April 30, 2008

4/14/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Passover/A Potential New Set of “Four Questions”

1a. Passover/Environmental Op-Ed Article

2. Update on A SACRED DUTY

3. Kosher Tefillin From Skins of Animals Who Were Not Mistreated Can Now Be Ordered

4. Jewish Teachings Related to Global Climate Change

5. Many JVNA-Related Articles at European News Agency Web Site
6. NY Times Article on Possibility of Creating Artificial Meat

7. New Zealand Vegetarian Sends Message Re A SACRED DUTY to 70 Rabbis

8. New Book on Jewish Environmental Teachings To be Published in Israel

9. Vegetarian Author Spreading Message Widely and Effectively

10. Reflections on Becoming a Vegetarian

11. A Vision of a Vegan World

12. Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) Promotes Earth Day Activism

13. CO2 Emissions Increasing Rapidly

14. New Sign of Trouble: Hunger Rapidly Increasing

15. New Vegan E-Magazine Starting

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 the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, 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 Passover/A Potential New Set of “Four Questions”

Chag Pesach Kasher v’samayach – Best wishes to our Jewish audience for a kosher and joyous Passover.

The festival begins at sundown on Saturday, April 19. Please see my article “Passover and Vegetarianism” at the holiday section at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz. And, please consider using the material in that article and in the press release and article below to help promote vegetarianism. Thanks.

Below is a press release which aims to encourage discussion of our issues at Passover seders, Please raise the additional “Four Questions” with rabbis and with others at your seder table. If you get any interesting responses, please share them with us.

April 14. 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact person: Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (president@JewishVeg.com; Phone (718) 761-5876;
web sites: jewishveg.com and JewishVeg.com/schwartz).


In view of the fact that there are almost daily indications that the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe and that it is urgent that Jews join other concerned people in responding, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) is urging that there be an additional four questions at Passover seders this year. Of course, these additional questions can be considered during the meal part of the seder, when there is more time for discussions.

JVNA suggest the following four additional questions?

1) In view of current “plagues,” which threaten Jews and all of humanity, including global warming, widening water and food scarcities, the rapid extinction of species, and the destruction of tropical rain forests, coral reefs and other valuable habitats, how can we apply Jewish values in working with others to respond effectively to these threats?

2) If a modern day version of the four children discussed in the Passover haggadah might be described as (a) the child who does not know about the threats, (b) the child who knows but does not care, (c) the child who know and cares, but does not act, and (d) the child who knows and cares and acts to reduce the threats, shouldn’t we be like the 4th child?

3) Since a 2006 UN Food and Agriculture report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18% in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships and other forms of transportation worldwide combined (13.5%), and that the number of farmed animals is increasing very rapidly and is expected to double in 50 years, shouldn’t Jews help educate people on the urgency of a shift toward plant-based diets?

4) Since the production and consumption of meat and other animal products appear to violate basic Jewish mandates re preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people and pursuing peace, shouldn’t we eliminate or sharply reduce our consumption of such products?

JVNA plans to send these questions to many rabbis, and to urge them to suggest that their congregants address these questions at their seders.

JVNA also believes that recent graphic depictions of the horrifying mistreatment of the animals at several slaughterhouses should cause the entire Jewish community to examine the ways animals are currently being raised, treated, prepared, and slaughtered, to see if the laws and principles of the Torah are actually being properly practiced. And the group hopes that closer study of the values in Jewish tradition-- concern for the pain of fellow creatures, maintaining health, protecting G-d's world, conserving resources, feeding the hungry-- will ultimately lead Jews and others to adopt a diet that is more humane, healthier, more environmentally sustainable, and more capable of feeding hungry people -- vegetarianism.

JVNA respectfully urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to actively address the many moral issues related to animal-based diets. It challenges Jewish religious leaders to be involved in a respectful dialogue/debate on "Should Jews Be Vegetarians Today?" Putting these issues squarely on the Jewish agenda would save many lives, move our imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, and show the relevance of Judaism’s eternal teachings in addressing current critical issues, and thus help revitalize Judaism.

Because the issues are so urgent and are generally not being sufficiently addressed, the JVNA has produced a one-hour documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD. It can be viewed in its entirety at
ASacredDuty.com. JVNA will send a complimentary DVD to people who contact JVNA mail@JewishVeg.com) and indicate how they might help promote the movie.

Further information about the JVNA and its campaign to get vegetarianism onto the Jewish and other agendas may be obtained by contacting the JVNA (JewishVeg.com; mail@JewishVeg.com).


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1a. Passover/Environmental Op-Ed Article

Relating Passover to Current Environmental Threats

Richard H. Schwartz

This year, the fourth day of Passover and the annual Earth Day both occur on April 22nd. Hence, this is a good time to consider environmental messages related to Passover and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt:

1) Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the biblical ten plagues:

* When we consider the threats to our land, water, and air, we can easily enumerate ten modern "plagues". For example: (1) global warming (2) depletion of the ozone layer (3) destruction of tropical rain forests (4) widening droughts (5) soil erosion and depletion (6) loss of biodiversity (7) water pollution (8) air pollution (9) an increase in the number and severity of storms and floods (10) negative effects of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and other toxic chemicals.
* The Egyptians were subjected to one plague at a time, while the modern plagues are threatening us simultaneously.
* The Jews in Goshen were spared most of the Biblical plagues, while every person on earth is imperiled by the modern plagues.
* Instead of an ancient Pharaoh's heart being hardened, our hearts today seem to have been hardened by the greed, materialism, and wastefulness that contribute to current environmental threats.
* God provided the Biblical plagues to free the Israelites, while today we must apply God's teachings in order to save ourselves and our endangered planet.

