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Vegetarian Journal Book Review
Issue one, 2002

Reviewed by Matt Terl

Judaism and Vegetarianism is not a moderate work. The first chapter opens with the assertion that God's intention was that people be vegetarians, and Schwartz maintains that tone for much of the book. Beyond this attitude, however, which I initially found somewhat off-putting, Schwartz has taken a challenging subject and crafted an eminently readable analysis of it.

Schwartz realizes the ways in which Judaism and vegetarianism appear to be in direct conflict—as evidenced by traditional foods, Biblical sacrifices, and so on—and takes pains to account for each of these contradictions. He ties a vegetarian lifestyle into Judaic traditions such as charity, compassion for life, and peace. His choices of sources are all excellent, and he does not rely on bad translations to do his work for him. His arguments are compelling and well-written.

Schwartz devotes a full chapter to a simple question-and-answer format that actually takes into account a number of things about which I had found myself curious while reading the book. The questions address general aspects of vegetarianism, such as "Is
vegetarianism an effective approach to weight loss?" as well as questions more specifically related to Judaism. However, the book is unlikely to appeal to those for whom questions of Judaism and vegetarianism are not of particular importance. While the vegetarian arguments have a universality about them, there is little there that cannot be found in greater detail elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you have an interest in Judaism, vegetarianism, and where the two intersect, or you are a non-vegetarian Jew who is searching for an understanding of where religion and an ethical diet intersect—perhaps having such a search forced on you by a significant other—this book is an excellent resource.

Judaism and Vegetarianism (ISBN 1-930051-24-7) is published by Lantern Books. Reviewed by Matt Terl, a graduate of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and the University of Maryland.