Sara Berg and South Dakota State students respond to slanderous vegan column penned by Kyle Kranz |

Sara Berg and South Dakota State students respond to slanderous vegan column penned by Kyle Kranz

Kyle Kranz is an opinion columnist for “The Collegian,” the official newspaper publication for South Dakota State University (SDSU). As a vegan, he offers his perspectives on healthy eating, but his column, “You truly are what you eat,” published Dec. 1, 2010, certainly created some controversy on campus.

“I am going to get right to the meat of the issue,” wrote Kranz. “Nearly everyone knows that cruelty almost beyond measure is happening at factory farms where the animals are excluded from many state animal cruelty laws. From the hand castrating of live piglets that sometimes also rips out intestines, to the stun guns that don’t always work, to the cows that are still alive when they reach the belly ripper, this is going on. Whether you purposefully remain ignorant, acknowledge and ignore it, or actually do something about it, unfortunately it is happening.”

Kranz goes on to add, “Animals do not want to be eaten, otherwise they would not run away or yell out in pain. Contrary to what commercials say, there is no such thing as happy cows. How can a creature be happy when it is forced through years of pregnancy and then having their offspring taken from them so they can have uninterrupted milk production until they head to the slaughterhouse? You truly are what you eat. Your body’s cells are constantly dying and being replaced by new ones. Everything from your skin, your muscles and even your thoughts are created from the food you consume. Do you want your organs and your ideas made of the rotting dead flesh of animals that died in some of the worst conditions possible?”

It comes to no surprise that agriculture students would be upset by Kranz’s comment, and an overwhelming number of them responded with letters of their own.

“The past couple of weeks here at SDSU have been a perfect example of how important advocacy truly is,” said Sara Berg, an agriculture education student at SDSU. “As agriculture students at a land-grant college, we should be proud of our field of study and certainly have the numbers to show for it. But, when it comes to speaking out about what you’re truly passionate about and relaying some easy facts to the average citizen at a time when agriculture really isn’t the ‘cool’ thing to do, this can become much more difficult.”

Berg admits that she, along with many of her peers, felt incredibly frustrated by the slanderous words written by Kranz, but rather than shrugging their shoulders and ignoring it, SDSU students teamed up to form an educated response to the opinion column.

“Between newspaper editorials, event planning, and word of mouth, campus was suddenly buzzing with the good word of agriculture,” said Berg. “Shortly after reading the article, several of us students met to write a letter and worked for nearly four hours; these people sure weren’t afraid to stick around for this cause.”

Berg is proud of the efforts her peers did on responding to the article.

“Whether it was sharing personal farm stories or using facts, students had an overwhelming response to the article by posting things on Facebook, commenting on the online article, writing to the editor or speaking with their classmates,” explained Berg. “My advice for agriculturists who want to make a difference is to speak out. When my grandfather was farming our place near Baltic, I’m sure the thought of animal rights, vegetarianism, or GMO corn never crossed his mind, but today we must face reality: it’s a huge issue. The only way to get the truth out is to spread the word ourselves.”

One student at SDSU is taking that advice seriously. Animal science student Jace Hollenbeck will be starting a new column entitled, “Meat Myths,” which will appear next semester in The Collegian and will focus on answering questions about meat as a healthy addition to a well-balance diet.

Farmers and ranchers can be proud of these young people who so eloquently addressed the falsifications found in the opinion piece.

editor’s note: to read the kranz’s entire article and sdsu students responses, visit

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