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Israel Goes Vegan

As animal-free eating catches on, restaurants, websites, and cooking classes reflect the latest food trend

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The main dish at the Israeli restaurant Vegetarian Shawarma. (Leevi Winter; gratin photos [below, left] Ori Shavit)

The latest culinary trend to sweep the land of milk and honey is total abstinence from both. Veganism—refraining from all meat and animal products, including dairy, eggs, and even honey—is taking off in Israel, where few people had even heard of the term a few years ago.

Animal-rights organizations such as Anonymous (no connection to the hackers) and Let the Animals Live have operated for more than two decades, and there have always been vegetarians in Israel; there even is a vegetarian moshav called Amirim, founded in the 1950s in the Galilee. But while vegetarians, who avoid eating meat, are pretty common in Israel, abstaining from eggs and dairy products has been perceived here as an esoteric practice adopted by health-freaks or high-school radicals.

It’s true that Israeli cuisine contains quite a few individual dishes that have become vegan favorites around the world—such as falafel, hummus, and tabbouleh—but it’s also true that Israelis love meat. No Shabbat dinner is considered complete without chicken, and Yom Ha’atzmaut—Israel’s Independence Day—is typically celebrated by family barbecue outings. So, how did the vegan craze hit Israel’s shores?

By most accounts, it all started in April of last year, when Daniel Erlich and Hovav Amir, two animal-rights activists who run the online TV show Animal Log, added Hebrew subtitles to an American lecture about veganism and posted it on YouTube under the title “the best speech you’ll ever hear.” The lecturer is a Jewish American animal-rights activist named Gary Yourofsky, who usually speaks to high-school and college students in the United States. He is considered a criminal or even a terrorist by many, is banned from entering Canada and the U.K., and has a long history of arrests. He even spent 77 days in a Canadian maximum-security prison once, after raiding a fur farm.

Gary Yourofksy
Gary Yourofksy. (Erika Windisch)

Yourofsky doesn’t hesitate to use shock-tactics: He calls eggs “chicken period” and honey “bee vomit,” and frequently advocates violence. Yourofsky once told the animal-rights magazine The Abolitionist: “Every woman ensconced in fur should endure a rape so vicious that it scars them forever. While every man entrenched in fur should suffer an anal raping so horrific that they become disemboweled.” While his YouTube video is less extreme than that, Yourofsky’s angry speech would probably cause any hamburger-eater to feel terribly guilty. In it, he combines statistics, nutrition information, and discussions of morality, interspersed with shocking films of slaughterhouses (there is also a censored version on YouTube without those bits). Although Google will easily provide you with essays that contradict every one of his claims, being the charismatic and experienced speaker that he is, Yourofsky can easily convince viewers that some of his not-so-accurate statements are proven facts.

News of the eye-opening lecture spread virally and with the help of activists handing out leaflets. Erlich and Amir even got a leading tofu manufacturer to print a QR code on tofu packages linking to the Israeli Yourofsky site. More than half a million Israelis have watched the YouTube video. Many others attended, and keep attending, screenings at universities, schools, and various public places around the country, and last September Yourofsky himself held a successful lecture tour in Israel—his first outside the United States—which was accompanied by much media coverage. Erlich and Amir can now boast that more than 700,000 Israelis, close to 10 percent of the country’s population, have heard Yourofsky’s gospel.

“I think that experts on the Israeli vegan scene will agree to the estimate that at least a few thousands have become vegan after watching Gary’s speech,” Amir told me in an interview.

It was clear that veganism entered the Israeli mainstream the moment it hit prime-time TV. In July, Channel 2 news aired a story about thousands of Israelis going vegan after watching Yourofsky’s speech, among them a few celebrities, like singer Achinoam Nini (known outside Israel simply as Noa), who said the speech “rattled the foundations of her soul,” and radio personality Eli Israeli. TV presenter and ex-anchorwoman for Channel 10 news Miki Haimovich is a longtime vegetarian who is on her way to becoming vegan, and these days she is using her immense public influence to promote “Meatless Monday”—an international campaign that encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. As with all trends, timing is crucial, and Israel’s vegan craze can easily be traced back to the social justice movement that took over the country during last year’s protests.

Now the signs of Israel’s vegan revolution are everywhere. There are vegan cooking courses and workshops, vegan blogs, online vegan cooking programs, a new smartphone app called Vegan Spotting that locates vegan dishes served in your area, and a slew of new businesses that cater to vegans, like an online vegan shop selling everything from vegan pet food to vegan condoms. Vegan Friendly is a new initiative making the vegan lifestyle in Israel easier and more accessible by identifying vegan restaurants, cafés, hotels, and other establishments. Like other vegan groups, Vegan Friendly promotes itself on Facebook, which hosts many other Israeli vegan groups. There even is a Facebook page for Israeli vegan parents looking for help figuring out what to feed their kids.

The truth is that becoming vegan in Israel is relatively easy; many Mediterranean foods are plant-based anyway. And kashrut helps, too: Kosher products marked as “pareve” are usually suitable for vegans, as this label classifies the product as neither milk nor meat—although vegans should still check the ingredients because pareve products may contain eggs, fish, or honey. However, one of the main challenges of being vegan in Israel, as it is anywhere, is eating out.

