Letter to PETA and Their Response

A little over a month ago, I happened upon a web site affiliated with PETA (they have multiple sites) containing an article detailing the many benefits of living a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. I left a comment discussing why vegetarian and vegan diets can be damaging both to the planet and our health. Karen Dickerson, Correspondence Assistant for PETA, personally sent me a response and I wanted to share it with my readers.

I’d like to point out that I fully supported each argument against vegetarian/vegan diets, and some of the responses that were given make it seem as though I had not provided a logical explanation behind the argument.  For instance, I stated that those who eat humanely-raised, sustainable meat will consume less meat because their nutritional requirements would be met from eating real, healthy meat replete with nutrients. Her response was that realistically, this is just not possible with our current meat consumption rates – overlooking completely my statement about the fact that meat consumption would decrease if we were all eating sustainable meat.

Another point that came up is the “free range” phrase that gets thrown around a lot in packaging and marketing of food. I actually never used the term “free range” in my commentary to PETA, and here’s the reason why:  “Free range” is a marketing term used to lead the consumer to believe the animals or birds of whose meat or eggs you are consuming have been living a humane existence, and are able to roam around freely most of the time. In reality, “free range” might only mean the animals or birds receive access to outside installments for as little as 5 minutes a day!

It is also interesting to note that at least twice I mention the environmental destruction occurring due to the pesticides, chemicals, and genetically-modified seeds used in growing many legumes, grains, and vegetables that vegetarians eat. But nary a response to this argument can be found in Karen’s reply! One of the most aggravating points about vegetarian and vegan foods that seems to rarely sink in to those who consume them is the fact that all these soy, fake “meat”, and processed grain products (just to name a few) are some of the most unhealthy, incredibly environmentally-unfriendly items you can purchase and eat!

Please take a few minutes to read my commentary and the response that follows. Then leave your own comment at the bottom and let your voice be heard about this important issue!

I’d like to pose a slightly different view of sustainable living, which is that eating meat is not only perfectly acceptable, but a healthy part of being human – but only as long as you are eating organically-produced, sustainable meats from healthy animals where the farmers are treating them humanely.

As long as people support industrial farming, on any level (and that includes conventional farming of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts eaten by vegans and vegetarians), we will never get the message across about sustainability on our planet. If you are purchasing vegetarian and vegan products, a great deal of these are not produced in accordance with safety nor sustainability. Just consider many of the packaged, processed products marketed toward vegetarians and vegans – they are produced with pesticides, chemicals, and genetically-modified materials.

Until we educate and inform by pulling together to support truly sustainable, clean, ethical, humane farming, we will not make a drop of difference in our habits, health, nor future on planet earth.

Humane, sustainable animal farming uses less resources and maintains the principles of stewardship toward the land (some people argue that grains and vegetable farming uses less water and other resources than animal farming). By its very nature, sustainable animal farming helps to complete the circle of life – animals graze on grass instead of being fed corn, soy, or wheat which requires a great amount of resources to maintain and is usually grown with artificial methods. The land is tended to from the animals grazing on and living as nature intended, and there is no need for chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides (just ask Joel Salatin, well-known farmer living in Virginia who runs sustainable Polyface farm).

People who consume sustainable meats eat less meat because the meat is in balance with nature and provides the body the proper nutrients and nutrition – unlike factory farmed meat which is unhealthy all around. Those eating industrial meat (or any other industrially-produced product for that matter) are getting an imbalance of nutrients (not intended by nature) and are receiving toxic substances in the body as well. Please visit Agriculture Society for more information on truly sustainable living. Find out how you can make a difference!

Raine Saunders

The response:

Dear Raine,

Thank you for your comment posted on PETA Living regarding animal products that are considered “free range” or “humane.” While we understand your argument for compassionate, sustainable farming, we do not believe that it is realistic.

