Dear Mrs. Champange,
I was glad to see a teacher�s response in the school newspaper. However, I do disagree with what you wrote. I understand that your response came from years of experience, but I feel that some information has been left out.
In the US, farms averaged well over 1,000 pigs as of October 2001, increasing 2.8 times per decade. Most smaller, family farms have been replaced by corporate-owned facilities, where animals are indeed "pumped with hormones," and mistreatments are over-looked. Hormones are not used in abundance at such smaller farms, because it is not cost effective. As to mistreatments, the owners may pay more attention to their animals than profits, as opposed to in the larger farms. I am happy to hear that these acts didn�t transpire at the farms in which you managed, but they do occur throughout the industry.
"Pecking order" refers to the relative ranking that often occurs between animals of the same species when they live in close proximity. Hens kept in battery cages are unable to fulfill basic behavioral needs. The resulting frustration and stress agitates their behavior such as excessive pecking. One cause is the abnormal restriction of the normal span of activities of a healthy, ranging fowl. Furthermore, chicken fights that result in death are extremely rare, so they wouldn�t "peak each other to death."
I hope you don�t mind, but I looked into a few of your facts. The principal sources of therapeutic insulin were pig and cattle, before 1982. However, there are now several ways of producing insulin in genetically engineered bacteria (which is actually better for people because this type can be made identically to that found in the human pancreas). Also, I couldn�t find that statistic about 40% of drugs being from pigs alone, but it does say, on the USDA�s website, that 40-50% of the drugs are tested on rodents, monkeys, and pigs. And, well, I don�t wear make-up, so I�ll just leave that one alone.
Yes, of course vegans know that meat isn�t the only product that comes from an animal. That�s the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. Before you wrote that part of the letter, maybe you should have "taken a walk across campus" to a vegan to ask some questions.
It is clear to any vegan that animal by-products are in just about everything. To be "100% animal-free" is impossible. Even some of the water that we drink is filtered using bone char (an animal by-product). Being vegan is about trying to reduce this usage as much as possible, while advancing animal rights simultaneously.
And no, I did not get my facts from PETA or some other source that may be considered biased. I went straight to the US Dept. of Agriculture (www.usda.gov), the Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov), and the United Nations� Food and Agriculture Organization (www.fao.org), for ALL of my information.
I know that we might never see eye-to-eye on this, because debates rarely ever come to a consensus. But thank you for replying to the article, and for continuing to promote the well-being of animals.