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From  Issue
27 January 2002
Interfaith Movement Urges Shift to Vegetarianism

Contact person: Richard H. Schwartz
Phone (718) 761-5876; Fax: (718) 982-3631.
Web site: http://serv.faithweb.com 

The Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV), an interfaith coalition of religious groups and activists, has launched an international campaign encouraging religious communities to address diet-related concerns. Their goal is to make religious communities aware that the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture are inconsistent with basic religious teachings, such as those to pursue peace and nonviolence, preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and reduce hunger. SERV believes that applying spiritual values to scientific knowledge encourages plant-based diets that will lead to a more humane, just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world.

SERV does not aim to replace any religious vegetarian groups, but hopes to help all such groups and promote the strong teachings in every religion that point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet today. Speakers and publications will be available to explain why a shift toward plant-centered diets is both a spiritual and a societal imperative. SERV has prepared a bibliography that includes vegetarian writings from all the major faiths and will use it to further their goals.

"People do not recognize how our diets impact the world around us, as well as our own health," says SERV co-founder Richard Schwartz, author of Judaism and Global Survival. "Religious leaders need to understand the importance of plant-based nutrition, and they need to teach their congregations how to eat healthy diets that use less resources and are better for the environment."

Carol J. Adams, a SERV spokesperson and award-winning author, agrees. "You are what you eat," she says. "Our meat-based culture is killing us, as well as the world around us. It's also not helping animals, our sense of ethics, or our spirituality."

Among the initial leaders of SERV are the following vegetarian and animal rights authors and activists: Carol J. Adams (Author, The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Inner Art of Vegetarianism trilogy), Keith Akers (Author, Vegetarian Sourcebook and The Lost Religion of Jesus), Nathan Braun (Founder, Christian Vegetarian Association; Co-author, Good News for All Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian Stewardship), Bruce Friedrich (vegetarian coordinator, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Roberta Kalechofsky (Founder and Director, Jews for Animal Rights and Micah Books; author, Vegetarian Judaism), Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D. (Co-author, Good News for All Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian Stewardship), Norm Phelps (Author, Love For All Creatures: Frequently Asked Questions About the Bible and Animal Rights), Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. (Author, Judaism and Vegetarianism and Judaism and Global Survival), and Richard Alan Young, Ph.D. (Author, Is God a Vegetarian?).

SERV expects to add many more leading religious vegetarian activists, as it strives for a very diverse group, involving representatives of all the major religions.

While vegetarianism has long been associated with New Age, Buddhist, and Hindu beliefs, increasingly Christians, Jews, and Muslims are also embracing plant-based diets. For example, an International Jewish Vegetarian Society has existed since 1964, and maintains Jewish Vegetarian Centers in Jerusalem and London. There is also a recently formed Christian Vegetarian Association, with a campaign asking "What Would Jesus Eat...Today?" Increasingly, religious leaders are recognizing diets' role in health, hunger, and environmental problems.

SERV's initial efforts include (in addition to the bibliography of religion-based writings) compiling a list of web sites with religious teachings on vegetarianism, compiling a set of religious vegetarian-related quotations, and setting up a web site. They are also respectfully challenging religious establishments to seriously consider putting vegetarianism squarely on their agendas.

Richard H. Schwartz
Professor Emeritus, Mathematics, College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314, Room 1S-106
Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and
Mathematics and Global Survival
Phone: (718) 761-5876 FAX: (718) 982-3631
Over 100 articles on the Internet at http://jewishveg.com/schwartz 

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