Agricultural youth in our nations Universities tremendously inspirational...Here is my point, great job Drew.....Trent

LETTER: Meat and dairy just as beneficial as any other diet
I grew up on a ranch in the middle of North Dakota, where my family raises beef cattle. I am now a second-year veterinary student at Iowa State, and I plan on practicing food animal medicine. I read Sophie Prell’s March 31 article on vegetarianism, and I can’t disagree more with most of what she wrote.

I have no problem with people who don’t eat meat because they don’t like the taste. I do have a problem when people defend their choice by saying that animals are treated poorly.

Anyone who has spent time on an animal operation knows how much producers care about their animals. It’s in their best interest to have healthy, happy animals that will maximize production. Most producers spend more time with their animals than they do with their families.

We also need to look at what would happen if we banned eating meat, which is what groups like PETA would like to accomplish. Food production animals are provided food, water and protection and wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild today. To the people who say cattle and pigs should be set free to roam, because they were once wild? I hope you won’t mind giving up your dogs and cats, because they were wild too.

As for the ISU Vegan Club’s 10 reasons to “go veg,” there are several incorrect statements that I would like to address.

1.“Meat is almost always contaminated with E. coli.”

E. coli is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals. If meat gets contaminated it is during slaughter, just like fruits and veggies that get contaminated with salmonella during harvest. The bacteria is killed if meat is prepared correctly, and according to the CDC only 23 people out of every 100,000 in the US get infected with E. coli each year from all sources.

2. “Animals you eat are often fed the remains of mad cow-infected animals.”

“Mad cow disease” is the cattle form of a group of relatively new diseases caused by abnormal proteins, called prions. The outbreak in Britain in the 1990s was caused by contaminated meat and bone that was ground up and fed to cattle. In response to the outbreak, the United States banned the feeding of animal by-products to cattle in 1997. Cattle by-products can be fed to pigs, but there is no evidence that “Mad cow” can be transmitted to pigs. The United States has only had 3 cases of “Mad cow disease,” and one of those animals was imported from Canada. Only 3 people in the US have ever gotten the human form of the disease, and 2 of the 3 acquired it while living in Britain. Cattle are randomly tested during the slaughter process. The abnormal protein is only in the brain and spinal cord tissue, which are both removed during slaughter.

3. “Slaughterhouses send animals through the line still alive.”

It’s true that animals are alive before they are slaughtered. Animals are restrained, then stunned. This renders them unconscious so they don’t feel pain or exhibit reflexes. The animal has to be deemed unconscious before the slaughter process can continue. The animal is then bled out quickly, well before they regain consciousness. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has many regulations for the slaughter of animals. FSIS personnel must be present at all times if the facility is operating, and these personnel perform animal-by-animal inspection of all carcasses and ensure proper sanitation is being maintained.

4. “More than half of all water used in the US goes to the meat industry.”

The US Geological Society’s Summary of Water Use in 2000 stated that combined water use for livestock, aquaculture, and mining accounted for 3 percent of all water use, while irrigation for crops accounted for 34 percent. Even if all crops grown with irrigation water were fed to animals, those numbers combined wouldn’t account for more than half of the United State’s water use.

5. “Chickens have their beaks burned off.”

Shortly after a chick hatches the sharp point on its beak is blunted. This is done to decrease injury by pecking other chickens, similar to why we dehorn cattle. It is for the chicken’s protection. Stress levels are comparable to cutting the umbilical cord of a newborn.

6. “Huge amounts of grain are used to feed animals that could be used to feed humans.”

I can’t argue this one much; food that isn’t eaten by one animal can be eaten by another. But, any industries use grains to produce a product. Ethanol production in 2007 used 14 percent of our corn crop, and that number is expected to climb to 30 percent by 2010. When we take into account the fuel used to plant, harvest, and transport the corn used for ethanol, one gallon of fossil fuel is used to produce 1.3 gallons of ethanol. At least animal production creates food that humans can eat.

7. “Vegan diets lower your risk for diseases.”

A low fat and cholesterol diet lowers our risk for certain diseases. A vegan diet is also not without risk. People eating a strict vegan diet are also more likely to get osteoporosis, rickets, and even anemia. Animal products are high in calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, and protein that would be deficient in an all vegan diet. Total calorie intake can also pose a problem. Children who follow a vegan diet have also had slower growth than those that eat animal products, and vegan women who are pregnant need to take iron and vitamin supplements. Poorly planned vegan diets can result in infant malnutrition and fatalities.

The inaccuracy of these “facts” shows that our own Vegetarian/Vegan Club is no better than PETA or the Humane Society. They all conjure up numbers and stories at their own discretion and portray them as fact. I hope people can think for themselves and see that meat and dairy products, when part of a complete diet, can be just as healthy and beneficial as any other diet.

Drew Magstadt


Veterinary Medicine