16 April 2009

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Humanity Even for Nonhumans,” by Nicholas D. Kristof (column, April 9):

Thank you for this inspiring and enlightening article. Animals raised for food suffer miserably.

The meat and dairy industries want to keep their operations away from the public’s discriminating eyes, but as groups like PETA and the Humane Society have shown us in their graphic and disturbing undercover investigations, factory farms are mechanized madness and slaughterhouses are torture chambers to these unfortunate and feeling beings.

The overwhelming passage in November of Proposition 2 in California, which banned tight confinement of many of the animals raised for food, is a fine example of the power of publicity to educate people about the atrocities we commit to those animals who have no voice of their own.

Laura Frisk
Encinitas, Calif., April 9, 2009

To the Editor:

In making the personal decision of where to place ourselves in our ethical relationship with animals, it is important to evaluate the reality of our words. If human beings were confined, mutilated and killed, would we call it “humane” if the cages were a few inches bigger, the knife sharper, the death faster? Would we say these people were slaughtered in a “people friendly” manner?

Confinement is confinement, mutilation is mutilation, and slaughter is slaughter. Animal agriculture is inherently inhumane.

Animals rescued from so-called humane farming establishments have been found in horrific condition.

Our relationship with animals should be based on respect and caring, and that begins with not eating them.

Irene Muschel
New York, April 9, 2009

To the Editor:

Nicholas D. Kristof’s column brought back an image of my father dropping live lobsters into boiling water. I was 4 or 5, and I cringed.

At 14, as I started making my own choices, my eating habits began to change. After time in the Marines, I veered strongly away from eating creatures, thinking of their suffering. In my 40s, I became a vegetarian because I was saving sick and injured birds, and I just couldn’t eat them and save them.

My doctor says my tremendous health and strength are due to my being a vegan. Push-ups, sit-ups, carrying 50-pound bags of bird seed—and I will be 71 in May. I still have the same six-pack stomach I had in the Marines.

Every meal, for me, is a celebration of life. That’s right, for me—but it may not be for others. Being “kind” to the animals has been great for my quality of life.

Buzz Alpert
Chicago, April 9, 2009

To the Editor:

Often overlooked in the discussion about industrially raised farm animals is the fact that many American farmers already engage in humane practices by raising animals in open spaces and on food that nature intended them to eat.

These farmers work long hours moving animals from pasture to pasture and often struggle with a paucity of meat-processing infrastructure suitable to the needs of small-scale producers. They deserve recognition and support for offering Americans an alternative to meat raised in confined spaces.

Caroline Abels
Montpelier, Vt., April 9, 2009
The writer is the editor of Vermont’s Local Banquet, a quarterly magazine about food and agriculture.

To the Editor:

The term “free range” sounds prettier than it usually is.

Egg production, including on free-range farms, entails the mass killing of newborn male chicks, a point made in Nicholas D. Kristof’s column.

However, it is not just the male chicks that are routinely executed. Hens in all forms of egg production endure an equally cruel execution once their profitability has declined.

The debeaking of hens and other routine cruelties of egg production are seldom put before the public. Blithe images of all forms of animal production hide the bleak realities.

Karen Davis
Machipongo, Va., April 9, 2009
The writer is president of United Poultry Concerns, an advocacy group.