The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973

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'Methodist Recorder' debate (1996) Letters

How about the cows?

I was pleased to see the article which highlighted the solidarity between Victoria Hall in Sheffield and rural communities suffering from the present beef crisis (Recorder, April 4). I am sure that all Methodists will want to offer support to the farming communities in Britain at this difficult time, as well as to the subsidiary industries in our towns - the slaughterhouses, food processing plants and so on.

But how about the cows? Will we offer our support to them? We are told that the government is still considering the slaughter of over 10,000 cows over 30 months old per week. Before Christmas a quarter of a million cattle could be dead. Why? Because it will decrease the chance of us catching BSE? Not at all. Why then? Because the government and the European Commission and the Farmers' Union and so many other people say that the market has to be placated. They say that if these cattle aren't killed, then the market will not recover and the whole beef industry will collapse. And so we begin another slaughter of the innocents?

Am I alone in finding this repulsive? Why should perfectly healthy and useful animals be sacrificed on the altar of market forces? Is there no other way than by destroying cattle worth millions of pounds - by Christmas we could have thrown away 163,200,000. What could be done with that amount of money? Southampton Hospital Trust has said it can no longer afford to treat terminally ill cancer patients - it cannot afford to "give them time". But we can afford to slaughter perfectly healthy animals in a grotesquely bloody advertising campaign?

I suppose those who understand economics better will be writing to me to tell me how a collapsed beef industry would lead to a mass slaughter in any case. I just think it is so wrong, so unjust, that we can wash our hands clean of BSE by destroying another part of God's creation so wantonly. For me it is just another sign of our domination of creation rather than stewardship - we exploit the world God has given to us rather than care for it and allow it to nourish us. Indeed, why was it that we have BSE - because someone decided it would be a good idea to feed animal food products to grass eating cows!

Perhaps the Faith and Order committee could come up with an Act of Repentance after the Rape of Creation - our society has desperate need of it.

Rev Peter Phillips (25/4/96)

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