Tuesday, July 13, 2004



Ideally, I would say to anyone who eats flesh: If you have what it takes to hunt, slaughter, splay, flay, eviscerate, and cook it yourself you have whatever it takes to eat it. Such was once the case with all meat eaters.

There is a generalized what I yclepe alienation of food in modern society. We not only do not have any contact with the cow that comes sanitarily, and unrecognizably, packaged in plastic wrap to us by persons unknown at the supermarket, and thus the red, chopped stuff in the package seems to have no connection with an animal at all, we have no connection with the origin and processes involved in most of the foods we eat. How many of us have had any greater part in eating bread than opening the cellophane? Even those who bake bread do not take part in the process of bread production from sowing the seeds onward. Only a few lucky farmers experience bread from seed to loaf and have physically carried out the entire process, thus learning the profound lessons inherent in each stage of the sowing to eating process.

An anecdote: My mother was once over at a friends' house. She offered to make dinner. While she was peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes one the her friends' daughters asked what it was. My mother chuckled thinking the child was kidding. She wasn't. She has never seen a real potato in her life. When my mother told the girl that she was peeling a potato the child answered: "Aw, come on. Potatoes come in boxes." True story. *And* it happened when I was a child myself. More than a generation of complete alienation from food had transpired since. The impact on our society is incalculable.

I believe that one of the reasons that people are not satisfied by food today is that we are alienated from the food we eat. Most of what we eat has been prepared for us by listless, overworked, underpaid factory workers who just want to finish the shift and get off their aching feet and rest their aching backs. Not only are we not involved personally in the production and preparation of the food we eat, no love has gone into its preparation. Is it a wonder that we come away from eating starving?

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat

Sunday, July 11, 2004


THE PROPHET: Speak to us of Eating and Drinking

In his book THE PROPHET Khalil Gibran writes the following:

Then an old man, a keeper of an inn, said:

Speak to us of Eating and Drinking.

And he (the prophet Gibran names Almustafa) said:

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother's milk to quench your thirst let it then be an act of worship...

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart:
"By the same power that slays you, I too am slain and I too shall be consumed.
"For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
"Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:

"Your seeds shall live in my body,
"And the buds of your to-morrow shall blossom in my heart."
"And your fragrance shall be my breath,
"And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."

And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart:

"I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
"And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."

And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;

And let there be in the song a rememberance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard and for the winepress."

We see, then, that to the spiritually sensitive there is sorrow in the killing of plants in order to consume them, even as there is sorrow in the killing of animals. Yet, both should be undertaken as an act of worship and expression of gratitude to God.

There is realism too, for it is understood that we are not "air plants". Neither are plants air plants. They too struggle mightily for survival and choke one another's roots in order to survive.

I have been a vegan, a vegetarian and an omnivore in my life. I can in no wise honestly say that the way I ate at any time determined my relative moral/spiritual level. I have worked gathering chickens for slaughter on kibbutz and I have torn "weeds" from their roots in order that there may be cotton to make clothes with and lovely gardens to soothe the soul. Both tasks broke my heart equally. I have seen the relief of citrus trees laden with more fruit than they can bear when the fruit is plucked from them, or cut from their living branches with razor sharp pruning shears. I have seen the thick red-brown sap of pruned tress drip and flow from them as would blood. Is grain not cut down and harvested with a machete or a combine? Is that a gentle process? Does it instill gentleness in those who do it again and again? I have seen fruit that has fallen from the trees, which is the *only* food that may be gathered without plucking food from the Source of its life, crawling with worms and wholly inedible.

I know that all eating is sorrow, even at it is pleasurable and joyous, and that all life is dependent on the rot of death, even as all death is fed with an endless procession of that which once lived.

This is the way of creation: that which lives will one day die and that which dies will become the fertile ground of life. We can minimize the suffering, but we cannot eliminate it.

If one would be a vegetarian so be it - but understand in so doing one has only moved from one level of suffering to the next, more rarified, level and be not smug or deluded into thinking that we have transcended putrification, be it physical or moral.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Saturday, July 10, 2004



The following was posted on another group in response to members of the group who are of the opinion that both the milk and wool industries are cruel:

I don't know what the wool industry is like outside of Israel, but
having lived on kibbutz I can tell you that it isn't inhumane in any way the way it is carried out here.