Apart from a restaurants like Taam Ha-Chaim (Taste of Life), run by the Black Hebrew Israelites, and the organic-vegan restaurant Aba Gil—both in Tel Aviv—there haven’t been many strictly vegan eateries in the country. But that is beginning to change. A new chain called Vegetarian Shawarma (which sells strictly vegan shawarma made out of the popular meat substitute seitan, which is wheat gluten) recently joined the vegan-hamburger chain Buddha Burgers. And while Buddha Burgers has branches in Tel Aviv and Raanana, Vegetarian Shawarma started in the southern city of Beersheva and spread to Tel Aviv and Haifa, while more branches are on their way. “We believe it’s possible to mix ideology with business,” explained Kobi Yafe, co-owner (with Yair Bellhasan) of Vegetarian Shawarma. And they are not the only ones who believe that. A new vegan catering service called Nectar opened recently, and more vegan restaurants are on the way.

Still, as with any trend, there will always be people opposing it, especially when the person leading it is Yourofsky, whose harsh words, and the fact he doesn’t hesitate to compare slaughterhouses to Auschwitz, raise hackles with certain people. They might not be anti-vegan, but they certainly oppose the attention the issue is getting in the media, believing that there is no place to talk about animals in a conflict zone like Israel and claiming it’s ridiculous to invest so much energy in animal rights in a country where human rights are still a sensitive issue.

While Yourofsky’s militant rhetoric might be off-putting, Israeli veganism has another, friendlier face. Restaurant critic Ori Shavit used to be a self-professed carnivore with a huge appetite for meat and seafood until she watched Yourofsky’s speech 16 months ago. She became vegetarian immediately, and it took her no longer than two weeks to go all the way to veganism. “There is something in [Yourofsky’s] simplicity and directness that evidently touches Israelis,” Shavit told me in an interview. “Israelis immediately connect to his way of communication, because he tells it like it is. I think Israelis in general are open-minded and curious and aren’t afraid of change. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we’re still a young nation that is growing and evolving.”

Ori Shavit
Ori Shavit. (Dan Lev)

For Shavit, going vegan meant not only a dietary change, but also a career change—obviously a restaurant critic who can’t taste the steak isn’t very useful. But luckily, Shavit has found publications interested in articles about vegan cuisine, and she also runs the popular blog Vegan Girls Have More Fun, which offers a comprehensive Israeli vegan dining guide in English.

Not wanting to change her lifestyle completely, Shavit went on a public mission to get the chefs of her favorite gourmet restaurants to incorporate vegan dishes in their menus. Seeing the good responses and positive publicity they received, they continued cooperating with Shavit and creating special vegan nights and pointing out vegan options in their regular menus. Thanks to Shavit’s enthusiasm, veganism is continuing to spread in Israel. “Not a day goes by without something new happening in the field of vegan culinary,” she said, the latest being a campaign to cancel the additional three shekels that most cafés in Israel charge if you wish to substitute soy milk for regular milk in your coffee. “The Aroma-Israel chain, for instance, which operates 117 branches around the country, just launched a new menu with vegan options, introduced tofu to all their branches, and stopped charging an additional fee for soy milk.”

Shavit believes that veganism in Israel is here to stay: “I don’t think veganism is a passing trend,” she said. “Veganism is a culture, a way of life, and a worldview. After achieving a deeper understanding of the vegan agenda, very few go back.”

Erlich and Amir, the two men who started this whole thing, are also optimistic, but maybe a bit more realistic: “This is not a passing trend, but we aren’t witnessing a real revolution,” said Amir. “Unfortunately, most people, unless they will be forced to do otherwise, will continue to consume products that cause inconceivable suffering for other creatures that never caused them any harm.”

***

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Poupic says:

As long as they limit their veganism to what they eat, no problem. But as soon as they invade labs researching cures for human ills it is time to jail them and throw away the keys. The lives of people are at stake there and there is no reason to give them any clemency.

I was vegan before it was cool
תעברו לטבעונות!!!

Ahtur Yahgdeer says:

Interesting that the only mention of Taam Ha-Chaim was way down in the article. Also the fact that the Black Hebrews, who own it, aren’t even listed as a vegan/vegetarian community even though they have been that for the entire 40 plus years they have been in the Holy Land. Also interesting to note is that they were vegan, way before it was cool, spawning one of the world’s largest, singly owned chains of vegan restaurants, Soul Vegetarian, in at least four different continents. Moreover, their veganism has extended well past food to the creation of a vegan, cruetly-free shoe (the Eco Shoe) as well as the complete embracing of a holistic lifestyle, which eschews the wearing of animal based and synthetic based garments and accessories. A track record as long as theirs, should bear more than a passing mention, I would think?

Soy milk and almond milk are great, and keep longer than cow milk. But those of us who are gluten sensitive have a heck of a time with those gluten-based-protein meat substitutes.

