January 10, 2010

1/10/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Strategy Ideas For 2010

2. Turning Tu B’Shvat into an Environmental Shabbat

3. A Climate Panic in the World’s Future?

4. Blog Considers Blessings of Animals Ceremonies in Jewish Settings

5. A World Day For the Abolition of Meat Consumption?

6. Web Site Gives Links to Many Valuable Vegetarian Sites

7. Kosher Slaughterhouse Shut Down

8. Petition Asks President Obama to Give Up Eating Meat

9. Campaign to Get Climate Experts to Promote Veg Diets as a Response to Climate Change

10. Vegan Foods for Pets?

11. “We Are All One,” A Wonderful Environmental Message

12. Tu B’Shvat-Related Message From the Shalom Center

13. Debate on Eating Meat (or Not) at the Hazon Web Site

14. Update and Recent Comments on World Watch Article That Argues that Livestock Sector Causes At Least 51% of Human-Caused Greenhouse Gas Emissions

15. Getting Veg Info Into a Worldwide Travel Guide

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. Strategy Ideas For 2010

At the start of a new year and a new decade, we should recognize that we have accomplished much, but still have a long way to go to change people’s perceptions and get vegetarianism onto society’s agenda.

Here are some thoughts re effective outreach efforts: Stress that (1) the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe, (2) some climate experts are warning that global warming may soon reach a tipping point and spiral out of control, and (3) a major societal shift to plant-based diets is essential to provide even the possibility of avoiding the impending climate catastrophe.

* Take advantage of the many opportunities provided by newspaper articles on health, the environment, the treatment of animals, climate change, scarce resources, etc., to write letters to editors that stress how a shift to veg diets would improve conditions.

* Consider that you should take responsibility to do all that you can to help avoid a disaster due to climate change. Speak to everyone you can, especially rabbis and other religious leaders, educators, environmentalists, animal rights activists, etc., to increase awareness of the issues, and the urgency of shifts to plant-based diets.

* Respectfully challenge rabbis and other religious leaders to apply religious values to their diets and speak out on the issues.

* Stress that then production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish teachings on taking care of our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.

* Let people know that they can see our acclaimed, award-winning documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” at www.ASacredDuty.com, and that at this web site, people can also read blurbs and reviews and questions and answers and request a complimentary DVD.

Please send me suggestions for additional strategy ideas. Thanks.

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2. Turning Tu B’Shvat into an Environmental Shabbat

Recently a special JVNA newsletter with a press release, several articles and lists of Tu B’Shvat-related resources was sent to you. Please use this material to help plan Tu B’Shvat seders and other events in your community. Please share materials with local rabbis, Jewish educators and others who might be interested. Also, please see my two Tu B’Shvat-related articles in the festivals section at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz, and use them for creating letters to editors and talking points. Thanks.

Please visit the following web site to hear JVNA advisor Catherine Manna read my article, “Turning Tu B’Shvat into an Environmental Shabbat.” Thanks, Catherine.


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3. A Climate Panic in the World’s Future?

The coming climate panic?



One morning in the not too distant future, you might wake up and walk to your mailbox. The newspaper is in there and it’s covered with shocking headlines: Coal Plants Shut Down! Airline Travel Down 50 Percent! New Federal Carbon Restrictions in Place! Governor Kicked Out of Office for Climate Indolence!

Sometimes change is abrupt and unsettling. History shows that societies in crisis too often leap from calm reaction to outright panic. The only thing your bath-robed, flip-flopped, weed-eating neighbor wants to talk about over the fence isn’t the Yankees, but, of all things ... climate change.

Shaking your head, you think: What just happened?

With a non-binding agreement coming out of Copenhagen at the same time that atmospheric CO2 creeps above 390 parts per million, it’s possible that a new feeling might soon gain prevalence in the hearts of people who understand climate science. That feeling is panic. Specifically, climate panic.

In the same way that paleoclimate records show evidence of abrupt climate changes, we think it’s increasingly possible that policy responses to climate change will themselves be abrupt. After years of policy inaction, a public climate backlash is already smoldering. When it blows, it could force radical policy in a short timeframe. It’s the same kind of cultural tipping point, often triggered by dramatic events, that has led to revolutions or wars in the past.

The backlash is brewing in the form of increasingly strident comments from respected and influential people. Economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman has called government indolence on the issue “treason.” NRDC attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has called it “a crime against nature.” Environmental journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert has described “a technologically advanced society choosing to destroy itself,” while James Hansen and Rajendra Pachauri, perhaps the world’s leading climate scientists, have said inaction in the next several years will doom the planet.

