A Healthy Dose of Rational Food for Thought:
Excerpted from sources below.
Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the founding dean of New York's Mesifta Torah VoDaath, became a vegetarian after the Holocaust/Shoah, simply yet powerfully declaring, "There has been enough killing in the world."
Isaac Bashevis Singer powerfully declares, "In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka." The livestock industry is a chronic and widespread form of enslavement and torture, while vegetarianism is a powerful way of actively yet nonviolently opposing the daily and brutal outrage of meat production and consumption.
Health and the protection of life are repeatedly emphasized, and even prioritized, in Jewish teachings. While Judaism teaches that we should be very careful about sh'mirat haguf (preserving our bodies and health), and pekuach nefesh (protecting our lives at almost any cost), numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease and heart attacks (the number-one cause of death in the United States), various forms of cancer (the number-two cause of death), stroke (the number-three cause of death), high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma, atherosclerosis, aneurysms, rheumatoid arthritis, impotence, endometriosis, gallstones, gout, Alzheimer's, and other ailments. About two-thirds of diseases in the United States are diet-related-and vegetarians are much less afflicted. Note that even meat-eating doctors almost always recommend eating less meat, not more, while advocating the consumption of more fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains for better health.
Further, since more than half of all antibiotics in the United States are given to livestock (plus immense amounts of chemicals, steroids, hormones, and other drugs), resistant bacteria are increasing at an alarming rate, creating untreatable superbugs, like MRSA, that kill tens of thousands of people per year in the United States alone. And don't forget mad cow disease, bird flu, foot and mouth disease, E. coli, salmonella, and food poisoning. "If there were no poultry industry," concludes Neal Barnard, M.D., "there would be no epidemics of bird flu." And if there were no cow industry, there would be no E. coli outbreaks.
Packaged meat has been discovered to be injected with carbon monoxide to keep it looking red, even when it's rancid. Fish often contain mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and toxic POPs, including PCBs, DDT, and dioxin, which can't be removed from the fish and which bioaccumulate in consumers' bodies.
The meat industry is unhealthy and unsafe.
A vegetarian diet (one that does not include any animals) or a vegan diet (a vegetarian diet that does not include any animal products at all, including meat, dairy, and eggs) can help prevent, and sometimes reverse, many of these health- and life-threatening conditions. Vegetarianism also reduces the need for medical attention, medicine, and drugs throughout one's life. As Albert Einstein said, "Nothing will benefit health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." It's time for us to evolve toward better personal and planetary health.
As fifteenth-century Rabbi Joseph Albo writes, "In the killing of animals, there is cruelty." Centuries earlier, Maimonides, both rabbi and physician, wrote that "There is no difference between the pain of humans and the pain of other animals." It is as simple as that. Compassion is not a new concept, yet it has to be continually renewed. The Sages of the Talmud (Beitza 32b) remark that "Jews are rachmanin b'nei rachmanin [compassionate children of compassionate ancestors], and one who is not compassionate cannot truly be a descendant of our father Abraham."
READ THE MESSAGE WITHOUT JUDGING THE VARIOUS MESSENGERS:
Why is it that many Jewish religious leaders advocate vegetarianism, including Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks, late Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Goren, and the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel Abraham Kook?
Why is it that the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen considers "the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable"?
The Torah is full of commandments demanding humane treatment of animals, yet the modern factory farms that produce over 90% of the animal products we consume today raise their animals in unconscionable conditions of abject misery. Jewish teachings emphasize the grave importance of protecting human health, yet the consumption of animal products in the United States is responsible for numerous diseases including heart disease, America's number one killer. Judaism places great concern on providing for the poor and the hungry, yet while 800 million people do not have enough food to sustain themselves, our carnivorous diets are at least ten times as wasteful of food resources as a vegetarian one.
Please read and learn about the growing Jewish vegetarian movement, and think about how Jewish teachings relate to decisions we make each day as we sit down to eat. As Rabbi Isaac ha-Levi Herzog said, "Jews will move increasingly to vegetarianism out of their own deepening knowledge of what their tradition commands... A whole galaxy of thinking rabbinic and spiritual leaders...has been affirming vegetarianism as the ultimate meaning of Jewish moral teaching."