April 5, 2009

4/5/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Passover

2. YOU Can Represent JVNA as a Speaker and/or Spokesperson

3. JVNA Press Release On Birkat HaChamah

4. My Vegetarian-Related Dvar Torah for Parshat Tzav

5. Eating Meat Even More Harmful Than Thought

6. Getting JVNA Onto Facebook and MySpace

7. Some Quotations and Thoughts on “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

8. More Thoughts and Quotations re “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

9. Podcasts on the Effects of Ranching and Animal Grazing on Western Lands

10. Artic Ice Melting Faster Than Expected

11. Global warming May Wipe Out Canadian Winter Sports

12. How YOU Can Support The Historic Bill to Ban all Fur in Israel

13. Switch to Vegetarianism Would Have a Great Societal Effect

14. FARM Schedules AR2009 Conference

15. One Minute Video Shows the Dietary/Global Warming Connection Very Well

16. Press Release on World Health Day 2009

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Happy Passover

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, kosher Passover. My latest article re Passover (below) challenges the Jewish community, while being properly careful to avoid eating chometz, to consider the many inconsistencies between Jewish teachings and the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture. Please use the material in the article and other material in the festivals section at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz to help spread the vegetarian message.

Richard H. Schwartz

It seems strange that Jews go to great lengths on the festival of Passover to observe Torah verses commanding us to avoid some foods, while ignoring other verses relevant to the consumption of other foods.

Among the features of Passover are the prohibitions of eating, owning or benefiting from chometz, foods such as breads, cakes and cereals that are made from one of the five grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt and oats) that have undergone fermentation as the result of contact with liquid. These prohibitions are based on several Torah verses and are treated with great seriousness by religious Jews.

Many Jews spend weeks before Passover cleaning their houses, cars and other possessions to make sure that not even a drop of chometz will remain during the holiday. Because the Torah indicates a severe punishment (koret, meaning that one's life is cut short, or that one is spiritually severed from the root of one's soul) for violating the chometz prohibitions, many Jewish communities have adopted additional stringencies to avoid inadvertent transgressions. For example, the practice among many Ashkenazi Jews is to not only refrain from products of the five grains, but also from kitniyot, other grains and legumes, including rice, corn, lentils and beans. While the origins of this practice are not clear, two common theories are that such items are sometimes made into products that resemble chometz, such as cornbread, or that these items were generally stored in sacks similar to these for the five prohibited grains and people were concerned that the sacks might become contaminated with chometz.

So important are the chometz prohibitions that, while a common greeting on other Jewish festivals is “chag samayach” (may you have a joyous holiday), on Passover it is often “chag kasher v'samayach” (may you have a kosher and joyous holiday).

This article is not (God forbid) to argue against these prohibitions and additional stringencies, but to suggest that many foods that Jews eat on Passover, including meat, fish, dairy products and eggs, violate Torah mandates that are also critically important, especially today.

Among these Torah mandates are:

1) We are to diligently guard our health. Judaism teaches that we should be more careful about mitzvot (commandments) concerning health than about ritual mitzvot. For example, if it might help save a life, a Jew may violate the Sabbath, eat non-kosher foods, and avoid fasting on Yom Kippur. Yet, the consumption of meat and other animal products has been linked to heart disease, various types of cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2) Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals. The psalmist indicated that “God's mercies are over all of His creatures” (Psalms 145:9) and the Book of Proverbs indicates that “the righteous individual considers the life of his or her animal.” (12:10) Compassion to animals is even part of the Ten Commandments, which indicates that animals as well as people are to rest on the Sabbath day. Many other Torah laws involve treating animals with respect and compassion. Moses and King David were deemed suitable to be Israelite leaders because of their compassionate treatment of sheep in their youth. However, generally farm animals -- including most raised for kosher consumers -- are treated worse than slaves, as they 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) 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. Yet, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to global warming, soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats and other environmental damage. While the world is arguably heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and these other environmental problems, a UN 2006 study “Livestock's Long Shadow” indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all of the cars, planes, ships and other means of transportation worldwide combined (13.5 percent).

4)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. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, an Orthodox rabbi and thinker of towering stature in nineteenth century Germany, viewed bal tashchit as the most basic Jewish principle of all -- acknowledging the sovereignty of God and the limitation of our own will and ego. However, animal-agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources. The average meat-based diet requires up to ten times the energy, 14 times the water and 20 times the land required for a vegan diet.

5) Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people. The Torah indicates that farmers must leave the corners of their fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the needy, Yet, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter (it takes about 9 pounds of grain to produce one pound of edible beef), while an estimated 20 million people, mostly children, worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

6^ Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions. While most mitzvot require a definite time or place, peace is so important that, like justice, we are to seek it nearby and pursue it in other places at all times. However, animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that eventually lead to instability and war.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, dietary choices should be on the Jewish agenda.

One could say "dayenu" (it would be enough) after any of the contrasts between Jewish teachings and dietary realities above, because each one constitutes by itself a serious conflict between Jewish values and current practices 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.

Perhaps it is time to apply these important teachings to our diets, thereby helping shift our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path. Since Passover is the holiday of freedom, the seder would be a great time to free ourselves from eating habits that are so harmful to people, animals and the planet.

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2. YOU Can Represent JVNA as a Speaker and/or Spokesperson

Recently, background material was sent to everyone in this group, providing help for you to speak on Judaism and vegetarianism and otherwise promote vegetarianism from a Jewish vegetarian perspective. Please consider taking advantage of that material and other material at the JVNA web site (http://www.JewishVeg.com) and at the web site that has many of my articles and podcasts ((http://www.JewishVeg.com/schwartz). It is increasingly important that we get the Jewish vegetarian message out there and you can help do that. We will be happy to help guide you in this as much as possible.

Many thanks.

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3. JVNA Press Release On Birkat HaChamah


March 30, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact Person: Richard H. Schwartz,
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
718-761-5876 Cell: (917) 576-0344

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) issued the following statement today:

Birkat HaChamah, an event that commemorates the time that the sun will be in the same position relative to the earth that it was at the time of creation, is an ideal time for Jews to consider the state of our imperiled planet and how to shift it to a sustainable path. This commemoration occurs every 28 years and this year it will occur on the morning of April 8.

“When God created the world, He was able to say, 'It is tov meod (very good)' “ (Genesis 1:31), stated JVNA president Richard Schwartz. “Everything was in harmony as God had planned; the waters were clean and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today, when it is so threatened by global warming, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and many other environmental problems?”

Israel is especially threatened by global warming. It Is now suffering from the worst drought in its history, and a 2007 report from the Israel Union for Environmental Defense projects that global warming will cause a temperature increase of 3-11 degrees Fahrenheit, an average decrease in rainfall of 20 - 30 percent, severe storms and major flooding from a rising Mediterranean Sea.

It is time to apply Judaism's powerful environmental teachings to reducing global warming and other environmental threats. Since Birkat HaChamah focuses on the sun, this is a good time to consider using solar energy and other renewable forms of energy, in order to reduce global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels.

When thanking God for the many blessings of Creation on Birkat HaChhamah, we might also consider returning to the vegan, strictly plant-based dietary regimen that God provided for humans when the world was created (Genesis 1:29), because animal-based agriculture is having devastating effects on the environment. Raising 60 billion farmed animals worldwide for slaughter annually causes soil erosion and depletion, the loss of biological diversity, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats and other environmental problems and requires far more land, water and energy than plant-based agriculture. Most importantly, with the world apparently rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming, a 2006 UN report indicated that the production of meat and other animal-foods emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all of the world's cars, planes, ships and all other means of transportation combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent).

We are to be responsible stewards, co-workers with God, in protecting the environment. Hence, with our world so threatened today, Birkat HaChamah would be a great time to start applying Jewish values to help respond to the environmental threats to Israel and to all of humanity.

Further information about JVNA and its campaigns to get vegetarianism and environmental activism onto the Jewish agenda, as well as much background material on Jewish teachings on the environment and vegetarianism can be found at the JVNA web site (www.JewishVeg.com). JVNA is very interested in respectful dialogues and debates on dietary connections to global climate change and other current environmental global threats and on questions such as “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” The group believes that the Jewish community should make tikkun olam, the repair, healing and proper transformation of the world a central focus in Jewish life today. It will send a complimentary DVD with its acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” to rabbis and other Jewish leaders who request one at mail@JewishVeg.com. The entire movie can also be seen at ASacredDuty.com.

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4. My Vegetarian-Related Dvar Torah for Parshat Tzav

I am sorry that this is a bit late, as this parsha was read this past Shabbat, but I hope it is still of some interest.

Parshat Tzav

How Meat Consumption Today Differs From
The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary)
in the Wilderness

“And that which is left thereof [from the meal-offering] shall Aaron and his sons eat; it shall be eaten without leaven in a holy place; in the tent of meeting they shall eat it. . . . it is most holy as the sin-offering and the guilt-offering.” Leviticus 6:9.10

When the Jewish people were in the wilderness before they entered the land of Israel, the consumption of meat was associated with holiness. Every piece of meat consumed came from an animal sacrificed in the Mishkan (Sanctuary), an act meant to bring the worshipper closer to God.

Through the sacrifice, worshippers felt that they were giving themselves vicariously to God and being received by Him.

If an animal was slaughtered in a place other than the altar of the Sanctuary, it was considered unlawful bloodshed, and the perpetrator was deserving of Divine punishment. (Leviticius 17:3,4)

The consumption of meat was not something taken for granted, as it generally is today. Worshippers were very much involved with the entire process. Each sacrifice had a definite purpose; to offer thanksgiving, to compensate for a sin or to assuage guilt, or to make one feel closer to God. People offering a sacrifice felt that they were giving up something form their valuable possessions. People owned animals as sources of labor or milk; hence killing them before their time was a sacrifice of a precious source of income and food. The animal was not considered just a commodity as is the case generally today, but a creature that was seen and raised on a daily basis, often one to whom the person had become very close. Since an animal and its offspring could not be slaughtered on the same day (Leviticus 22:26-28), offerers of sacrifices needed to be aware of familial relationships among animals to be offered as sacrifices.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, teaches that worshippers were very involved in the sacrificial process. For sin offerings, their hands would lean on the animal and they would make a confession prior to the slaughter, Observing the animal being killed, they would recognize that because of their sin they should be the ones on the altar, and they would be more likely to do teshuvah (repentance) and become a transformed individual, worthy of a renewed lease on life. [Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, “There, but for the Grace of God,” Jerusalem Post International edition, March 28, 1998.]

The relatively few number of sacrifices performed daily meant that attention was given to the death of each animal. Holiness was related to physical wholeness and perfection. The priests had to be free of bodily imperfections and the animals to be sacrificed had to be free of blemishes. Hence, the notion of holiness was given physical expression in the concept of holiness of body and limb.

Far different is the eating of meat today. Rather than an infrequent act, meat consumption generally occurs daily, if not several times a day. Instead of an individual sacrifice of one person's animal in a special ceremony, animals are currently raised in mass-production procedures on factory farms in huge numbers. In place of slaughter by a priest focusing his intention in the Sanctuary imbued with holiness,today the slaughter is generally done by a shochet (ritual slaughterer) who slaughters hundreds of animals a day in an industrial facility

Because of these major changes, the massive production and widespread consumption of meat today have negative effects that did not occur in the days of the Sanctuary, raising concern that basic Jewish teachings are being violated

Mistreatment of animals

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.

Negative health effects

Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives. Yet, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases. In addition, modern methods of raising animals have raised new health threats, including the potential for the human variant of “mad-cows disease,” bird flu. E-coli contamination and negative effects from the use of large amounts of hormones, pesticides and other chemicals.

Negative environmental effects

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. In conflict with this teaching, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to global warming, soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats and other environmental damage. As a recent indication of just how significant this is, a November 2006 report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent, in CO2 equivalents) than the entire transport sector. [“Livestock's Long Shadow” (http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448)

Inefficient use of resources

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. As one example, at a time when it is estimated that over half of the world's people will live in areas chronically short of water by the middle of this century, typical animal-based diets require up to 14 times as much water than diets completely free of animal products.

Contributions to widespread hunger

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 and over 40% of the grain grown worldwide are fed to animals destined for slaughter, while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain in a feedlot to produce one pound of meat. While a shift to plant-based diets would not in itself solve the problem of widespread hunger, it would free up grain, land, water, energy and other resources that could make a major difference.

In summary, there is a world of difference between the consumption of meat in the time of the sanctuary and today, with holiness replaced by speed, individual attention and kavannah replaced by inattentiveness, the priest replaced by a shochet, special events replaced by mass production, one sanctuary replaced by many slaughterhouses, and positive effects replaced by many serious negative consequences. Perhaps it is time for the Jewish community to reconsider our diets in efforts to restore holiness, kavannah and other positive Jewish values.

Personal Lifestyle Changes That Reflect This Dvar Torah:

* Consider substituting fruits and vegetables and other plant-foods for some or all of your meat consumption.

* Avoid animal products that involve especially serious violations of tsa'ar ba'alei chaim (causing pain to living creatures), such as white veal and foie gras (produced by force feeding ducks and geese).

* If you eat animal products, try to limit them to those that were raised more humanely, such as free-range eggs and chickens and organic beef. However, since standards for such products are often vague, check that conditions for the animals are actually better.

* Try to have issues related to the production and consumption of meat and other animal products discussed in synagogues, yeshivas and other Jewish settings, so that people will become aware of the issues.

* Support efforts to improve general animal welfare standards both in animal agriculture and animal slaughter.

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5. Eating Meat Even More Harmful Than Thought

Eating Meat Kills More People Than Previously Thought

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 by: Andreas Moritz, citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) There is no more denying it. Meat contains highly toxic substances that are responsible for many deaths and diseases. Heavy meat consumption increases your risk of dying from all causes, including heart disease and cancer, according to a federal study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and featured in Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday.

The study looked at the records of more than half a million men and women aged 50 to 71, following their diet and other health habits for 10 years. Between 1995 and 2005, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died.

The researchers divided the volunteers into 5 groups or "quintiles." All other major factors were accounted for -- eating fresh fruits and vegetables, smoking, exercise, obesity, etc. People eating the most meat consumed about 160g of red or processed meat per day - approximately a 6oz steak.

Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less. Men had a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That`s compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week, or 25g per day -- approximately a small rasher of bacon.

The study also included data on white meat and found that a higher intake was associated with a slightly reduced risk of death over the same period. However, high white meat consumption still posed a major risk of dying.

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Full story:

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6. Getting JVNA Onto Facebook and MySpace

Forwarded message from JVNA advisor Rina Deych:

Awhile back, I set up Facebook and MySpace pages for Richard Schwartz.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to check them (and respond to messages) on a regular basis. I would appreciate it if someone could take over. This person should be extremely trustworthy, familiar with Facebook/MySpace, and willing to devote some time to updating the pages and responding to messages. Please email Richard if you are interested. When he forwards your message to me (with his approval) I'll give you the sign-on information.

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7. Some Quotations and Thoughts on “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

Forwarded message from People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals:

"It appears that the first intention of the Maker was to have men live on a strictly vegetarian diet. The very earliest periods of Jewish history are marked with humanitarian conduct towards the lower animal kingdom. ... It is clearly established that the ancient Hebrews knew and perhaps were the first among men to know, that animals feel and suffer pain."

-Rabbi Simon Glazer

"There is no difference between the worry of a human mother and an animal mother for their offspring. A mother's love does not derive from the intellect but from the emotions, in animals just as in humans."

-Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides)

Passover-the universal story of dignity, hope, and freedom-teaches that all suffering matters to God. And that means, of course, that it should matter to us as well. It is odd to celebrate freedom if we still dine on the flesh of animals who spend their lives caged in cement stalls no bigger than their own bodies, never able to look up at the sky or feel grass beneath their feet. The very premises that lead many to
conclude that it is permissible to eat meat-that animals have no merit beyond how they might taste and that animal suffering is of no consequence-are antithetical to the humanity and compassion of Judaism.

Refusing to have a hand in that suffering is especially timely at Passover, for in commemorating the escape of the Jews from Egyptian bondage, the holiday reminds us of the importance of continuing the battle for freedom. Prayers said on Passover call on us to be kind to those who are now oppressed and to deepen our commitment to liberty today. What better time than Passover to extend our compassion to every living being? And what better way to celebrate the spirit of the holiday than by practicing vegetarianism?

We hope that you will start a new Passover tradition this year by adding kindness to the plate. Traditionally, most Jews include an egg on the ritual seder plate-to symbolize spring and life-but many now replace it with a flower. Using an egg from a chicken who spent her short life in death-like conditions-squeezed inside a tiny, crowded cage, barely able to move-mocks that symbolism. In place of the shank bone set on the seder plate to remind us of "the mighty arm of God," many Jews use a beet, as allowed in the Talmud. And the cholesterol-laden array of animal foods often found on the Passover table can easily be replaced with delicious, healthful, and humane dishes.

Protesting against injustice should lead to a table free of cruelty, as people of all religions begin to recognize that suffering is suffering-no matter who is experiencing it.

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8. More Thoughts and Quotations re “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

Forwarded message from the International Vegetarian Union (IVU)

Judaism and Vegetarianism
by Ted Altar


It is interesting to note that legislation was once introduced by Mordecai Ben Porat in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) proposing to outlaw meat-eating! Can you imagine any other country that had enough political support to venture such a bold proposal? Unfortunately, the legislation did not pass; unfortunate because this would indeed have been an interesting social experiment and Israel could indeed stand head and shoulders above all nations in its respect towards animals.

The recent chief rabbi of Israel, Scholomo Goren, is a strict vegetarian and so was the first chief rabbi of the modern state of Israel, Abraham Isaac Kook. Kook's successor, the late Isaac ha-Levi Herzog, wrote:

Jews will move increasingly to vegetarianism out of their own deepening knowledge of what their tradition commands...Man's carnivorous nature is not taken for granted or praised in the fundamental teachings of Judaism...A whole galaxy of central rabbinic and spiritual leaders...has been affirming vegetarianism as the ultimate meaning of Jewish moral teaching.

There are several Jewish organizations currently working to promote vegetarianism. "The International Jewish Vegetarian Society" publishes a five page quarterly called the JEWISH VEGETARIAN, and has offices or chapters worldwide included the U.S. Canada, Australia, Britain, Israel, etc. There is also the "Jewish Vegetarians" in Baltimore who say:

We feel ourselves to be part of an ancient people and a living tradition -- one whose ethical principles, we believe, point towards vegetarianism.

Roberta Kalechofsky, head of Micah Publications and Jews for Animal Rights, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, publishes various works on Judaism and animal welfare. Among these is her HAGGADAH FOR THE LIBERATED LAMB, which serves as a guide for "a vegetarian (Passover) Seder that celebrates compassion for all creatures".

Here are just a few more interesting statements and quotes from the Jewish tradition that are of relevance here.

According to Rabbi Sidney Jacobs, author of the THE JEWISH WORD BOOK:

The bottom line is that there can be no "humane" procedure when slaughter is involved, nor can factory farming ever be made merciful. Ironically, the dilemma of Jewish ritual slaughter could be resolved by switching to a vegan diet, the grain-based diet set forth in Genesis.
[from "A Jewish voice for Animals" published in THE ANIMALS' VOICE, 1989 (Aug): 48-9]

From THE NINE QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK ABOUT JUDAISM by Dennis Prager and Rabbi Telushkin:

Keeping kosher is Judaism's compromise with its ideal vegetarianism. Ideally, according to Judaism, man would confine his eating to fruits and vegetables and not kill animals for food.

According to Rabbi Simon Glazer's GUIDE TO JUDAISM:

It appears that the first intention of the Maker was to have men live on a strictly vegetarian diet. The very earliest periods of Jewish history are marked with humanitarian conduct towards the lower animal kingdom...It is clearly established that the ancient Hebrews knew, and perhaps were the first among men to know, that animals feel and suffer pain.


