May 27, 2008

5/26/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Shavuot and Vegetarianism

2. Update on A SACRED DUTY

3. Oprah Goes Vegan!

4. New Orthodox Social Action Group Formed

5. Important New Environmental/Vegetarian Documentary “Meat the Truth” Premieres

6. Message From Young Activist Who Created Wonderful Videotape on “Vegetarianism and 20th Century Jews” at You Tube

7. Burma Cyclone Impact Worsened by Animal-Based Agriculture

8. Gore Prods Israel on Energy Alternatives

9. Update on Veggie Pride Parade

10. Israeli Chief Rabbis Issue Request to Respect Environment on Lag B'Omer

11. Top Ten Reasons to Go Veggie During World Vegetarian Week

12. OU Kashrut Administrator to Speak in Teaneck, NJ

13. Global Food Crisis Fueled by Animal-Based Diets

14. Conservative Jewish Movement Moves Away From Boycott of Agriprocessors

15. Lag B’Omer and Vegetarianism

16. Seeking agents to distribute PSAs on Global Warming/Dietary Connections

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.




As indicated below, Oprah Winfrey is now on a 21-day vegan “cleansing” diet. We have been trying for some time to get Oprah to view A SACRED DUTY and hopefully to devote one of her programs to it. So, please see the item below about Oprah’s diet, and please contact her, commend her for her efforts, urge her to help educate her wide audience about the many benefits of veganism and why it is so urgent that people switch toward veganism today and urge her to view A SACRED DUTY and to have a program about it.
1. Shavuot and Vegetarianism

Now that we are “counting” the days until Shavuot, which begins on the evening of Sunday, June 8, I have sent my article and the sample letters below to the Jewish media. Please use the material and more for your own letters, articles and talking points. Suggestions welcome, as always. Thanks.

Material connecting vegetarianism to all the Jewish holidays can be found in the holiday section at JewishVeg,com/schwartz.

Shavuot and Vegetarianism
By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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

1) Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, dietary regimen: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food'" (Genesis 1:29).

2) To honor the Torah, many Jews stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to study Torah teachings. It is some of these teachings -to guard our health and our lives, to treat animals with compassion, to share with hungry people, to protect the environment, and to conserve natural resources - that are the basis for Jewish vegetarianism.

3) Shavuot is also known as "Chag Hakatzir" (the Harvest Festival), since it climaxes the year's first harvest. Hence, it can remind us that many more people can be sustained on vegetarian diets than on animal -centered diets. While the Torah stresses that farmers are to leave the corners of their fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the hungry, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as 15 to 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects.

4) The Talmudic sages also referred to Shavuot as "Atzeret" (the closing festival of Passover). This name implies not only that Shavuot completes the harvest begun at Passover time, but also suggests that the Torah completes the physical liberation celebrated during Passover. Yet, while the Torah has many teachings on compassion toward animals and indicates, as part of the Ten Commandments, that animals are also to be able to rest on the Sabbath day, most farm animals are kept in cramped confined spaces where they are denied exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and the fulfillment of their instinctual needs.

5) There are several other Torah teachings that are seriously violated by animal-based diets: a) While the Torah mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives (Deuteronomy: 4-9, 4-15), animal-centered diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several forms of cancer, and other illnesses. b) While many Torah teachings are concerned with protecting the environment, modern intensive animal agriculture results in soil erosion and depletion, extensive air and water pollution related to chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats. c) While the Torah mandates bal tashchit, (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20) that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, livestock agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources.

6) Shavuot is a festival of thanksgiving to the Creator for His kindness. The full Hallel, psalms of praise and thanksgiving from Psalm 113 to 118, are chanted during morning synagogue services. Since one must be in good health and have a clear conscience in order to fully rejoice and be thankful, the many health benefits of vegetarian diets and the knowledge that such diets are not harmful to hungry people or animals are factors that can enhance thankfulness.

7) On Shavuot, Jews read the Book of Ruth in synagogues. One reason is that its barley-harvest setting echoes the harvest just ending as Shavuot arrives. One of Ruth's outstanding attributes was her acts of kindness. Vegetarianism is a way of showing kindness, because it best shares food with hungry people and it doesn't involve the mistreatment and death of animals.

8) The Book of Ruth begins with Naomi, Ruth's future mother-in-law, and her family leaving Israel because of a severe famine. Today, major shortages of food in the near future are being predicted by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington DC think tank, and others, and one major reason is that people in China, Japan, India, and other countries where affluence has been increasing, are joining the US and other western countries by moving to animal-centered diets that require vast amounts of grain.

9) The Book of Ruth indicates that Naomi's family suffered the death of her husband and her two sons because the family fled in the time of famine rather than using their leadership to help others in need. In contrast to this selfish act, vegetarianism considers not only personal well being, but also encompasses broader concerns, including the global environment, the world's hungry people, animals, and the efficient use of the world's resources.

10) According to the Talmud, Shavuot is the day of judgment for fruit trees and there is an obligation to pray for them. Yet, to create pasture land for cattle, tropical forests are being rapidly destroyed. The production of just one quarter-pound fast food hamburger can require the destruction of almost 55 square feet of tropical rain forest along with much animal and plant life.

11) Shavuot involves the highest spiritual teachings (the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai) and down-to-earth considerations - the wheat harvest and the offering of the first fruits in the Temple. This reminds us that ideally we should relate heaven to earth and translate the Divine laws to our daily lives. Vegetarianism is an attempt to do this because it applies Torah teaching to our sustenance needs.

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Shavuot 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.
My Letters re Vegetarianism and Shavuot

Dear editor,

Since Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jewish people, and there is increased Torah study on this important holiday, with many religious Jews staying up all night engaged in Torah study, it makes me wonder why the many ways that animal-based diets and agriculture violate Torah values seem to be generally ignored in the Jewish community:

1) While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2) While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals -- including those raised for kosher consumers -- are raised on "factory farms" where they live in cramped, confined spaces, and are often drugged, mutilated, and denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any enjoyment of life, before they are slaughtered and eaten.

3) While 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, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, global warming, and other environmental damage.

4) While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, and that we are not to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources.

5) While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter (it takes about 9 pounds of grain to produce one pound of edible beef), while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, shouldn’t committed Jews (and others) sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products?

One could say "dayenu" (it would be enough) after any of the arguments above, because each one constitutes by itself a serious conflict between Jewish values and current practice that should impel Jews to seriously consider a plant-based diet. Combined, they make an urgently compelling case for the Jewish community to address these issues.

Dear Editor:

Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jewish people. There is increased Torah study on this important holiday, and many religious Jews stay up all night engaged in Torah study. Hence, this may provide a good occasion to respectfully raise some questions, such as:

* Since the Torah mandates the avoidance of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (causing unnecessary pain to animals), why isn’t there far greater concern about the horrible treatment of animals (10 billion annually in the US alone) on factory farms?

* Since the Torah mandates that we should very diligently guard our health, why don’t Jewish leaders speak out about the many negative health effects of animal-based diets?

* Since the Torah mandates that we are to be shomrei adamah (guardians of the earth –Genesis 2:15), why are the many current severe environmental threats (all of which are significantly worsened by animal-based agriculture) not being adequately addressed by the Jewish community?

* Since the Torah mandates that we are not to waste resources (bal tashchit – Deuteronomy 20: 19, 20), why isn’t the Jewish community addressing the fact that animal-based agriculture requires far more land, water, energy, and other agricultural resources than plant-based agriculture?

* Since the Torah mandates that we are to share with hungry people, why isn’t the Jewish community (and others) addressing the fact that 70% of the grain produced in the United States is being fed to animals destined for slaughter while an estimated 20 million people die from malnutrition and its effects annually?

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2. Update on A SACRED DUTY

I plan to send out a strategy proposal soon re A SACRED DUTY and promoting vegetarianism in general.

b. A SACRED DUTY can now be seen with subtitles in 14 languages!!

Thanks to the great efforts of Supreme Master TV, A SACRED DUTY can be seen with subtitles in 13 languages, at, at:

A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World
Part 1~4:

The languages are:
English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Malay

In addition, due to the efforts of Ecocinema in Israel, there is also a version of A SACRED DUTY with Hebrew subtitles. We hope that will be available at soon.

c. Setting up a ‘Speakers Bureau” for A SACRED DUTY

Suggestion from JVNA Advisor Kris Haley:

Also, I would start a SACRED DUTY speakers bureau of people who are willing to be ready and on stand by to show the film and have a discussion following it. Perhaps one in every state or at least major city. And then do a press release announcing the speakers bureau who is ready to do THEIR Sacred Duty by promoting the film.

Kris has volunteered to be a member of the Speakers Bureau for showings of A SACRED DUTY. If interesting in joining, please let me know. Many thanks. We already have a JVNA Speakers Bureau.

d. Message from Israeli activist Larry Pfeffer, which he sent to many of his contacts

[Please consider sending a similar message to your contacts and take other actions to increase awareness of A SACRED DUTY. Many thanks.]

