude to Bikkurim, a joint project of JESNA, UJC, and the Kaminer Family, for taking us into their incubator for new Jewish ideas beginning in the Spring of 2004.

Canfei Nesharim needs your support to help educate our community about the importance of protecting the environment. Every contribution makes a difference! To donate to our effort, please visit

The Canfei Nesharim Steering Committee

Note: All materials published herein are Copyright 2006 by their authors. Reproduction of this material is encouraged so long as the footer and header information remains intact.

*Canfei Nesharim is an organization of Orthodox Jews who are dedicated to educating the Orthodox community about environmental issues and their connection to Torah and halacha.

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12. Article by JVNA Advisor Dan Brook on Chanukah and Energy Conservation

Chanukah is a joyous holiday that celebrates many miracles. One of the miracles is that we were able to have one day's worth of oil last for eight days. Over two thousand years later, we need to bring this miracle to our temples and homes. To increase light and energy-efficiency, both forms of tikun olam and social justice, there is a campaign by Jews and others to use energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs as an easy way to conserve resources, save money, and help fight global warming. Please consider switching out at least one or two bulbs in your home as a start. If you would like further ideas about how to help the environment and reduce global warming, just let me know! Below are some related resources.
Dan (

[Proving that Dan practices what he preaches is his further remark: (I also bought 50 bulbs on sale and handed them out, with information, at our Shabbat Chanukah service and at a Chanukah party.)]

Additional Green Chanukah Resources:

Jewish groups work to make Festival of Lights a little bit greener: Campaign promotes use of energy-efficient bulbs

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

COEJL's Climate Change Campaign

Rabbi Waskow and The Shalom Center's Green Menorah Covenant

Another Miracle of Chanukah

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13. JVNA Advisor Rina Deych's Letter to the Forward Re Conservative Judaism's Statement Re Working Conditions at Slaughterhouses

Subject: Re: Conservative Rabbis Pledge Groundbreaking System for Monitoring Working Conditions at Kosher Plants 12/18/06

Thank you for Nathaniel Popper's article on new certification proposed for ethical kosher stamp of approval.

I write to you as a seasoned registered nurse, health advocate, and humanitarian.

While it's very commendable that efforts are being made to create a super-kosher label based on ethics, I have an issue with this plan. It appears that it would primarily be concerned with protecting workers' rights, in accordance with Jewish law.

Considering the hideous abuses documented against animals by AgriProcessors, should the issue of tsa'ar ba'alei chaim be left out of the equation? When videos of horrific animal abuse at AgriProcessors' plant first surfaced in November of 2004, many rabbis, including members of the Rabbinical Assembly and others in the Conservative movement, expressed their shock and revulsion at what they saw. Although AgriProcessors claims they have stopped ripping out the tracheas of conscious animals, can we take at their word a company which does not even treat its human workers humanely?

If AgriProcessors has truly improved procedure, they should not only allow, but welcome unannounced inspections, which, up until now, they have not done.

I propose that this super-certification, in the very least, be all-inclusive to cover humane treatment of humans and (other) animals, to assure that the standards more closely reflect the laws and values of the torah.

Further, though the certification is a step in the right direction, should we be giving our blessings to a practice (factory farming) that is destroying human health, polluting the planet, and contributing to global warming (as indicated in a recent 400-page report UN report)? Maybe we should consider this proposed certification as an intermediary step, with the ultimate goal being the (earth, health, and Torah-friendly) plant-based diet.

Since animal agriculture is responsible for a huge percentage of the pollution and, ultimately, the acceleration of global warming, it is our obligation as Jews and responsible inhabitants of this planet, to do what we can to preserve, protect, and replenish the little we have not yet destroyed as a species.

Rina Deych

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14. Environmentalist Creating Green Business NYC/Suggestions Welcome

[The following message is from Les Judd, someone whom I have had the pleasure of working with on Jewish environmental projects for many years.]

Dear Friends and Family:

Pamela and I have been married for 6 months and we are very happy! I have exciting news to share with you. I hope you will be excited as I am about this idea and will give me your assistance in the coming months.

Last May, just before the wedding, I decided to resign from my position at Cabrini Medical Center to seek a position with an environmental organization. Since then, I have spoken to many people, including some of you and learned a lot. After intensive research and introspection, I have decided to venture out on my own with a business idea that is both exciting and innovative.

The new business will be called Green Business NYC. I have 3 goals for Green Business NYC. Firstly, I want to lead walking tours of green businesses, showing New Yorkers and visitors the wealth of retail stores, restaurants, and service companies in New York City that are being eco-friendly. Secondly, I want to create a Green Business Guide for NYC that will list the eco-friendly companies in New York City and will explain why they are green businesses. Thirdly, I want to be a leader in planning eco-friendly conferences, expos, meetings, and parties to promote green business in NYC.

I don't know of anybody else who is doing exactly what I propose to do with Green Business NYC. This is an open niche that I can fill. My business idea combines several of the activities that I enjoy doing with my passion for the environment. I have been a leader and organizer of hikes, urban walks, vegetarian dinners and other activities for many years. I am very excited to have the opportunity to combine my strengths with my passion for the environment in a new and creative manner.

New York City is already considered the most sustainable city in the USA because of its population density and excellent public transportation. The green sector of the economy in NYC is growing exponentially but is still virtually unknown. Yes, it's true that anybody can buy anything on-line, whether you are in NYC or Kalamazoo, Michigan. Unfortunately, most of the green companies listed in Co-op America's National Green Pages or other national listings are in California or other places. This means that those so-called green products you buy on-line are probably shipped across the country or half-way around the world, using excessive amounts of fuel and contributing to the global climate crisis. It would be so much more environmentally responsible to purchase eco-friendly products locally, right here in the five boroughs of New York City!

The timeline for development of my business is as follows: In January, I will take the NYC Sightseeing Tour Guide License Exam so I can lead walking tours of green businesses with full authority and credibility. Beginning in February, I will be taking an intensive business training course with WIBO, the Workshop In Business Opportunities. This spring, I will start leading tours of green businesses, mostly in The East Village, Grammercy, and Midtown areas. I hope that many of you will join me on these tours and will tell your friends about them as well. Also this Spring, I will be having discussions with business owners to request their participation in creating the Green Business Guide for NYC. Lastly, beginning in the second half of 2007, I will seek opportunites to plan and organize green conferences, expos, meetings and parties to promote green business in NYC.

I welcome your ideas and suggestions. Please let me know if you can recommend a green business or people who would be helpful for me to contact.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season.

Best Wishes,

Les added, after I queried him re vegetarian connections to his project:

I will include many vegetarian restaurants in my tours and will explain why vegetarianism is an eco-friendly lifestyle. If you have ideas for how I can incorporate vegetarianism into the tours in other ways, please let me know.

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15. Making Chanukah an Occasion for Energy Conservation/ My Letter

Forwarded article:

The Festival of (Energy-Efficient) Lights
Dreidels, Latkes, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: A Holiday Environmental Push
By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006; Page B01

Jewish environmentalists want to know: "How many Jews does it take to change a light bulb?"

Ba-da-bum. Although this sounds like the start of a corny joke, it's actually the name of a campaign engaging hundreds of synagogues across the country this week as Jews mark Hanukkah, the festival of lights. The campaign is organized by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

At least a dozen synagogues in the region are among 500 nationwide that are adding a tradition to this holiday dating to the 4th century B.C.: replacing regular light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Hanukkah, an eight-day holiday that ends at sundown Saturday, marks the Jewish rebellion against forced assimilation by the Greeks. The central tale of the holiday involves a lamp in a liberated temple burning for eight days when the Jews had enough oil for only one day.

As a result, Jews light a nine-armed candelabra, often called a hannukiah or menorah. Eight arms represent the days, and the ninth is for a symbolic candle used to light the others.

The past year has seen an unprecedented environmental push in the U.S. faith community, which sometimes has been wary of a movement seen as liberal, possibly pantheist and without scriptural roots.

But synagogues this Hanukkah are celebrating the light-oriented holiday by launching energy audits, giving out CFL bulbs to congregants and chanting a newly written "installation prayer" for the changing of the bulbs.

"Changing light bulbs in here is an adventure. The ceilings are very high," said Shoshana Danon-Perkins, administrator at Kesher Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Georgetown that is raising money to clean up a river in Israel and this year promoted the use of cornstarch-based, and thus biodegradable, utensils for Passover, a holiday when Jews use a separate set of kitchenware to honor dietary codes.

