Eating meat is bad for us and our planet

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Scott C. Vigder's Feb. 22 letter to the editor "Her Vegan Agenda" reads like a how-to manual for maintaining the status quo or -- worse yet -- an insider's guide to employing the same tired strategies that have been used for years to discredit voices rising up for change.

In her Feb. 15 Perspectives article "No Meat for Two Weeks?" Susan Levin summarizes a number of well-supported, widely accepted facts linking the consumption of animal products to an increased risk for heart disease, colon cancer and food-borne illness outbreaks. Sadly, all Mr. Vigder seems to offer in response is mud-slinging: Discrediting her credentials (is the director of nutrition education a "pseudo-authority"?), hinting at a predatory "agenda" to take away everyone's meat, and let's not forget the hallmark strategy used to discredit women everywhere: accusing them of being emotional and unstable by using phrases like "running around," "waving their arms" and "obsessing."

Fortunately, more and more Americans are realizing that our nation's reliance on animals as food has contributed not only to the personal health crises that Ms. Levin cites, but to deforestation, climate change, water pollution, antibiotic resistance and animal cruelty. Even as high an "authority" as the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed that "vegetarian [and vegan] eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes -- lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower total mortality."

Mr. Vigder is correct to point out that poor health is caused by far more factors than meat consumption alone, but to ignore the impact of this one very large factor is to miss the proverbial elephant in the room. After all, let's not forget that even "the guy who routinely orders chili-cheese fries" has a made a poor choice ... that's two-thirds meat and cheese.

NIKI PENBERG
Lawrenceville


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