The Jewish Observer,
Apple, Rabbi Dr. Raymond, Jerusalem, Israel,
Berg, Rabbi Steven, Los Angeles, California
Mollette, Glenn, Washington, D.C., contributing columnist
Reuben, Liz editor
Sackett, Shmuel, contributing columnist
Sattath, Rabbi Noa, Jerusalem, Israel, contributing columnist
Schwartz, Richard, PhD, Staten Island, New York,
Veltmeyer, James Dr., La Jolla, California,
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By RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ, Ph.D.
The present Coronavirus pandemic should be a wake-up call for the urgency of eliminating, or at least sharply reducing, the consumption of animals.
Food and health experts agree that the pandemic began due to the consumption of a wild animal at one of China’s many live animal markets, which sell animals from over 100 different species who had been raised in dirty, cramped, stressed, disease prone conditions.
These repulsive places are known as “wet markets,” because animals are often killed in the midst of the mess and filth, and the slaughtered animals’ blood washes over and mixes with the people and live animals and with dirt to create conditions for producing and spreading novel viruses that can the species barrier.
The pandemic has caused widespread illnesses, the lost of thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and trillions of dollars, and is threatening many businesses and industries. Is eating animals worth all of this devastation?
It is ironic that a disease resulting from animals being kept in closed, confined spaces is causing hundreds of millions of people to be confined in their homes, with their freedom of movement sharply curtailed.
To China’s credit, upon recognizing the great devastation caused by their live animal market, they have ordered the closure of every such market in the country. Will other countries follow their example? After all, modern factory farms and slaughterhouses also pose many similar dangers, as millions of animals are raised in crowded, filthy, disease-promoting conditions and then slaughtered in mass production methods, with blood, feces, and other pollutants spreading widely. Conditions are so bad that the industry has the highest industrial injury rate and turnover of workers.
Additional reasons for eliminating or sharply reducing animal consumption include:
Many previous major disease outbreaks, including swine flu, mad cow diseases, bird flu, SARS, and MERS, were due to human consumption of animals.
Many studies published in peer-reviewed articles in respected medical journals have shown strong links between the consumption of meat and other animal products and incidents of heart disease, several types of cancer, strokes, and other life-threatening diseases. Several studies showed that not only can well-balanced animal-free diets and other positive lifestyle changes not only can reduce risks of such diseases, but in some cases can reverse them.
Because factory farmed animals live in unnatural, cramped, unsanitary conditions, farmers routinely use antibiotics in animal feed in efforts to reduce disease outbreaks. This has resulted in an antibiotic resistance-related health crisis for people, as antibiotics are becoming less effective in responding to human diseases.
Animal-based diets require as much as 20 times as much land, 13 times as much water, and ten times as much energy per person than vegan diets. While an estimated nine million of the world’s people die annually of hunger and its effects and over ten percent are chronically malnourished, 70 percent of the grains produced in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter.
While climate experts are increasingly warning that unprecedented changes must soon occur in efforts to avert a climate catastrophe, and there seem to be almost daily reports of severe, sometimes record breaking heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, and other climate events, the livestock sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), largely due to huge amounts of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, emitted from cows and other farmed animals.
A 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” stated that the livestock industry emits more GHGs, in CO2 equivalents, than all the cars, planes, ships, and other means of transportation worldwide combined. A 2009 cover story in WorldWatch magazine, “Livestock and Climate Change,” by two World Bank environmentalists, concluded that the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of all human-induced GHGs.
Climate change is especially threatening to Israel as a rising Mediterranean Sea could inundate the coastal plane where much of Israel’s population and infrastructure are located, and the hotter and dryer Middle East that climate experts are projecting make instability, terrorism, and war more likely, according to military experts.
These experts also warn that climate change will cause tens of millions of desperate refugees worldwide to flee from severe climate events, resulting in a far much more unstable and violent world.
We failed to heed the warnings of medical experts and were unprepared for the present Coronavirus pandemic. Will we now fail to heed the warnings of climate experts, and face another future catastrophe?
To leave a decent, habitable world for future generations, it is essential that there be a major societal shift to plant based diets. As Jerry Brown, former governor of California, expressed it, “Humanity is on a collision course with nature.” There is no Planet B.
