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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