An interview with Dr. On-Bar, a resident of the vegetarian land of Israel, about the history and motives for the creation of Amirim, its tourist attraction, and Judaism’s attitude towards vegetarianism.
Amirim is a vegetarian village, not a kibbutz. We are made up of over 160 families, 790 people including children. I myself am a therapist, PhD and Master of Psychology and Psychophysiology. In addition, I am the mother of five children and the grandmother of four, all of us are vegans.
The village was founded by a small group of vegetarians who wanted to raise their children in a healthy environment and lifestyle. While searching for territory, they found a mountain that had been abandoned by immigrants from North Africa due to the difficulty of settling there. Despite the difficult conditions (rocks, lack of water sources, wind), they began to develop the land. First, tents were pitched, gardens were grown, then more and more people began to arrive, houses were built, and Amirim began to take on his appearance. We settled here in 1976, a young couple with a child who came from Jerusalem.
As I said, all reasons are good. Amirim began with a love for animals and concern for their right to life. Over time, the issue of health came into focus and people who cured themselves with the help of plant-based nutrition began to populate our village to raise children in health and closeness to nature. The next reason was the realization of the catastrophic contribution of the meat industry to global warming and pollution.
In general, Amirim is a non-religious community, although we also have a few religious families who are, of course, vegetarians. I think that if you kill animals, you are showing inhumanity, no matter what the Torah says. People wrote the Torah – not God – and people have inherent weaknesses and addictions, they often adjust the rules to suit their convenience. According to the Bible, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden did not eat meat, only fruits and vegetables, seeds and wheat. Only later, under the influence of corruption, do people begin to eat the flesh. Grand Rabbi Kook said that if people stop killing animals and become vegetarians, they will stop killing each other. He advocated vegetarianism as a way to achieve peace. And even if you look at the words of the prophet Isaiah, his vision of the last days was that “the wolf and the tiger will sit peacefully next to the lamb.”
As elsewhere, people perceive the alternative lifestyle as strange to say the least. When I was a little girl (vegetarian), my classmates made fun of things I ate, like lettuce. They teased me about being a rabbit, but I laughed with them and was always proud of being different. I didn’t care what others thought, and here in Amirim, people believe this is the right attitude. As a therapist, I see a lot of people who are victims of their habits, poor diet, smoking, and so on. After seeing the way we live, many become vegans and improve their health, both physical and mental. We do not see veganism as radical or extreme, but close to nature.
In addition to fresh and healthy food, we have spa complexes, several workshops and lecture halls. During the summer, we have outdoor music concerts, tours to nearby natural sites and forests.
Amirin is beautiful and green all year round. Even in winter we have many sunny days. And although it can be foggy and rainy in the cold season, you can have a good time on the Sea of Galilee, relax in the spa, eat in a restaurant with a quality vegetarian menu.