מהמם! beautifel- go vegan!!! all over the world!

There are many reasons why people choose vegan. Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org/.

dcnative says:

People who wear fur should be horribly raped? Yourofsky may love animals, but he hates people. He certainly just lost me.

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of the book
“Judaism and Vegetarianism,” I was very pleased to see this article and to learn of the rapid spread of veganism in Israel.

It is very important that this trend continue and grow because (1) the production and
consumption of meat and other animal products contradict basic Jewish mandates
to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the
environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people, and (2) animal
-based diets and agriculture are causing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish
and other communities and contributing significantly to climate change,
deforestation, desertification, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, water
shortages, and other environmental problems that threaten all of humanity.

It is essential that the Jewish community address these issues to show the relevance of eternal Jewish teachings to current issues and to help shift our imperiled planet to a
sustainable path.

For further information about Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, please see my over 160articles and 25 podcasts and book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” at
JewishVeg.com/schwartz and please see our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred
Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” at ASacedDuty.com.

I am completely against violence, but the best way to save lives is to encourage people to shift to vegan diets. Animal experiments seeking cures is often ineffective and sometimes counterproductive in producing false hopes, as results from animals who are artificially given diseases generally does not produce results applicable to humans. There have been efforts to find cures for cancer for decades, but far more people are stricken with cancer today than years ago,

Some of the greatest humanitarians in history, including Gandhi, Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Albert Schweitzer, as well as several Israeli chief rabbis, were vegetarians. And by far the vast majority of vegetarians today are gentle, courteous, and peaceful. So, please do not judge by the statements of one person.

Lindsay Dearinger says:

Mr. Schwartz, I am a Jewish vegan, and I am so excited to see you comment on this article. I plan to read your book when school is on break, but I have read through your website, and it is so inspiring. I so appreciate that you make vegetarianism a Jewish value; thinking of all the ways you point out how complicit are Jewish values and vegetarianism is helpful at shul or holiday gatherings when people stare at us (religious Jewish vegans) blankly when they hear that we don’t eat animal products. Thank you so much for all you have written!

Poupic says:

This is a total non-sense. Diabetics would never had Insulin if animal experimentation was not available. With no animal to experiment on, people would become guinee pigs for new medications. Even useless garbage put on women’s faces if not tested on rabbit’s eyes would have to be done on women. I sure hope that if and when you get a disease it is wone that has a medication arrived at while experimenting on animals. In addition we can’t advance using only compiuter models not knowing all the intricacies involved before hand.

But on the other hand eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grain and less animal products leads to better health. I know that first hand because I fight familial diabetes with diet and exercise. Similarly I have now rare gout attacks and lowered my blood pressure. Then there is a little detail no one speaks about. Humans are omnivores this why we have the teeth we have and the digestive system we have. We are not ruminants with multiple stomachs. With your argument for the so called non-violence you would force the lions to eat grain and salad? So why demand it from humans?This is a total non-sense. Diabetics would never had Insulin if animal experimentation was not available. With no animal to experiment on, people would become guinea pigs for new medications. Even useless garbage put on women’s faces if not tested on rabbit’s eyes would have to be done on women. I sure hope that if and when you get a disease it is one that has a medication arrived at while experimenting on animals. In addition we can’t advance using only computer models not knowing all the intricacies involved before hand.

But on the other hand eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grain and less animal products leads to better health. I know that first hand because I fight familial diabetes with diet and exercise. Similarly I have now rare gout attacks and lowered my blood pressure. Then there is a little detail no one speaks about. Humans are omnivores this why we have the teeth we have and the digestive system we have. We are not ruminants with multiple stomachs. With your argument for the so called non-violence you would force the lions to eat grain and salad? So why demand it from humans?

Bottom line: there must be a major societal shift to plant-based diets if the world is to have a chance to avert a looming climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and energy scarcities, and other environmental disasters. According to a 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report, the livestock sector emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than is emitted by all the cars, ships, planes, and other means of transportation worldwide combined. Ant their report projects a doubling of farmed animals in 50 years.

Let’s make Israel the first vegan nation!

oaklandj says:

There’s a typo in your final link, Richard. Just bought your book; as a vegetarian Jew, I look forward to reading it!

oaklandj says:

1. Not all vegetarians argue that animals shouldn’t be used in medical testing. However, some of us argue that development of other models should continue to minimize animal suffering, and testing of cosmetics and other non-essential items should not require animals.

2. We are not animals. And we’re supposed to rise above our animal nature and animalistic impulses. That’s what makes us human. And Jews.

Poupic says:

“Non-essential” Like face products used by actors not tested before use. In effect making actors guinea pigs. Nice! I agree, extreme supervision of the use of animals in labs is needed and it is so today in every lab in the USA. I love this line of yours! “We are not animals!!!” this is very funny! Apparently you believe this. What are we God’s? We are like all animals born from a mother and like all mammals we have a belly button and we first fed from a teat. We have like all of them a digestive system that ends in an annus. We are animals! The least you can do is recognize that you belong in the animal world.

