"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Eco-Kosher versus Veggie-Kosher

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.


  • At 7/05/2006 5:17 PM, Blogger Soferet said…

    Hey, Michael!
    I understand that over 20 years ago Ha-Rav Ha-Ga'on Moshe Feinstein condemmned veal as not kosher, regardless of whether the calf was slaughtered by shechita. His words:

    "...it was forbidden to cause suffering to the animal by feeding it food which it does not enjoy & which causes it pain when it is eating, & also which causes it to suffer illness from which it will suffer pain."

    R' Feinstein goes on to say, "There is a Biblical prohibition against causing pain to animals in such a fashion simply for the sake of some benefit, & for the sake of deceiving people to imagine that the meat is better."

    So really, those Jews who follow the rulings of R' Feinstein should only be eating kosher organic meat, or none at all.

    Keep up the good work!


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