Write a Letter for Wildlife
Writing a letter to the editor of your local or campus newspaper can be an effective way to make your voice heard and let community members know about the issues students care about.
Before You Write
Search online for your school or local paper, and find the “submit a letter to the editor” option (it’s often under “opinion” or “letters”). Read the guidelines for tips or restrictions, including word count — you don’t want your letter to be rejected just for not following the rules. Once you know that the paper you’ve chosen accepts letters and how to submit them, it’s time to get your thoughts on the page.
Getting Ready to Write
Letters to the editor can have different purposes, such as to:
- Explain how meat consumption and population issues relate to specific current events.
- Correct errors and inaccuracies about recent articles regarding wildlife and the meat industry.
- Rebut recent news articles about meat and offer better solutions, such as promoting decreased meat consumption.
- Praise the newspaper for covering the environmental impact of meat in recent articles.
- Discuss the local impact of overconsumption in your region.
So before you decide how you want to make your point, think about why you’re writing the letter, what you’re responding to and why the paper might be interested in printing it. Letters the editor are most successful when they’re responding to recent news and/or have a clear, concise and strong viewpoint.
Here’s a letter about meat production that was published by the Chicago Tribune:
There's been a lot of recent discussion about the rising costs of beef and pork, and yet one thing keeps getting left off the table: The price of meat hasn't reflected the true cost of meat production in years.
If you factor in the subsidies for feed crops and grazing permits, more people would start to realize that meat is a steal. And meat production has been stealing from the public for a long time. In addition to taxpayer-funded subsidies, cattle are allowed to degrade our public lands, and our wildlife are killed to protect industry profits. Meat production consumes incredible amounts of natural resources, from the land and water required to raise livestock to the devastating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions left behind.
What if meat prices reflected the true cost of production? How much longer can we, and the environment, afford it? Even with subsidies, prices will continue to rise as climate change and drought make it harder to feed livestock, and a growing population demands more and more meat.
Instead of ignoring the true cost of meat production by raising prices or losing profits, restaurants and retailers should offer their customers more meatless options. It's better for our wallets, our health and our planet.
Stephanie Feldstein, Director, Population and Sustainability, Center for Biological Diversity · Ann Arbor, Mich.
Notice the strategy here:
- Maintains civil, energetic and knowledgeable tone throughout.
- Starts out with a very clear, specific problem statement that gets right to the point (“yet one thing keeps getting left off the table: The price of meat hasn't reflected the true cost of meat production in years.”).
- Immediately provides supporting statements and evidence (the real cost of meat means factoring in subsidies and consumption of natural resources).
- Makes a very clear statement about “what’s at stake” and why this is important for all readers (climate change, feeding livestock, a hungry population).
- Finishes with a solution, and a positive takeaway (restaurants and retailers should offer their customers more meatless options) that is specific and gets right to the point. End with that call to action.
Need more tips?
- Check out the Center for Biological Diversity’s guide to Writing Letters to the Editor.
- Visit the Center’s “Take Action Toolbox” for the Population & Sustainability program.
If you submit a letter and/or your letter is published, let us know at EarthFriendlyDiet@biologicaldiversity.org. If your letter isn’t accepted this time, don’t be discouraged — editors do like to hear from readers, but they get a lot of mail and can’t publish every letter they receive each week.