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Harvesting vegetables and grains may result in fewer animal deaths than many previously thought.

Both academic research and media reports have popularized the idea that harvesting crops like wheat, soybeans, and corn kills large numbers of mice, voles, and other field animals. Because these crops are the basis of many vegetarians' diets, some have used these findings to question the ethical basis of vegetarian and vegan diets. A new report examining the issue, however, concludes there is little evidence to support this view. Andy Lamey, a doctoral student at the University of Western Australia, has re-examined an earlier analysis by Steven Davis, an animal scientist at Oregon State University, which concluded that a relatively small number of animals were killed to produce grass-fed beef. Lamey raises key questions about the number of animal deaths caused by farm machinery compared to those due to animal predators and about the statistics that Davis used. In addition, Lamey points out that animal agriculture poses many more risks to humans (such as slaughterhouse accidents) than does vegetable production. Based on his analysis, Lamey concludes that vegetarians and vegans should not change their diets due to a concern about field animal deaths.

Lamey A. 2007. Food fight! Davis versus Regan on the ethics of eating beef. J Soc Philosph 38:331-48.

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, FADA
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Title Annotation:Scientific Update: A Review of Recent Scientific Papers Related to Vegetarianism
Author:Mangels, Reed
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:208
Previous Article:People who eat a plant-based diet live longer.
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