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[P]
On Vegetarianism, and Human Superiority

By Jel in Op-Ed
Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:51:56 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

This story (about NASA's Laboratory Grown Fish), and in particular, this response, got me thinking about humanity's place in the food chain, and similar issues. Practically and ethically speaking, there are many opinions both for and against the consumption of meat. But what about the larger issue? What is life all about, I wonder... and what does that mean for our interaction with other lifeforms?


The more practical amongst us (or the especially hungry), might say that it's fine to feed of the carcass of animals. They argue that we've done it all along, and that it's a simple fact of life.

It's certainly true that our collective selves have been living off other creatures for a long, long time. And perhaps we could live without it. It's becoming popular to argue that meat is largely poison -- the dead flesh of another creature, stewed in the bodily wastes that the dead creature can no longer flush from it's system.

Some say it's unethical to consume the flesh of another creature, arguing that other creatures have the right to live too. Some have deep spiritual beliefs that those creatures are evolving, through multiple incarnations, into enlightened beings. In that sense, feeding off an animal for being one would be no different from a banker feeding upon a lowly streetcleaner for not achieving the same status. The fact that status might be incorrectly perceived only worsens this dilemma.

It can be argued that, since we can live by eating plants, we don't need to kill animals for food, and therefore shouldn't. There is an inherent assumption there, though -- that animals are better than plants. But don't plants live too? What makes one better than the other?

Yes -- there's the rub. This argument for vegetarianism has a fundamental flaw. It is founded on exactly the same belief in the superiority of lifeforms which the opposition, use to justify their consumption of meat. Interesting, eh?

So, let's get right to the heart of the matter. If both the herbivores and omnivores amongst us base their dietary habits on the belief in the superiority of one lifeform over another, then let's analyse that a moment.

Let's assume that the machinery of life has some purpose, regardless of whether we believe that machinery is Darwinian evolution, reincarnation, or whatever. Are we assuming that lower forms of life cannot have a purpose, except to serve higher forms? A brief glimpse at the food chain would certainly suggest such an arrangement. And, more importantly, given that every creature needs to consume energy from somewhere, it certainly seems that there is no alternative but to eat, drink and be merry. The second law of thermodynamics would seem to support this too, which (to oversimplify) basically says that we can't get energy without taking it from somewhere.

What if there is another option, however? There are other energy sources, rather than the bodies of other creatures. What if life is not about striving to the top, at the cost of every other being? What if we don't need to be parasites, feeding off other lifeforms? More importantly, what if we are already shaking off this unenlightened strategy?

It may be true that the majority of life succeeds on the basis of feeding upon it's neighbours. But there is another model of survival on this planet, and it's not uncommon. This model is symbiosis -- the interaction between two lifeforms for their common benefit. The symbiosis model occurs all the time, even within our own bodies, where bacteria feed off what we don't need, and help us to digest things we do need. We provide a warm, stable home for them in our guts, and they provide food that we cannot digest. Quite a bargain.

What if we can live that way? Is it possible to find a sufficiently rich variety of foodsources -- foodsources that are the byproducts of other lifeforms, rather than the lifeforms themselves?

Speaking for myself, I am one who sits between the two common arguments, believing that every creature, be it animal or plant has a right to exist. Regardless, though, I cannot see much point in choosing vegetable lifeforms over animal lifeforms as a foodsource. I would certainly welcome the option to survive in an entirely non-selfish way.

In the mean-time, however, what if things aren't as bad as we sometimes think? There is an argument concerning Darwinian evolution that our pets -- our cats and dogs -- are in fact very successful in evolutionary terms because of us. We have spread across the planet, and have taken them with us. We've killed many individual dogs, and wiped out entire breeds which didn't have the qualities we required. But we've also aided immeasurably those breeds of dog which aided us. Whilst we have, in a sense, fed on individual dogs, it could be argued that we have helped the evolution of dogs as a whole.

Might the same be true of our foodsources? It cannot be denied that farming has aided the spread of potatoes and other crops in much the same way.

I certainly feel that a truly symbiotic relationship would be best, but... what if, until we find a way to achieve this, we can assist the creatures we feed upon? Or, what if we can even manage to avoid affecting them too much, by replenishing stocks, and by assisting them in refinding their previous population levels? There have certainly been some efforts in this direction. If we achieved these goals, then... would we be as bad as some claim we are?

I wonder... is vegetarianism or veganism the right way to go? Does it really accomplish anything, except choosing a dumber looking victim (ie, a plant, over an animal)? What if we really work towards symbiosis? What if we make a more concerted effort to replenish that which we feed upon in the mean time?

This document, although a little out of date, states that only around one third of harvested fish are farmed. The rest, presumably, are simply caught in the oceans. Given that I can think of virtually no vegetables which simply gathered rather than farmed, I am prepared to assume that agriculture is more sustainable than fish farming. Beef farming, too, seems much more sustainable, given the lack of wild cows in my part of the world.

So, in conclusion, I wonder whether it is right to kill any lifeform for food. Perhaps symbiosis or synthesis will make that avoidable. Until then, though, I wonder if it is not the unsustainable foodsources that we should worry about most. Given that most vegetarians I've heard of, as opposed to vegans, will eat fish.. shouldn't they switch places? Wouldn't the "stronger" vegan position be to avoid unsustainable fishing, which might wipe out entire species. Shouldn't the "lesser" vegetarian position be to eat sustainable meats, such as beef?

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Related Links
o This story (about NASA's Laboratory Grown Fish)
o this response
o This document
o Also by Jel


Display: Sort:
On Vegetarianism, and Human Superiority | 413 comments (383 topical, 30 editorial, 1 hidden)
I used to talk to my plants (3.09 / 11) (#2)
by imrdkl on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:08:05 PM EST

but it was never clear to me what tone to take with them. In the end, they dried up and died slow and painful deaths, much slower than your typical steer or pig. Bah I say. Plants suffer far worse than any animal.

can you look into their eyes? (2.80 / 5) (#3)
by lazerus on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:14:04 PM EST

Can you see that they have the same basic emotions and feelings as a human? That they have hearts, minds, etc? Cows, pigs, and goats can all be petted. How can you eat something that enjoys being petted? (Ok, so this isn't scientific, but cmon - you're just plain trolling here).

[ Parent ]
Like I say (2.50 / 4) (#4)
by imrdkl on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:18:13 PM EST

I never knew how to approach them. But I felt bad every time I looked at them withering slowly, no matter how hard I tried, to make them happy. It was devastating.

Mind you, I've slaughtered all types of meat animals, and I never felt the sadness that I feel when a plant dies.

[ Parent ]

The eyes have it?? (3.50 / 4) (#9)
by jabber on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:44:04 PM EST

Are you saying that EYES are the criterion which devides edible from inedible? My God!! All those poor potatoes!!

I can't 'see' emotions in the eyes of an animal any more than I can see emotions in the eyes of a human.. Emotions are something you FEEL, not something you see.

I'm sure that if grass had the means to run away from a lawnmower, it would do so. Just because a plant can not run away doesn't make it any more alright to kill it for food. And just because animals can run away only means they should be securely tied down before they are killed.

If push came to shove, the faster humans would end up eating the slower humans. Seeing emotion in their eyes would only slow down the faster ones enough to become food for someone that didn't set aside their hunger long enough to look for emotions in their food.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Actually (5.00 / 1) (#249)
by Yellowbeard on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:56:25 AM EST

Anthropological evidence shows that this is probably what happened. Well, not exactly, but astrolopithicus was definitely eating his competitors (including other, very similar species who were basically competing for the title of top primate). Humans wouldn't be around if we hadn't elimitated the competition over the years. Life is hard.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


[ Parent ]
How? Because it's tasty (2.60 / 5) (#10)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:44:50 PM EST

I had a pet goat once. He grew up. He was delicious.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
No offense, mrgoat (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:12:13 PM EST

That is all.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
I can't (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by inerte on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:47:26 PM EST

So I will keep eating. Call me insensible.

Check it out, you see emotions on pigs. That's fine for me, but if I see emotions on plants, will you say I am wrong?

Because it hasn't eyes? I mean, c'mon. Maybe it doesn't feel the same way you do. Maybe it doesn't communicate the same way you do.

Oh boy I just had an insight, vegetarians are so selfish that they only eat what they don't think that can communicate with them.

Maybe a rebel adolescent can eat his dad because they don't understand each other?

Ahn... no. You will tell me there's a line you won't cross. Well, I can't see how come you can see gray areas only on the cases that interest to defend your beliefs.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

suffer (5.00 / 1) (#217)
by kubalaa on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 07:01:25 AM EST

The reason most people don't think plants have feelings, is that they look at humans, and recognize that we have a brain which plants do not have. If you suggest plants have feelings, then you must either clarify what makes a plant different from a rock, or clarify what makes humans special if not our advanced brains.

To my mind, plants are much closer to rocks than humans. Sure, they can "suffer," but do you worry about a rock suffering when it gets broken by a hammer, a river suffering when it dries up, or a cloud suffering when it dissipates? This is just a natural part of its nature. When the conditions for a natural process are not in place, the process ceases. Our animalistic resistance to this, in "pain," is the exception to the rule.

[ Parent ]

Douglas Adams... (2.90 / 11) (#5)
by miah on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:23:18 PM EST

put it best with his meal scene in The Restuarant at the End of the Universe. The cow was bred for generations and had prepared his entire life for the occasion to be eaten. He didn't seem to mind, in fact I think that he looked forward to his own consumption...

A little vague, yes, but read the book...


Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
SLAVEWAGE
It wasn't a cow... (1.25 / 4) (#123)
by mmcc on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:40:08 AM EST

It was a sheep...

It came up to the table and said "Eat me! Eat me!"

The marvels that genetic engineering could bring us...



[ Parent ]

Version dependent.... (4.66 / 6) (#131)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:05:22 PM EST

What the animal was depends on whether you heard, saw or read the Hitchhiker's Guide.


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
Hmm (3.52 / 21) (#7)
by bleach on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 04:43:07 PM EST

Problem I have with "rabbit food" is....

