Feeding the Hungry

The Teaching of Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens

The following is adapted from Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Conscious Eating (2000), Chapter 17, Sub-Chapter: ‘Compassion and Noncruelty to Animals and World Peace.’

Neither humans nor animals are safe from the collective effects of a flesh-food diet. Approximately sixty million people starve to death per year on this planet.

The number-one health problem in the world today is chronic malnutrition. The United Nations estimates that one-half the world’s population suffers from malnutrition and 700–900 million people are seriously malnourished. Twenty-five percent of the world’s children suffer from a lack of food. Forty-two thousand children die per day from malnutrition. That comes to 15 million per year or 30% of all the world’s deaths per year. In the last ten years, more people died from malnutrition than from all the wars, revolutions, and murders of the last 150 years.

In the Jewish tradition, the Talmud teaches that providing sustenance to the hungry is as important as all the other commandments of the Torah combined.

To loose the chains of wickedness, to undo the bonds of oppression, and to let the oppressed go free … Is it not to share thy bread with the hungry? (Isaiah 58:6–7)

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat. If your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink. (Proverbs 25:21)

A flesh-centered diet creates a hoarding or resources in a way that greatly contributes to world hunger. World hunger, however, reflects a social and political disharmony as much as it is a resource problem.