Here are most of the letters published in the recent (ie current)
issue of TIME (some additional excerpts that formed a sidebar, are
omitted here, including some commentary from the chair of the
Christian Vegetarian Association, Dr. Stephen H. Webb).
Sunday, Jul. 28, 2002
Should We All Be Vegetarians?
"Being a vegetarian is a win-win situation. The animals win; the
environment wins; and people win by living healthier, longer lives."
Thank you for a very evenhanded, intelligent report on the trend
toward vegetarian and vegan diets [HEALTH, July 15]. It's encouraging
to see that, whether out of compassion for animals or a concern for
their own health (or both), people are starting to realize that it
doesn't pay to eat too far up on the food chain. Meat needn't be what
is for dinner. Factory farming is barbaric and cruel. Every person
who reduces the use of animals in his or her life is performing a
Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
Why praise food extremists like vegetarians? Our planet offers such
diversity in available foods, it seems almost rude not to better our
bodies with variety. Eat your steak, and have your broccoli too.
Variety is the spice of life.
I'm ready to be a vegetarian, but America's farmers, food producers,
restaurants and supermarkets are not prepared to support me. It's
much easier and less expensive to get a hamburger at McDonald's or
Chinese takeout or a roast chicken from the supermarket than it is to
take the time to shop for, assemble and cook a tasty, nutritious and
fulfilling vegetarian meal.
New York City
I've heard another term for pesco-pollo-vegetarians: beady-eyed
vegetarians. Basically, they'll eat things with beady eyes (lobster,
fish, chicken) but not with big, sad, Bambi eyes (cows, lambs). This
definition sounds flaky, but a friend of mine explained it by saying
he would eat only things he thought he could kill himself. He figures
he can kill a fish but not a cow. That seems like a more honest and
consistent rationale than some of the others I've heard.
I have been an ethical vegan for more than 10 years and have found
that there is great misunderstanding about vegan principles in our
society. While some vegetarians and vegans abstain from animals as a
matter of health, we ethical vegans don't want other animals to live
for us, nor do we want other animals to die for us, as they do for
food, clothing and wasteful scientific research. All animals live for
their own sake, not for mine.
Why do some people think animals and human beings are the same? In my
opinion, a human life is worth a lot more than an animal's. We must
stop thinking of meat eaters as killers. Vegetarians also kill
vegetable life. Is there any difference? Eat vegetables and meat;
both help you to be healthy and allow you to have all the nutrients
your body needs.
ENRIQUE S. LORES
I'm a second-generation vegetarian. My mom is an 87-year-old
vegetarian who still works out daily. All her friends who used to
make fun of her diet are, sadly, no longer with us.
Marina del Rey, Calif.
While we are quite rightly opposed to the death of creatures for the
purpose of feeding a gluttonous North American society, it is the
method employed in the raising of animals that is equally, if not
more, objectionable. In fact, for factory-farmed animals, death must
be a happy release from a life of sheer misery.
The answer to your question "Should You Be a Vegetarian?" is most
definitely yes! A vegetarian diet is healthier. Our ancestors
obviously would not have survived had they not been carnivores, but
there is no nutritional argument for meat eating today. Vegetarianism
is truly an evolutionary step forward.
JAMES L. HARDEMAN, M.D.
After listening to vegetarians who argue for sparing the lives of
animals, I have to ask, Why is eating a live oyster a greater crime
than eating a live broccoli stalk plucked from the garden bed?
JOHN LASKAS SR.