When I eat a nice steak, the steak is defiently dead. It is not carring out any sorts of life processes, it can't respond to any type of stimuli, and most importantly it can't be brought back from the dead!

When you eat lettice, it is still alive! (Dying quickly, but alive). In fact, some vegetables you could buy from the store, give it a fresh cut, and put it in water.

No, this post is not a troll, it is a legitimate issue that bothers me.

plants (3.36 / 11) (#16)
by lazerus on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:17:12 PM EST

When I eat a nice steak, the steak is defiently dead

How comforting. That steak was once part of a being that had emotions, feelings and desires - a unique personality with many traits in common with us humans.

It is not carring out any sorts of life processes, it can't respond to any type of stimuli, and most importantly it can't be brought back from the dead!

It shouldn't have been turned into steaks in the first place. It should still be alive. It's not important what the steak can't feel or can't respond to, the fact is that it was once a cow (or whatever) that had a unique personality, a myriad of feelings and desires - including happiness and sexual desires - is now dead. Cows and other similar animals can clearly demonstrate that they have feelings and desires, and can display unique character traits, and it is just wrong to mass murder them.

When you eat lettice, it is still alive! (Dying quickly, but alive). In fact, some vegetables you could buy from the store, give it a fresh cut, and put it in water.

This is somewhat valid, but plants do not exhibit the same level of emotions and awareness that animals do. Animals are sentient beings, they can learn from their enviroment, they have forms of social structure (herd, etc), and communication (body language), and certainly display signs of having emotions and feelings. Plants are alive in that they breathe, have mildly developed senses, etc, but they nowhere near the level of animals in these things. They are not sentient beings - animals are. Ideally only parts of plants should be eaten, and not the whole plant, on that I'll agree, but even if the entire plant is eaten, I don't think that each plant is a self-contained macro-aware sentient being. One could argue that a plant is self-aware, but even a tractor displays more characteristics of sentience than a plant does, although a plant is more "alive".

No, this post is not a troll, it is a legitimate issue that bothers me.

I'm actually pretty sure that your post is a troll, but whatever - I've taken the bait.



[ Parent ]
Would you... (4.33 / 3) (#19)
by inerte on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:38:19 PM EST

Eat a cow if we manage to remove their brain before they develop a chance to have this sentient-feelings thing? Or whetever it cames from. Please don't bs me with soul and spirit thing for now :-)

If that's your main argument about not eating plants (if you are a vegetarian, you know, internet, anonimous, etc...). Anyway the above question could go to any vegetarian.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

This ought to be a FAQ (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by greenrd on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:45:52 PM EST

Eat a cow if we manage to remove their brain before they develop a chance to have this sentient-feelings thing?

No, I don't fancy eating meat ever again. Yes I'm a picky eater, so sue me. But I would have no ethical objection to it. Maybe replace their brain with a microchip that directs the necessary bodily functions - no problem. Or even grow meat or fish muscle in a vat, as suggested by the k5 article to which this one is a response to.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

New vegetarians (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by inerte on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:53:32 PM EST

But do you think it's a strong argument, that will prevent people in the future to become vegetarians? Like, you know, those who plan to start to become one.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

Why should it? (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by greenrd on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:12:30 PM EST

I don't see why. The fact is all those animals are suffering now, and every one of us has the choice about whether to contribute to this - whether to make this better or make it worse. Since this "meat-from-a-vat" is not available right now, that's not even an option. The question is what shall we do for animals now?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

C- in Ecological Thinking. (4.33 / 3) (#84)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:03:09 PM EST

But I would have no ethical objection to it. Maybe replace their brain with a microchip that directs the necessary bodily functions - no problem. Or even grow meat or fish muscle in a vat, as suggested by the k5 article to which this one is a response to.

I think you'd get at most a C- in Ecological Thinking from me just for that statement. What kind of relation do you think our society should conceive as holding between us and the rest of nature? What kind of relation between human societies and nature is implicated by your microchip scenario? Is it significantly different from what the West has now?

--em
[ Parent ]

are you against the killing of insects? (4.75 / 4) (#31)
by eyespots on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:09:20 PM EST

I'm just curious because many vegetarians are against killing creatures with desires, feelings, etc....

Flies show many of these, and can develop individual personalities. They definitely can feel pain.

Is it ok to kill a fly?

Note: I'm not trying to troll here. I am just curious as to your opinion on the subject.

[ Parent ]

Hey, I think I know what you're trying to say. (3.00 / 3) (#37)
by elenchos on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:41:21 PM EST

You've heard of the argument of the beard, right? So there is no such thing as murder then?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

actually (4.00 / 3) (#44)
by eyespots on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:08:16 PM EST

I was just trying to get an opinion, nothing more. I'm trying to gather information. If you are trying to convince me of your views, I will need more information.

I am curious as to whether or not vegetarians think that killing insects or nematodes is immoral. If it isn't immoral, then why not? I was asking nothing more, nothing less.

No judgement goes along with this question. Seeing as I don't understand certain aspects of people's opinions, I thought it would be good to ask questions.

Hence, I ask again:

What's different between a cow and a fly (or a nematode, or a jellyfish, etc...)? I can understand about plants, but not about insects.



[ Parent ]

vertebrates vs. invertebrates (4.40 / 5) (#64)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:32:01 PM EST

The analogy to the human brain is instructive. Flies possess relatively highly developed nervous systems in comparisons to other invertebrates. Organisms with bilateral symmetry, such as flies and nematodes, typically have more developed systems than those with radial symmetry, such as jellyfish, which exhibit little centralization. However, neither flies, nematodes nor jellyfish exhibit near the degree of complexity of the cental nervous system found in vertebrates. The similarity to the human central nervous system which is found among vertebrates is the empirical basis for conjectures on the sentience of nonhuman animals. All organisms with nervous systems respond to external stimuli, but it is more likely that awareness is associated with highly developed central nervous systems such as those possessed by vertebrates than with the nervous systems of invertebrates.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
thank you (4.33 / 3) (#75)
by eyespots on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:54:52 PM EST

that's the most straight-forward response I've gotten so far.

One question: what do you mean by degree of complexity?

Are you refering to:

1. Number of neurons

2. Number of synapses

3. Number of synapses per neuron

4. All of the above

5. A different attribute (say appearance of a cortex)

The reason I ask is that neurons in drosophila and in mouse are very similar- hence I figure you must be refering to the organization of the neurons.

I guess my problem/lack of understanding about the moral concerns is that I think that certain insects have a substantially complicated neuronal system, and that if you are going to say it's wrong to kill a shrew, then it should be wrong to kill certain insects (say larger insects like large spiders, cockroaches, etc....).

As a vegetarian, where would you draw the line? (presence of cortex, certain number of neurons, brain weight, etc...?). Where does a creature become "acceptable to kill"?

Thank you for your answer in advance (as I said before, I'm just curious about how others see this situation, I'm not judging or anything).

[ Parent ]

Exposition (4.25 / 4) (#119)
by guidoreichstadter on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 09:00:57 AM EST

I'm hesitant to provide a definition for complexity in this context. Of course, the attributes you indicate are all likely to be important to any useful conception of complexity, though no one really understands the relation of consciousness to brain physiology, so no useful definition exists, to my knowledge. However, I maintain that by the majority of criteria one can posit, chordate nervous systems are much more complex, in general, than those of invertebrates.

I was not aware of any special similarity between mouse and fly neurons, but this is a very interesting subject about which I know very little. Is this similarity only between mouse and fly neurons, or between fly and vertebrate neurons, or mouse and insect neurons? Any references that you have found useful would be appreciated!

Of course, to me, the ethically relevant quality is not nervous system compexity, per se, but the ability to feel, to experience pain and pleasure, which is probably contingent on some threshold of nervous system complexity and likely becomes more developed as complexity increases. Once a being is sentient, I consider it to have an interest in avoiding pain that must be considered ethically. The analysis I apply in this area is utilitarian, taking into consideration the effects of an action on the interests of all sentient beings.

I (somewhat arbitrarily) consider all chordates to be capable of feeling, though there are invertebrates, such as the octopus, that for a variety of behavioral and physiological reasons, seem to me to be sentient as well. While giving full credit to the complexity of insect nervous systems (fly brains, for example, share neurotransmitters whith humans, and experience analogous behavioral effects of drugs like alcohol and caffeine ), I am hesitant to ascribe sentience to insects due to assymetry between insect nervous systems and the centralized nervous systems of vertebrates.

So, from the standpoint of causing harm to the interests of ethical subjects, I consider all sentient beings as meriting ethical consideration- the only things that are "acceptable to kill" without ethical consideration are nonsentient life- the biological analog of industrial machinery. Utilitarian considerations enter into the question of when destroying sentient life is justified. I suppose you already guess that I see the interests of fish, poultry, cows, pigs, primates et al. in continuing to exist as superceding the interests of homo sapiens in tasting their flesh, when survival is not contingent on doing so, and that I see the interests of homo sapiens in existing on vegetable food products as justifying the destruction of insects (and some mammals) inherent in the agricultural production process.

These are my personal views, I don't know to what degree they generalize, though I should point out that respect for sentient life in the U.S. is codified in anti-animal cruelty laws (which are disingenuously bent when livestock producing concerns are involved) and the IRB process in scientific research. A more complete exposition of utilitarian ethics in relation to non-human life can be found Peter Singer's very readable and trenchant "Practical Ethics." Hope some of this was of use.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

You are assuming... (3.00 / 1) (#139)
by MKalus on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:54:37 PM EST

.... that the reason why someone turns Veg. is because of the "no kill" argument.

That is definetly fine and I would guess that initially that was the reason why most people turned Veg. But by now I guess the change is made less on morale grounds than on other reasons.



[ Parent ]
Beard (3.33 / 3) (#54)
by marx on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:56:28 PM EST

The argument of the beard is easily solvable. You divide the number of beard hairs into three zones: "no beard", "in between" and "beard". While it's impossible to define the exact number of hairs where "no beard" becomes "beard", it's simple to define a zone which you're certain can be characterized as "no beard" or "beard".

With that, you can easily tell the difference between having no beard and having a beard.

We can apply the same reasoning to animals. We specify a criterion, say sentience, and then we classify all animals into three similar zones. You'll get a zone of animals which you don't really know what to do with, but at least you'll be able to determine that there is a difference between a fly and a chimpanzee.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

You're not too comfortable (4.00 / 3) (#146)
by Lenny on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:24:33 PM EST

being on top of the food chain. Cut your leg and go swimming with the sharks. That'll even things out a bit.

it is just wrong to mass murder them
When was the last time a person was tried for the crime of murder against any animal? Huh? What was that? I couldn't hear you...Oh that's right, NEVER! The species with the highest encephalization quotien wins.


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
live plants (5.00 / 1) (#215)
by kubalaa on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 06:57:17 AM EST

The fact that the plant is still alive should tell you something about the rather different way in which plants carry on their life processes. You shouldn't be saying, "look, this plant is alive, therefore eating live plants is just like eating live animals." You should be saying, "Look, 'living' for a plant is very close to existing; like a stone, or a river. To partake of this lifecycle is natural; the boundaries between life and death are almost nonexistent. Whereas animal life is qualitatively different; to kill and eat an animal you truly destroy something against its will, you are not merely injecting yourself into a natural flowing process."

[ Parent ]
Rights of a species (2.83 / 18) (#13)
by kuran42 on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:03:33 PM EST

There are none. Zero.

An individual, on the other hand, can have "rights" assigned to it. However, which one chooses to assign is based almost entirely on one's moral grounding. I have yet to see an argument for one set of morals over another that even remotely resembles a logical or impartial exchange. Such things are more often decided based on feelings, so they must be disregarded if one hopes to conduct a logical or impartial discussion.

Now, symbosis without asking the other partner is as much exploitation as outright eating them. Consider it a form of slavery. You might think it is better than being eaten, but the choice really isn't yours (except you'll see later on that it is, but bear with me). Now, take the idea of slavery and juxtapose it with a tomato and I hope something should become clear. Who gives a damn! The exploitation of a tomato is irrelevant because a tomato will never change the world, never serve any purpose other than the one for which it has evolved (to make more tomatoes) and the one for which we have selected it (to be eaten).

What it all comes down to is what you allude to in your title. Humans are superior. We have demonstrated that by being successful. We fit out niche, and god damn it, we modify other niches so we fit them, too. Nothing else matters.

--
kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect

Fallacy (3.33 / 6) (#28)
by greenrd on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:00:55 PM EST

I have yet to see an argument for one set of morals over another that even remotely resembles a logical or impartial exchange. Such things are more often decided based on feelings, so they must be disregarded if one hopes to conduct a logical or impartial discussion.

Logic does not preclude starting with feelings and seeing what logical consequences flow from them.

For example, suppose we both agree that molesting children is wrong. We might or might not be able to develop a purely logical chain of argument based on that shared feeling, that possession of child pornography should remain illegal. If so, that would be a valid logical argument based ultimately on a feeling. The original feeling doesn't have to be justified because neither of us dispute it.

Furthermore, you do not actually want to be "impartial" when thinking about which morality to support, because then you would be starting with a foundation of nothing, which means you could not even get off the ground. (In reality I doubt anyone is in danger of looking at morality impartially, because hardly anyone has no moral opinions. Consider e.g. child molesting, or the war on Afghanistan.)

Morality is inherently partial (or non-impartial).

Some people, like the natural rights theorists, erroneously attempt to found morality on what people can do when they are "free" according to some notion of "free", or something like that. This is erroneous because, as Hume showed, you can't logically derive an ought from an is.

You are closer when you say "Who gives a damn?" That's exactly the right sort of question to ask. "Giving a damn" is the foundation of morality, not some abstract "natural rights" notion of what is or is not possible under "natural law".

The exploitation of a tomato is irrelevant because a tomato will never change the world,

Neither will pigs (in the sense that you mean), but that's no reason to exploit pigs.

never serve any purpose other than the one for which it has evolved (to make more tomatoes) and the one for which we have selected it (to be eaten).

Neither will pigs (OK maybe a few people would like a pig as a pet, but other than that...). Again, that's no reason to exploit pigs.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Omission (3.42 / 7) (#50)
by kuran42 on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:32:34 PM EST

I wanted to avoid having to derive the logical basis of feelings, but here are a few examples that can hopefully demonstrate the point. They are based on this fact: An individual's goal in life is to ensure the continuation of my genome. One does this by reproducing and protecting ones offspring until they are capable of protecting themself.

Child molestation: A child molested is likely to have problems when they grow older; to have difficulty in social situations; to be uncomfortable in sexual relationships; possibly to unconciously reproduce their own trauma in their children or other people's children; and even to possibly be injured or killed during or after the fact of the molestation. This bodes poorly for the child's chances of producing viable offspring, and so damages their parents' chances of succeeding at their life goal. We "feel" that child molestation is wrong because of this limiting factor it has on our ability to successfully perpetuate our genome.

Consider war in general. Many people would say that they are against it. People die, property is destroyed, etc. Actually, those sound like good, logical reasons to stay away from war. Emotion must be based on them and so has a logical grounding. What about the people who enjoy making war? Ghengis Khan, the Roman Empire, the Vikings. Well, they won a lot, didn't they? Instead of many of their warriors dying, their property being destroyed, etc., they got women (the chance to reproduce with a different gene pool - an extremely good thing evolutionarily speaking), property, honor (allowing them more of a chance to reproduce with their native women). So again, a sound logical base for their feelings.

So my perhaps poorly stated original point was just that people don't like to consider these facts when debating such matters. They go and bring religion and morality into it, and refuse to look at things logically. Some sets of morals can be argued for logically, others must be taken on faith. Perhaps the people who take things on faith will turn out to be "right", but there's no way to hold a debate with them about the matter, because they won't conform to the standard rules of a debate. This is all based, of course, on my premise that "right" and "ought" are determined by what yields the greatest chance at procreation. If one disagrees with this, there's no sense in carrying on.

Finally, then, regarding whether one should or should not "exploit" (eat, enter into a symbiotic relationship with, what have you) a pig or a tomato depends only on whether or not doing so increases ones chances of reproducing. Almost universally it does, so almost universally one should. However, in the case of space exploration, it makes sense to exploit the tomato rather than the pig, for the tomato yields roughly an order of magnitude more Calories, increasing the chances that an astronaut survives the mission and returns to a reproducing population to contribute his or her genetic material. (additionally: the acclaim and increased standings among members of the opposite sex was probably also a prime motivational factor in deciding to take the mission in the first place. Heroes do heroic things to get laid)

--
kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]

Two words: (3.60 / 5) (#59)
by greenrd on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:26:20 PM EST

Naturalistic Fallacy.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Mistaken antecedent (4.16 / 12) (#14)
by crank42 on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:08:23 PM EST

If both the herbivores and omnivores amongst us base their dietary habits on the belief in the superiority of one lifeform over another, then let's analyse that a moment.

First, not all vegetarians adopt it out of a sense of the right of certain kinds of macro-organisms to live: many vegetarians prefer to eat that way because it is less harmful to the wider ecosystem than consuming animals. High-order carnivores, like humans and large cats, are expensive. They waste an awful lot of energy, because there is a great amount of wasted animal carcass. Eating only organically-grown produce tends to be less wasteful, then (assuming you live in a place where such produce is available. There is a good argument to be made that being a strict vegetarian in the far north is more wasteful, because most of the produce will be shipped there; so any environmental benefit is offset by the effects of the shipping).

It's true, though, that the argument for the rights of other organisms tends to suggest that one may not exploit other living things. There is a strain of vegetarianism which argues that you may only eat windfall. I presume such people are thin, and I can't see why they'd object to eating roadkill either -- maybe because of the potential for disease.

Yes... (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:31:02 PM EST

First, not all vegetarians adopt it out of a sense of the right of certain kinds of macro-organisms to live

I realise that. I actually made a point of not generalising this, but I guess I missed one :(

many vegetarians prefer to eat that way because it is less harmful to the wider ecosystem than consuming animals.

I know, that's much of the article discusses :)



[ Parent ]
not quite. (none / 0) (#231)
by garlic on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:46:34 AM EST

"wasted animal carcass"

not in todays world. Every little bit of the animal gets used by the slaughterhouse, because thats how they make the most money. Good cuts of meat become steak. Slightly worse become hamburger. Even worse cuts become sausage. Bones become gelatin. Skins become leathers. Today, humans use the entire animal.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

"I'll do it for the world!" (none / 0) (#410)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 11:25:37 PM EST

I believe most vegetarians are more egoistic than that. Most eat light food because it makes them feel much better, more energetic and the skin becomes shiny and moist. People eat too much meat in the western world today. Period. Teens get fat and their hormons gets screwed up by all the meat. But if you get a more balanced diet, you'll start noticing it after a week or two. It depends how sensitive to change you are. You need to care about yourself and your body, listen to it. What have you done for your body today? How have you treated it? These questions become important to stroke victims, but why wait for the inevitable?

As for the reason to why stop meat altogether: Why eat meat? It's a proven fact that you don't have to, and that people who eat lighter live better and longer. Why not go all the way if you're already on the path? Now, I don't want to convince anyone that isn't already on that path. Because you should do it for yourself, not for me or for "saving the world". That's just indigenous bull.


Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
Might I present the point... (4.64 / 14) (#15)
by highenergystar on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:11:09 PM EST

put forth by many 'ecologists', for want of a better world. It will be extremely difficult for us to feed 10B people on diets that include meat. As human population increases (and it will - the only times it has ever decreased are during the black plague, a smallpox epidemic 2 centuries back and the great famine in china earlier this century) it will become increasingly unviable to sustain non-vegetarianism (as it is called where i come from). Simply put the efficiencies of converting wheat to meat is about 1 in 100.