Many thanks for your very kind comments! ALL the best.

Rachel says:

Interesting article although I’m a bit disturbed that their vegan leader advocates violence! One thing that was not mentioned in this article was the HUGE environmental impact that meat production has. According to a United Nation Study on Global Warming they concluded that livestock was the number one cause – way more than transportation. A few examples – cutting down of forest, high usage of pesticides & hormones that gets into our waterways & pollute them, the huge amount of energy used to grow grains for feed that could feed many more hungry people). If one calls themselves any sort of environmentalist the number one thing you can do is stop consuming animal products.

oaklandj says:

No, we are not gods. But we do not operate with the “law of the jungle” (natural law), either. If we did, we would do as animals do: kill others’ offspring because they compete for resources for our own, we’d eat blood, etc.

You’re splitting hairs about the animal comment. OK, yes, we’re in the kingdom Animalia. We still do not take cues from other animals when it comes to our own behavior, and our behavior is not dictated solely by our biology and which organs we share in common with other animals.

Marc Goodman says:

I think the pioneering work of animal behaviourist, Temple Grandin, speaks more eloquently to the fact that we should not disabuse ourselves of our use of farmed animals for food, but hope to treat and slaughter them in the most humane manner possible.

“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”

Language such as Mr. Yourofsky used to describe the punishment that should befall wearers of fur belongs to individuals in the same camp as Hamas members who kill with such unassuaged hatred as to defile the corpses after death. There is much to consider about a vegetarian diet as it benefits both the individual and society but echoing the sentiments of someone so obviously unbalanced as Mr. Yourofsky will only negatively affect the campaign for a wider adoption of a purely vegan diet. There’s no room for food of any kind when your belly is full of hate.

Poupic says:

What is wrong with you? Human history is a long history of war for resources. The jails are full of humans who tried to get resources of others. In the world of finance it is the exact same thing, people are in jail for putting their hands in other people’s pockets. We are even more dangerous than the most dangerous animal, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are screaming examples of that.

We have to have compassion, caring, understanding for both humans and animals. This is why we have laws regulating life and labs to safeguard both humans and animals.

Our biology is such that we are build to eat both meat and vegetable. We are this kind of animal described best in that we are omnivores we have a very varied diet. Not accepting that is strange to say the least.

I want to add to my statement above that, while I am very happy about the shift of so many Israelis to veganism, I strongly disagree with some of Gary Yourofsky’s very hateful statements. There are many positive reasons that Jews (and others) should be vegans, and we should never resort to violence, hateful, disrespectful comments, or any other statements or actions that will be harmful to the vegetarian cause, especially since the VAST majority of vegetarians and vegans are respectful, courteous, and kind people.,

Since Judaism puts higher priority on human life than on animal life, it is not in principle opposed to all uses of animals, if there are significant benefits for humans that could
not be obtained in any other way. But results from animal experiments should
generally be viewed with some skepticism for the following reasons:

·
It is difficult, if not
impossible, to gain insight into a human disease by studying an artificially
induced pathology in nonhuman animals, no matter how superficially similar the
two may seem.

·
Because of differences between
species, studies conducted on non-human animals cannot reliably be extrapolated
to humans. Many times, animals’ reactions to medicines are completely different
than those of people. There is an ever-growing list of drugs that were deemed
safe after very extensive animal testing, which later proved to be
carcinogenic, mutagenic (causing birth defects) or toxic to humans. Examples of
differences in human and animal responses to medicines include: guinea pigs
generally die when given penicillin; aspirin causes birth defects in rats and
mice but not in people; thalidomide was helpful when tested on laboratory
animals but causes birth defects in people; insulin causes deformities in
laboratory animals but not in people.

·
Contrary to the views of
supporters of animal experimentation and what most people believe, medical
historian Brandon Reines has documented that key discoveries in such areas as
heart disease and cancer were achieved through clinical research, observations
of patients, and human autopsy, and not
through animal testing; at best, results of animal tests gave results that
paralleled previous findings in humans. In other cases, improved hygienic
approaches led to the greatest medical advancements As medical historian Brian
Inglis states: “The chief credit for the conquest of the destructive epidemics
. . . ought to have been given to the social reformers who had campaigned for
purer water, better sewage disposal, and improved living standards.”

·
Misleading animal tests can be
devastating for human health. In a number of cases, effective therapies have
been delayed because of misleading animal models. For example, the animal model
for polio resulted in a misunderstanding of the mechanism of infection delaying
the discovery of a vaccine.

·
Reliance on animal experiments
and transplants from animals keep people from considering their basic
responsibility for their own health. If the billions of dollars spent on animal
experimentation were instead spent on educating people about better nutrition
and other positive lifestyle changes, there would be far greater benefits for
human health.

Perhaps
because of these factors, animal experimentation has produced relatively little
progress in many areas of medicine. For example, whereas 30 years ago, one in
eleven women on the average had breast cancer during their lifetime, that
figure is now one in eight women. Despite (or perhaps because of) relying
heavily on extensive animal experimentation for many years for medical advancement,
health costs in the U. S. have been soaring in recent years, which has led to
major budgetary problems in many cities and states and nationally, with the
result that spending for many other human needs has had to be reduced. Health
expenditures have been increasing more rapidly than any other element of the
federal budget; total health costs have grown from 6% of total GNP in 1960 to
17% in 2009, and are still rising rapidly.

