Did you know that Adam and Eve were vegetarians? Of course, we don't conduct our lives quite like they would, but their diets hint at a larger Earth-based Jewish tradition that Jews have largely forgotten. Reducing meat consumption aligns with Jewish values—prohibitions against animal cruelty, wastefulness, and destruction, among others—and has consequences within and beyond the Jewish world. It promotes animal welfare, Jewish authenticity and learning, and health. Vegetarian and reduced-meat diets have lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, while having higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Eating lower on the food chain also reduces stress on natural systems, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change. We recommend referencing MeatlessMonday.com, the website for the international campaign to cut your meat consumption at least once a week. They've compiled a rich database of the countless health, financial, and environmental arguments for limiting meat consumption.
Tza'ar ba'alei chayim is a key Jewish value found in the Talmud which prohibits unnecessary suffering to animals. Jewish texts teach that animals matter. As a result, there are even Jewish contingents that argue that factory farmed animals should not be considered kosher.
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