There have long been environmentalists in the faith community who saw pollution and recycling as sacred subjects, part of their vision of caring for God's Earth. But the past year or two has seen this philosophy take off, particularly with many evangelical Christian leaders for the first time calling global climate change a concern. The Regeneration Project, a faith-based environmental advocacy group with branches in 20 states, showed the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" in 4,000 congregations this year, according to the group's founder, the Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest in California.

"I see a major change in the past year," she said, adding that Hurricane Katrina's impact on the poor was another factor. "I don't hear theological arguments against environmentalism anymore. I think mainstream religion now believes we are the stewards of creation."

Using CFL bulbs, which last up to eight times as long as standard incandescent bulbs, has become a rallying cry, according to the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. The group says that if every U.S. household switched a single bulb, it would have the same impact as taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

Environmentalism is particularly new among Orthodox Jews. The Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox organization, passed its first resolution on the issue this spring, saying rabbis should recognize "that the Torah commands us 'to work and to guard' the Earth."

Evonne Marzouk, executive director of the Orthodox Jewish advocacy group Canfei Nesharim, said Jews are discussing what Jewish law and tradition say about environmentalism.

The book of Deuteronomy, for example, forbids warriors attacking a place to destroy its trees, "for the tree of the field is man's life." Jewish tradition also forbids the causing of needless pain to animals and mandates "sending away a mother bird before taking her eggs, to protect her feelings," said Marzouk, whose group began in 2003 but picked up steam this year.

Some people "light" electric menorahs during Hanukkah. This is often done for convenience: no dangerous flames, no messy wax. Also popular are traditional menorahs, which use wicks and oil, said Leslie Kanner, owner of Israeli Accents, a Judaica store in Rockville. The small bulbs used in electric menorahs come in the energy-efficient variety, said Barbara Lerman-Golomb, executive director of the coalition.

"Change is hard," she said, "but changing a light bulb is easy."

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16. Religions' Contributions to Sustainable Development

Thanks to Lewis Regenstein for forwarding the book review below:

Inspiring Progress: Religions' Contributions to Sustainable Development
-Press Release
By Gary Gardner, Worldwatch Institute
ISBN 0-393-32832-5
211 pages
Print Copy $14.95 Add to Cart
PDF $14.95 Add to Cart

Inspiring Progress explores the need to reconnect with religions' core tenets of moderation, compassion and stewardship of the earth to solve the growing environmental crisis.

“Finally, someone has pulled together a comprehensive book on the influence of religion on cultural change. Inspiring Progress is just that-an informative accounting of the diverse ways that faith communities will lead and inspire a more sustainable lifestyle.”

- Rev. Sally Bingham, Executive Director, Regeneration Project/Interfaith Power and Light

Part One-Progress Unraveling
Chapter 1. The Power of Vision: Worldviews Shape Progress
Chapter 2. The Paradox of Progress in the 20th Century
Chapter 3. Tools for Course Correction: Religions' Contributions
Part Two-Progress Re-Rooted
Chapter 4. New Vision: Nature, Then Economies
Chapter 5. Nature as Sacred Ground
Chapter 6. Warming to the Climate Challenge
Part Three-Progress Re-Imagined
Chapter 7. New Vision: Choosing Well-Being
Chapter 8. Hungry for More: The Consumption Challenge
Chapter 9. Mindful Investments
Part Four-Inspiring Progress
Chapter 10. New Vision: Toward an Ethics of Progress
Chapter 11. Getting to a New Progress

Advance Praise:

“Inspiring Progress is an easy-to-read reminder that religion-in most any form-calls us to care for one another and the world in which we live. Our faith compels us to nothing less.”
- John Podesta, President and CEO
Center for American Progress

“Brilliant and fascinating, this is a veritable 'bible' of the religious involvement in ecology-and of the need that ecology has for religion.”
- Martin Palmer, Secretary General
Alliance of Religions and Conservation

“Inspiring Progress is a powerful addition to the linkage of science and religion in the environmental cause.”
- Edward O. Wilson, Professor of Biology, Emeritus
Harvard University

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December 17, 2006

12/17/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Chanukah

1a. Most Important Vegetarian Issue of Our Time?

2. Intelligent Children More likely to be Vegetarians

3. A Fund Raising Idea/Suggestions Welcome

4. Committed Vegan Running For Presidential Nomination

5. Seeking Help at a Table at the Limmud, NY Conference

6. Group Attempts to Create a Framework for a More Humane System of Kosher Slaughter

7. Israeli Animal Rights Group Produces Calendar

8. Foie Gras Production Even More Cruel Than We Thought

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 at the event, 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. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. Happy Chanukah

I hope that you are having a joyous, meaningful Chanukah. Vegetarian recipes for Chanukah can be found at the recipe section of My article on "Vegetarianism and Chanukah" is also on our website. Please feel free to forward my article and the one below to others who might be interested, and to use the information in the articles for letters and talking points.

Another Miracle of Chanukah
Daniel Brook, Ph.D. & Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Here are the URLs for two versions of the article below:
Another Miracle of Chanukah (Tikkun)
Miracles of Chanukah (VegSource)

Hope springs eternal. Indeed, it's always been an integral part of Jewish history, spirituality, and politics. Without hope, there wouldn't be a Chanukah; without hope, there might not even be a Jewish community. That's the power of radical hope!

Jewish survival is a miracle of hope. Increasing light at the darkest time of the year to celebrate Chanukah and Jewish survival is also a miracle. This year, we work and hope for another miracle.

We sincerely hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of this ancient, beautiful, and spiritually-meaningful holiday of Chanukah by making it a time to strive even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings. We certainly don't need more "things" in our homes; instead, we need more meaning, purpose, and spirit in our lives. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. One significant way is by moving towards vegetarianism.

Chanukah commemorates the single small container of pure olive oil-expected to be enough for only one day-which, according to the Talmud (Shabbat 21b), miraculously lasted for eight days in the rededicated Temple on the 25th of Kislev 165 BCE, exactly two years after it was defiled by the Syrian-Greeks. A switch to vegetarianism on the part of the world's people could help bring about another great miracle: the end of the tragedy of world hunger and therefore ensure the survival of tens of millions of people annually. Currently, from one-third to one-half of the world's grain, and about three-quarters of major crops in the U.S. (e.g., corn, wheat, soybeans, oats), is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while about one billion poor people chronically suffer from malnutrition and its debilitating effects, tens of thousands of them consequently dying each day, one every few seconds.

Maimonides, the great physician and scholar, who wrote that the pain of people is the same as the pain of other animals (Guide for the Perplexed), ruled that one must literally sell the clothes one is wearing, if necessary, to fulfill the mitzvah of lighting the menorah and celebrating the miracle (Hil. Chanukah 4:12). Uniting physical needs and spiritual needs is vitally important for both the body and the spirit.

Chanukah represents the victory of the idealistic and courageous few, over the seemingly invincible power and dominant values of the surrounding society. We learn through both our religious studies and history that might does not make right, even if it sometimes rules the moment. Therefore, quality is more important than quantity; spirituality is more vital than materialism; though each is necessary. "Not by might and not by power, but by spirit", says Zechariah 4:6, part of the prophetic reading for Shabbat Chanukah. Today, vegetarians are relatively few in number and captive factory farm animals are powerless to defend themselves, but the highest ideals and spirit of Judaism are on their side.

Still believing in brute force, materialism, and greed, the world presently wastes a staggering and nearly unimaginable $1 trillion on total military might (about half of that amount is by the U.S. alone), while half the world's population barely survives on $2 a day or less and, as noted, some don't even survive. Security does not come from superior physical forces or from authoritarian political conditions, as the Chanukah story and others remind us. Collective security lies in a just and sustainable society, just as personal security lies in a healthy and sustainable diet. These are deeply and intimately related.

The Jewish anti-imperialist insurgency, led by the Macabees, was sparked when a pig was killed and Jews were ordered to eat it. According to the Book of Macabees, some Macabees lived on plant foods-to "avoid being polluted"-when they hid in the mountains to escape capture. Further, the two major foods associated with Chanukah, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts), are vegetarian foods-as is chocolate gelt-and the vegetable oils that are used in their preparation are a reminder of the vegetable oil (olive) used in the lighting of the Temple's Menorah.

