With regard to the refugee crisis, yacht skipper, Scott Macrae, says: "People have been dying for months. It's sad that it has taken this photo [of Aylan Kurdi] to shock people into action" (Scottish skipper's encounters with refugees, News, September 6). Your leader states that "despite heaps of evidence provided by humanitarian and human rights organisations over decades, Western nations have collectively failed to help those in need" (Only political leaders can ensure turning point in refugee crisis, Editorial, September 6).

While the deaths of Aylan and his brother, Galip and the other children caught up in this crisis are tragic, there are many more children who have been dying needlessly, not due to war, and this has been going on for decades. Countries in the supposedly civilised West, including the UK, import food from countries where people, including children, are starving. Foods which these starving people could eat direct are instead given to "food animals" in the West, to fatten them up, for the animal-based diet that many in the West choose to eat.

This is a situation where we don't have to wait for governments to act or to do the right thing. Each and every individual can make a personal choice – continue to eat an animal-based diet, thus stealing foods from starving people, including children, who desperately need it, or change to a plant-based diet.

Loading article content

Sandra Busell

Edinburgh

Sinclair Dunnett compares the shooting of seals to the culling of deer in the highlands and says that 50,000 red deer are killed annually just to keep the population level (Topic of the week: the ethics of seal killing, Letters, September 6). The main difference between the two species is that the grey and common seals found around the Scottish coast are in decline and are protected mammals whereas red deer are not endangered and are in fact kept at unnaturally high levels by a lack predators and the interests of the shooting estates.

And no, it's not because of their "big wet eyes" that I think seals should be protected but because we have a legal and international duty to look after all our endangered species.

Iain Mackenzie

Machrie, Isle of Arran