Letter to the editor: A response to Little Village’s ‘War on Meat’ issue

Didi, a rabbit resident of the Iowa City Animal Center in 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

By Zoë Woodworth, Coralville

Firstly, my overall response to the “War on Meat” issue. When I first saw the cover of this issue, I thought, “Cool!” I assumed the issue would contain some discussion of the environmental, ethical and economical merits of plant-based diets and how adopting a plant-based diet is one of the most direct things you can do to stick it to Big Ag and factory farms. Zoe Pharo and Paul Brennan’s excellent article, “Then They Came for the Pork Chops” does touch on this point, and for that I am grateful to the authors. I was disappointed, though, that the larger “War on Meat” theme of the issue played out, seemingly, as a celebration of meat — specifically, of locally “farmed” meat.

“OK, well, whatever,” I thought, “that’s their jam this issue.” In my view, eating an animal that was killed artisanally versus industrially is marginally better, I guess? But it’s still horrific to me — you’re still killing an animal, and I personally don’t understand why so many people are OK with that.

Then I encountered Malcolm MacDougall’s article, “The other, other, other white meat,” about raising rabbits for meat. As a vegetarian and past volunteer at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center — where pet rabbits are regularly available for adoption — his article elicited a strong reaction of horror from me. It raises the concern that people will start adopting pet rabbits from animal shelters or off Facebook marketplace or Craigslist with the intention of slaughtering and eating them. I think it is unethical to publish an article encouraging people to kill an animal that is readily available as a pet. Iowa is one of the worst states for animal abuse to begin with; we don’t need to encourage individuals with no background in animal husbandry to start killing rabbits at home.

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