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I was unaware that our world is plagued by an overabundance of compassion. So it baffles me that Howard Witt would snidely ridicule a day devoted to increasing public awareness about the terrible plight of the tens of billions of farmed animals who are killed worldwide each year and the related negative consequences (City Desk, “No Meat, No Taste,” 9/28).

A handful of people—with names like Perdue, Murphy, and Tyson—get enormously rich from exploiting animals, workers, consumers, and the environment. But an outrageous price is exacted to accomplish that end. As intensive factory-farming operations become increasingly prevalent, so do cruel and squalid conditions for chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows. And as Gail Eisnitz thoroughly documented in her 1997 investigatory book, Slaughterhouse, the meat industry is also an extremely dangerous place for its employees, callously regarded as expendable.

Furthermore, each year in the United States, almost three-fifths of all deaths are from diet-related causes closely linked to meat, dairy, and egg consumption. That’s 1.3 million Americans. Millions more must contend with the grim realities and high costs of heart attacks, colon cancer, prostate cancer, kidney failure, obesity, and other consequences of the meat-oriented “standard American diet.” Additionally, according to a 1997 U.S. Senate report, U.S.-farmed animals produce 1.37 billion tons of manure annually, much of which winds up polluting our streams, rivers, and lakes, and fouling our air and publicly owned lands used for grazing.

As a physician and a citizen, I find this unhealthy state of affairs appalling—which is why I always encourage people to drop animal products from their diet and go vegetarian.

Annandale, Va.