August 11, 2008

8/10/2008 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. JVNA Mentioned in “Vegetarian Times” Magazine

3. Refuting Myths About Vegan and Other Diets

4. Why Our Oceans May be Virtually Devoid of Fish by 2048

5. Land Erosion Threatens Future Food Supplies

6. Israel Faces Worse Water Crisis in 80 Years

7. Eating Meat Is Worse Than Driving a Truck ... for the Climate

8. Tropical Warming Tied to Flooding Rains

9. Lewis Regenstein Letter and My Letter re Agriprocessors

10. Healthier Diets Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

11. Action Alert: Campaign to Get Presidential Candidates to Oppose Mistreatment of Animals

12. Feast or Famine: Meat Production and World Hunger

13. Chance to Promote JVNA and A SACRED DUTY at a Hazon Carnival/Interested in Helping?

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

Please help get our highly acclaimed documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD shown by your local TV stations.

Our PR people are working on this. They now have commitments to show the movie if a local person will visit their station in Berkeley, California, Sacramento, California, Atlanta, Georgia or Silver City, New Mexico and indicate that they are willing to be a local sponsor and just sign a permission form. If you live in one of these cities and are willing to help on this (it would just take a very short time -- probably well under an hour, and no costs for you), please let me know. This would be VERY helpful. In addition to increasing viewership, it would make A SACRED DUTY eligible for some awards.

If you live in another city and would be willing to be a local sponsor of A SACRED DUTY, please let me know, and our PR people would check on the willingness of your local TV station to show the movie.

As you know, we live in a very perilous time, and it is essential that, among other things, A SACRED DUTY be seen as widely as possible.

Suggestions VERY welcome, as always.

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2. JVNA Mentioned in “Vegetarian Times” Magazine

Vegetarian Times (Sept. 2008) has their monthly "carrot & stick" column on page 56. The last stick goes to the Agriprocessors Postville, Iowa “glatt kosher” slaughterhouse. It cites some problems with the meat-processing plant (various abuses and violations) and concludes:

"The Jewish Labor Committee called for a boycott of Agriprocessors; the Jewish Vegetarians of North America suggests a meatless diet as the best solution for those wanting to keep kosher. 'A major shift toward veganism would be a significant step in effectively responding to the current food crises and other societal problems,' JVNA says."

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3. Refuting Myths About Vegan and Other Diets

Why Vegan Is The New Atkins

by Kathy Freston

If you're wondering about the recent articles claiming that a study found that high-protein diets help lose weight and drop cholesterol, please take a closer look. First, the "low fat" diet that was compared to the high-protein one in this study was a full 30 percent fat, which is not low-fat as the phrase is used by any of the top nutritionists and scientists who are using low-fat diets to help people
lose weight and keep it off. Second, the study organizers encourage people to eat vegetarian protein sources, not the animal products encouraged by Atkins and South Beach . I don't know about you, but it seems amiss to me for the media to portray this as a pro-Atkins study, really, since most of us consider Atkins to be meat-based, and shouldn't the media help us to better understand the science?

Best-selling health writer and nutrition guru Dr. Dean Ornish wrote a good explanation for Newsweek <> on why the reporting on this study was really quite misleading; he does his usual excellent job of really explaining what's so, as he did in the foreword (read it here <> ) to his brilliant New York Times bestseller, Eat More, Weigh Less <> . I am reminded of the fact that it's been three years since Atkins Nutritionals filed for bankruptcy. And if you're local grocery market is like mine, those once-omnipresent packaged foods with the "no-carb" labels are now harder and harder to find--with good reason, it seems to me. While the South Beach Diet books and foods haven't gone away, probably because it gets some things right (i.e., it recommends less meat and cutting out simple carbs--both excellent pieces of advice), its popularity should wane as the scientific consensus grows that if you want to maintain a healthy weight and fight off disease, the best diet is a truly low-fat diet (more like 10-15 percent of calories from fat) based primarily on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. The South Beach diet is certainly a big improvement on the standard American diet (rightly called SAD), but it's a half-measure, as Ornish and others are teaching us. Indeed, if food industry statistics, celebrity interest and the success of books like Skinny Bitch and (ok, here's a little self promotion!) my own Quantum Wellness <> are any indication, there's a growing shift toward healthy, plant-based diets, especially among people looking to lose weight and keep it off.

