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An Open Letter To Whole Foods Market

No cow destined for a dinner plate is ever happy
No cow destined for a dinner plate is ever happy
Public Domain

A long-overdue hello to all who subscribe to this site and welcome to those who are finding this for the first time. It's been a long time since I've posted an article here and the time feels right to return.

If this cow was ever happy, it certainly isn't anymore
Public domain

The following letter was inspired (triggered, really) upon receipt of an email from Whole Foods Market advertising a sale on "grass-fed beef". I have emailed it to their customer service address and have decided to post it here as well. I urge anyone who reads this to write your own letters to Whole Foods Market and/or other organizations you would like to see make positive changes in a world that so desperately needs them. Perhaps you will inspire change, perhaps not. The idea is to take the action you wish to take; the results are out of our hands. Planting a seed does not always require that we stay on as cultivators...

"Your proper concern is alone the action of duty, not the fruits of the action. Cast then away all desire and fear for the fruits, and perform your duty" - The Bhagavad Gita

Dear Whole Foods Market:

When I went vegan in 2004, I was at a loss as to where I might find quality vegan options in my area. A friend said, "You can't go wrong at Whole Foods!" and I began shopping at your stores. I have been a loyal customer ever since, however I have begun to think that Whole Foods itself may be going wrong in some very important respects.

I am becoming more and more disillusioned at some of what I see and would like to express a few concerns that I hope you will listen to and forward to the appropriate entities in your company for their consideration.

The email I received today advertises your sale on grass-fed beef. I take issue with the words Whole Foods has carefully chosen, as I find them to be deceptive and tainted with the language of denial. "Beef" cannot be fed. Beef cannot eat. Beef is inanimate. Beef is the bloody remains of what were, in this case, grass-fed cows. I imagine consumers would be hesitant to purchase such a product were it labeled more truthfully. At the very least, they might pause and think about where their nicely packaged beef comes from.

I recall one afternoon standing at the deli counter in my local Whole Foods. The centerpiece under glass that day was a whole roasted piglet, eyes replaced with olives, lying in state like a tragic burn victim, a portion of its shoulder carved away to reveal the white bone beneath. I stood repulsed and sickened as tears welled in my eyes at the sad sight of someone so young and innocent lying lifeless and on sale. Ironically, as horrific as I found that sight to be, it was presented much more honestly that the ubiquitous, ambiguous shrink-wrapped animal parts offered elsewhere in the store.

I understand and accept that deception and manipulation are inherent in advertising, however I am equally aware that, by the time they've made it to your shelves, these grass-fed cows are no longer grazing as they have been mercilessly slaughtered for human consumption, and this I find unacceptable. No matter how you slice it (pun intended), "grass-fed" and "humanely-raised" are still, in the end, brutally killed.

While some applaud Whole Foods and its efforts toward increasing the welfare of animals confined on factory farms, I cannot because, while there is obvious merit in reducing this type of animal suffering, it sends a rather overt message that so long as you treat an animal with some level of kindness during its confinement (and the definition of such "kindness" is specious at best when one realizes that it is inherently unkind to keep animals prisoner in the first place), it's acceptable to eventually kill that individual to satisfy human gluttony. Animals confined in such situations are essentially kept as slaves, and even the kindest slave owner is still a slave owner.

It is a terrible contradiction to ask that animals be treated humanely while continuing to profit from their slaughter. This does not sound like animal welfare to me. Rather, it sounds like what it is - premeditated murder.

I ask that Whole Foods, as a forward-thinking industry leader, discontinue the sale of animal products (including fish and other sea animals, the often-overlooked silent victims of human consumption) and its support of organizations that continue to enslave, abuse and slaughter helpless and terrified animals yearly by the billions. I ask that Whole Foods take this positive action to show the world it is possible and beneficial on every conceivable level to live as a truly humane society. I ask that Whole Foods be a pioneer in treating with mercy the animals over which we as a society currently wield the power to kill at will. To paraphrase a quote from Schindler's List, power is when we have permission to kill, and we don't.

It is no longer a secret that human beings can survive and thrive on plant-based vegan diets. I know this, John Mackey knows this and millions of others throughout the world know this. To have this knowledge and yet continue to be complicit in the systematic slaughter of animals for food and other conveniences is unconscionable at best and sociopathic at worst. There is no valid excuse for continuing this behavior, and I ask Whole Foods to join those of us who have made the choice to walk out of the darkness of denial into the light of truth and compassion.

I thank you for taking the time to read this message and again ask that you would kindly forward it to the appropriate entities in your company for their consideration.

Respectfully,

Keith Berger
Compassionate Human Being
Boca Raton, Florida USA

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