2) The seder is a time for questions, including the traditional "four questions." Additional questions can be asked related to modern environmental threats. For example: Why is this period different than all other periods? (At all other periods only local regions faced environmental threats; today, the entire world is threatened.) How can we get greater involvement in the Jewish community in response to current environmental threats? What Jewish teachings can be applied toward the alleviation of environmental problems? (These teachings include bal tashchit, the Torah mandate not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, and the statement in Genesis 2:15 that humans are to work the land and also to protect it.)

3) Rabbi Jay Marcus, former Spiritual Leader of the Young Israel of Staten Island, saw a connection between simpler diets and helping hungry people. He commented on the fact that "karpas" (eating of greens) comes immediately before "yahatz" (the breaking of the middle matzah for later use as the "afikomen" (desert) in the seder service. He concluded that those who live on simpler foods (greens, for example) will more readily divide their possessions and share with others. The consumption of animal-centered diets involves the feeding of 70% of the grain grown in the United States to animals destined for slaughter and the importing of beef from other countries, while an estimated 20 million of the world's people die of hunger and its effects. This simpler diet would also have positive environmental effects since modern intensive livestock agriculture uses vast amounts of water, fuel, chemical fertilizer, pesticides, and other resources, and contributes significantly to global warming, soil erosion and depletion, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats and many other environmental problems. A 2006 UN Food and Agriculture report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18% in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships and other forms of transportation worldwide combined (13.5%), and that the number of farmed animals is increasing very rapidly and is expected to double in 50 years. If that doubling occurred, the increased greenhouse gas emissions would negate the effects of many positive changes, and make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach the reductions of greenhouse gas emissions necessary to prevent the worse effects of global climate changes.

4) A popular song at the seder is "dayenu" (it would have been enough). The message of this song can perhaps be applied today, when many people seek to constantly increase their wealth and amass more possessions, with little thought of the negative environmental consequences.

5) An ancient Jewish legend indicates that Job's severe punishment occurred because when he was an advisor to Pharoah he refused to take a stand when Pharoah asked him what should be done with regard to the Israelite slaves. This story can be discussed as a reminder that if we remain neutral or silent and do not get involved in working for a better environment, severe consequences may follow.

6) The main Passover theme is freedom. While relating the story of our ancestors' slavery in Egypt and their redemption through God's power and beneficence, Jews might also want to consider the "slavery" of animals on modern "factory farms." Contrary to Jewish teachings of "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim" (the Torah mandate not to cause unnecessary "pain to a living creature"), animals are raised for food today under cruel conditions in crowded confined spaces, where they are denied fresh air, sunlight, a chance to exercise, and the fulfillment of their natural instincts. In this connection, it is significant to consider that according to the Jewish tradition, Moses, Judaism's greatest leader, teacher, and prophet, was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because as a shepherd he showed great compassion to a lamb (Exodus Rabbah 2:2).

With the world today approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and other environmental threats, it is essential that these powerful Jewish messages be applied on Earth Day and, indeed, every day, to help shift our precious but imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

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2. Update on A SACRED DUTY

Below are two recent messages that show the continued very positive responses A SACRED DUTY is receiving. To help continue this, please let people know that the entire documentary can be seen at ASacredDuty.com. Also, we will be happy to send DVDs to people who will arrange a showing or promote A SACRED DUTY in some other way. Please also contact your local community or free TV and ask them to show the movie. Suggestions re people we should contact to offer a complimentary DVD are also very welcome. Many thanks.

To: John Diamond, JVNA secretary treasurer and advisor
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008

Cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the free DVD “A Sacred
Duty.” It is not only a very professional film, but persuasive with it's intelligent presentation. I have loaned it to 3 people and had nothing but a positive response from all 3. In fact one of the parties is going to order it for her grandchildren! I was not all that confident when I loaned it since these people are not, like me, vegetarians, but do believe the impact of the slaughterhouse scenes, etc. made a great impression on them all since that what was they were most shocked by. Hard to believe that people can be so oblivious to those conditions until you present it in such graphic detail.

I am going to try and get an audience rounded up at our synagogue for a viewing, but this is a hard crowd to persuade as it is in a retirement community where most of the congregants have their minds made up ahead of time about all sorts of things..........

Again, thank you so much for your efforts on behalf of our planet and the animals who share our small home.


Gail Norton
Green Valley, AZ 85614

Message 2:

Hi, Richard!

I read in the Winter, 2008 newsletter from Chailights that you will
send a free video, "A Sacred Duty..." to anyone who can find an
audience to whom to show it. People for Animal Rights (PAR) has a
weekly hour-long program on public access cable TV that airs animal rights and environmental protection videos or DVDs. (We prefer videos for technical reasons.) After I preview "A Sacred Duty..." I could determine whether it's appropriate for our TV program. I imagine it will be.

Also, PAR has an Earth and Animal Education Committee, which gives
presentations to schools, religious institutions and community
organizations when invited. If we should ever be invited to make a
presentation for a Jewish group, we would presumably show the video.

If you still have copies, please send one to:

Linda A. DeStefano, President
People for Animal Rights
Syracuse, NY

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3. Kosher Tefillin From Skins of Animals Who Were Not Mistreated Can Now Be Ordered

Forwarded message from JVNA advisor, author and scholar r Rabbi Dovid Sears:

Shalom Richard

Thanks to you and a lot of people, but most of all to Rabbi Shmuel Rosenberg of Tzefat, halachically fit and mehudar (superior) "vegetarian Tefillin" -- meaning Tefillin that would be acceptable to most ethical-vegetarian Jews -- are now available by special order. To the best of my knowledge, this is a historical "first." American-born Rabbi Rosenberg is one of the premier scribes in Tzefat, and he may be contacted via his website. The page that advertises these special Tefillin is:

"a href="http://www.soferoftzfat.com/Vegetarian%20Tefillin,Tefilin,Sofer,Scribe,Stam.htm">http://www.soferoftzfat.com/Vegetarian%20Tefillin,Tefilin,Sofer,Scribe,Stam.htm

I have known the scribe for more than twenty years, since he was a young yeshiva student in Borough Park, and can vouch for his integrity, expertise, and piety. He is a known and respected sofer in the Holy Land, whose father, Rabbi Benjamin Rosenberg, direct Eizer L'Shabbos, an organization that distributes food packages to needy families; his grandfather, Rabbi Abraham J. Rosenberg, is one of the leading students of the illustrious Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and author of the acclaimed Judaica Press Tanakh series (books of the prophets with classical commentaries in English translation).

