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Editorial

Doomed oxen: A lesson in sustainability

There is debate on campus and in the wider community about slaughtering Green Mountain College oxen Bill and Lou, left.

Caleb Kenna for The Boston Globe

There is debate on campus and in the wider community about slaughtering Green Mountain College oxen Bill and Lou, left.

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Anyone who has ever eaten meat should know that an animal died to provide it. Anyone who has ever been on a farm should understand that squealing pigs, clucking chickens, and bleating sheep are not pets. Those simple facts have eluded some students at Vermont’s Green Mountain College. This weekend, they are protesting the planned slaughter of a 10-year-old pair of working oxen known as Bill and Lou and the serving of their meat in the school cafeteria. Now that Lou can no longer work on the campus farm because of a leg injury, the two oxen will meet the same fate as countless other farm animals.

The irony is that Green Mountain teaches sustainable farming, which places particular emphasis on where and how crops are grown and animals are raised. Many advocates say such procedures increase people’s respect for the animals they consume. That’s not the way the activist group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is leading the opposition to the slaughter, sees it. But Green Mountain College would only be upholding its own values by going through with its plan.

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