Professor Richard H Schwartz (Staten Island, NY) recently produced a DVD which deals in part with the enormous ecological damage due to animal-based diets. The video also discusses basic Jewish teachings relating to Judaism and the Environment, including animal rights (Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim). The video can be seen on
(Click "Watch on YouTube")

If anyone is interested to organize a showing and discussion at a place of worship, community center or other forum a copy can be provided on DVD – see Each of us can make a big difference just by organizing one event on this topic and encouraging others to follow suit.

A UN commission found that our animal based diet contributes more to global warming than all the transportation systems on the planet. There is tremendous loss of protein by feeding it to animals, thus animal based diet is a very inefficient use of resources.

Industrialization of raising and ultimately killing animals is extremely cruel and dehumanizes those involved with this industry. The medium is indeed the message.

Our land and water resources are heavily strained by raising animals. Animal waste significantly pollutes our rivers, lakes and underground reserves.

By consuming meat we ingest large quantities of hormones and other harmful chemicals.

Animal based diet is largely responsible for wanton deforestation and ultimate desertification of enormous tracts of land.

Professor Schwartz is in the process of preparing a Fact Sheet summarizing the enormous price we and future generations ultimately pay for our animal based diet. [If you have suggestions re what should be on this fact sheet, please let me know. Thanks.]

Much attention is given these days to the urgent need to invest heavily in renewable energies such as solar, wind and geothermal - and to replace internal combustion engines with more rational and effective solutions.

Considerable intellectual and financial capital is invested into energy efficient and innovative new forms of architecture and transportation systems.
Universities around the world are establishing interdisciplinary environmental research centers and even super-centers.

In this context it would be foolish and extremely irresponsible for us not to reassess the dramatic implications of our diet.

Best wishes,
Larry Pfeffer (Project Wallenberg)

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3. Oprah Goes Vegan!

This is an extremely important development, with tremendous potential. Please contact Oprah and thank her and ask her to help educate her viewers on the many benefits of vegan diets. Also, please use the URL indicated below to urge Oprah to view A SACRED DUTY and to build a program around it. Thanks.

Forwarded message from Neal Barnard, president of PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine):

Dear Mr. Schwartz,

On her TV show yesterday, Oprah welcomed bestselling author and spiritual counselor Kathy Freston to talk about her new book Quantum Wellness. In her book, Kathy describes the 8 pillars of wellness, practices she believes are the staples of an engaged life.

There's one wellness practice that Kathy says should be observed above all others. "The mother of all pillars is conscious eating," she says. "It doesn't only make a difference to our own personal health and well-being, but conscious eating means you stay aware of where your food comes from, how the animals are treated, and how the environment is affected by the foods that you eat. You take in the energy of whatever went into creating that food."

To jump-start your self-makeover, Kathy says a 21-day cleanse can improve the way you look and feel. "We just take a few things that are irritating to our bodies and we eliminate them for any time up to 21 days," she says.

Oprah has committed to the 21-day cleanse, which includes eliminating animal products from her diet. Today is day four.

Please take a moment and e-mail a message of encouragement to her. [] {This is the URL you can use to help promote A SACRED DUTY.}

By featuring Kathy Freston on her show and highlighting how a vegan diet is beneficial to humans, animals, and our environment, Oprah is bringing a positive message to her viewers that has the potential to save countless lives.

Have you been thinking about switching to a vegan diet? Begin today! You can read more about Kathy’s book, learn about the 21-day cleanse, and follow along with Oprah’s journey here. []

Thank you for taking the time to send Oprah positive feedback about her show yesterday and her willingness to commit to trying a vegan diet. Together we can all making the world a healthier, more compassionate place.

Best regards,

Neal Barnard, M.D.
PCRM President

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Ste. 400
Washington, DC 20016 Phone: 202-686-2210

Forward this message to a friend

My messages at the Oprah web site

Kudos to Oprah for adopting a vegan diet.

For the environmental importance of such a diet, please see our one-hour documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD at It would make for a great Oprah program. I would be happy to send you a DVD. Thanks.
As a follow-up to Oprah's 21 day cleansing diet, I think it would be wonderful if she read Will Tuttle's book "World Peace Diet," and have him as a guest on the program. The future of humanity may depend on this, since it is essential that there be a major shift toward plant-based diets.

[I have read Will’s wonderful book several time and know about the superb job he is doing as he constantly travels and speaks to many groups on vegetarianism. He would also make an excellent spokesperson for veganism on Oprah’s program.

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4. New Orthodox Social Action Group Formed

Forwarded message from Uri L’tzedek [Awaken to Justice] co-founder Shmuly Yanklowitz:

Our mission is to serve and inspire the American Orthodox Jewish community towards enacting social justice in our communities. To do so, we aim to develop the new, growing discourse among traditional Jewish communities making the connection between God, Torah, and social issues in America, and to help translate that discourse into action. Through these efforts, we will develop a Jewish community of learners and leaders seeking to improve the world and our religious and ethical lives through the cultivation of positive character traits, leadership skills, and a realization of our moral responsibility.

[Please contact Uri L’tzedek, commend them, and urge them to put planetary survival and veganism on their agenda. Thanks.]

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5. Important New Environmental/Vegetarian Documentary “Meat the Truth” Premieres

Forwarded message:
Please give them a five star - and leave your comments !

What a proud moment it was for them - they did the animals, and us proud !

Read more at:

Maria writes: 'Meat The Truth' is a brilliant film & Paul & I took lots of pics & clips to share the day with our youtube friends, it's not often we can get out together on a day off & we enjoyed ourselves big time!

The film was hosted by the Vegetarian Society for the start of National Vegetarian Week and it covers the important subject of mass meat production contributing to climate change, I hope you'll view the film when it's in your country as this was the first date of a world tour and it will help to educate people regarding the suffering of animals and the effect meat consumption has on our environment.

Some notes from the film -

If everyone in UK abstained from eating meat for one day a week it would result in greater carbon savings than taking 5 million cars off the road!

Abstaining from meat for 7 days would be the same as eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions from 12.5 million households in UK.

Flabbergasting stuff but good to know there is something we can all do to help the planet.

For more information -

Thanks to Dave Spikey for taking time out of this busy schedule to support this great new film -

Mary Alice Pollard
Cornwall's Voice for Animals.UK
Member: (OIPA) International Organisation for Animal Protection.
NGO affiliated to the UN Department of Public Information

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6. Message From Young Activist Who Created Wonderful Videotape on “Vegetarianism and 20th Century Jews” at You Tube

Please see Adam’s wonderful short video at:

I and Rabbi Dovid Sears are among those whose statements re vegetarianism are included.
Shalom Dr. Schwartz,

Thank you so much for your message.

I'm a 23 year old baal teshuva [returnee to Judaism] from a traditional home who started to become frum [religiously observant] in middle school and it was around seven months ago that I decided to become a vegetarian. It had been something I'd considered for years given how disturbed I was by video footage of slaughterhouses I saw, but never thought it was realistic for me, for several reasons, including the simple fact that I enjoyed eating meat too much and my mother is a wonderful Jewish mother who often expresses her love through cooking, among many other ways. :)

Moreover, the notion of being a vegetarian seemed too radical Jewishly, considering the centrality of meat for Shabbos/Yuntif meals and the amount of space our holy Torah devotes to animal sacrifice. I had read years ago that kashrus is Judaism's compromise with vegetarianism, but I still wondered, could it approve of a full vegetarian diet? It is then that I began to research the issue. I simply put in the words Judaism and vegetarianism into a Google search and I soon found your book. I ordered it, along with The Vision of Eden by Rabbi Sears. Both of these books convinced me that not only is there room to say that Judaism and halacha approve of a vegetarian diet, but that it actually understands it as a noble, and perhaps ideal, diet. That was most encouraging to me.

Much like I gave up eating out in non-kosher restaurants overnight around eight years ago, it was the same thing with vegetarianism seven months ago. I was sitting at a Shabbos table with friends at a Shabbaton sponsored by a local Chabad campus rabbi, and I had just finished eating my delicious chicken meal. It was then, during desert, that I decided that would be the last time I'd have eaten meat. I couldn't be more glad for my decision.

However, I still encounter much criticism from fellow frum Jews, mostly when the issue comes up at Shabbos tables. Some of it's in good humor, but other times it seems somewhat hostile. I get the questions you prepared me for in your book. "What about ein simcha ela basar v'yayin.?" to "Don't you know it's a mitzvah to eat meat especially on Shabbos?"

My brother gave me a real hard time too, at first, reminding me that it was through the meat industry that our late Holocaust surviving grandfather provided for his family upon coming to America after the war. I still don't see the relevance of why that means I must eat meat!

My Lubavitcher friend is the one who asked me about elevating the sparks through eating meat which I found interesting given the story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen that Rabbi Sears tells in his book.

