The Debate: Eating Meat (or not) at the Hazon Food Conference

The Jew and The Carrot, Hazon’s blog about Jews, food and contemporary life.  The blog has a diverse and inclusive community, where we welcome readers and volunteer writers from across the Jewish denominational spectrum, and from all walks of culinary life.  Our aim is to ensure that The Jew and The Carrot community is a platform for vibrant discussion for anyone interested in food issues.

Late on Friday we received the following letter from Pete Cohon, founder and moderator of VeggieJews, an international, real-world and online, Jewish, vegetarian organization.  He has been a vegan and animal rights activist for 22 years and a vegetarian for 27 years.  A former San Francisco trial lawyer, Pete now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Below his letter is the response from Hazon.  We encourage a vibrant debate, but please ask commentators to refrain from personal attacks on any views.  We reserve the right to remove  any comments that violate our Community Guidelines.

chicken at the hackney city farm

An open letter to Nigel Savage, Executive Director of Hazon, and the groups members:

The Hazon group claims that it works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, fight climate change and promote a more sustainable world for all.  I understand that the group even hosts vegetarian meals at which it promotes its programs.

That sounds great.  But I’m concerned that Hazon is not living up to the promise.

Three years ago, during your group’s 2007 Jewish Food Conference, Hazon publicly slaughtered three goats despite numerous appeals that the cruel demonstration of shechita be canceled.  I am disappointed that Hazon remains unapologetic for its cruel and unnecessary slaughter.  But I am truly offended that you are planning a similar demonstration again at this year’s Jewish Food Conference which will begin on December 24 near Monterey, California.

According to Hazon’s Web site, this year’s conference will include:

Chicken Shechita at Green Oaks Creek Farm:

We will meet on the farm early in the morning on Wednesday, December 23 to observe the shechita (ritual slaughter) and to help pluck, clean, soak, and salt pasture-raised chickens.  If you are old enough to be a bar or bat mitzvah, you are old enough to volunteer.  No experience is necessary.  Wear warm work clothes and be prepared to get your hands dirty.

In other words, Hazon is again promoting unnecessary animal cruelty in the name of Jewish environmentalism.

It looks like, contrary to its claims, Hazon is not really a Jewish environmental group at all.

While claiming to fight climate change and support a more sustainable environment, Hazon completely ignores the 2006 report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization that found animal agriculture responsible for almost 1/5 of all global warming.

Hazon also continues to ignore the 2009 report of the NGO World Watch, which found that the UN’s figures were incorrectly tabulated and that the actual contribution of animal agriculture to global warming is 51%.

But, apparently, Hazon doesn’t care about the facts.  Your group continues to pretend to be a Jewish environmental organization  and even hosts misleading vegetarian events to promote itself while also continuing to promote cruel and environmentally unsustainable lifestyles.  If Hazon believes that a few chickens running around freely on small, sustainable farms can feed the demand of billions and billions of people living mostly in urban areas on this planet, then Hazon is truly living in a dream world.  As long as people eat animals, mass production of animal foods will require massive operations that cannot  possibly be environmentally sustainable.

Please be advised that your planned slaughter of chickens at this year’s Jewish Food Conference is unacceptable.  The conference will only encourage the continuation of a meat-based diet despite the negative health, environmental and ethical consequences.  I urge you to stop the bloodletting and start healing the planet by promoting to the Jewish community a diet based solely on plant-based foods.  It’s time for Hazon to include compassion for animals in its mission as well as real-world environmental sanity.

- – -

whats up chicken

Dear Pete,

Thank you for your thoughtful response to our work.  Nigel is out of town this weekend, but he wanted to make sure we responded to you.

Before I go into Hazon’s pedagogy, I want to comment on your climate change comments.  As you note, animal husbandry is a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  We know that data and have used it to guide aspects of our Jewish Climate Change Campaign.  In this campaign, we ask Jews to reduce their meat intake by 50% within the next shmita cycle – September 2015.

But we go past the concerns of climate change.  Hazon engages on the issues that arise from the industrialization of our food – period.  We examine how we eat all foods and what we’re eating.  Through the Hazon CSA (community supported agriculture) program, hundreds of Jewish families across the US are sourcing their weekly vegetables from local organic farmers.  Countless people have been inspired by Hazon to shop at their local farmer’s market.

Now, to address the issue of shechting animals at the Food Conference.  I am not going to address whether shechita is cruel – that is a conversation on Jewish tradition that I will not address here.  But I will address how participating in the shechita process impacts the community that has become the Food Conference participants.  Hazon does not tell people how to be Jews, let alone how to be environmentalists.  We do provide the richness of education and experience that enables and empowers personal decision.  For too many people, animal consumption is disguised by neat packaging and the neutral term “meat.” By shechting animals at the Food Conference, we provide the space for people to engage with the intimate reality of eating animal flesh. And that experience has proven, time and time again, to do more to influence long-term changes in personal consumption behavior.

Again, thank you for taking the time to engage us on this important issue.

All the best,

Assistant to the Executive Director

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95 Responses to “The Debate: Eating Meat (or not) at the Hazon Food Conference”

  1. Linda Richman Says:

    I’ll give you a topic… Talk amongst yourselves!

    “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I’ll accommodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a ‘vegetarian plate’, if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.”

    – Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

  2. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    As a vegan on the Vegan Roundtable at Hazon, who has planned with the other committed vegan Jews on the Vegan Roundtable to make our panel a powerful transformational hour for the group that attends with our eyes, hearts, and minds open, may I please kindly ask the vegans who are going to comment on here to make your comments amenable to people listening with mutual and bi-directional openness, kindness, and respect.

    Underlying human and Jewish unity and civility is hugely important. Rather than adding to people’s resistance through attack, please speak from the point of view of One Soul, making it easier for people to listen, hear, become conscious, and change.

    To propose an idea, at Hazon this year shall we do the lead-up to the shechting and then stop with blade drawn, setting the bird free – just like Avraham listened to Hashem speaking within him, stopped his knife, and had a revellation.

    Thank you,
    Michael A. Bedar
    Hazon Presenter:
    “Veganism in Jewish Life”

  3. beth Says:

    One of the things I find troubling about pro-vegan arguments is an across-the-board refusal to acknowledge that a strictly vegan diet does NOT work for everyone.

    (Example: I have Crohn’s — a disease which shows up in disproportionately higher numbers among Ashkenazic Jews than among the rest of the population — and I could not possibly survive on a purely vegan diet. A diet rich in vegetables, especially beans and leafy greens, would rip my gut apart.)

    Some of us have bodies that find it easier to break down and process nutrients found in eggs, cheese, and other animal products than to do the same with the most heavily fibrous vegetables. That’s not to say I NEVER eat vegetables — I do — but I don’t have the wide array of choices that vegans and most vegetarians do.

    I would take the vegan argument more thoughtfully if there wasn’t such a “my-way-or-the-byway” approach to it. But every time the argument is presented to me it is with the tone of a radical convert, with no room for variables or nuance.

  4. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    Thank you for sharing, Beth. For the last seven years I have been teaching vegan ideas with variability and nuance, so I hope I will be a refreshing input for you.

    We will present options, foods you may not have heard of as large part of a diet before, and gentle spiritual approaches about veganism.

    It will be a very different tone from what you’ve heard. The thing is, that heavy handed voice you alluded to is the most visible thing about veganism to the outside world, but in the vegan world, and certainly the live-food (raw) vegan world where I dwell, many people are quite understanding and nuanced.

    We all want you to survive and thrive!

  5. Pete Cohon Says:

    I am disappointed to see how far from the original topic this discussion has wandered.

    I originally wrote my open letter to the group to encourage discussion on the general subject of the absurdity of so-called environmentalists fueling global warming by supporting animal agriculture, which is one of the major causes of global warming. I also hoped to encourage discussion on the subject of Hazon’s specific plan to publicly slaughter chickens at its upcoming food conference, thus making Jewish environmentalism look more like bloodlust.

    Sadly, this conversation has degenerated into little more than hysterical vegan-bashing while completely ignoring the real and very important environmental and ethical issues raised by Hazon’s support for an unsustainable meat-based diet.

    I respectfully urge folks to stick to the real issues: How can so-called Jewish environmentalists ignore the overwhelming evidence from the United Nations and World Watch that animal agriculture is destroying the planet? How can we call ourselves Jewish environmentalists if we won’t change our own lifestyles to avoid being part of the problem?

  6. beth Says:

    Okay, fair enough. Here are some questions, plus an alternative context for examining them. Anyone can step up and answer here.

    1. What would it look like for me to change my life so that I could eat vegan?
    2. What steps would I need to take?
    3. Could I realistically make these changes (based on my income, location and other factors)?
    4. How many of us would it take (making these changes) for it to make a difference?


    My personal context, used as an example: I am blessed to live in a town where I can [and do] ride a bike everywhere as my primary transportation, and I have lived car-free for twenty years. But I still live in a landscape designed for the automobile. I am well aware that MOST towns and cities don’t have a bike-friendly infrastructure like we have here (in Portland).

    How many people would have to give up their cars and clamor for changes in infrastructure before anyone listens? And is it possible for EVERYone to do so in the world we currently live in?

    I don’t ride my bike to make a statement, or to annoy people who drive cars (though these are sometimes side-effects of my choice to live without a car of my own). I ride my bike primarily because it’s the best, nicest and happiest way for ME to get around. While I wish that fewer people would own and drive cars, I have learned through decades of experience that this is not a good starting point for discussion and education. The better starting points are things like the true costs of driving, and the effects of a car-centric infrastructure on children, the elderly and the poor.


    Most people don’t eat a certain way to make a statement; they eat a certain way because it WORKS for them. Veganism is a nice ideal but is not attainable by everyone in the same way — for medical, financial, geographic or other reasons. (If you live in a place where there are no farmers’ markets or decent grocery stires, you’re kinda SOL as regards food choices in general.)

    While we are looking at the way food is grown and distributed in the world today, are there other aspects of this situation that folks could be called to notice and act upon without feeling like their personal approach to eating — for whatever reasons — is somehow being invalidated?

    How could the infrastructure of mass food production be changed to facilitate healthier food choice and accessibility for absolutely EVERYone, and not just for some of us based on geography, income and other factors?

    Finally — and I think this is the biggie — would a succession of individuals making these changes make enough of a difference in the world? Would our dietary choices make a difference, or would they reduced by sheer lack of numbers to little more than a statement?

    I won’t be attending the conference but I’d still be interested in hearing various thoughts on this idea. Thanks.

  7. Marc Says:


    While I found your original letter thoughtful, I think your argument is a case of the letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. I assume you have not banned all use electricity or fossil fuels from your life. How can you claim a mantle of environmentalism without doing so? Hazon has taken steps both in a practical sense and educational sense to encourage better practice across the board, including with regard to meat eating. Each step is important, as well as a consciousness of the how and why of each component. While I understand that your vision involves an elimination of meat eating and animal agriculture altogether, I think you recognize that that is not a practical immediate goal. Accordingly i don’t understand why you oppose Hazon’s attempt to instill a greater understanding and appreciation of all that goes in to meat eating, which very often leads to a reduction in meat eating. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to support Hazon’s practical and educational goals, which have measurable positive effects.

  8. birdwings Says:

    The following is a letter I sent to Hazon about their proposed chicken slaughter. I’m hoping San Francisco Bay Area Jewish and Vegetarian groups disavow their connections to this group.

    There is absolutely no rationale for slaughtering chickens at a Jewish “eco”
    conference. You give Jews a bad name; you give ecology a bad name; you give food
    conferences a bad name; you give change and acceptance a bad name; you give
    child education a bad name.

    With all of the bad energy you are creating and putting in to demonstrating
    ritual slaughter, you could use to teach another way of eating Jewish food -
    what, no vegetarian or vegan ideas that you might be interested in teaching to
    those who might be seeking change? I wrote a Living Foods Passover Haggadah,
    with Recipes for the Seder, and yet you feel compelled to renounce anything
    remotely new, innovative, compassionate, healthy, or alternative to standard
    carnivore eating. SHAME. SHAME. SHAME. Are there no minimum requirements for you
    to call yourself an ecological group? How can you possibly describe what you do
    as “ecological, good for the environment, change in action”? Animal slaughter as
    ecological change for the environment – “1984″ psycho-speak!

