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The Pain of Animals

In response to:

Food Tips for Christmas from the December 19, 2013 issue

letters_1-020614.jpg
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II/Royal Collection Trust
Anthony van Dyck: The Five Eldest Children of Charles I, 1637; from Francis Haskell’s The King’s Pictures, reviewed by Charles Hope in this issue

To the Editors:

I was appalled that in Jason Epstein’s review of Dana Goodyear’s book on extreme eating [NYR, December 19, 2013] not a single mention is made of the fact that the penises, brains, hearts, and whole embryos that are now de rigueur to consume by our haute cuisine establishment derive from sentient creatures. These animals are all capable of sophisticated behaviors that, would they occur in people, are associated with empathy, attachment, curiosity, metacognition, and conscious awareness. Maybe even food writers and their critics can acknowledge this uncomfortable truth and face up to their ethical blindness.

Christof Koch, Ph.D.
Author of Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist
Seattle, Washington

Jason Epstein replies:

We are omnivores. We eat anything edible including ourselves. I deeply regret the suffering of animals but there are not enough vegetarians to solve the problem. Even Adolf Hitler, a vegetarian himself according to his intimates, with absolute power over those in his net, could do nothing to prevent this pain. I wish it were different but we are what we are.

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