In the end of your book you suggest being creative in sharing the vegetarian message. I took you up on it through making the YouTube video which I took quotes from your book and Rabbi Sears' and put them alongside the pictures of those individuals they're from. I've received much positive feedback so far.

This email is longer than I intended but I wanted to tell you about myself and my vegetarian journey and the feedback (good and bad) I've encountered.

Thank you for your book and the holy work you do. May it hasten the geulah shlaimh b'vias Moshiach.

Kol Tuv,
Adam Leventhal

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7. Burma Cyclone Impact Worsened by Animal-Based Agriculture

Mangrove loss 'put Burma at risk'

By Mark Kinver
Science and nature reporter, BBC News

Destruction of mangrove forests in Burma left coastal areas exposed to the devastating force of the weekend's cyclone, a top politician suggests.

ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said coastal developments had resulted in mangroves, which act as a natural defense against storms, being lost.

At least 22,000 people have died in the disaster, say state officials.

A study of the 2004 Asian tsunami found that areas near healthy mangroves suffered less damage and fewer deaths.

Mr Surin, speaking at a high-level meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, said the combination of more people living in coastal areas and the loss of mangroves had exacerbated the tragedy.


A recent global assessment found that 3.6 million hectares of mangrove forests had disappeared since 1980.

The study carried out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that Asia had suffered the greatest loss, with 1.9 million hectares being destroyed, primarily as a result of land use change.

It found that large-scale conversion of mangroves into shrimp and fish farms were among the main destructive drivers.



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8. Gore Prods Israel on Energy Alternatives

Published: 05/21/2008 JTA

Al Gore said the use of alternative energies was "good for the Jews."

The Nobel Prize winner and former U.S. vice president also called on Israel to be a leader in the field.

Gore made the comments as part of his keynote address Tuesday opening an international conference at Tel Aviv University on renewable energy.

Asked if renewable energy is good for the Jews, Gore said, "The answer is yes. It's also good for the Arabs, Hindus, Europeans and Christians."

He said Israel "should play a leading role in advancing the historic transformation to alternative energy. Israel can and Israel should."

Earlier in the day, at a private gathering with a high-tech firm, Gore asked why sun-drenched Israel was not doing more to promote solar energy.

On Monday, also at Tel Aviv University, he collected a $1 million prize from the Dan David Foundation for his work in alerting the world to its environmental crisis. Gore said he plans to donate 90 percent of the money to the Alliance for Climate Protection and 10 percent to young researchers.

Accepting the award, he paused to warn his audience that the water shortage in the Middle East was playing a role in the larger climate crisis.

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9. Update on Veggie Pride Parade

Forwarded messages from parade organizer and JVN advisor and author Pamela Rice:

To see two videos about the Veggie Pride Parade:


RE: Veggie Pride Parade, images, media coverage, comprehensive compilations

At the home page of the Veggie Pride Parade, NYC, we now have links to compilations of images and media coverage.

Go to:

1)In the center column, click on "Media Coverage"
or go to:

2)In the upper right-hand corner, click on

or go to:

Next year, bigger and better!

Time to build media momentum

Go to:

Above is the URL linking to the 156 media companies (TV, radio, print) that picked up the AP story about our Veggie Pride Parade.

We need to compile a database of the editors, writers, and photographers from each one.

And we need to act fast before these links are taken down (by Google).

If we can divvy up the work (10 media companies per volunteer), we can continue to keep these key people informed throughout the year, to make sure they truly understand our message.

From the looks of some of the media stories we got this year, a lot of people "don't get it." Our story was put under headings such as "weird, odd, and offbeat." And as we know, that is not where we belong.

Our Veggie Pride Parade was fun, but it's also serious business. If
we do not want our message to be lost (after all of our work), we
need to keep in touch with the media, and do it carefully.


The Lantern Books Blog: Proud to be a Vegetarian
by Martin Rowe [Complete disclosure: My publsher]
May 19, 2008 11:07am

We're Here, We're Veg.

When Pamela Rice, author of 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian told me that she was planning a veggie pride parade for New York City, based on one she heard about in Paris, I was skeptical. Who'd show up, I thought? Why would vegetarians want a parade?

Well, the answers are clear: over 800 of us showed up yesterday, a gray and chilly Sunday, and marched from Little West 12th Street in the West Village to Washington Square Park, where a somewhat soggy rally was held. It was quite a scene: the VivaVegie's prize mascot, Penelo Pea Pod, was married to PETA's mascot Chris P. Carrot; there was a fashion show for toddlers; and The Cheryl Hill Band rocked out.

Folks turned up from all over the states. There were vegan bicycling enthusiasts, about eighty members of the Ching Hai Buddhist order; Lantern authors Richard Schwartz, Karen Davis; and hosts of faces both old and new, young and old. Dan Piraro and Ashley-Lou Smith had devised a display of a diseased colon, complete with polyps, to show the effect of a meat-intensive diet on one's digestive system. I can only say: It went down well.

The whole thing was widely covered in the media: The New York Times did their normal, snarky take on things; The Daily News reported, as did radio (WNYC, 1010 Wins), and the Associated Press, whose report was picked up around the globe.

Although many people helped make the day a success, kudos has to go to Pamela, whose creativity and tenacity took an idea that her publisher (i.e. me) thought far-fetched and possibly doomed, and turned it into a triumph. With a better sound system and some sunshine, Veggie Pride '09 promises to be even bigger and better.-

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10. Israeli Chief Rabbis Issue Request to Respect Environment on Lag B'Omer

by Hana Levi Julian

The Chief Rabbis are warning the public to protect the environment and respect other people's property as Israelis light bonfires Thursday night to celebrate Lag B'Omer.

In a land where every tree is precious and every drop of water is rapidly becoming worth its weight in gold, preventing forest fires and other environmental damage is paramount.

Quoting the rabbinic text Kohelet Raba, a midrashic commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger cautioned in a statement to the public:

"When G-d created Adam He took him and showed him all the trees in the Garden of Eden. G-d said to him, 'Look at all My creations, how magnificent they are. All that I have created is for you. Be sure not to destroy my world, because if you do there is no one who can repair it.' "

The statement by the two rabbis, aimed at the youth of Israel gathering wood to build huge bonfires for the festive day, appeared on the website of the American Society for the Preservation of Wildlife in Israel.

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11. Top Ten Reasons to Go Veggie During World Vegetarian Week

Top Ten Reasons to Go Veggie During World Vegetarian Week

By Bruce Friedrich

Gone are the days when vegetarians were served up a plate of iceberg lettuce and a dull-as-dishwater baked potato. With the growing variety of vegetarian faux-meats like bacon and sausages and an ever-expanding variety of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants, vegetarianism has taken the world by storm.

With World Vegetarian Week beginning this week, here, without further ado, are the Top 10 reasons to give vegetarian eating a try, starting now!

1) Helping Animals Also Helps the Global Poor
While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it's about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is. Care about global poverty <>? Try vegetarianism.

2) Eating Meat Supports Cruelty to Animals
The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories. On today's factory farms <>, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. These animals will never raise families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything else that is natural and important to them. They won't even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.

3) Eating Meat Is Bad for the Environment
A recent United Nations report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow <> concludes that eating meat is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." In just one example, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. The report concludes that the meat industry "should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air
pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

4) Avoid Bird Flu
The World Health Organization says that if the avian flu virus mutates, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken flesh or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Other problems with factory farming -- from foot-and-mouth to SARS <> -- can be avoided with a general shift to a vegetarian diet.

5) If You Wouldn't Eat a Dog, You Shouldn't Eat a Chicken
Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals who are able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats and dogs <> and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, "As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens and people think I'm talking about monkeys."

6) Heart Disease: Our Number One Killer
Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including the United States' three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes <> . Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn -- two doctors with 100 percent success in preventing and reversing heart disease -- have used a vegan diet to accomplish it, as
chronicled most recently in Dr. Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, which documents his 100 percent success rate for unclogging people's arteries and reversing heart disease.

7) Cancer: Our Number Two Killer
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is one of the world's foremost epidemiological scientists and the director of what The New York Times called "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." Dr. Campbell's best-selling book, The China Study, is a must-read for anyone who is concerned about cancer. To summarize it, Dr. Campbell states, "No chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein."

8) Fitting Into That Itty-Bitty Bikini
Vegetarianism is also the ultimate weight-loss diet <> , since vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters are, and vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese. Of course, there are overweight vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But on average, vegans are 10 to 20 percent lighter than meat-eaters. A vegetarian diet is the only diet that has passed peer review and taken weight off and kept it off.

9) Global Peace
Leo Tolstoy claimed that "vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism." His point? For people who wish to sow the seeds of peace, we should be eating as peaceful a diet as possible. Eating meat supports killing animals, for no reason other than humans' acquired taste for animals' flesh. Great humanitarians from Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi to Thich Nhat Hanh <> have argued that a vegetarian diet is the only diet for people who want to make the world a kinder place.

10) The Joy of Veggies
As the growing range of vegetarian cookbooks <> and restaurants shows, vegetarian foods rock. People report that when they adopt a vegetarian diet, their range of foods explodes from a center-of-the-plate meat item to a range of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables that they didn't even know

Sir Paul McCartney <> sums it all up, "If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you could do. It's staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty."

So are you ready to give it a try? Check out for recipes and meal plans and to take the World Vegetarian Week 7-Day Pledge.

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12. OU Kashrut Administrator to Speak in Teaneck, NJ

Forwarded message from Rabbi Yoel Weisshaus:

[If you can make this event and report back to us on it, please let me know. Thanks.]

Rabbi Menachem Genack to speak on Issues in Kashrut: From Coca Cola to Postville

Rabbi Menachem Genack, National Rabbinic Administrator and CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Dept. of Kashrut will describe what is involved in operating a kosher supervisory organization that certifies some 250 thousand products.

He will then address some current pressing issues in Kashrut supervision,
including the Agriprocessors- Postville situation that has been in the news after an ICE raid of the Postville plant and the arrest of more than 300 allegedly illegal workers in what is reported to be the largest such raid of its kind for that agency, as well as suspicion of other plant irregularities.

A question and answer session will follow.

7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 27
Weiss Auditorium - Jewish Center of Teaneck, 70 Sterling Place, Teaneck, NJ

For more information please call the Center office at: 201-833-0515

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13. Global Food Crisis Fueled by Animal-Based Diets

Forwarded message from animal rights activist Phil Wollen from Australia:

Dear all,

I have been banging on about the idiocy of meat-eating for a long time.

One element (apart from cruelty, water, cancers, heart disease, poisoned oceans, obesity, and greenhouse gas emissions - as if that is not enough!) has been its effect on starving people.

It is having a serious impact in developing countries where Trix and I have most of our projects. The situation is dire, and the unfairness is hideous.

Even the wealthiest nations like Japan are now experiencing of certain food shortages.

My friend Merritt Clifton is a fine journalist and wrote this piece last week.

Please forward his article far and wide. And urge people to wake up!

Every morsel of meat we consume is another coffin for a hungry child.

Go vegan - it is the only ethical and effective choice for intelligent people.

Thank you


Global Food Crisis Fueled by Animal-Based Diets

Meat-eating drives global grain crunch

LONDON, NEW YORK CITY, WASHINGTON D.C.--History may remember 2008 as the year that world economic analysts and planners belatedly recognized that people eat too much meat.

Whether that recognition translates into cultural and political changes of direction remains to be seen, but by January 2008 the global consequences of excessive meat consumption were already evident.

"The food price index of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, based on export prices for 60 internationally traded foodstuffs, climbed 37% last year," observed Keith Bradsher of The New York Times. "That was on top of a 14% increase in 2006.

"In some poor countries, desperation is taking hold," Bradsher warned, citing unrest over grain shortages and rising food prices in 12 African, Asian, and Latin American nations. Three months later the list of nations enduring food crises had extended to 37 and continued to expand.

"Soaring fuel prices have altered the equation for growing food and transporting it across the globe," Bradsher explained. "Huge demand for biofuels has created tension between using land to produce fuel and using it for food."

But the biggest single factor, Bradshet continued, is that "A growing middle class in the developing world is demanding more [animal] protein, from pork and hamburgers to chicken and ice cream. And all this is happening even as global climate change may be starting to make growing food harder in some of the places best equipped to do so, like Australia."

"Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe," Daniel W. Basse of the Chicago-based AgResource consultancy firm told David Streitfield of The New York Times. "But if they do, we're going to need another two or three globes to grow it all."

Assessed Associated Press, "Rising demand for meat and dairy in rapidly developing countries such as China and India is sending up the cost of grain, used for cattle feed, as is the demand for raw materials to make biofuels. In China, per capita meat consumption has increased 150% since 1980."

The increase in Chinese meat consumption just since 1995 has diverted 2.9 billion bushels of grain per year into feeding livestock, more than the entire 2.3 billion bushel demand of the U.S. ethanol industry, reported the trade publication Biofuels Digest.

Mexican corn consumption to feed livestock is also sharply up, said Biofuels Digest, increasing at three times the rate of the human population since 1993.

Rising 30% in three months, the U.S. wholesale corn price hit a record $6.00 per bushel on April 3, 2008 "amid dwindling stockpiles and surging demand for the grain used to feed livestock and make alternative fuels," wrote Will Kincaid of The New York Times. "Prices are poised to go even higher after the USDA predicted that American farmers--the world's biggest corn producers--will plant 8% less in 2008," due to unfavorable spring planting weather.

"While corn growers are reaping record profits," Kincaid continued, "U.S. consumers can expect even higher grocery bills--especially for meat--as livestock producers are forced to pass on higher animal feed costs, in addition to thinning their herds."

Ethanol demand exploded after Congress in 2007 ordered that 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol be produced by 2015, and 36 billion by 2022, to help the U.S. move away from reliance on imported fossil fuels.


Philip Wollen OAM

The Winsome Constance Kindness Trust


Venture Capital for Good Causes

Telephone (613) 98221662

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14. Conservative Jewish Movement Moves Away From Boycott of Agriprocessors

Published: 05/21/2008

The U.S. Conservative movement has backed away from any decision to boycott Agriprocessors following a federal raid on the country's largest kosher slaughterhouse.

The Conservative movement is united in believing a response is needed to the Agriprocessors scandal, but it is divided on what the response should be, sources say.

Calls this week by activist rabbis for a limited boycott have been muted out of concern that a boycott could be actionable and might discourage Jews from keeping kosher because kosher meat would be harder to access.

Movement officials are now considering other options, which include encouraging congregants to find alternatives to kosher products made by Agriprocessors, and/or a study session on Jewish values related to workers’ rights and food consumption to be organized this summer.

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15. Lag B’Omer and Vegetarianism

I am sorry that I missed including this article earlier since Lag B’Omer started last Thursday evening. But, here it is.

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16. Seeking agents to distribute PSAs on Global Warming/Dietary Connections

Supreme master TV is seeking such agents. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

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** Fair Use Notice **

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.

May 20, 2008

5/19/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update on A SACRED DUTY

2. Update on Federal Raid at AgriProcessors/JVNA Press Release/Letters

3. Update on the “Veggie Pride Parade”

4. Agribusiness Poses Many Modern Dilemmas/Letters to Editors

5. Foie Gras Ban in Chicago Overturned

6. Jewish Educator Seeking Financial support to Help Travel and Promote Jewish Vegetarianism/Suggestions Welcome

7. New Book on Animal Rights Receiving Wide Praise

8. Animal Law Lecture Series Scheduled

9. Global Warming Having Major Effects on Wildlife

10. Resolution on Global Warming/Suggestions Welcome

11. SPNI Report: One Quarter of Israeli Nesting Birds are in Danger

12. Petition Drive to Stop European Union Subsidies to “Livestock Agriculture'

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. Update on A SACRED DUTY

I am planning to send out a strategy message soon re A SACRED DUTY and how to get our issues onto the Jewish agenda later this week. Meanwhile, please continue helping spread the word on the movie. Please note again and let others know that at, you and others can view the entire movie, request DVDs to share, and find much background information, including blurbs, reviews and questions and answers. Suggestions always welcome. Thanks.

b. Lionel Friedberg, Multi-award-winning producer of A SACRED DUTY to be Interviewed
Forwarded message:
The producer of Supreme Master TV indicated that Lionel's interview _will be shown May 22 and 29 on a program Cinema Series. Looks like it is _only available on the net.
Supreme Master Television is at Galaxy 25 in the US. It may be easiest to _watch the internet streaming at Check at that web site for times when the interview will be shown on these two dates.
c. Article about A SACRED DUTY in Israeli media outlet YNET

Rough translation by my daughter Susan Kleid (I expect to get a better translation later).

Love thy Animal as Thyself

What is the connection between the mitzvah of “Do Not Stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor” and melting icebergs near the North Pole?

How is eating meat going against Torah commandments?

The Documentary - A SACRED DUTY demonstrates the strong connection between Judaism and the environment.

In the beginning of creation, humans are commanded to work the land and protect it. [Genesis 2:15] Despite this, while people have been fruitful and multiplied for thousands of years, as technology advanced, the mandate to protect the world was somewhat forgotten. Global warming and other environmental threats put the world in a real danger, and many people are convinced that immediate and drastic steps must be taken to avoid catastrophe.

The film, produced by JVNA attempts to show the way Jewish principles guide us in dealing with the present environmental crisis. The film was shown in a movie festival on May 17 [after Shabbat at the Cinematheque, in Jerusalem]. and will be shown in Tel Aviv , Jerusalem, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Sderot. {I hope the movie will be shown so widely, but I have to check into this.]

