December 17, 2008

12/14/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. My Newest Responsibility

2. A Chance to Reduce Your Taxes, Do a Mitzvah and Help Move Our Imperiled World to a Sustainable Path

3. Respectfully Challenging Rabbis re Vegetarianism

4. Respectfully Challenging Rabbis re Global Warming

5. Baltimore Jewish Times Publishes My Article “Is Fur a Jewish Issue?”

6. Establishing and Supporting Local Jewish Vegetarian Societies

7. Promoting an Animal-Friendly Secretary of Agriculture

8. Please listen to My Radio Interview on the Vegan Texas Program Today or Later

9. World Vegetarian Week Planned

10. Al Gore: Mideast Water Shortage is Part of Global Crisis

11. Hazon Schedules Major Food Conference

12. Draft of a Resolution on Global warming/Suggestions Very Welcome

13. Great Video Links Meat Production to Global Warming

14. Barack Obama Responds to a Challenging Question Re Veganism

15. Meat Abolition Day Announced

16. EarthSave Produces Vegan Documentary

17. Wonderful Video on Jewish Teachings on Compassion to Animals

18. Ten Strategies Toward a Vegetarian-Conscious World

19. Panel considers Ethical Issues Re Kashrut/NY Tmes Article

20. Cancer to Become World's Leading Killer Soon

21. Sharp Rise in World Hunger

22. “Climate Revolution” Needed to Avoid Catastrophe

23. Blog Item makes Impassioned Case For Vegetarianism to Reduce Global Warming

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. My Newest Responsibility

Because the threats to humanity are so great, I have taken on a new position, director of a new group “Veg Climate Alliance,” which has the objective of greatly increasing awareness of the major connection between animal-based agriculture and global warming. I am working with three wonderful activists, one from Germany and two from Australia, in getting this group off the ground Please visit our web site at, and let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for improvements.

[Of course, I will continue to edit this newsletter and to act as president of JVNA.]

The group plans to try to get many vegetarian, animal rights, environmental, health-related and other groups to become “partners” who generally support the groups objectives, who will be contacted for support of resolutions, press releases and other statements that will be sent to the media, national and international leaders, groups like the UN, etc.

Veg Climate Alliance's main message is that the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe, and a major shift to vegan (preferably locally grown, organic) diets is an important part of the steps necessary to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path. The group will do everything possible to cooperate with other groups to get this message out. There are no financial considerations at all involved with this initiative, as everything will be done on a completely voluntary basis, so there will be no dues or fes of any kind involved.

Comments and suggestions very welcome, as always. Thanks.

Return to Top

2. A Chance to Reduce Your Taxes, Do a Mitzvah and Help Move Our Imperiled World to a Sustainable Path

As the world continues on its rapid journey to an unprecedented catastrophe, it is essential that we increase awareness of the “inconvenient truth” that a shift to plant-based diets is an essential step to avoid planetary disaster..

We have truth, justice and morality on our side and our message is essential for planetary sustainability. But we are battling against major forces with vast amounts of money and major connections and against denial and resistance to even hear our message.

You can help us effectively get our messages out to much wider audiences by making a tax-deductible gift before the end of the year.

Please visit (bottom of the page and choose a methof of making a very badly needed contribution. Many thanks.

Please consider that in these perilous times the most important thing you can do for future generations is to support groups like JVNA that are working to shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path.

Return to Top

3. Respectfully Challenging Rabbis re Vegetarianism

Please consider sending some variation of my question and supporting material below to an “Ask the Rabbi' site on the internet and/or to your local rabbi. Also, please consider modifying appropriately and sending it to educators, other Jewish leaders, media people, etc. Thanks.

Shalom, Rabbi,

My question is:

In view of 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, and since animal-centered diets violate and contradict each of these responsibilities, shouldn't Jews (and others) sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of meat and other animal products.

Supporting material for this question:

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 grain, 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, while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

6) While Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that eventually lead to instability and war.

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.

Please note that the ideal times in the Jewish tradition, Gan Eden and the Messianic period are both depicted as vegetarian:

And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food."
Genesis 1:29

and Rav Kook believed that the Messianic period would be vegetarian, based on the prophecy of Isaiah:

The wolf will dwell with the lamb ...
The lion will eat straw like the ox ..
and no one shall hate or destroy in all of G-d's holy mountain.

Many thanks for your consideration,

Richard (Schwartz)

Return to Top

4. Respectfully Challenging Rabbis re Global Warming

Please consider sending some variation of my question and supporting material below to an “Ask the Rabbi' site on the internet and/or to your local rabbi. Also, please consider modifying appropriately and sending it to educators, other Jewish leaders, media people, etc. Thanks.

