For Immediate Release:

November 17, 2008


Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)        Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America issued the following statement today:

We strongly endorse efforts in the Jewish community to aid workers and others in the Postville community who are being so negatively affected by the closing down of the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse. We believe that after all the negative publicity for the Jewish community related to events at the facility, it would be a Kiddush Hashem for the Jewish community to play an active role in responding to the current humanitarian crisis by helping Postville workers and residents.


We are urging JVNA members and our other contacts to send checks marked “Food and Disaster Relief” to special funds that will help mitigate the severe conditions facing people in Postville. One example is:


Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Postville Relief Fund


We also want to stress that, while the closing of the Postville plant is hurting many people, there are some benefits, as the production and consumption of animal products contribute significantly to many other humanitarian crises, including:


*  a health crisis, since since animal-based diets have been strongly linked to an epidemic of heart disease, several types of cancer, strokes and other chronic, degenerative diseases;

* a hunger crisis, since the world is not only trying to feed 6.7 billion people, but also 56 billion farmed animals; while an estimated 20 million people die annually from hunger and its effects and close to a billion people lack adequate food, 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and 40 percent produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter;

* an energy crisis, since animal-based diets require about ten times the energy used for plant-based diets;

* a global warming crisis, since, as a 2006 UN FAO report indicated, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's cars and other means of transportation combined (13.5 percent), and the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years. If that increase occurs, the rise in greenhouse gases would negate the effects of many positive changes and make slowing global warming very difficult, if not impossible

* an environmental crisis, since the raising 56 billion animals worldwide annually for meat, eggs and milk is contributing to rapid species extinction, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, oil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution and many more environmental problems that threaten humanity and all of creation;

* a water supply crisis, since the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet;

* a financial crisis, since medical costs have been soaring in response to the epidemic of diseases caused by animal-based diets, and about one of every six dollars now spent in the US is for health care;

* a crisis in Jewish values, since the Jewish community is generally ignoring that the production and consumption of 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 seek and pursue peace


Although we 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 Postville, Iowa and other slaughterhouses have caused many Jews to switch toward vegetarian diets. We hope that the recent attention to conditions at the Postville facility will result in a major reassessment of how the current production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish teachings and harm people, animals and the entire planet.


Further information about these issues can be found at our JVNA web site 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, and there is much background material about the film at that web site.


Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," "Judaism and Global Survival," and "Mathematics and Global Survival," and over 130 articles at

President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

and Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV)

Associate Producer of A SACRED DUTY (
Director of Veg Climate Alliance (