16 November 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Protein Pyramid” (editorial, Nov. 10):

Thank you for pointing out the unsustainability of the so-called protein pyramid. But there is a net loss in all meat production, not just of farmed fish or feeding fish to land animals being raised for food. Feeding grain to chickens, pigs and cows is even more inefficient, with 70 percent of grain grown in the United States going to animals raised for food.

And while there are varying estimates, it takes between 3 and 15 pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat. It also takes 10 times the fossil fuels to produce a calorie of animal food as it does a calorie of plant food.

I also applaud your suggestion that people eat less meat, but eating no meat whatsoever is the most sustainable diet of all.

Danielle Kichler
Washington, Nov. 11, 2008

To the Editor:

We are seeing environmental ruin because of factory farming. Besides depleting the ocean’s supply of fish for those animals normally feeding on them, the factory farming of cattle, pigs and chickens uses excessive water and pollutes our land.

Going vegan is the best way to combat this environmental nightmare, improve your health and stand up against the animal cruelty so prevalent in factory farms today.

Laura Frisk
Encinitas, Calif., Nov. 10, 2008

To the Editor:

Your editorial sets forth a real, serious problem but proposes a futile solution.

It is certainly true that the world’s marine stocks—large fish even more than small ones—are being depleted by human demand at a catastrophic rate. But “encouraging healthy, less meat-based eating habits” will do nothing to ameliorate the situation.

Suppose that I and people like me reduce our meat consumption by 50 percent (an unlikely event). As soon as the population doubles (a very likely event), our self-denial will be for naught.

As with many other environmental issues, the real problem is excess population, and the only solution is human population control. Our long-term goal should be a reduction of world population to about half of what it is now.

Lawrence S. Lerner
Woodside, Calif., Nov. 10, 2008

To the Editor:

Your editorial is exactly right: for our sake and theirs, we need to eat fewer animals. The number of chickens, turkeys, pigs, cattle and other animals raised and slaughtered in the United States has been growing steadily for decades.

In 1950, each American consumed, on average, 144 pounds of animal flesh a year. Today, we eat well over 220 pounds a year, and it’s not uncommon for many Americans to eat animal products at every single meal. This comes at an enormous cost to animal welfare, the environment and of course public health.

A shift toward more vegetarian options would indeed benefit us all. This is an issue on which we don’t need to wait for government or industry to act first. We can start at our next meal.

Paul Shapiro
Senior Director
Factory Farming Campaign
Humane Society of the United States
Washington, Nov. 11, 2008