Letter published by WaPo in re: Whole Foods rating system expose article

Nice to get one like this out there in the public eye.

Rating degrees of animal cruelty is the wrong metric

November 29

The Nov. 27 Economy & Business article “Whole Foods turkeys treated inhumanely, animal activists say,” focused on “humane” use of animals as an empirical matter (i.e., can we, practically speaking, provide humane treatment to animal property?), as do many articles on the plight of animals used for human pleasure and convenience. But it failed to question the underlying assumption that it is acceptable to use animals at all. All animals are sentient beings, self-aware and sensate, and so we are obligated to not cause them unnecessary harm. This is the opposite of exploiting them for food, clothing and entertainment, for which any number of harms are routinely inflicted for the sake of “proper” use of the animal, even in the most “humane” operations.

Once we understand that we have no moral justification for putting animals into situations in which the harms we cause them can be graded on a level of severity, we may finally begin to regard animals as members of the moral community and accord them the respect they deserve not to be used as our things in the first place. That starts by going vegan, not by purchasing animal parts highly rated by Whole Foods.

Eric Prescott, Jamaica Plain, Mass.


Letter published in the Washington Post

I wrote a letter to the Washington Post in response to Wednesday’s article, A Dish That Gets a Fuzzy Reception. That letter, which they called Those Rabbits: Friend or Food?, was published today, FYI.

From the article:

Chef Stefano Frigerio braces himself when he puts rabbit on the menu at Mio. It’s only a matter of time before someone complains.

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Boston Globe publishes my Eight Belles letter

Today the Boston Globe published a letter I wrote in response to the widely-covered Eight Belles “breakdown” at the Kentucky Derby over the weekend. An article in the Globe had only mentioned her injury and death in passing.

My letter is only two short paragraphs, so click through and check it out (the original article is linked in my letter). Let me know what you think in comments. I’m pretty happy with it, but I don’t imagine many will heed my words. Most people are advocating… wait for it… reform.

William C. Rhoden gave the sport a fairly sound thrashing in his New York Times column, unlike PETA. He compares the sport to animal fighting and questions its legitimacy, while PETA jumps on the reform bandwagon.

My latest rejected Op-Ed

I submitted the following Op-Ed to the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Perhaps it’s obvious why this wasn’t published. Perhaps not. I did edit this particular letter down for the blog, since I had incorporated time-sensitive information and a space-filling tangent to begin with. Anyway, these are just some Thanksgiving thoughts I didn’t want to leave buried forever in a long-forgotten Microsoft Word document:

This Thanksgiving, when millions of people across the country reflect on what to give thanks for over the past year, consider the centerpiece of your meal. While in times past a carved turkey or ham on one’s table may have signified that a family had enough financial security to celebrate a special occasion with a feast fit for kings, these days animal products symbolize excess consumption and cruelty.

Doesn’t it make sense to give thanks for what we have without doing so at such a great cost to others? Animals are individuals, sentient beings whom we all too often treat with indifference, except perhaps for our own animal companions. But turkeys and pigs are morally no less relevant than our furry friends. And, while we’ve known for some time that consuming animals is unnecessary, many of us don’t take the time to think about why we continue to breed and kill them, as if the taste of their flesh and secretions somehow trump the intrinsic value of their lives. Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to reconsider this imbalance.

Fortunately, the wholesome staples of a vegan diet–grains, legumes, fresh vegetables and fruits–are widely available and, as consumers have become more conscientious about what they put in their mouths, grocery stores have begun catering to the rising demand for vegan convenience foods, including specialized products for Thanksgiving. These products are no longer consigned solely to natural food stores. Even Shaws has gotten into the action. Prefer to cook from scratch? Simply Google “vegan Thanksgiving recipes,” and start browsing! You’ll find an astonishing array of festive recipes that will have you salivating.

There are not many opportunities for the average person to make a difference in their world, but veganism is a powerful statement for peace that one can make at every meal, including one as full of resonance as Thanksgiving dinner. By removing the violence from our plates–meat, eggs and dairy products–we consciously choose to cultivate a more compassionate society, one in which animals’ interests are taken seriously, and that is something to be thankful for.

Make your Thanksgiving a compassionate one. Choose vegan.

It reads kinda weird to me with three paragraphs lopped off, but they don’t contribute anything to the core message, so you’re not missing anything (other than maybe a little better flow).

Happy turkey-free/free the turkeys day.

I wrote some more letters

I write lots of letters. I’ve been kind of remiss in sharing them here, but I’ll post a couple that I just wrote, so you can see what keeps me awake at night.

This first one is actually a bit late in coming for the editor to consider publishing it now, so that’s all the more reason to post it here, in response to this piece from Australian newspaper The Age:

Your article asks, “You wouldn’t keep a dog in a cage so small it couldn’t turn around, so why do we think it’s all right to do it to pigs?” But the question doesn’t go far enough. The question ought to be: “You wouldn’t breed dogs for food and eat them, so why do we think it’s all right to do it to pigs?”

Pigs are morally no less significant than dogs. If people don’t see a practice as acceptable for one animal, than surely they shouldn’t see that same practice as acceptable for any other animal.

And here’s one for the foodies, in response to an article in the November issue of Common Ground Magazine called The Carnivore’s Dilemma (yeah, I know, shades of Omnivore’s Dilemma… what dilemma?):

In regards to Chris Cosentino’s quote in your article, “An animal is giving its life for you to eat,” need I remind your readers that the animals do not willingly give their flesh to us? It is taken from them, along with their lives. Rather than eating unconsenting animals, we ought to consider eating a plant-based diet. To quote Cosentino, “It’s just the right thing to do.”