If Neal Barnard’s attempt to link meat and dairy consumption to “unhealthy” lifestyles sounds like the jabbering of an animal rights activist, there’s a good reason. That’s what it was (“Subsidizing obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a higher cancer risk,” Nov. 12).

Barnard’s organization, the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, gets two-thirds of its $9 million budget from the founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. PETA has kicked in an additional $1.3 million. Less than 4 percent of Physicians Committee members are physicians. Barnard isn’t a mainstream nutrition expert. He’s a nonpracticing psychiatrist.

For the record, cancer rates in the United States are decreasing from year to year. Americans’ life expectancy is at an all-time high. Research has consistently demonstrated that childhood obesity is principally a result of our kids’ inactivity, not their diet.

Still, it’s understandable that save-the-chickens activists will want to influence the federal farm bill with newspaper essays. But the least they should do is be honest about their motives.