Meanwhile, that very planet is visibly changing—epic droughts, fires and dust storms in Australia; floods in Asia, alarmingly fast melting of land ice in Greenland and Antarctica; the prospect of an ice-free summer on the Arctic Sea; raging, unprecedented fires throughout the world; and mosquito-borne illnesses like Dengue spreading to regions previously untouched. Measurements show that the oceans are rising and becoming more acidic, while the Earth’s average temperature was higher in the past decade than at any time in the past century.

At some point, even climate change becomes teenager obvious: “Well, Duh, Dad! Look around you!”

When the psychology of in-your-face warming gets combined with a shocking climate event—something like Hurricane Katrina on steroids—you end up with a witches brew that can result in what political scientist Aristide Zolberg has referred to as “moments of madness”—unique historical moments when society challenges conventional wisdom and new norms are forcibly—oftentimes disruptively—created.

There are many historical precedents: the economic and political chaos in Weimar Germany that ultimately led to the rise of Hitler, the violence of the French Revolution, the sudden, peaceful collapse of the Soviet empire.

Stock market panics are another example: a rapid change in mindset that illustrates the dangerous unpredictability of human systems. On climate, such a response could mean sudden and painfully costly dislocations in the energy markets—and therefore the global economy—that wind up becoming the “worst case” scenario that few people had considered possible.

It is exactly these economic impacts that the Glenn Becks and the Rush Limbaughs fear we’ll impose on ourselves through restrictive government regulation of energy and carbon emissions. Ironically, a “no action” approach today actually makes a climate panic much more likely over time. What we’re describing would be popularly driven, not fueled by governments or policy wonks. It would be the direct result of free will, democracy, autonomy and the information superhighway. All these forces would accelerate, not mitigate, the greatest “Aha!” moment in the history of the human species. Imagine the sub-prime mortgage bubble pop multiplied a hundred fold.

Yet business and government planners continue to anticipate much less abrupt transitions to a carbon-constrained future. Even renewable energy policy and emissions reduction scenarios dismissed as crazily aggressive are based on relatively incremental change.

That’s a big problem. We believe that business leaders and politicians need to add a more radical scenario to their risk assessment: a climate panic that turns us from agents into victims, ushering in chaos. The only way to avoid this catastrophic scenario is a kind of backfire panic of our own: radical, rapid, and aggressive implementation of climate policy in the United States as a message to the world. In the end, as venture capitalist Eugene Kleiner has pointed out, “sometimes panic is an appropriate response.”

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4. Blog Considers Blessings of Animals Ceremonies in Jewish Settings

Thanks to Blogger and JVNA advisor Michael Croland for his extensive research on this issue and for forwarding his blog entry to us.


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5. A World Day For the Abolition of Meat Consumption?

Forwarded message:

Hello animal rights activists!

Firstly I would like to wish you a very happy new year with a lot of joy and full of great actions for the animals!

Secondly I would like to inform you about this international day that demands the end of slaughterhouses. I think this is something very important for the animal rights movement and it would be great if actions are made in many towns in the world. 30 January will be a Saturday so we thought that this time we can make actions this day, but it is also possible to make actions all the week ( from 24 January to 31 January ), maybe it is even better because journalists don't often work on week-ends. Some activist material has also been added on this website: www.nomoremeat.org, you can also see on it the actions of the last year.

Can you please spread this information and organize something? That would be great. If you do please send un an email with the date, the place and the type of action planned. (Remember also to take some photographs of the action so that we can put them afterwards on the « action reports » page.)


What is the World Day for the Abolition of Meat?

The World Day for the Abolition of Meat is intended as a means of promoting the idea of abolishing the murder of animals for food. Worldwide six million sentient beings are killed for their flesh every hour! That figure doesn't even count the fish and other sea animals, which of course are included in the demand for the abolition of meat. Meat consumption causes more suffering and death than any other human activity and is completely unnecessary. 

Many groups will mobilize to promote the abolition of meat (and other animal products). They will not only advocate vegetarianism and veganism to individuals but will call for society to abandon the practice of killing animals for food. We hope that this initiative will strengthen the animal rights movement over the years. It is important to address people not only as consumers but also as citizens like the anti-slavery activists who, although only a small minority, not only sought a boycott of sugar produced by slaves but also clearly expressed the idea that slavery should be banned. It is important today to question society as a whole about the murder of animals for food so that it can no longer avoid a public debate on the legitimacy of this practice. 

