Memo to JP Goodwin: Think First, Then Write

Awhile ago I mentioned a presentation by a researcher named Stephen Davis that argued that a mix of ruminant/pasture agriculture would cause fewer animal deaths than a strictly vegan agricultural system. A newspaper in Connecticut picked up this story, which apparently infuriated JP Goodwin who, typically, didn’t bother to actually carefully read the story before writing an angry reply. Here’s the text of a letter from Goodwin being circulated on the Internet,

I hope the piece in your April 1st issue describing
veganism as a “killer diet” was some sort of April
Fools joke. If not, then I have now officially heard
every absurd argument ever conceived.

This article reported on a certain agriculture
professor from Oregon that claimed a strict vegetarian
diet caused animals to suffer. He made this point by
arguing that animals are butchered when crops are

What this meat industry apologist failed to mention is
that far more crops have to be grown to fatten
livestock than would ever be consumed by human beings.

If you are concerned about field mice being hurt when
corn is harvested, then don’t eat meat. Most of that
corn is used to feed livestock. A vegetarian diet
would drastically reduce the amount of crop land
needed to feed billions.

John Goodwin
PO Box 21780
Washington, DC 20009
202 251 2748

The emphasis on the next to last paragraph is mine, because it’s a good example of the sort of nonsense Goodwin spouts. Of course the article in the Connecticut newspaper clearly indicated that this was not the case,

On the other hand, grazing animals produce food and reduce the need to drive farm equipment into the fields. Mr. Davis said less wildlife is lost to the mower blades and more find stable habitat in grazed and untilled fields.

Apparently these two sentences went over and above Goodwin’s limited reading comprehension ability so let’s be very clear. Davis is not arguing that fewer animals are killed in the current agricultural system than would be killed in a hypothetical vegan system. Instead, he is arguing that a hypothetical agriculture system that relies on pasture grazing cows and plant agriculture would result in fewer animal deaths than a hypothetical vegan agriculture system.

His point, which is apparently difficult for some animal rights activists to comprehend, is that the vegan view poses a conundrum for utilization of land ideal for bovine grazing. If you eliminate the cows and put that land into crop production, the result is clearly far more animal deaths than if you simply allow cows to graze the land and kill the cows for food.


Veganism is a killer diet. The Waterbury Connecticut Republican American Newspaper, April 1, 2002.

Untitled Letter. John Goodwin, April 2, 2002.

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