The Viva Vine: vol #2, no #5: November / December 1993
GRAPEVINE

Dearest Pamela:
Please, oh please, send me "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." Enclosed is a buck and SASE. If you could help me here in VEGETARIAN HELL (Northeast Tenn.) I'll be forever in your debt.
- A.W.C./Johnson City, Tenn.

(The following letter to the editor was sent to The Wall Street Journal (not to "The VivaVine") in response to one of its editorials. The editorial had railed against The Humane Farming Association for its recent efforts exposing cruelty in the pig farming industry-- as this industry goes the way of the chicken business toward mechanization. The tract turned out to be an ignorant and pathetic apology of today's factory farming which begged for a response. It got that response, and a simply elegant one at that, from Henry Spira -- one of our pillars in today's animal rights movement. Send an SASE to The VivaVegie Society if you would like a copy of The WSJ editorial.)

Your Dinner Led a Horrible Life

In sharing "some thoughts on pigs" ("Animal Farms," Review & Outlook, June 14, 1993), your readers can hardly be expected to understand the outright horror inflicted on animals in factory farms when you present the issue in terms that never get more vivid than "size and scale" ... "integration of processes" ... "boosting choices to consumers." Perhaps your writer has never had an opportunity see this perversion of nature firsthand.

In more realistic terms, "size and scale" means relegating animals to the status of machine parts. This translates into hundreds upon hundreds of sows parked like so many cars in narrow steel crates in dark buildings the size of aircraft hangars; veal calves living out their lives in dark wooden crates so small they are unable to even turn around; egg-laying hens confined to an area smaller than half this page [a WSJ page]; animals so stressed that only a constant diet of drugs keep them alive until they are shipped or dragged to their slaughter.

You suggest that this institutionalized cruelty may be justifiable because it is cost-effective -- but so is prison labor and child labor. Clearly, there's more to commerce than cost-effectiveness at any price.

Furthermore, there would be no need for the "tear-jerking ads" your writer derides if the media were providing readers with the facts about current practices in animal agriculture. But most of the consuming public hasn't a clue as to what kind of hell their dinner went through on the way to the table. Shouldn't our society be based on informed consent?

Beyond satisfying our addiction, meat has no demonstrable benefits. The consumption of meat is linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and it inflicts horrendous pain on the more than six billion animals eaten in this country each year.

At the very least, we should be able to agree than we need to encourage industry and government to develop, promote and implement systems that reduce farm animal suffering as long as people continue to eat them.
--Henry Spira, Coordinator, Animal Rights International

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