    I will do everything in my power to promote change in the Jewish community, when
    it comes to ecology, eating, and culture. Jews are compassionate; Jews are
    caring; Jews are Vegetarians and Vegans. I stand for positive change; I stand
    for positive energy; I stand for Jewish healing. I will do everything in my
    power to publicly disavow the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish connection to your
    group as an ecological movement for change. You are a disgrace to every movement
    I hold sacred. SHAME. SHAME. SHAME.

  9. Getzel Says:

    As a vegetarian, an environmentalist, a Jew, and an educator, I just wanted to weigh in on one of the aspects of education: namely tochechah or giving rebuke):
    Moshe Luzzato in his Mesilat Yesharim bemoans the fact that many educators rebuke their students in ways and at times when it is impossible to for them to be listened to. In other words, while it is a mitvah to tell someone to tell someone that they are doing something wrong it is forbidden to do so at times when they are unable (or unwilling) to listen.
    I believe that if Hazon were to teach that one could only be an be an environmentalist by being a vegan, it would significantly lesson the group’s ability to reach out and educate the masses. As I understand it, Hazon (and many of its grantees) has done a wonderful job teaching about meat reductionism (which is a great step towards sustainability). Making a radical move to advocate against the consumption of any animal products, they would loose their base any many of our support. You have to meet people where they are and only ask of people what they are ready to commit to. Any more merely makes people angry or ashamed

  10. birdwings Says:

    Learning to kill animals, and then seeing them killed, and then butchering and cooking them to eat is NOT an education. If Hazon wanted to teach about environmentalism and compassion in this world, it would show a live animal, then show a packaged product, then release the live animal, and talk about alternatives. Children don’t need to see or witness the bloody carcasses of dead animals that they will later eat. There are alternatives that don’t require your 360 degrees of acceptance. I will not support a group, which labels itself environmental and ecological while they spend money and time on killing and slaughtering animals.

  11. Jenny Says:

    Riding your bike is great- but what we eat actually has a much bigger impact. The media and automobile market has done an excellent job convincing the public that we just need to throw out our cars and get hybrids (or alternative transportation) and global warming is history. Not true.

    Pete, I think you make some excellent points. As a Jew, I find it disturbing and hypocritical that Judaism emphasizes compassion and taking care of the earth- but yet condones the most violent acts against our ecosystem. The Hazon demonstration of shechita seems to me a voyeur endeavor where people slash up some animals claiming to be on a higher spiritual level. On that level- I not only resent the actions of Hazon, but until that practice is removed I would never consider participating in the organization or conference. (Despite the fact that my research is in intersections of food choices, veganism, and environmentalism guided by a Jewish ethic).

    With regard to the environmental messages of Hazon- How can the organization claim any shape of environmentalism or even following Talmudic interpretations of environmentalism without taking an abolitionist stance of factory farming? It seems hypocritical. Perhaps Hazon receives funding from some larger organizations and doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.

    Either way, I am sorely disappointed by these practices.


  12. Rivster Says:

    Getzel has is right. There are Jewishly-appropriate ways to share a different perspective. Our Talmudic Tradition encourages both sides of an argument to be presented in a way that meant to inform and educate. Never as a harsh public rebuke.

    There is more than one way to care for the earth and there are differing expert opinions regarding the effect an animal diet has on the earth. We are entitled to have our opinions AND to share them. But we ought not resort to hyperbole, name-calling, and inflammatory speculation.

  13. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    The Hazon stance, I have read, is for all to halve their meat intake (which I read as double their delicious amazing plant intake) in under six years. That (although I would encourage those who are called to go all the way) is amazing! Thank you for urging the Jewish world to half its meat intake! That is truly phenomenal. What other inclusive body, in Judaism or in any other cultural or religious group is doing that? (Okay, there are some). But what a great step.

    What if Judaism actually did that! Half the health, environmental, karmic, ethical, and other problems, and double the sense of lightness, harmony, ecology, and love!

    Yes, I am excited for the day when we truly go to Eden and live as we were given the blueprint. For right now in this moment, because we have to start in the right direction, MASSIVE applause for doing everything we can to help Kol Am Yisrael half its meat and double its greens in less than six years. With G-d’s help we can do it in less time!

  14. Shoshana Says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the people who say things along the lines of “Learning to kill animals, and then seeing them killed, and then butchering and cooking them to eat is NOT an education.” In fact, it was the shechting of the goats at the hazon conference two years ago and the chickens last year that started what has been a profound change in how my family eats. It is a powerful educational statement to show people that if we are to eat meat we need to be aware of all that goes into that choice. If we aren’t willing to see live animals become meat than we need to think hard about whether we should be eating it. Since then we have be getting all of our meat, and most of our poultry, from co-ops providing pasture raised ethical meat. I am more cognizant of all that goes into getting this food to my table and as a result it feels “special” so we eat it much less often for a regular weekday meal, opting for vegetarian options instead. There is a sanctity to it, and I find myself wanting to save it for shabbat or a special occasion. As a kosher consumer, the option of buying ethically farmed meat would not be available to me if organizations like Hazon did not embrace that eating meat, albeit a smaller amount, can be part of a sustainable food system. For many people, myself included, vegetarianism is not a viable life choice. If the only options provided by the Jewish food movement was to embrace vegetarianism or purchase mass produced meat I am sorry to say that I probably would have come down on the side of still eating meat. And I know for sure that I am not alone. The majority of Jews aren’t going to give up eating meat, but if we can change the way we think about how we raise the animals and how much we should consume that can make a difference.

    There are all kinds of people within the environmental movements and the Jewish food movement is no exception. While I think that a vegetarian and or vegan lifestyle is great for some people, it is wonderful that people of all kinds who are passionate about making this world sustainable for our children can be a part of advocating for change.

  15. Pete Cohon Says:

    Unfortunately, the link to the VeggieJews Web site on this page does not work. For lots of information on the health, environmental and compassionate aspects of Jewish vegetarianism, please go to and click on “Files.” You will find there answers to many of the questions raised by comments posted here.

  16. alix Says:

    As head of the volunteer food committee for the food conference (for the second year), I feel I should weigh in. While I admire vegans for their idealism, expecting the world to go vegan is simply unrealistic. I believe that getting more people to eat less meat is a much more realistic and attainable goal. Most Americans probably eat meat every day. At the Hazon conference, we are serving meat only once and fish only twice in four days. And if we can’t get kosher, organic, humanely-raised sustainable meat, we won’t eat it at all. I believe this approach is the correct one. Unfortunately, the vegan approach completely alienates meat-eaters. Calling carnivores anti-environmentalists does nothing to solve the climate crisis.

  17. Pete Cohon Says:

    You’re absolutely right, Alix. We’ve got to be realistic. So, here’s some reality for you:

    According to the World Watch report on Animal Agriculture’s contribution to global warming, published earier this month, based upon United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Commission figures, animal agriculture contributes 51% of all the greenhouse gasses that are responsible for gobal warming. That makes it the largest single contributor to global warming.

    If the entire world follows Hazon’s recommendation to reduce meat consumption by 50% by 2015 (6 years from now), animal agriculture will then contribute 25% of all greenhouse gasses, which means it will still be the largest single contributor to global warming. (Of course folks could reduce their meat consumption by half withing 6 weeks if they really wanted to.) Hazon’s suggestion is like telling someone driving blind drunk on a winding mountain road at 150 miles per hour to slow down to 75 miles an hour. It’s still a recipe for disaster.

    And “disaster” in the case of global warming means floods, draught, mass starvation, geo-political chaos, rampant disease and higher infant mortality, to name just a few of the plagues that reality has waiting for us.

    That’s reality for you!

    Hazon could have helped to lead the way to a more sane future at this year’s food conference. It could have chosen to lead by example by serving only delicious, healthy and environmentally sane vegetarian food and only such food. But, sadly, Hazon lacks the courage to lead. It prefers to follow its members off that slippery mountain road to disaster while shouting empty slogans such as “sustainability” and “empowerment,” rather than actually leading the way to sustainability and empowerment.

    What a shame.

    Let’s hope that by next year’s Jewish Food Conference Hazon’s leadership will have found the courage to really lead. Let’s hope that next year’s conference and all future Hazon events will be completely vegetarian and only vegetarian for the sake of the planet, the animals and human health.

    And if Hazon’s leadership won’t lead the way to a truly sustainable future, perhaps its members will lead for them.

    Because if we don’t change our environmental reality, reality will change our planet, and not for better.

    For more information, go to and click on “Files.”

  18. Uriel Says:

    Just real quick, I wanted to respond to Michael Bedar’s idea that “at Hazon this year [we should] do the lead-up to the shechting and then stop with blade drawn, setting the bird free – just like Avraham listened to Hashem speaking within him, stopped his knife, and had a revellation [sic].”

    Just in case you forgot, or didn’t read the rest of that passage, Avraham listened to G-d not to shecht Yitzchok, but then he shechted a ram in his place, which elicited the further revelation, and in reaction to which, G-d says, “Because you have done this [sacrifice] and not withheld your son… I will greatly bless you…”

    And, a few chapters earlier the Torah noted that when Noah left the ark, the very first thing he did was sacrifice animals. G-d liked the smell of the roasting animals so much (and who can blame G-d for that?) that G-d promised never to repeat the flood again.

    I noticed that people love to quote the Hillel/Shammai story these days and end with “the rest is commentary,” failing to mention that Hillel said a little more than that, namely, “now go and learn it.” So here’s a blessing that we really LEARN it, and don’t misuse what we learn to forward our personal political agendas.

  19. Julie Steinberg Says:

    Good for Hazon for posting all of this in a public forum.

    Unfortunately, the polemic positions taken by groups like VeggieJews is the reason why the vegan movement will never take off as fully as it could. The intolerant and shrill perception is too often reality, and people who may have been interested in the vegan experience will move away from it based on this alone. Poor judgement guys.

  20. Gerardo Tristan Says:

    Julie: What about the intolerance of meat eaters? Did you look at some of the posts here?

    I hope Hazon re-visits this idea of killing non human animals and finds it not suitable for an ethical based conference on food. I am sure they can find a different way of teaching connection with the food we eat, respect and reverence for life..

  21. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    To Uriel and others, Thank you. The idea that we can evolve past human sacrifice 3800 years ago, and then move beyond animal sacrifice today, may have a valid place Torah learning. Interested in your response…

  22. Rhea Says:

    I’ve been reading these comments and this debate with interest. I have to wonder what you all think of this: Is there some merit to highlighting that the slaughtered chickens would be pasture-raised? Weren’t the studies that Pete sited based on industrialized meat production?

    Animals have long held a place in food ecosystems, across generations and across cultures. It would take a major paradigm shift to eliminate animal flesh from the global table.

    I don’t eat meat, and don’t plan to eat any chicken at the conference. However, I would love to see some thoughts on meat from pastured and sustainably-raised animals in the mix. Does it make a difference? Will we make no distinction between the chickens brought to the food conference and Purdue chicken parts hauled to the supermarket?

  23. Uriel Says:

    Michael- First, I just want to reiterate (in case the point was glossed over) that I was providing the context for your reference to the binding of Yitzchak because I think it’s poor form to bring something like that (and to omit the rest of the story–which explicitly deals with animal slaughter) in support of vegetarianism.

    As for the new topic of “whether there is a place in Torah learning for the idea that we can move past animal sacrifice today”, there are two things I have to say.

    The first is, in the context of Torah learning, “animal sacrifice” is a very specific, narrowly-defined thing which Jews are not allowed to do today outside the Temple in Jerusalem, but which we pray every day (three times a day) to be able to do again soon (e.g., traditionally we say in the shmoneh esreh “…restore the service to Your sanctuary, and accept with love and favor Israel’s fire-offerings and prayer…”, and, e.g., when we pray mussaf, we specifically mention the order of the mussaf sacrifice). That should sufficiently answer your question.

    That being said, killing animals and eating meat in general is not considered “animal sacrifice” in Torah learning. The whole section of Gemara dealing with animal slaughter and kashering is called “Chulin” which basically means “mundane”, as distinct from sacrifices, which are “holy.” Keep in mind these are very specific, legal definitions of these words.

