Philosopher Rene Descartes asserted that animals lacked souls and feelings, and therefore one could do with them as one pleased. Descartes’ conception of animals still rationalizes the way we treat animals on factory farms today.
Earlier this year, JIFA released the results of groundbreaking testing of Empire kosher chicken taken directly from grocery store shelves. The drug we found, fenbendazole, is an antiparasitic used widely in industrial animal farming to treat common infections that occur in poultry raised on crowded factory farms.
Kosher companies and Jewish media are sounding an alarm that kosher chicken is in short supply in anticipation of Passover.
The data confirms what JIFA has inferred from previous research that shows people think kosher food is inherently better: consumers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, extend this belief to the way farmed animals are bred and raised, despite the fact virtually all kosher and non-kosher meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs come from animal raised on factory farms.
It’s only with cooperation and allyship of organizations and Jewish leaders that we elevate a vision for a more harmonious, resilient, and just food system. Achieving this change will require the participation of Jewish organizations and leaders that haven’t yet addressed factory farming and its impact on Jewish communal life.
Whether it’s latkes, sufganiyot, keftes (fried vegetable patties), or sfenj (North African doughnuts), Jews from all backgrounds can come together around a central culinary trend for Hanukkah: deep-fried foods, full of oil aplenty, to honor the Hanukkah miracle of the Temple’s long-burning oil. It may come as a surprise to many, then, that a different Hanukkah menu is recorded in the most central code of Jewish law.
Our modern food system puts little value on rest. Our system operates with an assumption of infinite capacity, and in ignorance of all creation’s basic need for relief.
As we enter the fast of Tisha B’Av, the Jewish Initiative for Animals invites us all to follow the lead of the tradition: focus on particular grief and destruction. Practice radical empathy to understand how that particular grief is located in a web of oppressions.
Bans do more to restrict religious practices than to improve conditions for farmed animals—like in the US, most meat, including kosher, comes from animals that spend their entire lives on factory farms.
In this time of climate crisis, our institutions face — and often avoid — a question that Moses and our rabbis might have never seen coming: How can our identities and our religious teachings help us live within the ecological limits of a struggling planet?
Jewish and partaking in a Thanksgiving meal this year? It’s time to wrestle with the impact of participating in the most food-centric American holiday.
Certain patterns need breaking. Certain problems require teshuvah — a personal and collective accounting of our actions that leads to growth and balance in the world — not just an aspiration to restore the status quo. Our first port of call if we’re serious about that deep, transformative work this year is our food system, and specifically: our relationship with animals.
Serving all or primarily kosher plant-based meals allows institutions to adhere to their kashrut policy, and to articulate Jewish values-based foundations of their practice…And planning events this way by default is not only inclusive of community members with diverse dietary needs and preferences—it helps establish a more sustainable way of eating as the new norm.
Tackling the problem of industrial animal agriculture is a crucial form of the preventive medicine that we are commanded to practice. We must do our part to remove this very real peril, and the time to begin is now, when the whole world is experiencing the potential consequences.
Is it possible for day schools to cut out meat? Gesher Day School in Fairfax, VA thinks so. Gesher transitioned from meat heavy lunches to a vegetarian lunch program in 2018, and is recognized by Jewish Leadership Circle (JLC) for meeting the goals of the Plant-Forward Track.
Is cattle production the issue, or is factory farming? There is a growing movement to support regenerative grazing—a traditional form of raising cattle and managing land that has fallen out of vogue in favor of raising cattle on grain in feedlots.