The miracle of the oil brings the use of fuel and other resources into focus. Vegetarianism allows resources to go much further, since far less oil, water, land, topsoil, chemicals, labor, and other agricultural resources are required for plant-based diets than for animal-centered diets, while far less waste and pollution are produced. For example, it requires approximately 78 calories of non-renewable fossil fuel for each calorie of protein obtained from factory-farmed beef, but only 2 calories of fossil fuel to produce a calorie of protein from soybeans. Reducing our use of oil by shifting away from the mass production and consumption of meat-thereby making supplies last longer, freeing us from our dangerous dependence on oil, and oily authoritarian governments-would surely be a fitting way to celebrate the miracles of Chanukah.

In addition to resource conservation and economic efficiency, a switch toward vegetarianism would greatly benefit the health of individuals, the condition of our environment, and would sharply reduce the suffering and death of billions of animals. Further, the social, psychological, and spiritual benefits should not be underestimated. Many people who switch to a vegetarian diet report feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually better.

Chanukah also represents the triumph of idealistic non-conformity. The Macabees fought for their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to proudly exclaim: this we believe, this we stand for, this we are willing to struggle for. Like the Macabees, vegetarians represent this type of progressive non-conformity. At a time when most people, especially in wealthier countries, think of animal products as the main part of their meals, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more environmentally sustainable, and ethical choice.

Candles are lit for each of the eight nights of Chanukah, symbolizing a turning from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from oppression to miracles. According to the prophet Isaiah, the role of Jews is to be a "light unto the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). Vegetarianism can be a way of adding light and hope to the darkness of a world still suffering with slaughterhouses and factory farms-and their attendant negative consequences-as well as to other symbols of violence and oppression.

The word Chanukah means dedication, while the Hebrew root of the word means education. Each year, we should re-educate ourselves about the horrible realities of factory farming and slaughterhouses, as well as re-dedicate our inner temples. We can do this by practicing the powerful Jewish teachings and highest values of Judaism, as another way to "proclaim the miracle" of Chanukah and Jewish renewal. These sacred values (mitzvot) include compassion for others, including animals (tsa'ar ba'alei chayim), preserving one's health (pekuach nefesh), conservation of resources (bal tashchit), proper spiritual intention (kavanah), righteousness and charity (tzedakah), peace and justice (shalom v'tzedek), being partners in creation (shomrei adamah), healing our world (tikkun olam), and increasing holiness in sacred matters (ma'alin bakodesh v'ayn moridim, just as Hillel ruled we should light the menorah for the eight days in ascending order).

Chanukah commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the Syrian-Greeks. In our time, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance of society from various modern assaults and tragedies, including world hunger, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, deforestation, pollution, global warming, species extinction, resource depletion, rising health care costs, and lost productivity, among others.

One way to achieve the wonderful aspirations of Judaism is by switching to a vegetarian diet. A shift toward vegetarianism can be a major factor in the rededication and renewal of Judaism, as it would further demonstrate that Jewish values are not only relevant but essential to everyday personal life and global survival.

The letters on a diaspora dreidel are an acronym for nes gadol hayah sham, a great miracle happened there. May the celebration of this joyous holiday inspire another miracle within each of us.

My we all have a happy, healthy, and miraculous Chanukah!

For more information, please visit the Jewish Vegetarians of North America web site at and The Vegetarian Mitzvah site at

Daniel Brook, Ph.D., is the author of Modern Revolution (University Press of America, 2005) and dozens of articles. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and can be contacted through CyberBrook's ThinkLinks or directly at

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D, is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism,
Judaism and Global Survival, and over 100 articles located at He is President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and Coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) .

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1a. Most Important Vegetarian Issue of Our Time?

I believe that the most important vegetarian issue of our time is the need to switch to plant-based diets as part of the struggle to reduce the potentially catastrophic effects of global warning. I am working on a press release on this issue that I hope to share with you soon.

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for the very valuable material below.

Hi Richard. First is the Global Warming section from my Eco-Eating at; second is the list of links connecting animal-based diets to global climate change. I hope this helps.