As settled societies become more affluent they migrate from the consumption produce to the cultivation of animals for meat (as opposed to hunting, which is entirely too much effort for a settled society). We could afford to do this earlier because the there was enough food/productivity left in the land to provide for us. However we are increasingly dependent on advances in agriculture to sustain our growing populations. The revolutions in plant sciences and cloning of productive strains of cereals is something rivalling the growth of the microprocessor in terms of people fed over the past two centuries.

My point, in conclusion is this. It is historically a more affluent (and small) society that can cultivate meat as an option. As our population increases it will not make ecologial sense to eat meat, simply because it is too 'costly'. The proportion of the planet that eats meat on a daily basis is probably less that 15%, and decreasing, and not by choice. People are becoming more affluent (or at least many are and a few are literally losing out in the evolutionary competition- because of the efforts of the successful) and the developing world will trend towards the consumption of meat. However, if we grow, meat will become scarce, by necessity

Feed conversion (2.50 / 2) (#42)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:05:07 PM EST

Feed conversion is the ratio of food intake to food mass in an animal. For poultry, this is <a href="http://www.ces.uga.edu/pubcd/c793-w.html">2:1</a> (so 2kg of grain produces 1kg of poultry). For swine, this is about 3:1, and for cattle about 5-6:1. Fish is also about 2:1. It is certainly not your claimed 1000:1.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
Retry (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:05:57 PM EST

Feed conversion is the ratio of food intake to food mass in an animal. For poultry, this is 2:1 (so 2kg of grain produces 1kg of poultry). For swine, this is about 3:1, and for cattle about 5-6:1. Fish is also about 2:1. It is certainly not your claimed 100:1
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
Hate to reply to myself AGAIN, but (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:12:40 PM EST

after more reasearch I find the food conversion ratio for fish is close to 1:1, which makes since since they don't have to use any energy regulating their body temperature.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
Since we're talking numbers then.... (none / 0) (#63)
by highenergystar on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:28:44 PM EST

http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/global/sensem/MeatIndustry.html Slightly biased in tone but defenitely all there in substance

[ Parent ]
And with extremely bad form... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by highenergystar on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:51:12 PM EST

http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Aug97/livestock.hrs.html

[ Parent ]
Informative links (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:01:20 PM EST

I'm not too concerned about the energy costs, but the water usage seems pretty high. Unfortunately I am one of those crazy bastards who feel that too much carbohydrate is very unhealthy. And the only plant product with an adequate protein/carb ratio is tofu, which is tasty, but I'd rather let the rest of the world eat grains and use my capitalistic profits to purchase the meat my digestive system was evolved for. I would be interested in seeing energy costs for farm-raised fish; I could probably survive on daily fish and poultry and occasional red meat.
And I live in Texas, so I am familiar with the water costs.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
What species are you again? (5.00 / 2) (#234)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:04:51 AM EST

I'd rather let the rest of the world eat grains and use my capitalistic profits to purchase the meat my digestive system was evolved for.


I dunno about you, but my exceedingly long digestive system was evolved to mainly digest plant materials, with meat digestion being a sort of "emergency use only" option. Sure, it'll work for a good long time, but it's an abuse of the system that you'll eventually pay for with higher risk of coronary problems, colon cancer, choking to death oninsufficiently chewed meat gobs, and parasite infestation, among other things. I assume you know all this, and the taste of meat (and mythological health benefits you ascribe to it, there are plenty of way to get protein from veggies, ya know, that steer you eat can build up a half ton of muscle mass just from eating grass, after all) is good enough for you to take the risk invloved in consistently eating it.

It's too bad humans don't breed at the age of say 65 or so. Natural selection would cull out a lot of stupid behavior from the gene pool.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Are you sure about that? (5.00 / 1) (#251)
by Rhamadanth on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:04:44 PM EST

Yes, you have a long digestive system, but it's far from efficient at digesting plant material. That's where our concept of roughage and fibre come from. Try subsisting on Celery, which actually has a NEGATIVE net caloric value for humans, because it's so costly to digest.

If you compare our digestive tract to that of Apes, you'll find that ours is somewhat shorter, to allow for the digestion of meat.

The problem with us is not that we eat meat, it's that we OVERCONSUME meat. It's part of practically every meal, which is NOT something that we evolved with. Meat was something to give us a caloric boost now and then to feed our brains, which are extrordinary expensive to maintain. The rest of our diet WAS plants.

I'm always confused by the 'herbivore' (note that there is no 'a' in 'herbivore'. This isn't a criticism of your spelling, but I've seen it mispelled a lot today :) vs. 'carnivore'. We're omnivores. We eat whatever is available. We're versatile, and it's part of what keeps us viable, even in hard times.

Here's a good site on human evolution. There are only a few sections that mention meat, but they all say that we did evolve eating at least a bit of meat.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/apeman/


-- The /bin/truth is out there.
[ Parent ]
that sounds about right... (4.50 / 2) (#253)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:26:39 PM EST

I have never maintained that we didn't evolve to eat meat, just that we don't really need it, we mainly just really want it. True, most veggies can be hard to digest. You just have to eat more, is all. Which is all to the better, it keeps your digestive track clean, and increases your intake of antioxidants which retard the effects of aging. I think our adaptation to meat eating was probably a response to climate changes which made an all veggie diet to difficult to maintain.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Water ape theory (none / 0) (#288)
by derch on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:25:02 PM EST

I remember hearing about a theory that has some proponents in the anthropalogical field, but I haven't heard much recently. The gist of it was that humanity evolved from an ape living near water. It suggested that our brains were able to advance because of the nutrient rich fatty acids of fish. I think it also suggested a reason for our general lack of hair.

[ Parent ]
The weight is meaningless by itself... (4.00 / 2) (#74)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:53:44 PM EST

The fact that 'x' KG of grain is used to make 'y' KG of meat is irrelevant. The critical question is which whether 'y' KG of meat has more or less calories and nutrients than 'x' KG of grain.

The whole reason humans crave meat and fat is the high number of calories you get from eating it.

Meat is easier to digest, packs more calories and more nutrients than grain. This is why carnivores have relatively small stomachs and spend only a small portion of their getting food and eating it - compared to herbivores, which typically spend most of their time eating.

If there wasn't an advantage to be had from eating meat, there wouldn't be any carnivores.


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
evolutionary advantage of eating meat (2.00 / 1) (#78)
by highenergystar on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:08:45 PM EST

could be attributed to the fact that 'it's there' and so presents a resource niche that has to be occupied. The calories in meat are just different and not more efficient than those in cereals. 1 g of simple protein metabolized provides exactly the same amount of calories as a gram of simple carbohydrate.http://www.pbs.org/safarchive/4_class/45_pguides/pguide_1003/44103_eat.html The reason that most herbivores spend a lot of time eating is because cellulose (which makes up grass and bark) is not easily digested, in fact most of the cellulose digestion in cows etc is done by bacteria in their (4) stomachs. If we ignore the modifying effects of parasites on their hosts, there is only one other instance of animals cultivating other animals as slaves/food, and that is the relationship of ants and aphids. I think humans have moved far from the field of carnivores who eat meat 'because it's there' as we did in evolutionary times, or as carnivores do now. We have become an entirely new form of consumer, defintely the likes of which this planet has not seen on a planetary (rather than a local) scale

[ Parent ]
Calories are not the be-all and end-all of biochem (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by Trevasel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:31:37 PM EST

Protein, fat, and carbohydrate all have radically different effects on the hormonal and regulatory systems of the body.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
New type of consumer (4.50 / 2) (#90)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:47:24 PM EST

True, but you missed the fact that fat (which is a major part of any "meat" diet) contains nearly twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates. Nor that the percentages of usable food mass in a given lump of meat vs an equal mass of plant material are different. Not to mention organs like the liver, which are packed with vitamins and nutrients beyond a herbivore's wet dream.

I'm not saying that this is always a good thing - modern westerners get a lot more calories in their diet than they need anyway - but it is the reason upstanding monkey-men like me have a strong craving for steak.

Anyway, you ended your post with an unsupported assertion that we have become "an entirely new kind of consumer". Despite my instincts to shoot down any argument that hasn't been backed up, I have to say that I agree.

By achieving what every species attempts to do (adapt itself and its environment to its own advantage) we've actually become something never seen before on Momma Earth: in effect, we have become the environment.

What do I mean? Well, consider: even species that live in areas of the planet where we do not are forced to adapt to our existence or perish. For example, human made chemicals are showing up in deep sea samples. Humans could never, by any wild leap of imagination, live in the places these samples were taken - but we are altering those environments anyway.

This fact does place a unique and not-widely-acknowledged burden upon us: The world lives or dies based upon our decisions.

But, as scary as that is, I'm not sure it's relevant to the question of whether or not veganism is the morally correct choice for a modern tool-using primate like myself. I mean, in many cases in the USA, we've altered the environment so much that hunting is the only means to keep a (very rough) balance on the remaining populations of some animals. So, if we have to whack Bambi anyway, what's the harm in serving him up as burgers at the local homeless shelter? (And, in fact, exactly this sort of thing happens in Pennsylvania - hunted deer end up as food for the homeless.)


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
Your argument doesn't go through. (2.00 / 3) (#116)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:44:52 AM EST

I'm not saying that this is always a good thing - modern westerners get a lot more calories in their diet than they need anyway - but it is the reason upstanding monkey-men like me have a strong craving for steak.

This argument simply doesn't follow.

It fails simply because you are jumping from a biological motivating factor to positing it as the immediate cause, without stopping to consider the role of cultural elaboration. Even if the proposed biological motivation were to be true, it could well be that the effective immediate cause of what you cite is just due to culture.

As a quiz, do you think women speak in a higher pitch than men because their vocal tracts are smaller, or because of cultural notions about gender differences?

--em
[ Parent ]

What? (3.50 / 4) (#118)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:22:17 AM EST

Why is it that when a primate species exhibits a type of behaviour, people have no trouble stating that that is a characteristic of the species, but with genus homo, people jump on the "cultural notions" bandwagon.

Face it, we're monkeys. Culture is only a construct built on top of our in-built behaviours. As such it can sublimate and redirect those behaviours, but it doesn't change their existence.

