The Vegan Revolution
Our very own resident, Richard Schwartz, has recently published another book called “Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism.”
For Richard, the book is much more than just a book. It is part of a cause, a passion, a major effort to increase our awareness of the social, environmental, and religious benefits of veganism.
Richard’s fervent passion began way back in the mid-70s when he was teaching a course in the City University of New York that he initiated and developed called “Math and the Environment.” A few years later, he became a vegetarian. The shift to veganism was a slow process that took years to be fully accomplished. He realized the extent of the poor treatment of animals, the negative health effects of eating meat, and the damage to the environment incurred in raising animals for meat.
The major point of the book, says Richard, is to avert a climate catastrophe and other environmental threats to humanity as a result of meat consumption. The mistreatment of animals, the wasteful use of land, water, and energy resources all contribute to extreme changes in our climate. Cutting down rain forests to make land available for animal grazing, gas emitted by animals, and toxic fertilizers used on fields supplying food for animals all are hazards to our climate.
Richard has written five books on these subjects and is hopeful that his latest one will move people to realize the serious consequences of eating meat. He would like to encourage people to start a respectful dialogue regarding these serious topics.
He also sees a Jewish/religious aspect of becoming a vegan since animal-based diets and agriculture seriously violate basic religious teachings on compassion, health, justice, and environmental sustainability.
Even our recent coronavirus pandemic, says Richard, is related to our animal-based diet. We need to grow many animals to satisfy our meat-based diet, often, in unsanitary conditions, where animals and humans are in close proximity. Therefore, the likelihood of future pandemics emanating from animals is high.
Richard points to an impressive shift toward veganism in Israel. Young Israelis are attracted to a plant-based diet, and the food industry has learned to answer this growing need by making vegan food options readily available. Although the momentum toward veganism is growing worldwide, “Israel is the world capital,” says Richard.
The awareness of the many benefits of veganism is so important that through books, articles, lectures, zoom teaching etc., Richard hopes more people will internalize the benefits of a meat-free diet, thus contributing to a safer, healthier, more peaceful world.
We wish Richard much success in this important campaign, and a safer future for all of us.
Interviewed by: Ruchama Seliger