Shabbat Shalom & Happy Chanukah!
All the best!
Peace, Dan

• Global Warming:

We are overheating our planet to alarming levels with potentially catastrophic consequences. Eating meat increases global warming, one of the most dangerous threats to our planet (at least according to reports by and for Greenpeace, Oxfam, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Pentagon, the World Bank, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Meteorological Organization, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and a vast number of other scientists, political economic analysts, and environmentalists – and there are no scientific organizations or any published scientific articles that dispute global warming and that humans are contributing to it). [Hyperlinks to most of the above reports and some of the groups below can be found at the Global Warming section at Dan’s Eco-Eating at]

The Pentagon report, for example, states that climate change in the form of global warming “should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern”, higher even than terrorism, warning of riots and declaring that “future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology, or national honor”. The UK’s chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, agrees. “Extreme weather conditions in many parts of the world, including a record 10 typhoons in Japan and the first-ever hurricane in South America [in 2004], are being blamed on global warming”, states the BBC News, as is record hurricane levels, record temperatures, and melting polar ice caps and glaciers. 2005 was the hottest year in over a millennium. Most of the hottest years on record have been in the last 20 years.

Further, the world has seen a melting of the polar ice caps, glaciers, and permafrost with potentially disastrous consequences for people, animals, cities, islands, and other coastal communities, as well as arctic areas, which will likely lead to suffering, death, extinction, and the forced migration of people and animals. These extreme weather events and other eco-spasms have become more frequent and are projected to multiply with dire consequences for the world.

Cow farms produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane per year, the two major greenhouse gases which together account for over 90% of US greenhouse emissions, significantly contributing to global scorching (what is euphemistically called global warming). Methane is less abundant that carbon dioxide, and degrades quicker, but is 23 times more potent. Nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas that accounts for about 6% of global warming, is about 300 times more potent that carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide is emitted from manure and fertilizer.

Power production, passenger and other vehicles, international shipping, militarism (the U.S. military, for example, is the world’s biggest consumer of oil and the world’s largest polluter), and other major users of fossil fuels are also the biggest contributors to global warming. Deforestation is a major contributor. Smoking is also a factor and is related to deforestation. Global warming is already having grave effects on our planet and we need to take action.

Meat eaters are contributing to global warming, which is “Another Inconvenient Truth”. It’s Another Inconvenient Truth that switching to a vegan diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more than switching to a hybrid car. Scientific studies (including a major one by the UN FAO) are piling up showing that what one drives, while quite important, is less significant than what one eats.

Vegetarians help keep the planet cool in more ways than one! Be cool.

“There is a strong link between human diet and methane emissions from livestock.”
United Nations Environment Programme, Unit on Climate Change

“Belching, flatulent livestock emit 16% of the world’s annual production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.”
State of the World 2004

“The animals we eat emit 21% of all the carbon dioxide that can be attributed to human activity.”
Alan Calverd, Physics World

Another Inconvenient Truth

EarthSave: A New Global Warming Strategy

Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue

Another Inconvenient Truth: In the modern world, it is impossible to reconcile a carnivorous diet with environmental responsibility

UN: Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars?

Livestock’s Role in Climate Change and Air Pollution

Cow ‘emissions’ more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars

Warming Up to a New Diet

Diet, Energy and Global Warming

ABC News: Meat-Eaters Aiding Global Warming?

Greenpeace: On Your Plate

Fight Global Warming by Going Vegetarian

Vegan diets healthier for planet, people than meat diets

The SUV in the Pantry

Physics World: Cut Global Warming by Becoming Vegetarian

Five Food Choices for a Healthy Planet


Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters

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2. Intelligent Children More likely to be Vegetarians

High IQ link to being vegetarian
Intelligent children are more likely to become vegetarians later in life, a study says.

A Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10.

Researchers said it could explain why people with higher IQ were healthier as a vegetarian diet was linked to lower heart disease and obesity rates.

The study of 8,179 was reported in the British Medical Journal.

Twenty years after the IQ tests were carried out in 1970, 366 of the participants said they were vegetarian - although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken.

Men who were vegetarian had an IQ score of 106, compared with 101 for non-vegetarians; while female vegetarians averaged 104, compared with 99 for non-vegetarians.

We've always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment
Liz O'Neill, of The Vegetarian Society

There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who reported eating fish or chicken.

Researchers said the findings were partly related to better education and higher occupational social class, but it remained statistically significant after adjusting for these factors.

Vegetarians were more likely to be female, to be of higher occupational social class and to have higher academic or vocational qualifications than non-vegetarians.

However, these differences were not reflected in their annual income, which was similar to that of non-vegetarians.