Diets free of meat and other animal products have the added advantage of being most consistent with basic Jewish teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people. It also makes it more likely that one is being consistent with the laws of kashrut.
Hence, shifting to a vegan diet is the best thing one can do for their health and the health of our imperiled planet, for animals, for reducing hunger, for the efficient use of water energy, and other natural resources, and for living most consistently with Jewish values and laws. It is a win - win - win - win situation;.
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., Stanten Island, New York
* * *
CORONAVIRUS, TAKING LIFE FOR GRANTED
By DR. GLENN MOLLETTE
The Coronavirus is a pandemic that most of us don't understand, but we are learning. This disease has taken over 9,000 lives and made over 220,000 more people sick. We've heard via television about it starting in China and its impact even before arriving in America.
So far this is what we know about Coronavirus. The disease is life threatening. If the disease does not kill you, there is a chance you will be very sick with severe respiratory problems. Thousands of respirators are needed across the country because of the nature of the disease. Who wants to be in an intensive care unit of a hospital on a respirator?
The virus is teaching us that we are a fragile human race. We are vulnerable to disease, death and chaos. Our masses of wealth can disappear almost overnight. The stock market has fallen like a rock. As of this writing, everything that the stock market gained in the three years that Trump has been President has been wiped out. What if it crashes totally? How many companies will go bankrupt and everything people have invested will be gone? We could experience a kind of poverty that our country has not known for a long time.
What was it like during the Great Depression? I remember old folks talking about those hard times. Could we be in for that kind of a difficult time, or even worse?
We are learning that what previously seemed far-fetched and unrealistic, for our great economy and planet, is possible. It just takes one plague to rearrange our lives. One virus cleans out the grocery stores, idles our jobs and robs our bank accounts. One virus immobilizes our society and robs us of the social interaction that we have taken for granted.
Most of us are always looking down the pike for better days and greener pastures. Typically, we are on the hunt for the bigger and the better. We usually don't miss the good things of life until we no longer have them. Sadly, we spend a lot of life looking beyond or looking back and we miss the present. I'm sure you've heard before that "now" is life's greatest gift. That's why we call it the "present."
The Coronavirus is no "gift" and is certainly something we want to put behind us as soon as possible. When this is behind us maybe we will feel different about sitting in our favorite restaurant, a beauty salon, house of worship or entertainment venue. Many Americans already look forward to going back to work and resuming paychecks. Hopefully, grocery stores will once again have ample food, toiletries and other basics that we have come to take for granted. When we are beyond all this, maybe we won't take all that we have for granted, or will we?
Glenn Mollette, Washington, DC
MY MEMBER OF CONGRESS SHOULD TAKE ACTION ON
By ROBERT BURLIN
It’s time for Wall Street to stop driving health care decisions And Be Shut Down Forever As They Are A SCAM. These corporations are purchasing provider practices and then pushing them out of our insurance networks so they can charge higher fees for services we need.
Health care and financial problems should not go hand in hand, but for 1 in 5 emergency room procedures, patients receive a surprise bill for a service that is outside the network for their insurance plan. People should not be driven into debt by bills they receive despite trying to follow all of the rules in an emergency situation.
Congress has an opportunity to ban surprise bills and hold down health care costs at the same time. At the end of 2019, elected officials chose not to act, leaving thousands of patients with surprise bills going into the next decade, but enough is enough. Congress needs to protect me and my family from surprise medical bills. Our members of Congress must vote for legislation to protect consumers from these abuses And Hold The Vladimir Putin's President Accountable. Thank You.
Robert Burlin, Reseda, CA
* * *
DO WE PERMIT A VIRUS TO DESTROY OUR ECONOMY?
By JAMES D. VELTMEYER, MD
America is shutting down. Restaurants and bars are closing. Businesses are reducing hours. People are being laid off. Unemployment may reach Great Depression highs. Store shelves are empty. People are hoarding. The stock market has collapsed. In the short span of just a few weeks, we have descended from a high-flying economy – the envy of the world – into the abyss. We now have a small taste of what it feels like to live in a socialist nation or how things might look if Bernie Sanders becomes President.
Why has this happened? How could it happen? How could the greatest and strongest republic in the history of the world be brought to its knees by a virus that has so far infected a tiny fraction of the number of people who are sickened by influenza annually? Every year, 50,000 Americans die due to the flu or complications related to it ( especially pneumonia ). That’s almost 4,000 people per week during a typical 13-week flu season. The total number of Americans who have died in the four weeks since COVID-19 became a serious public health issue: about 115 or 29 per week.
Anyone old enough to recall the tragedy of polio during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s prior to the Salk vaccine can relate stories of perfectly healthy individuals ( including children ) waking up one morning and being unable to walk ( think of FDR at Campobello ). Many recovered. Some did not.
Are we overreacting? Will tanking the U.S. economy, throwing millions of Americans out of work and bankrupting entire industries cure the virus?
Will destroying our economy make it any easier for hospitals to respond to the critically-ill? Will denying people paychecks and quarantining individuals in their homes help advance the cause of new antiviral drugs or a vaccine?
Of course not. Certainly, social distancing and “shelter-at-home” orders might slow the spread of the disease, but at what cost? At the cost of people being unable to feed their families or pay the rent because they can’t go to work? Do we kill the patient to cure the disease?
Let’s get real. More than 80% of the people afflicted with COVID-19 will recover at home with rest, hydration and over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, many within a matter of days. Many healthy adults won’t even know they have it ( which raises the question, if it is so serious how come so many people will be asymptomatic? ). It is true that for a small percentage of adults—mostly over 65 with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems – the risk of complications, even death, rises. Why aren’t we doing more to isolate the most vulnerable population in our society – our seniors – instead of those at very low risk of either infection or serious illness?
We cannot be a nation under martial law. We are a free people. We are a free nation. Forcing people to close their businesses and stay at home indefinitely is unAmerican and will capsize our nation, dragging down the global economy with it. Wiping out the retirement savings of tens of millions through panic on Wall Street is unAmerican.
Again, folks, let’s get real. Too much damage has already been done and we need to step forward to mitigate any additional damage to people’s lives and livelihoods.
Instead of mass quarantines, let’s address the most critical issue involved in this crisis: having enough staff and resources in our local hospitals to treat those small numbers of individuals who will require life-saving intervention as a result of COVID-19. It is beyond belief that a nation that won two World Wars and conquered space cannot produce enough hospital beds and ventilators to deal with any potential flood of patients. The President’s decision to invoke the Defense Production Act to greatly boost needed medical supplies makes sense as does his action to permit doctors to work across state lines. Let’s focus on the supply side of this crisis by ensuring enough medical staffing and hospital facilities to meet anticipated needs while isolating our most vulnerable populations. Otherwise, let’s get America back to work.
To address the enormous damage that has been inflicted on the U.S. economy already through this pandemic of panic, let’s help those who may be losing jobs or paychecks. We don’t need to have the Federal Reserve engage in an orgy of money-printing to benefit the big banks, which amounts to little more than food stamps for the rich. We don’t need to punish savers by embarking on zero or negative interest rates. Let’s do what Germany did during the crash of 2008, help businesses meet their payrolls for workers suffering reduced hours during this crisis. Extend unemployment benefits as we have often done during recessions.
Suspend estimated tax payments for businesses for the rest of the year as well as enact a payroll tax holiday. Call in the big banks and tell them to suspend mortgage payments for the rest of the year. They can afford it. We bailed them out a dozen years ago to the tune of $850 billion and they are getting free cash every day from the Fed. It’s time Wells Fargo, BofA, and Chase gave something back to their country.
Yes, we can end this crisis and we can do it soon. However, it will only get worse with permanent, long-term consequences far beyond a cough and fever if we don’t ratchet down the hysteria and get our economy back on its feet now. “Flattening the curve” cannot occur at the cost of flattening our nation.
Dr. James Veltmeyer, LaJolla, California
12-18 Nisan, 5780 UPDATED: NEXT EDITION 06/08/20 April 6-12, 2020 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--634th Web Ed.\
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