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Jews ban beef to save the world?

[Jerusalem Post]

(IL/US) Jews ban beef to save the world?

Most Jews are not vegetarians, but some may consider a dietary shift after seeing A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World. Sponsored by Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), the documentary (which premiered at the Orthodox Union's Israel Center in Jerusalem last week) tackles three major themes: the current peril of global warming and other environmental threats; teachings in Judaism that may guide our response to these threats; and how a shift toward vegetarianism can both alleviate environmental problems and help us fulfill our Jewish duty.

"I hope to awaken the world to the fact that we are headed toward an unprecedented global catastrophe," Dr. Richard Schwartz, the film's producer and president of JVNA, told The Jerusalem Post prior to film's premiere. "A shift toward plant-based diets is essential to address global warming and tikkun olam (healing the world)."

The first part of the film presents global environmental concerns specifically as they affect Israel. Air and water pollution are two of Israel's biggest ecological issues and Israeli environmentalists worry not only about the health effects of these problems, but also about the lack of government concern.
FOR SCHWARTZ and his supporters, one lifestyle change in particular can have far reaching effects: a shift to plant-based diets. Driven by a 2006 United Nations report which showed that 18% of greenhouse gases come from livestock agriculture, Schwartz concluded that a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle was the answer to staying healthier and healing the planet.

For the Jewish community, this dietary decision has particular significance. Eating an animal-based diet is "no doubt damaging the world and is in violation of the Jewish mandate to protect and care for the earth," said Jerusalem rabbi Adam Frank in the documentary. Schwartz agrees. He even takes it further, insisting that meat-eating is actually in violation of Jewish law, which requires us to "take care of the body, show compassion to animals, conserve resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace."

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