As for vocal cords, I'm pretty sure that my transition from alto to bass was triggered by biological rather than cultural constraints. Personally, I would have preferred being a tenor to sounding like sheer-khan in "The Jungle Book".


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
How do you tell culture from biology? (4.00 / 2) (#147)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:32:38 PM EST

Face it, we're monkeys. Culture is only a construct built on top of our in-built behaviours. As such it can sublimate and redirect those behaviours, but it doesn't change their existence.

Do you believe any of your "behaviors" is free from cultural input?

There probably are some; they won't be easy to find. Even highly involuntary ones like sneezing are to some degree culturally determined (the sound people make when they sneeze is culturally variable). Perhaps vomiting is one, but I'm not so sure.

As for vocal cords, I'm pretty sure that my transition from alto to bass was triggered by biological rather than cultural constraints.

I'm not talking vocal cords, bu the whole vocal tract. And yes, I'm pretty sure your transition from alto to bass was triggered by biological constraints. Notice I didn't ask that.

The quiz again, now in more detail: women in USian society have vocal tracts which are significantly smaller than those of men. Also, the average speech pitch is higher. Is the first of these facts the immediate cause for the second one?

By the logic you've been employing, it is. As it happens, it is doubtful, because of two reasons:

  1. No matter which articulatory models you plug the vocal tract dimensions into, they end up predicting pitch differences much smaller than those observed. Assuming the articulatory models are not mistaken, we can't motivate the whole pitch differential in terms of physiology. We may be able to attribute part of the differential to biology, but there is a residue that the biology doesn't explain.
  2. More crucially, the pitch difference develops in childhood, before boys and girls develop a significant difference in vocal tract size. That is, it emerges without the biological factor being in place. Which means that the causal role of the size difference is far from crucial.
What's happening here is likely to be a case of the following: biology, at some moment in history, provides the raw material that culture is elaborating in the system of gender roles. A woman in USian and many other societies, taken individually, is likely to speak in a higher pitch than men because adherence to gender roles, not because of biology.

The fact that this sort of situation holds in society after society, and not the opposite one where it's men that speak in high pitch, is possibly the place where you do want to say that it's biology that has the causal role.

And the lesson is simple: separating nature from nurture is far from trivial.

--em
[ Parent ]

A nuanced response. (none / 0) (#178)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:37:50 PM EST

Well argued. And yes, the difficulty in separating cultural from biological causes is tough. I would argue that we could check to see if the difference in pitch varies by culture - but you'll also run into (a) racial variations and (b) variations induced by the form of the language itself.

However, I would argue that, to a large extent, this is irrelevant to the discussion at hand - vocal variations have no apparent evolutionary advantage except as some sort of sex-based id mechanism. Hunting for food on the other hand, has a history that can be shown to go back tens of thousands of years and does, in fact, offer an advantage to the hunter - more calories for less work - if the meat is available.


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
we're more like apes, really... (5.00 / 1) (#239)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:10:53 AM EST

...the largest of which don't eat meat, unless they're starving and their normal vegetable food isn't available.

I like beer. I can drink beer. I do drink beer. I'd rather drink beer than water. I did not evolve to drink beer, and it isn't better for me than water. I just like it. You like meat. That's all there is to it.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Not like Gorillas (none / 0) (#244)
by catseye on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:34:52 AM EST

We're closer to chimps and bonobos (pygmy chimps) than any other primate, and chimps eat meat. It's mostly in the form of insects, but they will also scavenge and kill other animals.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
but bonobos, as a rule, don't (5.00 / 1) (#250)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:57:06 AM EST

It's kind of interesting why this is so, too. Seems that some time in the distant past, there were 2 groups of apes that were, for all intents and purposes, of the same species. Due to a climatic change, one group was deprived of resources (readily available fruit on the ground) and had to go to the trees to find food, where life was harder. They became more territorial as a result, and much more aggressive to each other and other creatures, eventually preying on monkeys and occasionally cannibalising their own young (usually a male who has bested another male in a fight over females will kill that other male's offspring, and sometimes eat them). These are chimps. Bonobos, OTOH, never had to endure the hardship of life in the trees, are much friendlier to each other, and are vegetarian. They tend to all have sex with each other, rather than a dominant male monopolising the breeding opportunities, so killing any young would risk killing your own offspring, which is a big genetic no-no.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

technology & consumerism, not veganism (3.25 / 4) (#47)
by klamath on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:13:11 PM EST

put forth by many 'ecologists', for want of a better world.
That's an interesting typo :-)
It will be extremely difficult for us to feed 10B people on diets that include meat.
This argument has never made a lot of sense to me. As the population increases, it seems far more likely that it will be sustained through advances in technology, not by a few intellectuals choosing to not eat meat "for the good of the planet". For example, acquiring the ability to farm fish in the deep ocean will allow the huge percentage of the earth that is covered by oceans to help to feed humanity. Or by growing food more efficiently (say, through GE or whatever else) will allow modern, technologically advanced farms and food production plans to feed an order of magnitude more people each than has traditionally been possible.

It seems to me that it's far more likely that mankind's lifestyle is far more likely to become more sustainable through technological progress, than it is for everyone to suddenly "get it", become a vegan, and move to a commune with Noam Chomsky, Noami Klein and friends.

[ Parent ]

few intellectuals? (3.20 / 5) (#56)
by Rainy on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:11:47 PM EST

that it will be sustained through advances in technology, not by a few intellectuals choosing to not eat meat "for the good of the planet". We're not talking about abstract good of the planet, we're talking a few billion people facing a choice of switching to vegies or half of them dying out. When it's put like that, I think more than a "few intellectuals" will consider a vegie burger instead of a big mac.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
You missed an option... (3.33 / 3) (#129)
by physicsgod on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:32:53 PM EST

Specifically the "build a 100 story hydroponics plant and eat the GM mini-cows that grow on floor 35."

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
obviously (5.00 / 1) (#172)
by Rainy on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:46:30 PM EST

If they give us enough food, it's a no brainer. The interesting question is, what will we do if they don't give us enough food?
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Who is this "they"? (none / 0) (#197)
by physicsgod on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:56:06 AM EST

There's no need for anyone to give food. The buildings would probably be run similarly to a large traditional farm, by a corporation or co-op in free-market economies, state run in communist ones. Due to the rather sizable startup capital required I doubt this plan would be feasable on an individual basis. The output would be put into the traditional food processing apparatus. This would result in reduced prices of all foods, including traditionally grown types. I'm sure that if a poor country were facing a food-production crunch they'd be able to beg or borrow the necessary resources from the first world, much like industrial infrastructure today (except this would be easier, since lives are on the line).

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
uh, the scientists (none / 0) (#201)
by Rainy on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:58:05 AM EST

I thought that was kind of obvious.. sorry.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Oh, ok then. (none / 0) (#248)
by physicsgod on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:48:11 AM EST

The hydroponics part has been around for decades, it just hasn't been economically feasable. The dwarf cattle are a product of my demented imagination, based on extrapolation from dwarf fruit trees. At the very least you could use regular cattle and devote more room (in fact the more I think about it the better that sounds, since then you don't have to worry about the GM traits breeding true).

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Not part of your imagination (5.00 / 1) (#303)
by farmgeek on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:03:27 PM EST

Miniature cattle do exist... http://www.minicattle.com/minicow/index.cfm

[ Parent ]
What I want to know is.. (none / 0) (#330)
by Jel on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 05:34:33 AM EST

.. how can they claim "Panda" as a trademark for their breed of COW??? ;)

[ Parent ]
Probably (none / 0) (#347)
by farmgeek on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:28:51 AM EST

the same way that Coca-Cola(TM) can claim Coke(TM) as their trademark.

Main Entry: coke
Pronunciation: 'kOk
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps from dialect coke, colk core, from Middle English; akin to Swedish kälk pith
Date: 1669
: the residue of coal left after destructive distillation and used as fuel; also : a similar residue left by other materials (as petroleum) distilled to dryness

(From M-W.com)

[ Parent ]
Making it feasible (none / 0) (#327)
by Rainy on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 02:11:55 AM EST

Is part of what scientists do. In theory it's already a workable scheme, but by the time our state-run lotteries get transformed so that the winners get slaughtered for food, it may still be in theory a workable scheme.

Needless to say, the same hydroponic plant that can feed 10 people on a meat diet will still be able to feed a 100 on vegie diet.

And you know, when you need to consume some food *now*, it's not the theory that counts, it's what you have in your fridge.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Diet of Scarcity (4.00 / 3) (#58)
by Kwil on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:25:43 PM EST

<i>It seems to me that it's far more likely that mankind's lifestyle is far more likely to become more sustainable through technological progress, than it is for everyone to suddenly "get it", </i>[and]<i> become a vegan,</i>
<p>
What is even more likely is that we won't "get it" and the switch to vegetarianism won't be a matter of choice for most people, but rather as a simple matter of economics. The land/ocean/etc. can only sustain so much. Animals, even with technology, can only grow so fast, and our global population is growing at a rate much quicker than that.</p>
<p>Even with better technolgies for growing food, as the population increases, there become increasing pressures on the physical space required for crops as well as the general food supply. Foods that take up more space/lb - such as cattle - will be correspondingly more expensive.</p>
<p>
What's really worrisome is as the expense of growing food increases, there will be increasing demand to create faster growing GE crops. Avoiding the entire issue of the nutrition of GE foods, there still remains a problem in that these crops will grow much better than any other strains.</p>
<p>
What's wrong with that? Two words - Genetic Diversity. Economic pressures will drive most farmers to the 'best' of these GE crops, likely a single, hardy, fast-growing, high-yield producing strain. This is beginning to happen already. Other 'weaker' strains will be replaced or wiped out, which leaves us extremely vulnerable to having a single disease wipe out our food supply. With technology having enabled us to reach a normally unsustainable population level, we can expect to see mass starvation follow shortly after such a disease.</p>


[ Parent ]
industrial agriculture (3.66 / 3) (#98)
by infinitera on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:00:36 AM EST

is a pipe dream. It takes 300 times more energy/resource input (fossil fued based, for the most part) to grow the same amount of food as in sustainable agriculture, but the former has a yield of about 10% less. Also, -most- of the world's grain/wheat/whatever goes to feed the cows and pigs. It's just not efficient, it's a whole other trophic level, no amount of GE is going to make it go away.

