Richard Schwartz, Tikkun.org
Political and environmental reasons to stop eating animals. Tikkun.org Editor's Note: Though written as a call to why Jews should be vegetarians, Richard Schwartz's political arguments will be compelling to people from all religions or none.
In spite of the fact that we have truth, morality and justice on our
side, that our case is rooted in basic Jewish teachings and that
animal-based diets and agriculture sharply violate at least six basic Jewish
values, the Jewish community continues to generally ignore the issues and
refuses to engage in dialogs and debates on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?”
As is well known, it is unlawful to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theater. EXCEPT if there really is a fire. And there is much evidence that the world is burning today, It looks increasingly like the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and other environmental problems, and that animal-based agriculture is contributing substantially to these threats.
So, I think we should sharpen our arguments. For example, we should call animal-based diets and agriculture what they are today: madness and sheer insanity. Please consider:
Many more examples of “madnessa dn sheer insanity” can be given related to
such issues as the destruction of tropical rain forests, the rapid
extinction of species, soil erosion and depletion, animal wastes polluting
our waters and swine flu.
How best to respond to this madness and sheer insanity? In a talk in December, 1978 at Riverside Church on “Theological Implications of the Arms Race,” Reverend Robert McAfee Brown stated that the arms race was “madness and sheer insanity” (I am borrowing the phrase from him), because the US and then USSR could each wipe each other out with nuclear weapons many times over, and yet both continued to build additional nuclear weapons. He stated that, while one would think that one should apply sanity in response to the madness, what was really needed was a different kind of madness, what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heshel called “moral madness,” the madness of the biblical prophets, the type of madness that radically challenges the status quo, that is ready to challenge the prevailing ways of thinking, that is not afraid to take on the icons of society..
Hence, in view of the prevalent madness and sheer insanity, I think that we should consider some radical approaches. For example:
I think we (along with other vegetarian-related groups) should respectfully but forcefully challenge:
I think we should also respectfully request that President Obama consider
shifting toward vegetarianism and also help increase awareness of the many
benefits of plant-based diets and the many negatives of animal-based diets.
A major letter-writing campaign got Michelle Obama to give a commencement
address at a California college. Perhaps a major letter-writing campaign
might also influence President Obama.
I think we should respectfully challenge vegetarians and animal rights activists to put spreading the message re dietary connections to global warming and other environmental threats at the top of their agendas, and also seek their help on any of the above suggestions that we might adopt.
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