It is impossible to humanely raise and kill the billions of animals slaughtered each year in the U.S. to satisfy this country’s enormous appetite for food from animals. Even if workers on factory farms were willing to give each individual animal the time and attention necessary to promote humane conditions―and concern for animals’ wants and needs on factory farms is notoriously rare―they could not possibly attend to the countless animals who are enslaved and exploited to feed our current meat habit. As for animals’ chances for a peaceful death, euthanasia by painless injection―the only true form of humane killing―is impracticable in the case of animals raised for food because it renders their flesh inedible.

Unfortunately, animals raised on many “organic” or “free-range” farms suffer the same conditions that characterize factory farms. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which defines “free-range” and “free-roaming” for labeling purposes, relies “upon producer testimonials to support the accuracy of these claims,” which are, needless to say, highly biased and, for that reason, unreliable. Most eggs labeled “free range” come from hens who are raised in dark, overcrowded sheds, much like those used to confine “broiler” chickens. Even on “humane” farms, male chicks—of no use in egg “production”—are killed upon hatching, often by suffocation or being ground up alive. When they have outlived their “usefulness,” hens are killed since farmers’ need for high profits prevents them from continuing to feed and care for animals who no longer contribute to the bottom line.

Conditions on small dairy farms are similarly cruel. Male calves, considered useless because they can’t produce milk, are usually sold to the veal industry or to larger dairy farms and eventually slaughtered. Pigs, steers, and other animals raised for meat on “humane” farms are butchered in the same terrifying slaughterhouses as animals raised on factory farms. The intense fear and pain suffered by farmed animals are among the many reasons why we at PETA advocate a vegan diet. For more information on “free range” animal products, please visit http://www.GoVeg.com/organic.asp.

Not only do we not need to eat animals’ flesh; we’re healthier if we don’t. We can help ourselves as well as animals by switching to a vegan diet. By eliminating animal products, we can also help reduce our risk of countless diseases and other health problems, including strokes, osteoporosis, kidney stones, many cancers, diabetes, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, peptic ulcers, hernias, obesity, gallstones, hypertension, and asthma, among many others.

We have so many choices as consumers today that there’s simply no reason―or excuse―to continue to raise and slaughter animals for food. The only truly humane alternative to making animals suffer is to stop buying and consuming animal products―and it’s not as hard as you may think. For a free vegetarian starter kit packed with nutrition information, shopping tips, and recipes, please visit http://www.VegStarterKit.com.

Thanks again for your inquiry.


Karen Dickerson

Correspondence Assistant

The PETA Foundation

I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again:

It is much cheaper putting forth the effort to prevent disease in the first place than spending your money to pay to “find a cure”.

I’d love to hear everyone’s comments, thoughts, and rebuttals.

For a great article on the finer points of the unhealthy aspects of vegetarian and vegan diets, visit Nourished Kitchen’s “49 Reasons to be a Vegetarian – A Rebuttal“.

It is also important to note that the commentary I left on the PETA Living web site was not included in the list with other comments –  it was removed. Please visit the PETA Living web site and read some of their posts, including the one linked above (incidentally, there is another article which talks about support from the American Dietetic Association. And we all know how healthy their viewpoints are!).

This article is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit this site and read the other real food articles listed there.

15 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Winni said,

    Wow, it’s almost like they did not even read your comment at all. Certainly not past the first paragraph. And not a drop of research or a citation in sight within PETA’s response (except, of course, to send you to their sites). Somehow I don’t think you’ll be ordering a veg starter kit. Well written Raine. I wish everyone would read “The Vegetarian Myth” already. I have many vegan friends (some of whom are no longer my friends b/c I have a hard time keeping my moth shut as they shovel tons of soy into theirs), and I fear for their long term health.
    I have been following your blog for a while, but I’m a lazy commenter. thank you for the info.

  2. 3

    AS said,

    Yes, it really did seem as though she neither read my treatment of vegetarian diets thoroughly enough, nor did she acknowledge any of the valid points I made…especially with regard to the achieving goals we’d like to see as far as sustainable meats not being “realistic”. She says it’s “impossible” to attain this goal. I pose that it may be difficult, but certainly not impossible. There are already people doing it. If the model works, why not try to spread the methods of truly sustainable farming everywhere? Boy, people give up way too easily. And, all at the expense of our health and environment. Yes, I have had various people who think I’m crazy and probably lost friends over this topic. But it’s really just sad that people refuse to listen to reason and logic instead of just swallowing a mantra that a bunch of others are blindly following. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a wall!

  3. 4

    Jen said,

    In the case of PETA, it is apparant that you are talking to a wall (made of brick). She didn’t respond to your valid points AT ALL! Everything she mentioned is in regard to factory farms, and that includes the industrial “organic” farms and the marketing terms they use. Duh… you argued against that too! My guess is that she didn’t even bother to glance at anything about Joel Salatin, or Polyface farms. Her entire “response” sounds like the usual PETA propaganda. It’s sad, because there really isn’t much of gap in the ideals (regarding animal treatment) between PETA and real foodies. It’s simple… respect the animals and the earth, and you will be nourished well.

    I know my toddler thrives on his raw milk, pastured chicken and eggs, raw butter, grass fed beef, etc. purchased from local farms. I feel so sorry for all the vegetarian/vegan children being fed a constant diet or industrial waste (processed, pastuerized, GM soy).

  4. 5

    AS said,

    One thing I’ve noticed about extremists and those who are unknowledge-able about the sustainable model of living is that the whole “local” concept becomes lost and muddled. I know where just about all of my food comes from – my meat and raw milk come from a certified organic farm that only grass feeds their animals, and treat them humanely. My vegetables and many fruits are local in the spring and summer months (and some off-season due to local greenhouses), our chicken and eggs come from a local farm that pasture-raises their chickens. So it is possible to control your food sources with a little effort (and that effort is so worth it!). If more people did this, there would be more food growers producing food in this manner and we’d have enough food for everyone. It is sad thinking about all the innocent children who cannot affect where their food comes from who are forced to eat toxic garbage for their meals and are taught that it is healthy. I know for myself, one of the lowest points in my life health-wise was when I was a vegetarian. I was always tired, had heart palpitations, and felt sick to my stomach daily. It wasn’t until I awoke from my delusional fog of thinking I was healthy and really started eating that I began to realize good health.

  5. 6

    Her response was bad enough, but then they REMOVED your COMMENT??? My jaw is on the floor. It makes me think of a quote from the “Vegetarian Myth” book that talks about how “moral” vegetarians can only stay that way by NOT taking in any more information. (My paraphrase is way off, but you get the meaning.)


  6. 7

    AS said,

    Kelly – If you think about why my comment was removed, it makes perfect sense. My philosophy and reasoning doesn’t jive with theirs, and it would be unthinkable to have anyone who contradicts or goes against their viewpoint on their site, because – oh no, someone might read my comment and actually decide the PETA organization’s stance is wrong. Although, you would think they would want some lively debate and jump at the opportunity to refute the opposition (me). But perhaps they don’t want anyone having the chance to think for themselves? Who knows. Whatever the reason, it’s pretty unprofessional.

  7. 8

    Ren said,

    PETA’s tone-deaf, extreme agenda is tactically little different from that of Monsanto or ConAgra, whose interests they serve very well.

  8. 9

    AS said,

    Yes, isn’t it ironic that PETA might outwardly state how they abhor corporate interests such as Cargill, Nestle, Monsanto, ConAgra…but their practices speak otherwise.

  9. 10

    emily said,

    ugh PETA cannot be reasoned with at all, they choose to defy logic in thier ideology.

    this makes me laugh “euthanasia by painless injection” for animalsthat we eat? what a joke, even if it didn’t render the meat inedible.

  10. 11

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  11. 12

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  12. 13

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