To the editor:

Paige Kieffer’s recent column about vegetarians and vegans highlights a topic that’s becoming more mainstream every day. She’s right to question why some of her friends and relatives have such a limited view of this dietary choice, because veganism, particularly, can be applauded from several different perspectives.

If you are a compassionate person and have not been living under a rock, you know the factory farming industry — which supplies 99% of the meat, dairy and eggs we consume — brutalizes billions of sentient animals every year with extreme confinement and denial of natural behaviors. To minimize disease in these harsh conditions, it grossly overuses antibiotics, allowing super-resistant strains of bacteria to emerge — a dangerous threat to human health. If that isn’t scary enough, consider that many experts predict a future pandemic, more virulent than COVID, will very likely be spawned on a factory farm. One who refrains from using any animal products — that is, a vegan — refuses to support such cruelty and irresponsibility.

If you are a knowledgeable environmentalist, you know that the production of animal protein uses hugely disproportionate amounts of water compared to vegetable protein, puts tons of toxic waste on the ground and into waterways and, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, rivals the auto industry in its production of man-made greenhouse gases.

And if you are knowledgeable about nutrition and health, you know that those who consume whole-food, plant-based diets (that is, vegans) experience lower rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, many cancers and other chronic conditions, and have longer life expectancy overall than carnivores. And the burgeoning vegan food market is presenting us with new surprises every day, as blindfolded taste testers are unable to tell which of two burgers is created from plants and which from a slaughtered animal.

Whether it’s for animal compassion, the health of the planet, human health, tasty food or any combination thereof, veganism rises to the challenge. Good luck, Paige; I hope you can stay the course this time!

Kathy Coughlin

Oak Grove

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