Sir - John Burgess criticised Peta Watson Smith for describing the situation on British farms as a Holocaust.

Clearly this might offend jews or farmers but it is not an entirely absurd comparison no matter how responsibly and compassionately they are cared for whilst alive (any mass slaughter can be so described as a holocaust according to the Oxford Dictionary) although perhaps alien to anyone who enjoys tucking into a sunday roast. The fact is many millions of animals are bred, contained and then killed.

That is a holocaust and I thought scholarly Mr. Burgess might appreciate the literal accuracy in this description.

When the shopper buys a neatly packaged lamb chop from a supermarket it is just a product in a packet. No longer the four legged beautiful thing it was and perhaps admired by the shoppers children as they peered over a fence of the field in which it frolicked with its population of spring born companions. The abattoirs don't tend to have 'open days' if anyone might have noticed.

The killing fields of the meat industry would be horrific to observe and no amount of hygiene certificates, inspections, or assurances of humane treatment change the fact that behind those closed doors we effectively murder millions of domestic animals we bred for food. This might be a nation of animal lovers doting over our cats dogs and bunnies but we should remember that actually meat is not essential to survive and thrive and indeed it can have adverse health impact.

The nation might well do well to eat less of it and face up to the realities involved in production.

Andrew Brown