All of this is music to the ears of independent, qualified nutrition experts, who object to the "low-carb" diets. I'm not going to overload you with a tome of scientific evidence about why low-carb diets are bad for us. If you are looking for more in-depth information on the topic,

I highly recommend checking out Run by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the website documents the health consequences of diets high in animal flesh, eggs and dairy, and lists the long history of grave concerns raised by medical experts, including an American Dietetic Association spokesperson calling Atkins "a nightmare diet".

Kathy Freston is a self-help author and personal growth and spirituality counselor. Her most recent book is Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness <> (Weinstein 2008).

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4. Why Our Oceans May be Virtually Devoid of Fish by 2048

Forwarded message: From: Jim Robertson


According to the UBS Fisheries Centre in Vancouver, B.C., despite rampant over-fishing and depletion of world fish populations, globally, we are now feeding 14 million tons of edible wild-caught fish to factory farm animals, like pigs and chickens, each year. That amounts to over six times the amount of fish the entire U.S. population eats annually. Wild fish fed to animals on a massive scale include perfectly edible anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and herring, which are ground into a cheap fishmeal and sold for animal feed. In other words a protein source is being fed to animals on corporate farms with a 90% energy loss. Given the global food crisis and the over-harvesting of many of the ocean's commercial fish varieties, careful analysis of resource use by the global industrial food complex is becoming a life or death imperative.

Learn more:

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5. Land Erosion Threatens Future Food Supplies

From: Reuters
July 2, 2008

Some 1.5 bln people may starve due to land erosion

MILAN (Reuters) - Rising land degradation reduces crop yields and may threaten food security of about a quarter of the world' population, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Wednesday.

Food security has been highlighted in recent months as soaring crop prices resulting from poor harvests, low stocks, high fuel prices and rising demand, risks causing starvation for millions of people in the developing world.

"An estimated 1.5 billion people, or a quarter of the world's population, depend directly on land that is being degraded," FAO said in a statement presenting a study based on data taken over a 20-year period.

Long-term land degradation has been increasing around the world and affects more than 20 percent of all cultivated areas, 30 percent of forests and 10 percent of grasslands, FAO said

Land erosion leads to reduced productivity, migration, food insecurity, damage to basic resources and ecosystems, loss of biodiversity and also contributes to increasing emission of heat-trapping gases, the Rome-based agency said.

"The loss of biomass and soil organic matter releases carbon into the atmosphere and affects the quality of soil and its ability to hold water and nutrients," said Parviz Koohafkan, director of FAO's Land and Water Division.

According to the study, land degradation is being driven mainly by poor land management.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova, Editing by Peter Blackburn)

2007. Copyright Environmental News Network

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6. Israel Faces Worse Water Crisis in 80 Years

Forwarded message from the Jewish National Fund (JNF):

Israel's water situation is facing “the worst crisis in 80 years,” said Uri Shani, director of the Israel Water Authority at a news conference in Israel. “Israel's major sources of drinking water, including the Sea of Galilee and the mountain aquifer, are below their 'red lines,' meaning they are not recommended to draw water.”

Another large water source, the coastal aquifer, has fallen below its "black line" -- if additional water is drawn it could suffer serious damage. The mountain aquifer is likely to reach its black line this year, Shani said.

Shani said the Sea of Galilee also would reach its black line by December. It is not possible to pump water from the sea at that point since the pipes are unable to reach the water.

He added that long-range weather forecast predictions tell an equally grim story for next year.

To alleviate this unprecedented crisis, the Water Authority has started to pump water from tributaries that empty into the Sea of Galilee -- water that was not expected to reach the sea or be used until 2010.

Additional facts:

Israel's total water consumption today stands at around 2 billion cubic meters of water per year. JNF reservoirs supply some 16% of the country's overall water consumption and some 40% of its water for agricultural purposes.

By the year 2020 the population of Israel is expected to grow by another three million people. This means that the country will require another 300 million cubic meters of drinking water in order to cope with this population growth and the ever-rising standard of living.

What can you do?

Water can't be manufactured but it can be held in reserve and recycled.

To date, JNF has built 200 reservoirs across Israel, adding 250 million cubic meters of treated water and flood water to Israel's national water economy. (Some JNF reservoirs capture rainwater and flood runoff, which would otherwise be lost to the sea, for irrigation and to enrich underground aquifers.) That irrigates over 450 thousand dunam - about 112 thousand acres - of orchards and field crops supplying about 40% of Israel's agricultural needs thereby alleviating the pressure of supplying drinking water to the population.

We need to build more. Without water, the essence of life, Israel can't survive. Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of Israel's people.

* JNF's research on the uses of recycled water, as well as the continued building of reservoirs all over the country, are an immediate and most effective response to alleviating Israel's water predicament and are an integral part of its plans for supplying water over the long term.

o Currently, nearly 90 billion gallons of waste water in Israel is not getting recycled. JNF has committed to building another 20 reservoirs over the next two years.


Can Israel Find the Water It Needs?

Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times

A drought has intensified Israel's water troubles. At Kibbutz Ein Zivan, farmers tore apples from trees to save water.
Published: August 9, 2008

A SOUVENIR in the corner of Doron Ovits's office attests to the challenges of farming in Israel.

It's a mangled piece of metal, and Mr. Ovits says it came from a rocket that landed in a field recently, lobbed from the nearby Gaza Strip.

But Mr. Ovits may have a bigger long-term problem than rockets.

Israel is running short of water. A growing population and rising incomes have increased demand for fresh water, while a four-year drought has created what Shalom Simhon, the agriculture minister, calls “a deep water crisis.”

The problem isn't only in Israel. Many arid regions of the globe, including the American West, are dealing with growing populations and shrinking water supplies. Global warming could make matters even worse.

In a speech earlier this year, the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said the shortage of water could lead to violence.
“Our experiences tell us that environmental stress, due to lack of water, may lead to conflict and would be greater in poor nations,” he said. “Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon.” Some economists suggest that arid countries should focus on growing only those crops that give them a competitive advantage, like water-sipping grapes and vegetables, and buy everything else on the world market.

But the recent volatility and high prices in commodity markets have made many world leaders reluctant to rely on global markets. Some oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia are now shopping for farmland in more fertile countries like Sudan and Pakistan.

Others are now more determined than ever to increase their own food production, Israel among them. The question now becomes, at what cost?

“The greatest challenge we face is to try and reduce the dependence on the import of grains, whether by increasing local production or whether by making more efficient use of raw materials in feeding livestock,” Mr. Simhon said in an e-mail exchange. “This must be done, despite all limitations, mainly the lack of water.”
Israel has always been considered to be at the forefront of water efficiency in agriculture. Modern drip irrigation was invented in Israel, and Israeli companies like Netafim now ship drip-irrigation systems all over the world.

Israel has also aggressively pursued the use of treated sewer water for irrigation. Mr. Ovits's tomatoes and peppers, for instance, are irrigated with recycled sewer water that he says is “even cleaner than the drinking water.”

For all the country's efforts though, it can't control the weather. But Israeli officials say they believe they have a solution.

Agriculture in Israel now consumes 500 million cubic meters of potable water and an equal amount of other types of water, primarily treated sewer water. The country plans to provide a further 200 million cubic meters of recycled sewer water and build more desalination plants to supply even more water.

