Saturday, August 3, 2013

Please, Let's Try to Be Nicer to the Animals Please, Let's Try to Be Nicer to the Animals To the Editor: Re "Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals?" (column, July 28): Thanks to Nicholas D. Kristof for his thoughtful and insightful column about our inconsistency between how we consider human rights versus animal rights. The right of animals not to be exploited by humans and to live free from unnecessary suffering is often looked at through the lens of specific issues rather than the overarching social justice movement it is. Our descendants will indeed look at our treatment of animals as a great social injustice, but let them look back at it as a movement that was largely won rather than just having moved in the right direction. There is too much needless suffering at stake, as well as the legacy of our ethical values, to wait for future generations to confront what should be our generation's moral obligation. BRAD GOLDBERG President, Animal Welfare Trust Mamaroneck, N.Y., July 28, 2013 To the Editor: Kudos to Nicholas D. Kristof for recognizing that institutional cruelty to animals is an ethical issue, and acknowledging the recent shift in our national consciousness. It is time for us to grapple with the inconsistencies of our emerging understanding of animals' moral worth, not the least of which is society's love for dogs and cats. This exists even as most Americans continue to support egregious cruelty by eating chickens, pigs and other farm animals. Animals are made of flesh, blood and bone, just like humans. They have the same five physiological senses that we do, and they feel pain in the same way and in the same degree. As Darwin noted, differences between humans and other species are differences of degree, not kind. For the vast majority of Americans who care about animals, the starting point on our ethical journey with regard to animals is the adoption of a vegetarian diet. BRUCE G. FRIEDRICH Washington, July 29, 2013 The writer is senior director for advocacy at Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal protection organization. To the Editor: Our society is slowly realizing that humane treatment of animals is necessary. Perhaps it is the fact that about 65 percent of all households have a pet. Nicholas D. Kristof points out that great strides have been made in curtailing factory farming despite strong lobbying efforts by the agriculture industry to punish whistle-blowers. Animals are only one of factory farming's victims. Entire communities have seen the local environment destroyed by these farms and small farmers going bankrupt because they can't compete against these conglomerates. In the long run, our society will be judged by the way we treat animals. The best way to do this is through legislation so that the voters can decide that they want to shut down puppy mills, end testing on animals or prevent places like SeaWorld from acquiring more killer whales. We will end the suffering of animals only when our legislators realize that their constituents overwhelmingly support animal welfare bills. CATHY KANGAS New Canaan, Conn., July 30, 2013 The writer is a member of the board of directors, Humane Society of the United States. To the Editor: I was pleased to read Nicholas D. Kristof's acknowledgment that eating meat is inconsistent with a professed concern for the lives and well-being of animals. Less convincing is his suggestion that consuming eggs labeled "cage free" or pork labeled "crate free" represents progress. I hope that Mr. Kristof comes to realize that "humane" animal products do not exist. He and others can then make the truly compassionate choice to become vegan, a step that authentically reflects the ethical intuition that animals matter. SHERRY F. COLB Falmouth, Mass., July 28, 2013 The writer, a law professor at Cornell, is the author of "Mind if I Order the Cheeseburger? And Other Questions People Ask Vegans." To the Editor: Like Nicholas D. Kristof, I am probably something of a hypocrite, since I eat some meat despite my concerns about cruelty to animals. But if we are unable or unwilling to give up eating meat altogether, it is not that difficult to cut back. Think of the benefits for the animals, the environment and our own health if we limit our meat eating to one meal a day, as opposed to the customary two or three, and have a meatless day from time to time. That would at least be a good first step - and it's easy to do. JAMES L. CULNAN La Crescenta, Calif., July 28, 2013

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