Many laboratory experiments on animals
are completely unnecessary. Must we force dogs to smoke to reconfirm the health
hazards of cigarettes? Do we have to starve dogs and monkeys to understand
human starvation? Do we need to cut, blind, burn, and chemically destroy
animals to produce another type of lipstick, mascara or shampoo?

A
reduction in animal experiments would not mean that experiments have to be done
on people. Healthier lifestyles would avoid the need for many experiments. Also
many approaches to advancing medical knowledge have been developed that do not
involve animal experimentation. These include epidemiological studies, the use
of computer models, and cell and tissue cultures in vitro.

Human
health can best be advanced by improvements in hygiene, better diets and other
lifestyle changes, and clinical studies. As the poet Alexander Pope put it,
“The proper study of mankind is man.” Advances in human health do not depend on
the torture and killing of animals in laboratories.

oaklandj says:

We are not fully evolved. We are evolving.

Great article! I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat meat every day. That’s too much by far. The amount of meat and animal source foods consumed today is a global disease.

As great an article as usual, Dana

Poupic says:

“Mektoob” (It is written) is an Islamic way of looking at things, not Jewish. Quoting someone’s views on animal experiments has zero to do with the reality. True, eventually a drug has to be tried on humans but it is totally un ethical to start straight with humans risking to kill them or maim them. I knew that eventually, this vegan thing leads to stopping experimenting on animals. If you want to be a guinea pig, welcome! Go right ahead! But scientists have morals and will not experiment on humans to test before a drug has been tested on animals first. Then there is the little detail of basic science absolutely can’t exist without animals to experiment on.

What a bunch of crock mixing apples with oranges. Of course healthier life style leads to healthier people but doesn’t negate science’s need for rats, worms, ferrets … as model and experiment needs.

Poupic says:

So? Does this negate that we are omnivores? Does this negate that humans eating just vegetables have a diet lacking in vitamin B12 that has to be added to their diet? No cold water fish in the diet equate with a diet having mostly no Omega 3? Trying to make Vegan a Jewish thing is almost comical since a major part of Jewish law deals on how to slaughter certain animals for food. How to cook them. What can be mixed from animals for food…

By the way, I am an atheist Jew. Personally I don’t care how you eat your hamburger or where it came from. I suffer from Gout so I rarely eat anything containing meat. On the other hand I eat cheese and love it. No vegan will take the cheese away from my pasta or my sandwitch.So? Does this negate that we are omnivores? Does this negate that humans eating just vegetables have a diet lacking in vitamin B12 that has to be added to their diet? No cold water fish in the diet equate with a diet having mostly no Omega 3? Trying to make Vegan a Jewish thing is almost comical since a major part of Jewish law deals on how to slaughter certain animals for food. How to cook them. What can be mixed from animals for food…

By the way, I am an atheist Jew. Personally I don’t care how you eat your hamburger or where it came from. I suffer from Gout so I rarely eat anything containing meat. On the other hand I eat cheese and love it. No vegan will take the cheese away from my pasta or my sandwich.

Let me know how your bones and teeth are after age 60 when you have been 20+ years a vegan. Vegan diets are unknown in every tribal and native culture in the entire world. It’s another modern form of food craziness just as illness producing as eating fast food. Yes I was vegan before they invented the word and after something went seriously wrong I listened my doctor and got decades of good health from eating red meat a few times a month.
If you are type A go ahead be vegan. If you are type O blood it’ll be your death and destruction to be a vegan.

The evolution.

ZioKikesR pigs says:

WOW, hypocrites. Vegans while bloodthirsty for palestinian children’s blood.

And the palestinians (as you labeled them) are of course entirely altruistic – and none of this has anything to do with the article.

Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the founder of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Torah Umesorah declared himself a vegetarian in 1945 by simply stating “There has been enough killing in the world”.

How many of these vegan restaurants in Israel are under kosher supervision? I hope they all are. Orthodox vegans exist here in the US, and I’m sure they do in Israel too. Orthodox Rabbi David Sears has an interesting book on Jewish sources on vegetarianism (called A Vision of Eden), which is endorsed by the (vegetarian) chief rabbi of Haifa.

The funny thing is that Yourofsky is not anywhere near the most high-profile or influential vegan in the US. Organized groups such as Vegan Outreach, Mercy for Animals and PeTA are more well-known (and none of them are harsh or extreme in their style, as is Yourofsky.) Maybe “Why Vegan?” (millions of copies of which have been distributed in the US) needs to be translated into Hebrew. Anyway, here’s a link to a pamphlet authored by several rabbis (including an Orthodox one) arguing for vegetarianism:

http://www.all-creatures.org/fact/fact-20080901-2.pdf

The blood type diet has many fervent believers but appears to be completely unscientific.

