Top StoriesOpinion | How We Treat Farmed Animals

Opinion | How We Treat Farmed Animals


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To the Editor:

I was happy to see Ezra Klein’s column “The Gross Cruelty of Factory Farming” (Sunday Review, Dec. 19), which calls attention to the tragedy of animal agriculture and to the effort to replace animal products in our nation’s diet. Yet I was disappointed by Mr. Klein’s embrace of the animal welfare position instead of the competing animal rights position.

The former, first popularized by Peter Singer in his 1975 book “Animal Liberation,” calls for reducing animal suffering. In 1983, Tom Regan countered in “The Case for Animal Rights” that all sentient beings are entitled to equal moral consideration, including freedom from all human exploitation, well beyond the limited issue of suffering.

This is a distinction with a monumental difference. Whereas animal welfare proponents seek to get laying hens out of their cages and make their killing less painful, animal rights proponents advocate ending all use of animals for food. By promoting “humane” conditions for farm animals, animal welfare proponents give false succor to people who oppose cruelty to animals yet want to continue killing and eating them, and rob animal rights advocates of their support.

Alex Hershaft
Bethesda, Md.
The writer is a co-founder and the president of Farm Animal Rights Movement.

To the Editor:

Ezra Klein is right that future generations will be shocked by how we abused the animals we raise for food, treating many farm animals worse than we treat our worst violent criminals.

Opinion Conversation
Questions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and its rollout.

Fortunately, as Mr. Klein suggests, we’re getting better at creating meat experiences without animals, whether from plant-based sources, microbial fermentation or animal cell culture. Just as we’re glad to no longer rely on whale oil thanks to better lighting methods, or on horse labor thanks to better transport methods, one day we will be glad to no longer rely on factory farming animals thanks to better protein production methods.

Paul Shapiro
The writer is the author of “Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World.”

To the Editor:

Abundant thanks to Ezra Klein for pointing out the horrors of factory farming.

While I appreciate his encouraging readers to contribute to organizations that work on behalf of farmed animals, including some focused on meat replacement, he names some big, well-funded groups. Also in need of funding are the many very effective small nonprofits that work to educate consumers about the plight of animals raised and slaughtered for food.

Please keep this subject alive in your pages. During the season of Peace on Earth, we all need to be reminded of our choice for peace or violence on our tables.

Patti Breitman
Fairfax, Calif.

To the Editor:

I must respectfully disagree with my fellow physician Dr. Richard Goldfine (“Fed Up With Those Refusing Vaccines,” letters, Dec. 20). It is simply never ethical to withhold critical care from critically ill patients, regardless of their vaccine status.

However, I do believe that now, with vaccines having been available for the past year, people who remain unvaccinated have made the deliberate choice to endanger themselves and those around them, including their doctors and nurses. If it were my decision, I would turn them away from all elective and ambulatory care until the pandemic eases.

During this pandemic my hospital has lost a number of our own personnel, including a renowned and beloved professor. I personally believe that it is inexcusable to expose hospital staff and other patients in waiting rooms to the same hazard now that it’s preventable.

Geoffrey H. Basson
New York

To the Editor:

Re “The Unbearable Sadness of Bad Holiday Gifts,” by Tim Kreider (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 25):

Everyone has received an unwanted gift not only at Christmas but on other occasions as well.

As a mother of three now adult men, I have been guilty of buying sweaters for my sons that were not so readily received. But as opposed to Mr. Kreider, my sons told me early on that I shouldn’t buy them clothes. This advice I heeded. I wasn’t insulted — only perhaps slightly taken aback.

As they grew older, I decided to do away with the entire gift-giving tradition at Christmas, which I believe was a relief for everyone. We could concentrate on the importance of the holiday, on being together and enjoying a good meal.

Much to my surprise, a few years ago one of my sons voiced disappointment that there were no socks in his stocking! Alas, if one can master the choice of giving the right “hipster” socks, they will indeed be appreciated.

Tani Maher
Zurich, Switzerland

To the Editor:

Tim Kreider laments the bad holiday gifts given by parents. On the other hand, I always love the gifts I get from my grown children. They, too, are always things I would never buy for myself. Too expensive, too frivolous, too youthful, too trendy. But I enjoy them so much.

I wrap myself in the cashmere throw blanket, I feel most fashionable in the earrings that are much bigger than the ones I usually wear, I eat the tiny jar of caviar spoonful by tiny spoonful. My children treasure who I am, but they also get pleasure from making me someone different.

Diane Sachs

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