Shalom Rabbi:

My question is:

With Israel facing the worst drought in its history, and with the Israeli Union for Environmental defense projecting that, if present trends continue, global warming will result in Israel soon facing major heat waves, a reduction of rainfall of up to 30 percent, severe storms causing major flooding, and a rising Mediterranean Sea which would inundate the coastal plain where most Israelis live, shouldn't rabbis and other Jewish leaders stress the importance of major efforts to combat global warming?

Supporting material includes the following:

The threats are really worldwide. There are daily reports of severe droughts, storms, flooding and wildfires and about meltings of polar icecaps and glaciers. All this due to an average temperature increase of about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years, and global climate scientists are projecting an increase of from 3 to 11 degrees Farhrenheit in the next 100 years, and this would result in an unprecedented catastrophe for humanity.

Some climate scientists are warning that global warming could reach a tipping point and spin out of control in a few years, with disastrous consequences, unless major changes soon occur

Al Gore pointed out that the United States must free itself from fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources by 2018. He stressed the urgency of the change by stating: 'the survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,' and that 'The future of human civilization is at stake.'

When we read daily reports of the effects of global climate change, such as record heat waves, severe flooding, widespread droughts, unprecedented numbers of wild fires, and the melting of glaciers and polar icecaps; when some climate scientists are warning that global climate change may spin out of control with disastrous consequences unless major changes are soon made; when a recent report indicated that our oceans may be virtually free of fish by 2050; when species of plants and animals are disappearing at the fastest rate in history; when it is projected that half of the world's people will live in areas chronically short of water by 2050; it is essential that the Jewish community fulfill our mandate to be a “light unto the nations” and lead efforts to address these critical issues.

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) is urging that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. Judaism has splendid teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to the many current environmental threats.”

JVNA urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to make Jews aware of how animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

According to a UN Food and Agricultural Organization 2006 report, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships and other means of transportation worldwide combined. He also fails to mention that the number of farmed animals worldwide, currently about 60 billion, is projected to double in 50 years. If that happened, the increased greenhouse gas emissions would negate the effects of many positive changes that environmentalists support.

Further information about these issues can be found at the JVNA web site JVNA will provide complimentary copies of its new documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD and related materials to rabbis and other Jewish leaders who will contact them ( and indicate that they will use them to involve their congregations on the issues.

Return to Top

5. Baltimore Jewish Times Publishes My Article “Is Fur a Jewish Issue?”

Return to Top

6. Establishing and Supporting Local Jewish Vegetarian Societies

From time to time, we receive requests about local Jewish vegetarian societies. So, I think it would be valuable if we had a section at the JVNA web site with information about such groups. So, if you are a leader of a local Jewish vegetarian group, please send us information about it, including contact info. Thanks.

Also, if you are interested in starting such a group in an area where there is not yet one, please let me know and we will try to help you get it started.

Of course, please feel free to use any of the information at the JVNA web site(, including my over 130 articles at We will also be very happy to send you copies of our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

Please note that June Siegel-Hill is interested in starting a group in northern Virginia. Her email address is

Return to Top

7. Promoting an Animal-Friendly Secretary of Agriculture

Forwarded message from long-time animal rights activist Batya Bauman:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees a broad range of laws directly impacting the welfare of millions of animals, has more influence on how animals in the United States are treated than any other federal Department. It is critical that President Elect Obama appoint a new Secretary of Agriculture who will be animal-friendly.

The transition team for President Elect Obama is currently considering nominees for that post and should be announcing that appointment very soon (probably next week). On the "short" list for that appointment is former Texas Congressman Charles Stenholm.

Throughout his career, Stenholm has been extremely hostile to even the most modest animal protection reforms. For example, as a Congressman he lead the fight against banning the slaughter of sick and crippled ("downer") cattle, and voted against funding to enforce the federal animal fighting law. Stenholm is currently a paid lobbyist for agribusiness (and in particular, the horse slaughter industry). His positions on animal fighting, horse slaughter and the slaughter of "downer" cows are at odds with President Elect Obama's pronouncements on these issues.

At this critical moment of change in our country, please let the Obama transition team know of your objection to Charles Stenholm, and urge Obama to appoint a Secretary of Agriculture with a history of animal-friendly decision making.

Take Action!

Contact President Elect Obama through his website. Please use the information above to send a message urging Obama to oppose the appointment of Charles Stenholm as Secretary of Agriculture.

Please act quickly, as this decision will be made soon.

Forward this alert to your friends and neighbors and ask them to contact the transition team as well!

Thank you for taking action and spreading the word about this important issue!

Stephen Wells
ALDF Executive Director
Animal Legal Defense Fund
170 East Cotati Avenue, Cotati, CA 94931
Phone: (707) 795-2533 / Fax: (707) 795-7280 / E-mail: /

Contact information:

President-elect Barack Obama
Office of the President-elect
451 6th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004

Return to Top

8. Please listen to My Radio Interview on the Vegan Texas Program Today or Later

Our show will be broadcast on this Sunday, December 14 at 7:30pm Mountain Time on KTEP. It can be heard online by going to at that time. After that it will be archived for two months at

Return to Top

9. World Vegetarian Week Planned

Forwarded message:
Call for Action

October 01 to October 07 is the World Vegetarian Week. Countless organisations, in many countries, are joining this movement to promote a healthier, more humane and environmentally sustainable lifestlye.

You are also invited to get involved!

Why a Vegetarian Week?

With nearly daily reports of severe droughts, floods, storms and wildfires, with the rapid melting of glaciers and polar icecaps, and with climate scientists predicting increasingly warm temperatures, it is urgent that actions be taken soon to shift the world from its present unsustainable path to avoid the a huge catastrophe. And since many recent reports have shown the significant contributions of animal-based diets to global warming, it is essential that we do everything possible to work to get the urgency of dietary shifts onto the world's agenda.

Everyday is an excellent day to be a healthy and conscious vegetarian, but October 01 to 07 is a nice opportunity to double our efforts and campaign towards a better world:

1. October 01 is the World Vegetarian Day
2. October 04 is the World Animal Day

What you can do

As a non-profit organisation:

a. Send a press release about this week and your efforts to promote it;
b. Send op-ed articles to local media.
c. Invite other organisations to get involved;
d. Invite health stores, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses to promote the vegetarian week, e.g. having discounts or offering some vegetarian items for free;
e. Organise cooking demonstrations, talks, conferences or workshops;
f. Organise a parade or some public demonstration of veg food or art;
g. Create leaflets and posters and distribute them to stores, restaurants and other locations where many people go;
h. Create eCards or postcards that people can send to friends;
i. Send a newsletter about the week to all your members;
j. Start a letter writing campaign;
k. Organise a Love Earth Gathering on October 4th;

As a company:

1. Offer some vegetarian gifts to your employees or customers (e.g., a book);
2. Promote a workshop, talk, cooking demonstration or other activity related to vegetarianism;
3. Organise a vegetarian lunch or dinner for all your employees.

As an individual:

1) Send letters to newspapers or magazines, sharing your experience;
2) Participate in leaflet distributing events;
3) Invite your friends or family to a vegetarian dinner;
4) Join your local vegetarian organisation;
5) Ask for vegetarian meals and talk about the vegetarian week at your local restaurants;
6) Speak to local clergy, educators, media and other people, stressing the multiple benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle;

Where to start

1. Translate this message into your own language and forward it;
2. Visit, see what others are doing and what materials you can use;
3. Decide what you can do, as an individual, an organisation or a company;
4. Inform us about your plans, which we will then publish here and through the EVANA news system at Contact us.
5. Refresh and update your knowledge of vegetarian-related issues so you can be as effective a spokesperson as possible.

Return to Top

10. Al Gore: Mideast Water Shortage is Part of Global Crisis

Return to Top

11. Hazon Schedules Major Food Conference

A Sacred Duty” will be shown at this conference and JVNA advisor Roberta Schiff and one other JVNA volunteer will be attending and helping to promote vegetarianism and to give out complimentary copies of the documentary.

Please consider attending and helping to spread our message. Thanks.

Return to Top

12. Draft of a Resolution on Global warming/Suggestions Very Welcome


(Draft/Suggestions very welcome and all will be considered as we strive to obtain the best possible resolution)

* Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels are rapidly rising;
* Droughts are spreading in many areas of the world;
* The number and severity of storms, floods and wild fires is increasing;
* Glaciers are rapidly disappearing,
* Polar ice caps are melting far faster than projected
* The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects average
temperature increases of 3-11 degrees F in the next hundred years;
* Climate scientists argue global warming may very soon reach a tipping
point and spin out of control, unless major changes are soon made;
* Physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental and economic woes related to global warming and other environmental threats are rampant;
* A 2006 UN FAO report indicates that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's transportation sources combined;
* That UN report projects that the consumption of animal-based foods will double in 50 years, and the resulting increased greenhouse emissions will negate the effects of many positive changes,

We hereby resolve:

* to make it a priority to educate the world's people about the urgency of shifting to organic, plant-based diets in order to insure our earth as we know it will be here for future generations to enjoy and to help avoid the impending catastrophe that the world is rapidly approaching.

