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letters | deciding the fate of college’s farm animals

Killing animals for their meat is a choice we can reject

Editor’s note: After a controversy over a plan to slaughter two oxen at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., and serve the meat in the campus dining hall, one of the oxen was euthanized over the weekend. The other remains on campus.

The planned slaughter of two oxen at Green Mountain College’s farm may have represented a “lesson in sustainability,” as your Nov. 10 editorial suggests; however, this is questionable given the environmental downsides of meat production in general. But the heartfelt student protest against the slaughter illustrates a much bigger point: It is hard to mindlessly kill when you experience the targets as living creatures with their own personalities and feelings, including affection, curiosity, fear, pain, and a strong will to live.

Although farm animals are not pets, promoting insensitivity toward farm animals reflects a convenient but arbitrary distinction based on which specific animals we let into our hearts.

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The implications stretch beyond the idiosyncratic situation at Green Mountain. Every day huge numbers of animals are slaughtered for their meat. Yet in developed countries like ours, this is unnecessary. Millions of people eat delicious, healthy, satisfying diets that are meat-free and cruelty-free. In this context, killing animals to obtain their flesh for our tables is a personal choice, supported by psychological denial or willful callousness about what meat means in terms of inflicting suffering. Is this really a choice to be proud of?

Elizabeth Levy

Merrick

Somerville

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