Anyone who hesitates to fulfill this fundamental mitzvah of the Torah to don Tefillin every weekday due to apprehension that the animals used may have been subject to cruel handling may rest assured that Rabbi Rosenberg's "vegetarian Tefillin" reflect the utmost effort to eliminate this problem as far as humanly possible.

Dovid [Rabbi Dovid Sears, author of “The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism”]

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4. Jewish Teachings Related to Global Climate Change

Jewish Texts as Resources on Global Climate Change

Compiled by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda MD 2003/5763

Contact COEJL for more information: www.coejl.org (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life)

1)Judaism has always recognized that the stakes are high, and we can't afford to make lasting mistakes:

"God led Adam around all the trees of the Garden of Eden. And God said to Adam: 'See My works, how good and praiseworthy they are?! And all that I have created, I made for you. [But,] be mindful then that you do not spoil and destroy My world - for if you spoil it, there is no one after you to repair it.'" (Midrash Qohelet Rabbah 7:13; ca. 8th Century C.E.)

2)Remember whose Earth we're on in the first place, and what we're supposed to be doing with it:
"The Earth is God's, and the fullness thereof; the settled land, and its inhabitants." (Psalm 24:1)
"The land shall not be sold forever; for the land is Mine; you are strangers and sojourners with me." (Leviticus 25:23)
"God placed the human in the Garden of Eden, l'ovdah (to serve/till) u'l'shomrah (and to guard/tend) it." (Gen. 2:15)

3) Conservation: Wasting anything is a shame (especially when it's so easy to use less electricity or get better mileage or...)
Bal Tashchit: "When you besiege a city... do not destroy (lo tashchit) any of its trees... you may eat of them, but not cut them down." (Deuteronomy 20:19)
Rav Zutra said: "Whoever covers an oil lamp, or uncovers a naphtha lamp, transgresses the law of bal tashchit." (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 67b. These actions make fuel burn inefficiently. See energy conservation & emissions standards!)
"Righteous people ... do not waste in this world even a mustard seed. They become sorrowful with every wasteful and destructive act that they see, and if they can, they use all their strength to save everything possible from destruction. But the wicked ... rejoice in the destruction of the world, just as they destroy themselves." (Sefer HaChinuch 529; 13th Century)

4) Justice / Equality: We in the US are under 5% of the world's population, yet cause at least ¼ of all greenhouse gases. And who will rising sea levels and other effects of climate change harm most? Poor people in developing nations….
"Tzedek tzedek tirdof -- Justice, justice, you shall pursue, in order that you may live... " (Deuteronomy 16:20)
"God loves righteousness and justice; the Earth is full of God's loving-kindness." (Ps 33:5)
"Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor ... Love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:16, 19:18)

5) Preserving Life: With climate change we will likely cause the spread of new diseases, longer heat waves, more intense hurricanes, worsening agricultural losses, and potentially the social instability that accompanies these trends.
"One is forbidden from gaining a livelihood at the expense of another's health." (R Isaac b. Sheshet, Resp. 196, 14thC)
"Shabbat, like all the mitzvot/commandments, is pushed aside by danger to human life." (Rambam, MT Zmanim 2:1)

6) Saving Endangered Species: Everything's part of the plan, yet global warming moves too fast (hundreds of times more abruptly than ‘natural’ change) for most of Creation to adapt, threatening many species and whole ecosystems.
"Even those creatures you deem superfluous in the world – like flies, fleas, and gnats -- nevertheless have their allotted task in the scheme of Creation (seder beresheet)." (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 10:1)
"It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of humanity's existence ... [rather,] all the other beings, too, have been intended for their own sakes... " (Rambam / Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed III:13; 12th Century, Egypt)

7) The Precautionary Principle: Even if we accept (despite near unanimity among independent scientists) “debate” about the reality of climate change, Judaism teaches us to take serious precautionary measures, before all the data are amassed:
"When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it." (Deuteronomy 22:8)
"Similarly with all potentially dangerous objects. Remove them far from yourselves and from the way of the community." (Maimonides, MT Hilchot De'ot, 12th Cent.)
"A burning coal/object left in a place where the public can be injured by it - one is allowed to extinguish it [even on Shabbat], whether it's of metal or of wood." (Yosef Caro in Shulchan Aruch, Oreh Hayim 334:27; 16th Century Tzfat)
"A sick person in danger - we attend to all their needs on Shabbat, at the advice of skilled local healer. If there is a doubt whether or not we need to violate the Shabbat for them - or if one doctor says to, ... but another doctor says there's no need - we violate the Shabbat for them, since [even] doubtful danger to human life pushes aside the Shabbat." (Rambam, MT Zmanim 2:1, continuing the quote above at #5. Replace "doctor" with "scientist," and "Shabbat" with "corporate profits"?!)
"... We don't need an expert [to save a life by violating other laws like Shabbat], since ... [even] doubtful danger to human life [makes the law] lenient. And it's forbidden to delay the thing [treatment]... " (Tur, 14thC Spain, OH 328 - to which Caro adds, "the one who rushes to do so, look, this is praiseworthy! But the one who [stops to] ask, look, this is a murderer.")

