April 26, 2008

Economies of Meat

Re “Million-Dollar Meat” (New York Times editorial, April 23):

To the Editor:

In vitro meat might not appeal to everyone, but I am guessing that the day PETA awards its prize money will be a happy day for the billions of land animals bound for slaughter.

We can treasure the cultural and historical bond between animals and domesticated animals only by ignoring the emotional bond. Children naturally love animals, but the many “uses we have found for them” lead us to teach our children to save their compassion for companion animals exclusively.

We encourage kids to gently pet baby lambs, cows, chickens and pigs, but we deny them this loving connection when we serve animals for dinner by surreptitiously calling them chops, hamburger, nuggets and bacon.

There is no happy ending for even the most humanely raised animal. And there is no good reason to breed, confine and kill animals for food unless we believe that economic benefit justifies killing. More and more people do not. We call ourselves vegetarians.

Patti Breitman
Fairfax, Calif., April 23, 2008

You suggest that the raising of animals for food should be done “in ways that are both ethical and environmentally sound.” This is asking for the impossible.

More than nine billion chickens are slaughtered each year in the United States. When you treat animals as objects on an assembly line, it is not possible to provide for their basic needs.

You argue that we must treasure a “cultural and historical bond” between us and those we eat. But that bond is based on exploitation and abuse.

If domesticated animals “exist only because of the uses we have found for them,” let me ask you: Would you have recommended 150 years ago that we preserve and treasure the bond between whites and their black slaves — and develop a more humane slave trade?

Vadim Liberman
New York, April 23, 2008

human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism