Diet for the New Age to Come Book Review
Book Review of Richard
Judaism and Vegetarianism
J. Patton, MA, MBA
Important Reading for Both
Jew and Gentile
One of the central problems of our Judeo-Christian
culture is the substantial barrier of ignorance between Jews and Christians. As
a result, our modern society has become substantially less Jewish or Christian.
In fact, some of the saddest chapters of violence and hate in the history of western
civilization are due to this ignorance. Great hope for the prophetic future of
peace and prosperity will be generated by gently bridging the prejudicial pride
practiced by people from both traditions.
Dr. Richard H. Schwartz's
book, Judaism and Vegetarianism, begins to fill in these gaps of understanding
for both Jew and Gentile. Not only does he provide clear scriptural commentary,
but he also introduces the reader to the methodology of Jewish thought as it has
been practiced over the ages. Here we discover the exercise of a wisdom that discerns
the ethical and moral priorities of right and wrong from among the plethora of
emotions and jumbled facts that accompany culturally complex issues like a vegetarian
or vegan diet and the treatment of animals.
His pages luxuriate
in learning and respectful moral challenge, whether they are read a few at a time
or in one sitting. This fact alone makes his book a must purchase for anyone interested
in understanding or working in the moral issues of human poverty, environmental
stewardship, "animal rights," food-borne diseases, or the general improvement
and maintenance of human health.
Since the Christian New Testament was written
as a commentary continuation of the Hebrew scripture, Christians make a big mistake
if they try to understand vegetarianism without a thorough grounding in their
Hebrew scriptural roots.
Dr. Schwartz lucidly presents the
Old Testaments references with simple explanation together with a variety of traditionally
Jewish perspectives. He introduces the reader to great scholars and their opinions
of the scriptural context and meaning for us today. Perhaps the most important
principle reinforced in this approach is the transcendent nature of biblical teaching,
the abiding morality of justice, mercy, and goodness.
increasing materialistic culture of feel-good moral relativism, an d "don't
confuse me with the facts" thinking, this book comes as an invigorating reminder
that what is right is right. The consequences of sin, of violating these eternal
principles of divine providence, cannot be avoided. Trying to imagine them away
by the diligent application of intentional ignorance will never work.
a theological note, many conservative Christians share an expectation of a coming
Messiah and millennial rule that will bring peace first to Judah and Jerusalem,
and then to all peoples. In fact, Christians who do not believe in a future Messianic
Millennial renaissance of Israel have inspired most of the atrocities done to
the Jewish people in the name of Jesus. As Dr. Schwartz points out, vegans and
vegetarians enjoy a foretaste of that time of peace with every bite they take.
Many famous rabbis became vegetarians for this reason, and today a growing number
of Christians are, too. Now then, if the Messiah would just come and settle a
little identity issue, we would even have doctrinal harmony between these two
A Genuinely Jewish Perspective
this point, I do need to emphasize that this book is written to Jews from a Jewish
perspective, answering social and cultural questions that only Jews are likely
Non-Jews can skim or skip some of this material as
their interest may lead them. However, for those possessing a little familiarity
with Jewish traditions, or who want to learn about those traditions, this book
is an inviting introduction. Dr. Schwartz's writing is easy to follow, and, due
to the nature of the questions, you may find yourself knowing some of the answers
by the time to get to the end of the book.
Some of the issues
covered from this decidedly Jewish point of view include: the ethical treatment
of animals, feeding the poor, environmental stewardship, environmental plagues
and diseases, simple living principles, and many aspects of Jewish Kosher or dietary
The book also contains many useful references to help
the reader to learn more or to become actively involved with Jewish groups aligned
with many of the perspectives covered. Dr. Schwartz provides some common sense
guidance on good health principles as well as on the practical aspects of vegetarian
living. Also included in the book are brief biographies of famous Jewish vegetarians.
Encouragement to Change Our Behavior Today in Anticipation
of a Better Tomorrow
In short, Judaism and Vegetarianism
is a book that will help the reader towards a morally responsible and healthy
lifestyle with biblical understanding. For Jewish readers, it will help them to
adapt their lifestyle changes to the various traditions of orthodoxy.
is no question in my mind that education is an extremely important aspect of making
the decision to "go veg" and grow that way. Dr. Schwartz's book richly
contributes to this educational necessity.