On 30 January (or on another day from 24th to 31st January) conferences, street actions, leafleting and information stands will be organized to spread the idea that the consumption of animals cannot be justified ethically and should therefore be abolished just as human slavery was in its time. 

Here is the video of an original action that can be used for the world day, made by Swiss activists in 2007 (other groups are welcome to use the same format):


Your actions can be reported on this website: 

Send us an email if you plan something in your town: meat.abo.day@gmail.com

And for more information:

I recommend you this great article explaining why it is important to demand the abolition of meat: http://www.cahiers-antispecistes.org/spip.php?article369

A FAQ about the movement for the abolition of meat: http://en.m-eat.org/wiki/FAQ

A Yahoo group to organize actions for the abolition of meat: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/meatabolition/

Best wishes,

Anushavan Sarukhanyan, from Switzerland


Because meat production involves killing the animals that are eaten, because their living conditions and slaughter cause many of them to suffer, because eating meat and other animal products isn't necessary, because sentient beings shouldn't be mistreated or killed unnecessarily, therefore, farming, fishing and hunting animals, as well as selling and eating animal flesh, should be abolished.

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6. Web Site Gives Links to Many Valuable Vegetarian Sites


Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this link to us.

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7. Kosher Slaughterhouse Shut Down

[As I have advocated in the case of the Postville slaughterhouse. I think such events should be promoted as wake-up calls to try to get the Jewish community to address the many moral questions related to our diets.]

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Lewis Regenstein for forwarding this message:


Federal judge closes down kosher slaughterhouse

December 29, 2009

(JTA) -- A kosher poultry slaughterhouse has been shut down due to unsanitary conditions.

Federal Judge Stephen C. Robinson of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday ordered the New Square kosher poultry slaughterhouse closed after years of attempts by the USDA to force the plant to comply with the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, the Journal News reported.

The slaughterhouse's attorney asked the judge to allow the plant to operate for an additional two weeks to give its kosher-consuming customers time to find another source for kosher poultry. The judge refused the request, after government lawyers said it was too great a risk, according to the Journal News.

During an April inspection, federal inspectors found there was no soap or hand sanitizers in the employee bathrooms, and found poultry residue on walls, light fixtures and in the manager's office.

The slaughterhouse has been planning to build a state-of-the-art facility in the Chasidic Jewish community of Ramapo, a town bordered by New Jersey, a move being resisted by the county.

The plant slaughters 1,500 to 1,600 chickens and turkeys a day, six days a week, and its' products are sold at Oneg Poultry, a retail store in New Square, N.Y.


Forward Article on the Issue:


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8. Petition Asks President Obama to Give Up Eating Meat

Thanks to author JVNA advisor Arthur Poletti for setting up this petition, and sending us the message below.


President Obama, You And Your Family Should Stop Eating Animal Flesh

The President of the United States, The U.S. Senate and The U.S. House

Started by: Arthur Poletti


Together you have the power and worldwide influence to save the lives of billions of animals, subsequently creating a multitude of everlasting monumental benefits for humans, the earth, and the earth’s atmosphere.

Together your revolutionary profound efforts could be responsible for shutting down most or all animal factory farms and slaughterhouses in the world. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide together cause the vast majority of global warming.

Raising animals for food is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Removing animal flesh from the food chain may be the only realistic, viable, manageable, enforceable, and effective government solution needed to slow global warming, and to ultimately play the largest role in stopping it. The human race cannot run away from or escape the consequences of global warming!!

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9. Campaign to Get Climate Experts to Promote Veg Diets as a Response to Climate Change

Veg Climate Alliance is sending the letter below to Dr. James Hansen of NASA, and plans to send similar letters to other climate experts, including Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Lord Nicholas Stern and Al Gore.

Dear Dr. Hansen

We greatly appreciate your efforts for many years to focus the world’s attention on climate change and the urgency of effectively responding to it. We are happy about your improved health and wish you many more years of active involvement.

We are an alliance of many groups who share your awareness of the immense impact of diet on the climate. Your statement on the effectiveness of eating lower on the food chain is now famous among our peers. However the general public is mainly unaware of the substantial impact they can make with their food choices.

As you know, Dr. Hansen, there is no way the world can avoid the impending unprecedented climate catastrophe without a major shift to plant-based diets. Hence we urge you to make dietary changes a major part of your message, perhaps joining with others like Dr. Pachauri, Lord Stern and (we can dream) perhaps even Al Gore in a major public statement.