* to strive to bring about a major worldwide shift in consciousness about meat eating and dietary habits, so that vegetarian/vegan diets be considered as desirable and as ethically and environmentally more acceptable than animal-based diets and hence be actively promoted by governments around the world as well as other influential organizations and individuals who are concerned about the future of our planet and all its inhabitants.

Return to Top

13. Great Video Links Meat Production to Global Warming

Return to Top

14. Barack Obama Responds to a Challenging Question Re Veganism

Thanks to animal rights activist Daniela Dragomir for sending us this link:

Return to Top

15. Meat Abolition Day Announced

Forwarded message:

All the best,

Estiva Reus

Return to Top

16. EarthSave Produces Vegan Documentary

Forwarded message:

Have you ordered your "Processed People" DVD yet?

Watch Jay Gordon MD, noted pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UCLA, explain in an online video what a "processed person" is.

Watch now:

Does this sound like you or anyone you know? Are we all "processed people," until we decide to be otherwise?

Dr. Gordon is talking about food here, but this is an idea that can apply to many aspects of our lives, and should make us stop and think about in what additional ways we may be processed.

Perhaps what produces a processed person is a lack of reflection. What do you think? Let us know, we may want to publish your comments.

Pre-order your copy of the full documentary, Processed People, here:

Processed People is shock therapy for your DVD player. Don't be a processed person!

Peas & love,
Jeff & Sabrina
(818) 349-5600

VegSource Interactive, Inc.
19360 Rinaldi Street
Suite 438
Northridge, CA 91326

Return to Top

17. Wonderful Video on Jewish Teachings on Compassion to Animals

Thanks to JVNA advisor Catherine Manna for sharing this link with us.

Return to Top

18. Ten Strategies Toward a Vegetarian-Conscious World


Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Eating animals is killing the planet, ruining our health and bringing us to the brink of disaster. In spite of the increasing need for a shift toward vegetarianism to counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many environmental threats caused by the production and consumption of animal products, progress has been relatively slow. it is time for a consideration of new strategies to promote vegetarianism more effectively. The ten ideas suggested below are designed to start a dialogue that will lead to positive changes. It is my hope that this article will elicit additional suggestions and effective initiatives.

1) Set a Goal and a Time Table Toward a Vegetarian Conscious World

We should not be satisfied with the relatively slow progress currently being made toward vegetarianism, especially in the face of all the recent disturbing reports of environmental catastrophes ahead. One possibility is to declare a goal, such as “A Vegetarian-conscious world by 2015.” This could inspire our efforts by providing something to work toward. Note the term “vegetarian conscious.” We can't hope that every person will be a vegetarian by 2015, or any other time, and we should not argue that each person must be a vegetarian. However, we can work, with a heightened sense of urgency, to see that everyone is at least aware of the many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, with the hope that many will act based on that knowledge.

2) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is Beneficial for People as Well as Animals

Many people resist vegetarian arguments, asserting that they can't be concerned about animals when people face so many problems. We should stress that a shift to vegetarianism would be very beneficial to people as well as animals. Among the arguments we should use are:
a. Animal-based diets increase risk factors for many life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, several types of cancer, and stroke.
b. Animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to global warming and many other environmental threats to humanity.
c. The feeding of 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States (and almost 40 percent of the grain produced worldwide) to farmed animals contributes to an estimated 20 million of the world's people dying annually from hunger and its effects.

3) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Societal Imperative Today

Humanity is arguably threatened as perhaps never before from global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many other problems. We should make people aware that all of these threats and many more are significantly worsened by the following: we are raising over 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter annually worldwide; about 40 percent of the world's grain is used to fatten farmed animals; it takes 14 times as much water, ten times as much energy, and over 20 times as much land for an animal-based diet than it does for a vegan diet; animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases; and much more. We should also stress that diseases caused by the consumption of animal product results in soaring medical expenditures which are contributing to record budget deficits and the perceived need to cut basic social services.

4) Inform People That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Spiritual and Ethical Imperative Today

Most people profess to be religious today and many claim to base their lives on moral values related to their religions. We should respectfully discuss with such people how animal-based diets and agriculture contradict basic religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace. We should stress such biblical teachings as “God's mercies are over all of his creatures” (Psalms 145:9), “the righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals” (Proverbs 12:10), that animals as well as people are to be permitted to rest on the Sabbath day (part of the Ten Commandments), and similar teachings from other holy books and teachers.

5) Relate Vegetarianism to Current News Items

Vegetarianism touches on almost all phases of life - health, nutrition, animals, the environment, energy, water and other resources, economics, politics, family life, and many more - and we should make people aware of connections. When there are news reports re global warming and its effects, we should point out that animal-based diets contribute significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. When there are articles re taxes, budget deficits, and other economic issues, we should indicate that health costs are soaring in efforts to cure the many diseases that have been conclusively connected to animal-centered diets. When there are articles about water shortages and droughts, we should help make people aware that animal-based agriculture requires far more water and other resources than plant-based agriculture. Many additional examples can be given.

