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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Newsletters - Winter 2007 Issue

Animal and Human Rights
by Roberta Schiff

[Roberta Schiff wrote this for the newsletter of Shir Chadash Synagogue in Poughkeepsie. Think about the organizations in which you are involved and if an opportunity presents itself [or you can create one], take the time to write a short article. This one is less than 500 words.]

Each January we celebrate Martin Luther King Day when we focus on human rights. I have often been asked, “Why don't you concentrate on human rights rather than animal rights?” Are they that different?

Those of us who are aware of the terrible cruelty that animal agriculture causes -- both in the raising and slaughtering of ten billion animals per year (just in the USA); and who know how animals are treated in laboratories and circuses, generally do not ignore issues of poverty, lack of healthcare, child abuse, or discrimination. Francis Bacon said, “The more noble a soul is, the more objects of compassion it has.” Human and animal rights are not two different causes -- they are both part of the Jewish principle of Tikkum Olam, which means “Repair of the World;” or in other words, making the world a better place for all living things. Rabbi Daniel Polish wrote an outstanding editorial printed in the Poughkeepsie Journal on Martin Luther King Day. He stated that rather than concentrating on his own achievements, Dr. King would “point out the unpleasant truths that we would just as soon avoid. But sometimes in our own complacency we cannot bring ourselves to act upon, or even speak about the events that plague our national life. In his eloquence, he would admonish us for our silence.”

There is one major difference between humans speaking out for good causes and animal rights. Namely, the animals can not speak for themselves. Dr. King was able to inspire Americans of all races and backgrounds to speak out against and act out against injustice. As a result, transportation and public accommodations were integrated, voters were registered. It became quite acceptable to be against discrimination. Surely, it is part of the healing and repair of the world to speak for those who have no voice. Many of the world’s problems have solutions that are difficult for individuals to take part in. However, each time we choose what to eat, we can make a difference. A veggieburger rather than a beef patty; tofu rather than chicken; chili without meat (the taste is in the seasoning); or hummus rather than cream cheese.

It took me a long time to complete this journey, so I do understand “not bringing ourselves to act.” For those of you who would like to learn more, there is much information out there. We have a lot to share, just ask.

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