“If the desalination and recycling projects are implemented, a lack of water is not expected in 2013,” Mr. Simhon said.

But is such an investment wise for a sector that contributes just 2 percent to the gross domestic product? Some critics suggest that Israel would be better off focusing on conservation.

Others have predicted a dire future. The chief scientist in the environment ministry, Yeshayahu Bar-Or, was quoted in The Economist in June as predicting that global warming would cause 35 percent less rainfall, contamination of underground water sources and pollution of the Sea of Galilee, this nation's largest source of fresh water.

In the Golan Heights, Roni Kedar, 46, hopes his farm can survive long enough for a solution.

As a farmer for Kibbutz Ein Zivan, which abuts the Syrian border, he has spent the last 30 years trying to conserve water while growing grapes, apples, flowers and berries.

HIS crops are irrigated with treated sewer water and rain runoff that is captured in a nearby reservoir, which is now severely depleted. He grows plants that do not require much water and feeds them with irrigation lines that drip water directly onto a plant's roots, minimizing waste. And he is now experimenting in his apple orchards with mesh nets that may further prevent evaporation.

But because of the drought, Israeli officials have cut the kibbutz's annual quota of water. This year's cuts were particularly harsh, to 1 million cubic meters from 1.8 million, forcing Mr. Kedar to tear out some of his orchards and rip the fruit off of some of his apple trees, to keep the trees alive but preserve water.

“I don't even like to go there. It's a disaster,” he said, motioning toward an apple orchard where the fruit covers the ground. “We just threw everything to the floor and hope that next year is better.”

He estimated that he would not harvest a third of his fields because of the water restrictions. “The decision is really simple. You choose the part of your fields that are hardest to get water to and you destroy them.”
“We just don't have enough water,” he said later. “It's frustrating because you work hard to make it grow. The point is to be big and efficient enough to survive. But right now it's hard.”

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7. Eating Meat Is Worse Than Driving a Truck ... for the Climate

Article byy Frances Cerra Whittelsey, The Nation. Posted August 6, 2008.

[This is another example of increasing consciousness of dietary connections to global climate change.]

Reducing our meat consumption may not be popular, but we need to view our love affair with burgers in the same frame as gas-guzzling SUVs.

Only three years ago there was such a surplus of corn in the Midwest that it became a joke. Someone pasted the image of a skier into a photo of a mountainous pile of the stuff, labeled it " Ski Iowa," and e-mailed
it around the Internet to hand everyone a laugh -- except the farmers, of course. At the time, turning all that unwanted corn into ethanol to
replace gasoline seemed like a great idea.

But that was then. Today, corn ethanol has become the bad-boy alternative to petroleum, criticized for driving up food prices, destroying rain forests and worsening climate change. For good measure, the criticism is usually leveled at biofuels in general, even though the other category of biofuel -- biodiesel -- is not made from corn and has a much more beneficial climate-improving profile. For some environmentalists, the only acceptable green energy options are wind, solar and geothermal power. Former Vice President Al Gore recently challenged America to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels in ten years by shifting electricity production to those three ideal options. Along the way, he suggested assisting auto makers to build plug-in cars and phase out gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

However, even if this utopia can be achieved in a decade -- and I fervently hope that it can -- Americans are stuck with cars they wish they could plug in but can't. America and the world will need liquid fuels for a long time to come, and biofuels, including some corn ethanol made at the most efficient distilleries, offer a far better option than continued use of fossil fuels.

Biofuel critics, including the Grocery Manufacturers of America, often frame the problem as a choice between feeding people and feeding SUVs; they blame rising food prices on diverting food crops to fuel production. The trade group has mounted a public relations campaign to try to roll back high Congressional mandates for increasing use of ethanol. While concern about rising food prices is certainly justified, for grocery manufacturers the argument is also self-serving. Food manufacturers make their profits not on raw vegetables or commodities like cooking oil but on processed foods, and they want to direct public anger about food price inflation away from themselves. Packaging, processing, advertising, transportation and profits account for most of the price of processed foods, and the surging price of oil figures heavily in that mix. The cost of corn, even as the major ingredient in a food like corn flakes, accounts for a tiny fraction of the final price.

But it's false to frame the biofuel debate as a choice between people or SUVs. While there are daily references in the media to the diversion of corn to fuel-making, there's hardly ever a mention of the fact that feeding our livestock uses 50 percent to 60 percent of the American corn crop. Here are the calculations used by the US Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service for how much corn animals must be fed to produce a pound of meat for retail sale: seven pounds of corn equals one
pound of beef; six-and-a-half pounds of corn equals one pound of pork; two and six-tenths pounds of corn equals one pound of chicken. (Meat industry estimates are lower but generally refer to the amount of corn necessary to make the live animal gain a pound, not the amount necessary to get a pound of food in the meat case.) Corn is a dietary staple in parts of the world like Mexico, but not here in the United States, where the answer to "What's for dinner?" is supposed to be "beef." Talk about feeding SUVs or people is deceptive, since it masks the intermediate step of feeding animals a whole lot of corn to get one steak dinner.

Even more hidden from public view is the role of animal feeding in global warming. The shocking fact is that production of beef, pork and poultry is a bigger part of the climate problem than the cars and trucks we drive, indeed of the whole transportation sector. In our fantasies -- and ads -- we see contented cows eating grass, but the fact is all but a lucky few spend much of their lives in dismal feedlots where grass does not grow, getting fat on corn and other unspeakable byproducts. Internationally, two-thirds of the earth's available agricultural land is used to raise animals and their feed crops, primarily corn and soybeans, and the trend is accelerating as people in Latin America and Asia increasingly demand an Americanized diet rich in meat. The need to grow more animal feed and more animals has been devastating rainforests and areas like Brazil's Cerrado region, the world's most biologically diverse savannah, long before the demand for biofuels began escalating.

It's What We Eat

Vegetarians have long understood this issue, but asking the American public to eat less meat is still a radical idea, politically untouchable. Yet the meat industry is a giant source of greenhousegases, of which carbon dioxide is only one, and not the most dangerousone. All those steer feedlots and factory buildings crammed with pigs and chickens produce immense amounts of animal wastes that give offmethane. On an equivalent basis to carbon dioxide, methane istwenty-three times more potent as a greenhouse gas. When you add in theproduction of fertilizer and other aspects of animal farming (including land use changes, feed transport, etc.) livestock farming is responsible for nearly one-fifth of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transportation sector, according to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Article forwarded by Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D., fiction writer, speaker, essayist, publisher. Micah Publications ( is the source for Jewish vegetarian and animal rights books. See website for these and other titles.

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8. Tropical Warming Tied to Flooding Rains

Published: August 7, 2008 NY Times
Scientists studying variations in tropical heat and rainfall since the mid-1980s have found a strong link between warm periods and a rise in the frequency of the most extreme downpours.

The observed rise in the heaviest tropical rains is about twice that produced by computer simulations used to assess how human-caused global warming could change rainfall, said the researchers.

Other studies have already measured a rise in recent decades in heavy rains in areas as varied as North America and India, and climatologists have long forecast more heavy rainstorms in a world warmed by accumulating greenhouse gases.

But this analysis, using satellite measurements, is the first to find a strong statistical link between warmth and extreme tropical downpours, the researchers said.

The study was published Thursday in the online journal Science Express. The authors were Richard P. Allan of the University of Reading in England and Brian J. Soden at the University of Miami.

While a general relationship between warming and more flooding rains is already widely accepted, the new paper is important “because it uses observations to demonstrate the sensitivity of extreme rainfall to temperature,” said Anthony J. Broccoli, the director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University.

“Such changes in extreme rainfall are quite important in my view, as flash flooding is produced by the extreme rain events,” Dr. Broccoli added. “In the U.S., flooding is a greater cause of death than lightning or tornadoes, and presumably poses similar risks elsewhere.”

