“No country in the history of the world has ever contributed more to humankind and accomplished more for its people in so brief a period of time as Israel has done since its relatively recent rebirth in 1948.”
Israel’s contribution to agriculture, economics, mathematics, medicine, science and technology is known across the globe. Today in a world where we are destroying the very future of mankind by exploiting natural habitats of marine life, plants, birds, and animals, Israel is on its way to become the first country with the largest vegan population. Veganism is nothing but a noble gesture and discipline to refrain from all meat and animal products, including dairy which results in animal cruelty and animal slaughter, eggs, and honey. Non-vegetarian and Vegetarian products obtained through cruelty will soon go off the shelf in Israel, where for the first time in History, Arabs and Jews are fighting a war together against the barbaric meat industry.
Israel always had Animal-rights organizations such as Anonymous and Let the Animals Live have operated for more than two decades, and there have always been vegetarians and vegans in Israel; there even is a vegetarian moshav called Amirim, founded in the 1950s in the Galilee. But today the inhuman and cruel milk and egg industry is forcing vegetarians to go vegan by abstaining from eggs and dairy products.
Middle Eastern Cuisine (and Israeli cuisine of course) contains countless dishes which are set to become vegan favorites around the world. I am able to relish the taste of these delicacies in India. Dishes such as Baba Ganoush, Couscous, Falafel, Hummus, Tabbouleh, Touma and Za’atar Bread are vegan delicacies. 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 all means, it happened 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 rightly says that billions of animals are slaughtered, not for health, not for survival but for habit, taste and convenience. Gary Yourofsky, a bald, muscular, Jewish-American activist will be remembered in history as a man who fought for what’s right. In the coming decade, a billion more people will support Yourofskys efforts.
On second thoughts, the very term ‘Carnism’ coined by vegan activist Melanie Joy is the paradox of the human ability to eat chicken flesh avidly but to flinch at the notion of eating dog meat or monkey meat (at least in the Western part of the world). Now this is what the society has done over a period of time, built slaughterhouses only to sell meat, gain profit at the cost of human health and animal lives.
India itself as I see it would prefer to go vegan in the near future. Jainism and Buddhism already condemn any form of animal slaughter. Countless Hindus are vegetarians. Unfortunately many Indians are not aware of the fact that to a great extent the milk industry and egg industry are also not as clean as they pretend to be. At the moment, Israel is considered the leader of the vegan movement in the world, and many people wonder whether it will become the world’s first vegan country, with more vegans than carnivores.
It’s not just a coincidence that Israel’s food critic, Ori Shavit is a vegan. Ori went on a date with a vegan five years ago, she thought nothing would come of it. As a professional food critic, she didn’t think she could be with anyone who gave up so much of it. Curious, she asked her date why he was a vegan, and discovered that despite her position as a food journalist, she knew little about where the food she was eating actually came from. Something did come of that date: Shavit was inspired to learn more about veganism and eventually became a vegan herself. Because there was so little vegan cuisine at the time, she could no longer be a food critic, so she quit her job. This is the problem that I personally face as a food critic in India. Milk and honey dominate vegetarian food industry so much that it’s almost impossible to avoid it. Thankfully the youth in India are now opting for more vegan food than never before.
Ori says “Five years ago, there was almost nothing to write about, no [vegan] restaurants in Israel,”. Today Vegans in Israel are both widespread and well-fed. Israel now has over 400 “vegan-friendly” restaurants, including Domino’s, which sells a vegan pizza made with soy cheese exclusively in Israel. The world’s biggest vegan festival was held in Tel Aviv in 2014, which boasted 15,000 attendees. Even the Israeli Defense Forces have gone vegan, offering animal-free food, boots, and berets to vegan soldiers.
Just a few days ago I saw Ori Shavits Instagram page and it looked like one of the most attractive pages with some of the most delicious vegan food out there. Veganism in Israel does not end there. For the first time in History a cause has bonded Jews and Muslims like never before. One fine day, Israeli Arab and Jewish vegans marched together in Haifa to protest for animal rights. Now these are true causes and this is democracy!
Veganism also has its roots in religion. Buddha, Mahavira, Krishna and Christ always spoke in favor of veganism. Jesus Christ was called ‘the good shephard’ a person who always treated animals with compassion and humanity. In Israel laws of kashrut are justified by calls to prevent animal suffering, which Israelis are translating to veganism today. “The spirit of the law is being trampled by modern-day factory farming,” says modern orthodox Israeli Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel. Israeli vegan activists assure that they will make Israel the first vegan nation on this planet one day and those very words of Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel won’t go in vain.
That being said, the vegan movement is spreading beyond Israel’s borders. Today we have countless vegans in America, Europe, Oceania, Scandinavia, UAE and Russia. Israel’s efforts on the vegan front will be relentlessly reciprocated and supported throughout the globe. I do expect India to reciprocate and not only support a healthy vegan diet but also create an environment to support it.
Thanks to Pixabay.com for the lovely free images!