8) In Conclusion: "See, I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse - and [you should] choose life, in order that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

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5. Many JVNA-Related Articles at European News Agency Web Site


Many JVNA-related articles, press releases, etc. are at this EVANA (European Vegetarian and Animals News Alliance) web site.

Thanks to Herma Caelen for posting our material there.

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6. NY Times Article on Possibility of Creating Artificial Meat

April 11, 2008, 9:13 am
Can People Have Meat and a Planet, Too?

Thanks to JVNA advisor Steve Gorad for forwarding this article:
NY Times
The world has seen the first international conference on manufacturing meat. This is the process, tested so far only at laboratory scale, of growing pork, chicken, or beef through cell culture in vats instead of raising and slaughtering animals.

Beef cattle raised for the Harris Ranch Beef Company, Coalinga, Calif. (Gary Kazanjian for The New York Times)

My colleague Mark Bittman wrote a fine piece recently about the greenhouse-gas consequences of conventional meat production. Others have explored the environmental and ethical impacts of factory and feedlot farming. Manufactured meat, in theory, provides an end run around these issues. What if you can have your meat, be ethical, and environmental, too? (And presumably they’ll engineer the bad fats out as well….)

The three-day meeting of the In Vitro Meat Consortium, held at the Norwegian Food Research Institute, is wrapping up today. (They might want to do something about that name.) It brought together biologists, engineers, government officials and entrepreneurs seeking – for both environmental and ethical reasons – to move from animal husbandry to technology as a means of providing the kind of protein people crave in a world heading toward 9 billion ever more affluent mouths.

A paper presented at the meeting concluded that, for the moment, the costs of cultured meat can’t come close yet to competing with, say, unsubsidized chicken. (A pdf is downloadable here.) The paper noted the reality of the climb up the protein ladder as countries move out of poverty, with global meat consumption at about 270 million metric tons in 2007 and growing at about 4.7 million tons per year.

It laid out the theory: “The environmental impact of meeting this forecast demand from existing livestock systems is significant. Cultured meat technology offers an alternative production route for a proportion of this consumption. This would then allow a downsized livestock production system to continue to be ecologically sound and to meet basic animal welfare needs.”

The group noted that costs for research, large-scale testing, and public relations will be significant, and anticipated that governments and nonprofit groups would chip in. That seems idealistic, at best, in a world with deeply entrenched interests linking ranching, the agrochemical industry, and giant restaurant chains.

But one could envision someday a model, say, of a solar-powered facility in southern California or Singapore basically turning sunlight and desalinated seawater into growth medium and then tons of cruelty-free, sustainable nuggets of chicken essence. (The promoters of this technology don’t envision anything, for now at least, beyond nuggets and ground meat. No filet mignon.)

For the moment, startup costs aside, the conferees concluded that unsubsidized chicken-raising still comes in at half the price. But the century is yet young.
I asked a few folks about facets of this, among them Peter Singer, the ethicist at Princeton who’s written for ages on animal rights and environmental values on a finite planet.

For those seeking an end to animal slaughter for human sustenance, is this kind of a cheat, I asked?

“Not necessarily,” he said. “My interest is in ethics, but whatever works best. If it is harder to move people on ethical grounds than it is to provide a sustainable humane substitute, I’m all for the substitute.”

I then went to my bellwether of techno-optimist thinking, Jesse Ausubel, the director of the program for the human environment at Rockefeller University. He said there is no reason to doubt that a long-term trend toward more concentrated food production will eventually lead to manufactured meat.

In fact, he said, there is essentially little choice on a crowding planet to pursue technological solutions to feeding ourselves, shifting away from carbon-containing fuels, and otherwise limiting our ecological imprint. Human nature is probably harder to change than technology, he said.

“If behavior and technology do not change, more numerous humans will trample the earth and endanger our own survival,” he told me. “The snake brain in each of us makes me cautious about relying heavily on changes in behavior. In contrast, centuries of extraordinary technical progress give me great confidence that diffusion of our best practices and continuing innovation can advance us much further in decarbonization, landless agriculture, and other cardinal directions for a prosperous, green environment. For engineers and others in the technical enterprise the urgency and prizes for sustaining their contributions could not be higher. Because the human brain does not change, technology must.”
What do you think? Can we change human nature? Should we?

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7. New Zealand Vegetarian Sends Message Re A SACRED DUTY to 70 Rabbis


Dear Esteemed Rabbi
I write to you because you represent the symbol of compassion, because you teach the precepts of God and because Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world.
The documentary A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, has been produced by the Jewish Vegetarians of North America. I very much hope that it can be shown at your synagogue. It can be seen online at www.ASacredDuty.com and complimentary copies can also be obtained from the same website or by contacting the president@JewishVeg.com.

At this time in our world, we need religious leaders more than ever to push back the dark clouds so that we may see clearly. We need religious leaders to help their congregations be aware of the deeper meaning of God’s teachings, and I write in particular about compassion towards all sentient beings and care towards our home, planet Earth.

Below are just two of the many positive reviews about A Sacred Duty:

I enjoyed the video so much that I am planning to teach two courses on Tikun Olam next semester: one for a 4 part adult ed series and another for a 12 part high school program. Keep up the great work.
Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg, Temple Emanu-El, Waterford, CT

A Sacred Duty is a wake-up call for Jews and all others who care about the fate of our planet. A deep love for Earth, for humanity, and for our animal cousins shines through it. This documentary shows how compassionate dietary choices can unite Jews and other people of faith in taking action to rescue and heal our precious, imperiled earth.
Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor, The Peaceable Table, A Quaker Online Journal

You may be aware that many Jewish religious leaders advocate vegetarianism, including Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks, late Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Goren, and the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel Abraham Kook. The former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen considers "the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable". I hope that A Sacred Duty will be the means for deep reflection on Jewish values and teachings (indeed all religions), as sited in Horeb, Chapter 60, Verse 416 “Here you are faced with God's teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours.”

Below is a link for other quotes from famous Jewish vegetarians.


For our religious leaders to lead by example, will mean millions of people following suit, which will bring about the much needed change required in our world now – to save the planet and its inhabitants. The time to make a change is short, but there is still hope. Please let us ponder little and act quickly.

With best wishes and peace

Kian Tavakkoli

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8. New Book on Jewish Environmental Teachings To be Published in Israel

BS"D Nissan 4: April 9, 2008

Dear Friends,

B"H [With G-d’s help], Sviva Israel will soon be publishing the fourth volume of “The Environment in Jewish Thought & Law.”

This unique project brings together scholars from all sections of Israeli society to research, write and understand how we can respond to contemporary environmental issues from a traditional Jewish perspective. For the first time, in response to requests from the English-speaking public in Israel and abroad, this fourth volume of over 300 pages will include original articles in English, and translations of some of the Hebrew articles. It will also be printed on environmentally-sound paper if we are able to raise the funds.

The Environment in Jewish Thought & Law, initiated by Carmi Wisemon when he was a community social worker in the Ramat Shlomo Community Council, and partnered with The Israel Ministry for Environmental Protection and the Jerusalem Municipality, has brought about a revolution by involving all sectors of the religious public both intellectually and on a practical level in modern day environmental concerns.

The essays in the journal address both practical and theoretical issues, and their publication constitutes an environmental and Halachic resource that did not exist previously. The journals are distributed free of charge to hundreds of yeshivot and shuls throughout Israel and the world.

This fourth volume of The Environment in Jewish Thought & Law includes
articles on the topics of:
Water conservation
Urban planning according to Halacha
Tzaar Baalei Chayim (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Climate Change
Pollution Prevention
Urban cleanliness / Keeping Israel Beautiful
Zoning Laws

Please help us to cover the costs of publishing this volume so that we can
produce a work that truly offers - pleasant Torah in an appealing vessel.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Chag Pesach Kasher V'Sameach,

Carmi Wisemon
Sviva Israel is an educational environmental organization in Israel
developing and implementing programs that promote environmental literacy and explore the connection between Judaism and the Environment in Israel and
abroad. To learn more, visit www.svivaisrael.org

Sviva Israel is an Israel Registered Not-for-Profit Org. #58-048-597-7
www.svivaisrael.org info@svivaisrael.org

Dedication opportunities
(Click here to send in your dedication message)
Dedications must be received by May 1st, ë"å ðéñï

Whole page dedication - 1,200 NIS or $360
Half-page dedication - 600 NIS or $180
Quarter-page dedication - 300 NIS or $90

To learn more about dedicating the whole volume, please email or call Carmi
Wisemon at 1(212)444-1504 (USA)
or (02)999-6267 (Israel)

US Tax-Deductible checks should be made payable to Central Fund of Israel
and mailed to:

Sviva Israel, 22/1 Shderot HaYarkon, P.O.Box 71047, Ramat Bet Shemesh,
Israel 99640.

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9. Vegetarian Author Spreading Message Widely and Effectively

This is from Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, a book about vegetarianism's influences on the mind, body, soul and society [a book that I have read several times and highly recommend].

Subj: Earth Awareness Days
Date: Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:10:26 PM
From: willtuttle@earthlink.net
To: info@willtuttle.com

Dear friends,

April is Earth Awareness Month--are we finally awakening to the profound interconnectedness of all living beings here on this beautiful planet? In spite of cultural programming and corporate agendas that promote consumerism and disconnectedness, there is progress! The grassroots benevolent revolution that we are all a part of is unfolding every day. Thanks for your efforts!

Madeleine and I would like to alert you to a few new developments that you may be interested in.

1. -- You are invited to attend a weekend retreat on The World Peace Diet that I will be facilitating in southeastern Michigan on the weekend of July 18-20, 2008, at a beautiful nature sanctuary. The enrollment is limited to about 40 people so if you are interested, please go to our website to find out more and register for this event. We hope you can join us! The direct link is:

2. -- The Study Course for The World Peace Diet is complete and is available through our website.
The direct link is: http://worldpeacediet.org/overview.htm.
This Study Course was created by Mark Stroud, facilitator of WPD classes, who is also available to help you if you have questions about how to go about setting up a World Peace Diet group in your community or area. It is an excellent tool for anyone interested in effectively raising awareness and making a practical and positive change in our world.

3.-- Now you can download all my CDs directly to your computer and iPod from our website, including audiophile quality mp3s, cover art, and album notes. Please see our website for more information on that.

We have spent several terrific months in Florida this past winter, and are now in Georgia, heading north on our ongoing music, art, and education ministry through progressive churches. We were able to present lectures on The World Peace Diet in Sarasota, Key West, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, St. Augustine, and Gainesville, as well as intuition workshops, concerts, and art exhibits in many other cities. We are heading now to Asheville, Charlotte, Roanoke, Raleigh-Durham, Virginia Beach, Washington DC, New Jersey, New York City, Harrisburg, and Chicago over the next few months. I'll be presenting lectures and radio interviews on The World Peace Diet in these places; please go to our tour schedule for more details: Some highlights for this summer: Vegetarian Summerfest; also the Young Jain Convention; and "The Power of Natural Healing" Conference.

Besides the July retreat and the World Peace Diet study guide, we have more things coming soon, including Veg Inspiration For The Day, and the entire World Peace Diet book will be available as an audio book also. Our website will have the details. I am doing a monthly internet radio program called Food For Thought with Meria Heller (http://meria.net) who a provides revelatory daily radio program that I highly recommend.

Deepest thanks to each and every one of you for your efforts to bless others and build a new society of kindness, peace, and harmony. We hope our paths will cross with you and people you know, so please check our tour schedule from time to time.

And during this Earth Day season, let’s especially remember the animals who suffer so extremely behind the curtain of our culture's denial. Please go to our Worldwide Prayer Circle For Animals at http://www.circleofcompassion.org and put yourself on our improved world map, and find out more about joining us in creating a consciousness of kindness for all living beings.

That's it for now. Thanks for being the blessing you are!

Will & Madeleine

Dr. Will Tuttle
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress may be seen by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi
Visit http://worldpeacediet.org to find out more about The World Peace Diet.
Visit http://willtuttle.com for our original music and art.
Visit www.circleofcompassion.org to participate in The Prayer Circle for Animals.

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10. Reflections on Becoming a Vegetarian

Compassion Passed From Generation to Generation

By Jordanna Gittleman

I remember my Mother sitting by the edge of a stagnant body of water, fishing the drowning spiders and ants out of the water with her bare hand, so that the insects would not drown. It is my fondest memory of her. I have spent my entire life trying to emulate that behavior, trying to demonstrate compassion for all living beings.

It wasn’t that she demonstrated compassion for all living beings. She didn’t. My Mother, like most people, had good moments and bad moments, so I try to copy the good examples she set, and avoid repeating the mistakes she made.

I do not swat bugs, no matter how tempted I am. More than once people have asked me how I could let a mosquito sit on my arm, sucking at my blood, and not swat it away. Usually I just I let the mosquito sit there, sucking my blood, and wait for it to leave on its own. How, I wonder, can I swat a living, breathing, sentient being?

When I find an insect in the house I do what my Mother taught me to do. I try to gently nudge the insect into a cup, or onto a piece of paper, so I can take it outside without killing it.

And I know that I learned this kind of compassion for insects by watching my Mother fish insects out of the water with her bare hands so that they would not drown.

In The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism David Sears wrote about well known Jewish Rabbis who demonstrated compassion for insects, and each time I read one of those stories, I remembered my Mother, sitting next to the water, fishing the insects out with her bare hand so that they wouldn’t drown.

She also told us not to buy her cut flowers or pick flowers along the road, because she did not want to kill the flowers. To this day, I cringe when anyone gives me a cut flower, and those who truly know me know never to give me a cut flower, because I do not want to hurt or kill the flower.

David Sears retold similar stories about Tzaddikim who felt it necessary to revere all life, animal, vegetable and insect, and as I read those stories, and remember the compassion my Mother demonstrated towards insects and flowers, I see what I want to become.

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11. A Vision of a Vegan World

Forwarded article:

"It often happens that the universal belief of one age, a belief from which no one was free or could be free without an extraordinary effort of genius or courage, becomes to a subsequent age, so palpable an absurdity that the only difficulty is, to imagine how such and idea could ever have appeared credible."

John Stuart Mill English author and philosopher (1806-1873)

It's the future. We turn on the T.V. to a half-hour, commercial-free news program. A reporter speaks: Today is the 10th anniversary of the last case of the deadly 'sad cow' disease that turned the entire world vegan at once, and everyone is amazingly feeling better! We take you now to view a sampling of the general public walking the
streets. They move with agility and have a spring to their step. Now we take you to a clip from ten years ago. Dare I say that we appear to be a more evolved species, even than 10 years ago? It was TRUE what the pioneer vegans told us of veganism being the next step in the evolution of humankind!

Once overloaded hospital rooms are emptying at an accelerated rate. It appears that Americans are all getting healthier, leaner, less toxic and disease-ridden. New medical findings indicate children born in these vegan times don't have the typical runny noses (and developing ear infections) so common in children of the last decades. The children are clear-eyed, bright and intelligent. Size 3X has been
done away with at the International Clothing Convention, as gross obesity is a disease of the "not so good old days". New medical studies show that heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, and other debilitating diseases are at an all time low. The stock market is showing pharmaceuticals so down that these companies are finding other ways to make money. Some of these companies are branching out into natural plant-based herbal remedies, veganically grown and fairly traded. The stock market is also showing solar, wind, hydro and other alternative energy sources are way up and fossil fuels are steadily on the decline.

'The Community Fruit Tree Project' is underway. People all across the globe are planting fruit trees on all residential roads. The funding was ordered by the courts to come from the meat and dairy industries. A law was passed to close down all slaughterhouses and stop the breeding of sentient beings for food or milk, 10 years ago today. The ruling stated that 2% of the companies' profits was to be allocated
to fund the Fruit Tree Planting Project in neighborhoods. Let's go to one such typical neighborhood now. (Children and dogs are safely playing together in the streets.) Man's best friend seems to be taking to the vegan diet, as well. Here we see a young boy who learns about 'loyalty' from his dog and best friend. He is learning to REALLY love animals in a way that was unknown decades ago when people
ate animals and could not comprehend what really loving them would be like. The neighborhood has gathered, dressed in smiles and grins, to plant various fruit trees. One woman is seen handing out Swan and Milkweed plants that attract the Monarch butterfly, to increase their population. It's Saturday morning and there is a stand on the street corner where neighbors gather to discuss things pertaining to the community. They swap seeds that they have collected from their gardens. They share or sell their excess fruit and vegetables. All the yards on the street are tidy and flowery. Birds, bees and butterflies are plentiful. Two young girls have set up a watermelon stand and are eating up the profits and giggling. All over the globe, human beings are coming out to plant fruit trees on roadsides, for all to share. We take you to one woman seen petting a wild deer in the woods adjacent to her back yard. "This deer and myself no longer feel the fear that as a young woman I lived with day in and day out, and I'm sure my friend here would agree. It's the most miraculous feeling to experience life without constant fearfulness. Who would
have ever thought, 10 years ago, that life could become so peaceful for this deer and me? Who would have ever thought I could become friends with a wild animal? We certainly didn't know then what we are realizing now!" Thank-you to our roadside reporter, Will Dumore, and now back to Cher Wordsworth.

