Bal tashchit and sh’mirat ha’adamah — the prohibition against destruction/waste and the imperative to protect our Earth — are cornerstones of JIFA’s work to end factory farming
In industrialized countries, animal agriculture produces outsized climate-warming emissions, drives deforestation, and exacerbates unprecedented human-caused biodiversity loss. Unfortunately, in the US the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempts factory farms from federal safety laws that require reporting hazardous substance releases into the land, air, and soil, which means that these operations face little to no repercussions for their threats to environmental health. This is one of the great externalized costs of factory farming.
If we are to alter our current trajectory toward climate catastrophe and environmental devastation, our advocacy must include shifting the foods we eat: changing the meals we serve to hundreds of community members each year has a much greater potential to decrease our collective greenhouse gas emissions than upgrading our light bulbs, for example. Making our meals plant-based by default would also decrease our contribution to widespread drought, cutting the water footprint of our meals by up to two thirds. It would also greatly reduce literal wasting of animals — such as the 450 million chickens that don’t even make it into grocery stores each year. Flipping our food norms to greatly reduce the volume of meat and dairy we serve is one of the most powerful tools we have as shomrei adamah — guardians of our planet’s health and stability.
In order to cultivate and grow a sustainable Jewish animal advocacy movement, we must address the issues that are critically connected to and interdependent with industrial animal agriculture. We must work in partnership with Jewish communities and justice movements to achieve positive change.