JEWISH GROUP WELCOMES SHIFT TO VEGETARIANISM DUE TO KOSHER MEAT SHORTAGE
For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2008
Richard H. Schwartz,
President of the Jewish Vegetarians of
President@JewishVeg.com Phone: (718) 761-5876
Jewish Vegetarians of North America issued the following statement today:
deeply regret the effects on workers and the local communities, we welcome
reports that the recent shortages of kosher meat due to the closings of the Agriprocessors' largest glatt
kosher slaughterhouse in
We strongly support efforts by many groups to improve conditions at slaughterhouses. But, even if these conditions become far better, we believe that it is still urgent that Jews shift away from animal-based diets, because they involve many inconsistencies with Jewish law and values:
* Producing and consuming meat and other animal products represent serious violations of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and eek and pursue peace.
* The raising of 60 billion animals worldwide annually for meat, eggs and milk is contributing to global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction and many more environmental problems that threaten humanity and all of creation.
* We can reduce the current epidemic of diseases afflicting Jews and others through a switch toward plant-based diets.
* In view of the many current threats to humanity, it is scandalous that the world is not only trying to feed 6.7 billion people, but also 60 billion farmed animals; that 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and 40 percent produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter; that the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet.
* This is
extremely important for Jews today because
We urge that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. Judaism has marvelous teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to today's many current environmental threats.
Further information about these issues can be found at our JVNA web site JewishVeg.com. We will provide complimentary copies of our new, highly-acclaimed documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD and related materials to rabbis and others who will contact us and indicate how they might use them to involve their congregations, schools or other groups on the issues. The entire documentary can be seen at ASacredDuty.com, and there is much background material about the film at that web site.
SUPPLEMENTARY SUPPORTING MATERIAL
Support for our argument that the mass production and widespread consumption of meat conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:
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=0 Adie 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.
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, and since animal-centered diets violate and contradict each of these responsibilities, JVNA believes that committed Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products.
“One could say "dayenu" (it would be enough) after any of the arguments above,” stated JVNA president Richard Schwartz, “ because each one constit tes 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.”
H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," "Judaism and Global Survival," and "Mathematics and Global Survival," and over 130 articles at www.JewishVeg.com/schwartz
President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) www.JewishVeg.com
and Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) www.serv-online.org