6) Start a Letter Writing Campaign

As a follow-up to the discussion in item #5, there should be a major campaign to get letters to editors on connections between various issues and vegetarianism. If only a small percentage of the people concerned about vegetarianism and related issues wrote a letter just once a month, it could have a major impact. A web site should be set up that gives talking points daily for letters based on current issues as well as sample letters.

As a related approach, since many people listen daily to talk radio shows, there should also be a concerted effort to get people to call such shows with vegetarian messages. While radio talk show hosts are generally very well informed on a wide variety of issues, I have found that many have major misconceptions re health, nutrition, and other vegetarian-related issues.

7) Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal Rights Movement

The vast majority of cases of animal abuses occur on factory farms. Yet, many, perhaps most, animal rights activists are working on other issues, such as circuses, rodeos, fur, pets, and animal experimentation. These are all important issues and it is essential to end all cases of animal abuse. But, animal-based diets and agriculture threaten most individuals' personal health and the well being of humanity. If most animal rights advocates worked on promoting vegetarianism and veganism, even for a limited time, in addition to their other animal rights efforts, it could have a very powerful impact.

8) Challenge the Medical Establishment

Every person is concerned about his or her health and the health of loved ones. There is very strong evidence that incidents of heart disease, various types of cancer, strokes, and other chronic degenerative diseases can be sharply reduced by a shift to vegetarian and vegan diets, along with other positive lifestyle changes. Yet, the medical establishment, including most nutritionists, are generally ignoring this information, and are not making patients and the general public aware that many diseases can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, through dietary changes. It might even be called medical malpractice. I recently visited a cousin in a rehabilitation center, and was astounded at reading the daily menus, which had animal products at every meal. It is essential that we challenge medical practitioners and respectfully urge them to help educate people about healthy diets.

As indicated in point #10, others, such as educators, politicians, religious leaders, and reporters, should also be challenged to increase awareness of the health and many other benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

9) Form Alliances With Other Groups

Since vegetarianism has connections with many societal issues, we should try to build strong alliances with many other groups that are working for positive changes. For example, we should seek alliances with environmental groups, and inform them that the raising of over 50 billion animals for slaughter annually, primarily on “factory farms,” contributes to many environmental threats; we should seek alliances with groups concerned about hunger, poverty, water and energy shortages, global warming, and related issues, and inform them about how the production of animal products contributes to many environmental threats and is extremely wasteful of resources.

10) Challenge the Media, Politicians, Educators, and Other Members of the Establishment

Since, as indicated above humanity is threatened as perhaps never before, and a switch toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative, and there are vegetarian connections to many current issues, we should try to meet with influential members of society and urge them to take a stand re vegetarianism, or at least to put the issues on their agendas. We should urge educators to see that children learn about proper nutrition and are provided with tasty, nutritious options at every meal. We should exhort reporters and editors to make people aware of the many negative effects of animal-based diets and the many benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.
This is just an outline of some steps that I think would be helpful in moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many dedicated people in the vegetarian and related movements can add to my points and come up with additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become increasingly involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but imperiled, planet.

Return to Top

19. Panel considers Ethical Issues Re Kashrut/NY Tmes Article

Label Says Kosher; Ethics Suggest Otherwise

[New York Times]

Published: December 10, 2008

What it means to be kosher - the nub of a debate sparked in May by sweeping labor abuse charges against the Orthodox Jewish owners of the largest kosher meatpacking plant in the nation - was pondered Tuesday night in a panel discussion at Yeshiva University in Upper Manhattan, the academic nexus of Orthodox Judaism.

It was, for the most part, a subdued and scholarly discussion about ritual law, Jewish ethics and what to do if you suspect that the kosher meat on your table has been butchered and packed by 16-year-old Guatemalan girls forced to work 20-hour days under threat of deportation, as alleged in a recent case.

“Is it still possible to consider something 'kosher certified' if it is produced under unethical conditions?” asked Gilah Kletenik, one of the organizers of the student group that arranged the session, which drew an overflow crowd of 500, most of them students.

In keeping with the Talmudic tradition embodied by the rabbis on the panel, the answer seemed to be yes and no.

“The basic underpinning of Jewish tradition is ethics,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, a Yeshiva dean and the chief executive of kosher certification for the Orthodox Union, the group that oversees kosher standards in 8,000 food manufacturing plants around the world, including about 25 meatpacking facilities in the United States.

