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Key Points for Promoting Judaism and Vegetarianism
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

It is very easy to be discouraged by the failure of the Jewish community (and other communities) to respond to our powerful vegetarian arguments. But, as the evidence of the very negative effects of animal-based diets and agriculture become increasingly apparent, it is essential that we continue and increase our efforts. I would like to suggest ten key points and approaches that we should focus on in presenting our case. I welcome
suggestions for additional important points and arguments.

1. A switch toward vegetarianism is a spiritual imperative today because of the many inconsistencies between basic Jewish values and the realities of animal-based agriculture and diets.

2. A key question we should address to meat eaters is: In view of strong Jewish mandates to take care of our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace and non-violence, and the very negative effects that animal-based diets and agriculture have in each of these areas, shouldn't Jews eliminate or sharply reduce their consumption of animal products?

3. Vegetarianism is not only an important individual choice today -- it is a societal imperative because of the enormous economic and environmental costs of animal-based diets and agriculture.

4. A shift to vegetarianism is arguably the most effective way to:

1) reduce disease rates sharply;
2) halt soaring medical costs;
3) reduce the mistreatment of animals;
4) protect the environment;
5) conserve resources;
6) help hungry people;
7) reduce violence.

5. It is essential to make people aware of the insanity of a diet that is inflicting an epidemic of disease on millions of people and contributing substantially to serious environmental crises, global warming, scarcity of water and other resources, and widespread
hunger, while mistreating billions of farm animals.

6. While there are 6 billion people in the world today, there are 45 billion farmed animals and raising them contributes significantly to soil erosion and depletion, water pollution, destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, scarcities of water and other resources, global climate change, and other environmental threats. To make matters worse, livestock agribusiness, along with the World Bank and other international groups are planning to double the number of farmed animals by 2020.

7. It is urgent that vegetarianism be put squarely on the Jewish agenda, and on other agendas, because the revitalization of Judaism and the sustainability of the global environment depend on a shift to plant-based diets.

8. At a time when there are daily news reports related to such issues as mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease, a variety of degenerative diseases, soaring health care costs, a multitude of environmental threats, increasingly severe effects of global climate change, and widening scarcities of water, and energy, it is essential that vegetarianism be on the Jewish and other agendas.

9. We are trying to get the issue of vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda (and other agendas). We are willing, ready, and able to discuss or respectfully debate "Should Jews (and everyone else) Be Vegetarians?"

10. We are also calling for the formation of a commission of rabbis, other Jewish scholars, health experts. nutritionists, environmentalists, and other objective experts to investigate the realities of the production and consumption of animal products and how they impinge on basic Jewish values.

We should also point out that additional information may be obtained at jewishveg.com, from my book Judaism and Vegetarianism, and from books by Roberta Kalechofsky, including Vegetarian Judaism.

Back to the Schwartz Collection on Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights