Avodah Goes #DefaultVeg – a Food Policy to Reflect Environmental Justice Values

Published Apr 22, 2021

Image of green lettuces with the Default Veg logo.

We are thrilled to announce that on this Earth Day, Avodah is going #DefaultVeg – a move that shifts our purchasing practices away from factory farming, a leading driver of environmental injustice.

Factory farms produce 99 percent of all animal products, including kosher ones. This change shifts our purchasing power away from factory farms, which threaten our planet, perpetuate worker and animal cruelty, and endanger the health of vulnerable communities impacted most by this industry. A DefaultVeg menu features plant-based meals as the default option while giving diners the choice to add or opt into meat and/or dairy options upon request. Simply by changing the default food options, consumers are much more likely to choose a plant-based meal, even when meat and dairy options are available. We believe it is an impactful way to leverage our power in building more just food systems while promoting Jewish teachings of compassion and sustainability.

Climate change, driven most by animal agriculture (along with fossil fuels) is intrinsically linked to social and economic injustice, as well as health disparities that especially impact poor and Black, brown, indigenous, and other marginalized communities. Avodah is proud to adopt the DefaultVeg platform and work toward normalizing plant-based meals within the Jewish community. 

We’re also proud to say that the catalyst for adopting the #DefaultVeg platform was alumni-inspired. Avodah Alum and Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA) Program Director, Ilana Braverman, spoke on the TEDx stage on “Moving Beyond a Default Hamburger World,highlighting the intersections of factory farming, environmental racism/injustice, human and animal welfare, and climate change. 

“Avodah is adapting DefaultVeg for all meetings and events we host because our food choices can and do make an impact in the world. We want to help shift our purchasing practices away from factory farming – a root cause of social and environmental injustice –  and achieve closer alignment with our Jewish and justice values including shmirat ha’adamah (protecting the earth), tza’ar ba’alei chaymim (preventing cruelty toward animals), oshek (labor justice), and tikkun olam (repairing the world). And I am especially proud that this initiative is alumni-inspired! At Avodah, we aim to inspire our participants to become leaders for social change whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values,” CEO Cheryl Cook said.

By adopting #DefaultVeg, Avodah formalizes its food policy through a justice lens. To learn more about this decision, you can read through Avodah’s proposal and FAQ. And if you’d like to incorporate the DefaultVeg platform into your own organizations, reach out to Ilana Braverman. We hope to see this sustainable and inclusive framework become the new norm in our Jewish communities.

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