While the film deals with environmental protection, a significant portion deals with vegetarianism. It shows that if an amount of land used to grow soy can feed 60 people, that same amt of land can feed only 2 people when used to raise cattle.

The movie also considers the mitzva of Tzaar Baalei Chaim {The Torah mandate not to harm animals]. Some scenes are difficult to watch-showing kosher slaughter houses with violent and inhumane treatment of animals. The mitzvah of guarding our health is given a wider meaning, including factors related to nutrition and food additives.

A light onto the nations

Prof R Schwartz, president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America claims that on ecological issues Jews must be a light onto the nations and work to save the environment.

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb says the Torah teaches us how to behave in the world. He stresses that man is part of G-d's creations and must care for G-d's earth. We are all obligated to care for the world - each person's actions can influence the whole. We are all responsible-for each other, for the animals and for future generations.
d. Great news from South Africa

Forwarded message from JVNA's South Africa representative Marcia Schlesinger:

Great news , I must tell you... there has been such a brilliant response from that event organized by Louise Van de Mere of Animal Voice. Some very big and influential people are coming back to her asking for copies of the DVD...

Louise called me today and she was so excited and will be sending us both an email with all these details.

I haven't yet received my allocated hundred DVDs [from Louise]. I have promised out about 60.... a lot of interest and they are going fast.

Once again thank you Richard for caring so much that you have created this incredible piece of work and in doing so affecting so many people lives and ultimately this world.

Blessings to you

Fondest regards


Another message from Marcia:

I don't need you to send me any DVDs as we have produced 1000 ourselves in Cape Town to distribute.

All cost have been paid by ourselves..

If anyone wants I have enough and can supply all those in South Africa.

e. Another example of how A SACRED DUTY is making a difference

Hi Richard,

Thought you'd be interested in knowing that one of our b'nei mitzvah students is doing her research project on Animal Rights, and the film is one of her references. After her bat mitzvah (6/14) I should be able to send you her paper.

Also, our Teen Coordinator and Rabbi (Ben Biber, who is vegan) will be using this with our teen group for a program.

Thanks and regards,

Roz Seidenstein
Executive Director
Machar, The Washington Congregation for
Secular Humanistic Judaism

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2. Update on Federal Raid at AgriProcessors/JVNA Press Release/Letters

a. Article at

Fri. May 16, 2008

Raid on Kosher Slaughterhouse Sparks Fears of Meat Shortage
Immigration Bust Leaves Plant With Skeleton Staff

By Marissa Brostoff

Thu. May 15, 2008

In a development with potential repercussions for consumers of kosher meat worldwide, the country's largest kosher slaughterhouse greatly curtailed production this past week after a raid by federal agents led to the arrest of hundreds of undocumented workers.

On May 12, The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement stormed the AgriProcessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, detaining nearly 400 of the slaughterhouse's 968 employees and prompting others to go into hiding. According to The Des Moines Register, 154 of those arrested in the raid have been charged with criminal offenses relating to identity theft. Most of those taken into custody come from Guatemala or Mexico; a few are from Eastern Europe or Israel.

Though the plant reopened on May 13, it is operating with a skeleton crew. According to Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, the head rabbi at AgriProcessors, as of May 14 it was producing perhaps 40% of its usual daily output.

Because of increases in the prices of corn, which is used to feed cattle, the price of meat in general is already high. Kosher meat prices, which always skew higher than nonkosher prices, are likely to climb even higher if production at AgriProcessors continues at diminished levels.

“Should they not get the plant up and running, it will have an enormous impact on the consumer,” said Menachem Lubinsky, head of the kosher industry consulting and marketing firm Lubicom. “There's been a little bit of hoarding going on,” he added.

Mass arrests of suspected undocumented workers at slaughterhouses have been common in recent years and have temporarily shut down or drastically slowed production at major nonkosher plants. But the raid on AgriProcessors may have an unusually severe ripple effect for consumers, as the company produces an enormous share of the kosher meat on the market.

Rabbi Seth Mandel, the Orthodox Union's head of kosher slaughter, estimated that AgriProcessors produces around 55% of glatt kosher beef sold in the United States and that the plant in Postvillle produces 85% of AgriProcessors beef. The company also produces the greatest share of glatt kosher poultry on the market.

According to Mandel, the impact of a production crisis at AgriProcessors would be most acutely felt in regions that have relatively small numbers of people who keep kosher. In those areas, AgriProcessors meat - sold under brand names including Aaron's Best, Supreme Kosher and Rubashkin - is usually the only kosher meat available.

To fill the void in labor, AgriProcessors is busing in workers from a smaller plant that it runs in Gordon, Neb., according to a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, which is the union that represents slaughterhouse workers. And, Weissmandl said, 15 or 20 yeshiva students have flown out to Iowa from Brooklyn to help out with the slaughter.

Sources say that the company is also trying to attract documented workers by offering wages higher than what the undocumented employees had received.

But replacing a work force of hundreds could take months, experts on slaughterhouse labor say.

“There is no channel to provide legal labor for these kinds of operations,” said Lourdes Gouveia, a professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska who studies immigrant labor in the meatpacking industry.

Because wages are generally so low and conditions in the plants so difficult, meatpacking companies that have been raided by immigration enforcement agencies often hire undocumented workers all over again. In other cases, slaughterhouses have recruited workers from inner-city slums, or refugees who are in the United States legally but lack work permits.

According to Lubinsky, who has consulted for AgriProcessors, the company maintains that the raid will not significantly affect its output. (AgriProcessors representatives declined to comment.)

Gouveia was skeptical. “It took Swift about a year to recover,” she said, referring to the Colorado slaughterhouse Swift & Co, which was raided by ICE in 2006.

The raid on AgriProcessors hit the company especially hard, sources say, as management was the last to see it coming. Weeks ago, ICE leased a fairground in the town of Waterloo, near Postville, as a temporary detention center for the workers whom the agency planned to arrest. But while some union representatives - and possibly some workers - suspected that a raid was in the works, AgriProcessors was apparently in the dark.

That AgriProcessors likely employs undocumented workers is no secret, both because the practice is so common among slaughterhouses nationwide and because the company has been the target of frequent media attention due to accusations of labor and animal-rights abuses. Indeed, lawyers for the company tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade a federal appeals court last year that workers in its Brooklyn distribution center did not have the right to unionize, because many of them were illegal aliens.

“The big issue wasn't whether this would happen, but when it would happen,” said Stephen Bloom, a professor of journalism at the University of Iowa who in 2001 published a book about the impact that AgriProcessors had on the once homogenously white and Christian town of Postville. “It was the worst-kept secret in Iowa.”

Among the allegations in an affidavit released by ICE was that some AgriProcessors workers bought and sold weapons at work.
The affidavit also included allegations from sources at the plant that employees were running a methamphetamine lab on AgriProcessors premises, that a supervisor struck an employee with a meat hook and that undocumented workers were receiving significantly less than minimum wage.

Since the raid, the small town's immigrant infrastructure, like the slaughterhouse, has been operating on the brink of collapse. Over half the children in a Postville school were absent the day after the raid, the editor of the town's newspaper told the Forward, and Mexican and Guatemalan restaurants have closed down. Families of those arrested, and others afraid they might be detained, have taken refuge in the town's Catholic church, according to The Des Moines Register.

For Jewish activists who advocate tying ethics standards to the requirements of kashrut, the latest incident at AgriProcessors is more fuel for the fire.

“For too long, we've ignored that production of kosher food has taken place in a world where we're concerned about the ritual aspects of food preparation and not the ethical considerations,” said Rabbi Morris Allen, director of the Hechsher Tzedek Commission, which is affiliated with the Conservative movement.

Other kosher consumers simply wish for less controversy mixed in with their meat.

“I think the general sense is that they wish Rubashkin would do what it has to so that it does not wind up in the news all the time,” Mandel said.

Copyright © 2007 Forward Association, inc. |
b. Possible JVNA Responses

My approach is to argue that these events should be wake-up calls to try to get people to reconsider the realities behind the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. To that end, I have already sent out a press release (see below) and letters to editors (also see below). I know of 4 papers that have published my letter.

Someone has suggested a demonstration in front of the Orthodox Union (OU) headquarters. That would take a lot of planning, and I am already actively involved in a number of projects. Unless there was a large, vocal turnout, it might not be effective.

Perhaps a campaign of using articles, letters to editors, contacts with rabbis might be worthwhile. To me the bottom line is that the world is heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe, and animal-based diets and agriculture are major contributors. So, we must get that message out.

The current AgriProcessors scandal is not directly vegetarian-related.
Hi John,

Certainly the OU has, to say the least, not acted properly, re AgriProcessors.

But, I think if they had acted differently, and pressured AgriProcessors, the company would probably have made minimal changes necessary to keep the OU's approval. This would certainly be positive, but probably the same number of animals would be killed.

I see this, to some extent, like the current battle between animal welfare advocates and animal rights advocates.

If conditions at AgriProcessors were improved, it might only result in people continuing to eat meat, and perhaps even more, because now animals and workers are treated better, and people might feel they can now eat meat with a clear conscience.

Also, the raid on AgriProcessors should continue to focus attention on the kosher slaughterhous and that will hopefully lead to positive results. Perhaps our best strategy is to work on areas where there is little attention in the Jewish community.

It will not be easy, but I think we have to challenge the whole system, perhaps eventually demonstrating against rabbinic groups for not stressing that Jewish mandates are violated in the production and consumption of meat, and medical groups for not stressing the health benefits of plant-based diets.

So, I plan to continue and expand efforts to get A SACRED DUTY widely seen and to more directly challenge rabbis and other Jewish leaders and to urge all JVNA newsletter readers to do likewise. Major changes are necessary to avoid the disaster the world is rapidly approaching, and I think we should focus on working to try to get these changes.

Also, I remember spending a lot of time organizing a protest against the OU in L.A., and only a handful of people came and the press coverage was relatively weak.

I think if we try to do too many things, we may lose effectiveness.

More on strategy ideas to follow soon.
Suggestions very welcome.

c. NY Times article on the raid on AgriProcessors
May 13, 2008, NYTimes
Hundreds Are Arrested in U.S. Sweep of Meat Plant

In the biggest workplace immigration raid this year, federal agents swept into a kosher meat plant on Monday in Postville, Iowa, and arrested more than 300 workers.

The authorities said the workers were suspected of being in the United States illegally or of having participated in identity theft and the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not say how many people had been rounded up beyond the initial 300 or whether the management and owners of the plant, AgriProcessors, would face criminal charges.

The plant has 800 to 900 people and is the country's largest producer of meat that is glatt kosher, widely regarded as the highest standard of cleanliness.

The plant shut temporarily.

The agents set up a perimeter around the 60-acre plant, in northeastern Iowa, and entered on the morning shift, carrying out two search warrants, federal authorities said. An affidavit filed in court before the raid by the Homeland Security Department cited “the issuance of 697 criminal complaints and arrest warrants against persons believed to be current employees” and to have acted criminally.

The affidavit said a former plant supervisor had told investigators that a methamphetamine laboratory had operated at the plant and that some employees had carried weapons to the plant. The former supervisor, the affidavit said, estimated that 80 percent of the employees were in the United States illegally.

A spokesman for Representative Bruce Braley, Democrat of Iowa, said the number of arrests was expected to increase, perhaps even double, as the investigation continued.

Federal officials leased an expansive fairground area in nearby Waterloo to process and house the arrested workers. Among people at the fairgrounds and in Postville, “there is a lot of fear,” said Prof. Mark A. Grey, who focuses on immigration at the University of Northern Iowa.

“It's absolutely devastating to the local economy,” Professor Grey said.

In a news release, Matt M. Dummermuth, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, called the sweep “the largest operation of its type ever in Iowa.”

d. JVNA Press Release


For Immediate Release:

May 13, 2008
Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America issued the following statement today:

Monday's raid on Agriprocessors by agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, with hundreds of slughterhouse workers arrested, should be the latest wake-up call to the need for a major reconsideration of the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. AgriProcessors glatt kosher slaughterhouse, the largest in the United States (owned by the Rubashkin family), has a history of heinous animal cruelty, environmental law infractions, employee abuse, and corruption.

[This may seem strong, but not compared to material on AgriProcessors at other blogs.]

The Agriprocessors slaughterhouse is making a mockery of what kashruth should represent - the humane treatment of animals, not just at the moment of slaughter, but for the entire period during which they are in the care of humans. Clearly this particular slaughterhouse must be shut down until major changes occur and inspection processes are improved. But, far more needs to be done overall to eradicate the paradoxical contradiction between immutable Jewish ethics and the inherent cruelty of factory farming.

The Jewish community must face the fact that producing and consuming meat and other animal products represents an unequivocal violation of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and avoid a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's Name).

It is time that we recognize that the raising of over 50 billion animals worldwide for meat, eggs and milk is contributing to global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction and many more environmental problems that threaten humanity and all of creation.

It is time that we realize that we can reduce the current epidemic of diseases afflicting Jews and others through a switch toward plant-based diets.

It is time that the many moral issues related to our diets be put on the Jewish agenda.

This is extremely important for Jews today because Israel is especially threatened by global warming. A report by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense in 2007 indicates that global warming could cause: (1) a rise in average temperature of 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit; (2) a significant increase in the Mediterranean Sea level, which would threaten the narrow coastal strip of land where 60% of Israel's population lives and where major infrastructure, such as ports and power plants, would be destroyed; and (3) a significant decrease in rainfall, estimated at 20-30%, which would disrupt agricultural production and worsen the chronic water scarcity problem in Israel and the region.

We urge that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. Judaism has marvelous teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to today's many current environmental threats..

In view of the many threats to humanity, it is scandalous that the world is not only trying to feed 6.5 billion people, but also over 50 billion farmed animals; that 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and over a third produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter; that the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet. A 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's cars and other means of transportation combined (13.5 percent), and that the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years. Therefore, what we eat is more important than what we drive and consciousness about both are ethical imperatives.

Further information about these issues can be found at our JVNA web site We will provide complimentary copies of our new, highly-acclaimed documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD and related materials to rabbis and others who will contact us and indicate how they will use them to involve their congregations, schools or other groups on the issues. The entire documentary can be seen at, and there is much background material about the film at that web site.

e. My Letter (sent to many publications)

Dear Editor:

The recent raid on Agriprocessors by agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, with hundreds of slughterhouse workers arrested, should be the latest wake-up call to the need for a major reconsideration of the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. AgriProcessors glatt kosher slaughterhouse, the largest in the United States, has a history of heinous animal cruelty, environmental law infractions and employee abuse.

The Agriprocessors slaughterhouse is making a mockery of what kashruth should represent - the humane treatment of animals, not just at the moment of slaughter, but for the entire period during which they are in the care of humans. Clearly this particular slaughterhouse must be shut down until major changes occur and inspection processes are improved. But, far more needs to be done overall to eradicate the paradoxical contradiction between immutable Jewish ethics and the inherent cruelty of producing meat and other animal products.

The Jewish community must face the fact that animal-based diets and agriculture represent an unequivocal violation of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and avoid a chillul Hashem (desecration of God's Name).

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

f. Shorter Version of My Letter

Dear Editor:

The recent raid on Agriprocessors by federal immigration agents. with hundreds of slughterhouse workers arrested, should be the latest wake-up call to the need for a major reconsideration of the realities of animal-based diets. Clearly this slaughterhouse must be shut down until major changes occur and inspection processes are improved. But, far more needs to be done to eradicate the contradictions between Jewish ethics and the inherent cruelty of producing meat and other animal products.

The Jewish community must face the fact that animal-based diets violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
g. Another Letter Re AgriProcessors

Dear Editor,

The recent immigration raid at Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa reportedly has many kosher consumers bracing for meat shortages. I'm not worried-I'm a vegetarian. I adhere to Tsa'ar ba'alei hayim, the Jewish commandment mandating that animals be treated with compassion-something that has not happened at Agriprocessors, where workers were caught shocking animals with electric prods, slitting their throats, ripping out their tracheas, and leaving them to die slowly.

After all of the negative publicity that Agriprocessors has received for abusing animals and people, it's sad that some members of my faith are only concerned about whether or not they will be able to have meat. As God's chosen people, we can surely do better than this. We can live according to our religious principles by choosing plant-based foods, which are naturally kosher. Vegetarian foods are plentiful, delicious, healthy, and humane. Check out for vegan recipes and product picks, as well as information on the horrific animal abuse at AgriProcessors.


Jayn Brotman
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206

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3. Update on the “Veggie Pride Parade”

As indicated in a special message to the JVNA readership, the parade was very successful and received much media coverage. Much of that coverage can be found at:


Supreme Master TV took many pictures at the parade. I am in at least 4 of the photos (#7, 8, 49, 76).

Almost 100 photos can be found at:

Below is one article re the event (in the NY Daily News).

Vegetables on march against meat biz

By Erin Einhorn

Monday, May 19th 2008, 4:00 AM

Vegetables walked in the first-ever Veggie Pride Parade.

It was New York's first-ever Veggie Pride Parade - and people in giant carrot costumes sprouted across the Meatpacking District.

"We're putting the meat business on notice," said parade organizer Pamela Rice. "We're watching them now."

She was one of several hundred vegetarian and vegan activists who assembled on a plaza down the street from the Hog Pit BBQ restaurant for a march to Washington Square Park to promote the environmental, ethical and health advantages of a meat-free diet.

After the walking carrot and pea pod at the front of the procession came a couple in banana costumes, holding hands as they marched, and then a man in a "Super Vegan" costume with a blazing "V" on his chest and a woman waving a hot pink tinfoil pig with a plaintive sign reading, "Save me."

