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Maariv, September 5, 2002 (page 8 of Maariv Today section)

Vegetables Preferable to the Appetite for Meat
by Adi Katz

Translated by members of Anonymous, Israel’s largest animal rights group.

Prof. Schwartz, a New York mathematician and a returned Orthodox Jew has written a book entitled Judaism and Vegetarianism.

Eating meat contradicts the spirit of Judaism, claims Prof. Richard Schwartz, a spokesperson for the International Jewish Vegetarian Society, who recently visited Israel. Prof. Schwartz is a New York mathematician and a returned Orthodox Jew who has written a book entitled Judaism and Vegetarianism. He also is one of the leading activists for vegetarianism from a Jewish perspective.

He himself turned vegetarian in 1978 for ecological reasons, after recognizing that the solution to the world’s hunger problem requires a transition to vegetarian nutrition. Shortly afterwards he found support for the rejection of meat eating in many Jewish sources.

He cites six major Jewish reasons for vegetarianism:

1. The creator of the world first commanded humans to eat only from that which grows (Genesis I, 29) and this interpretation is agreed to by the major Torah commentators as well.

2. Permission to eat meat was granted to Noah and his descendents after the flood on a temporary basis only due to human frailty. The Bible connects meat eating with uncontrollable appetite (Deuteronomy 12: 20). In the days of the Messiah, all creatures will be vegan (based on "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb… the lion will eat straw like the ox …", Isaiah, 11:6-9).

3. The commandment not to cause grief to living creatures comes from the Torah (de’oriatah) and is therefore of greater significance than the ensuing commandments given by the Rabbis (de’rabanan). The permission granted in the Bible to eat meat does not include abusing animals before they are slaughtered. Since modern animal farming severely abuses animals, meat eating constitutes, in his opinion, a transgression against the prohibition concerning animal abuse.

4. Care of the spirit and the concurrent care of one’s physical health that is a component of it, is an important Jewish commandment. Research testifies that consumption of meat and meat products increases the likelihood of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

5. The prohibition against destroying the environment ("thou shall not destroy," bal tashchit) is a commandment from the Torah (de’Oriahtah). It is based on Deuteronomy 20:19-20 which prohibits the destruction of fruit-bearing trees during wartime, and extensions of the sages. Livestock agriculture causes, he claims, pollution and destruction of the environment. It requires large agricultural plots, and huge amounts of water, energy, and other resources.

6. Aiding the hungry is another important mandate in Judaism. Farmers are required to leave the corners of the fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the hungry. However, 70% of the grain produced in the West is consumed by animals raised by the food industry. Part of the resources that are channeled to the meat industry could be utilized to feed the hungry in third world countries.