More than 70 rabbis from different denominations have urged Jews to switch to an animal-free, plant-based diet as “an expression of Jewish values”.

In an open letter, they say: “Millions among us suffer and die from chronic, diet-related diseases each year,” adding: “Billions of animals are subjected to unfathomable cruelty in the meat, dairy and egg industries.”

The list of rabbis 73 rabbis, plus four cantors or rabbinic students, includes Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg as well as Rabbi Natan Levy, the former interfaith consultant to the Board of Deputies.

Arguing that animal agriculture is “the number one contributor to global climate change among all economic sectors,” they add: “As we enter the New Year, let’s align our actions with Judaism’s values and solve these problems.”

Writing under the auspices of Jewish Veg, a non-profit organisation aiming to encourage Jews to adopt plant-based diets, they say that doing so would be “an expression of our shared Jewish values of compassion for animals, protection of the environment, and concern for our physical and spiritual well-being”.