But he said the process of producing food that is certifiably kosher according to Jewish law is one thing; the conditions in which that process is undertaken are another. “The issues are not obvious sometimes,” he said.

In a more pointed comment, Rabbi Avi Shafran, who has defended the prerogative of the Orthodox rabbinate against what he sees as well-meaning but misguided efforts to add social-justice protections to the criteria for the production of kosher food, said, “Lapses of business ethics, animal rights issues, worker rights matters - all of these have no effect whatsoever on the kosher value.”

The realm of kashrut, or Jewish dietary law, which for 5,000 years has been the exclusive domain of orthodox authorities, has received new scrutiny from a broad spectrum of Jews since federal agents raided an Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, on May 12, arresting 389 illegal immigrants. The owners, Aaron Rubashkin and his son, Sholom, members of a prominent Orthodox family in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, were charged with bank fraud and employing under-age workers.

After the raid, workers' organizations said that many Agriprocessors employees had long complained of frequent accidents and forced overtime but did not take their claims to the authorities because they feared deportation.

The workers' stories gave a boost to a kosher-reform campaign known as Hekhsher Tzedek (in Hebrew, kosher righteousness), which was begun in 2006 by Rabbi Morris J. Allen, a Conservative rabbi from Mendota Heights, Minn., who has long promoted ethical reforms in kosher meat plants.

Rabbi Allen said on Wednesday that though he “would have loved” to have been invited to the discussion, “the important thing is that the topic of what constitutes good kosher food production has been elevated.”

“We are proud that people in all parts of the Jewish community are taking our agenda seriously,” he added.

The four-member panel was composed of Rabbi Genack, Rabbi Shafran, Rabbi Basil Herring - executive director of the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox group - and Shmuly Yanklowitz, whose views probably came closest to those of the reform-minded Rabbi Allen.

Mr. Yanklowitz, a recent Yeshiva graduate and co-founder of Uri L'Tzedek, which describes itself as “the Orthodox social justice movement,” told the audience he had visited Postville and met a former Agriprocessors employee named Maria, a young woman from Guatemala.

“Maria worked in hot, slavelike conditions from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. so that we could have our kosher meat,” he said.

In an extended address that was at times Jeremiah-like in its condemnations, he called on the audience to rise to “a higher moral standard” in addition to adhering to the strict guidelines of kashrut as defined by traditional Jewish law.

“The consumer of goods produced immorally is morally culpable,” he said.

At the moment, Mr. Yanklowitz's group has focused mainly on improving conditions for workers in kosher restaurants.

Rabbi Allen's group has proposed something more comprehensive and problematic for Orthodox authorities: a seal of approval, the Hekhsher Tzedek seal, which he proposes adding to kosher products whose producers meet certain standards of employee safety and benefits, humane treatment of animals and environmental protection.

The campaign has received support from prominent members of the Conservative and Reform movements, but so far not from Orthodox circles, despite general agreement that worker protections are important in kosher food plants.

What may seem to reformers to be a mistaken separation of Jewish ritual law and Jewish ethics, however, is seen by the Orthodox as a defense of tradition.

“There is nothing in Jewish law that conflates the status of kosher food with the way the food is produced,” Rabbi Shafran said in a phone interview Wednesday. “What sticks in our craw,” he said, referring to the proposed seal, “is that it is following the zeitgeist rather than following the law. It falsifies the integrity of Jewish law.”

To be clear, he said, “Ethics is vitally important in Judaism.” Unethical acts, like illegal acts, should be punished according to the laws that apply. But the rules of what defines food as kosher were written in the Torah by divine agency and cannot be changed, he said.

Shlomit Cohen, 21, a senior at the university's Stern College for Women and president of the Social Justice Society, a student group representative of a new wave of social activism among young Orthodox Jews, said she appreciated Rabbi Shafran's point of view and “his desire to retain respect for the authority of legal tradition.”

“But this is more than a technical legal issue,” she said. “Change is needed, and if it is not coming from the leadership we have, it will have to come from others.”

full story:

Return to Top

20. Cancer to Become World's Leading Killer Soon

Cancer to be world's top killer by 2010, WHO says

Provided by: Canadian Press
Written by: Mike Stobbe, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dec. 9, 2008

ATLANTA - Cancer will overtake heart disease as the world's top killer by 2010, part of a trend that should more than double global cancer cases and deaths by 2030, international health experts said in a report released Tuesday.

Rising tobacco use in developing countries is believed to be a huge reason for the shift, particularly in China and India, where 40 per cent of the world's smokers now live.