Good Day. There is not a single war happening anywhere on Earth for the first time in human history. Let's pause and ponder this profundity. When people all became vegan, they stopped wanting 'to kill.' Thus our crime rate has diminished greatly. All the money we used to poor into law enforcement, prisons, and the judiciary system
would have been more wisely spent funding vegan programs, we see now. We could have fed vegan meals to dangerous murderers in prisons to calm their temperaments. How could we have been so blind? Jails are emptying now. People want to live ighteously, and so no longer require law enforcement. Parents are breathing easier in these vegan
times as violence in our schools has ended. New research shows that children's scholastic achievements have greatly advanced. Children no longer have learning disabilities as they are in a safe, loving environment for learning, while eating nourishing, delicious food.

(Crime is such a thing of the past that it hardly makes the news.) We take you now to meet a dog named Braveheart, who was found rescuing abandoned kittens and becoming their foster mother. Braveheart is seen here taking the kittens to her people where they nourish them from the plant kingdom and supplement those necessary nutrients unavailable from plant food. By being exposed to humanity's change to
veganism, these kittens are also evolving out of carnivorism to omnivorism. We are leading the way for them.

A panel of renowned scientists from all over the world have merged and released a statement that the ozone hole is significantly decreased. Climate change is at a halt. The great polar ice caps have slowed down their rapid melting of decades past. This is all due to less impact from ending animal agriculture and its contribution to
the green house gas effect. New species of gentle animals are emerging on the planet; being discovered daily. These are really exciting turn-arounds!

The last slaughterhouse to close was reopened today, in Houston, Texas, as a memorial museum of the Farm Animal Holocaust. On display are the actual trucks used to haul "livestock" (as they used to say). In actuality though, 'living animals' were hauled off to slaughter, reminiscent of the trains used to bring Jews and Catholics to the gas chambers in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The livestock hauling truck stands as an emblem engraved with the words 'Lest it never happen again'. At the dedication speech, the speaker called for the term 'genocide' to be expanded to include animals, as well as people. He continued to say that the enslavement and genocide of any feeling, breathing, conscious being will never be again.

We go now to New Zealand where scientist have finally invented and come out with sterilization baits to replace the archaic and inadequate poison baits once used to eradicate the introduced-by-man and unwanted possum in the New Zealand bush. The new baits are proving successful. New Zealanders feel proud to have stopped using poison baits in their natural, and indeed beautiful environment, and has made peace with the persecuted possum in this way. Soon all New Zealand forest floors and waterways will be free of cyanide and the like.

Back to the U.S. of A., where Dennis Kusinisch, the first appointed 'Secretary of Peace' is stepping down from office, heroically, after an accomplished long term in office and helping to usher us into an Age of Peace. It was a milestone in history when the American people saw the important need for a Secretary of Peace. Not that long ago mass murderers were our heroes. Not that long ago we had only a 'secretary of war' and no government official thought to have a 'secretary of peace'. It's amazing what we didn't see then that now seems so easy to see.

We go now to Meta Morphosis, our reporter in the field who takes us via airplane to visit L.A.'s busy restaurant scene. The flight attendant asks me, 'Will you be having Tofuna Salad Platter, Meatless Loaf and mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, or Wheat-meat Lasagna?' Wow. Food was never so good! (I think to myself, it's all so yummy and better suited to our species, too! Preparing food without blood and guts is really a lot more enjoyable.) Here we are on a street in Los Angeles where I see a vegan pizzeria, Mama Mia's Spaghetti House, a Kentucky Baked Tofu Cutlets Take-Out, New McDonald's Soy Burgers, An International House of Plant-Based Pancakes, A gourmet veganic 5 star eatery and winery, a Thai Cuisine Cafe, a Mendy's New Fashioned Vegan Burger joint, a Potato Palace, several raw food establishments,
veganic soup and salad bar chains, a Chinese restaurant, fresh juice bars, bakeries, all vegan of course, that goes without saying! As we all know, grocery stores of years past have become mega, reasonably priced, health food stores. Now over to Barry in our capital.

Thank-you Cher. The clothing and shoe industry's losses are at an all time high, as we vegans tend to want to reuse and recycle, and participate far less in consumerism. Since we're not all clogged up with animal fat, our 'reasoning' has become clearer and it is now obvious to us that we must protect and preserve our precious planet. Recycling collection points have been granted more funding and
attention by the courts today. A new Clean Air/Clean Water Act is underway. A star-studded celebrity event at the White House last night raised $100 million dollars for the Clean Air/Clean Water Act. This is Barry Good reporting from Washington D.C., now back to Cher.

Our highlighted heart-warming story to report to you tonight is: There is NOT a single reported case of a starving child left in Africa, Cher happily and enthusiastically announces. We have accomplished our task to put an end to world hunger. There seems to be plenty of surplus grains, legumes and potatoes since we stopped breeding and eating cows, pigs, and everything else that moves. Food
is being shipped in from everywhere! There is a team feeling that has never been seen before on Planet Earth, says a spokesperson for the 'Stop World Hunger' committee, Mr. Change Forthebetta.

The Supreme Court of the U.S.A. ruled today that all companies that profited from animal husbandry shall pay back a whopping 10% of its gross profits as retribution for deceiving the American public. They were ordered by law to use the money to fund Fruit Tree Planting projects and veganic gardens in their neighborhood and surrounding communities. All company representatives that we questioned seemed
fine with the fine.

