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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