I couldn’t let the Dec. 31 Green Plate Special column, “Veal can be the green meat to eat,” go unanswered.

I ask your readers not to be hoodwinked into perceiving veal as simply a maligned and misunderstood “food.” Veal is the flesh of powerless young animals, killed at 6 months old. The author’s assertion that these animals are now “processed” more “humanely and sustainably” is ludicrous. The beef industry is neither humane nor sustainable – and veal is no exception.

The author implies that the slaughter of a juvenile calf is now an “ethical choice” if the animal was not raised in a small crate – but it’s the killing that counts, not how stress-free the animal was just before death.

Almost 30 years ago, I became a vegetarian, after reading Jeremy Rifkin’s book “Beyond Beef.” I was disturbed by the environmental damage caused by the cattle industry, and also looking to my future health, to cut my odds of colon cancer and heart disease.

Many people, my own family included, have an almost religious fervor about their right to consume animal flesh. The same used to be true of smokers. But awareness of secondhand smoke as a societal burden changed things. One day, we’ll look back at all meat eating as a barbaric and unhealthy phase in human evolution. And veal will be among the first atrocities taken off the table.

I suggest that every meat eater visit a slaughterhouse at some time. My dad took me to one when I was 16, and sparked a growing compassion for all creatures. The terror of half-stunned pigs, their throats casually slit, the ducks playing in rivers of blood running from the factory – it’s enough to give anyone second thoughts, not just about veal, but about all forms of meat eating.

Matt Power

Portland