Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians

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Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians
An Interfaith Peace Effort Pursuing Plant-based, Nonviolent Nutrition

Phone (718) 761-5876     Fax: (718) 982-3631
Send e-mail to:  SERV Coordinator (Richard Schwartz)

SERV is an interfaith effort to gain a more humane, just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world. We believe that applying spiritual values to scientific knowledge encourages plant-based diets, with major benefits for humans, animals, and the environment. 

We wish to respectfully make religious communities aware that the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture are inconsistent with basic religious teachings, such as those to treat animals with compassion, preserve our health, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, reduce hunger, and pursue peace and nonviolence.

SERV does not aim to replace any religious vegetarian groups, we hope to help all such groups by helping to show the strong teachings in every religion that point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet today. We also believe that our interfaith approach may help gain greater media coverage.  Among the initial leaders of SERV are the following vegetarian and animal rights authors and activists: Keith Akers, Nathan Braun, Bruce Friedrich, Roberta Kalechofsky, Stephen R. Kaufman, Reverend Andrew Linzey, Norm Phelps, and Richard H. Schwartz.  We expect to have many more leading people in our movement as we strive for a very diverse group involving representatives of all the major religions.

This website includes a bibliography of religion-based vegetarian books and key articles, a list of websites with religious teachings on vegetarianism, and a set of quotations related to faith-based vegetarianism. 

In spite of the many benefits of plant-based diets and the many negative effects of animal-based diets and agriculture, the vast majority of people still eat meat and other animal products. It is essential that there is a major shift toward vegetarianism to end (or at least sharply reduce) epidemics of diseases that are afflicting so many people, horrible mistreatment of animals, many threats to ecosystems, global climate change, wasteful use of water, land, fuel, and other resources, widespread hunger, and increasing violence. 

It is difficult for small vegetarian organizations to effectively counter the campaigns of animal agriculture industries. However, we believe that religious communities are potentially powerful allies, since the realities of animal-centered diets and agriculture are so contrary to basic religious teachings.

OUR RESPECTFUL CHALLENGE TO RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES:

1) Religions stress that we should treat all creatures with compassion. Yet, ten billion animals are raised in abusive "factory farms" and brutally slaughtered annually in the U.S.   Farmers deny animals fresh air, space to move comfortably, and fulfillment of their instinctive needs.

2) Religions teach that people be very careful about preserving their health and their lives. However, animal-centered diets have been linked to heart disease, several forms of cancer, strokes, and other degenerative diseases.

3) Religions emphasize sharing with hungry people. However, two-thirds of harvested grain in the U.S. and 37% worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter. Meanwhile, an estimated 20 million people die annually because of hunger and its effects.

4) Religions teach that preserving and nurturing the earth is a spiritual imperative. Yet, animal-centered diets waste food, land, water, energy, and other resources, contribute substantially to soil erosion and depletion, and promote air and water pollution, tropical rain forest and other habitat destruction, and global warming.

5) Religions stress that people should pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions. However, animal-based diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that eventually lead to instability and war.

Moving towards a vegetarian diet expresses one's conviction that we should show compassion for animals, preserve health, help feed hungry people, protect the environment, conserve resources, and pursue peace. We respectfully ask those who take religious values seriously: Should we not be moving towards plant-based diets?

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Please help spread our message.  For example, you could make appointments with your local religious leaders to discuss these issues. We would be pleased to provide background information on religious teachings about vegetarian issues. It is time that we end the ignorance and apathy in religious communities about animal-based diets and agriculture. 

Please contact us for further information and/or to become a SERV member and join us in our efforts to make breakthroughs toward getting vegetarianism squarely onto the agenda of religious groups and society. SERV members receive periodic e-mail messages about our activities, letter-writing campaigns, and other opportunities. There are no obligations -- you can do as much or as little as you wish.

Site updated January 3, 2007

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All material copyright 2007 by the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians or the authors.


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