[ Parent ]
I am a vegan... (4.17 / 17) (#18)
by greenrd on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:33:29 PM EST

... not because I disapprove of the killing of animals per se, but because I think the suffering farm animals are forced to endure is immoral. Therefore to me this entire article is missing the point. -1.

One important reason why most vegans think that eating plants is better than eating animals, is the same reason why there is no "Right for Rocks!" movement. Plants can't feel. I don't think that anyone seriously believes they can, otherwise they'd get all worked-up when they saw a lawnmower, surely.

I don't think it's terribly helpful to try to shoehorn this kind of vegan thinking into a "plants are inferior" mould. Superiority in terms of what? It all depends on your definition of superior.

As for species: I don't recognise species other than the human species as important to preserve for their own sake, but only important to preserve in the sense that they are, or may be, useful for us (the old "there may be a medical treasure-trove hidden in the flora of the rainforest" argument). But I recognise some environmentalists seem to believe that species should be preserved for their own sake, and although I can't understand that view, fair play to them. Just don't expect me to necessarily support them or compromise with them if it comes to a conflict between preserving a species and being kind to animals (especially people) - such as when people are forced to resettle to create "conservation zones".


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes

Oh, also (2.33 / 3) (#20)
by greenrd on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:40:03 PM EST

Another thing - any philosophers or philosophically-minded people reading this and wondering "What is the difference, if any, between aversion to stimuli and actually experiencing pain?" may be interested in this diary entry of mine, which discusses just that question. Warning: it's philosophy, so most people will probably find it boring.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Not the issue (4.33 / 3) (#24)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:50:28 PM EST

I think the suffering farm animals are forced to endure is immoral. Therefore to me this entire article is missing the point

I didn't miss that point... just left it out. I actually had it in there, but covering it made the article too long, and it's a well-known case which isn't central to my point, so I removed it.

I don't think it's terribly helpful to try to shoehorn this kind of vegan thinking into a "plants are inferior" mould [...] It all depends on your definition of superior.

You defined it quite well, with this...

As for species: I don't recognise species other than the human species as important to preserve for their own sake, but only important to preserve in the sense that they are, or may be, useful for us



[ Parent ]
I agree (3.50 / 6) (#25)
by Luminescent on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:51:44 PM EST

I, too, am vegan.

I became vegan because I don't want to contribute to pain and suffering. I believe, simply, that animals are capable of feeling pain, and plants are not, thus I find it more agreeable to eat plants, though I'd just as soon not kill anything in order to survive, if such a thing were possible.

I think this article does make for some interesting discussion, but it's criticisms of veg*anism are very weak, in that it assumes that veg*ans believe in some inherent superiority of one lifeform over another. For all veg*ans I know, it's not about superiority. It's about suffering. Granted, there are a lot of veg*ans who do it for many different reasons, but I have yet to encounter one who does it purely out of beliefs of superiority.

As such, I would encourage the author to consider the issue from this perspective, and think about whether these reasons make our philosophy appear more logically sound.

[ Parent ]
Oh well (4.33 / 3) (#27)
by inerte on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 05:56:05 PM EST

An article doesn't have to speak about the most common sense on a subject. I think the author managed to make a good point from one of the several different perspectives.

If he intented to cover all areas of the discussion, a book would be necessary...

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

True (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by Luminescent on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:05:21 PM EST

But, it would be nice if the author briefly mentioned some other reasons people become veg*ans. By neglecting to do this, he appears to be using a strawman argument. (though I don't believe this was intended misleading, reading his comments)

I would also agree with you that the author did have interesting points. I voted it +1 (FP).

[ Parent ]
It could have been more obvious, yes. (4.50 / 2) (#34)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:29:36 PM EST

Sorry, I certainly had no intentions of employing a straw man argument. In fact, I'm quite opposed to all such attempts.

I did try to point out that I wasn't speaking for all types of vegetarian/vegan here... that's why I wrote things like:

This argument for vegetarianism

As opposed to simply

Vegetarianism

But, I guess it could have been more obvious. Originally, the article contained a few more acknowledgements of other views, but I guess they got filtered out in my last-minute edits.

Again, I thought I had made the exceptions plain enough, but I guess not. Lesson learned :)



[ Parent ]
*nods* (3.50 / 2) (#48)
by Luminescent on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:24:10 PM EST

Thanks for the reply.

The only areas where this unintentional strawman actually makes the article weaker is where you try to draw conclusions, such as
I wonder... is vegetarianism or veganism the right way to go? Does it really accomplish anything, except choosing a dumber looking victim (ie, a plant, over an animal)?
At this point, if you had brought up other reasons for veg*anism, you would have had pretty good answer for your second question (it reduces suffering), which, in turn, would help the reader be more informed while they think about your first question.

The other points, especially about symbiosis, and synthesis, are very well thought out. Hopefully this'll make it to the frontpage, and there will be more discussion on this important issue. Thanks for writing about it.

[ Parent ]
did you ever get across (5.00 / 1) (#157)
by Comrade Camembert on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:09:33 PM EST

the famous The secret life of plants ?

[ Parent ]
well for your sake (5.00 / 1) (#269)
by asv108 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:43:08 PM EST

I hope you don't drive, do you realize how many insects are suffering on your windshield every time you make a trip to the store to pick up your veggies? Perhaps if you want to prevent the suffering of microorganisms, you should stop using disinfectant and you probably won't want to move from one spot since you feet could kill innocent microorganisms on the floor.

[ Parent ]
Burger King goes Veggie (3.50 / 8) (#36)
by n8f8 on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:39:27 PM EST

Since we're on the topic, Burger King has introduced a Veggie Burger to their menu nationwide. They also introduced an option for low-fat mayo on their sandwiches.

I tried the Veggie burger- not too bad. The char-broiled vegetable patty is tasty. The price kind of sucks and I was expecting something the size of a Whopper. They tout that the Vegie Burger has roughly half the calories and much less fat than the Whopper. What they don't mention is that it is also half the size of a Whopper.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

Calories (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by marx on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:43:36 PM EST

They tout that the Vegie Burger has roughly half the calories and much less fat than the Whopper. What they don't mention is that it is also half the size of a Whopper.

If it has about half the amount of nutrients, wouldn't it be logical that it has half the mass? What would you want them to fill it with instead, sawdust?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Exactly (3.00 / 2) (#86)
by n8f8 on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:19:46 PM EST

Reasturant hamburger has a high fat content (~30%) to allow it to cook fast. By replacing this fatty meat with vegetable cellulose (ok ,sawdust) they should be able to offer somthing with significatly fewer calories. I imagine a Whopper-sized Veggie Burger would have 2/3 the calories of a real Whopper. Still fewer calories and would appear to be a decent value. As it stands it feels like paying $5.00 for a single combo.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
And Veggie != Vegetarian (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by quam on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:40:45 PM EST

Interesting. While the Burger King patty is veggie, I am skeptical the product is vegetarian considering the patty may be cooked on the same surface as/with beef products and/or perhaps with an animal-based oil. I am not sure of this type of information and it is unfortunate the press release does not provide more details.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
[ Parent ]
Some Info (4.25 / 4) (#94)
by n8f8 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:00:12 AM EST

BK, McDonalds and Wendy's all use vegetable oil for frying. BK uses a conveyor grill, so the residual oil is kept at a minimum.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
It can be vegetarian (3.80 / 5) (#97)
by jethro on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:32:55 AM EST

If you ask them to nuke the veggieburger rather than grill it, they'll be happy to do it. Of course, then you don't get the 'char-broiled' taste.

The real sad thing about BK doing veggieburgers is I bet they'll never actually do any decent advertizing for it. Like Subway did. Subway started offering veggie patties a while ago - pretty good btw - and I found out about it BY MISTAKE. I asked for a veggie delite (yeech) and they ACCIDENTALLY put the patty in. It's unadvertized and isn't even on the damn menu.

Strangely enough, most Subways stopped carrying them because "there's no demand".

--
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
Jainism (4.92 / 13) (#38)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:44:10 PM EST

The <href="http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/jainhlinks.html">Jains, a religious sect that originated in India around the sixth century BC practice beliefs quite similar to what you speak of. Essentially, they believe that any act that causes the death of another being is immoral. As a result, they practice a very strict dietary regime consisting mostly of nuts, fruit, honey and milk. Nothing can be eaten that involves killing another being. They also wear masks to prevent flies from flying into their mouths, and a proper Jainist monk will even carry a small broom with which they will sweep the area before they take a step, so as not to accidentally crush small insects on the ground.

Electric Sheep Comics has an excellent science fiction online comic with an environmentalist bent called The Jain's Death that tells the story of a Jainist nun and her devotion. It's actually one of my favourite stories on that rather superlative site, and it shows you the sort of things that strict Jains do to avoid harming others. As a matter of fact, one of the holiest acts that a Jain can perform to demonstrate their love for the rest of nature is to commit "salekhana", fasting to death.

While I don't know that I agree with them, they're certainly an interesting group and they seem to have managed to survive for several thousand years so far, despite their extreme asceticism and strict dietary practices, so it _is_ possible.


"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Doh (none / 0) (#39)
by Pseudoephedrine on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:45:50 PM EST

I evidently forgot to put anchors around the first link. My bad.
"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
Most excellent cartoon (4.00 / 2) (#70)
by highenergystar on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:48:36 PM EST

Thank you for the link to the cartoon and site

[ Parent ]
Yes, thanks =) (4.00 / 2) (#76)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:55:39 PM EST

Yes, thanks... I'd come across many of these ideas a long time ago, but had forgotten which tradition they originated in. It's good to know.