According to rabbinic tradition, interpreting the Biblical record, mankind was not allowed to eat meat until after the Flood...Once permitted, the consumption of meat remained surrounded with many restrictions. According to the rabbis, the Hebrew word for "desireth" in the verse, "when the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border and thou shall say: `I will eat flesh,' because thy soul desireth to eat flesh" (Deut. 12:20), has a negative connotation; hence, although it is permitted to slaughter animals for food, this should be done in moderation.

According the ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, 1974:

Moral and legal rules condemning the treatment of animals are based on the principle that animals are part of God's creation towards which man bears responsibility. Laws...make it clear not only that cruelty to animals is forbidden but also that compassion and mercy to them are demanded of may by God...In later rabbinic literature,...great prominence is also given to demonstrating God's mercy to animals, and to the importance of not causing them pain. ...The principle of kindness to animals...is as though God's treatment of man will be according to [people's] treatment of animals".


The Jewish attitude toward animals has always been governed by the consideration that they, too, are God's creatures...[and] the obligation to respect and consider the feelings and needs of these lower creatures...The non-canonical...writings strongly urge kindness toward animals, declaring that one who harms an animal harms his own soul". [1:330]

According to Professor Richard Schwartz (author of JUDAISM and VEGETARIANISM):

In Judaism, one who does not treat animals with compassion cannot be regarded as a righteous individual.

According to the CODE OF JEWISH LAW:

...it is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature. On the contrary, it is our duty to relieve the pain of any creature, even if it is ownerless or belongs to a non-Jew.

According to the medieval Hebrew work SEFER CHASIDIM:

Be kind and compassionate to all creatures that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in this world. Never beat nor inflict pain on any animal, beast, bird, or insect. Do not throw stones at a dog or a cat, nor kill flies or wasps.

Everything on this website is copyright © International Vegetarian Union, unless stated otherwise.

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9. Podcasts on the Effects of Ranching and Animal Grazing on Western Lands

Forwarded message from animal rights activist Mike Hudak:

As you may know, search engines do not index mp3 files. As I have recently produced a couple of podcasts in this format and would like them to be more widely known, I have today produced an individual webpage for each podcast. These webpages will, of course, in due time be indexed by search engines.

I just pass along this information to a few people who have websites and may wish to incorporate these links. In the future I'll supply the corresponding webpage at the time I announce the podcast.

Here are the appropriate links:

Ranchers Mortgage Our Natural Capital:

Politics Trumps Science in Rangeland Management:

Best regards,

Mike Hudak, PhD
Chair, Sierra Club National Grazing Committee
Director, Public Lands Without Livestock
Author, Western Turf Wars

38 Oliver Street
Binghamton, NY 13904-1516

Personal website: http://mikehudak.com
Biome Books: http://biomebooks.com
MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/plwl

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10. Artic Ice Melting Faster Than Expected

[Thanks to Lionel Friedberg, producer of “A Sacred Duty” for sending us this article.]

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer -

WASHINGTON - Arctic sea ice is melting so fast most of it could be gone in 30 years. A new analysis of changing conditions in the region, using complex computer models of weather and climate, says conditions that had been forecast by the end of the century could occur much sooner.

A change in the amount of ice is important because the white surface reflects sunlight back into space. When ice is replaced by dark ocean water that sunlight can be absorbed, warming the water and increasing the warming of the planet.

The finding adds to concern about climate change caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, a problem that has begun receiving more attention in the Obama administration and is part of the G20 discussions under way in London.

"Due to the recent loss of sea ice, the 2005-2008 autumn central Arctic surface air temperatures were greater than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above" what would be expected, the new study reports.

That amount of temperature increase had been expected by the year 2070.

The new report by Muyin Wang of the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean and James E. Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, appears in Friday's edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

They expect the area covered by summer sea ice to decline from about 2.8 million square miles normally to 620,000 square miles within 30 years.

Last year's summer minimum was 1.8 million square miles in September, second lowest only to 2007 which had a minimum of 1.65 million square miles, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The Center said Arctic sea ice reached its winter maximum for this year at 5.8 million square miles on Feb. 28. That was 278,000 square miles below the 1979-2000 average making it the fifth lowest on record. The six lowest maximums since 1979 have all occurred in the last six years.

Overland and Wang combined sea-ice observations with six complex computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to reach their conclusions. Combining several computer models helps avoid uncertainties caused by natural variability.

Much of the remaining ice would be north of Canada and Greenland, with much less between Alaska and Russia in the Pacific Arctic.

"The Arctic is often called the Earth's refrigerator because the sea ice helps cool the planet by reflecting the sun's radiation back into space," Wang said in a statement. "With less ice, the sun's warmth is instead absorbed by the open water, contributing to warmer temperatures in the water and the air."

The study was supported by the NOAA Climate Change Program Office, the Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere and the U.S. Department of Energy.


On the Net:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean: http://jisao.washington.edu/

National Snow and Ice Data Center: http://nsidc.org/

Geophysical Research Letters: http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/

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11. Global warming May Wipe Out Canadian Winter Sports

Global warming could all but wipe out ice skating, cross-country skiing, and low-elevation downhill skiing by 2050 if no action is taken, Canadian eco-guru David Suzuki warns.

* Climate & Energy
David Suzuki

Vancouverite David Suzuki and his namesake foundation surface in the U.S. news from time to time, typically through climate initiatives and ocean conservation initiatives such as its estimate of the carbon impact of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But for our Northern neighbors, the 73-year-old Suzuki is a household name. He's become the Canada's preeminent environmental activist-David Roberts likened him to the Canadian Al Gore. At this weeks' World Conference on Sport and the Environment, I asked some youngish Canucks about his first claim to fame. They weren't sure, they said. He's sort of always been around. (The often-helpful interwebs mention he was a genetist and longtime host of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation's science TV series, “The Nature of Things.”)

When the Vancouver Organizing Committee released a plan yesterday to make the 2010 Winter Games carbon neutral, reporters immediately turned to Suzuki and the policy wonks at his foundation for an assessment. The foundation provided the orginal forecast of the carbon impact of the 2010 Olympics -- 300,000 tons. But it hadn't seen VANOC's offset purchasing plan before yesterday, so it couldn't vouch for it.

“I would plead with VANOC to please set the bar high,” said Suzuki.

He held his own news conference to announce the release of On Thin Ice, a report on the threat climate change poses to winter sports in Canada. It found that global warming could all but wipe out ice skating, cross-country skiing, and low-elevation downhill skiing by 2050 if no action is taken.

Suzuki mentioned two “iconic Canadian images” that are already endangered by climate change - polar bears and backyard skating rinks, like the one on which a young Wayne Gretzky learned to skate.

As he's done before, Suzuki enlisted Canadian athletes to help make his case. Professional snowboarder Justin Lamoureaux, who trains in Whistler, B.C., said he's already found his training season and availabe space shrunk by melting glaciers.

“Imagine a Canada with no pond hockey, no snow days, no skiing,” he said. “No snowmen, snowballs or snow forts and less maple syrup. As much as some people dislike it, winter is Canada.”

Suzuki also offered a harsh critique of the Conservative-led federal government and its lack of climate action, and of the national media's downplaying of the climate issue in last fall's election.

“Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are already acting at the individual level, but we need leadership at the federal level,” he said.

The foundation's report concludes with a call for national carbon regulation.

“Canada is a northern country,” Suzuki said. “We are probably as vulnerable to the effects of greenhouse gases and global warming as any country in the world.”

Jonathan Hiskes is a Seattle freelance journalist who formerly covered rural and environmental issues in southern Indiana.

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12. How YOU Can Support The Historic Bill to Ban all Fur in Israel

Thanks to JVNA advisor Rina Deych for forwarding this message to us. I went to the web site and indicated by support for the bill, and I hope that you will also do so.

Support needed for The Historic Bill to Ban all Fur in Israel

The first nationwide bill to ban all fur has been proposed in Israel.
We need international support to help push the bill through into law:


Thank you very much!


Jane Halevy
International Anti-Fur Coalition

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13. Switch to Vegetarianism Would Have a Great Societal Effect


The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day

[Many very interesting facts given. Read them and then consider how great it would be if there was a major switch toward vegetarianism.]

