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Isn't much of Judaism today related to the use of animals for teaching and ritual purposes, e.g., the Sefer Torah, tefillin, the shofar, etc.?

The number of animals slaughtered for these purposes is minute compared to the billions killed annually for food. The fact that there would still be some animal slaughter to meet Jewish ritual needs shouldn't stop us from doing all we can to end the horrible abuses of animals. Also, most problems related to flesh-centered diets -- poor human health, waste of food and other resources, and ecological threats -- would not occur if animals were slaughtered only to meet Jewish ritual needs. Our emphasis should be on doing a minimum amount of harm to other people, the environment, and animals. The fact that some animal products are required for sacred uses (a very small amount) should not prevent a person from becoming a vegetarian. Also, tefillin and other ritual products can be made from the leather of animals that were raised without cruelty and died a natural death.

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