In an unprecedented statement, a group of Orthodox rabbis around the world, members of Torat Chayim, a progressive Orthodox rabbinic group, have called upon the broader Jewish community to consider the moral and spiritual dangers associated with meat consumption. In this statement, these members of Torat Chayim have called upon Jews of all persuasions, but especially the Orthodox community, to consider the dimensions of halakhah and the Jewish ideal that reducing meat intake leads to a healthier and more ethically vibrant world.
We, the undersigned, are committed to the observance of kashrut and its continuance as a vehicle towards just, healthy living and the service of God. We encourage the community to consider research of livestock raised in the factory farming system and to question whether food prepared in this manner meets the reverence-for-life standard on which kashrut is founded or the ethical standard we require from agri-business, from large conglomerates to mom-and-pop farm operations. A substantial body of research suggests there is significant and unnatural pain caused toward animals during their raising and slaughter for human consumption, that factory farming is one of the leading contributors to carbon emissions, and that the consumption of large amounts of meat is a leading contributor to cardiac disease, gastrointestinal ailments, and certain types of cancers. As a whole, it behooves the Jewish community, indeed nations all over the world, to have spirited and respectful conversations about reducing meat intake and coming together to find solutions for this global concern.
Written for the Forward by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz.
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is the President and Dean of Valley Beit Midrash, Founder and President of Uri L’tzedek, and the Founder and CEO of Shamayim V’Aretz.