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Sample Resolution on Judaism and Dietary Concerns


(1) Judaism mandates that people be very careful about preserving their health and their lives ("v`nishmartem me`od l`nafshotechem", Deut. 4:15), but the typical American high-fat, high-cholesterol animal-centered diet has been linked to the three most frequent American killers - heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer - and other degenerative diseases, and a former U. S. Surgeon General has stated that 68% of diseases in this country are diet related; and

(2) Judaism stresses that we are to share our bread with hungry people, but over 70% of the grain consumed in the United States and 2/3rd of the grain exported by the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people (primarily children) die annually from hunger and its effects; and

(3) Judaism teaches that "the earth is the L-rd's" and that we are to be partners with G-d in preserving the world, but animal-centered diets and the current factory farming associated with it have major negative ecological effects, including soil erosion and depletion, water and air pollution related to the production and use of pesticides, fertilizer, and other chemical inputs, the destruction of tropical rainforests and other habitats, and potential global warming through the destruction of forests to create land for grazing and the production of feed crops, and the emission of large amounts of methane during the digestive process of cattle; and

(4) Judaism mandates that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value (bal tashchit (Deut. 20: 19,20)), or use more resources than is necessary to accomplish a purpose, but animal- based agriculture requires up to 20 times as much land and 10 times as much energy and water as the production of vegetarian foods, as well as vast amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, and other resources; and

(5) Judaism emphasizes compassion for animals (tsa`ar ba`alei chayim), but animals are raised for food today under cruel conditions, in crowded, confined cells, denied fresh air, exercise, and any emotional stimulation, and fed and injected with chemicals and hormones; and

(6) Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, but animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that eventually lead to instability and war; and

(7) G-d`s first dietary law was vegetarian (Genesis 1:29), and this is agreed to by the most highly respected Torah commentators, including Rashi, the Rambam, and the Ramban; and

(8) according to the Talmud (Pesachim 109a}, since the destruction of the Temple, Jews need not eat meat in order to rejoice on festivals; and

(9) Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, stated that in the Messianic period people will again be vegetarians, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb...the lion shall eat straw like the ox... and none shall hurt nor destroy in all of G-d's holy mountain"; and

(10) over 1700 of the world's scientists, including 104 Nobel laureates in scientific fields, have signed a "Scientists Warning To Humanity", which states that major changes are necessary if civilization is to move away from its present unsustainable path; and

(11) the powerful meat, dairy, and egg lobbies have promoted food habits that have been linked to many degenerative diseases (for example, the "Basic Four Food Groups" that these groups strongly supported for many years involves up to 50% animal products in the diet); and

(12) the pharmaceutical industry and other lobbies have stressed cures for diseases rather than preventive approaches through dietary and other lifestyle changes; and

(13) many people in the Jewish community (and other communities) base their dietary choices on myths that are part of the conventional wisdom; (for example, (1) it is commonly believed that large amounts of protein are necessary for a nutritious diet, but recent research has shown that sufficient protein can be easily obtained on a well-balanced plant-based diet (human mothers' milk has only 5% of its calories as protein, compared to 48% in a rat's mother's milk), and (2) it is commonly believed that large amounts of dairy products are necessary in order to avoid osteoporosis, but recent medical research has shown that countries such as the United States and Scandinavian countries where people consume the highest amounts of dairy products have the highest rates of osteoporosis, and other countries, such as China, where the people are largely lactose intolerant, have low rates of osteoporosis (the reason is that the consumption of large amounts of animal protein causes calcium to be excreted from the body; and

(14) the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine has been actively promoting their "New Four Food Groups", composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes as the best way to improve the health of the American people, and their proposal that the U. S. Department of Agriculture modify their nutrition guidelines so that it is based on their "New Four Food Groups" has been endorsed by 24 prestigious physicians; and

(15) the realization of Judaism's vision and the welfare and survival of the world require more than ever that Jews be "a light unto the nations", with regard to such issues as ecology, human health, world hunger, conservation of resources, treatment of animals, and vegetarianism is the diet most consistent with this; and

(16) for too long the Jewish community has generally paid insufficient attention to ways in which meat-based diets deviate from basic Jewish teachings and threaten human health, hungry people worldwide, and our environmental future; and

(17) our actions based on the above considerations would be an important step in showing that Jews are still "rachamanim b'nei rachamanim", compassionate children of compassionate parents, and that Jewish values can result in actions necessary for the improvement of individuals and society; and hence


1. to set up a committee to look more deeply into the above considerations from a positive Jewish perspective;

2. to sharply reduce or eliminate animal products at events sponsored by the Synagogue and Synagogue-related groups;

3. to take steps to educate members of our congregation as well as the entire Jewish community about realities and moral issues related to typical American diets, and the ways that plant-centered diets reflect and embody central Jewish values;

4. to prominently display in a suitable location nutritional information about the food served at the Synagogue;

5. to convey this resolution to other synagogues and other Jewish groups, so that they can consider it and also take appropriate actions if they so desire;

6. to encourage rabbis to explore these issues, to discuss them with their congregations, students, colleagues, and families, and to bring up similar rsolutions at rabbinic and congregational conferences;

7. to encourage principals of yeshivas, day schools, and Talmud Torahs to see that these issues are included in their curricula;

8. to encourage Jewish groups to refrain from serving meat at communal functions;

9. to encourage Jewish families to celebrate their simchas with vegetarian meals;

10. to encourage directors of Jewish camps to see that vegetarian options are available at all meals;

11. to encourage the Jewish media to give extensive coverage to the many moral issues related to our diets;

12. to urge the formation of a commission composed of rabbinic, health, nutritional, and environmental experts to study the effects of current animal-based agriculture and diets, with special concern to the impacts with regard to Jewish law and values.

13. to evaluate progress toward these goals periodically and to consider ways to improve our efforts.