February 25, 2007

2/25/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Purim/My Article and Two Sample Letters

2. Israeli Chief Rabbi Rules Against (Some) Fur/Implications

4. PETA Investigation Finds Abuses of Chickens at Monastery Factory Farm

5. More Re Dispute Over Inspecting Working Conditions at Kosher Slaughterhouses/Plus My Response

6. Radio Announcement by Dan Brook Re Global Warming

7. Climate Crisis Action Day to be Held in Washington, DC

8. Debate Over? Time For Action By the Jewish Community For a Greener World?

9. Christian Scientist Article Links Beef Consumption to Global Climate Change

10. Movie Opens About Early Animal Rights Activist

11. The 2007 Global Warming Globie Awards

12. Nobel Prize Winner Criticizes Factory Farming

13. Hindu Organization Seeks Meat-Free Zone on Airplane

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. Happy Purim/My Article and Two Sample Letters

Best wishes for a very happy Purim to everyone. The holiday starts right after Shabbat next week. For vegan Purim recipes, including hamantaschen, visit JewishVeg.com/recipes. Below is my article, “Purim and Vegetarianism” and two sample letters. Please use the material for your own letters and talking points, and please fell free to forward the article and/or letters to others who might be interested. Many thanks.

Purim and Vegetarianism
Richard H. Schwartz

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

1) According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret.

2) During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" (added charity to poor and hungry people). In contrast to these acts of sharing and compassion, animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70 percent of the grain in the United States to animals, while an estimated 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually.

3) During the afternoon of Purim, Jews have a "seudah" (special festive meal), when family and friends gather to rejoice in the Purim spirit. Serving only vegetarian food at this occasion would enable all who partake to be consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve health, protect the environment, share with hungry people, conserve resources, and treat animals with compassion (as well as the vegetarian practices of Queen Esther).

4) Jews make noise with "groggers" and other noisemakers, to drown out the infamous name of Haman when it appears during the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther). Today, vegetarians are "making noise" in attempting to educate people and drown out the very well-funded propaganda of the beef and dairy industries.

5) On Purim, Jews emphasize unity and friendship by sending gifts of food ("shalach manot") to friends. Vegetarians act in the spirit of unity and concern for humanity by having a diet that best shares the earth's abundant resources.

6) Because Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people, it is the most joyous Jewish holiday. By contrast, animals on factory farms never have a pleasant day, and millions of people throughout the world are too involved in trying to obtain their next meal to be able to experience many joyous moments.

7) Mordecai, one of the heroes of the Purim story, was a nonconformist. As the book of Esther states, ". . . And all of the king's servants . . . bowed down and prostrated themselves before Haman . . . But Mordecai would not bow down nor prostrate himself before him" (Esther 3:2). Today, vegetarians represent non-conformity. At a time when most people in the wealthier countries think of animal products as the main part of their meals, when McDonald's and similar fast food establishments are still popular, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more humane diet.

8) Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the wicked Haman. Today, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance from modern problems such as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.

9) Purim commemorates the time when conditions for the Jews changed from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to festival. Today, a switch to vegetarianism could result in similar changes for many people, since plant- based diets would reduce health problems, pollution, water scarcities, and hunger.

10) Jews hear the reading of the Megillah twice during Purim, in order to reeducate themselves about the terrible threats to the Jewish people and their deliverance. Jewish vegetarians believe that if Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, and helping hungry people, they would seriously consider switching to vegetarian diets.

11) Hamantashen, the primary food associated with Purim, is a vegetarian food.

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

Dear editor,

According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus, to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. Therefore, Purim is an ideal time for Jews to shift toward vegetarian diets.

This dietary change would be consistent with important Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue a more peaceful, less violent world.

While Purim commemorates the triumph of the Jews in ancient Persia over an oppressor who threatened them, a shift to plant-based diets would enable contemporary Jews to reverse current threats from an epidemic of disease and the many environmental problems related to modern intensive animal-based agriculture.

