December 2, 2006

12/3/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Action Alert: Support NY City Ban of Foie Gras Sales

2. More on the Very Important FAO Report On How Badly Animal-Based Agriculture Is Harming the Planet

3. Relating Vegetarianism to Global Hunger/Please Send a Question

5. Thanks to Maida Genser for Setting Up an Updated Jewish Media Email Distribution List/Seeking Other Volunteers

6. New Think Tank Launched to Consider Animal Ethics

8. JVNA Advisor Publishes Ebook of Essays on Chanukah and Non-Violence

9. Guide to Experts in Animal Issues Published

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. Action Alert: Support NY City Ban of Foie Gras Sales

Forwarded message from the League of Humane Voters:

ACTION ALERT: Foie gras industry campaigns to stop NYC ban

Lobbyists and power-brokers connected to the foie gras industry have launched a massive campaign to defeat the NYC foie gras ban before it gets off the ground. City Council Members have been deluged over the past few days with phone calls, letters and requests for meetings from those opposed to the ban. We need your help immediately to counter this effort. Please call/write your City Council Member and the Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, and ask them to support the proposed ban on foie gras in New York City.

To find out who your Council Member is and how to reach him or her, visit or call (212) 889-0303.
Contact Speaker Christine Quinn at (212) 788-5615, or by fax at (212) 788-7207.

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2. More on the Very Important FAO Report On How Badly Animal-Based Agriculture Is Harming the Planet

[This is a follow-up to the special JVNA newsletter on this issue sent to you on November 30. For a long time, I have been arguing that a shift toward vegetarianism is not only an important individual choice, but that it is also a societal imperative. I believe the FAO report strongly supports that assertion.]

[Please note that the special JVNA newsletter on the FAO report is now available online here. Please use the information in that report plus the information below to help make people aware that animal-based agriculture contributes more re global warming and other environmental threats than vehicles, and hence, in view of how humanity is threatened today as perhaps never before, it is urgent that there be a major shift toward vegetarianism.]


Farm Animals More Damaging To Climate Than Cars

[Once again, this is an incredible fact, and I believe that we should actively try to make many people, especially influential leaders, aware of it.]

Livestock accounts for 37 percent of all human-induced methane, which is 23 times as warming as CO2 and is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and for 64 percent of ammonia, a big contributor to acid rain.

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Nov 29, 2006

The livestock industry contributes more to the greenhouse effect than cars, the UN food and farming agency said in a report Wednesday, which also slammed this sector as a major source of soil and water degradation. "The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent than transport," said the report by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

By this yardstick, livestock now accounts for 18 percent of man-made carbon emissions, driven by the surge in demand for meat and dairy products, FAO said.

Global meat production is set to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, according to a UN projection. Milk output is projected to soar from 580 million to 1,043 million tonnes over the same period.

"When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for nine percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases."

It generates 65 percent of human-caused nitrous oxide, a gas that is 296 times more effective at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide (CO2), the biggest greenhouse-gas by volume. Most of this pollution comes from manure.

Livestock also accounts for 37 percent of all human-induced methane, which is 23 times as warming as CO2 and is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and for 64 percent of ammonia, a big contributor to acid rain.

Not only that, but livestock's demand for feed crops contributes to biodiversity loss. The report proposes to increase the efficiency of livestock production and feed crop agriculture, and to improve animals' diets to reduce fermentation and consequent methane emissions.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Letter to the FAO by author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook:

re: Livestock a major threat to environment: remedies urgently needed

This is an important step for the UN FAO and I commend it on this report. There are few things more vital.

It is shocking to me, however, that among the urgent remedies there is not even a mention of not patronizing the livestock industry by eating a plant-based diet. Studies are piling up clearly demonstrating that vegetarianism is better for personal as well as environmental health, better for workers and of course better for animals.

Please peruse the information contained in the links below, each specifically focused on the connections between meat-eating and global warming, and please add something to this effect, with links, in an updated report. This urgent issue demands and deserves nothing less. I look forward to your response.

Dan Brook, Ph.D.

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

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

Cut Global Warming by Becoming Vegetarian

Five Food Choices for a Healthy Planet


Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters

New York Post news item:

Please write to the NY Post at
or go here.

November 30, 2006 -- ROME - Farm animals are responsible for almost a fifth of the pollution blamed for global warming, a United Nations report said yesterday.

Gases from manure and flatulence, deforestation to make grazing land, and the energy used in farming means livestock produces 18 percent of the gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Many scientists believe increased emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global warming, which could lead to catastrophic climate changes.

Copyright 2006 Reuters.