We would be happy to help spread that message as widely as possible.

If you have suggestions about how we might help, please let us know.

Many thanks again for your strong and steadfast advocacy for the earth and all its inhabitants, and best wishes for your continued success.


Veg Climate Alliance

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10. Vegan Foods for Pets?

Forwarded message:

This certainly has been true for our vegan dogs as well! By the way, we highly recommend Evolution vegan pet foods which can be bought here: http://www.petfoodshop.com/ or via MARC's buying club.

[JVNA does not endorse any products, so this is here only for informational purposes.]


Research by UNE scientist shows dogs thrive as vegetarians

21 Dec, 2009 09:00 AM


ARMIDALE scientist Wendy Brown is at the centre of groundbreaking international research that has found that dogs can thrive on a meat-free diet.

Dr Brown was part of a team of scientists who monitored the health and performance of Siberian huskies over a 10-week sled-racing season.

They concluded that hard-working dogs can perform just as well on a meat-free diet as they do on a meat-rich diet.

Their results, published earlier this year in the British Journal of Nutrition (Vol 102, pp 1318-1323), add to the evidence that dogs fed an exclusively vegetarian diet can be just as healthy and happy as their meat-eating relatives.

Dr Brown, the canine nutritionist from the University of New England who led the husky trial, is confident that dogs can thrive on a meat-free diet.

She warns dog owners, however, that preparing an adequate vegetarian diet for a dog is more difficult and time-consuming than they might think.

Dr Brown has concerns, too, about some of the vegetarian dog foods that are becoming commercially available in growing numbers.

Many of these, she said, are untested.

"People manufacturing and buying vegetarian and vegan pet foods are often against testing, believing that even feeding trials are cruel," she said.

"But feeding trials can be done in a friendly way. For my own trials, I borrow people's pet dogs - some of them show dogs - and they are always well cared for. People visiting my kennels comment on how happy the dogs look. And they are.

"When I feed my own dogs, I want to know that what they're eating is nutritionally adequate.

"As dogs belong to the order Carnivora, it's often assumed that they are exclusively carnivorous, but in fact they are omnivores, belonging to the same superfamily within the Carnivora as the bamboo-eating giant panda and the omnivorous bear."

In a paper presented at the University of New England during the international conference Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition 2009 and published in the conference proceedings, Dr Brown addresses the common argument that vegetarians should not impose their own values on their pets.

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11. “We Are All One,” A Wonderful Environmental Message


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12. Tu B’Shvat-Related Message From the Shalom Center

Forwarded message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow:

Dear chevra,

[Bottom line for this letter: I urge that multireligious groups together see the new film AVATAR this month; learn with me by teleconference seminar on January 14 the connections between this film and the meaning of the festival of Tu B'Shvat that celebrates the ReBirthDay of the Tree of Life; and then gather January 29 to eat together the sacred meal of Tu B'Shvat. Why? See the unfolding below. -- AW]

Several milestones in my life came this past week as I continue climbing into and beyond my post-car-crash ordeal of the last four months. One came Sunday afternoon, when Phyllis and I saw our first movie-movie (in a movie house, not DVD) since August. We drove there in a used Prius we have just bought to replace the car that was totaled in August.

The film was AVATAR. It is an obvious metaphor for the European-USA destruction of Native America and Africa; for the corporate destruction of the Amazon forest and its tribal human eco-partners; for the US destruction of much of Iraq and parts of Afghanistan.

For the indigenous peoples of the film's planet Pandora, the most sacred places are ancient living trees that embody the life force of the planet. So for me, the film spoke powerfully in the tongue of Tu B'Shvat, the festival of the Trees' ReBirthDay.

AVATAR is extraordinary. -- Not only the technology of the filming/ viewing, 3D and FX, but most of all for its spiritually rooted progressive politics.

See it!

See it in the spirit of its watchword: "I see you." Expressing what in Hebrew is "yodea," interactive knowing that is emotional, intellectual, physical/ sexual, and spiritual all at one – what "grok" is in the English borrowing from High Martian, channeled by Robert Heinlein.

In the film, the indigenous people – the Na'vi – [in Hebrew, this would mean "prophet"] of Pandora stand in the way of an Earthian techno-conquistador corporation that is hungry to gobble up a rare mineral.

