Thank you for your excellent article about how our meat-centric diet is contributing to global warming ("Meat of the matter," Metro Times, July 30). We can easily afford to eat fewer animal products. After all, there isn't exactly an epidemic of people with protein deficiencies. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find even one person who got sick from a lack of protein.
Your article says that such a change would be a very big change. Would it really? Most people already eat some vegetarian meals: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bean burritos or tostadas, etc. To eat lower on the food chain, just eat one more of these vegetarian meals each week.
Next, make minor modifications. Many people eat cereal for breakfast. To make those meals animal-free, use soy or rice milk. Experiment until you find the one you enjoy most. For me, it was plain rice milk. As another example, salads are easily made vegan by leaving out any cheese and using a nondairy-based dressing. Add marinated beans or soy nuggets to make the meal more filling.
Then go a step further by exploring new vegetarian options. For example, I never realized how delicious hummus and falafel sandwiches were until I tried to eat meat-free. Virtually all restaurants, especially ethnic restaurants, have at least one item on the menu that's vegetarian.
If people would start making modest changes to reduce their meat consumption, it would add up to big changes. —Chuck Altman, Royal Oak
Follow the money
If the federal government cut subsidies to factory farms, and states created laws banning them on health, animal welfare and environmental reasons, maybe Americans would cut meat consumption due to higher prices and pocketbook pressure. That's the only thing that seems to work.
—Joellen Gilchrist, Beverly Hills
Stop the cruelty
Thank you for the article about environmental effects of eating meat. Another great reason to stop eating meat is to stop animal cruelty. Cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals suffer greatly on the modern factory farm. They do not get to roam freely on big, open green pastures as some may still believe. They typically are confined in overcrowded conditions indoors in their own feces. Dairy cows are rarely allowed to nurse their young. The male calves who are not slaughtered right way are taken from their mothers shortly after birth and placed in a veal crate so small, they cannot even turn around for 18-20 weeks. Egg-laying hens spend their lives immobilized in small wire cages. The industry standard for these cages is too small for the birds to even spread one wing.
Slaughter practices are also inhumane. Cows are often still alive and conscious as they are dismembered body part by body part. Pigs are often still alive when they are dipped into scalding hot water to remove their fur.
Luckily there is something we can do. By adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, we can save many animals from this suffering. Learn about plant-based diets at tryveg.com. —William McMullin, Mt. Morris
I wanted to write briefly and thank you for the "City Mission" article (Metro Times, July 30). I am also LDS, and appreciate the church and our missionaries being represented in a realistic and positive light. We believe very strongly in our faith, as do our youth, evidenced by their paying their own way to serve their fellow men and the happiness they have in doing so. Thank you again, —Timothy Hale, Salt Lake City, Utah
I am writing in response to Jack Lessenberry's article "Stem cell spin" (Metro Times, July 16). As much as you criticized those involved in the stem cell debate of being "guilty of distortions on this issue," I believe you also provided some misinformation in your article as well.
First, it is a great generalization to say that "fundamentalist religious groups think stem cell research is evil and bad." There is a huge difference between adult and embryonic stem cell research — the first of which is condoned by Catholics and religious people, the latter of which is not because it is the taking of a human life. Why would it be right to destroy one human life for the purpose of possibly saving another?
Maybe the difference in opinion comes into play in the fact that Catholics believe that faith and reason are not opposed to each other. All truth comes from God — even scientific truths — but science should never be used in opposition to the dignity of the human person (from embryos to the elderly). In fact, Catholics keep up with modern science so much that they recognize what has been discovered and confirmed by modern technology, such as ultrasounds and modern-day embryologists, which tell us that an embryo is in fact a human life (not "tiny microscopic groups of a handful of cells").
You did not mention once in your article anything about adult stem cell research. The many successes of this research are major reasons why so many people oppose embryonic stem cell research. First of all, there have already been more than 70 successful cures using adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood. There have been no successful cures to date using embryonic stem cell research. Common sense would say that it would be smarter to continue the work that has been successful, rather than keep dumping large sums of money that might never actually be successful in saving or improving existing human lives — especially in such difficult economic times. —Monica Majcher, Orchard Lake
Cells and sects
Your spin on embryonic stem cell research is far more advanced than those you criticize. I suggest you read up on the current science involving adult stem cells without the use of embryos. This science, which I can support as it does not interfere with a living being, also brings jobs and opportunities to Michigan.
Should we accept embryonic research because the cells will be discarded anyway? We are all going to die. Does that excuse the destruction of any of us? I believe that farming embryos knowing they will be discarded is also wrong and the laws that protect it should be changed. —Sue Jones, Grand Blanc
I'm writing regarding your issue of July 16. After Jack Lessenberry wrote a column critical of guns, I expected someone to write in protest. Sure enough, some guy wrote from Texas complaining that cars kill more kids. That may be true, but I can't recall anyone going postal on a school campus with an automobile!
The next letter was a plea from a local bar-owner moaning that she may be forced to have a smoke-free environment. She states that she expects to lose business. Doesn't she realize that there are people who would like to drink in a friendly, cosmopolitan atmosphere but don't because they can't stand smelling like an ashtray afterward?
Then there's a story in News Hits about the cops coming-down on the pants drooping-down in Flint. One aspect of this that wasn't mentioned in the article is the sexist attitude involved. Meaning: I notice that the cops aren't harassing women for wearing tank tops with their bra straps showing, or even — gasp! — their bra-cups! Somehow that apparently escapes their assessment of "indecent exposure." —Don Handy, Mt. Clemens