News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

October 1, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Oct. 1, 2012

TERRE HAUTE —

Transition away from meat diet

Extreme drought has doubled the cost of animal feedstuffs. Undercover investigations documented male chicks suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death, their female counterparts crammed for life in tiny wire-mesh cages, pigs clobbered with metal pipes, and assorted farm animals skinned and dismembered at the slaughterhouse while still conscious.

A study of more than 120,000 people by the Harvard School of Public Health confirmed once again that meat consumption raises the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan warned that routine use of antibiotics to promote animal growth in factory farms is causing “the end of modern medicine.”

No wonder U.S. per capita meat consumption has been dropping by nearly 4 percent annually.

October offers excellent opportunities for dropping animal products from our diet. The month kicks off with World Vegetarian Day and World Farm Animals Day on Oct. 1 and 2, respectively. It continues with World Food Day on Oct. 16, and Food Day on Oct. 24.

Entering “live vegan” in a search engine brings lots of useful transition tips.

— Theo Mattson

Terre Haute

Put experience into real action

Finally, the intent to provide a constructive advocacy viewpoint has overcome my reluctance to create a potential current of “righteous indignation.”

Mark Bennett’s Sept. 23 article informed readers of the recent “exercise in hunger” conducted by several participants. Mr. Bennett described their collective experience with the word, empathy. Their exclusive and collective experiences were not, and never will be, empathetic, in this regard — only sympathetic.

Empathy requires much more that “walking a mile in another’s shoes.” Real empathy is a result of emotional and psychological identity with another’s plight. Existing on $30 of food for one week is not an empathetic experience as it simply allows those participants to better understand that a minimum “quantity and quality” of food can’t be maintained for a normal family spending just $30 a week.

All who chose to participate in this endeavor should be applauded for their pursuit of understanding. Without such learning, little can be done to prevent, control, or eradicate the underlying, abhorrent condition.

Now, go beyond the economic limitation and food deprivation, and try to empathize: get a sense of the doubt, fear, anger and bewilderment of children and parents; the loss of self-esteem and dignity that are constant companions of economic and social inequities. Tomorrow, I could wear a tutu and tights and walk in “toe slippers,” but I won’t appreciate, understand, or experience the life and times of being a ballerina.

None of us can replicate the traditions, experiences and perceptions of another, by simply creating a dramatic representation or “snapshot” of their life. If we want to “crawl inside the skin” of another, we must think beyond the superficial. Our purpose can’t be limited to self-congratulatory back-patting, and then return to our nice houses and well-stocked pantries.

What each of “YOU” now chooses to do with the “knowledge and appreciation” you claim to have acquired is far more important to the problem and condition, than having experienced a temporary food sacrifice. This challenge you accepted should not be allowed to fade away, as have many other well-intentioned, sanctimonious actions of the “haves.” Put the newfound compassion and spirit of action to good work, and you will create wonders.

— James Camp

Terre Haute

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