My letter to the New York Post, in response to their news item:

November 30, 2006

Editor, New York Post

Dear Editor:

It’s incredible! As your November 30 news item “FARM GAS-PASS POLLUTION WOE,” pointed out, a United Nations report indicated that farmed animals are causing almost twenty percent of the greenhouse gases that are causing global climate change. This is more than the contribution due to vehicles!.

At a time when there seem to be almost daily reports of the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, floods in some areas and droughts in others, severe storms and wild fires and other indicators of climate change. and when some climate scientists are warning us that, unless major changes are soon made, global climate change may spin out of control in a decade, isn’t it time to seriously consider switching to plant-based diets, for our health and that of our precious, but imperiled, planet.

Comment by JVNA advisor Steve Kelter from Jerusalem:

The FAO Report provides a factual basis correlating the impact of increased consumption of meat and dairy on the environment. The case for vegetarianism can now be presented not as an abstract concept but as a key component in saving planet earth from destruction by its its erstwhile stewards. The destructive impact of increased animal husbandry written in clear numbers in the report speak for themselves.

The JVNA newsletter, for which Richard Schwartz is responsible, has performed a signal service to the world community in helping to publicize the FAO report.

Steven Kelter, Jerusalem, Israel

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3. Relating Vegetarianism to Global Hunger/Please Send a Question

Forwarded message from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB):

6 December 2006, 10:00 AM EST

Who Is Malnourished or Hungry in the World? Why? What Can We Do to Help?
Bill Butz
Population Reference Bureau
You can pre-submit a question.
How many malnourished or hungry people are there in the world, and why? Is the situation improving or worsening?

Join Bill Butz, president and CEO of the Population Reference Bureau, on Dec. 6 for an online discussion of malnutrition, hunger, and food security.


To ask a question tha Bill Butz may answer during the online discussion, go here.

[My question is below. It is probably too long, so please submit a better question.]

With so many hungry people in the world, and with the situation likely to get worse due to global warming, widening water shortages and increasing populations, shouldn't we seriously consider shifting toward plant-based diets? We are currently raising over 50 billion farmed animals, and this number is projected to double in 20 years. Also, we are currently feeding 70% of the grain raised in the US to farmed animals and almost 40% of the grain produced worldwide to farmed animals. How can we continue to do this when so many people already suffer from malnutrition?

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5. Thanks to Maida Genser for Setting Up an Updated Jewish Media Email Distribution List/Seeking Other Volunteers

Maida also set up an email distribution list of Jewish organizations.

We are deeply grateful to Maida as her lists should be very helpful re JVNA’s future activities. Many thanks, Maida.

We can use other volunteers to set up additional email distribution lists, to help with the JVNA web site and in other ways. Please contact me if you would like to play a role in our efforts to create a more humane, just, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world. Many thanks.

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6. New Think Tank Launched to Consider Animal Ethics

Forwarded article:

Think tank launched to debate animal ethics
Alexandra Smith and agencies
Monday November 27, 2006

A think tank claiming to be the world's first dedicated to animal ethics is to launch today, with the aim of fostering debate on controversial issues, such as animal testing.

The new animal ethics centre, launching today, aims to "put animals on the intellectual agenda". The centre's director, the Rev Professor Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest, writer and University of Oxford theologian, is well known for his opposition to animal testing.

His new project is expected to bring a more reasoned approach to the animal rights debate, including the controversial building of Oxford's animal testing laboratory.

The think tank, which is to open its own centre in Oxford, opposes violence and illegal acts and distances itself from militant animal rights activists who advocate campaigns of violence and intimidation. One of the first issues of debate on its agenda is "the relationship between animal abuse and violence to human beings".

The new centre is not related to the University of Oxford.

More than 100 academics from 10 countries have been recruited as advisers to the centre, which has the full title Ferrater Mora Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, after the Spanish philosopher, Jose Ferrater Mora, who spoke out against bullfighting in Spain. [I am one of the hundred advisors.]

Projects already underway include the introduction of a course in animal ethics and the publication of a Journal of Animal Ethics.

The construction of the £20m animal research laboratory at Oxford has been dogged with controversy.

In July 2004, the construction firm Montpellier pulled out after threatening letters were sent to its shareholders and its share price dropped. Work on the lab was suspended because of continuing threats of violence.

In the same month, the Animal Liberation Fund (ALF) admitted to an arson attack on the Hertford College boathouse and joined another animal rights group, Speak, in a campaign to target any organisations linked to the university.

Work started again on the lab in December last year, prompting Speak to begin demonstrations outside the building site, and in January a posting on the ALF website threatened violence against all staff and students at the university.

Since then staff and students have retaliated by forming their own group, Pro-Test, which has marched in support of the testing.

Prof Linzey said: "We must strive to ensure animal issues are highlighted and rationally discussed throughout society - we cannot change the world for animals without changing our ideas about them.

"The centre will promote ethical attitudes and contribute to informed public debate."

Pro-Test, the Oxford-based group that backs animal testing, welcomed Prof Linzey's centre.

A spokesman for Pro-Test said: "We understand that there are disagreements surrounding the area of animal rights, but we believe they should be solved through debate and discussion rather than through violence and intimidation,

"Further debate on whether animal research is justified is always going to be a good thing."

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8. JVNA Advisor Publishes Ebook of Essays on Chanukah and Non-Violence

Forwarded message:

Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, vegetarian and peace activist, has compiled the best of his anti-war articles and essays into an ebook download entitled "Eight Candles of Consciousness: Collected Essays on Hanukkah and Non-Violence."

It's in PDF format, so you can read it with Adobe Reader or print out a copy. 85 pages, $2.99 -- download in his eBay store.
(Click on "Books and ebooks" on the sidebar to find it.

[I have had the pleasure of working with Rabbi Gershom for many years on vegetarian, environmental, health and other issues. I think that he is one of the most thoughtful people in the Jewish community today on these issues. We are working together on a book, but progress has been relatively slow, because we are both busy with many projects. While I have not yet read the complete ebook, I am very impressed by what I have seen and read, and I strongly endorse it.]

Rabbi Gershom’s recent comment re the possible foie gras ban is below.

"The production of fois gras is cruel beyond belief, and violates the Jewish prohibition against causing suffering to animals. Anyone who has had daily contact with free-run geese -- as I do on my Minnesota hobby farm -- would see that these are very intelligent birds with feelings, emotions, loyalty to their mates and fierce to defend their young. Modern science shows that geese have the intelligence of at least a 3-year-old child. If you can imagine a human child confined in a fois gras cage with a tube shoved down her throat, you would get an idea of the conscious suffering these birds go through. Such abuse must stop."

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9. Guide to Experts in Animal Issues Published

Forwarded message:

Dear Richard,

The Animals and Society Institute is proud to announce the publication of its "Guide to Experts in Animal Issues."

The Animals and Society Institute "Guide to Experts on Animals Issues" brings together in one publication, for the first time, experts from academia (sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, biology and many other fields), veterinary medicine, the legal profession, and the animal protection field. By tapping into their knowledge and expertise, we will deepen our understanding of the complex relationship that we have with nonhuman animals.

The guide offers four different ways for users to find experts on animal issues:

1. Alphabetical Index

2. General Subject Index (e.g., agriculture)

3. Areas of Expertise Index (e.g., chickens)

4. Geographical Index

The experts included were chosen based on a number of criteria (e.g., academic degrees, qualifications, research, publications, and professional affiliations). For animal advocates we focused on including those who have published work in their area, have worked in the field for a number of years, and possess a unique knowledge of the subject matter.

The categories that we chose to include in this guide were selected based on the major areas in which animal issues are most commonly broken down, and areas of expertise were chosen to match the issues most sought after by the media with respect to animal issues. Finally, the guide includes primarily North American experts, as well as a handful of international experts with special expertise.

The guide was produced by Margo DeMello, Ken Shapiro and myself.

Order "Guide to Experts in Animal Issues" Today!

ASI non-members pay $20 plus $3.50 S&H.

ASI members pay $15 plus $3.50 S&H.

If you prefer to order by mail, please send check or money order made payable to ASI for $20 (discounted member price is $15) plus $3.50 S&H to:

Animals and Society Institute

ATTN: "Guide to Experts in Animal Issues"

3500 Boston Street, Suite 325

Baltimore, MD 21224-5701
Order "Guide to Experts in Animal Issues" today!
The Animals and Society Institute

The moral and legal status of animals in society is a profoundly important issue. "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated," observed Mahatma Gandhi.

But all too often it seems that the public debate, along with sensational reporting in the media and elsewhere, typically frames the discourse on our relationship with animals in the oppositional rhetoric of "my baby vs. a laboratory rat." The ASI wants to foster an understanding that goes beyond this stereotype.

The ASI is an independent research and educational organization that advances the status of animals in public policy and promotes the study of human-animal relationships. We are a think tank as well as a producer of educational resources, publications and events.

The ASI is made possible by you and the generous support of individuals and like-minded organizations and foundations whose financial support help to make our programs possible.

Thank you!

Kim W. Stallwood

Co-executive Director
Learn more about the Animals and Society Institute

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