A vegan diet is possible for most people (though taking B-12 supplements is necessary because we don’t eat too much dirt nowadays.) Some people do report not doing well on the diet, though, and in those cases eating animal products a few times a month is probably enough, as in your case.

Eating meat maybe once a week or less is how most of the world used to eat. Changing back to that eating pattern would be more feasible for a lot of people than veganism, and it would drastically reduce animal suffering and human disease. So for those people who really like meat or don’t do well on a vegan diet, this may be the best option.

sdvsvvsfs says:

we love all our dearest vegan brothers & sisters from usa, uk, israel, india and other countries. thanks for loving animals and people that love animals.

TerryHuggles says:

So was Hitler and he imprisoned occupied peoples behind walled ghettos.

“not disabuse ourselves of our use” is an interesting phrase. When we don’t need to eat animals to live, and there is little guarantee of their not being ‘abused’ at some point in the process, we are basically allowing for the needless suffering.

Excuse me, this line about not killing others offspring, are you sure about that? cause I see it in the news constantly. Children killed. Bulletholes and bombs.

vitamins shmitamins. It’s about inherent cruelty. If you have a choice to participate or not,and you choose to, then that was your choice.

Poupic says:

Your choice of what is ethical is a negation of your basic humanity. We are animals that are omnivores. We eat anything and everything including vegetables and meat. You would not force a lion or a tiger to live on carrots would you? Why is that? You think that not eating meat is ethically correct even if biologically incorrect. Have a look at your teeth. They are made to both tear meat and pulverize vegetation and grain. It is maybe sad that we have to kill animals to live but this is what we are: We are omnivores and it is not an ethical choice but a biological reality.

The first religion that took this into their religious rules is the Jewish religion. The rules of shchita are exactly for that: to minimise the suffering of animals we are going to eat. Jews were not allowed to even prevent cattle t5o trash grain from eating because it would make it suffer. So when you call yourself Jewish vegan because you care about animals it is not because you happen to be a member of a Jewish Center that you are Jews and also vegans. It has absolutely nothihg to do with Judaism. This from an atheist Jew.Your choice of what is ethical is a negation of your basic humanity. We are animals that are omnivores. We eat anything and everything including vegetables and meat. You would not force a lion or a tiger to live on carrots would you? Why is that? You think that not eating meat is ethically correct even if biologically incorrect. Have a look at your teeth. They are made to both tear meat and pulverize vegetation and grain. It is maybe sad that we have to kill animals to live but this is what we are: We are omnivores and it is not an ethical choice but a biological reality.

The first religion that took this into their religious rules is the Jewish religion. The rules of shchita are exactly for that: to minimise the suffering of animals we are going to eat. Jews were not allowed to even prevent cattle t5o trash grain from eating because it would make it suffer. So when you call yourself Jewish vegan because you care about animals it is not because you happen to be a member of a Jewish Center that you are Jews and also vegans. It has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism. This from an atheist Jew.

Self extermination – how stupid.

Steve3 says:

For a country that mistreats its animals ( donkeys ) this may be a good sign

disqus_UDcTqxgww5 says:

what are his “not-so-accurate statements”??? i didn’t hear anything inaccurate, what did I miss?

It would be nice if the journalist who wrote this article could identify the ‘not-so-accurate statements’ which Gary passes off as ‘proven facts’ in his speech, otherwise the journalist is simply engaging in the same kind of deception which he accuses Gary of.

Vegananda says:

Hitler was not vegan, nor was he actually a vegetarian and frankly it has NOTHING to do with it!

Vegananda says:

Hitler was not vegan, nor was he actually a vegetarian and frankly it has NOTHING to do with it!

Marks2Much says:

This is wonderful news. Let’s hope and pray that the the compassion shown for animals spreads and grows to embrace your Arab neighbors with the same feelings.

no he wasn’t vegan or even vegetarian – end of discussion

mad_respect says:

Ms. Kessler, you’ve chosen to share your observations on what could turn out to be a significant moment in Israeli social history. Now is the time to raise the level of your discourse.

You write, “Although Google will easily provide you with essays that contradict every one of his claims, being the charismatic and experienced speaker that he is, Yourofsky can easily convince viewers that some of his not-so-accurate statements are proven facts.” Sweeping statements, but you don’t provide a single example of a factual mistake in Yourofsky’s speech. Instead we get an “argument-by-Google.”

And who *are* these people you mention who think “it’s ridiculous to invest so much energy in animal rights in a country where human rights are still a sensitive issue”? Is there really a conflict between animal rights and human rights? Give us the views of someone notable and willing to go on record; or else give us your own views honestly and directly.

Ms. Kessler, I really do think you have talents as a writer, and I urge you for your own sake to try to do better. Imagine hypothetically that 100 years from now, your great-grandchildren (or those of someone you love) are growing up vegan, in an Israel deeply influenced by the events you are observing now. Your article may well still be accessible, and they will be able to point to you as an early voice in this discussion. Give them something they would be proud of.

Really! Do you expect compassion. or respect for other religions from Arabs?
Individual educated ones yes, the political and fundamentalist Arabs no.