So is better diagnosing of cancer, along with the downward trend in infectious diseases that used to be the world's leading killers.
Cancer diagnoses around the world have steadily been rising and are expected to hit 12 million this year. Global cancer deaths are expected to reach seven million, according to the new report by the World Health Organization.

An annual rise of one per cent in cases and deaths is expected - with even larger increases in China, Russia and India. That means new cancer cases will likely mushroom to 27 million annually by 2030, with deaths hitting 17 million.

Underlying all this is an expected expansion of the world's population - there will be more people around to get cancer.

By 2030, there could be 75 million people living with cancer around the world, a number that many health-care systems are not equipped to handle.

"This is going to present an amazing problem at every level in every society worldwide," said Peter Boyle, director of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Boyle spoke at a news conference with officials from the American Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Cancer Institute of Mexico.

The "unprecedented" gathering of organizations is an attempt to draw attention to the global threat of cancer, which isn't recognized as a major, growing health problem in some developing countries.
"Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live," said Hala Moddelmog, Komen's chief executive.

The organizations are calling on governments to act, asking the U.S. to help fund cervical cancer vaccinations and to ratify an international tobacco control treaty.

Concerned about smoking's impact on cancer rates in developing countries in the decades to come, the American Cancer Society also announced it will provide a smoking cessation counselling service in India.
"If we take action, we can keep the numbers from going where they would otherwise go," said John Seffrin, the cancer society's chief executive officer.

Other groups are also voicing support for more action.

"Cancer is one of the greatest untold health crises of the developing world," said Dr. Douglas Blayney, president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"Few are aware that cancer already kills more people in poor countries than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. And if current smoking trends continue, the problem will get significantly worse," he said in a written statement.

Return to Top

21. Sharp Rise in World Hunger

Number of hungry people rises to 963 million

High food prices to blame - economic crisis could compound woes

9 December 2008, Rome - Another 40 million people have been pushed into hunger this year primarily due to higher food prices, according to preliminary estimates published by FAO today. This brings the overall number of undernourished people in the world to 963 million, compared to 923 million in 2007 and the ongoing financial and economic crisis could tip even more people into hunger and poverty, FAO warned.

"World food prices have dropped since early 2008, but lower prices have not ended the food crisis in many poor countries," said FAO Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem, presenting the new edition of FAO's hunger report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008.

"For millions of people in developing countries, eating the minimum amount of food every day to live an active and healthy life is a distant dream. The structural problems of hunger, like the lack of access to land, credit and employment, combined with high food prices remain a dire reality," he stressed.

Prices of major cereals have fallen by over 50 percent from their peaks earlier in 2008 but they remain high compared to previous years. Despite its sharp decline in recent months, the FAO Food Price Index was still 28 percent higher in October 2008 compared to October 2006. With prices for seeds and fertilizers (and other inputs) more than doubling since 2006, poor farmers could not increase production. But richer farmers, particularly those in developed countries, could afford the higher input costs and expand plantings. As a result, cereal production in developed countries is likely to rise by at least 10 percent in 2008. The increase in developing countries may not exceed even one percent.

"If lower prices and the credit crunch associated with the economic crisis force farmers to plant less food, another round of dramatic food prices could be unleashed next year," Ghanem added. "The 1996 World Food Summit target, to reduce the number of hungry by half by 2015, requires a strong political commitment and investment in poor countries of at least $30 billion per year for agriculture and social protection of the poor," Ghanem said.

Where the hungry live

The vast majority of the world's undernourished people - 907 million - live in developing countries, according to the 2007 data reported by the State of Food Insecurity in the World. Of these, 65 percent live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Progress in these countries with large populations would have an important impact on global hunger reduction.

With a very large population and relatively slow progress in hunger reduction, nearly two-thirds of the world's hungry live in Asia (583 million in 2007). On the positive side, some countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand and Viet Nam have made good progress towards achieving the WFS target, while South Asia and Central Asia have suffered setbacks in hunger reduction.

In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three people - or 236 million (2007) - are chronically hungry, the highest proportion of undernourished people in the total population, according to the report. Most of the increase in the number of hungry occurred in a single country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a result of widespread and persistent conflict, from 11 million to 43 million (in 2003-05) and the proportion of undernourished rose from 29 to 76 percent.

Overall, sub-Saharan Africa has made some progress in reducing the proportion of people suffering from chronic hunger, down from 34 (1995-97) to 30 percent (2003-2005). Ghana, Congo, Nigeria, Mozambique and Malawi have achieved the steepest reductions in the proportion of undernourished. Ghana is the only country that has reached both the hunger reduction target of the World Food Summit and the Millennium Development Goals. Growth in agricultural production was key in this success.

Latin America and the Caribbean were most successful in reducing hunger before the surge in food prices. High food prices have increased the number of hungry people in the sub-region to 51 million in 2007.

