Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
I wanted to commend Rainer Ebert for bringing up a problem that is generally ignored by all except for a small proportion of the population ("Acts of animal attrocities are no rare occurence in today's society" Oct. 27). The way we treat animals in our society is not only inconsistent but irresponsible, but we can decide to change it. Humans are fortunate to have the level of intelligence that has allowed us to take control of our lives and be at the "top of the food chain." However, with this intelligence and ability comes a responsibility to be respectful of other animals that don't have the same ability to manipulate their environment. Animals born in domestication are at our mercy, and the least we can do is treat them respectfully and allow them to have a decent life while they are under our captivity Clearly, humans do have the ability and the desire to treat animals compassionately. This desire to treat animals well is acted upon by the millions of pet owners in this country who would do anything to make their pet happy. Through owning a pet, people learn that although humans are the most intelligent animals, we are not the only complex beings who seek out pleasure and try to avoid pain. We have quite a bit in common with our dogs and cats. At the same time, though, people try not to think about the fact that we have quite a bit in common with the animals confined in factory farms: pigs, cows, and to a lesser degree, poultry. Animals on factory farms are generally raised in extreme confinement in puddles of their own feces with little space to move. In the United States, cattle are often fed corn based diets to make them as fat before slaughter. The problem is that their digestive systems are not meant to handle corn, so their diet often makes them sick. Tens of thousands of chickens, bred to be too fat to move properly, are crammed into each shed, where they have to be fed antibiotics to avoid the spread of deadly infections. (See "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer if you want to learn more.) Many people say that they understand there is a problem with our treatment of animals, but a regular person can't do anything about it. That is wrong. If enough regular people do something, the system will gradually change. Here are some things any Rice student can do. I. Email David McDonald, the Director of Housing and Dining at email@example.com, and tell him you care about having humanely raised animal products in the servery. He loves hearing student input, and he actually wishes he had to deal with more student activism. II. Make some changes in the animal products you purchase. This could mean becoming a vegan or a vegetarian, but there are many smaller steps you can take as well. You can purchase humanely raised animal products from the farmers market instead of buying meat from fast food restaurants and supermarkets (or you can purchase organic animal products that must be raised to meet a certain humane standard). You can consume less meat and eat more vegetable proteins like beans, lentils, quinoa, peanuts, soy and tofu instead. You can look to buy synthetic materials instead of leather and fur. III. Let other people know if you think this is a problem. This can be your congressperson, your family or your friends. If more people realize they can act to end this problem, more people will do something about it.
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