Humans are herbivores who consume meat. Eating meat BY a herbivore leads to increased iron levels in the body which is called hemochromatosis as evidenced in the fruit bat when they are fed meat.

“Egyptian fruit bats will develop hemochromatosis when fed high levels of dietary
iron.”

This increased iron leads to increased red blood cells , polycythemia , and the Jewish have a very high rate of polycythemia.
“The disease is more common in Jews, especially Ashkenazi Jews”

It is truly regrettable that Gary said this and I call upon him to apologize. Rape is a horrible crime of violence against women. Veganism is a nonviolent, peaceful, gentle idea with no place in it for even the thought of rape.

All countries mistreat animals… mistreatment of donkeys is endemic in the Middle East and at least in Israel there are groups and sanctuaries who are trying to change that.

Mr Poupic,
It is the most arrogant and cruel manifestation of an arrogant and cruel species — humans — to consider the torture of other animals for the dubious reason of helping humans. Animals are not ours to eat, wear or experiment upon. To assume otherwise in the name of science or any other human construct is just plain, well, can’t think of another word besides arrogance.

Poupic says:

I will admire you if and if only you never, ever use any medicine, stents, cream, intra ocular lens attained by using animals. Be a saint and go blind, destroy your heart with no stent or medication, suffer the consequence of not following the advise of science to exercise and eat healthy food to prevent diabetes, heart disease. All of these exist because humans used animals to gain knowledge, have safe and efficient medications. You also can be a saint of Vegans religion by volunteering to be a guinea pig for future medical knowledge and medications. Animals are a dire necessity scientists would love not have to care for and spend enormous amount of their dwindling funds on.

Wait till they hear about the vegetarian shawarma by Taft Foodmasters!

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat like one!

Madhur Patel says:

Dear Mr. Schwartz, It’s unfortunate, but media tends to focus more on Gary Yourofsky’s hateful statements. He has done so much for the animal rights movement. I would like to know why does your association only focus on vegetarianism? Dairy products, eggs, and sea products are devastating for the environment too. Moreover, when it comes to cruelty, Meat = Dairy = Eggs = Sea foods.

disqus_dWqPVB13oB says:

what’s wrong with hitler being vegan??

YOU ARE CORRECT YET SAD OTHERS FOCUS ON THIS AND NOT THE HOLOCAUST THAT HAPPENING NOW IN AMERICA. AG GAG IS PART OF THE EVIL.

wholymary says:

Shut up, why do you want to compair others to Hitler, what are your crimes?

wholymary says:

So was I so much so that my friends ridiculed me trying to get me eat their food, which was not food at all but primarily dead animal bodies.

TerryHuggles says:

No you shut up you smelly zionist swine.

I WISH I COULD SHARE THIS WITH ALL MY 1000′S OF FACEBOOK FRIENDS.

So glad I found this site. Will be in Israel house sitting for five weeks in March. Haifa area.

Was getting worried about finding Vegan ingredients such as Nutritional Yeast, Quinoa, Tempeh,etc. Now I can have a place to ask.

Thanks heaps from Australia.

NOT true! Stop spreading half truth to justify you Opression of sentient Beings, my Grandparents were in KZ too so please just spare me….

he was NOT! and now stop it!

iam a vegan pro palastine, anti zionist jew, wanna debate me???

he was NOT EVEN! vegetarian, he cut down on Meat some when he had stomach Problems, he even presecuted the vegetarian/vegans of that time….

do you know how animals who are farmed for fur are being killed ??
they are being ANALY ELECTROLUTED!! i think that is all you should realise…………

rolfmao !! : never heard so much bullshit and lies in one place

watch this! please Bad Medicine is the first UK produced film
exposing the full implications of basing a system of medicine on the
practice of animal experimentation, or vivisection, and was produced to
counter the bombardment of pro-vivisection propaganda that
has been purposely manufactured and disseminated by a media – the BBC
in particular – that has been only too eager to take up without question
the cause of those whose task it is to convince us that vivisection
‘works’.

(Polish subtitles)

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/bad_medicine_the_human_cost_of_animal_experiments/

Bad Medicine is the first UK produced film
exposing the full implications of basing a system of medicine on the
practice of animal experimentation, or vivisection, and was produced to
counter the bombardment of pro-vivisection propaganda that
has been purposely manufactured and disseminated by a media – the BBC
in particular – that has been only too eager to take up without question
the cause of those whose task it is to convince us that vivisection
‘works’.

(Polish subtitles)

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/bad_medicine_the_human_cost_of_animal_experiments/

Diabetes can be cured by a vegan diet as its root cause is animal Protein!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1g0EOfstWY

Poupic says:

This is the pits! Taking cues from a movie about a scientific problem! Medical science without animal treating and experimentation would lead directly to people becoming the guinea pigs of medical science. You want to volunteer? Even if you volunteered the rules would not allow scientists to take you instead of laboratory animals could not take place. Vandals who free lab animals are simply criminals that best can be described as criminals against humanity. Jail them and throw away the keys.