In developing countries, cities with poor drainage routinely grind to a halt and see outbreaks of waterborne disease after extreme rainstorms. Such downpours have been estimated in some such countries to blunt economic growth by several percent, according to World Bank experts on disasters.

The new study analyzed 20 years of data from NASA satellites measuring tropical rainfall through several cycles of El Nino events. The periodic hot spells in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and contrasting cooler La Nina episodes, can influence weather from North America to Southeast Asia.

The rise in frequency of the heaviest rains (the top one percent of downpours) was accompanied by diminishing light rains, the scientists reported.

Overall, the work paints a portrait of a warming world producing more of the most destructive tropical flash floods than climatologists had realized, Dr. Soden said.

Many experts in disaster management have increasingly warned that global warming is likely to pose an outsized threat to poor countries around the tropics, which cannot handle weather extremes now, let alone what may be coming later in the century.
Dr. Soden agreed that wealthier places were likely more able to deal with such risks. “The better your infrastructure for dealing with extremes, the less vulnerable you are,” he said.

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9. Lewis Regenstein Letter and My Letter re Agriprocessors

A shorter version by Lewis Regenstein, author and JVNA advisor, appeared in the August 8, 2008 NY Jewish Week:

Cruelty is Not Kosher

To the Editor:

It is truly ironic, and shameful, that cruel treatment of workers and animals have long been undertaken, in the name of Jewish law, at the Postville, Iowa slaughter plant ("Dark Meat", Aug. 6, by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld).

Any discussion of this issue should focus on this fundamental fact, which the Rabbi ignores: the Jewish religion has strict laws and teachings forbidding cruelty to animals. In fact, there is an entire code of laws (the requirement "to prevent the suffering of living creatures") mandating that other creatures be treated with compassion.

Indeed, the Jews invented the concept of kindness to animals some 4,000 years ago, and it is mandated throughout the Bible and Jewish law. Even the holiest of our laws, The Ten Commandments, requires that farm animals be allowed to enjoy a day of rest on the Sabbath. So the Almighty must have felt that kindness to animals was not a trivial matter.

Significantly, the first commandments given by the Lord (Genesis 1:22-28) concern the welfare and survival of animals, and human responsibilities toward them. God's very first commandment (Genesis 1:22) was to the birds, whales, fish and other creatures to "be fruitful and multiply" and fill the seas and the skies. His first commandment to humans (Genesis 1:28) was to "replenish the earth...and have dominion" [stewardship] over other creatures.

Jews are not allowed to pass by an animal in distress or to ignore animals being mistreated, even on the Sabbath. Yet this is exactly what we do when we certify as kosher products from animals that are treated cruelly .

It is truly a shanda, a shameful thing, that we endorse the massive abuse and suffering of many billions of factory farmed creatures, many of which spend their entire lives in misery, fear, and anguish, in addition to the cruel way they are killed.

As Proverbs 12:10 tell us, "A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast."

Sincerely yours,

Lewis Regenstein
Atlanta, GA

The writer is the author of "Replenish the Earth: The Teachings of the World's Religions on Protecting Animals and Nature," and president of The Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature.

My letter to the editor:

August 8, 2008

Dear Editor:

Recent allegations re improper activities at the Postville, Iowa glatt kosher slaughterhouse should be a wake-up call to the many moral issues related to animal-based diets. Even if conditions at the slaughterhouse are greatly improved, we should still consider that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products: (1) violate basic Jewish teachings to protect human health, treat animals properly, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people; (2) contribute to heart disease, many types of cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases; and (3) contribute to global warming and other environmental problems that threaten humanity.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz

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10. Healthier Diets Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this article to us:

Eating Less Meat And Junk Food Could Cut Fossil Energy Fuel Use Almost In Half

ScienceDaily (July 24, 2008) - Study finds a healthier diet and a return to traditional farming can help reduce energy consumption in US food system by 50 percent.

