I enjoyed reading Jim Pfiffer make mincemeat out of Dr. Neal Barnard’s silly food-addiction theories (“You could call me a fiend for the cocoa bean,” Nov. 21), but it’s important not to underestimate Barnard.

Sure, he’s a lunatic, but the guy also has a serious following among animal-rights activists (of which he is one himself). No wonder the “addictive” foods Barnard wants to banish are meat, cheese and milk chocolate.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have passed nearly $1 million to Neal Barnard’s organization, the misnamed “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.” Barnard himself sits on the board of the PETA Foundation.

Despite his many connections to the animal-rights world, Barnard continues to be taken seriously by the mainstream media. At a Food and Drug Administration hearing last month, he referred to cheese, straight-faced, as “morphine on a cracker” and “dairy crack.” Yet Barnard continues to appear on network and cable news broadcasts and in serious newspaper stories.

Barnard’s mission is the same as PETA’s: to permanently remove meat and dairy from our dinner tables, whether we like it or not. He doesn’t seem to mind spinning half-truths about imaginary dietary addictions in order to gain ground.

I’m glad Pfiffer dismissed Barnard as a kook. But I would have preferred seeing him exposed as an animal-rights extremist.