Very truly yours,

Dear editor,

According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus, to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. This put her in a position where she was able to save the Jewish people during a time of great danger.

In November, 2006, a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report indicated that animal-based agriculture causes 18% of all greenhouse emissions, more than all forms of transportation and that this is expected to increase greatly as the consumption of meat and other animal products doubles by 2050. Hence, today a shift by Jews (and others) toward vegetarianism can help save the entire world from the projected catastrophic effects of global warning.

Very truly yours,

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2. Israeli Chief Rabbi Rules Against (Some) Fur/Implications

a. Article in Maariv

New Halachic Ruling Prohibits Jews from Wearing Fur Coats
[Unfortunately, this article from Ma/ariv does not present the full story, as the article following it does.]

Ma’ariv (p. 13) by Dalia Mazori -- A new Halachic ruling that was handed down by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger prohibits Jews from wearing coats that are made out of animal fur. Consequently, animal fur pelts are not to be imported to Israel. [As indicated in the next article (from the San Diego Union Tribune), the ruling relates only to the importing of fur that is skinned alive.]

Rabbi Yona Metzger established his position on the matter in response to a query from MK Zvulun Orlev. MK Orlev asked the rabbi what Halacha’s position was regarding products whose manufacturing process involved cruelty to animals. MK Orlev would like to promote legislation banning imports of animal fur.

[Perhaps we should contact MK Orlav and ask if he (and perhaps other MKs) would raise other shaylas (questions) for Rabbi Metzger. Since there is a Knesset Animal Rights Caucus, perhaps they might raise such questions.]

Rabbi Metzger noted in his Halachic ruling that the quality of mercy was embedded in the Jewish people and that it was one of the telltale signs of the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: to have pity on every created being as such and to prevent it from sorrow and suffering. Killing animals for no reason other than to strip them of their skins in order to make wearable fur, said Rabbi Metzger, entailed a degree of cruelty that was inappropriate for Jews. [While Rabbi Metzger’s decision was not as broad as we would like, his analysis above provides an opportunity to seek broader rulings re the mistreatment of animals. It should be recalled that the former Sephardit Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Chaim Dovid HaLevy issued a rabbinic ruling against the manufacturing and wearing of furs ]

Rabbi Metzger further said that while the cruel acts of killing the animals for their fur were carried out by gentiles, Jews must not strengthen the hands of these transgressors and help them.

“The Jews are duty-bound to prevent the horrible phenomenon of cruelty to animals, and to be a light unto the nations by refraining from purchasing items whose production involved such needless and horrifying cruelty,” said Rabbi Metzger.

[Once again, Rabbi Metzger’s statements provide us with valuable opportunities to make progress re reducing animal abuses in Israel and perhaps in the broader Jewish community. If you have any suggestions re this, please let me know. Anyone have any contacts within the Knesset Animal rights Caucus? Thanks.]
b. Article in the San Diego Union Tribune
6:27 a.m. February 20, 2007

JERUSALEM – Jews must not wear fur skinned from live animals, Israel's chief rabbi said in a religious ruling on Tuesday. [Note how this article, unlike the one above from Ma’ariv, indicates limits in Rabbi Metzger’s decision.]

'All Jews are obliged to prevent the horrible phenomenon of cruelty to animals and be a 'light onto nations' by refusing to use products that originate from acts which cause such suffering,' Rabbi Yona Metzger said.

Animal rights campaigners in Israel and abroad say that animals are skinned alive at fur farms in China.

Metzger issued the edict in response to an appeal by an Israeli legislator who looked into the reports of animal cruelty in China at the request of a constituent.

The ruling stopped short of banning the use of fur from animals skinned after they were slaughtered.

Mati Korinio of Israel's Nature and Parks Authority, which oversees fur imports, said much of the fur sold in the Jewish state did not originate in China.

[As indicated above, while the rabbinic decision is not s broad as we would like, Rabbi Metzger’s reliance on Jewish teachings on compassion to animals provides an opening for additional positive decisions that can reduce or eliminate further animal abuses. As indicated above, I hope that we can make contacts with the Knesset Animal rights Caucus and ask them to raise additional questions re animal abuses.]

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4. PETA Investigation Finds Abuses of Chickens at Monastery Factory Farm

Web link and video: http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/mepkin

Press Release:


Charleston-Area Monks Abuse, Neglect, and Intensively Confine 38,000 Hens in Egg Factory for Profit

Charleston, S.C. - A PETA undercover investigation of an egg factory owned and operated by a Trappist Monastery, Mepkin Abbey outside Charleston, S.C., has revealed shocking cruelty to chickens. Tens of thousands of hens at the monastery are painfully debeaked, crammed into tiny cages, and periodically starved. PETA has released its findings-which include video footage and photos-this morning on its Web site, at www.PETA.org.

Mepkin Abbey Egg Farm produces 9 million eggs per year from more than 38,000 hens whose sensitive beaks are partially cut off-without painkillers-and who are housed in filthy sheds containing row upon row of tiny, multi-tiered wire "battery" cages. Each cage contains up to four birds packed so tightly that their bodies are pressed firmly against each other. The chickens live in this deplorable state-unable to so much as lift a wing-for up to two years, during which the abbey periodically starves them in order to shock their bodies into an additional laying cycle. PETA's investigator witnessed several severely
injured birds lying nearly motionless on the floor. A monk working in the factory told them that the animals would be killed, but the hens were simply left to suffer. Despite these abuses, printing on the Abbey's egg cartons claims "a deep respect for the environment ... through the caring cultivation of the earth and its creatures" and are marked "Animal Care Certified."

The Abbey's practices violate the Catholic Catechism, Bible principles, and the teachings of the Pope. When asked about the rights of animals in a 2002 interview, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger-now Pope Benedict XVI-said, "Animals, too, are God's creatures ... Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that ... hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible."

"The Mepkin Abbey egg factory is hell-on-Earth for chickens," says PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich, a devout Roman Catholic. "If these monks
abused dogs or cats in the ways they're abusing chickens, they could be put in prison on felony cruelty to animals charges. We're asking the
monastery to stop causing birds to suffer for money's sake, and to switch to making marmalade, bread, beer, or some other product that does not cause animals such unmitigated misery."

For more information, please visit PETA's Web site PETA.org.

Forwarded article:

NATIONAL | February 21, 2007
PETA Criticizes Egg Farm at South Carolina Monastery
Published: February 21, 2007

ATLANTA, Feb. 20 — An egg farm operated by Trappist monks at a monastery in South Carolina is an “ugly stain” on an otherwise blessed community, an animal rights group said Tuesday as it released the results of an undercover investigation into egg production practices there.

“This hurts so much,” said the Right Rev. Stanislaus Gumula, the abbot of Mepkin Abbey, after he learned about the accusations made against his community, in Moncks Corner, S.C. “They’re happy chickens. They’re being treated nicely.”

A video produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and posted on its Web site shows rows of chickens, three or four to a cage.

Several monks, who were videotaped without their knowledge, are shown discussing their practices, including “forced molting,” which puts chickens under stress to cause them to lay more eggs. The practice was banned last year by United Egg Producers, the country’s largest trade group for commercial egg producers.

“We’re going to have to investigate, because if this is true, they aren’t following the requirements of our certification program,” said Diane E. Storey, a spokeswoman for the egg producers group. Father Gumula, who became the abbot a few months ago, called the accusations “unfactual” and said the chickens had last been molted in 2006, during a grace period the trade group allowed to comply with new regulations.

“It’s like a fast,” one of the monks explains on camera. “Like a long fast when the chickens stop laying eggs for a while because they’re not eating and they cycle them back in.”

Ms. Storey said that Mepkin Abbey was certified under her group’s animal welfare program, and that it was last inspected by the Department of Agriculture in October 2006.

Father Gumula said he would switch to a new molting technique in 2007 that did not require complete removal of food.

He also took issue with the film’s criticism of the abbey for a common practice called debeaking, in which a hot blade is used to slice the tip of the beak off a chick before it is 10 days old. He said the abbey got its hens when they were 18 weeks old, long after their beaks had been trimmed by the supplier.

PETA says that the tip of a chicken’s beak is incredibly sensitive and that birds in the wild use it to peck the ground more than 15,000 times day as they forage for food.

Animal welfare experts say beak trimming prevents chickens from tearing one other to pieces.

“I guess, in this case, beak trimming is the best of two devils,” said Inma Estevez, an associate professor in the department of animal and avian science at the University of Maryland. “I’ve seen the alternative, and, believe me, it’s much worse.”

Father Gumula said the monks raised 21,000 birds in three barns, not 38,000 as PETA asserted.

And he said he kept the birds caged because it kept them cleaner and healthier. “When they are on the floor, they are subjected to all sorts of parasites and bacteria that are around,” Father Gumula said. “They walk in their own manure. They walk in their troughs.”

He said the monks gathered 17,000 eggs daily and had been known to sing to the birds.

Animal rights advocates said that although those methods might seem quaint, the chickens were suffering.

“To put it bluntly, this is animal abuse,” said Paul Shapiro, director of the Factory Farming Campaign at the Humane Society of America, who said he had received complaints about the abbey. “People are being misled to believe these birds are receiving a higher level of care than they actually are.”

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5. More Re Dispute Over Inspecting Working Conditions at Kosher Slaughterhouses/Plus My Response

Kosher Today
2/18/2007 9:56 AM
New York…

“Tzedek Hechsher” Not a Kosher Issue, Many Rabbis Assert
By Kosher Cooking(Kosher Cooking)

The Conservative position followed an earlier article in the Forward that reported on alleged unsafe working conditions at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, a fact that was later disputed by Rabbi Asher Zeilingold of Kosher News - http://koshernews.blogspot.com/index.html

Reacting to an article in the weekly Forward, “Orthodox Slam Effort To Monitor Conditions at Kosher Factories” (February 9, 2007), many rabbis reached by KosherToday did not consider the new proposed Conservative “Tzedek Hekhsher” to be an issue for kashrus. The Forward piece turned the issue of a proposed new certification on the basis of social issues to be the latest spat between Conservative and Orthodox rabbis. But even the Conservatives said that their proposed new hechsher would not deal with kashrus but rather with working conditions at plants producing kosher. The Conservative position followed an earlier article in the Forward that reported on alleged unsafe working conditions at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, a fact that was later disputed by Rabbi Asher Zeilingold of Minneapolis who traveled to the plant with a Spanish speaking congregant of his. Rabbi Zeilingold certifies the non-glatt kosher meats at the plant.

"It's not that we don't care about those issues, but we rely on the federal government," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, who heads the kashrus division at the Orthodox Union (OU). He noted that agencies such as the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety & Health Administration already keep watch on workers' pay and working conditions. “We don't want to impose more on those companies than is required by law," Genack said. Other rabbis also saw the new certification as more of an oversight on the already considerable protection offered to workers by government.

Many of the kashrus officials felt that a new certification that broadened the definition of kashrus would only lead to more confusion in the marketplace. Rabbi Yosef Wikler, publisher of Kashrus Magazine, told Kosher Today that the Tzedek Hekhsher “has nothing to do with kosher certification and standards,” which is why he would not include the certification on his widely heralded annual list of kosher symbols and certification that numbered nearly 750 in 2006. Rabbi Wikler, who lists Conservative and Reform certifications on his list, agreed that the Tzedek Hekhsher would only lead to more confusion for consumers. One rabbi complimented the concern of the Conservatives but suggested that they “first should have visited non-kosher plants “which are basically no different than kosher ones” and in any event should be issuing their hekhsher for any Jewish businessman who employs workers, and not just a meat plant in Iowa.”
In an attempt to shift attention to broader issues, I posted the following to the section after the article at the web site:

I believe that the Jewish community should start addressing the most important issues re typical Jewish (and other) diets; that animal-based diets have been conclusively linked to heart disease, several forms of cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases, and that animal-based agriculture is contributing significantly to global warming, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, land erosion and depletion, loss of biological diversity and many additional environmental threats, as well as shortages of water and energy.

In addition, the production and consumption of meat and other animal products seriously violate Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

So, for our health and for environmental sustainability, it is essential that Jews reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products. Such a change would also help revitalize Judaism by showing the relevance of our eternal teachings to current critical issues.

More information on Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism can be found at JewishVeg.com, which includes my over 130 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz.

Richard (Schwartz)
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America

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6. Radio Announcement by Dan Brook Re Global Warming

Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue
Dan Brook

Global warming goes beyond “an inconvenient truth”. We are overheating our planet with catastrophic consequences. Think about an overheated car or an overcooked dinner. Now imagine that on a planetary scale.

The effects of global warming are not hypothetical: weather spasms, melting ice, rising seas, endangered species, refugees. We’re standing at a precipice.

Our over-consumption of oil fuels the crisis, but it might surprise you to learn that something else we consume also significantly contributes to our problem: meat. Cow farms annually produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane, two major greenhouse gases. “Belching, flatulent livestock emit 16% of the world’s... methane.” “The animals we eat emit 21% of all the carbon dioxide that can be attributed to human activity.”

Yes, the U.S. should ratify Kyoto and make other major policy changes. But we also need to make personal changes.

Recent studies conclude that changing from the Standard American Diet to a vegetarian or, better yet, vegan diet does more to fight global warming than switching from a gas-guzzling Hummer to a Camry or from a Camry to a Prius. “Eating meat is like driving an... SUV... a vegetarian diet is like driving a [hybrid], and... a vegan diet is like riding a bicycle.” Shifting away from SUVs, SUV lifestyles, and SUV diets, to energy-efficient, life-affirming alternatives, is essential to fight global warming.

As Paul McCartney says, “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat.” Eco-Eating fights global warming with our forks, knives, and chopsticks! In the words of another vegetarian, Gandhi, “We must be the change we wish to see in this world.”

The fact that meat substantially increases global warming is another inconvenient truth, but another opportunity for positive change.

With a Perspective, I’m Dan Brook.

Dan Brook teaches sociology at San Jose State University and maintains the Eco-Eating web site at www.brook.com/veg and The Vegetarian Mitzvah at www.brook.com/jveg. He welcomes comments via Brook@california.com. [He is also a JVNA advisor and a frequent contributor of material for the JVNA newsletter.]

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7. Climate Crisis Action Day to be Held in Washington, DC

Forwarded message:

Polar bears are already feeling the heat...

...so let’s turn up the heat on Congress!

Take part in the Climate Crisis Action Day in Washington, DC on March 20!


Did you know? Polar bears are insulated from the cold so well, that they overheat easily. They avoid excessive running and must rest often to avoid getting hot under the collar.

Tell others to attend! Forward this message on to at least 5 others who care about wildlife and want to see real action on global warming!

Dear Richard,

The clock is ticking on climate change -- and our wildlife is already feeling the heat. We must act now, before it’s too late.

Be a part of the solution! Join Defenders of Wildlife for the Climate Crisis Action Day in Washington, DC on March 20, and tell your elected officials we can't wait any longer.

Polar bears are being pushed to the brink of extinction as increased temperatures deprive them of needed food and habitat. Survival rates are already plummeting and these iconic arctic hunters are starving to death -- even resorting to cannibalism.

The danger is so great that federal officials now plan to list these creatures as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

On Tuesday, March 20, thousands of concerned citizens will gather at the U.S. Capitol to tell Congress to tackle global warming head-on, with responsible energy decisions and protections for special places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- one of the most important denning habitats for our remaining polar bears.

Visit our partners at ClimateCrisisAction.org to secure your place at this historic event -- or to find out other ways to take action right now even if you can’t make it to DC.

Come listen to politicians, celebrities, religious leaders, and activists from across the country. You’ll even have the chance to speak with your legislators personally, to make sure addressing global warming is at the top of their "to do" list.

Sign up for the March 20th Climate Crisis Action Day!

Global warming is happening -- and we need to do something now.

Our polar bears can’t afford to let the clock tick any longer. Come to the Climate Crisis Action Day, and help make global warming a priority by moving toward a smarter, cleaner energy future!

Hope to see you there!

Rodger Schlickeisen, President (c)Daniel J. Cox/www.naturalexpos Sincerely,

Rodger Schlickeisen
Defenders of Wildlife

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9. Christian Scientist Article Links Beef Consumption to Global Climate Change

Stop Global Warming by Banning Beef Not Cars
Posted by Noel Sheppard on February 19, 2007 - 20:47.
CS Monitor: (Christian Science Monitor)

This is way too funny and definitely requires all potables, combustibles, and sharp objects to be properly stowed.

The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that if man wants to halt global warming, he should forget about the fuel efficiency of his SUV and just stop eating meat:

As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

How delicious. The article marvelously continued:

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

Here’s something Al Gore and Ellen Goodman won’t tell you:

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

Another thing the media elites ignore is the likelihood that CO2 really isn’t the problem at all:

The latter two gases are particularly troubling – even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

All you hear about is CO2, right? Why not methane and nitrous oxide?

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

And, the future of meat consumption looks quite ominous in this context:

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

As you might imagine, animal rights groups love this kind of talk:

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Changing one's diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions quicker than shifts away from fossil fuel burning technologies, Mr. Mohr writes, because the turnover rate for farm animals is shorter than that for cars and power plants.

"Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today," he writes. "Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth."

The numbers are actually quite compelling:

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet – including all food processing steps – results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

"It doesn't have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan," says Dr. Eshel, whose family raised beef cattle in Israel. "If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you've already made a substantial difference.”

Count me in. I don’t like hamburgers anyway.

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10. Movie Opens About Early Animal Rights Activist

As I have been overwhelmed with other projects, DawnWatch took an inordinately long President's Day weekend. I will be playing a little catch-up today. The highlight of that weekend was an HSUS advance screening of Amazing Grace, directed by Michael Apted, which opens tomorrow, Friday February 23.

Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce's parliamentary battle to end the British slave trade. What I had not known before seeing the film, but was not surprised to find out, is that Wilberforce was also one of the founding members of the original Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The film opens with a scene in which Wilberforce intervenes as a horse is being beaten. There are many references to his passion for animals throughout the movie.

Even without the animal friendly theme, I would fervently recommend Amazing Grace to all activists. It shows what can be achieved against what appear to be insurmountable odds. It is inspiring. It is also beautifully acted and directed -- a pleasure to watch.

DawnWatch generally encourages animal friendly media by asking people to respond to it favorably with emails to media outlets. The best possible way to show support for an animal friendly film is to go see it -- not to wait for it on DVD. Box office sales the opening weekend are the most important, influencing the length of the movie's run and its distribution to other theatres. Big sales on opening weekend also let the production company know that the public is eager for movies that matter.

So if you are thinking about a movie this weekend (even if you weren't) -- why not show support for messages about making the world a better place, by going to see Amazing Grace? And please forward this recommendation to anybody you know who cares.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

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11. The 2007 Global Warming Globie Awards

Forwarded message from Environmental Defense:

The votes have been counted and the winners are...
Posted on: 02/22/2007

More than 20,000 of you voted in our first ever Global Warming Globie Awards and the totals are in.

We had some close votes, some landslides and a bunch of suggestions. And, based on emails we received, we've even added a new "Honorable Mention" award for two California state legislators who helped make the historic California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) possible (see below).

Thanks to all our online supporters for voting and making the first-ever Global Warming Globie Awards a great success. We had a lot of fun tallying the votes and reading through your comments. We hope you had fun, too.