Lead researcher Catharine Gale said: "The finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, together with the evidence on the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet on heart health, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life."


Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/12/15 00:15:39 GMT

Published on Friday, December 15, 2006 by the Inter Press Service
Vegetarianism: the Choice of the 'More Intelligent' Child
by Jeremy Laurance

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding the following important article:

It's official - vegetarians really are smarter. But it is not because of what they eat. Bright children are more likely to reject meat and opt to become vegetarians when they grow up, a study has shown. Clever veggies are born not made.

The finding helps explain how a team of vegetarians won the BBC Test the Nation competition in September, when they beat off competition from six other teams including butchers, public school pupils and footballers' wives to achieve the highest overall IQ score.

The top scoring individual in the contest, Marie Bidmead, 68, a mother of five from Churcham, Gloucester, was also a vegetarian. "I think it shows we veggies are good thinkers. We think about what we eat for a start," she said.

Researchers from the University of Southampton who conducted the study agree. They suggest that vegetarians are more thoughtful about what they eat. But they say it is unclear whether bright children choose to become vegetarians for the health benefits or for other reasons, such as a concern for animals, or as a lifestyle choice.


© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

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3. A Fund Raising Idea/Suggestions Welcome

Thanks to Rabbi Yonassan Gershom for forwarding the message below.

Anyone with experience with this sort of approach?
Anyone want to investigate this further, and report back?

Richard Schwartz, President:

I thought you might be interested in this new way to raise funds for Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA). MissionFish is helping nonprofits of every size fundraise on eBay.

With MissionFish you can:
- Get a portion of the proceeds from almost anything that anyone
sells on eBay.
- Offer your donors a new way to support your mission: buying
and selling items that benefit you on eBay.
- Turn in-kind gifts into funding by selling them yourself.
- Find new supporters by putting a special event auction online.
- Spread your message to an online audience of millions of new
donor prospects.

Plus, it's free to sign up with MissionFish. To learn more, check out

Your friends at MissionFish

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4. Committed Vegan Running For Presidential Nomination

I thought that you might find the article below of interest.

JVNA does not endorse candidates for public office. But, perhaps this candidacy might provide an opportunity to get dietary-related issues onto the political agenda in what will undoubtedly be a very widely reported 2008 election race. More re this after the article below.

Unhappy With Democrats Over Iraq, Kucinich Plans Another Bid for White House
Zachary A. Goldfarb & Peter Slevin, Tuesday, December 12, 2006; A07

Citing dissatisfaction with his party's strategy on Iraq, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) announced yesterday that he would run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kucinich, a five-term House member and one of the most liberal members of his party, made an unsuccessful bid for the nomination in 2004.

The congressman said he would announce his candidacy today at City Hall in Cleveland, where he served as mayor in the late 1970s and plunged his city into a celebrated budget crisis over the electric utility, Muny Light. [The city's creditor banks forced the city into default when Kucinich refused their demands to privatize the utility. See David Plata, "Kucinich given thanks for keeping Muny Light," Sun Newspapers, Cleveland, December 17, 1998. -JFP]
As a member of Congress, Kucinich has been a vocal critic of the war and has complained that his party has not done enough to force a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"Democrats were swept into power on November 7 because of widespread voter discontent with the war in Iraq," Kucinich said. "Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in policies and direction, the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war."

While many fellow Democrats have strongly opposed the war, Kucinich has suggested that Congress stop funding it. In the past, Kucinich has proposed creating a universal health care system and a national peace department.
Congressman Kucinich is very aware of the many benefits of veganism and he generally is out in front on issues related to improving conditions for animals. He was, I believe, the only congressman to speak out against the recently-passed AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act) on the floor of the House of Representatives. His campaign manager for his 2004 campaign was the noted vegetarian author and activist John Robbins.

[So, any suggestions re getting Congressman Kucinich to make the importance of a major societal shift toward veganism a major campaign issue this year? Thanks.]

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5. Seeking Help at a Table at the Limmud, NY Conference

JVNA Will Have a Table at the Limmud, NY Conference, scheduled for January 11-15, 2007 (MLK weekend) at the Friar Tuck Convention Center in Catskill, NY. Jonathan Wolf will be attending and will contribute the fee for the table, but he will be unable to be at the table the entire time when the exhibit area will be open. This is a valuable opportunity to get leaflets, booklets and other material to, and speak to, many intelligent Jews who will be attending to hear talks by many influential Jews. If you plan to attend and can help at the table, or if you live in the area and are willing to devote a few hours helping at the table on Sunday, January 14, 2007, please let me know. Many thanks.