Poupic says:

Really? Tell this to a kid with type 1 diabetes. Beside it is not true. It is a contributing factor but not the whole story. Too many refined carbohydrates and not enough roughage is more like it. Then there is the genetic factor. Hey! You do not want to eat meat? No one stops you from eating salad only. Have a look at our dentition, our digestive system. We are omnivores not herbivores if we were we probably would be ruminating like cow and sheep.

Most murderers in prison are animal eaters .
It must be the meat if one is to accept your comment as some sort of evidence of something ? Cannot think what. It does not matter what Hitler ate or did not eat it is irrelevant to the diet of vegans or the fact that it is becoming the diet of choice for many. For most vegans it is more than a diet, it is a whole lifestyle philosophy, The way animals are so appallingly treated is the driving force.

Female animals are raped by a mechanical device to impregnate them in order to produce more lambs /calves etc etc. You didn’t assume they paired up with males for a night of passion did you !!!! Probably no males on most farms. Rape to me is enforced sexual activity and the animals certainly won’t be willing to have a device used. As a woman , I wouldn’t and I empathise with other females whoare forved into being impregnated and then have their babies stolen within weeks maybe days to feed Humans. THIS IS THE HORRIBLE CRIME OF VIOLENCE THAT BEFALLS ALL FARM ANIMALS . Women are fortunate by comparison. Most will never be raped and in the West anyway our children are not taken away from us as a matter of course.

Truly regrettable that you should not see the enormity of the rape situation for animals. You should appologise. It is NOT all about Humans

For the animals even “not eating meat every day” is far to often . The ones you have killed for you don’t know how many deaths you have caused. They only know that they were terrified before death and didn’t want to die. Remember that with each “not every day “mouthful !!!! And stop it !!!! For their sakes !

Painless death ? No death is painless. Seeing those before you in the line struggling and screaming. and smelling blood. What planet are you on. Don’t try to excuse your behaviour by talking of humane killing. The only way is by injection from a vet and even then the animal (usually a pet) may be frightened by the strange vet/surroundings. Animals reared for you to eat cannot be killed in this way because the drug would be in the animals’ body and endanger human life.
Gary Y. is not the unbalanced one . He has been “fighting for years for these animals lives. He goes to bed at night with the knowledge of their suffering in his head.He is no doubt frustrated that people like you don’t care enough to change their cruel lifestyle . They continue while muttering that farming methods/killing should be done a different way. It won’t change while you continue to pay for the animals death. Face facts instead of trying to criticise the messenger. Gary F is getting the message across and most ethical vegans back him.

Veganism is not only about individuals and society. For ethical vegans that is just a bonus to the eradication of the suffering of farm animals by the Human species. It is the massacre of billions of animals mainly as babies that is the primary motivation.

Ethical Veganism is the way. Vegetarianism is not good enough. There is more suffering in dairy with young calves being taken away after a couple of days and sent for veal so humans can steal the milk. SICK and so unnecessary.

As you said. Your healthier diet “cured ” you.. If people ate plant based (vegan ) diets they would not get these diseases. We don’t catch diabetes. It along with cancers/heart disease is a lifestyle illness.
The 4th biggest killer in UK is the drugs to treat our current diseases. Testing on animals did not make them safe.Wrong species so not a fair experiment means unreliable result.Any school child knows that for a scientific experiment to have validity only one variable can be changed. By using an animal instead of human tissue one variable has been changed before the experiment even starts.. Even different species react differently !!!!

Poupic says:

Your problem is very simple. Instead of asking children for advise ask scientists. Maybe you will learn something but I doubt it with your strange anti science attitude. Testing drugs on animals is essential because otherwise humans would become guinea pigs. Only after the tests are positive on animals do we test on humans with great care and they are stopped as soon as anything negative shows up. There would not be medications for diabetes for example if they had not been tested and developed using animals.

Mr Schartz . while I agree that Mr Yourofsky has made some contentious remarks, he has since disowned them and sees his speeches at schools and other avenues much more effective in spreading the message. If sometimes some are offended by his words, it does not make them less true. The comfort zone in which most find themselves must be shaken and reevaluated.

You experience as a vegan was probably a bad one, and there is no proof the diet had anything to do with your feeling ill. Your anecdote cannot bear any weight in front of millions of other vegans that are just doing fine. This said if you persist, I will then use my own experience as to counterbalance yours. Indeed, I have been vegan for almost 30 years (vegetarian before that) and I have had a successful active life and competed in powerlifting contests negating your claim that a vegan diet would be detrimental to bone strength. Food typing has been debunked a long time ago, showing again that you are promoting nonsense.

Adora says:

Gandhi was not vegan. In fact he adviced that diet must include milk and milk products such as curd, butter, ghee.
Here: http://www.paradisianpublications.com/Ghandi%20was%20%20vegan.html

One more reason to visit Israel; the spread of veganism in your country. It seems the other world beacon is Taiwan, and we hear a great deal of concern for animals and environment in Brazil. Can’t stay away much longer!

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Israel Goes Vegan

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