The Na'vi worship/ celebrate a biological unity of the planet and all its life-forms -- Eywa -- especially focused on great trees that are the most sacred centers of their lives. These great trees embody Eywa, the Great Mother – but S/He is more than even these trees, S/He is all life. Spirit incarnate.

We are just now approaching the ecological-mystical festival of Tu B'Shvat. It intertwines celebration of the midwinter rebirth of trees and the rebirth of the Great Tree of Life Itself, God, Whose roots are in heaven and whose fruit is our world. Tu B'Shvat comes on the 15th day (the full moon) of the midwinter Jewish lunar month of Sh'vat. This year, that falls from Friday evening January 29, till Saturday evening, January 30.

Out of winter, out of seeming death, out of seeds that sank into the earth three months before, the juice of life begins to rise again. Begins invisibly, to sprout in spring.

Beneath the official deadly failures of the Copenhagen conference that was supposed to reinvigorate the world's effort to face the climate crisis, the seeds of rebirth were growing. They were growing in the grass-roots activists who will not let our earth die so easily at the hands of Oil and Coal and governmental arrogance as the Crusher tanks and rocket-planes and the robotic Marine generals and corporate exploiters of AVATAR would like to kill Pandora and its God/dess Eywa.

I urge that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, those who celebrate Manitou/ GreatSpirit in the varied forms of Native practice, join for Tu B'Shvat to celebrate the Sacred Forests of our planet.

I urge that we reach across our boundaries and barricades to celebrate the trees that breathe us into life. The forests that absorb the carbon dioxide that humans are over-producing, the forests that breathe out life-giving oxygen for ourselves and all the other animals to breathe in.

For us, Eywa is YyyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, "pronounceable" only by breathing, the Interbreathing of all life, Great Mother/Father/ Creator of our planet Whose breath, Whose very Name, is through the climate crisis and global scorching being choked by corporate rapacity and governmental arrogance.

I urge that we begin by going , anytime from now till January 29, in interfaith, multireligious groups to see AVATAR and then discuss its meaning in our lives. And then I suggest we gather on the evening of January 29 to celebrate the sacred meal of Tu B'Shvat together

What's to discuss? AVATAR teaches that the war against peoples and the war against the earth are the same war, being incited and fought by the same Crusher institutions. If we agree with this, how do we bring together the so-far separate struggles to end the two kinds of war? If we don't agree, how do we see the relationship?

AVATAR teaches that in the struggle to heal our world, birds and animals and trees and grasses can become our active allies if we "see" them as part of ourselves, part of our Beloved Community. Is there a way to make this true for us?

AVATAR describes how some Earthians turn their backs on the military-corporate attempt to shatter the Na'vi and instead join the Na'vi resistance. What do we Americans, we Westerners, make of that?

On January 29, what's to eat? A sacred meal, a Seder with four courses of nuts and fruit and four cups of wine. Foods that require the death of no living being, not even a carrot or a radish that dies when its roots are plucked from the earth. For the Trees of Life give forth their nuts and fruit in such profusion that to eat them kills no being. The sacred meal of the Tree Reborn is itself a meal of life.

And the four cups of wine are: all-white; white with a drop of red; red with a drop of white; and all-red: the union of white semen and red blood that the ancients thought were the start of procreation. And the progression from pale winter to the colorful fruitfulness of fall also betokens the growing-forth of life. The theme of Fours embodies the Four Worlds of Kabbalah: Action, Emotion, Intellect, Spirit.

There is much more to learn about this moment that so richly intertwines the mystical, the ecological, and the political. I helped bring together the Tu B'Shvat Anthology called Trees, Earth, & Torah (available in paperback from the Jewish Publication Society at 1.800.234.3151) that traces the festival through all its own flowering across 4,000 years of history.

On the evening of Thursday, January 14, I will lead a teleconference seminar on the meanings of the Festival and its connections to AVATAR. All are welcome. To see what to do in order to take part, please click here.


I look forward to speaking with you, "seeing" you.

You can also click to this essay on our Home Page at


and comment there. Share your thoughts about AVATAR, sacred trees, Tu B'Shvat, and corporate behavior!

With blessings of shalom, salaam, shantih – peace.


Additional special message to me and JVNA

Dear Richard,

Yesterday’s letter included three action proposals: that multireligious groups together see AVATAR this month and discuss its meaning for our lives and work; that people learn with me by teleconference seminar on January 14 about Tu B’Shvat, including its connections with AVATAR and some of the questions the film might raise for us; and that multireligious groups gather January 29 to eat together the sacred meal of Tu B'Shvat and plan toward action to protect forests and prevent climate disaster. (Ideally but not at all necessarily, people would do all three.)

I am writing now to underline all three items, and especially to invite you and JVNA to explore one of them -- the teleconference seminar -- in this way:

I will lead/ weave the seminar from 8 pm to 9:30 on Thursday evening, January 14. The fee to take part is $18. BUT -- If you or someone in JVNA will bundle people to take part in that seminar, for every set of five people the fee will be cut one-fifth: five people for the price of four ($72 instead of $90). The way it will work: JVNA sends us the check at 6711 Lincoln Drive Philadelphia PA 19119, along with five names with USPS and Email addresses; we send those people the phone number to call for the telesem.

[If interested in this special deal, please contact me. It will only work if 5 people express an interest in it.]

. . .

Many thanks --

With blessings of shalom, salaam, shantih – peace.

-- Arthur

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13. Debate on Eating Meat (or Not) at the Hazon Web Site

Please consider joining "The Debate: Eating Meat (or not) at the Hazon Food Conference".


I have posted a number of responses.

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14. Update and Recent Comments on World Watch Article That Argues that Livestock Sector Causes At Least 51% of Human-Caused Greenhouse Gas Emissions

update by Robert Goodland (co-author of the original article) on the article in World Watch is at http://www.wellfedworld.org/PDF/FAOConsult12-09.pdf

Below are comments on the original article by Australia's Geoff Russell (who's been a co-author with Peter Singer on various material) -- which seems to have helped him get to the point of posting a column yesterday excerpted as follows (and visible in its entirety at http://theenergycollective.com/TheEnergyCollective/55860)):

Is livestock consumption exceeding plant growth?

In my last BNC post, I referred to an estimate just published as a WorldWatch report that put the impact of livestock on greenhouse forcings at about 51 percent [actually at least 51%, according to the article] of the global anthropogenic total. I didn’t analyse this figure, but suggested it wasn’t unreasonable to think that land clearing, feeding, watering, housing, slaughter, transport and cooking implicit in dealing with 700 million tonnes of livestock biomass could conceivably be responsible for half of the total climate impact of 335 million tonnes of human biomass. But I was waiting for more expert analysis and still am. Many of the additions over and above the 2006 Livestock’s Long Shadow (LLS) estimate rely on close knowledge of the precise details of the FAO’s statistical data collection processes.

But on theoretical grounds, one of the most contentious inclusions in the 51 percent figure is livestock respiration … the carbon dioxide that livestock exhale. On the face of it, this seems plain wrong. All of the carbon dioxide in livestock respiration comes from the atmosphere via photosynthesis in plants. So it’s simply part of the carbon cycle. Isn’t it? The WorldWatch authors have subsequently justified this a little further, re-citing evidence given in LLS which states that animal respiration plus soil carbon oxidation (co2 flowing into the atmosphere) exceeds the drawdown due to photosynthesis by one or two billion tonnes of carbon annually. In many cases it is livestock driving the loss of soil carbon by deforestation and desertification and given that the planet’s 700 million tonnes of livestock dwarf wildlife by a ratio of about 23:3, it is possible that the planet’s total plant biomass may be shrinking under livestock’s onslaught. This is the implication of the reduction of NPP noted above and the carbon flow imbalance just mentioned.

I say may be shrinking because it’s tough to measure things like global photosynthesis or global respiration, and the figures in LLS are not the same as the figures in the Austrian work. Close, but not the same. But if the respiration plus soil carbon losses really are outstripping photosynthesis, then including at least some livestock respiration in the ledger isn’t just reasonable, but mandatory.

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15. Getting Veg Info Into a Worldwide Travel Guide

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor dan Brook for the following message:

"Wikitravel is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide. ... written and edited by Wikitravellers from around the globe."


[from the Wikitravel web site.]

After using Wikitravel this summer, I had the idea that we should slightly (not overwhelmingly) vegify it.

For every city that we live in, used to live in, or have traveled to, we should make sure that there is one or two veg restaurants listed and, if there isn't, to add them. Likewise with veg hotels and other veg attractions, if any.

If we overdo it for any location, it could be a problem (though maybe not); if we do a little for many, many cities, it could help raise awareness while supporting veg restaurants and other veg businesses.

I'd be interested in your thoughts about this.

Please post/blog/forward/tweet/share where appropriate.



Eco-Eating at www.brook.com/veg

The Vegetarian Mitzvah at www.brook.com/vegj

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