A old friend of mine is the manager of the branch of Kibbutz Chanaton that produces wool. He is a very gentle man and wouldn't hurt any living creature. The sheep are outside in a roomy pen. They are given a good deal more space and freedom of movement that most human workers are certainly. They seem to enjoy being shorn. It relieves them of the weight of the wool and of the heat of the wool in summer. It also provides relief from lice and other parasitic bugs that live in the wool.

I have also visited the alpaca farm in the south of Israel. The
alpacas are very well treated. As they are a tourist attraction, in addition to being a source of wool, there is little reason to suspect any behind the scenes cruelty. They are out in the open for all to see. If they were harmed it would be evident to many people. The wool they produce is very beautiful and is sold in skeins as well as finished garments.

Is the wool industry very different in other places in the world?

I have also lived on kibbutzim that produce milk and have worked in the cowshed. I can attest that I felt like their servant more than like their tormenter. They are not the same cows that are sent for slaughter. A cow that produces a great deal of milk is too precious to be sent for slaughter. The male calves, however, are sold for veal. It did break my heart to see the little cages they are kept in, in poorly lit areas, designed not to let them move so that their muscles are not toughened. Like the sheep and alpacas, the cows are kept outside in large sheds that provide ample room to graze, wander, lie down etc. The cowsheds are covered in order to protect the cows from the sun and rain. They are only taken inside to be milked, otherwise they are out of doors. The calves are fed a special formula that they seem to like very much. They are fed the formula, called Milkivit, in troughs. It's adorable to watch the calves lick it off one another's faces. The adult animals are fed a formulated, balanced feed. I have worked with them. They do not seem miserable - particularly not the herdsires :0).

I would venture to say for all of the animals that I have described above that their lives in the wild would be far more miserable. They would be plagued by continuous fear of predators and exposed to every kind of danger, parasite and disease, as well as the natural elements.

I live near an open field and the in the mountains. I come in
contact with a good deal of wild animals. The animals kept for
animal husbandry live lives that are immeasureably safer, healthier and more serene. Have you ever seen a lovely fox mad and convulsing in the last stages of rabies? Have you ever seen a wounded porcupine being eaten alive by maggots in the wound? Nature is not always beautiful - or kind.

While animal slaughter the way it is done in far too many slaughter houses is barbaric, it need not be quite as horrendous. The suffering can be minimized. Being ripped to shreds by a predator must be at least as awful an end to come to as anything that happens in a slaughterhouse today. We can control the conditions in our slaughterhouses. We cannot control the conditions in nature.

What lot in life and destiny in death would we bequeath to the
animals now in farms if we were to set them free in nature?

Again, I am not against vegetarianism. I am against vegetarianism based on erroneous premises and a baseless feeling of moral superiority to conscientious, caring meat eaters and wool wearers.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat


Summary of My Considerations of the Ethics of Vegetarianism and Animal Rights

The overriding lesson from considering this matter that I come away with can be summarized thus: The root of evil lies not in the committing of base acts, but rather in the attempt to apprehend the sublime on the part of those not morally prepared to do so.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel


The Ethics of Vegetarianism and Animal Rights

My post decrying any analogy between the Holocaust and industrial farming drew a number of reactions on line and off. I should say that, in the main, most people agreed with my critique. Empathy with my outrage was expressed by a number of people.

Quite naturally, I turned to Dani'el, my husband, a second-generation vegan and son of two Holocaust survivors asking his opinion on the matter. That is to say, my husband's vegan parents are Holocaust survivors. He found the analogy of cattle cars that carry cattle to the cattle cars that transported human beings to Treblinka repulsive, excessive and the product of obsessed minds or, perhaps, the disingenuous acting out on vested personal interests.

Dani'el then thought a minute and said: "I seem to remember that the Nazis, may their memory be blotted out, adopted ethical vegetarianism as a 'moral' principle (and, it transpires, a propagandistic expedient as well). Surprised, I searched Nazi+Vegetarianism. I came to the links below. I hope that you will read them carefully.

I am most certainly not touting eating meat. I am, however, seriously concerned with misguided ethics in whatever form it may take.

Just as many adjustments have to be made in the planned path to an object far from us in space, no matter how painstakingly we calculated the original trajectory, so painstaking moral calculation, and continuous rethinking in light of error, must be made if we are to arrive at an elusive moral target.

We are confronted with moral dilemmas when we attempt to be moral. As we scale the highest levels of human existence we encounter levels of being that are characterized by paradox. At the lower rungs of existence, the world is characterized by disjunction, i.e., this or that. At higher levels, as we approach ultimate resolution of contradictions, reality is characterized by conjunction, i.e., this and that. Boundaries blur as we approach infinity. It is for this reason that we must be solidly grounded in common sense. While our heads may be in the heavens, our feet must be firmly planted on the ground, lest we become confounded. The source of evil is not the base, but rather the sublime improperly apprehended.