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14. FARM Schedules AR2009 Conference

Forwarded message from the Farm Animal Rights Movement:

You're Invited to Our Movement's Annual Conference
We are pleased to invite you to take part in the Animal Rights 2009 National Conference, our movement's largest and oldest annual gathering.

The Conference will be held on July 16-20th at the Westin LAX Hotel near Los Angeles Airport. This venue offers $95 rooms, accommodations for dogs, cruelty-free bedding and personal care products, $6 parking, free internet access, magnificent meeting and exhibit space, vegan cuisine, and free airport shuttle.

The program will focus on effective tactics to promote animal rights and veganism, to stop federal repression of animal activism, and to engage other social justice movements. We will have eyewitness accounts of the whale wars, California's Prop 2 initiative, and other high-profile campaigns.

We are maintaining the traditional five-track structure (problems/issues, organizing, remedies, raps/reports, and videos). Saturday night will feature the traditional Awards Banquet. Monday following the conference will offer intensive seminars, lobbying, and demonstrations planned by participating groups.

To register, visit our Registration page or call us at 888-327-6872. Or send a check to FARM/AR2009, 10101 Ashburton Lane, Bethesda MD 20817.

To book a discounted room, visit our Lodging page or call Westin reservations at 800-228-3000 or 301-216-5858 and mention Animal Rights 2009.

Contact our registrar for work scholarships and low-income discounts and housing.

10101 Ashburton Lane, Bethesda MD 20817;

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15. One Minute Video Shows the Dietary/Global Warming Connection Very Well

Thanks to author and JVNA activist Dan Brook for sending us the message and link below:

Here's a 1-minute Greenpeace video making the clear connection between cattle ranching/meat eating and Amazon Rainforest destruction/global warming:


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16. Press Release on World Health Day 2009

Medical doctors blame lifestyle for obesity epidemics and related illnesses

World Health Day 2009

Press Statement - SHARAN

7 April 2009

In spite of a multitude of initiatives the surge in obesity is ongoing and seems unstoppable. This preventable health risk is leading to an increased number of connected illnesses like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, rheumatism and cancer, and today is supersedes even infectious illnesses like malaria
and tuberculosis in the third world.

According to groups of medical doctors all over the world working to prevent and reverse diseases, this epidemic is man-made and can easily be averted by a
diet that is anatomically suitable to our species.

All animal products, including dairy, are rich in fat and cholesterol. It's impossible to remove all this because every cell contains fat. We are also consuming far too many proteins and acid yielding foods. Refined foods like white rice, white flour, vegetable fats and sugar add insult to injury.

Our anatomy is designed to process mainly complex carbohydrates which can be obtained from whole plant based sources, which reduce obesity, thus at the same time decrease the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies have
shown that vegetarians and particularly vegans have a lower average body mass index than meat eaters, warranting the adoption of a plant-based diet as a most beneficial step for the individual as well as for public health systems.

According to the American Dietetic Association position paper, appropriately planned vegetarian diets have been shown to be healthful, nutritionally adequate, and beneficial in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. However, paving the way for such a rational diet at a large level requires education, de-conditioning and government incentives.

For that reason governments must stop subsidizing animal agriculture. Moreover we require health education and cooking classes in schools, healthy food in cafeterias and the official encouragement to adopt a whole food plant based diet.

In this time of economic crises, when the public health system may not be able to meet medical costs for all, governments must aim for prevention rather than cure.


22 Matru Chhaya, 70 Marine Drive,
Mumbai 400 020

For more information and a list of medical doctors all over the world who are using this method to prevent and reverse diseases in their patients, please contact
Dr. Nandita Shah, shahnandi@gmail.com,
Tel: 9869454909, 0413 2623007, 0413 2622646

This press statement is endorsed by

AgireOra Network

European Vegetarian and Animal News Alliance (EVANA

International Nutrition Ecology International Centre - NEIC

International Swiss Union for Vegetarianism

Veg Climate Alliance (pending)

Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) (pending)
United States

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (pending)
North America

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