My Letter in The Jewish Ledger
Kudos for highlighting how mainstream vegetarianism has become in the Jewish community and how consistent a humane, plant-based diet is with Jewish teaching. (“Kosher vegetarians,” Ledger, Nov. 11)
The key reason for Jews to go vegetarian is to stop supporting and perpetuating animals' unnecessary suffering (tsa'ar ba'alei chayim). On factory farms, sentient animals are debeaked, dehorned, tail-docked, and/or castrated, all without pain-killers. Egg-laying hens are confined five apiece to battery cages where they'd be unable to flap a wing if there were no other birds present, and veal calves are kept anemic and live in crates so narrow that they can't even turn around. These animals are devalued of life and deprived of basic welfare considerations.
As Jews, we must ask ourselves not what is barely acceptable, but what diet God prefers for mankind. When we have the choice to support institutionalized cruelty to God's creatures or to eliminate mass suffering, let us keep meat, eggs, and dairy products off our plates.