Please read the following links and rethink very carefully about the ethics of vegetarianism and animal rights.

Please allow me to say that the following excerpts from the link directly below best describes, in part, my husband's approach to vegan vegetarianism. Another issue for him personally is the reigning in of appetites that, given free reign, not only impact negatively on one's physical health, but, allowed to take root in the personality and become habit, impinge upon one's self-control and character generally.

These are the excerpts from the excellent article:

"When the lines are blurred, when both human and animal life is considered equally sacred, this can trigger a dangerous philosophy that regards killing a human being as no more heinous than killing an animal."

"Vegetarianism based on the idea that we have no moral right to kill animals is not an acceptable Jewish view."

"Vegetarianism for aesthetic or health reasons is acceptable; indeed, the Torah's mandate to "guard yourselves carefully" (Deut. 4:15) requires that we pay attention to health issues related to a meat-centered diet. Some points to consider include the contemporary increase in sickness in animals created by factory farm conditions, and the administration of growth hormones, antibiotics and other drugs given to animals. All of these may be possible health risks to humans."





Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, July 08, 2004


The End Does Not Justify the Means

Dr. Richard Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, College of Staten Island, published my write-up of the Stupp's Restaurant in his e-newsletter. To my chagrin and embarrassment I felt obliged to send him the following missive and to make it known publically:

Dear Richard:

Thank you for publishing my piece in your newsletter.

I am not at all sure that Amirim is the only vegetarian community in
the world. I never said that. I am almost sure that I heard that there
is a vegetarian kibbutz as well. I'm also quite sure that the Rainbow community here in Israel is vegetarian. It is very likely that there are vegetarian communities outside Israel as well.

There is a matter I wanted to bring up with you: There have been a
number of passages and quotes in your newsletter likening animal
farming to the Holocaust. There are no words to tell you how
offensive I find this. Even when one considers the experiments that
are done on animals, which to my mind is the ugliest and most brutal
mistreatment of animals, it is not because people take sadistic
pleasure in torturing them. It is misguided research. Now that
simulated testing of new products can be done by computer, more and
more research is being conducted by simulation, sparing the animals.
This proves to my mind that the experiments never were a matter of
sadistic pleasure, but rather an expedient.

Although many species of animals have been made extinct, this is not
due to a planned programme of zoocide. There is no analogy whatsoever
between the planned extermination of the Jews and the making extinct
of animal species.

To my mind your position is weakend by the use of spurious, and
tasteless, hyperbole. The emotional overkill is off-putting in the
extreme - not to eating meat, but to your newsletter. Truth to tell,
since the first time I saw an analogy to the Holocaust in your
newsletter I have not read it. I read this edition to see if my piece
was in it and once again was deeply dismayed to see yet another
reference to the Holocaust. No rational person will take that tack

Please consider a more reasoned and rational approach.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Restaurant Review: THE STUPP'S RESTAURANT, Moshav Amirim, The Galilee, Israel

Living as I do in Israel, being married to a vegan vegetarian doesn't present much of a challenge when looking for places to eat out. A lovely salad can be found even in an ordinary restaurant in vegetable-happy Israel, the country with the second highest per capita rate of vegetarians in the world, second only to India.

Yet we wanted to do something special for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We thought about going to a posh hotel here in Tzfat, but posh doesn't really "talk to" either of us and posh is not a guarantee that vegan Dani'el would come away feeling he had a really satisfying meal. Also, we both felt the need to be in a very gentle and peaceful atmosphere.

We decided to dine at the Stupp's Restaurant, which is located in the Amirim Vegetarian Village and Retreat, just west of our native Tzfat on the road to Chaifa, where most of the foods and herbs are organically grown on the premises. We made a wise decision.

Arriving early, we hopped into the restaurant and made sure the table we had reserved overlooking their lovely herbal garden was waiting for us. The proprietress of the restaurant, Esther Stupp, was very polite but apologized firmly, telling us the table is reserved for a couple from Tzfat. We laughed happily knowing our interests were well protected (you see, we are the couple from Tzfat).

There is a map at the entrance of Amirim that shows the exact location of all of the homes, businesses and attractions on the moshav. We returned to it, noting the location of the lookout point and the library most especially.

