Letters: Wednesday, December 5, 2002
Animal Angst I: Veal

To the editor: I normally really like all your food writers. However, after reading Nancy Schaadt’s article from the Nov. 14-20 issue, about Josephine’s Little Italy, I wanted to tell Ms. Schaadt and your readers about a recent animal rights controversy involving the main dish from her article — veal saltimbocca.

The Food Channel was recently bombarded with thousands of critical letters for airing a segment on a restaurant that asserted its veal calves were somehow treated better than usual, except that this was proven totally incorrect by animal rights activists. I know Nancy has to write about all the food at these restaurants, but surely she is aware that veal is almost without doubt the cruelest meat available, coming as it does from baby calves, whose legs are chained so that they cannot exercise their leg muscles and who are kept in crates that don’t even allow them to turn around or stand up. Anyone doing this to a dog or cat would be arrested, but there are very few laws that protect factory-farmed animals, and the most horrific and callous treatment is commonplace. I feel it is the ethical duty of food writers to inform the public about the sources of inhumanely produced meat, especially veal, which many leading chefs have completely eliminated from their restaurants.

People can endlessly debate whether animals should be raised solely for human consumption, but even the most callous person has to cringe when thinking of eating a cruelly tortured and abused baby animal. If more people knew the agonized source of veal, they wouldn’t order it, restaurants would stop supplying it, and then perhaps the baby cows would stop being tortured.

I myself am not a true vegetarian, but I certainly don’t eat veal, and any educated person shouldn’t. Meat eating may never go away, but the brutal treatment of the farmed animals could and should go away, and veal is an easy first step for anyone to take.

Scott Walker

Fort Worth

Animal Angst II: Elephants

To the editor: I am writing to object to your listing of the Moslah Shrine Circus on your “Night & Day” calendar ( Nov. 14, 2002). Circus animals perform out of fear, for they are routinely beaten using objects such as sharp metal hooks and electric shock prods. I have a tape with undercover footage showing one elephant trainer yelling “Sink that hook into them! Make ’em scream!” and then warning other trainers to make the punishments severe because the elephants can’t be hit “in front of a thousand people.”

The Shrine Circus escapes the scrutiny of governing bodies by not owning the animals used in its shows or possessing an exhibitor license. The animals are leased from outside companies (such as the George Carden Circus). Exhibitors of Shrine Circus-leased animals have failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition. Citations from the USDA include failure to provide veterinary care, nutritious food, clean water, adequate shelter from the elements, and failure to handle animals in a manner that prevents trauma and harm and ensures public safety.

Both Lion Clubs International and Kiwanis International have advised chapters to avoid using animal circuses as fundraisers. In March 1999 an evaluation by the Council of Better Business Bureaus determined that Shriners did not meet its standards recommending that at least 50 percent of a charity’s income be spent on programs related to the organization’s stated purpose. According to the evaluation, Shriners had spent only 24 percent on program services.

If a parent or guardian wants to teach a child about the animals, then let them see the animals in their natural habitats, doing what they naturally do. There are wonderful PBS videos that children can watch, or better yet, visit an animal sanctuary. There is nothing natural about a muzzled bear riding a tricycle in a circus.

Kristina Denapolis

Fort Worth

More Elephant Angst

To the editor: I have been following a story that originated in your Static section a couple of weeks ago (“No Love-In,” Nov. 7, 2002) and a letter to the editor (“Stockyards Showdown,” Nov. 21, 2002) concerning the sale of the White Elephant Saloon. I thought I was still in junior high school when I read these two items.

My wife and I have dined at the Lonesome Dove Restaurant [whose owners have bought the White Elephant] and found the food to be excellent and the atmosphere pleasing. But I believe that one party has been piled on with these items in your paper. My friends and I have whiled away many a late afternoon at the White Elephant Saloon. We have spent many enjoyable hours meeting and visiting with people from all over the world who would wander into the Elephant for a cold beverage and visit with the bartender, Mary Crabb. Many of these folks were returning to the Elephant to see Mary and renew their friendships.

Many a busy afternoon, I have seen every stool at the bar covered and every table full. Mary would handle the entire bunch with a smile on her face and glint in her eyes that told of the love she felt doing her job. Mary is very lucky to have had a job that she dearly loved for over 25 years. She was the reason that my friends and I would be in the saloon.

[Though] I know that the only things for certain in life are death and change, I believe that all of us who frequented the White Elephant Saloon hoped that, just like the herd of longhorn steers that bring millions of dollars to the Stockyards, the ol’ Elephant would continue its unique existence.

I have no problem with updating the inside and the beer garden or with the new ownership, but I truly believe that two Stockyard treasures are now history. You now have Pink Floyd blasting when you ease into the Elephant, and tattoos and piercings on the motorcycle-appearing crew operating the place — instead of country music and Mary behind the bar.

I wear what Gary P. Nunn calls “manly footwear” in his song “London Homesick Blues” and a 20X Resistol Black Gold hat. I don’t dip or chew so I can’t spit “tabaccy juice” on anyone. I can vote with my feet and pocketbook and I will do so. Happy trails,

B. J. Mobly

North Richland Hills

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