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The village that’s been vegan for 50 years

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A community in the desert town of Dimona pioneered the vegan lifestyle in Israel. They’re called the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem and they live in a compound called Neve Shalom (Village of Peace).

ABIGAIL KLEIN LEICHMAN: Everyone knows that Tel Aviv is the vegan capital of Israel, right? After all, it’s home to scores of vegan restaurants and many of the 5 percent of Israelis who eat a plant-based diet. Well, here’s a surprise: Long before you could get veggie shawarma in Tel Aviv, a community in the desert town of Dimona pioneered the vegan lifestyle in Israel. They’re called the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem and they live in a compound called Neve Shalom (Village of Peace). The original 138 members of the community, mostly natives of Chicago, arrived in Israel in 1969.

“We don’t number ourselves, but I guess we’re about 3,000 people. We’ve had 1,150 babies born in our House of Life [maternity center] since 1972 or 1973,” official community spokesman Ahmadiel Ben Yehuda tells ISRAEL21c. Hebrew Israelites see themselves as spiritual descendants of the ancient Israelites. They are not Jewish, but they consider the Bible their history and guidebook.

In Genesis 1:29-30, a plant-based diet is prescribed for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree on which is the fruit yielding seed; to you it shall be for food. … everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green herb for food.”

“That became the foundation for how we have to conduct ourselves,” says Ben Yehuda. Ben Yehuda, who immigrated from Washington DC in 1979, said the decision to eschew animal products didn’t come from a health perspective. “However, as we continued, we found many reports and research that substantiated the reason for veganism. Very simply, humans are not designed to consume flesh; we are designed to consume plants.”

Neither did their decision originate from a place of animal rights, “but that is a great added benefit. We have come to understand that humanity needs to take care of the creation better.” A healthful plant-based diet – whole fresh foods, with little or no refined sugar or table salt — is one of several pillars of Hebrew Israelite culture’.  SOURCE…

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