Richard H. Schwartz
Vegan, climate change,and social justice activist

Religion, Ethics, Animals, and Choosing Vegan

Dr. Lisa Kemmerer has made it her mission to help people to recognize that core religious teachings in every faith require that we rethink our diet and how we treat animals more generally. Toward this end, she has authored Animals and World Religions. She is also the author of Eating Earth, Environmental Ethics and Dietary Choices, and Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice and over 100 related articles and anthology chapters. As professor emeritus of philosophy and religious studies (Montana State University Billings) and an internationally acclaimed scholar on ethics and animals, she has worked for decades on behalf of animals, the environment, and marginalized people.

As part of her work, Dr. Kemmerer produced “The Traveling Banner Exhibit,” an exhibit of items and writings related to the teachings of various religions about animals that is suitable for display at schools, religious institutions, museums, and conferences. (To learn more about the exhibit, please visit Now she is working on an “Animals and Religion Website” that explores animal ethics in eight world religions and several indigenous traditions, including the ethics of what people eat. Dr. Kemmerer is also writing relatively short books to supplement the exhibit and support the website a, and I have had the pleasure of reading two of these books: Animals and Judaism and Vegan Ethics: AMORE — Five Reasons To Choose Veganism.

In her research, Dr. Kemmerer works closely with people inside each religious tradition, and I have had the pleasure of reading and commenting on the Judaism portion of the website. As president emeritus of Jewish Veg and author of three editions of Judaism and Vegetarianism and, most recently, Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism, I was very pleased to read the powerful case Dr. Kemmerer makes for Jews to be vegan, using a wide variety of key quotations from Jewish sources. Her website and the resultant book, Animals and Judaism, is very well documented, with 259 endnotes. If Animals and Judaism can be taken as an indication, her upcoming books should be a powerful impetus for religious people to work toward a more compassionate way of being, including a vegan diet, complete with the many resultant benefits to animals, human beings, and our imperiled planet.

In her other recent publication, Vegan Ethics, Dr. Kemmerer gives five reasons to “choose vegan” (indicated by the five-letter acronym, AMORE):

A is for animals, and this chapter discusses the horrendous ways that animals are treated on factory farms. (Dr. Kemmeer uses “anymals” instead of “non-human animals” to stress that humans are also animals.)

M is for medicine. This portion of the book discusses the strong connections, as indicated by many peer-reviewed articles in respected medical journals, between animal-based diets and several life-threatening diseases.

O is for oppression—human oppression—and this chapter discusses how animal-based diets contribute to current and widespread world hunger, and other problems, such as how slaughterhouses endanger workers, most of whom are underprivileged and marginalized.

R reminds of religion, and the religion chapter presents and discusses strong teachings about compassion. to animals in each of the world’s major religions.

E represents environment. This important chapter reminds that animal-based agriculture is the leading cause of all of the world’s major environmental problems, including climate change. (For example, if we shift, vast areas now being deforested for grazing and growing feed crops can be reforested to sequesteratmospheric CO2.) It is increasingly clear that the world is approaching a climate catastrophe, that animal- based diets and agriculture are the main causes of this disaster, and that shifting to a vegan diet is essential if we are to avert this horrific calamity. There is no Planet B.

Dr. Kemmerer’s arguments in each area are very powerful, so much so that I believe that any open-minded person would find it hard to continue eating meat, dairy, or eggs after reading her work. It is urgent that her research and writing reach willing readers to help encourage humanity to shift to a sustainable path, to help all of us to commit to leaving future generations a habitable, healthy world by choosing vegan. Grab a copy ( and see what you think.

About the Author
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, Who Stole My Religion? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal our Imperiled Planet, and Mathematics and Global Survival, and over 200 articles and 25 podcasts at He is President Emeritus of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and President of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV). He is associate producer of the 2007 documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.” He is also a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island, which is part of the City University of New York.
Related Topics
Related Posts