So, without further ado, here are this year's winners:
In the category of Best Performance by a State or Local Official, the winner by a nose is…

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels for spearheading a national effort to organize America's cities to cut carbon dioxide pollution 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. The "U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement" has been signed by 393 mayors representing over 57 million Americans.

This one was a real squeaker with Mayor Nickels edging California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger out by fewer than 30 votes out of roughly 20,000 cast in that category.

Congratulations Mayor Nickels and thanks for your leadership.
In the category of Best Performance in the Corporate World, the clear winner is…

US-CAP, our new partnership with 10 Fortune 500 companies and 3 other national environmental organizations, earned nearly 50% of the votes cast in this category. This new partnership launched to jointly call for immediate, effective global warming legislation in Congress represents a real game changer in our global warming campaign.

With the rest of the vote split between the other three nominees, this was a clear win.
In the category of Best Film, Documentary, or Website Focusing on Global Warming, the winner in a landslide is…

Inconvenient Truth, the blockbuster global warming documentary by former Vice President Al Gore. No real surprise. With 82% of the vote in this category, this was the single biggest vote-getter of this year's Globie Awards.

No need for a recount here!
In the category of Worst Performance by a Corporation or Corporate Official, the winner is…

ExxonMobil, earning 55% of the vote in this category, making the oil giant the second biggest vote-getter of this year's Globie Awards. In spite of recent softening in its corporate rhetoric against global warming action, ExxonMobil wasn't able to obscure its decade-long and multi-million dollar public relations campaign to undermine the scientific consensus on global warming.
In the category of Most Egregious Contribution to Public Ignorance and Denial, the winner is…

The senior senator from the state of Oklahoma, Senator James Inhofe. This was a narrow four-way split, but with 38% of the vote, Senator Inhofe bested former Bush Administration official Philip Cooney by more than 2,000 votes.

By calling global warming the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on humankind, Senator Inhofe has solidified his legacy as one of the leading global warming deniers of our time.

And, in the newly created "Honorable Mention" category, based on numerous emails we received from our online supporters…

We would like to highlight the leadership of both California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and former state Assemblywoman Fran Pavley for jointly authoring and helping to pass AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act.

We couldn't agree more with these sentiments. Speaker Nunez and Assemblywoman Pavley were determined, tenacious and unwavering in their efforts to pass this historic bill and send it to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk before last year's legislative calendar expired. Put simply, it wouldn't have happened without these legislative champions.

For their role in helping make California a leader in the fight against global warming, we'd like to award California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and former California State Assemblywoman Fran Pavley an honorable mention in this year's Globie Awards.

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12. Nobel Prize Winner Criticizes Factory Farming

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Charles Patterson for forwarding the following article to us:

Exposing the Beast: Factory Farming Must be Called to the Slaughterhouse
by J.M. Coetzee

To any thinking person, it must be obvious there is something terribly wrong with relations between human beings and the animals they rely on for food. It must also be obvious that in the past 100 or 150 years, whatever is wrong has become wrong on a huge scale, as traditional animal husbandry has been turned into an industry using industrial methods of production.

There are many other ways in which our relationship with animals is wrong (to name two: the fur trade and experimentation on animals in laboratories), but the food industry, which turns living animals into what it euphemistically calls animal products and by-products, dwarfs all others in the number of individual animal lives it affects.

The vast majority of the public has an equivocal attitude to the industrial use of animals: they make use of the products of that industry, but are nevertheless a little sickened, a little queasy, when they think of what happens on factory farms and abattoirs. Therefore they arrange their lives in such a way that they need be reminded of farms and abattoirs as little as possible, and they do their best to ensure their children are kept in the dark too, because children have tender hearts and are easily moved.

The transformation of animals into production units dates back to the late 19th century, and since that time we have already had one warning on the grandest scale that there is something deeply, cosmically wrong with regarding and treating fellow beings as mere units of any kind.

This warning came so loud and clear that one would have thought it impossible to ignore. It came when, in the 20th century, a group of
powerful and bloody-minded men in Germany hit on the idea of adapting the methods of the industrial stockyard, as pioneered and perfected in Chicago, to the slaughter - or what they preferred to call the processing - of human beings.

Of course we cried out in horror when we found out what they had been up to. What a terrible crime to treat human beings like cattle - if we had only known beforehand. But our cry should more accurately have been: what a terrible crime to treat human beings like units in an industrial process. And that cry should have had a postscript: what a terrible crime come to think of it, a crime against nature – to treat any living being like a unit in an industrial process.

It would be a mistake to idealise traditional animal husbandry as the standard by which the animal products industry falls short. Traditional animal husbandry is brutal enough, just on a smaller scale. A better standard by which to judge both practices would be the simple standard of humanity: is this truly the best that humans are capable of?

The efforts of the animal rights movement - the broad movement that situates itself on the spectrum somewhere between the meliorism of the animal welfare bodies and the radicalism of animal liberation - are rightly directed at decent people who both know and don't know that there is something going on that stinks to high heaven.

These are people who will say: "Yes, it's terrible what lives brood sows live; it's terrible what lives veal calves live," but who will add, with a helpless shrug of the shoulders - "what can I do about it?"

The task of the movement is to offer such people imaginative but practical options for what to do next after they have been revolted by a glimpse of the lives factory animals live and the deaths they die. People need to see that there are alternatives to supporting the animal products industry.

These alternatives need not involve any sacrifice in health or nutrition, and there is no reason why these alternatives need be costly. Furthermore, what are commonly called sacrifices are not sacrifices at all. The only sacrifices in the whole picture, in fact, are being made by non-human animals.

n this respect, children provide the brightest hope. Children have tender hearts - that is to say children have hearts that have not yet been hardened by years of cruel and unnatural battering. Given half a chance, children see through the lies with which advertisers bombard them (the happy chooks that are transformed painlessly into succulent nuggets, the smiling moo-cow that donates to us the bounty of her milk). It takes but one glance into a slaughterhouse to turn a child into a lifelong vegetarian.

Factory farming is a new phenomenon - very new indeed in the history of animal husbandry. The good news is that after a couple of decades of what the businessmen behind it must have regarded as free and unlimited expansion, the industry has been forced onto the defensive.

The activities of animals-rights organizations have shifted the onus onto the industry to justify its practices, and because they are indefensible and unjustifiable except on the most narrow economic grounds ("Do you want to pay $1.50 more for a dozen eggs?"), the industry is battening down hatches and hoping the storm will blow itself out. Insofar as there was a public relations war, the industry has already lost that war.

A final note. The campaign of human beings for animal rights is curious in one respect: the creatures on whose behalf human beings are acting are unaware of what their benefactors are up to and, if they succeed, are unlikely to thank them. There is even a sense in which animals do not know what is wrong - they do certainly not know what is wrong in the same way that humans do.

Thus, however close the well-meaning benefactor may feel to animals, the animal rights campaign remains a human project from beginning to
J.M. Coetzee won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2003. This is an edited version of a speech to be given this evening to open the exhibition Voiceless: I feel therefore I am. It will be at the Sherman Galleries until March 10.

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13. Hindu Organization Seeks Meat-Free Zone on Airplane

Forwarded item:

Plea for vegetarian zone in aircraft
“The Hindu”
News Update Service
Sunday, February 18, 2007 : 1730 Hrs

Chennai, Feb. 18 (PTI): Bhagwan Mahaveer Foundation, a city-based organization, has demanded a separate "vegetarian zone" in aircraft on the lines of non-smoking zones.

In a letter to all airlines, the Foundation's Managing Trustee, N Sugalchand Jain, said it was "a distasteful experience" to vegetarians when airhostesses asked them if they were vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Vegetarians suffered from nausea and loss of appetite when other passengers ate non-vegetarian food.

Passengers should be asked about their food habits while boarding passes are issued, he said.

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