I am a regular reader of your column on Thursdays in the Poughkeepsie
I enjoyed your account of the winter block party in your neighborhood.
Bringing people together is always good. Social networks are as important as
diet and exercise in staying healthy.
I was glad to hear that you did not care to consume venison burgers because you
see deer running around your backyard.
Have you ever been to either The Catskill or Woodstock Farm Animal
Sanctuaries, both located here in the Hudson Valley? Kathy Stevens is director
of the Catskill Sanctuary and has written an enlightening book, "Where The Blind
Horse Sings". It is about her experiences with the animals there, and the
stories are sweet, some funny and many poignant. Kathy often says that if more
people knew that the animals that are farmed in such deplorable conditions have
feelings and personalities, feel pain, express emotions and love their families
and relate to humans, they would really consider if they want to keep eating
them. A chicken, she says, will jump up in your lap, demanding a hug.
You wrote that you chose quiche and cheese sticks instead of deer meat. If
you had known the cows who produced the milk you would have found them friendly
and loving. Did you know that at dairies the calves are taken away at birth or
very shortly after? The owner of a Hudson Valley Organic dairy lets calves nurse
for only two days. He says that if the cow is nursing she "holds back" her milk.
(As she should, that is what nature intended it for.) Those who have heard the
cries of both the cow and calf upon separation say they are heartbreaking. Dairy
cows today are manipulated to give ten times as much milk as they did in the
1950's. The irritation of the milking machine causes irritation, many cows have
mastitis. The USDA has an allowable standard for pus in milk. Male cows are
useless for dairy, they are slaughtered early, many raised for a few agonizing
weeks in veal crates. The females are artificially inseminated when old enough
to produce a calf so that they can follow their mothers as milk producers.
Dairying, even, organic, is not benign. The cows do not have a life they would
choose, and they too are slaughtered for meat when they can no longer produce
the required amount of milk.
Dairy is not healthful as we have been led to believe. Animal agriculture
causes more greenhouse gasses than transportation does. So, there are three good
reasons to consider how much and if we consume it at all.
A cousin recently said to me that she admired the fact that I think about
these things and then act upon them. She said she too thinks about them, but
"only for a minute" and has not changed her diet.
I too had a recent experience of standing in the cold for two hours, it was
at a Food Conference in Connecticut where I watched three goats being
slaughtered and then skinned and butchered. It seems we can handle the cold when
a good time is being had or when a very emotionally upsetting experience is
No, I did not eat the goat meat that night. I gave up meat in 1993 and dairy
in 1995. I find it a good way to be in this world.
I look forward to a reply,
Roberta Schiff, President
Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society