Now we take you to a college in Australia where a woman is being awarded a medal of courage for being the first vegan to introduce the vegan ideal to their school, and leading the way towards the shift to present times. People are being honored worldwide today as the United Nations proclaimed this 'Heroes of the Vegan Movement Day'. War heroes of the past will no longer be celebrated. All national holidays honoring war heroes are hereby replaced with days commemorating the forerunners who helped bring us into a radiant Golden Age of Peace.

Now we go to the U.S. Parks and Recreation spokesperson: 'Visitors to our National Parklands and Forests is at an all time high. Since hunting was banned, the rubbish in the national forests is virtually nil, even though far more people are hiking our national forests. This is something we felt worth reporting to you. You; a person just like us. Thank-you and good night from Cher Wordsworth and the team here at BBC (Better Broadcasting Communications.)

By M. Butterflies Katz

Co-author of Incredibly Delicious; Recipes for a New Paradigm
by Gentle World

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12. Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) Promotes Earth Day Activism

Forwarded message from FARM:


Dear Friends,

Earth Day provides us with an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the environmental consequences of animal agriculture and the many benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are ways you can join FARM in getting active:

- Organize an outreach event.

- Join an Earth Day event in your community.

- Distribute colorful, informative handouts to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and community members.

We’ll provide you with free handouts and other outreach materials. Just give us a call at 888-275-3276 or visit our Literature Request Page at www.farmusa.org/lit_request.htm.

For details on how you can get active visit www.BiteGlobalWarming.com.

Let’s take this opportunity to spread the message of compassion!

Thanks for caring,
Jen Riley
Program Director

P.S. Meatout 2008 was a Huge Success! View the reports and slideshow at http://www.Meatout.org.

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13. CO2 Emissions Increasing Rapidly


Frances C. Moore

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels stood at a record 8.38 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2006, 20 percent above the level in 2000. Emissions grew 3.1 percent a year between 2000 and 2006, more than twice the rate of growth during the 1990s. Carbon dioxide emissions have been growing steadily for 200 years, since fossil fuel burning began on a large scale at the start of the Industrial Revolution. But the growth in emissions is now accelerating despite unambiguous evidence that carbon dioxide is warming the planet and disrupting ecosystems around the globe.

For entire text see http://www.earthpolicy.org/Indicators/CO2/2008.htm
For data see http://www.earthpolicy.org/Indicators/CO2/2008_data.htm

For an index of Earth Policy Institute resources related to Carbon Emissions see http://www.earthpolicy.org/Indicators/CO2/index.htm

And for more information on stabilizing climate by cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020, see Chapters 11-12 in Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, at http://www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/index.htm.

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14. New Sign of Trouble: Hunger Rapidly Increasing

Spirituality and Ecological Hope

The world begins to go hungry

Posted: 13 Apr 2008 01:38 PM CDT

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

They are eating mud cookies in Haiti.

Haiti has been poor, desperately poor, for a very long time. Last week, the desperation reached a boiling point as the price of food rises across the globe. Haiti has always been a unique example of all that can go wrong in a country — years of U.S. supported dictatorship, political corruption, disenfranchisement of the majority of the population, high rates of illiteracy — and such exploitation of the natural resources of the island that it is an environmental wreck, its forests gone, its topsoil washed away, a small nation unable to support its own population, dependent on food imports to feed its hungry population.

Add to that the insult of rising prices for food staples. Why the rise? Because of us and our economies. Because of rising prices for fuel, the switch from agriculture for food production to agriculture for energy production, the looming peak oil and gas crisis, the growing economies in countries with huge populations (China, India, Brazil) who have a growing appetite for beef from the cows that eat enormous amounts of grain.

Then add global warming and climate change which are combining to ruin local economies by altering weather patterns, creating droughts and floods and a whole lot of uncertainty.

As the New York Times points out in an April 10 editorial, the poor have little margin for absorbing these changes — none, really.

Most Americans take food for granted. Even the poorest fifth of households in the United States spend only 16 percent of their budget on food. In many other countries, it is less of a given. Nigerian families spend 73 percent of their budgets to eat, Vietnamese 65 percent, Indonesians half. They are in trouble.

So are the poor in our own country. Food pantries are running low as demand rises in the U.S. (Note: put ‘food pantries in crisis’ in your search engine and see the long list that comes up). Poverty is on the rise here, too, and if you are poor, rising food prices are beginning to really hurt. It all depends on the proportion of your income that goes for food, and we in this country boast some of the most glaring gaps between rich and poor anywhere in the world.

Friends, we are running headlong into one of the worst catastrophes predicted by ecologists looking at the conjunction of trends at work for decades now — climate change, energy shortages, population growth, environmentally destructive ways of doing business, industrial agriculture, and profound inequities in the global economy that are threatening poor states with the potential for collapse — food shortages, growing hunger, starvation, on a scale that humans have never experienced before.

Here’s the screaming headline about this from yesterday’s CBS website: Food Shortages Herald “New Era Of Hunger”.

A New Era of Hunger. This is the world we have made.

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15. New Vegan E-Magazine Starting.

Hi Richard,

The VeganWorld Ezine (beta) officially goes live this Wednesday (4/16/08). Please feel free to begin sending articles to me at jeff@veganworld.com and my team will handle the rest. You're free to send over as many articles as you like. You can also send your organization's press releases (if and when you issue them).

I also invite you to begin publicizing the VeganWorld Ezine on your websites and in your newsletters. Be sure to let your members know that you are a featured author on the site. I've attached a VeganWorld Ezine logo that you are welcome to use for your website(s), newsletters and emails. You can have your tech people set it to link to VeganWorldEzine.com. Also, if you'd like a different size just let me know what you need and I will get it to you.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.

In service to the world,

Jeff Popick


{As the message above from Jeff indicates, he has been very supportive of me, JVNA and our efforts, and I look forward to actively helping him
with his important E-zine.
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