    Secondly, there is a huge difference between animal sacrifices done with proper intention and the opposite. If you’ll indulge me, I would say the proof is in the pudding (see above) that G-d likes good-intentioned sacrifices, and (see elsewhere) very much dislikes the opposite. The same principle applies to “mundane” animal slaughter. For example, one who wants to be a shochet (ritual slaughterer) has to be “a yireh-shamayim (fearful of heaven)… and should never get drunk” (Torat haZevach, 1:1). We do expect those who handle animal slaughter to be of fine character, upright, and trustworthy, and to take the privilege of taking other animals’ lives with the utmost seriousness.

    With that, I’ll leave you with a story that is told of the Ba’al Shemtov, that gives an idea of the gravity with which we are meant to approach animal slaughter, and how that standard may have unfortunately slipped in these latter generations (but Hazon does a very good job of restoring these ideas to the public Jewish consciousness):

    [T]he story is told of a schochet who came to Okkup to do his work. When he needed to wet the whetstone to sharpen his knife, he would spit on it and with his saliva hone the knife. An old Ukranian who sat there, the one who plucked the feathers, shook his head in disapproval. The shochet asked him what was behind this, and he answered, “When I was young, I plucked the chickens that Yisrolick (the Ba’al Shem Tov) slaughtered, and when he needed to wet his whetstone, he wept on it, with his tears he honed his knife.

  24. Roberta Schiff Says:

    Even many of those who eat the muscle tissue of factory farmed animals know and will admit that the raising and slaughtering of them is cruel and contributes greatly to greenhouse gas emissions.”I know a lot of what you are saying, but I have compartmentalized it so I can continue to eat what I want”, a friend told me.
    “On the other hand”,(to quote Tevye), to hand raise and care for animals, getting to know them, then slaughtering them brings up other ethical issues. We are horrified to learn that in some countries dogs are raised for food. Yet food animals are lovable and feel pain too.
    In 2007, I attended the goat slaughter at the Hazon Conference. Three images remain. Before the slaughter, the goats were happy and actually ‘frisking’. After the slaughter, when the heart and lungs were held up for examination it was painfully obvious that these were the organs of young, healthy animals. The next day during Shabbat services a young father stood up and said what a meaningful experience this had been, especially as he had brought his six month old daughter.
    A friend of mine has written a song “What Part of Thou Shall Not Kill Do You Not Understand?”
    Yet, I keep attending the Hazon Conference. This year Roberta Kalechofsky (I am the ‘other’ Roberta) and I will present a session on the history of Vegetarianism Judaism and suggestions for eliminating or at least meaningfully reducing the amount of meat one consumes. My hope is for there to be a meaningful number of attendees at our session.
    And, note to Hazon, this year please tell the chef to see that the beans are cooked long enough, so the vegans will be happy and the potential veg people will realize the possibilities.

  25. Hannah Lee Says:

    Rabbi David Wolpe writing in the Jewish Week [11/3/09] quotes Jonathan Safran Foer from his new book, Eating Animals, thus: “it’s always possible to wake someone who is asleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.”

    Rabbi Wolpe proceeds thus: “This observation is not only true with regard to animals. We are aware of the needs of those around us. None of us is ignorant of the waste, indifference and profligacy that mark our lives. But we pretend to be asleep.

    The shofar on Rosh HaShanah is intended to wake us up to a life of goodness, of care, of compassion. Perhaps it is intended not only to wake the sleepers, but those of us who are only pretending to be asleep.”

  26. Mia Rut Says:

    To add a little activism to this debate, this just came through on a listserv I’m on. Thought it might be a good place to share.

    AAI North America is looking to hire someone on short notice to do research linking agribusiness to climate change—-getting as specific as possible about agribusinesses who are major emitters and who are also fighting regulation and legislation.

    We will be doing research on 4 companies in key CO2 (and methane) emitting industries
    1. Meat–Tyson or Smithfield
    2. Dairy—Dean
    3. Fertilizer—Mosaic
    4. Grains—Cargill

    Folks interested in doing the work should send a resume and short (1/2 page) note letting me know why you are interested in the work by Tuesday December 1 to

    See below for background on the project (some is dated material from past emails but it gives a flavor of the work to be done).


    William Kramer
    North American Facilitator
    Agribusiness Accountability Initiative

  27. bd Says:

    I fully agree with Pete’s original post about the hypocracy of an environmental organization promoting eating meat and killing animals at the upcoming conference. Hazon does incredible work, but I too have had trouble fully supporting an organization that is not willing to fully stand by the values it supposedly represents.

    While I could talk about the issues raised by the conference itself, I believe the core issue here is about the definition of “vegan” and the odd way that people respond to the vegan ethical stance.

    It is interesting that so many of the people who have had trouble with the vegan views so far have had trouble denying the facts about the social irresponsibility of eating animal products. With all the facts placed in front of them, the best arguments in response to the vegan view are that veganism is somehow a “militant” view of a few, or that it is unrealistic to try to get people to make such a big change. Or, as Julie Steinberg says above “The intolerant and shrill perception is too often reality, and people who may have been interested in the vegan experience will move away from it based on this alone”.

    Why is stating facts which no one has yet denied, and saying that people should listen and make a change to better the world “intolerant and shrill”? Why? Because too many people think that veganism is primarily about food, whether they know it or not. While vegans do have a different way of eating, veganism is above all a lived protest against violence, suffering, and the forced “otherizing” of living beings simply for the convenience of taste. I believe the reasons for being vegan are so powerful, and so straightforward, that we should, and have every right to promote it–as it is. If people are not ready to make the change, that is fine. But what use is it to blame us for saying too much? Being a vegan is easy, uncomplicated and fun. Being a vegan is the best choice for the world. Being a vegan denies us nothing, except the time spent having to compromise values for the reasons of convenience.

    The facts are undeniably in favor of a vegan diet–for fighting world hunger, for our health, for the environment, for promoting compassion, and working against violence. Show me proof how eating animal products does a better job for these causes than being a vegan, and we can talk.

    Now…saying that a little bit of meat, or a little animal exploitation (ie. killing chickens at the conference) is acceptable is only a choice for those who might not agree with the vegan view, because they conveniently have decided that it is an issue not about justice, or human rights…”just” about animals or food. Is it unrealistic to promote veganism instead of other “crutches” like some animal products? It is not–and although I can’t deny that less is better, none is best.

    No one would ever say to someone who is against domestic violence, that it is unrealistic to expect everyone to not abuse their partners, so we should allow some husbands to beat their wives, and hope that in the future they will stop (yes, yes they are not the same issues, but you get my point). No one would ever say to someone fighting to end domestic slavery, that it is silly to believe that all slavery should end at this moment, or that we should just oh, allow slavery for people over the age of 18.

    If you beleive that vegansim is the best choice for humanity, and is above all about social justice (and I am still waiting for the facts to deny this) then why not try to promote a vegan diet, and not accept some cruelty as a viable choice?

    We should all be having mature, productive conversations about these issues. But please understand how unfair it is to treat veganism/vegetarianism as an issue that is “unrealistic” or “intolerant”. It is never intolerant to try to promote making a better world.

    As long as human beings will go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace… There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.
    -Isaac Bashevis Singer

  28. Uriel Says:

    I saw an interesting article today titled “Climategate: The Final Nail in the Coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’?” ( and I’m wondering what to make of it. Is it significant at all? Meaningless?

  29. Pete Cohon Says:


    The prophets, rabbis and G-d have taught us to love justice, compassion and
    mercy. These qualities are at the heart of Judaism. Consider that G-d
    chose Moses to lead our people to freedom from slavery because he showed
    compassion by saving a lamb that had wondered away from the flock into the
    desert. [Exodus Rabbah 2:2.] The code of Jewish law specifically forbids
    the infliction of pain upon any living creature and demands that we relieve
    the pain of any creature. [Deut. 25:4.] We are required to let animals
    rest on the Sabbath [Exod. 20:8-10] and provide for our animals before we
    eat or drink. [Deut. 11:15.]

    G-d Himself created man and woman to be vegan vegetarians in the Garden of
    Eden. [Exod. 1:29] G-d said, “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding
    seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is
    the fruit of a tree yielding seed — to you it shall be for food.” [Gen.
    1:29.] According to Jewish philosopher Joseph Albo, the reason for this
    edict was that, “[i]n the killing of animals there is cruelty, rage, and the
    accustoming of oneself to the bad habit of shedding innocent blood. . . ”
    [Joseph Albo, Sefer ha-Ikkarim, Vol. III, Chapter 15.] Only after the great
    flood did G-d grant humanity permission to eat flesh. [Gen. 9:3.]
    According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of
    Israel, immediately after the flood, due to the sinful nature and demands of
    humankind, G-d allowed us to eat animals. [Liebowitz, "Studies in Bereshit,
    p. 77.] In Rav Kook’s learned opinion, permission to eat flesh was only given
    on a temporary basis until a brighter era when people would return to a vegetarian
    diet. [Id.]

    Polish Rabbi Isaak Hebenstreit also taught that G-d never wanted people to
    eat flesh due to the cruelty involved but temporarily allowed it after the
    flood because all plant life had been destroyed. [Rabbi Isaak Hebenstreit,
    Kivrot Hata'avah, Rzeszow, Poland, 1929, p. 6.] As Rav Kook explained, “It
    is inconceivable that the Creator who had planned a world of harmony and a
    perfect way for man to live should, many thousands of years later, find that
    this plan was wrong.” [Quoted by P. Pick, "The Source of Our Inspiration"
    Jewish Vegetarian Society Paper, London, p. 2.]

    More contemporary rabinical supporters of Jewish vegetarianism include:
    Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa (since 1975), President of the
    Harry Fischel Institute for Research in Jewish Law and Seminary for Rabbis and
    Rabbinical Judges, member of the City Council of Jerusalem, Deputy Mayor
    of Jerusalem (1965-75) and Chancellor of the Ariel United Israel Institutes
    (since 1973); and

    Rabbi David Rosen, Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1979 to 1985, International
    Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, former
    Dean of the Sapir Jewish Heritage Centre in Jerusalem and
    Professor at the Jerusalem Center for Near East Studies on Mt. Scopus,
    President of the International Council of Christians and Jews and President of
    the World Conference on Religion and Peace, an all-encompassing
    world inter-faith body and a negotiator of the accord that established full
    relations between the Vatican and Israel.

    [By Pete Cohon, founder, VeggieJews:
    Acknowledgment and thanks to Dr. Richard Schwartz for his book "Judaism and
    Vegetarianism," and his Jewish Vegatarians of North America Newsletter, from
    which the references in this essay were obtained.]

  30. Bobbie Landau Says:

    Pete: You have made excellent points on Bibical references to eating a Veg. diet. Also Global Warming information shows how “We (Jews) could make the world a better place” by refraining from eating animal, dairy and egg (an unborn chicken) products.

    The health of people has been greatly improved by vegan and raw foods diet. One of leaders of Raw Foods movement wrote a book about how he cured his Crohn’s disease by eating a raw diet.

    From doctors who don’t have information on nutrition, who get their “healing” education from drug salespeople to people who don’t believe they could eat the diet G-d intended, we hope by example or trial they will try a vegan diet.

    It would make more sense ($$$) to have only vegan food at Jewish environmental conference. It is much less expensive to eat veg. diet than animal based diet. It could be a great learning experience for many. Plus the taste and variety of a Vegan diet is awesome!

    However, the journey of the leaders of Hazon is not there yet. Let us hope they will learn and put into use: the ethical, environmental and health aspects of Organic, Vegan Lifestyle.

    Pete: Thanks again for your input and insight.

    Bobbie (Roberta) Landau

  31. Uriel Says:

    In case the vegans who have commented on this post actually believe their own rhetoric (that a vegan diet is the healthiest, for the human body and the planet; is inexpensive, is sustainable, etc), I beg you to consider reading “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability” by Lierre Keith. Keith was a vegan for over 20 years until it decimated her body, and until she started asking the important questions about food production (all food production, including grains etc).

    Again, I commend Hazon for seeking and pursuing truth and justice in the face of intense and often misleading opposition. Kol hakavod.

    On a last note, if anyone wants to effect some change in the real world, you can help a destitute community in India by donating a goat at Make the difference in someone’s life.