We ambled down the verdant path that is the main road of Amirim admiring the rustic homes, some inlaid with stone, some wood, as well as the gardens that are obviously tended to with great loving care. The atmosphere of Amirim is so peaceful, so healing. The moshav seems to say: "We care. We love life."

We came to the lookout point that oversees the Galilee, including the Sea of Galilee. Standing there, taking in the breathtaking view, we felt all tension and concern melt away. Time seemed to slow down.

Returning leisurely to the restaurant we arrived a few minutes before our reservation. We sat in the inviting swing that is on the lawn of the restaurant. Dinners can be had out on that lovely lawn, as well as in the log cabin interior of the restaurant. It is now very hot in Israel, of course, but there is a log burning stove in the restaurant that provides warmth and comfort on harsh Israeli winter days and nights.

Esther Stupps greeted us with a warm grandmotherly smile at the door and led us to our table. In between taking very, very good care of all of the parties that were dining in the restaurant, Esther told us that she came to Israel from Canada in 1966. From what she told us about her grandchildren, I understood that they are about the same age as our children. I was amazed at this woman's strength, vitality, attention to detail and, most especially, gratitude to God to be alive. Every compliment and kind word Esther receives, and she receives many, is responded to with: "Barukh HaShem!" (Blessed is God!), taking none of the credit herself. Esther is obviously energized by, and thrives, on the many compliments and words of appreciation she receives from her contented clientele.

We had trouble deciding what to choose from the menu to be sure. Matters were a bit easier for Dan, as he is vegan. He settled on the Meal-In-One, a lovely, large, deep plate of vegetables made in a wok, together with triangles of tofu topped with the house soy burger, all in just the right amount of the house specialty sauce. It was delicious.

Not being able to eat all of the three or four dishes that "talked to me", I chose the various types of goat cheeses melted under the grill on baguette with a side order of a fresh, crisp mixed salad. Both yogurt dressing with basil and Thousand Island dressing was presented with the salad. I used both, each on half of the salad. Yummy.

Of course Dani'el and I stole glances at what the party of four seated next to us were eating. The youngsters chose Italian dishes which all looked very tempting.

When our dishes were presented to us the party next to us couldn't contain their appreciation. "Oooh. What's that?!", the head of the party asked. We told him and he joked about how the vegetables are always greener on someone else's plate. Actually, that isn't always true - just in very good vegetarian restaurants, like Stupp's, where everything on the menu is luscious and just about everything really does tempt.

While we ate our main course the party next to us were "oohing", "aahing" and purring over their desserts. We were both enjoying a good thing and anticipating the better things we understood were yet to come.

The anticipated time came for us to order dessert. Once again choosing was difficult for us and our first instinct was to say: "We'll take one of each." The desserts at Stupp's really are sinfully delicious. I chose one of their cheesecakes - the layered white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake with a dark chocolate cookie crumb crust. Dani'el chose the apple betty. Now being a vegan, the poor man couldn't eat the generous scoop of vanilla ice cream that comes with the apple betty. So, what could I do? I had to sacrifice myself to the task. Luckily, my cheesecake was served with extra raspberry preserves on the side. I drowned the cold, creamy, rich vanilla sorrow of Dani'el's ice cream in the raspberry preserves. Kinda made it go down easier. Ya know?

I ordered Rombout's filter coffee with dessert. I usually take a vial of cane sugar from the house with me, as even most vegetarian restaurants serve refined white sugar with their beverages. I forgot the cane sugar on this occasion. I was delighted to see that at Stupp's cane sugar packages are served with beverages, in addition to white sugar.

The tab came to 155 NIS (somewhere between $31-35 dollars depending on the daily rate of exchange) en toto for the two of us - a most reasonable price for the two very satisfying main dishes, two legendary desserts and two drinks that we had indeed.

My recommendation is to visit the Stupp's restaurant with a party of people so that you may share with one another. The only drawback of eating at Stupp's is the feeling that there are many adventures on the menu that were left unexplored.

The Stupp's restaurant is certified kosher and is under supervision.

For more information about The Stupp's Restaurant, a photo of the interior and a 10% discount voucher see:


Stupp's is all about Vegetarian Soul food - good to you and good for you.

Dani'el Dotan and Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel (twenty years together and still counting)

P.S. I'm delighted to report that my write-up of the Stupp's Restaurant garnered an unexpected number of very positive and enthusiastic responses off line, including from people who communicated to me that the piece sparked a renewed interest in visiting Israel in them and some even wrote that the piece roused a latent desire to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel).