January 1, 2002
INTERFAITH MOVEMENT URGES SHIFT TO VEGETARIANISM
The Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV), an interfaith coalition of religious groups and
activists, has launched an international campaign encouraging religious communities to address diet-related
concerns. Their goal is to make religious communities aware that the realities of animal-based diets and
agriculture are inconsistent with basic religious teachings, such as those to pursue peace and nonviolence,
preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and
reduce hunger. SERV believes that applying spiritual values to scientific knowledge encourages plant-based
diets that will lead to a more humane, just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world.
SERV does not aim to replace any religious vegetarian groups, but hopes to help all such groups and
promote the strong teachings in every religion that point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet today. Speakers
and publications will be available to explain why a shift toward plant-centered diets is both a spiritual and a
societal imperative. SERV has prepared a bibliography that includes vegetarian writings from all the major
faiths and will use it to further their goals.
"People do not recognize how our diets impact the world around us, as well as our own health," says SERV
co-founder Richard Schwartz, author of Judaism and Global Survival. "Religious leaders need to
understand the importance of plant-based nutrition, and they need to teach their congregations how to eat
healthy diets that use less resources and are better for the environment."
Carol J. Adams, a SERV spokesperson and award-winning author, agrees. "You are what you eat," she says.
"Our meat-based culture is killing us, as well as the world around us. It's also not helping animals, our sense
of ethics, or our spirituality."
Among the initial leaders of SERV are the following vegetarian and animal rights authors and activists: Carol
J. Adams (Author, The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Inner Art of Vegetarianism trilogy), Keith Akers
(Author, A Vegetarian Sourcebook and The Lost Religion of Jesus), Nathan Braun (Founder, Christian
Vegetarian Association; Co-author, Good News for All Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian
Bruce Friedrich (vegetarian coordinator, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Roberta Kalechofsky
(Founder and Director, Jews for Animal Rights and Micah Books; author, Vegetarian
Judaism), Stephen R.
Kaufman, M.D. (Co-author, Good News for All Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian
Phelps (Author, Love For All Creatures: Frequently Asked Questions About the Bible and Animal
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. (Author, Judaism and Vegetarianism and Judaism and Global
Richard Alan Young, Ph.D. (Author, Is God a Vegetarian?).
SERV expects to add many more leading religious vegetarian activists, as it strives for a very diverse group,
involving representatives of all the major religions.
While vegetarianism has long been associated with New Age, Buddhist, and Hindu beliefs, increasingly
Christians, Jews, and Muslims are also embracing plant-based diets. For example, an International Jewish
Vegetarian Society has existed since 1964, and maintains Jewish Vegetarian Centers in Jerusalem and
London. There is also a recently formed Christian Vegetarian Association, with a campaign asking "What
Would Jesus Eat...Today?" Increasingly, religious leaders are recognizing diets' role in health, hunger, and
SERV's initial efforts include (in addition to the bibliography of religion-based writings) compiling a list of
web sites with religious teachings on vegetarianism, compiling a set of religious vegetarian-related
quotations, and setting up a web site. They are also respectfully challenging religious establishments to
seriously consider putting vegetarianism squarely on their agendas.
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