  32. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    As a vegan, I want to say that Uriel says something important. In 2010, nutrient rich potent vegan foods which are ecologically sustainable look very different from 1970 vegan foods. Knowledge has increased many fold, and knowledge is something all Jews can embrace. I read Lierre Keith’s book “The Vegetarian Myth.” Today we can practice systems for choosing plant-sourced foods to eat from this wide, green Earth, which Keith did not address in her book, so I presume she did not know. We are addressing choosing plant-sourced foods that are individualized to our constitution, among other topics, in both the Plant-Source and Live (Raw) food roundtables. Thanks for adding this important point to the Hazon community, Uriel.

  33. Josh Kelly Says:

    You are probably familiar with Michael Pollan’s, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, and in featured in it Joe Salatin’s Polyface Farm. If your not, Salatin sustainably and ethically raises meat on his farm. “We sell “salad bar” (grass-fed) beef; “pigaerator” pork; pastured poultry, both broilers and turkeys; pastured eggs and forage-based rabbits.”

    Pete, you have been citing date about how eating meat will destroy civilization. I certainly used to think so, but there are alternatives which can actually save our species. Read:

    “Perhaps because it’s such a hot topic, let me address the cow-global warming argument. Every bit of the alleged science linking methane and cows to global warming is predicated on annual cropping, feedlots and herbivore abuse. It all crumbles if the production model becomes like our mob-stocking-herbivorous-solar-conversion-lignified-carbon-sequestration fertilization. America has traded 73 million bison requiring no petroleum, machinery or fertilizer for 45 million beef cattle, and we think we’re efficient. Here at Polyface, we practice biomimicry and have returned to those lush, high organic matter production models of the native herbivores.

    If every cow producer in the country would use this model, in less than 10 years we would sequester all the carbon that’s been emitted since the beginning of the industrial age. It’s really that simple. Without question, grass-finished, mob-stocked beef is the most efficacious way to heal the planet. We should drastically drop our chicken and pork consumption and return to our indigenous, climate-appropriate protein source: perennial forages turned into red meat and milk.”

    Entire article:

  34. Josh Kelly Says:

    As for ethical considerations, to each his own, but I would like to share some more of Salatin’s wisdom from the same article.

    “Do vegetarians ever challenge you about raising meat? If so, what do you say in response?
    I will answer this in two parts. The first has to do with the people who think a fly is a chicken is a child is a cat — what I call the cult of animal worship. This would include the people who think we’ve evolved beyond the barbaric practice of killing animals to some cosmic nirvana state where killing is a thing of the past.

    Rather than indicating a new state of evolutionary connectedness, it actually shows a devolutionary state of disconnectedness. A Bambi-ized culture in which the only human-animal connection is a pet soon devolves into jaundiced foolishness. This philosophical and nutritional foray into a supposed brave new world is really a duplicitous experiment into the anti-indigenous. This is why we enjoy having our patrons come out and see the animals slaughtered. Actually, the 7- to 12-year old children have no problem slitting throats while their parents cower inside their Prius listening to “All Things Considered.” Who is really facing life here? The chickens don’t talk or sign petitions. We honor them in life, which is the only way we earn the right to ask them to feed us — like the mutual respect that occurs between the cape buffalo and the lion. To these people, I don’t argue. This is a religion and I pretty much leave it alone.

    The second part of this answer deals with folks who don’t eat meat in order to vote against animal abuse, concentrated animal feeding operations, or pathogenicity. And to be sure, many of these folks have bought into the environmental degradation inherent in livestock farming. To these people, Polyface is a ray of hope. I could write a book about the patrons who have come to us at death’s doorstep because they needed meat, and we’ve watched them heal. To be sure, not everyone needs meat, and those who do have varying levels of need. And when people find out that grass-based livestock offer the most efficacious approach to planetary health, their guilt gives way to compensatory indulgence. After all, they have to make up for lost time, and routinely become our best customers. Their emaciated vegetarian faces fill out, their strength improves and they are happier. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to just give them a Weston A. Price Foundation brochure. We keep them in our sales building like religious tracts. Oops.”

    But is his farm really ethical? You decide for yourself:

    “The main idea we promote is that our animals enjoy a habitat that allows them to fully express their physiological distinctiveness. I like to say we want our pigs to express their pigness and the chickens their chickenness. The industrial food system views plants and animals as inanimate protoplasmic structure to be manipulated, however cleverly the human mind can conceive to manipulate it.

    I would suggest that a society that views its life from that egocentric, disrespectful, manipulative standpoint will view its citizenry the same way . . . and other cultures. How we respect and honor the least of these creates the ethical, moral framework on which we honor and respect the greatest of these. The freedom for you to express your Tomness or Maryness is directly proportional to the value society places on the pig expressing its pigness. And to think that our tax dollars are being spent right now to isolate the porcine stress gene in order to extract it from pig DNA so that we can further abuse and dishonor pigs, but at least they won’t care. Is that the kind of moral framework on which a civilized society rests? I suggest not.

    This fundamental understanding drives our production models. Herbivores in nature do not eat dead cows, chicken manure, dead chickens, grain or silage: They eat fresh or dried forage. Of course, what’s neat is that empirical data is discovering the nutritional and ecological benefits of this paradigm. We’re reading about Omega 3 and Omega 6 balance, conjugated linoleic acid, polyunsaturated fats and riboflavin. Whenever a new laboratory confirmation of our philosophy hits the news, we make sure our patrons know about it. In a word, this is all about healing: healing our bodies, healing our economies, healing our communities, healing our families, healing the landscape, healing the earthworms. If it’s not healing, it’s not appropriate.”

    Again, entire article:

    I participated in the chicken slaughter last Wednesday. It brought me closer to the food I eat like nothing else has, and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who helped make this experience possible. We did not do anything particularly spiritual, yet it was one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve ever had. I highly recommend anyone given the chance to take part in a schechting, accept it.

    We have no way of truly knowing this but I don’t believe that any of those chickens suffered pain in life or when killed, thanks to the laws of kashrut.

    Both the industrial food system and those vegetarians who take away the opportunity for people to appreciate the life they’re giving a chicken by raising it for meat and accept the death they’re inflicting on the chicken are doing society a great disservice. Vegetarianism is a reasonable response to that disconnectedness but I encourage everyone to go one step forward, and, instead of stepping out of the cycle by not eating meat, confidently step in by connecting with food.

    One last thought presented by Pollan is that if we stop eating chicken and cows, we are condemning their species to death. These animals have evolved with us for so long that they’re dependent on us for protection and we on them for food. If we decide to let go of the dependence, they parish.


  35. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    It’s interesting to see your posts right now. It’s Sunday evening right after the conference. I am writing emails to a few people who have asked me, “How was the conference.” My thoughts are evolving as I give my dispatch. I feel these thoughts will be written in a spoken intimacy and trust that I developed with the Hazon community, and I thank you for hearing me be authentic and speaking to what I sense.

    What I see is, people are hungry. I see it in their eyes and feel it in my heart. We are hungry at the permaculture session, hungry at the shechting, hungry at the sustainable ranching session, hungry at the GMO session, hungry at the raw vegan session, hungry at the Torah text study, hungry at EVERY session–and we are really hungry for neither meat nor milk nor millet nor maca. We are all Jewish foodies hungry for G-d.

    There is so much energy here, and I choose to dwell in the thoughts that will help this powerful energy go towards aligned divine service, united.

    We know that we get to feel connected to G-d through God’s givingness, and living a lifestyle of the Torah themes such as sheirut (service), l’hitpalel (prayer and meditation), holy sheket (silence), devotion…and dietarily there is a part of it.

    I know, for me, and for the people of all ages who overflowed Toyon Hall for our live (raw) plant-based eating session, live food plant-based nutrition can be a supportive foundation towards being satisfied in our spiritual hunger. Once we are eating closest to sunlight, chlorophyll as a basis of nutrition, and doing it in a balanced way for our physiological constitution, many people have little care nor taste for the stepped-down, converted, re-metabolized calories that come from animals. Our vessel is emptied of what feels as sludge. I feel the difference, and thousands of people surveyed who have been eating live-vegan for years attest, they feel the difference and don’t want the stepped down flesh energy getting in the way. I have an intensely present, abundant, not-”bambi-ized” relationship with animals while they are alive. Two wild animals came to the window of a room I was in on Shabbat morning – did you notice the buck deer in a modest territory duel? That connection while alive helps us turn our spiritual energy to fill the world with more blessing and helping the Earth turn green again. Jews respect this life so much, not lost in the afterlife, I’ve been intrigued by our feeling of a spiritual connection coming with animals after their lives.

    Live-plant based, nutrition is jet fuel, and flying jet engines takes training. That is why there is a forest of things to learn for life as raw vegans. It is funny, I see as many raw vegans gain bulk as I see become thinner, at first. They there is a return to generally optimal weight. After an initial weight loss, I stayed stepping forward and I now have the same weight I had when I was a daily meat-eating iron-pumping university varsity athlete.

    What really matters is opening to connecting with what we are very hungry for, and that is the Divine. As far as the spiritual experience during a shechting and the spiritual experience of living closest to the sunlight for nourishment, only each of us can know what really happens spiritually within us. Yet, I can address a narrow question: Is it possible for something else to masquerade as a holy spiritual experience. I do know there are stimulations and agitations that do come out of an animal, as well as out of the sun. So again, it’s personal: what creates the conditions that bring us closer to G-d?

    Let’s just be honest with ourselves, all of us, all around. For us an any diet, if some manner of agitation in life is mistaken for a spiritual passion for the dietary lifestyle we are choosing, then simply don’t let anything, including the arguments in books, your livelihood or income, your past, other people, or anything, get in the way of going for what our soul really yearns for: G-d and to live on the mountain of G-d in G-d’s presence.

    That’s what’s coming through. Thank you all for everything that made this Hazon conference a blessing.

  36. Uriel Says:

    Michael- that was beautiful. What do you suggest a raw foods vegan who lives in Toronto survive on during January?

  37. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    The raw vegans Ontarians in January:

    1. Warm their live food to 105 or even slightly higher.

    2. Choose to eat roots, herbs, and foods that grow well in the north, for they are best for warming in the winter. For example, flaxseed ground and hempseed are good northern foods, cayenne and ginger are good warming herbs. Use Chinese and Ayurvedic elemental and herbal wisdom, fully applied into live, raw vegan foods.

    Conversely, wait until it’s warm again before eating a high proportion of foods native to equatorial, warm regions, because these foods evolved in the ecosystem to have their own biochemical properties that cool that which eat them. For example, between Brazil nuts and Walnuts in the winter, which do you think you’ll choose?

    Eat it warm, connect to the region and the season, and use the wisdom of heating foods.

  38. Josh Kelly Says:

    So your sacrificing local food for raw-vegan?

  39. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    Sorry? I said apply local food to your raw vegan eating to help stay warm. Northern foods help you stay warmer; they evolved that way.

  40. Josh Kelly Says:

    Well sure but what food is local and can be eaten raw in Ontario in January? I mean can u list actual foods…? Not just say generally eat local.

  41. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    I’ve been giving foods; hence my quizzes.

    Brazil nut or walnut in the winter? Brazils are cooling in comparison, whereas walnuts are much more northern and supportive of enjoying the winter.

    Here’s another: Red tipped chard, various lettuces, and carrots grow well into the cold and are excellent raw in this season, whereas cucumber is the ultimate cooling summer vegetable.

    Zucchini or butternut squash? Butternut squash is a more winter-like choice of among the squashes.

    Hempseed and flaxseed, actually grow in Ontario, and as seeds they are easy to save until soaking and eating. Their good omega three EFA ratios make them great for winter.

    Emphasizing northern and cold climate foods is a nuanced way, combined with eating food heated to be warm to the touch, to do well.

  42. Richard Schwartz Says:

    As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I am very happy to see this dialog.

    I salute Hazon for committing to trying to get the Jewish community to reduce meat consumption by 50% by 2015. JVNA will be happy to help as much as possible toe=ward that important goal.

    This is a very important objective because animal-based diets are a major factor behind the current epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities.

    Animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to climate change and hunger, water scarcities, rapid species extinction, soil erosion, deforestation and other environmental threats

    Plant-based diets are most consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

    I hope Hazon will do a tremendous kiddush Hashem by getting the quetion, “Should Jews be Vegetarians?” onto the Jewish agenda.

    For more information, please visit, where I have over 140 articles and 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews, and, to see our award-winning movie “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

  43. Esta Says:

    “Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption” —–John Stuart Mill

    It’s heartening to see that the vast majority of the comments fall into the second category so perhaps the third stage is in the offing.

    I’m a Jewish vegan who opted out of the Hazon Conference when I found out the shechita. It was too much of a “disconnect” for me.

  44. Richard Schwartz Says:

    I hope you are right, Esta, re the 3rd stage. There are many indications of a shift of consciousness, but there is still a long way to go. As Mark Twain quipped, “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.”

    I hope Hazon, and the Jewish community in general, will increasingly address the many ways that animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish values and address the question, “Should Jews be Vegetarians?”

  45. Shmuel Says:

    ” JVNA will be happy to help as much as possible toe=ward (sic)that important goal.”

    But in the unlikely event it is actually achieved, will you be happy then or will you take the position that you took with the last food conference? (Saying that the JVNA supported humane and pastoral slaughter and then coming out with a public statement against the proposed shechita – the very thing you claim to support)

    ” animal-based diets are a major factor behind . . .”

    isn’t that really somewhat of a sucker punch? Remember — the opposite of never eating meat is not ALWAYS eating meat — rather, it is sometimes or rarely eating meat.

    By the way, why is it okay for the vegetarians and vegans to be allowed to bash other Jews who may eat meat and claim that they are neither environmentally minded nor Jewish for that matter? What if a fervently religious reader were to make similar comments about the posters to this blog and their lack of fealty to religious traditions — with the moderators allow such a comment? I think not. Whatever happened to “different strokes” “to each his own” “I do my thing — you do yours”?

  46. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Shmuel. In respectful response:

    1. JVNA basically believes that “humane slaughter” is an oxymoron. We do protest when shechita (ritual slaughter) is singled out for criticism, but we oppose all slaughter, unless it truly is a matter os saving a human life. We do not believe that animals should be raised for slaughter, but we do support improvements for conditions for animals currently raised on factory farms.

    2. I (and I hope other JVNA representatives) try to refrain from bashing people who eat meat, unless they are very disrespectful of our position. Instead, I try to point out that Jews have a choice, and that the choice should be made after considering how the production and consumption of meat violate basic Jewish teachings re health, animals, the environment, resource usage and others.

    3. Re different strokes, etc., I look at it like the talmudic story of a man drilling a hole under his seat in a boat and then wondering why others were complaining since it was only under his seat that he was drilling a hole. There is increasing evidence that the world is now rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe and that animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. So, I feel obligated to do as much as possible to get this message out, and I try to be as respectful as possible in doing so.

    4. We are not arguing that Jews “must” be vegetarians, but that they “should” be. Thankfully, we have freedom of choice. JVNA is trying to provide basic information, based on Jewish values, to help people make that choice.

    5. Of course, other things need to be done to avoid the climate catastrophe that we are approaching and I am sure that I, like most other people can do more. But dietary change is an area that seems to be overlooked, so I still think Hazon would do a kiddush Hashem by putting this issue on their agenda. Especially since Hazon has already committed to working to reduce meat consumption in the Jewish community by 50% by 2015, the next sabbatical Year.

  47. Pete Cohon Says:

    On behalf of the 800 members of VeggieJews, please be advised that Richard Schwartz does not speak on behalf of the entire Jewish vegetarian community. While he may think that Hazon’s commitment to reduce comsumption of meat by 50% by 2015 is a Kiddush HaShem, we believe that it is nothing but an illusion rather like saying that child abuse or spousal abuse should be cut in half by 2015.

    But some crimes are so severe that cutting them in half is the moral equivelant of doing nothing. 50% less child abuse, 50% less spousal abuse or 50% less animal abuse and environmental destruction years in the future may make many people feel better about themselves, but it will not solve the problems of global warming and the horrifically cruel treatment of animals in food production.

    Jewish environmentalists who take themselve seriously will cut their consumption of environmental destructive and cruelly raised meat down to zero within weeks, not years. Others, living in a dream world, will claim that baby steps toward meaningless goals will do the trick.

    But, in reality, neither tiny steps toward meaningless goals or pretending that you can feed a world of billions on allegedly “humanely” raised meat that requires hugh amount of land to produce will solve our problems and bring us to our goal of truly sustainable food production. That can only be done by truly committing ourselves to significant lifestyle changes that start with the elimination of non-sustainable meat from our diets.

    We can debate and beat around the bush forever on this issue, but ultimately, only real and meaningful lifestyle changes to remove meat from our diets will get us to our goal of a sustainable diet.

    The question is: What will you choose to do?

  48. Marcia Beck Says:

    After following this debate for some time, I am almost ready to chime in.

    I say ‘almost’ because my opinions are not static when it comes to issues of sustainability, food, Jewish thought, or community.

    Thinking of being a vegetarian – or better, a vegan – appeals to me much in the way that living according to halacha appeals to me.

    I am one of those Jews who eats only kosher meat and that meat infrequently. I am one of those Jews who keeps Shabbat but only partially. I agree that eating a vegan diet makes sense in many, many ways. As well, I believe that being Shomer Shabbat is just the right thing to do on many levels. At the same time, I am not able to simply make these decisions without much struggle and debate. That is who I am.

    (I recognize the differences between killing animals and turning on and off the lights on Shabbat, by the way, but please grant me some lattitude on this one).

    I continue to make changes in my life based on ethics, environmental need, observance, etc.

    One of the things that helps me to make those changes is to hear from others who face similar struggles. When I read or hear opinions that are fully formed; self-assured or ‘final’, I recoil.

    Part of me wishes that I could live my live so certain of what is right and what is wrong. Another part of me knows that I live in the grey both by choice and because that is the bulk of my view on reality.

  49. Richard Schwartz Says:

    In response to Pete Colon, JVNA would be VERY happy if all Jews became vegan tomorrow. However, since that may not happen, we go along with the Passover song “Dayenu,” in seeking progress along the way to redemption. So, we are happy that Hazon has set a goal of trying to reduce meat consumption by 50% by 2015, although we realize that this is not enough. As a matter of fact, I suggested to a Hazon leader in a private email message that Hazon change its goal to at least 50%. JVNA will be happy to work with anyone or any group that is working to reduce meat consumption even if they do not share our ultimate objective and/or time table.

    In response to Marcia Beck, I salute you for your searching and your efforts. JVNA recognizes that Jews have choices re their diets. I only hope that you, Marcia, and others will consider our arguments re the impact of animal-based diets on Jewish teachings, as they make dietary decisions. WE will be happy to respond to questions that anyone has, and much information is already available at and, including responses to FAQs.


  50. Josh Kelly Says:


    You debating is about listening as well as talking. Seems like you are not listening. I have previously posted with quotes which I hope you will go read, but I can summarize them here:

    1. All the data which shows meat production is a contributor toward global warming is from factory farms. I am disgusted by factory farms and do not eat meat from them! Environmentally sustainable meat raising operations, like Caleb’s farm where we slaughtered the chickens last week, actually sequester carbon in the soil and could be a very valuable tool in reversing global warming.

    2. A Chicken is not a Dog is not a Human! To compare chicken slaughter to child abuse is completely out of line. Chickens are raised for eating – they give their flesh for a happy and fulfilled life (protection and food essentially).

    You dismiss the humanely raised meat simply by saying it would take too much land to feed a population. But isn’t that exactly what Hazon is recognizing? Thats why they are recommending a reduction in meat consumption. We should all eat a little less meat, and get the meat we do eat from a sustainable-humane farm.

    Also there is a LOT of land being used to raise meat unsustainably and to grow the massive amounts of corn and soy for their diet. If we were to convert to much higher percentage of sustainably raised meats, there is land to do it in, we just need the consumer demand.

    I have no problem with any of you being vegetarian or vegan as a personal choice, but to say that those of us who choose to eat sustainably and humanly raised meat are bad people is extremely rude, and to say we are destroying the environment is absolutely false.

    I am not religious, but G-d or people or whatever you believe created a way to sacrifice (literally to make sacred) animals for meat in a respectfully. You are fighting the wrong fight against people actually making our meat sacred.

    Marcia, I applaud you for being open to the debate and listening to what everyone has to say, and I hope you will continue to do that. :)

  51. Richard Schwartz Says:

    First, Pete, I am very sorry that I misspelled your name in my last post. I will try to be more careful in my future writings.

    Re Josh Kelly’s post: To me, the bottom line is that there are many indications that the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming. and, according to some key climate experts, we are on the verge of a tipping point when global warming may spiral out of control with disastrous consequences. And there are recent reports that animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. According to a UN FAO report, livestock agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (GHGs) (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars and other means of transportation combined. The report also projects a doubling in the number of farmed animals by 2050, and, if this occurs the increased GHGs would negate the effects of many positive changes that reduce GHGs. An article in the November/December, 2009 World Watch magazine by 2 environmentalists argues that the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51% of all human-induced GHGs.

    So, while I commend Hazon for many of the things the group is doing, and I have long promoted your conferences and bike rides and other activities in Jewish Vegetarians of North America newsletters, I wonder if Hazon would, as the primary food-related Jewish group, take a greater role in increasing awareness of the above facts and help get vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda, which hopefully would later get it on other agendas.

    Why not a respectful dialog sponsored by Hazon and others on “Should Jews be Vegetarians?” It would be a kiddush hashem by showing the relevance of Judaism’s eternal values to current problems. As part of the dialog, points made by you, Josh, and by other Hazon people could certainly be brought out.

    Sorry for my continued nudging, but I really feel that the future of humanity and much, if not all, of God’s creation is at stake. “The time is short and the work is very great.”

  52. Shmuel Says:

    To Josh Kelley:

    you are quite correct — a conversation is a two-way street and I too (and I suspect many others) get the distinct feeling that I’m being spoken at and not spoken to. From my experience, that is symptomatic of someone who feels it is more important to be right than to be effective. Unfortunately such rigidity hurts the moderates when our positions are actually so close (never eating meat vs. sometimes or rarely eating meat as Hazon advocates). Further, such militancy typically falls on deaf ears — look through the comments and you will not see anyone who says “Gee, I never knew that — I’m going to change”. Rather, a handful of Tofu Taliban start chanting “bad Jew, bad environmentalist, shame shame shame”. It does nothing to promote a reasoned, moderate position.

    The self-righteousness and condescending challenges (I assume Pete must be running out of gauntlets to throw down) and the dismissive manner in which reasonable arguments (such as those which advocate healthy, sustainable local meat production) are dealt with summarily and cavalierly.

    Ironically, rather than seamlessly dovetailed, the so-called Jewish component seems slapped on post facto with a long-winded quote from Richard Schwartz no less! Personally, I love when vegetarians reference Rav Kook and his teachings. Isn’t he the distinguished looking Rabbi wearing the huge spodek (fur hat)? I’ll tell you what — if you can give me the name and address of the free range,organic mink and sable farm from which those pelts came, I will gladly forego the one chicken a week that my family eats.

    To Richard: congratulations for finally stepping up to the plate and conceding what so many others have suspected for so long — The JVNA’s true position with respect to any shechita-humane or otherwise. Don’t you find it more than a bit ironic that your position is now being rejected as being not extreme enough while virtually everyone else rejected for being too extreme!

    No one in this dialogue supports factory farming. To preemptively attack those who advocate viewpoints other than the moderator is both counterproductive and self-defeating. As several of the posters have stated above, there is in fact room for the thoughtful husbandry of animals on the local level — I have been raising poultry for over two decades and has some have noted above, they’re my new word is not a liability — it’s an asset, restoring the tilth and well-being of my soil as well as my soul. Perhaps that’s a lesson that we can take away from this dialogue that sometimes within our greatest liabilities lie our greatest positive possibilities (a familiar theme in Chassidic thought).

    Since I find myself in the unusual position of defending you and Hazon, it must mean that Moshiach is coming very soon.

  53. Shmuel Says:

    The corrected comment (I’m a farmer not a techie and voice recognition software has a mind of its own!)

