To the Editor:
Easter and Passover are my two favorite holidays, but I find it hard to rejoice over life and rebirth when I know that so many animals in this country are suffering and dying on factory farms. Inevitably, there will be millions of hams served at family celebrations this Easter, and brisket and numerous meat dishes offered at the yearly Seder. The purpose of this letter is not to judge, but to ask you respectfully to reconsider your holiday fare.
Two years ago, my oldest son wrote a fictional story about the plight of a factory farm pig for his University of Michigan college essay. Already a vegetarian, I was irrevocably changed by having read the essay. I did not know that piglets and sows in factory farms are confined to holding pens so small that they cannot even turn around to change their positions lying down. Neither did I know that piglets on factory farms are separated from their mothers when they are as young as 10 days old, and that they form strong bonds with other pigs and their mothers. I decided to do my own research of the conditions on factory farms, reading online information distributed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). I was horrified to learn of the many pig deaths which occur from neglect and abuse even before the slaughtering process. Sadly, roughly 121 million pigs are killed per year on factory farms in the U.S alone.
My intent is not to shock or disturb, but to simply plead with the reader to consider choices which are healthier physically and spiritually for this Easter season and beyond.
As a vegetarian, until now I have subsisted mostly on fruits and vegetables and grains, and plain tofu and eggs as sources of protein, and, of course, the ubiquitous Beyond Burger. I am beginning to explore the vegetarian and vegan markets for other plant-based meats, and I find myself delighted by all of the more interesting non-meat options which are available at our local grocery stores and online. I thought I would throw out a few of the more exotic choices. For your Easter meal, you might try Tofurky Ham Roast. There are two varieties that I know of: A Roast with Amber Ale Glaze and one prepared with a Marinade. Field Roast also makes a “Celebration Vegan Roast.” I can personally vouch for their plant-based links. They are a delicious alternative to pork sausages. The Herbivorous Butcher makes a ham roast also, and if you are up for more extravagant fare, Worthington Plant Based Lightly Seasoned Ham Roll sells a 4-pound case for $132.95. The choices of plant-based links are numerous (the Village Market carries High Peak, which are very tasty), but you will probably want to stick to the ham rolls to replicate a more traditional Easter meal.
Lastly, you might want to celebrate the environment this Easter! Hold an outdoor picnic if the weather is fair. Did you know that agricultural run-off is the number one source of pollution in our waterways, and that by simply choosing meat alternatives, we can greatly reduce the amount of manure which pollutes our air and streams?
There is so much you can do to help animal welfare by doing as little as switching around the contents of your shopping cart. On behalf of vegetarians and vegans, I urge you to start truthfully celebrating life and rebirth this Spring by switching to plant-based products. You will be all the more happy and healthy for it!