Countries in the Near East and North Africa generally experience the lowest levels of undernourishment in the world. But conflicts (in Afghanistan and Iraq) and high food prices have pushed the numbers up from 15 million in 1990-92 to 37 million in 2007.

Almost out of reach

Some countries were well on track towards reaching the summit's target, before food prices skyrocketed but "Even these countries may have suffered setbacks - some of the progress has been cancelled due to high food prices. The crisis has mainly affected the poorest, landless and households run by women," Ghanem said. "It will require an enormous and resolute global effort and concrete actions to reduce the number of hungry by 500 million by 2015."

Exporters under threat

The world hunger situation may further deteriorate as the financial crisis hits the real economies of more and more countries. Reduced demand in developed countries threatens incomes in developing countries via exports. Remittances, investments and other capital flows including development aid are also at risk. Emerging economies in particular are subject to lasting impacts from the credit crunch even if the crisis itself is short-lived.

Return to Top

22. “Climate Revolution” Needed to Avoid Catastrophe

World needs 'climate revolution'

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent

December 11, 2008, BBC

Poznan, Poland

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has called for "new global solidarity" on climate change, as ministers began two days of talks on the issue.

Ministers from 189 nations aim to finalise agreements drawn up here at the annual UN climate conference.

As they talk, EU heads of state are meeting in Brussels to agree energy and climate reforms, including promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Developing country leaders have called on the EU to adopt strong measures.

Developing nations and environmental groups have repeatedly accused rich countries of not showing enough leadership at the conference here, which marks the half-way point in a two-year process initiated at the UN talks in Bali last year.

Over the last year, governments have submitted ideas on what they would like to see in a new global pact, which is supposed to be finalised by next year's meeting in

'Copernican revolution'

Mr Ban said that economic concerns must not prevent developed countries from investing in elements of a "green economy", such as renewable energy, or from helping poorer nations to put their economic development onto a sustainable footing.

"We need a deal on climate change that will unleash a wave of investment in a green future," he told delegates at the opening session.

Referencing leading figures and events in Polish history, he called for a "new Copernican revolution" in industrial paradigms, and said the world "needs a global solidarity on climate change - the defining challenge of our era".

Also speaking at the opening plenary session, President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana said the developed world's response to the banking crisis showed what could be done.

"Some may baulk at the scale of the financial resources required," he said.

"But if the will is there, the money will be found, as demonstrated when developed nations found seven trillion dollars to tackle the financial crisis."

If banks are too big to fail, he added, so is the climate, urging the international community to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 - further than 50%, which is the target principally under discussion here.

Apisai Ielemia, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said the West - and the larger developing economies - must make stringent cuts to avoid major damage to island states such as his.

"We cannot sink while others rise," he said.

Timing fault

Some EU countries, including Poland and Italy, are concerned that the climate and energy package being negotiated in Brussels will cost too much, and are asking for concessions.

The bloc is set to pledge emissions cuts of 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, or by 30% if there is a global deal.

Many observers her feel that the lack of agreement on the package has reduced the impetus of the UN talks here, and that a weakened deal in Brussels would send "the wrong signal".

In addition, the EU has not yet published proposals on giving financial assistance for developing countries that could help them restrain the growth in their carbon emissions, which will be a vital component of a future global treaty.

Another factor curbing progress is the fact that the US delegation represents the outgoing administration of George Bush rather than the incoming one of Barack Obama.

All this may mean, some observers say, that the timescale is
too tight to reach a Copenhagen deal that includes firm
targets on reducing emissions.

Protection fund

Many of the documents that officials from the 189 countries
have been discussing for the last two weeks have been agreed
with little demur.

However, there are still serious wrangles over some issues
which could not be resolved before the ministerial segment.

One concerns the UN Adaptation Fund, a pot of money designed
to help developing countries protect their societies and
economies against potential impacts of climate change.

Current proposals see the World Bank as a major player in managing the money.

Developing countries are unhappy with this, and want a separate body set up that would, as they see it, be more responsive to their needs - the sting in the tail being that this wrangle could delay the first payments from the fund.

The meeting is scheduled to end on Friday evening here, but some delegates believe talks may run through the night into Saturday, as has been a feature of many this conference's predecessors.

Return to Top

23. Blog Item makes Impassioned Case For Vegetarianism to Reduce Global Warming

Thanks to JVNA advisor Maida Genser for making us aware of this item:

Meat Ain't Green

The promo for an upcoming CNN special on global warming prompts Animal Rights blogger Stephanie Ernst to suggest an idea about how to fight global warming the easy, low-tech way: stop eating meat.

Full link:

Return to Top

** 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.