In response to this article
in the current issue of the Canadian Jewish News
, there's been a great discussion about eco-kashrut in the Veggie Jews Yahoo! group
"We can observe traditional laws while addressing the concerns of Jews today," says RN Aviva Allen in the article. "The question is, ‘Can veal ever be kosher?’ The answer is ‘yes’ because the animal is slaughtered properly. According to eco-kashrut, however, the answer is ‘no.’"
In theory, eco-kashrut and vegetarian Judaism seem to go hand in hand. Meat production wreaks havoc on the environment and causes unnecessary animal suffering (tsa'ar ba'alei chayim) to its inhabitants.
In practice, however, it seems that the eco-kosher crowd is not gung ho about vegetarianism. Pete Cohon, a founder of Veggie Jews, said in the e-mail discussion that upon surveying 20 leading Web sites about eco-kashrut, some talked about ts'aar ba'alei chayim and boycotting veal, but none advocated vegetarianism. The easy fix for many eco-kosher folks seems to be buying organic and free-range meat and eggs, which all too often aren't quite what they're labeled
Cohon refers to one group member's argument that at least by supporting the organic industry, we'll gradually reduce support for factory farms and put them out of business. Cohon counters, "It is difficult for me to imagine how a movement that does not promote vegetarianism is going to cut factory farming by 15% or even 0.00001%." Cohon concludes:
As long as the eco-kashrut movement is afraid or unwilling to make issues out of the environmental rape of factory farming and the un-kosher cruelty of industrial agribusiness, as long as it ignores the “V” word, it will never bring us to a significantly more just world. To make that kind of progress eco-kashrut needs to take reasonable risks, like promoting vegetarianism and veganism -- risks that it has shown no inclination to take.
I've only highlighted bits and pieces of this very fascinating discussion. To read more, join Veggie Jews
and read the debate (which started on Friday). Free registration is required.