Bringing up the rear of the march were the ecofarmers with a long tube of pink netting representing a meat-eater's colon. It had signs pointing to "butt cancer," "polyps" and a large plastic "colostomy bag" filled with plastic poop.

"Protect your poop chute," said Jenny Brown of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary as marchers handed pamphlets to the Sunday brunchers at sidewalk cafes.

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4. Agribusiness Poses Many Modern Dilemmas/Letters to Editors

To Market, to Market: Farmers Face Modern Dilemmas

Is agribusiness forgetting its humanity when treating animals destined for dinner?
May 15, 2008

Frank Rosci
Jewish Exponent Feature

In the generally accepted scheme of things, farm animals are viewed in this country as food -- and little else -- by most people and civil authorities, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Animal lives have value to today's modern mega-farms only as products that will yield the highest profit at market value.

That mindset is as wrong as it gets, contends Gene Baur, author of Farm Sanctuary, an indictment of the evils of so-called factory or industrial farming, a highly refined, assembly-line-like corporate system that subjects billions of farm animals to shockingly harsh conditions and ultimate slaughter annually

May 16, 2008

Editor, Jewish Exponent

Dear Editor:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I was pleased to read Frank Rosci’s May 16 article, “To Market, To Market: Farmers face Modern Dilemmas,” which questioned whether “agribusiness [is] forgetting its humanity when treating animals destined for dinner.”

Perhaps we should also consider if Jews are deviating from Jewish values when eating foods from modern, intensive factory farms.

What does it say about Judaism today when we fail to address that the production and consumption of meat violate basic Jewish teachings on preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment , conserving resources and helping hungry people? Are we playing our mandated role as a “kingdom of priests” and a “light unto the nations,” if we partake in diets that contribute to the current epidemic of diseases and to global warming and environmental problems that threaten all of humanity ?

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz

Comment from JVNA advisor Steve Schuster:

Richard - might be worth reminding those who believe that kashruth is sufficient - that the prohibition against tza'ar baalei chaim is not fulfilled by rabbinically supervised ritual slaughter alone. As humans, we are responsible for the welfare of animals in our care for every moment of their lives. By eating factory-farmed meat, we are fully-culpable participants in the factory farming ecosystem. Thus eating factory farmed meat is an act as impactful as if we ourselves were directly mistreating animals and violating tza'ar baalei chaim.

Shabbat shalom,



Letter submitted by JVNA advisor Rina Deych

In light of the recent video expose done by the Humane Society of the United States, which depicted sick and injured cattle (called "downers") brutally tortured in an attempt to force them on their feet so they would appear healthy, the China Study, which took place over a 25-year period, which showed that people abstaining from animal products developed far less cardiovascular, neoplastic, and auto-immune diseases, and the 400-page 2006 UN report entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow," which stated that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, it's clear that we, as a species, need to transcend our carnivorous gluttony. Meat is wasteful of resources, pollutive, unhealthy, and cruel. Switching to a plant-based diet is better for our bodies, the environment, and, of course, the animals.

An incredible new documentary entitled "A Sacred Duty" addresses this issue from the Jewish perspective.
A synopsis and the film in its entirety can be accessed at

Rina Deych, RN
Brooklyn, NY

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5. Foie Gras Ban in Chicago Overturned

Forwarded article:

Chicago overturns ban on foie gras in restaurants

By CARYN ROUSSEAU, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - Dining on foie gras — a delicacy made of duck and goose liver — will soon be legal again in Chicago.

The City Council on Wednesday repealed its two-year-old ban on the gourmet dish, drawing dissent from animal rights activists who consider foie gras cruel because the birds are force-fed to make their livers bigger.

But there were no worries in chef Didier Durand's restaurant, Cyrano's Bistrot.

"All of us are so excited," Durand told reporters as he held his pet duck, Nicolai, named after French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "People miss it. They used to go to the suburbs to get foie gras and stopped going to specifically French restaurants."

Durand was one of a coalition of restaurateurs who started Chicago Chefs for Choice, a movement to overturn the ban, which went into effect in August 2006. He said Wednesday that he would begin serving foie gras again as soon as the repeal goes into effect later this month.

"You might disagree with serving foie gras, but you don't do a ban and forbid everybody to have foie gras," Durand said. His restaurant was one of many across the city that held foie gras dinners in the days before the ban took effect.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the repeal a political maneuver benefiting the restaurant industry. The Virginia-based organization said the council's first "compassionate decision was reversed in a secretive, rushed bow to special interests that benefit from the cruel treatment of animals."

Wednesday's vote was led by Mayor Richard M. Daley, who called the ban the silliest ordinance the council had ever passed. The repeal measure passed by a vote of 37-6 with no debate, an about-face from the original ban, which passed in April 2006 by a vote of 48-1.

During Wednesday's vote, the ban's original sponsor, Alderman Joe Moore, shouted his objections.

"It was a statement against animal cruelty, pure and simple," Moore said about his original intent, after Wednesday's vote.

Of the council's decision to repeal, he said: "They used a little parliamentary procedure avoiding any public hearing and debate on the measure. I don't think that's very healthy for a democracy or very healthy for the city."

Alderman Thomas Tunney, who brought the issue to vote, said the sentiments of most Chicagoans were served.

"Supporters of this legislation have accomplished their goal by raising awareness of this issue," Tunney said in a statement. "And while I respect their viewpoint, this is clearly a matter the council should stay out of and let the educated consumer and chefs make their own menu choices."

Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's on the North Side, was fined $250 in March 2007 for a first-time offense of serving foie gras. While taking and serving orders at the self-titled "sausage superstore and encased meat emporium," Sohn said the repeal was the right decision.

"I certainly think it was a foolish decision in the first place," Sohn said. "I truly hope this ends it. There are real important issues in this city. This is certainly not one of them. I hope we're done with this nonsense."

The Illinois Restaurant Association, along with a local restaurant, had sued in federal court seeking to have the ban overturned, but a U.S. district judge dismissed the effort in June.

"As an industry, we think that menu offerings are best left to the individual restaurant operators, rather than being dictated by government," the association said in a statement Wednesday.

More than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, have banned production of the delicacy. Similar measures have been considered in California, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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6. Jewish Educator Seeking Financial support to Help Travel and Promote Jewish Vegetarianism/Suggestions Welcome

Forwarded message:

I'd love to create a program where I would travel around to day schools, religious schools, and youth groups promoting vegetarianism through humane and environmental education. I think it would be a great way to also promote the film, as I could distribute copies to the audiences, as
well as show it, when time permits.

Thanks for anything you can come up with.

Judith Gottesman, MSW
If you have suggestions for helping Judith find the necessary funding, please let me know, or let Judith know at She would show A SACRED DUTY whenever possible, as part of her efforts. Thanks.

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7. New Book on Animal Rights Receiving Wide Praise

Reviews of “Thanking the Monkey” are below:

Library Journal Reviews - January 15, 2008

BYLINE: Melody Ballard

SECTION: REVIEWS; Science and Technology; Pg. 128

Los Angeles-based animal-rights activist Dawn's opinion pieces have been published in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times; she is presently the author of the daily e-newsletter DawnWatch ( Sensitive and informative, her first book, while encompassing all aspects of animal rights, focuses on animal exploitation. Dawn's view is not only uniquely free of overt sensationalism but factual. She covers cultural differences, historical practices, and a balance of divergent views on the ways animals are raised and used. Sections include "Slaves to Love-Pets," "All the World's a Cage-Animal Entertainment," "Zoos-It's No Jungle in There," "Fashion Victims," "Deconstructing Dinner," and "Animal Anonymous-On Animal Testing." Dawn manages, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, to intersperse bits of humor throughout, primarily through cartoons. A riveting text you'll be sure to want to read; highly recommended for public libraries and other libraries with collections focusing on animal rights.-Melody Ballard, Pima Cty. P.L., Tucson, AZ


BYLINE: Nancy Bent

A fun book about the animal-rights movement? Dawn, an activist and author (online and print), has produced an easily digested, sound-bite-laden primer to all sides and gradations of the crusade for animal rights. In short, easy sections, Dawn works through all of the arenas in which animals are used or exploited as well as the differences in philosophy within the movement itself. She covers essential topics, such as the owning of pets (in the chapter “Slaves to Love”), and doesn’t stop with the more numerous dogs and cats but also questions keeping birds, fish, and reptiles in cages. She also acknowledges the positive sides of pet keeping, using the abandonment of pets by aid workers and the consequent stress on their owners as an example. The author takes a similarly nuanced look at zoos and circuses, the fashion industry, animals as food, and animal testing, finishing with a look at the similarities and differences between
environmentalists and animal activists with examples of animal activism in action. Well illustrated with numerous drawings and cartoons. An excellent introduction.

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8. Animal Law Lecture Series Scheduled

Dear Richard

I am pleased to provide you with additional information regarding the 2008UNSW/Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series, which begins next week. As you may have already noted, this year, our international guest lecturer is Raj Panjwani, one of India’s leading animal protection lawyers.

Mr Panjwani will be delivering the keynote public lecture for the Series at
the University of New South Wales Law School from 6.30pm on Thursday 22 May . The lecture will include a panel discussion by Professor David Weisbrot AM (President of the Australian Law Reform Commission), Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan (Specialist in Animal Welfare Public Policy based at the University of Melbourne) and Tara Ward (Lecturer in Animal Law at UNSW).

An online registration form for the event is available at: and the full schedule for the speaking tour can be viewed at

Attached is a copy of our flyer for the occasion and our press release. You may also like to visit the Lecture Series webpages at:

Thanks for your support in promoting this event - I greatly appreciate it.

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9. Global Warming Having Major Effects on Wildlife

World's wildlife and environment already hit by climate change, major study shows

• 90% of damage caused by rising temperatures
• Conclusions based on reports going back to 1970

This article appeared in the Guardian on Thursday May 15 2008

Global warming is disrupting wildlife and the environment on every continent, according to an unprecedented study that reveals the extent to which climate change is already affecting the world's ecosystems.

Scientists examined published reports dating back to 1970 and found that at least 90% of environmental damage and disruption around the world could be explained by rising temperatures driven by human activity.

Big falls in Antarctic penguin populations, fewer fish in African lakes, shifts in American river flows and earlier flowering and bird migrations in Europe are all likely to be driven by global warming, the study found.

The team of experts, including members of the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) from America, Europe, Australia and China, is the first to formally link some of the most dramatic changes to the world's wildlife and habitats with human-induced climate change.

In the study, which appears in the journal Nature, researchers analysed reports highlighting changes in populations or behaviour of 28,800 animal and plant species. They examined a further 829 reports that focused on different environmental effects, including surging rivers, retreating glaciers and shifting forests, across the seven continents.

To work out how much - or if at all - global warming played a role, the scientists next checked historical records to see what impact natural variations in local climate, deforestation and changes in land use might have on the ecosystems and species that live there.

In 90% of cases the shifts in wildlife behaviour and populations could only be explained by global warming, while 95% of environmental changes, such as melting permafrost, retreating glaciers and changes in river flows were consistent with rising temperatures.

"When we look at all these impacts together, it is clear they are across continents and endemic. We're getting a sense that climate change is already changing the way the world works," said lead author Cynthia Rosenzweig, head of the climate impacts group at Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

Most of the reports examined by the team were published between 1970 and 2004, during which time global average temperatures rose by around 0.6C. The latest report from the IPCC suggests the world is likely to warm between 2C and 6C by the end of the century.

"When you look at a map of the world and see where these changes are already happening, and how many species and systems are already responding to climate change after only a 0.6C rise, it just heightens our concerns for the future," Rosenzweig said. "It's clear we have to adapt to climate change as well as try to mitigate it. It's real and it's happening now."


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10. Resolution on Global Warming/Suggestions Welcome


Documented Drafted by Vegetarian Union of North America for Consideration at the 2008 World Vegetarian Conference

Whereas global warming is arguably the biggest social, political economic, moral, and environmental problem facing our planet and its inhabitants; and

Whereas there are almost daily reports regarding record heat, wildfires, an increase in the number and severity of storms, droughts, the melting of glaciers, permafrost, and polar ice caps, rising sea levels, flooding, endangered species, spreading diseases, shrinking lakes, submerged islands, and environmental refugees; and

Whereas, while a small number of individuals argue against global warming, there is a scientific and environmental consensus - among all major scientific and environmental organizations, journals, and magazines, and all peer-reviewed scholarly articles - that global warming is real, serious, worsening, and caused by human activity; and

Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fourth Assessment Report in February 2007, which was researched and written by about 2,500 climate scientists over the past six years and vetted by over 130 governments, carefully delineates clear trends and potentially catastrophic consequences associated with climate change, warning of the possibility of irreversible change, unless we make concerted efforts to counter global warming; and

Whereas several leading experts, including James Hansen of NASA and physicist Stephen Hawking, perhaps the most famous living scientist, as well as Al Gore, warn that global climate change may reach a 'tipping point' and spiral out of control within a decade, with disastrous consequences, if current conditions continue; and

Whereas a recent 700-page British government report, authored by a former chief economist for the World Bank, projects losses of up to 20% of world gross domestic product by 2050, unless 1% of current world domestic product is devoted to combating global climate change; and

Whereas the US Pentagon states that global warming is a larger threat than even terrorism, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has said that climate change needs to be taken as seriously as war and, further, that “changes in our environment and the resulting upheavals from droughts to inundated coastal areas to loss of arable land are likely to become a major driver of war and conflict,” and a 2007 report by eleven retired US admirals and generals indicated that refugees fleeing droughts, floods, storms and wildfires caused by global warming make instability, violence , terrorism and war more likely; and

Whereas the November 2006 390-page report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), entitled “Livestock's Long Shadow” []. states that animal-based agriculture causes approximately 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to all of the cars, trucks, planes, ships and other means of transportation combined (!3.5%); and

Whereas that UN report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years, and that increase would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions that will negate the effects of many positive changes, making it impossible to reach the reductions in overall greenhouse gas emissions that experts feel is necessary to avoid the worse effects of global climate change; and

Whereas animal based-diets also contribute to an epidemic of diseases, the mistreatment of billions of animals on factory farms, water shortages, many environmental threats and other negative effects;

The International Vegetarian Congress resolves:

To urge its member societies and individuals to make it a priority to work to increase awareness of the severe threats of global warming and other environmental problems, and the urgency of a major switch toward vegetarian, and preferably vegan, diets to reduce these threats.

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11. SPNI Report: One Quarter of Israeli Nesting Birds are in Danger

By Zafrir Rinat, HaAretz


The situation of over 20 species of birds in Israel has worsened considerably in recent years, and one-quarter of local nesting species are facing various levels of threats - and possibly extinction.

These are the conclusions of a report released ahead of the Jerusalem Environment and Nature Conference, sponsored by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and opening today in the capital. The report, prepared by Dan Alon and Yoav Perlman of the SPNI's Israel Ornithological Center, cites changes that have affected the status of birds since publication six years ago of "The Red Book" (the list of endangered fauna in Israel).

Since publication of the book, the report states, the situation of 21 bird species has worsened, while that of only two has improved, and 13 species that were not in danger before are defined as such today. Particularly noticeable is the worsening plight of desert birds such as the hoopoe lark and the pin-tailed sandgrouse, which are affected by the development of agriculture in various parts of the Negev. In total, there are currently 18 species in Israel facing a serious threat of extinction, and there is a high probability that they will disappear completely within a few years, if no measures to save them are implemented.

The report further notes that several of the larger local birds of prey are under serious threat: There are only a few remaining pairs of golden eagles, which have been severely affected by poisonings, electrocution and nest robbing in areas of the Palestinian Authority.

- - -

Full story:


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12. Petition Drive to Stop European Union Subsidies to “Livestock Agriculture'

Stop EU subsidies to livestock industry

In the last fifty years, in Europe and elsewhere in the developed countries, there has been an exponential growth in the consumption of animal products (meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products). These foods are consumed at each meal in every household; quite unlike 50 years ago, when these were rare food items. Today these items cost extremely little, with respect to production costs, often even less than vegetable products, which inevitably require far less raw materials, energy and labor.

This is because farmers and fishermen receive direct and indirect funding both from the state and the European Union; in effect, what we do not pay for at the cash register we pay for in taxes. It is also paid for by those who choose not to buy animal products.

This is all the more serious as the consequences of the high consumption of meat, food and other animal products are greater on the environment, on human health and on the development of poorer countries. It would be justifiable and positive if individual states and the European Community supported and promoted only the consumption of foods that are healthy and have little environmental impact. Instead they do so with foods whose production has a devastating impact... and this is neither acceptable nor justifiable. It is up to us citizens to put an end to this situation and press for a more farsighted, sensible and sustainable policy in this matter, which will protect the environment and human health rather than harm them as it does now.

What we propose is to reverse this self-destructive trend, resulting in the following steps.

1. Put an end to every kind of subsidy for breeding, fishing, crop cultivations intended for farmed animals feed;

2. Charge for the purchase of farmed animals feed;

3. Ensure that the animal products the final consumer buys show their real price, not distorted by subsidies and other facilities granted to the producers and that also includes the environmental cost for the enormous negative impact of breeding (internalization of costs).

4. Put an end to campaigns for the promotion of animal products consumption financed by public money;

5. To support, with subsidies and information campaigns, the consumption of healthy plant-based food, to be less expensive for the final consumer, an easily obtainable result after the withdrawal of the enourmous costs of subsidies to farming and fishing.

We propose in the meantime a petition in support of Point 1 of this series of proposals.

The petition has the purpose to both bring forward this issue with the European Parliament and to raise the matter in various areas, because not enough attention is ever put to how damaging the practice of farming is and how therefore unacceptable it is to finace it with public funding.

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