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6. Group Attempts to Create a Framework for a More Humane System of Kosher Slaughter

Thanks to JVNA advisor John Diamond for making me aware of this. I think this project shows increasing awareness of how badly animals are currently treated, but, of course, it is far from our ideal of diets completely free of animal products. Comments/suggestions welcome. Thanks.

Kosher Conscience
Monday, December 11, 2006

Recently there has been an attempt to create a framework for a system of kosher slaughter which is more humane than is usually found in the kosher slaughter factories in both America and abroad. The group is called Kosher Conscience and the following is some information about their efforts and contact information.

How is this meat treated more humanely?

The founding philosophy of Kosher Conscience is the humane treatment of the animal at every stage. What that means is that, while it’s excellent to have grass-fed or even organic meat, those distinctions do not cover the full range of the animal’s treatment.

Our animals will:

Be free- or pasture-raised and grass fed. This means that will live the way animals are supposed to live- out in a field, eating grass that they can walk around freely to get. During the winter, some animals may be housed in a barn and fed stored grass or hay (we are trying to avoid grain for the most part and there will be no corn, which is destructive to the digestive system of cattle). This is necessary for them to stay out of the cold! They will never be in feed-lots or pumped with hormones or anti-biotics.

Be safely transported. They will not be crammed into cattle cars or trucks but transported safely and as comfortably as possible. All transport is somewhat stressful to the animal, since it does not understand what’s happening. We will therefore work to minimize this stress and give the animal time to relax after being transported.

Slaughtered humanely and painlessly. Animals will not be present when other animals are being slaughtered. Additionally, we are working with various halachic authorities and shochtim to utilize a shechitah method that causes minimal stress to the animal prior to the cut. Traditional shechitah involves turning the animal over, which is very stressful. There are ways to shecht an animal and keep it upright. This will not be a “conveyor belt” slaughter, with animals being rushed in and out to make quota. Animals will be moved with a minimum of stress and will have the proper time, care and attention devoted to them to make sure everything goes smoothly and painlessly.

Where does the meat come from?

We are currently talking to several farms in New York State to be the providers of our beef, cattle and poultry. These are all family run operations who work under the same guiding principles we do and believe in our philosophy.

[Some concerns: what percent of the kosher meat currently produced can these farms produce and how much more costly will the meat be?]

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7. Israeli Animal Rights Group Produces Calendar

Forwarded message from “Let the Animals live,” an Israeli Animal Rights group:

Wonderful Calendar

This year Let the Animals Live has created a wonderful calendar including pictures of animals that were rescued during the past year. The calendar is for sale and all income is dedicated for saving animals next year. So what are you waiting for?

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8. Foie Gras Production Even More Cruel Than We Thought

Foie gras rejects that are shredded alive;
Female goslings discarded as they don't make enough profit
Daily Mail (London)
December 13, 2006

THIS is the cost of gourmet food a production line of death for young female ducks and geese.

To the producers of foie gras, female hatchlings are of little use. They do not grow at the same rate as the males, and give a slower return on investment.

So instead of being force-fed until their livers swell to make the delicacy, they are shredded while still alive.

Taken in secret by animal rights campaigners in a factory near Budapest in Hungary, these photographs expose the young birds' cruel fate. Separated by factory hands when only days old, they are dropped into a giant funnel that leads to the blades which slice them into feed for other animals.

This photograph is the first to be printed in Europe showing live animals being shredded.

Markus Pfeuffer of German animal charity Four Paws said: 'This is the true price of "gourmet" foie gras.

'This is what we do in a so-called civilised society to creatures still living. We need a total EU wide ban on imports and the manufacture of foie gras.' People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals pressure group said in a statement: 'Live chicks being shredded to their deaths in a whirling blade is only one part of the problem.

'To swell their livers up to ten times their normal size, pipes are repeatedly shoved down birds' throats, puncturing many birds' throats causing them to bleed to death. Foie gras is a delicacy of misery and despair.' PETA also pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI denounced force-feeding as being in violation of Biblical principles.


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