VEGGIEJEWS' MISSION STATEMENT
VeggieJews began on June 22, 2003, in San Francisco, USA, and has since evolved into an international group moderated from Tel Aviv, Israel. The purposes of the group are to provide support for Jewish veggies and vegans, to project vegan, vegetarian and animal rights consciousness into the Jewish community and to foster Jewish identity.
There are many important reasons to adopt a conventional vegetarian diet (with eggs and dairy) or a pure vegan vegetarian diet (without eggs and dairy). Envirnomental studies like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report(www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448) show that a meat based diet is
one of the major contributors to global warming. Animal agriculture is also responsible for massive amounts of air and water polution as well as the degredation of pastures and the waste of scarce water resources. Only fossil fuels are as destructive to the environment as animal agriculture.
There are also proven health benefits associated with adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet. Vegetarian and especially vegan diets are lower in cholesterol and toxins than conventional meat-centered diets. Numerous studies including The China Study by Cornell University epidemiologist T. Colin Campbell have shown that vegetarians and especially vegans have significantly lower rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many other maladies associated with conventional meat-centered diets. In fact, heart disease and diabetes have proven to be reversible by substantially veggie diets alone.
But, for the Jewish community, perhaps the most important reason to go veg relates to kosher laws. When kosher laws began the intent was clearly to be as humane as possible to animals being exploited for food. While members of other cultures cut off a living animal's leg for food one day and another leg the next day, kosher laws forced Jews to quickly kill an animal before butchering it. At the time kosher laws were a great
leap in compassion. But times have changed.
These days, animals killed for food other than kosher are generally supposed
to be stunned before slaughter so that they do not feel pain. Take cows for example. In non-kosher slaughterhouses a cow is first stunned into unconsciousness, usually with a bolt fired between the eyes, and then hoisted upside down by one leg, which breaks. Then it is cut with a knife from its throat all the way to its belly so that the guts fall out and the animal dies. In some kosher plants, almost the same process is followed except that the cows are not stunned first and their throats are slit before they are butchered. That means that each animal is fully conscious and in agony as it is hoisted upside down by a leg that breaks and slowly tears away from the animal's heavy body
during the two to five minutes before its throat is slit.
Even in those slaughterhouses in which hoisting is not utilized, the treatment of animals for kosher use is far from humane by contemporary standards. Undercover video taken by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2004 shows cow in a kosher certified Iowa slaughterhouse slamming their heads on the floor, staggering about
and even standing shakily minutes after each one had its throat cut and trachea and esophagus ripped out. Contrary to popular belief, the animals do not die instantly. They might take minutes to die during which time they remain alive and conscious. Out of economic necessity, approximately 50% of all cows slaughtered in the U.S.are killed according to kashrut although only 5% of the meat is sold as kosher. Other animals, like chickens, are treated with equal cruelty. The slaughterhouse process moves so quickly that chickens are often put into boiling water to remove their feathers before they are dead. Their agony is beyond imagination.
But, even if kosher slaughter were humane, animals raised for food experience lives of agony before ever reaching the slaughterhouses. Intensive, modern factory farming of animals involves such horrors as cutting the beaks offunanesthetized chicks, branding cows with red-hot irons, confining egg laying hens in crates so small that they can't turn around or spread their wings, and castrating bulls without anesthesia. The lives of these animals are completely controlled for the economic benefit of those who hope to profit from exploiting them. All of the animals' natural desires and inclinations are frustrated and denied for their entire lives.
These contemporary methods of animal husbandry and slaughter might conform to the letter of kosher laws but certainly not to the spirit of Jewish law which also requires "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim," a mandate not to cause pain to any living being. Many Biblical passages make it clear that a Jew is to treat animals with compassion. It is noteworthy that G-d only allowed the eating of animals after the great flood due to the human demand to do so. But it was G-d's plan from the time of the Garden of Eden that humans eat a vegan vegetarian diet of beans, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. [G-d said, "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food." Genesis 1:29] If we really want to be closer to G-d why not move beyond kosher to G-d's chosen diet rather than the one that He reluctantly allowed due to humanity's flaws and weaknesses?
Judaism has changed enormously over the millennia. We went from animal
sacrifice during the days of the great Temple in Jerusalem to prayer and acts of kindness after the destruction of the Temple. It was a change so radical that we became a virtually different people, one that was able to survive the centuries and flourish to become a moral light to the world. Now the time has come for the next big leap, one that is not at all radicalcompared to the changes through which we've already been: the leap to a conventional vegetarian diet or, better yet, a cruelty-free pure vegetarian (vegan) diet. It's time for the leap back to the diet that G-d intended for us. VeggieJews was created to help us get there.
Come join us at our Yahoo Group Web site!
Pete Cohon, founder
"G-d said, 'See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food.'" [Genesis 1:29]
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