for Dallas Morning News on March 10, 2008
New York - March 6, 2008 -- The Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) announced today that it strongly commends the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for initiating a "Scientists and Economists' Call to Action," which urges U.S.-based scientists and economists to sign a letter which calls for "policies that will ensure swift and deep reductions in U.S. emissions of heat-trapping gases."
"Since climate change is today's greatest challenge," stated JVNA president Richard H. Schwartz, "we applaud UCS for their important initiative. But they, like most scientific groups, are overlooking 'an inconvenient truth' that even Al Gore has not sufficiently addressed -- A November, 2006 report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) documented that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all forms of transportation worldwide combined (18% vs. 13.5%).
Also very significant is that this report projects a doubling of farmed animals in the next 50 years. If that happens, the increased greenhouse gas emissions would negate the effects of many positive lifestyle and industrial changes, making it very difficult to avoid the worse effects of global climate change. Hence, it is essential that UCS and other environmental groups make a major societal shift to vegetarianism a societal imperative."
JVNA is eager to engage with rabbis and other Jewish leaders in a respectful debate on the issue, "Should Jews Be Vegetarians Today?" The group urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to consider how a shift toward plant-based diets would: improve the health of Jews and others; show the relevance of Judaism's eternal teachings to current societal challenges, thus helping to revitalize Jewish life; and, most importantly, help move an imperiled world to a sustainable path.
Further information about the JVNA and its mission to get vegetarianism onto the Jewish and other agendas may be obtained at the JVNA web site www.JewishVeg.com or by contacting Dr. Schwartz (president@JewishVeg.com). A complimentary copy of JVNA's new one-hour documentary "A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World" will be sent to those who indicate how they might arrange a screening or promote the movie in some other way. The entire movie can also be viewed at www.ASacredDuty.com, a site that also has background material re the film, which was produced by Emmy-award winning producer Lionel Friedberg.