The Viva Vine: vol #2, no #5: November / December
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
- 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
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.
Animal Rights International
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