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By Dan Brook
I. As the Baal Shem Tov said that “People should consider themselves, and the worms, and all creatures as friends in the universe, for we are all created beings whose abilities are God-given”, you should know that animals are important in their own ways and you should therefore grant them rights and respect.
II. As all living beings have the breath of life and a living soul (Genesis 1:30, 2:7, 19), do not objectify animals, thereby denying them their sentience and souls, their intelligence and consciousness, their emotions and feelings.
III. As God’s mercy extends to all creatures (Psalms 145:9), do not say things like ‘they are only animals’ to excuse behavior, whether yours or of others.
IV. As the Bible states that righteous people safeguard the lives of animals (Proverbs 12:10), allow animals to eat and drink, as you enjoy eating and drinking; allow animals to rest, as you enjoy resting; allow animals their space and freedom, as you enjoy yours; allow animals to live in peace, as you desire peace; allow animals to have safe habitats, as you would enjoy a safe home.
V. As we have learned from scientific discovery and personal experience, you need to remember that humans are also animals and to therefore recognize your common evolutionary ancestry and social relationships with all other beings.
VI. As it is the ending of a world, do not kill or murder animals, whether for food, clothing, research, entertainment, or otherwise.
VII. As it is cruel and unusual punishment, especially for crimes not committed, do not exploit or abuse animals, whether for food, clothing, research, entertainment, or otherwise.
VIII. As we are to be others’ keepers (Leviticus 19:16), love our neighbors (Leviticus 19:18), and respect the stranger (mentioned dozens of times in the Bible), do not stand idly by as animals are exploited, abused, harassed, tortured, or killed.
IX. Following Confucius (Analects 15:23), Hillel (Pirkei Avot 1:12, Shabbat 31a), Jesus’ Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31), and many others (including Mahabharata 5:1517, Samyutta Nikaya v.353, Udana Varga 5:18, Mencius VII.A.4, #13 of Imam Al-Niwawi’s Forty Hadiths, Sutrakritanga 1.11.33, Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29, in addition to writings from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece), do not do unto other living beings what you would not want done to you and do unto other living beings as you would have them do unto you. Love your fellow beings.
X. As the Bible’s first dietary regimen, in the Garden of Eden, was strictly plant-based (Genesis 1:29), choose vegetarian (vegan) so that you, your offspring, and all other beings may live and thrive in a happier, healthier, more peaceful, and more sustainable world. Love animals, do not eat them.
Dan Brook, Ph.D., is a writer, speaker, activist, and instructor of sociology and political science. He also maintains Eco-Eating at www.brook.com/veg, The Vegetarian Mitzvah at www.brook.com/jveg, and No Smoking? at www.brook.com/smoke. Dan welcomes questions, comments, contributions, and other communication via [email protected].
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