An estimated 19 percent of total energy used in the USA is taken up in the production and supply of food. Currently, this mostly comes from non-renewable energy sources which are in short supply. It is therefore of paramount importance that ways of reducing this significant fuel consumption in the US food system are found.

David Pimentel and his colleagues at Cornell University in New York set out a number of strategies which could potentially cut fossil energy fuel use in the food system by as much as 50 percent.

The first, and very astute, suggestion they put forward is that individuals eat less, especially considering that the average American consumes an estimated 3,747 calories a day, a staggering 1200-1500 calories over recommendations. Traditional American diets are high in animal products, and junk and processed foods in particular, which by their nature use more energy than that used to produce staple foods such as potatoes, rice, fruits and vegetables. By just reducing junk food intake and converting to diets lower in meat, the average American could have a massive impact on fuel consumption as well as improving his or her health.

Further savings are possible in the food production industry. The authors suggest that moving towards more traditional, organic farming methods would help because conventional meat and dairy production is extremely energy intensive. Similarly, in crop production, reduced pesticide use, increased use of manure, cover crops and crop rotations improve energy efficiency.

Finally, changes to methods of food processing, packaging and distribution could also help to reduce fuel consumption. Although well-established energy-saving considerations in lighting, heating and packaging materials all have their part to play, the authors again highlight individual responsibility as having the biggest impact. They contend that the most dramatic reduction in energy used for food processing would come about if consumers reduced their demand for highly processed foods. This would also help cut down food miles and its related fuel cost as US food travels an average of 2,400 km before it is consumed.

This study argues strongly that the consumer is in the strongest position to contribute to a reduction in energy use. As individuals embrace a `greener' lifestyle, an awareness of the influence their food choices have on energy resources might be added encouragement for them to buy good, local produce and avoid highly processed, heavily packaged and nutritionally inferior food. As well as leading to a cleaner environment, this would also lead to better health.

Journal reference:
1. Pimentel et al. Reducing Energy Inputs in the US Food
System. Human Ecology, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s10745-008-9184-3

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11. Action Alert: Campaign to Get Presidential Candidates to Oppose Mistreatment of Animals

PCRM Action Alert [PCRM = Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine]

Ask Sens. McCain and Obama

Dear Mr. Schwartz,

The presidential nominees are all but chosen, but what have you heard so far from any candidate that addresses the welfare and treatment of animals? I haven't heard a thing, nor have I found anything on the Web sites of either presumptive nominee.

That's why I am asking you to join me by signing a petition to both Sens. McCain and Obama asking them to tell us where they stand on an issue that is important to me-and I believe to you as well-the fact that the Food and Drug Administration does not mandate the use of proven alternatives to animal testing by companies applying for approval for their products.

Please click here to sign the petition, and forward to as many friends and family as you can.

Best regards,

Neal Barnard, M.D.

Neal Barnard, M.D.
PCRM President

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12. Feast or Famine: Meat Production and World Hunger

Hanging in the Newseum in Washington, DC, is a photo that is about as heart-rending an image as you're likely to find anywhere. Taken by Kevin Carter for The New York Times in 1993, the photo depicts a starving Sudanese toddler crumpled on the ground, as if her stick-like legs could no longer bear the weight of her large head and swollen stomach, bloated from the malnourishment disease called kwashiorkor. While that alone is disturbing, what makes the tableau truly haunting is the vulture patiently waiting just a few feet behind the emaciated child. This photograph earned Carter a Pulitzer Prize and epitomized the toll famine is taking on developing countries around the world.
"Food crisis," however, implies some recent, short-term cause and effect, when in fact the "perfect storm" of rising energy costs, grain hoarding, government subsidies, drought and the demand for biofuels diverts attention from an entrenched industry and a remedy neither the CSIS nor many social activists want to contemplate: eliminating meat production.

"Whoa!" you say. "Don't take away my steaks and cheeseburgers." Meat-eating is such an ingrained aspect of Western culture that proposing its demise, even to save the world, deserves some discussion. Fair enough.

The United Nations estimates that 854 million people -- nearly 13 percent of the world's human population -- go hungry every day. And the problem is only getting worse. Josette Sheeran, executive director of the UN's World Food Program, says, "The world's misery index is rising."

So is our hunger for meat. As Gene Baur observes in Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food, in 1950, 50,000 farms produced 630 million "meat" chickens in the United States. By 2005, the U.S. had 20,000 fewer farms -- but they were producing 8.7 billion chickens for meat. That's a lot of chicken feed. In fact, every year industrial animal factories in the U.S. feed 157 million metric tons of legumes, cereal and vegetable protein to livestock, resulting in 28 million metric tons of animal protein for human consumption. Nutritious plant-based food that could feed humans instead goes to feed animals in a very inefficient use of resources.
Here's another way to look at it. According to the aid group Vegfam, a ten-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, ten people growing corn and only two people producing cattle. Reducing meat production by just ten percent in the U.S. would free enough grain to feed 60 million people, estimates Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer. Sixty million people -- that's the population of Great Britain, which, by the way, could support 250 million people on an all-vegetable diet.
Are those steaks and cheeseburgers really worth all the lives they take -- human and non-human? It would be naïve to think the world will go vegetarian overnight, or even in a few decades. But looking at Carter's powerful photograph, I can't help but believe we have been woefully mistaken in how we treat those with whom we share this planet. If we hope to bequeath a sustainable world to future generations, we'll have to shake loose this meat-produced disaster and embrace a kinder way of living.

Mark Hawthorne is the author of Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism (

Mark Hawthorne is the author of "Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism" (O Books). Mark adopted a vegetarian lifestyle soon after an encounter with one of India's many cows in 1992 and went vegan a decade later. He was a contributing writer for Satya from 2004 until the magazine ceased publishing in June of 2007, and his articles, book reviews, essays and opinion pieces have also appeared in Herbivore, VegNews, Vegan Voice, Hinduism Today, Utne Reader and many daily newspapers across the United States. Among his current animal activism efforts, he is campaigning for the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (Prop 2), an historic ballot initiative that will ban the use of battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates in California (see for more information). Mark is a volunteer for Animal Place, a vegan education center and sanctuary for farmed animals in northern California, where he serves on the outreach advisory council. He is also involved in rabbit rescue and shares his vegetable crisper with five rescued rabbits. He writes a blog on activism at
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13. Chance to Promote JVNA and A SACRED DUTY at a Hazon Carnival/Interested in Helping?

Message to JVNA from a Hazon representative:

I am writing on behalf of Hazon and I would like to invite you to participate in a new event that we will be launching at our Labor Day bike ride this year. Following the first day of the ride (Sunday, August 31) we plan on having a large, fun carnival like fair. There will be food, music, and other fun activities. What will make it special is that we are inviting partner organizations, and other institutions that share a similar vision to participate. This presents an opportunity for you to reach out to a population that shares your values, to spread literature and build relationships. Now, this isn't an ordinary tabling fair - it's a carnival. The cost of admission - to prepare a carnival booth. It can be anything fun
you can dream of, face painting, pie tossing - your call. Come up with something new and exciting, and Hazon will even cover your costs, within reason.

Please let me know if you are interested, it would be great to have you there

Josh Frankel
My response to Josh:

Thanks for your kind invitation, Josh,

I will check with others involved with JVNA to see what they think.

Would Hazon be interested in any of the following, at the Fair or in general:

* Showing our one hour documentary A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World? On a screen or on a computer?

* A debate on Should Jews be Vegetarians?

* a Q&A session on Jewish teachings on Vegetarianism.

* A talk om "Judaism and Vegetarianism"

Please let me know the time and place of the carnival?

Many thanks, and best regards to Nigel,


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