Jennifer Young’s op-ed piece, “In defense of the slaughterhouse,” (The River Reporter, December 19-25, 2013) demonstrates in-depth awareness of the horrors of factory farming, yet characterizes meat consumption as okay as long as it’s “grass-fed.” She admits “it’s healthier to be a vegetarian,” but adds, “not because meat is bad for you.”
While her claim that grass-fed animals contain more Omega 3’s than grain-fed is true, it is also factual that land animals are not a significant source of Omega oils. Besides fish, Omega 3s are also abundant in plant sources like flaxseed, hemp seeds, walnuts and green vegetables like spinach and chard, without the mercury and PCB’s found in fish. Additionally these Omega sources are not a product of pain, suffering and the killing of animals.
Ms. Young neglected to say that, whether grass- or grain-fed, all land animals and animal products including dairy, contain saturated fat and transfats, the consumption of which is linked to high cholesterol, a known cause of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke and diabetes, leading causes of death in our society. The American Journal of Cardiology states that we need to drop transfats associated with dietary cholesterol. The National Academy of Science says no amount of transfats should be considered safe.
Furthermore, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a growth hormone naturally present in both animals and humans. When humans consume animals or animal products of any kind, whether grass or grain fed, they are not only consuming IGF-1, but also the estrogen present in animals. Animal products of any kind have been recognized as a cancer risk for more than a century. In December, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences added estrogen to its list of known cancer-causing agents. Is it really wise to ingest anything that has the potential to encourage unwanted cellular growth within the body? Also, E-coli contamination in grass-fed meat is no less than the meat of grain-fed.
Ms. Young appears to believe that humans are not capable of changing habits when she states that “people are not going to stop eating meat.” History is replete with customs and practices that at one time were commonly accepted but were eventually deemed illegal, immoral, primitive, or unhealthy (slavery, denying women the vote, smoking, to name a few.) Apparently Ms. Young is not aware of the steadily increasing vegetarian and vegan lifestyles worldwide. A 2008 survey of over 5,000 adults in the meat-eating U.S. showed that 3.2% (7.3 million) are already vegetarian, an additional 10% (22.8 million) follow a mostly vegetarian diet, and another 5.2 % (11.9 million) say they are “definitely interested in following a vegetarian diet in the future.” That was five years ago. The numbers are likely higher today. The transition away from animal consumption is happening but perhaps not in our lifetime.
Does Ms. Young reference to “our slaughterhouse” mean she has a vested interest in the facility? Would she take children, and family, to visit the kill floor? If not, why not?
How cavalier to say that when the animals reach the slaughterhouse they will have a “bad day.” In other words, as long as you let them eat grass and roam around (only during warmer weather because in winter they’re confined to indoor stalls for months) it’s okay to kill them, even though we really don’t need to?
Plant-food diets are (a) much healthier, (b) less expensive than meat, (c) do not involve pain and suffering to animals and (d) are better for our environment.
Change based on knowledge is possible for anyone with an open mind and caring heart.
[Anna and Vincent Gallo live in Bethany, PA.]