Points for Promoting Judaism and Vegetarianism
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
It is very easy to be discouraged by the
failure of the Jewish community (and other communities)
to respond to our powerful vegetarian arguments. But,
as the evidence of the very negative effects of animal-based
diets and agriculture become increasingly apparent,
it is essential that we continue and increase our efforts.
I would like to suggest ten key points and approaches
that we should focus on in presenting our case. I welcome
suggestions for additional important points and arguments.
1. A switch toward vegetarianism is a
spiritual imperative today because of the many inconsistencies
between basic Jewish values and the realities of animal-based
agriculture and diets.
2. A key question we should address to
meat eaters is: In view of strong Jewish mandates to
take care of our health, treat animals compassionately,
preserve the environment, conserve resources, help hungry
people, and pursue peace and non-violence, and the very
negative effects that animal-based diets and agriculture
have in each of these areas, shouldn't Jews eliminate
or sharply reduce their consumption of animal products?
3. Vegetarianism is not only an important
individual choice today -- it is a societal imperative
because of the enormous economic and environmental costs
of animal-based diets and agriculture.
4. A shift to vegetarianism is arguably the most effective
1) reduce disease rates sharply;
2) halt soaring medical costs;
3) reduce the mistreatment of animals;
4) protect the environment;
5) conserve resources;
6) help hungry people;
7) reduce violence.
5. It is essential to make people aware
of the insanity of a diet that is inflicting an epidemic
of disease on millions of people and contributing substantially
to serious environmental crises, global warming, scarcity
of water and other resources, and widespread
hunger, while mistreating billions of farm animals.
6. While there are 6 billion people in
the world today, there are 45 billion farmed animals
and raising them contributes significantly to soil erosion
and depletion, water pollution, destruction of tropical
rain forests and other habitats, scarcities of water
and other resources, global climate change, and other
environmental threats. To make matters worse, livestock
agribusiness, along with the World Bank and other international
groups are planning to double the number of farmed animals
7. It is urgent that vegetarianism be
put squarely on the Jewish agenda, and on other agendas,
because the revitalization of Judaism and the sustainability
of the global environment depend on a shift to plant-based
8. At a time when there are daily news
reports related to such issues as mad cow disease, foot
and mouth disease, a variety of degenerative diseases,
soaring health care costs, a multitude of environmental
threats, increasingly severe effects of global climate
change, and widening scarcities of water, and energy,
it is essential that vegetarianism be on the Jewish
and other agendas.
9. We are trying to get the issue of vegetarianism
onto the Jewish agenda (and other agendas). We are willing,
ready, and able to discuss or respectfully debate "Should
Jews (and everyone else) Be Vegetarians?"
10. We are also calling for the formation
of a commission of rabbis, other Jewish scholars, health
experts. nutritionists, environmentalists, and other
objective experts to investigate the realities of the
production and consumption of animal products and how
they impinge on basic Jewish values.
We should also point out that additional
information may be obtained at jewishveg.com,
from my book Judaism
and Vegetarianism, and from books by Roberta
Kalechofsky, including Vegetarian Judaism.
Back to the Schwartz
Collection on Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights