Opinion: You’re not doing the environment a favor by eating chicken instead of beef

4–week–old Leghorn chicks in Valley Center, CA.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Peter Singer and Karen Dawn suggest that chicken production may be less environmentally degrading than beef, but this claim is disputable. A study possibly behind this assertion, by the National Academy of Sciences published in 2014, focused only on the environmental impact of feeding these animals. (“Thinking of giving up red meat? Half measures may end up increasing animal suffering,” Opinion, Oct. 16)

The chicken industry in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States mirrors the poultry industry’s baleful effect on the environment. More than 5,000 chicken houses hold a half a billion birds at any given time on a tiny strip of land. The 750,000 tons of waste produced annually by these captive birds has made the poultry industry the primary polluter of the Chesapeake Bay and coastal bays of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. 

Comparing the production of chickens and cows environmentally is like comparing rotten apples and oranges: Neither is “better.” 

Karen Davis, Machipongo, Va.


The writer is president of United Poultry Concerns.


To the editor: As I read this piece, the words of theologian Albert Schweitzer came to mind: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

Thanks to activists shining the light on the extreme cruelties of animal agriculture, more and more people are changing their diets. Clearly, an educated consumer is the meat, dairy and egg industries’ worst nightmare.


As plant-based eating moves from the margins to the mainstream, it has never been easier to make the transition. Most favorite dishes are now available in versions without animal products. Vegan diets are humane, more healthful and environmentally friendly. What are you waiting for?

Stewart David, Venice, Fla.

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