To the editor:
To the extent that Dr. Temple Grandin breaks down barriers for people with autism and is an inspiration to them and their families, I applaud her.
But I find the application of her obvious talents and brilliance to be highly regrettable and morally objectionable.
We think about animals in very confused ways. Many of us have dogs, cats or other companion animals whose lives we respect and who we might even consider members of our families.
On the other hand, we kill 10 billion animals every year in this country alone who are in no way different than the dogs and cats we love. That's 300 animals every second, of every minute, of every day, of every year.
All of us would agree we ought not kill or cause harm to animals, especially for unnecessary or frivolous reasons. If necessity is to have any coherent meaning at all, then it cannot mean it is OK to kill or cause harm for pleasure, amusement or convenience. In other words, we cannot justify killing or causing harm to animals simply because we like the way they taste. But if you examine our largest use of animals "for food," it can only be justified because we like the taste of them.
We don't need cheese pizzas, steaks, hamburgers or other animal products to be healthy. Indeed, the American Dietetics Association has said vegan diets are "appropriate for all ages and stages of life, including pregnancy." Animal products are conclusively linked to heart disease and cancer, among other health problems.
Moreover, animal agriculture is responsible for a tremendous amount of environmental degradation. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks and other transport vehicles combined. It requires between 6 and 12 pounds of plant protein to produce a pound of animal flesh. It requires 100,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef, versus approximately 900 liters to produce 1 kilogram of wheat. Even if one doesn't care at all about animals, in the face of starvation and famine, those resources could inarguably be better spent alleviating human suffering rather than feeding them to animals to be eaten by us.
Our trivial palate pleasure cannot count for more than an animal's significant interest in not being killed. To assert, as Dr. Grandin does, that her slaughterhouses are "humane" is mistaken at best and delusional at worst. The slaughter of a vulnerable, innocent and defenseless sentient being can never be humane.
The solution, then, if we care about and respect animals, is not to eat them from a Temple Grandin® slaughterhouse, but rather not to kill and eat them at all. For more information, visit www.abolitionistapproach.com.