    To Josh Kelley:

    you are quite correct — a conversation is a two-way street and I too (and I suspect many others) get the distinct feeling that I’m being spoken at and not spoken to. From my experience, that is symptomatic of someone who feels it is more important to be right than to be effective. Unfortunately such rigidity hurts the moderates when our positions are actually so close (never eating meat vs. sometimes or rarely eating meat as Hazon advocates). Further, such militancy typically falls on deaf ears — look through the comments and you will not see anyone who says “Gee, I never knew that — I’m going to change”. Rather, a handful of Tofu Taliban start chanting “bad Jew, bad environmentalist, shame shame shame”. It does nothing to promote a reasoned, moderate position.

    The self-righteousness and condescending challenges (I assume Pete must be running out of gauntlets to throw down) and the dismissive manner in which reasonable arguments (such as those which advocate healthy, sustainable local meat production) are dealt with summarily and cavalierly.

    Ironically, rather than seamlessly dovetailed, the so-called Jewish component seems slapped on post facto with a long-winded quote from Richard Schwartz no less! Personally, I love when vegetarians reference Rav Kook and his teachings. Isn’t he the distinguished looking Rabbi wearing the huge spodek (fur hat)? I’ll tell you what — if you can give me the name and address of the free range,organic mink and sable farm from which those pelts came, I will gladly forego the one chicken a week that my family eats.

    To Richard: congratulations for finally stepping up to the plate and conceding what so many others have suspected for so long — The JVNA’s true position with respect to any shechita-humane or otherwise. Don’t you find it more than a bit ironic that your position is now being rejected as being not extreme enough while virtually everyone else rejected it for being too extreme!

    No one in this dialogue supports factory farming. To preemptively attack those who advocate viewpoints other than that of the moderator is both counterproductive and self-defeating. As several of the posters have stated above, there is in fact room for the thoughtful husbandry of animals on the local level — I have been raising poultry for over two decades and has some have noted above, their manure is not a liability — it’s an asset, restoring the tilth and well-being of my soil (as well as my soul which is inextricably related to the food I grow and eat). Perhaps that’s a lesson that we can take away from this dialogue that sometimes within our greatest liabilities lie our greatest positive possibilities (a familiar theme in Chassidic thought).

    Richard – Since I find myself in the unusual position of defending you and Hazon, it must mean that Moshiach is coming very soon.

  54. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Shmuel, you write that nobody in this dialog supports factory farming. great! But the reality is that factory farming is expanding rapidly. Since it is a major contributor to climate change and many other environmental problems, including rapid species extinction, soil erosion, deforestation, desertification and water pollution, as well as the VERY wasteful use of water, energy, land and other valuable resources, it is essential that there be a major reduction in such farming.

    I believe Hazon is doing great work and, as I have indicated, I have long promoted Hazon events. Because of the great respect Hazon has gained in the Jewish world and beyond, it is in a wonderful position to take a stand. I think it is time to move beyond the relatively insignificant debating points and for Hazon to take a strong, public stance against factory farming and for a major shift by Jews to plant-based diets. While I do not endorse it, Hazon could mention the possibility of eating some “humanely” raised meat.

    Again the bottom line is that our precious planet is rapidly heading toward an unprecedented climate catastrophe and without a major shift away from factory farming there is no way that catastrophe can be avoided, and all other issues will be insignificant.

  55. Uriel Says:

    I’m happy to see this conversation still taking place. But let’s be clear that your statements about factory farming are equally true about monocrop agriculture. I.e., this is a true statement: But the reality is that monocrop agriculture is expanding rapidly.  Since it is a major contributor to climate change and many other environmental problems, including rapid species extinction, soil erosion, deforestation, desertification and water pollution, as well as the VERY wasteful use of water, energy, land and other valuable resources, it is essential that there be a major reduction in such farming.

    Jews becoming vegetarians and continuing to support those farming practices doesn’t help anything. Additionally, the idea that we can feed the world if we would all just be vegetarians is misguided. How long can we sustain vast fields of monocrop grains that depend on fossil fuel and fossil water for their productivity? A couple decades if we’re lucky? Whereas, the two-thirds of the Earth’s dry land that are not fit for farming support hosts of very edible and nutritious animal life.

    There is no simple answer, and I wish the more militant commentors here would give Hazon more credit for facing that fact.

  56. Bobbie Landau Says:

    I appreciate and agree with Richard Schwartz’s comments on Judaism and Vegetarianism. From my readings, vegan lifestyle takes up a fraction of the land that food for carnivores takes up.

    I personally find a movie or actually “killing” of animals to prove a point, “distasteful,” and I could not watch this.

    Josh, I appreciate hearing your reasons and belief for eating animals.

    I went to Hazon Conference to find out why environmentalists and environmental/sustainability conference does not promote veganism and did not have meals which did not resort to killing animals.

    I found a few answers. I am listening to more. Yet, I find Richard Schwartz’s information makes the most sense.

    “Humane Slaughter is an oxymoron.

    Animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to climate change and hunger, water scarcities, rapid species extinction, soil erosion, deforestation and other environmental threats

    Plant-based diets are most consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.”

    Above 2 paragraphs from R. Schwartz sum up what we as Jews can do “To make the world a better place.”

    Bobbie Landau

  57. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Uriel, but please consider the following:

    The main reason for monocrop agriculture is because over 70 percent of the grain grown in the United States and about 40 percent of the grain grown worldwide is fed to farmed animals. Also much land is used for grazing of animals and, in at least some cases, that is having very negative effects on our land and water. (I have a book with many pictures of these negative effects).

    So, if there was a major shift to plant-based diets, far less grain would =need to be produced, and land could periodically be left idle to restore fertility, and we could shift away from monocrop farming.

    The world is presently trying to feed 60 billion farmed animals, in addition t almost 7 billion people, and this is having very negative effects re the environment, climate change and the potential to feed all the people. According to the UN FAO, the number of chronically hungry people passed 1 billion for the first time in 2009.

  58. Pete Cohon Says:

    Imagine that your house is on fire and you are asleep. A firefighter arrives and two of your neighbors are advising her on how to rescue you.

    One says, “Stand here in the yard and call to the resident gently so you don’t upset him and ask him quietly and kindly to reduce smoking in bed.”

    Another neighbor says, “Run into the house shouting and screaming to wake up the resident and, if necessary, kick him out of bed and get him to leave the house.”

    If you are the sleeping resident, to whom do you want the firefighter to listen?

    Our world is on fire. To whom will you listen?

  59. Uriel Says:

    I’m glad we’re moving on to what Lierre Keith calls “adult knowledge.”

    Richard- Let’s reflect on your comment. You propose that the main reason for monocrop agriculture is for livestock. I propose that the main reason for factory farmed livestock is a glut of cheap, government-subsidized monocrop grown corn (please see the history of agriculture in the U.S. (like, you do know that cows eat grass right? And their bodies are designed almost exclusively for digesting grass?)). You also point out that 70% percent of U.S. grain goes to livestock and gets converted into the meat, dairy, and eggs which are a major source of nutrition for our country. There are around 300 million people in the United States, and most of them probably currently eat animal products every day. You suggest we stop eating animal products, and then you predict our national grain consumption will decline. Wow! So how exactly are we going to replace all that nutrition that we currently get from animals, if we’re not eating their products, and not eating their grain either?

    Not to mention that there are over one billion chronically hungry people in the world. I assume you mentioned that because you expect us to do something about it. Well, are we going to share our grain with them or not? (Pellagra is better than starvation after all, right?) So how is our grain production going to decline? And, hey, wait a sec, what’s going to happen when the oil becomes too expensive to use it any longer for fertilizer? Or when the oil runs out? Then are we looking at one billion hungry people, or about seven billion hungry people? By then we’ll all probably be raw foods vegans. Seven billion raw foods vegans. Right.

    As for negative effects, vegetarian agriculture provides us with plenty. A book with many pictures? Are you aware that there are dead zones in the ocean, some of them three times the size of Vermont, caused by monocrop agriculture? Are you aware that monocrop agriculture has created human-made deserts on what was some of the most fertile land on earth, before the advent of factory farming? And all in the name of feeding the grain-eating masses, my friend.

    There is nothing innately harmful about livestock. Millions of bison once roamed North America and helped make the Great Plains great. In the comments above, Josh Kelly mentioned Joel Salatin’s 10-acre Polyface Farm, where he regularly raises, among other things, over 1,000 chickens, 2,000 lbs. of beef, 2,500 lbs. of pork, 100 turkeys, and 50 rabbits, with a diet based primarily on grass, and builds topsoil and sequesters carbon while doing it. Are there unwise ways to raise livestock? Yes. Those are not what Hazon advocates.

    The chickens at the Hazon shechting this year spent their lives eating bugs on a fallow field and leaving their droppings in exchange as fertilizer so that more vegetables could grow there in the future, to feed the holy vegetarians (who seem not to realize the essential role animals play in soil fertility). Instead of pouring synthetic fertilizer on that field, as you seem to condone, the chickens increased the fertility and provided additional nourishment in the form of meat. Compare that efficiency to a monocrop grain field, please.

    No, vegetarianism is no messiah. It is no hero. It is not going to save the world. How are we going to feed all the billions of people? The short answer is, before long, we’re simply not. We can’t. And certainly, becoming more and more dependent on synthetic fertilizers and further stressing our already over-stressed water and topsoil supplies is not going to save the world.

    Pete- Yes, I would prefer she listen to the more rational neighbor. Except I don’t understand who the firefighter is supposed to be in the analogue, if you are the one neighbor, and Hazon is the other?

    Regardless, it’s not a fitting analogy since in a house fire, it’s obvious to everyone that there is a problem and it’s clear what to do, and there is no way to immediately reverse the damage to make the house more habitable (whereas, unless I’m understanding you incorrectly, you would agree that there is a way to reverse global climate change; otherwise why are you trying so hard?).

    A more fitting analogy might be that someone forgot to turn off the gas in the oven, and the house is filling up with a potential killer that no one can see or smell. Sooner or later the house is going to explode and everyone in it is going to die. The natural gas detector goes off. One of my friends argues that I should close the valve and never, ever use natural gas again because it could blow up the house, while the other suggests we open the window and close the gas valve and be more mindful of our gas use in the future. The first friend is right in a way, because if used the wrong way, the gas is going to blow the house up. But if used the right way, it makes our lives much better and is completely safe. Who do you think sounds more reasonable? Who would you listen to?

    Listen, I don’t know what you do when you’re not having debates on the Hazon blog. If you’re out there taking direct action against the factory farms and oil companies, then bless your little soul. But there is no glory in commenting on this blog and protesting Hazon.

    Bobbie- One of my friends who met you at the conference said you were offended by my comment on here. My intention wasn’t to offend, just to educate, so I’m sorry about that.

  60. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Uriel, I think you are missing something in your analysis. The world is now trying to feed almost 7 billion people and about 60 billion farmed animals. Yes, cows can and do eat grass, but in their final days they are fed much grain in feedlots. And during that time in the feedlots, it can take as much as 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef. So if there were far less animals, we could produce less grain and still have plenty to feed people. Currently the US imports more protein in foods from hungry countries than we export to them as, for example we import beef raised in tropical rain forest areas for the fast food market.

    Another negative factor is that in feeding grain to animals, we are converting a food rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates into one that is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, and a major factor behind the current epidemic of diseases.

    Re your response to Pete, we can argue re which analogies or metaphors are best, but I agree with Pete’s overall assessment. The world is on fire and we need people shouting out the following “Convenient Truth”: a major societal shift to plant-based diets gives us a chance to avoid the impending unprecedented climate catastrophe. Without such a shift, there is NO WAY that the climate catastrophe can be avoided. Hazon has a chance to really make a difference, so I urge everyone to promote this idea to Hazon leaders and to as many people as possible. The future of humanity depends on it.

    Happy new year to everyone!

  61. Bobbie Landau Says:

    Uriel: I wasn’t offended by your comments. I found them “passionate” about your way of promoting killing and eating animals.

    Interesting how even in “conversation” misinformation gets passed on. I have found the same “misinformation” and distortion being passed on by those who do not look at the dangers to our environment and health by eating animals.

    “May All Be Fed” and “Diet For a New America” by John Robbins are excellent books for showing the dangers of animal and dairy based diets.

    Dr. Richard Schwartz’s comments are outstanding. I appreciate his knowledge and writings of enjoying Jewish Holidays without killing animals.

    As I eat my meals, I am glad that I don’t kill animals or cause undue suffering by enjoying food with no dairy or animal products.

    Agree with Richard Schwartz that Hazon leaders and others have a chance to make a difference by promoting plant-based diet. The environment and future of humanity depend on it.

    Happy New Year


  62. Uriel Says:

    Well, that’s it. I give up. You guys must be right. Even though the reason the U.S. created a surplus of cheap grain to begin with was for food security, sure, let’s imagine that we could go back to a world where we have no food security (think about Egypt and Joseph (in the Torah)… honestly, I’m 100% down to go back to famines and stuff… it certainly kept human population in check (remember the Great Irish Potato Famine? That wasn’t even that long ago, but how quickly we take an abundance of cheap calories for granted)). That’s what reducing our grain production means.

    Oh, and you’re right about disease and health too, it’s all caused by eating meat. Even though the people who live the longest are meat-eaters as a rule (e.g., see recently deceased Gertrude Baines of the U.S. who died at 115 years of age, and loved her crispy bacon). There has never been one vegan to hold that record, and if there was ever a vegetarian, it was an exception, not the rule. Compare vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists to meat-eating Mormons… Mormons live longer, on average. Ever heard of the French Paradox? I could go on (and on and on), but I’ll just stop and acquiesce, that, you’re right.

    Richard, you’re right about the analogy, even though in the analogy, all you have to do is run out of the house. I don’t think you’re advocating running away from America, or from Earth, are you? We already ran away from the Old Country with all their famines and droughts, killing hundreds of thousands regularly. Oops! Again, let’s not talk about food security. You’re right, let’s just run away from the burning house which is the oncoming climate catastrophe, and not worry about where we’re running to.

    Bobbie, I guess when you say that you’re glad you don’t kill animals or cause undue suffering, you mean you’re glad you don’t have to think about the animals that were killed or suffered or brought to the brink of extinction so you could enjoy your food with no dairy or animal products and then leave self-righteous comments in online forums dismissing the suffering of said animals. [!] Otherwise I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    We all agree that factory farming is destroying the world. Why can’t you guys just acknowledge that beyond that point, you can’t definitely say anything else, and there is no point in putting veganism on the Hazon agenda?

    I can tell none of you have had significant experiences working on farms. This conversation would be much more constructive if you had, and had knowledge of the real world outside the writings of the Baskin Robbins heir, or whoever else’s theories you’re immersed in.

    (Sorry my sarcasm is becoming more pointed… it’s correlated with the absurdity of the conversation.)

  63. Pete Cohon Says:

    If sarcasm could save the world, Uriel, you would be our Meshiach.

    Unfortunately, the only thing that will save our planet from the effects of global warming is to lighten our carbon footprints by changing promptly to a healthy, humane and environmentally sane plant-based diet. Talk is cheap. Real change happens when one choses what to buy in the supermarket.

    For those who wish information on how to change to a plant-based diet, please go to and click on the link to “files.” There you will find an article called “Pete’s Program for a 10 Week Transition to a Veg*n Diet.” Note: that’s 10 weeks, not 6 years as Hazon recomments. It’s easy, it’s interesting, it costs you nothing and, best of all, it works.

    And please tell Hazon to replace its environmentally friendly but empty words with action by making next year’s food conference totally vegetarian.

  64. Josh Kelly Says:

    Lol… I agree Uriel, this conversation has gotten rather absurd. I mean you vegans are preaching to the freakin choir! We meat eaters participating in this conversation and Hazon as a whole are doing so much to save the environment already. Even if you think that our occasional meat intake is hurting the environment – which I can tell you for a fact its actually helping sequester carbon because we get free-range meats – our intake is miniscule compared to most Americans. Your not gonna save the planet by stopping Hazon’s promotion of sustainable meat. Go picket in front of a CAFO! Go outside the grocery store a try to convince customers to not buy the factory farmed meat! But for god’s sake leave our schechting alone!

    You realize there is literally no other opportunities to participate in a kosher schechting in this side of the continent? If you cant deal with a Jewish environmental food group that has sustainable meats as part of their agenda than I’m sorry for you but dont take that away from the rest of us because there is nowhere else we can go. You have your veggie jews thingy to talk to other vegan soapboxers, but Hazon is all we have for kosher sustainable meat. Btw Pete, can u stop plugging your yahoo group? You’ve done it like 7 times in this debate and its become extremely annoying.

    When it comes down to it we’re probably not gonna save the humanity by eating sustainable meats and your definitely not gonna save humanity by annoying everyone with your dogmatic vegan antics – or, to put it in kinder terms, your not gonna save the humanity by eating tofu. But the point is we’re both trying. Lets join forces, the veganists and sustainable meaters, and try to convince people who don’t care to start caring. What do ya say?

  65. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Josh, thanks, I agree with you 100% that the important thing is to try to convince people who don’t care to start caring. As Mark Twain is reported to have quipped, “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” I have found a great deal of denial, resistance, apathy and ignorance in terms of the impacts of animal-based diets and agriculture and I think that is what has to be changed if we are to have a chance to avoid climate and other environmental catastrophes.

    I have been a long time promoter of Hazon events in JVNA newsletters and I plan to generally keep doing that. I have been involved in this discussion not primarily to change people who are generally aware of the issues and have worked out their own ways of dealing with them. I have been involved because Hazon has rightfully developed a reputation as the main Jewish group concerned with food issues and thus has the potential to help shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path.

    Hazon can do this by stressing that the world is heading rapidly toward an unprecedented catastrophe and that a major shift away from factory farming is essential if the world is to have a chance to avoid that catastrophe. Hazon can then discuss options, including more sustainable production of meat, but also pointing out that vegetarianism is very consistent with Judaism, provides adequate nutrition, possibly with some supplementation, and has many benefits re reducing global warming and many other environmental threats.

    If Hazon at least gets vegetarianism and other alternatives to factory-farmed meat onto the Jewish agenda, it would be doing a tremendous kiddush Hashem in showing the relevance og eternal Jewish teachings to present crises. Thank.

  66. Pete Says:

    “You realize there is literally no other opportunities to participate in a kosher schechting in this side of the continent?” Josh wrote with obvious regret. He apparently feels persecuted by vegetarians who just won’t let him have his fun. “Let’s join forces,” he suggests.

    Well, Josh, the fact that you apparently see slaughter as entertainment is the very reason that we can’t join forces. After the Holocaust, no Jew should ever take a life unless forced by desperate circumstances to do so. Killng should never be done for recreation or any other reason. It is a horribly sad act that reduces us all, not an opportunity to enjoy the power trip of taking a life.

    You apparently feel persecuted by vegetarians who want to take your fun away. How bizarre! It is the helpless and harmless animals whom you kill without need who are the real victims of human blood lust. They are the ones who suffer and die by the billions every year so that humans can eat unhealthy, high fat, high cholesterol, envirnmentally destructive and cruelly produced food despite the alternative of a cruelty free, healthy and environmentally sane vegetarian alternative.

    No, Josh, I can’t stand by silently while you get your kicks killing animals any more than I could stand by while a school yard bully beats up weaker, defenseless kids. No doubt he also feels persecuted when others try to stop the injustice and destructiveness of his behavior. But when good folks do nothing, evil triumphs.

    I do not mean to call you evil, but your actions certainly leave much to be desired. You know the old saying: Hate the sin, love the sinner.

    The question is, when will folks like you realize that life is sacred to the Jewish People and its needless destruction lessens us all. Just because we are permitted to eat meat does not mean that we have to eat meat.

    The fact that some folks find entertainment in needless slaughter is exactly why we have so much cruelty to animals, such as cock fighting, bull fighting and dog fighting. I suppose that Michael Vick (football star and convicted felon for dog fighting) also wonders why folks of conscience won’t just leave him alone.

    You don’t have to join us all on our march to a healthier, environmentally saner and less cruel future but can’t you at least stay out of the way of those who want to help take us there?

    Do you have to be so proud of needlessl shedding blood?

  67. Shmuel Says:

    “Well, Josh, the fact that you apparently see slaughter as entertainment is the very reason that we can’t join forces. ”

    Well Pete, the fact that you feel the need to create strawmen, bogeymen and put words in people’s mouths — words which they neither said nor meant, that you twist every credible argument with some Kafkaesque logic apparent only to yourself, all of the foregoing with a smug, self-congratulatory smarminess may go a long way to explain why your petition is only able to garner 800 signatures out of the worldwide population of hundreds of gajillion people.

    Perhaps your inability to differentiate between education and entertainment precipitated your departure from the West Coast.

    All are in agreement that the current food system is hopelessly broken and unsustainable. So that leaves the other piece under discussion, namely whether there can be any meat at all in a sustainable diet. (Ironically, the main issue as to what the Torah says in these cases is never addressed). Obviously, Hazon and the majority of the posters (myself included) feel that there can be. You and yours feel that there can’t. I guess what rankles many folks here is the fact that we are your closest allies and you have chosen to turn on us bringing in your tempeh-bearing minions who chant “bad Jew, bad environmentalist — shame shame shame”. That’ll go a long way towards winning friends and influencing people.

    While I personally parted ways with Hazon based on the Jewish piece (or the lack thereof), I nevertheless believe that it is counterproductive to torpedo their environmental efforts as they have been successful in bringing this dialogue to the next level and garnering much media attention to their efforts. Again, it comes down to whether you want to be right or whether you want to be effective. Unfortunately for all, you have apparently elected the former at the expense of the latter.

    “The question is, when will folks like you realize that life is sacred to the Jewish People . . .”

    perhaps when folks like you stop playing hackee sakee with supermodels on the beaches of Tel Aviv and actually open a real Jewish text (and no — Richard Schwartz’s 240 articles [actually one article rewritten 240 times] doesn’t count). Let me ask you something — When you practiced law did you actually read the cases or did you just cite them based on the headnotes? I thought so.

  68. Richard Schwartz Says:

    I have been a long time believer in seeking common ground and solutions, rather than in scoring debating points.

    And I think there is much common ground that we can build on, including the following:

    1. As Shmuel indicates, “the current food system is broken and unsustainable.”

    2. The world is currently on a path toward a major catastrophe from global warming.

    3. It is essential that steps be taken as soon as possible to try to avoid the potential climate catastrophe.

    4. A major factor behind the climate crisis is factory farming.

    5. A reduction of at least 50% of meat consumption by Jews would be positive.

    6. Jews have a choice re their diets, and one acceptable option is a vegan diet. Although I do not favor them, other choices involve eating significantly less meat and/or eating meat raised under non-factory farmed conditions.

    7. Judaism teaches that we should guard our health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people, and these teachings should be considered in our choice of diets.

    8. Hazon has built up a well-justified good reputation as a group doing positive things re food issues and therefore has great potential to influence other Jews and later society in general.

    Based on these concepts that I hope we can generally agree with, I think that Hazon should take a more open role in promoting its initiative to seek a reduction in meat consumption by 50% by 2015.

    If others have any other points re common ground that theythink should be added or other conclusions, please state them. Thanks.

  69. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been a participant in this blog, so the way it is going now, I have to decide either to respond or inform you that I no longer feel a part of this discussion. After jotting notes to myself, I chose to respond, and I am again going to express from my kishkes and come from spirituality as is my tendency and experience.

    There is a place (HaMakom) we may get to inside us where there is a feeling of merging. It brings about an unintended spontaneous shift. While there is a place for seeing diet issues as a prescription for solving social and global ills, we are going to get stuck in argument unless the cause and effect get cleared up. Being in HaMakom is the cause, feeling merged is the experience, our diet is the effect, and the planeto-social impacts of our diet are the secondary effect of the effect.

    I hope we get that our inner Torah, the most important Torah according to the Ba’al Shem Tov, is the guide of the Jewish people, where Hashem can speak to each of us, literate or illiterate. We are in our walk (our halachah) with Hashem. As complete as I feel in the place, HaMakom, mental arguing dissolves. That dissolution of argumentativeness is so important because eating is always one of our most intimate activities. We love to eat in peace and not in conflict. We don’t get to that place of stillness to eat in peace by the argumentative faculty of the mind. We get there through intimacy, as though each other, and certainly as though Hashem, were our beloved.

    We are going to be hungry for being right, or hungry for being convincing, eternally starved, if we keep coming to life’s questions and to each other’s faces with so much to be right about. It is time we go into knowing directly or “apperception” of the living word of Hashem within us. We have a guide to deveikut, merging into Oneness, in our blessed lineage. Use it. Cultivate silence, cultivate our inner light and life force (yes, Jewish concepts), feel the simcha (which means more than joyfulness such as dancing, but inner bliss). Bliss, simcha is inherently yichud, oneness, and from oneness spontaneously a life of service and upliftment. In simcha we see the soul rejoicing “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh” behind every pair of eyes, human and animal. We can dance with our animals and our family — that is why animals get Shabbat in the Torah.

    “Messiach will come if every Jew properly observes two consecutive Shabbats.[9] Talmud Shabbat Trac. 118.”

    As I understand it, this means holding Shabbat consciousness of simcha, shalom, and yichud from one Shabbat to the next. The next six days of the week after a good Shabbat, in fact every day, is Shabbat in these prophecied times, if something is going to happen as far as Mossiach in our lifetimes. Included in that is the consciousness we give animals on Shabbat. We’ve had one day a week in the past, as a bicyclist once has training wheels. Now it is time to ride on our own. Meaning, the Shabbat consciousness of wholeness, Yichud, or Union with all life infused with the illuminating Shekhinah–it is now upon us to remember and witness Shabbat Consciousness all seven days of the week. All seven days of HaMakom and oneness, that brings about glorious massiach consciousness on all the Earth.

    In conclusion and the primary point I want to share with you: There isn’t a prescription besides knowing G-d: “Vanity of vanities,” no act matters but to know G-d, as our wisest king Shlomo said. We cannot eat, posture, promote, compost, and definitely not argue our way to the answer and the Redemption. “Know Hashem” is the only meaning. In Tehilim, “Be still and know I am G-d.” Be still and know the One.

    So saying veganism is the answer, in the redemptive sense, isn’t exactly right. We’ve got it subtly flipped over backwards. “Be still and know I am G-d” is the only answer.

    Then live what makes it easier for you to be still within your thoughts. An abundance of people find veganism supports the stillness and quiet of the egoic mind. That sums up the field of Spiritual Nutrition.

    And when you find the stillness and are filled with the awe of the grace of Hashem, that’s when many, many people spontaneously make another transition, regarding feeling, touching, acknowledging the soul behind all beings’ eyes.

    Again, we can crack this prison wall of stagnant back and forth (holding no one back but ourselves). The prescription isn’t veganism — it’s the other way around! The unintended outcome of following Torah wisdom, becoming an empty vessel and entering HaMakom, for many is to feel “I would as soon bite my own arm as unnecessarily harm another animal with blood in its veins and a soul behind its eyes, as I am one neshamah with it.” That’s how beyond choice and beyond intellectualizing what I’m talking about is. It’s the “insperience” directly, not left-brained object-oriented thought. Going into HaMakom is entering Gan Eden, and the garden as a reality coming very, very much alive. Yes, there is a creation dietary blueprint given to creation within us, but we can live that blueprint not even because it’s in Chapter 1, but because, simply, “Of Course! We are one soul, and look, listen, feel, smell, taste this garden!”

    First get still and know G-d, then the Garden will enter our eyes, ears, pores, nose, and mouth. Torah guides us to inner readiness for messiah-like actions such as choiceless choices that end death. My life is my message is walking the halachah of oneness-simcha-bliss-shalom consciousness.

  70. Aaron C Says:

    Pete Cohon wrote on December 30th, 2009 at 3:12 pm
    “On behalf of the 800 members of VeggieJews, please be advised that Richard Schwartz does not speak on behalf of the entire Jewish vegetarian community. While he may think that Hazon’s commitment to reduce comsumption of meat by 50% by 2015 is a Kiddush HaShem, we believe that it is nothing but an illusion rather like saying that child abuse or spousal abuse should be cut in half by 2015.”

    As a current member of VeggieJews (before Peter or another moderator should kick me off or somehow “dissuade” me from remaining), please be advised that Richard Schwartz DOES partially speak for this member of the Jewish vegetarian community and that I must disagree with Peter’s multiple statements as expressed above. Oh, I believe that I DO understand Peter’s statements. Additionally, I believe that Shmuel’s and Richard Schwartz’s above comments concerning this thread should CERTAINLY not be skimmed over or just ignored completely. While Peter may think that Hazon’s commitment to reduce comsumption of meat by 50% by 2015 is anything BUT a Kiddush HaShem, I would believe otherwise.

    I’d like to equate here the continual craving to eat meat as a type of “addiction” so-to-speak.. Gradual REDUCTIONS in eating meat — similar to gradual reductions in abuse of many types of addictive substances — are MUCH more effective than going Cold Turkey, if you readers will pardon this particular non-vegetarian expression ;-)

    There is a Wikipedia on this “Cold Turkey” expression at webpage

    It is now just after New Year’s Day 2010, and many of our secular Jewish brothers and sisters are acting upon their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and be in better physical shape for the upcoming year. Improvements in diet and increasing regular physical exercise are, of course, the primary means of carrying this out, as nutritionists and other health professionals can certainly attest to. And keeping a completely vegetarian diet certainly is ONE major way, among other ways, to improve one’s diet. OTOH, those who go too far and all of a sudden completely avoid ALL food, such persons will no doubt suffer negative health effects from their continuous, uninterrupted fastings (e.g., anorexia nervosa and/or increasingly compromised immune systems). We all realize that nervous-system collapse and death are the eventual and extreme results of such Cold Turkey starvation weight-loss tactics.

  71. Lester Philman Says:

    we have to concide that we are omnivores, we arent herbivore or carnivores.
    We have the God given power of choice.
    Consuming meat is part of our adaption to life on this planet. We can eat meant that has been reared in d slaughtered in ahumane fashion and we can still worship God and follow his tennents.
    There is nothing i have read that suggests it any other way

  72. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Yes, Lester, we have a choice re our diets, but shouldn’t that choice consider how animal-based diets violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, and help hungry people. These diets are casing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities and are significantly contributing to climate change and other environmental threats to all of humanity.

  73. Uriel Says:

    Re health, a person can thrive indefinitely on a diet of meat, fat, and water, which is not true regarding a pure vegetable diet. Animal products do not cause disease in humans. This is well-known, but check out this Huffington Post article:
    Re compassion for animals and protecting the environment, you’re simply confusing factory/industrial farming with meat consumption in general. We already had this conversation. Skilled animal husbandry mimics nature and actually locks greenhouse gasses in the soil and builds a vibrant healthy environment. While the industrial growth of monoculture vegetable crops depletes topsoil, requires vast amounts of petroleum products, and destroys animal habitat.
    Keep thinking critically. Don’t believe the hype.

  74. Michael A. Bedar Says:

    I’m not here to jump into argument, but before I get to my invitation, @Uriel, I know many people on a plant sourced only diet (lifestyle really) who outlive all their siblings, brimming with vigor at that. That’s my own eyes, not hype. Who’s hyping?

    I’m here to carry on from my last post back on Jan 24. I was writing all about how we have the cart before the horse. The “food movement” is stuck in the muck if we in the “food movement,” (why that’s in quotes in a moment) Jewish and universal, think we can come to clarity by debating about food in some kind of a silo isolated from the tikkun hanefesh, tikkun haolam of the soul and the world.

    I realized in my life that what is worth doing is what I feel in my bones, no, the inside of the inside of my bones. You have to get there through looking deeply to the point where the bones and the earth’s dust itself become one.

    There, there is simply not a spark of desire of any kind to spill precious and sacred blood, to sever head from body, to end the holy breath before its naturally time.

    This whole JCarrot blog debate will ultimately come to a dedication to realization – not my realization, but your OWN.

    What I have been studying and working for for years – Transformative Social Change – a Culture of Life and Liberation (COLAL) will spring forth. It lS springing forth like a great quickening.

    That is why I am this year’s steward of SIT for Change: Changing the WAY Change Movements are Done.

    In authentic life, bridging our outer idea of a movement (food or any other social movement) with inner change is mandatory and incorporates every way we manifest inner death as outer death, inner life as outer life, inner imprisonment with outer imprisonment, inner liberation with outer liberation.

  75. Uriel Says:

    So what do we do if at “the inside of the inside of my bones” I know that killing and eating other animals is part of the way of living in the world, of making the world a better place, and of repairing the world? What if I have looked “deeply to the point where the bones and the earth’s dust itself become one” and I realized that there is no killing, because we are all part of one larger life where there really is no difference between my bones and the earth’s dust. Who am I to glorify myself and say I reject that knowledge?

  76. Michael Bedar Says:

    good point if that aligns your body, heart, mind, and spirit for you, and i hope it serves your simcha.

  77. Josh Kelly Says:

    Uriel, I love your last comment. This is a wonderful way to put exactly how I feel.

  78. Richard Schwartz Says:

    as president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I urge hazon,preferably in cooperation to do a tremendous kiddush Hashem (sanctificationn of God’sname) by organizing a committee compposedof respectted rabbis, other Jewish scholas,nutritionists, health expertsa, environmentalists, agricultural experts and other key people tothoroughly investigate the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture.

    this is especially important as the record breaking heat waves, storms, floodsand wild fires showover and over again that the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe.

    As Mark twain is reported to have said “Denialis not just a river in Egypt,”but Hazon can play a major role in overcoming the denial, ignorance, apathy and resistance.

  79. Josh Kelly Says:

    I second Richard. They could show how sustainable animal husbandry can actually sequester carbon and reverse the climate change.

  80. shmuel Says:

    Uh, — Richard – in case you haven’t noticed, Hazon already “plays a major role in overcoming the denial, ignorance, apathy and resistance”. They’re just more reasonable and moderate and much less disingenuous then you – the food conference was a perfect opportunity to showcase pastoral farming and moderate meat consumption. Yet you and your “Jewish vegetarians of North America” (in the name of transparency would you disclose the number of members you have?) actually boycotted the very thing that you claimed you wanted. Why should your position be any different now?

    For years you saw a rabbi to debate you on the merits of kosher meat production and consumption. Not surprisingly, there were no takers forcing you to fabricate an imaginary dialogue between you and your imaginary friend — a hypothetical rabbi. Why would you now think that “a committee compposedof respectted rabbis, other Jewish scholas,nutritionists, health expertsa, environmentalists, agricultural experts and other key people ” would actually heed your radical call?

    Michael – yeshar koach for your respectful position.

  81. Michael Bedar Says:


    My respectful position comes from realizing that each person lives, evolves, and changes on a meaningful basis from what gives them simcha.

    Debates and arguments from the head have their place, but any time our dialogue is primarily a debate from the head, we have the cart before the horse. Since our teachings enliven that growing and eating food generates simcha and praise, even before it generates sustenance and material planetary impact, the primary intent in the Jewish food movement is to warmi ourselves around that simcha of the food cycle, as we do a campfire.

    I sincerely hope and pray we are all be touched by that simcha. The technology of live, plant-sourced, bloodless food is not only among the first instructions of Torah, our blueprint the gan eden paradise that is just an individual and collective choice away, but a way to stop taking on karma and victimization that translates into the consciousness of suffering and war and blood spillage. That seed bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees are given as food for us is only as radical as the opening of the teaching that our tradition is based on.

  82. Michael Bedar Says:

    clarifying a typo “our blueprint FOR the gan eden paradise”

  83. Richard Schwartz Says:

    In respectful response to Shmuel,

    Yes, Hazon is doing wonderful work. I have been a long time supporter, and donated many of my books to be used a prizes for people who raised large amount of money on Hazon bike rides.

    But respectfully much more needs to be done. There is currently an epidemic in the Jewish co,mmunity(and other communities), largely related to animal-based diets, and animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to green house gases (more than the entire transport sector, according to a UN FAO report), at a time when the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe.

    So, once again, a public debate with ground rules on numbers of words, etc. on “Should Jews be Vegetarians?” would be a kiddush Hashem, and Hazon would deserve much credit for helping organize it.

    If I am wrong, it is important that a rabbi and jewish scholar show that.

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