As for the cartoon... well... spaceship?? ;)



[ Parent ]
"Fasting to death" (5.00 / 1) (#406)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 08:18:04 PM EST

I'm not here to judge those following Jainism. Having said that, I would like to point out the interesting fact that most indian and tibetan spiritual teachings state that suicide is the worst commitable sin. Basically, there is negative impact, both for yourself and your dear ones. Ie, suiciders will have huge problems and challenges in the afterlife and the life after. The reason behind this is that we're here to LIVE, experience life and overcome our difficulties. So bailing out is like the most selfish and cowardish thing we can do - it should be prevented at all costs. If we do it anyways, the soul will come up against similar difficulties in the next life, because it wants to play the life-game through. :) Wether this regards jainists, I have no idea, but it's food for thought anyways.

Anyways, I fail to see how starving to death has anything to do with universal love. If you love everyone and everything, you should love yourself and your life-situation enough to keep it going. And why do such people always want to prove their love? Isn't it enough to just be it, and accept the gifts from God? Whenever you want to prove something, you do it because you're uncertain about it. That is in itself a weakness. Anyways, I personally believe the middle path is usually the best one.

Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
It's about Pain and Sentience (3.80 / 10) (#49)
by snowlion on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 07:30:35 PM EST

I'm a vegetarian, for the most part. If I'm at my parents house and they're serving meat, I'll eat it. They know this, and in return, serve non-meat for me.

For myself, its about pain. I don't like the idea of killing animals (and causing pain) if we can kill plants instead. I don't think plants feel pain like animals do (if they have awareness at all), and I need to eat, so I minimize the pain by killing plants.

I also think it's probably better for our planet that we eat plants as well. I have heard that it takes a looot of plant to make meat for animals, but not nearly as much to feed a human. So, that's a nice fringe benefit as well.

But mostly I'm motivated by preventing pain.


--
Map Your Thoughts
Causing pain != pain (none / 0) (#275)
by epepke on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:34:20 PM EST

You may be motivated not to want to be involved in causing pain, but that is an entirely different matter from wanting to prevent pain, unless you believe that animals are immortal or the many ways in which they die in the wild involve no pain whatsoever.

This is a very human response, and I don't think the less of you for it. However, it is a bit disingenuous to claim to be motivated by preventing pain rather than primarily the desire to play no personal part in it.

I think you are probably aware that not being a domesticated animal involves a great deal of pain, pretty constantly. This was brought home to me recently when a dog adopted me. She was suffering from severe malnutrition, enough of a flea infestation to cause anemia, and two kinds of intestinal parasites. She's OK now. Due to sentimental reasons I am not planning to slaughter and eat her, but the point is that nature is not necessarily a very nice place, and there are advantages to having a human being who can afford a veterinarian around. What is the quality of life on balance for a domesticated food animal, even with the bolt through the skull at the end? I don't know a universal answer, and I suspect it's different for different animals and ranching methods, but at least it's more complex than slaughter=pain/no slaughter=no pain.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I don't know about Disengenuous... But, (none / 0) (#328)
by snowlion on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 03:19:15 AM EST

I'm not sure I completely understand you.

I'm not in a quest to eliminate the world's pain. I'd just rather not be a part of it, or minimize my contributions within reason.

Sure, animals in the wild probably experience pain, more than they do on the ranch. I think it's more of a golden rule thing then- If I were an animal, would I want them to fatten me up and then kill me? Or would I rather live in the wild, with all that entails? (I just have this humerous image of a cow stalking in the jungle...) I'd rather live in the wild. I think even cats would prefer it if they knew what their end would be in the house.

I don't think that animals reason like this, but if they did, and if I were an animal, that's how I would think.

So, Nix the pain stuff. Replace it with the golden rule. There have been no disingenuous ("wanting in noble candor or frankness") statements here; Only a poor selection of words.

I'd rather the humans let me alone, unless I were a dog, or some other animal that seems to enjoy human companionship (and is treated well by it). I think my dogs Pizza Pizza & Max liked our family. I think they genuenely liked living with us. They died of old age. It was good. If I were one of them, I'd want to live with us. {:)}=

But the things they do to those chickens... Yuck! Nah, that's not something I'd be interested in if I were a chicken.

(Chicken..! Chicken! Brock brock brockbrock broOOOOcK!)


--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]
You ain't killing plants (3.92 / 13) (#55)
by Rainy on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:04:55 PM EST

When you eat fruits. You know they have seeds in them? If you don't eat them, you won't kill plant "fetuses", so to say.

You also make an assumption that I think is questionable - you say that vegans choose not to eat animals 'cause we're not any better than them, but eat plants because "animals are above plants". There are a few things wrong with this statement. First, some vegans do so because of health considerations. Others do so because they dislike the idea of causing other living beings *pain*, and I think we'll agree that plants don't feel pain. Another possible reason for veganism is that animals have a nervous system, they experience the world in ways close to ours, and killing them is abusing our own humanistic compassion. If you eat them why not eat some dude? If you eat some dude why not eat some aquaintance of yours? If him, why not eat a friend? If you'd eat your friend why wouldn't he eat you?

So, a vegan is saying, I'll draw the line as far away as I can do without starving myself to death.

Incidentally, I understood this argument's validity for a long time and still remained a carnivore, simply because I couldn't make the switch. As I said in a post in the previous story, I finally did make a switch simply when I found that meat was an aquired taste of mine, and once I stopped eating it, i found its taste almost repulsive.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

Intelligence is Relative, so is Pain (4.00 / 3) (#80)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:32:16 PM EST

You ain't killing plants when you eat fruits

No, you're not. That's certainly something worth thinking about in this topic, even if you are eating the food that was provided in order to sustain another lifeform. Since another comment mentioned Jainists, I was just reading about this very approach.

You also make an assumption that I think is questionable - you say that vegans choose not to eat animals 'cause we're not any better than them, but eat plants because "animals are above plants". Others do so because they dislike the idea of causing other living beings *pain*

It is a questionable assumption, but I didn't actually make that assumption. This issue has been discussed in other comments already, though, so I won't reiterate those discussions here.

I think we'll agree that plants don't feel pain

Nope, I don't agree on that. In fact, another point you make illustrates the issue here. When you say that animals:

experience the world in ways close to ours, and killing them is abusing our own humanistic compassion

This is exactly what I'm getting at. The article isn't so much about vegetarianism, per se, as the compassion at the heart of such lifestyles. It is about this phenomenon of limited compassion -- compassion for animals like ourselves, but not for other, more varied lifeforms. We limit our compassion to that which seems like ourselves -- to that which has a large portion of it's DNA in common with our own.

It all depends on your definition of feeling pain. The simplest definition I can think of for feeling pain is "reacting to unpleasant stimuli". In fact, it may be possible to simplify further... I'm not sure if favoring pleasure and avoiding pain are really two separate things, mentally (as opposed to neuronally), or just two sides of a coin. Regardless of whether you call it pain/pleasure, good/bad, food/starvation or something entirely different, plants certainly react to one or the other when they follow light, and such.

Let's discuss intelligence itself then, and bring that back to the concept of pain. Arguments against the presence of true intelligence, feeling, etc in "lower" animals are fundamentally flawed, as I see it. In fact, I think they are simply biased assumptions. There may even be some connection between the idea that it's OK to eat lower lifeforms, and the one that says it's OK to kill the enemy in war, because they're not really as civilised as we are, or because they don't follow the same political beliefs that we hold dear. But let's not get too sidetracked. To confirm this basic idea of relative intelligence, then, ask yourself a question...

Think of what you would consider "intelligent life" right now. By that, I mean, the least intelligent person/creature you can have a reasonable conversation with. I certainly have seem a few chimps capable of basic conversations via sign language. Let's assume you've found a chimp, whom you're assigning this award for basic intelligence to. We'll call him "Bobo".

Now, you have some definition for basic intelligence. But let's change the rules. What if you were that chimp? What if you were Bobo?

If you were Bobo, who or what would you be capable of having a reasonable conversation with then? We've established that Bobo isn't too smart by human standards... in fact, he's bottom of the barrel in terms of our "basic intelligence". What does that tell us? It tells us that Bobo has to stretch his mind to have a conversation with humans. Therefore, by definition, he would consider a normal, intelligent conversation to be something that a lesser creature, ie.. a non-human would hold. Maybe my logic is flawed here... do that make sense?

If this does make sense, then I see no reason why it can't continue all the way down the "hierarchy" of intelligent creatures until we come to creatures which actually lack the facilities necessary for communication. Even bees have been shown to communicate with each other by intricate "dance routines". A bee would, by this argument, and by common sense, consider the conversation of another bee intelligent.

So, there it is, then... intelligent conversation is not something which only exists in higher lifeforms. It is just our human assumptions of superiority which lead us to define intelligence the way we do, and to believe that intelligent conversation cannot be present if it does not manifest similarly enough to our own.

This argument, as far as I can tell, is equally applicable to pain (if not moreso, given it's additional simplicity), and anything else which most beings feel on some level, but that humans manage to elaborate upon.

So, a vegan is saying, I'll draw the line as far away as I can do without starving myself to death.

I know -- much of the article deals with this precise concept.



[ Parent ]
re: pain (3.33 / 3) (#92)
by Rainy on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:49:18 AM EST

I think we'll agree that plants don't feel pain Nope, I don't agree on that. In fact, another point you make illustrates the issue here. Pain is sensed by special receptor cells and if all of them are dead, you won't feel pain even if your arm is sawn off. This is not some existential life or death question, it's basic biology. Plants don't have these cells 'cause they don't need them. Animals need pain and the receptors so that they wake up and fight when something bites their leg - plants can't fight so their only defence is passive and non-reactive - i.e. spikes on cacti. This is not some existential life or death question, it's common sense.

I don't know what intelligence has to do with this discussion at all - I never heard anyone say that retarded people have less capacity to feel pain, so this is a moot point.

Ultimately, the moral vegan argument is very consistent, and you seem to miss that. A moral vegan would say, yes, it's possible that plants feel pain, and it's also possible that rocks feel pain, but our ability to empathize with pain of other creatures gets smaller as these creatures get farther from us on evolutionary ladder. This could mean one of two things: either the farther they are, the less pain they feel (generally speaking) or they have the same capacity for pain BUT we're less able to detect it. If former is true, we should try to eat the farthest lifeforms we possibly can. If latter is true, it sure gives you something to think about.. things from our history that we dread, ie the Holocaust, are dwarfed by extermination of ants and cockroaches we perform daily just in one small city. Whenever we build a house and break stones for the fundament we cause enough pain to kill a full opera house. Don't even get me started on bacteria.

I guess that's a good argument against vegetarianism.. since we kill millions of bacteria with every breath, what's the big deal about killing a few cows? Or humans?
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Plants have pain receptors, actually. (2.60 / 5) (#100)
by la princesa on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:04:41 AM EST

Possibly incidental to your view of plants, but they are capable of experiencing pain. Jains, fruitarians, basically those who don't eat anything murdered are the only ethically superior folks as far as diet goes.

___
<qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
[ Parent ]
no.. (2.00 / 1) (#104)
by Rainy on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:00:47 AM EST

Unless my biology teacher was lying to me, they don't have nervous receptors. Except for maybe flytrap plants, but even then it's not a mechanism of flee-or-fight; and besides nobody eats 'em.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Perhaps your bio teacher was simply ill-informed. (2.50 / 4) (#105)
by la princesa on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:28:33 AM EST

Here's a link mentioning some scientific evidence of plants experiencing pain.

___
<qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
[ Parent ]
I've read the book (3.00 / 3) (#127)
by greenrd on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:26:28 PM EST

As I recall, the book "The Secret Life of Plants" talks about some interesting experiments that indicate that plants have amazing "paranormal" capabilities - like sensing when shrimp are being killed, or even sensing when a researcher is contemplating mutilating a plant(!) However, it jumps to the conclusion that plants are sentient without enough argument.

Also, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, I think you'll agree. Before becoming accepted by the scientific community, those experiments would need to be replicated and/or refined, and extensively peer-reviewed. (Some of them stretch even my credibility...)


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Jagdish Chandra Bose: Savage by Design (4.25 / 4) (#142)
by ip4noman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:42:02 PM EST

Some people feel that the immoral nature of eating meat stems from an ethical dilemma: how can we justify the needless killing of sentient beings for food? But what if we can remove the dilemma?

For example, if we could show that animals were not conscious, or didn't have souls, or were not self aware, and did not feel pain, if animals could be shown to be soulless automatons, then there would be no evil in causing them harm. What could be wrong with disassembling some machine, and using it's constituant parts for some other purpose?

But there is another approach. If we can show that life is savage by design, and if the savagery were inevitable, then perhaps it would invalidate all moral distinctions between plant eating and flesh eating. This nicely leads direct support towards helping justify the actions of those who daily make the savage choice to eat meat.

All of this "plant consciousness" research can be traced back to an Indian scientist, Jagdish Chandra Bose [1858 - 1937] . By all accounts he was a brilliant scientist who made great contributions to the fields of botany, and physics. But he was a Hindu that took schooling in England, where it is likely he was exposed to the taste and the lifestyle of eating meat.

It is likely that Bose's family chastised him for the vulgar western habits he acquired. He himself probably became so troubled by his newfound taste for cow flesh, that he spent much of his later years in work towards removing the dilema.

This may be the reason why he became obsessed with showing plants percieved their surroundings, were consciousness and had emotions, and that they shared other traits with animals, such as exhaling carbon dioxide. For if this was true, and if all animals (including human animals) must eat to live, and must eat either plants or animals, then we must kill either plants or animals. If we show that there is no spiritual difference between plants and animals (i.e., if they are *both* consciouness, feel pain, etc.), then the world is savage by design, and removes the ethical dilemma.

I tend to reject such an argument, for a couple of resons. First is that as I walk through nature, I perceive a fundamental difference between animal and plant life. And there seems even to be a symbiotic relationship between moving herbivores and the stationary plants they eat. These include the sugar <-> CO2 carbon exchange, the nitrogen cycle, ... there are many more.

It seems like animals should eat plants, and that plants benefit (to some degree) from being eaten. They have their seeds transported, they get their flowers pollenated because of the actions of animals. The plants build their bodies from CO2 in the air, which became CO2 rich because the animals exhale it. And why do the animals have carbon to exhale? Because they are burning sugar that they received from their plant-based foods. The cycle completes.

Yes, some savage animals with a taste for blood can arise. But these animals are "cheats", in that they take in a fast feast of flesh, where eating enough plants to survive takes a lot longer (since flesh has lower entropy than plants). Carnivores are stealing the the work of the herbivore in collecting the plants to build its body, the carnivore steals the herbivores knowledge and instinct of which plants to eat and which are toxic. The carnivore cheats in a brutal instant, and then has energy to spare for lesiure (for sleeping, watching TV, etc.), moreso than the grazing herbivore, but mankind's present knowledge of farming and our modern machinery makes leasure possible for vegetarian humans.

Also, studies of nature have shown that the the proper carnivore / herbivore ratio should be perhaps 100:1 to be healthy. Thus in a world with 6.6B humans and rising, meat eating in humans should be relatively uncommon to be sustainable -- as if the exponential growth in human population *were* sustainable. Of course it isn't!

But there is another nasty side effect. This particular ethic ("savage by design") can be used to justify just about *anything*, even the most vile, depraved, savage, violent, disgusting, morbid, or horrific acts. Even war and slavery. This is the main reason I reject it.

My deeply felt moral sense informs me that there is, or should be, a proper moral alignment we all must seek. Not every act should be judged with equal weight. There is a way to define right and wrong to which we all must agree, as they derive from the same nature of which we are borne. This view can in large part be rationally derived with models like the Prisoner's Dilemma, or a study of equalibrium in ecosystems.

But there is something immaterial too, towards causing one to persue an ethical life. Sure our equations and models can show that vegetarianism and a stable human population may be sustainable, but why should we try for this? Why not drive this population/consumption freight train at Mach-10 into the brick wall of a dead earth?

Well, I feel we must start with a joy for life, which is something that many people seem to lack. It even seems that the more material things a person or tribe accumulates, the more miserable, the more demanding, the judgemental, the more physically sick and morally depraved, the more arrogant, the more savage that person or tribe becomes.

But I don't belive that the world is savage by design, nor that animals are soulless automatons. I feel that all life is connected, and that all conscious creatures are not only my brothers and sisters, but they are also (like myself) a physical and spiritual reflection of the Divine Spirt. I feel life is good and worth living, and therefore we should respect all living creatures as having an equal right to experience it and enjoy the natural bounty of this earth. Life is good, and is therefore worthy of sustaining.

I therefore chose the vegetarian lifestyle, and pray that others of my kind will chose similarly.



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Carnivores aren't "cheats" (4.75 / 4) (#281)
by derch on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:54:01 PM EST

But these animals are "cheats", in that they take in a fast feast of flesh, where eating enough plants to survive takes a lot longer (since flesh has lower entropy than plants)

You are applying human morals to an amoral system. Carnivores are necessary to the natural cycle of life. They control the herbivore populations which in turn limits starvation of herbivores and the over consumption of plant life. The carnivore also benefits the herbivore by eliminating slower and weaker individuals.

It's just natural. Death, violence, and pain are part of Nature. That's just how it is. A wolf isn't a 'thief.' It's doing the job Nature needs it to do.

Sometimes I really wish people were in touch with the natural world. Not the happy go lucky scenic hikes, but the true violence that's inherent to the system. You can't pass moral judgement on a bear that eats a fish. The fish ate a bug. The bug ate the dead parent of the bear. No one stole from the other, they all gave a life to propogate Life.

[ Parent ]

Some feedback on that book: (none / 0) (#170)
by Rainy on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:41:34 PM EST

From amazon user reviews:

was a book that talks about ESP, mind-over-matter, Yoga, hynopsis, extra-terrestial plant seeds, and some very questionable scientific methodology of experiments. There is even a section of how to become "one with your houseplant"! Consequently, I felt as if the book's two authors are still stuck in the hippie, drug-culture of the 60s when they wrote this book. If you even believe an iota of this book, I recommend Carl Sagan's book The Demon-Haunted World.

This books supports the theory that plants have can mentally receive human thoughts and understand them, and it also claims there is scientific evidence for this. However, one scientist they cited, Bakster, later admitted to *never haved repeated his experiments*, thus only doing one test. That's hardly scientific. One researched cited in this book claimed that plants sulked when he insulted them. To understand this, the plant must understand English. I think people are willing to believe anything. However, of the "successful" experiments listed here, other scientists haven't been able to replicate these findings (which some blame on "hostile scientists and plants who don't want to cooperate", which is just ad hoc logic).
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

The link in my prior comment referenced more... (5.00 / 1) (#199)
by la princesa on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:19:21 AM EST

than that particular text. It mentioned some other research and another text. Which is just to say that replicable/replicated experiments on plants feeling pain have occurred after the period in which that secret life of plants text was written. Plants likely can experience pain and detect adverse conditions. The question of their presumed sentience does however remain open. It is worth noting though that the question of animal sentience still remains open for certain animals and did a century or so ago when animal rights first came about as a major movement. Consuming flesh involves murder, whether it's plant flesh or animal flesh, and it can often be painful for the organism experiencing it whether it be plant or animal in form.

___
<qpt> Disprove people? <qpt> What happens when you disprove them? Do they disappear in a flash of logic?
[ Parent ]
Where? (none / 0) (#203)
by Rainy on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:09:29 AM EST

It says something or other about an article in a french magazine. No link. No details. It says, I paraphrase, "aspirin when given to plants blocks 'pain' signals like it does in humans". That page isn't very trustworthy to begin with, seeing as it used 'telepathic plants' book as one of its references, and to check credibility of the other one I'd have to get a french magazine and translate it.

You'd think something as groundbreaking as discovering that plants can feel pain would be covered in respectable english-language science magazine, but I guess anything plant-related is considered too boring to print. They can't even feel pain for christ sakes :P.

Anyhoo, I'd like to use this occasion to ask what conclusions you derive from these tidbits of info on plant pain - do you personally see this as a reason to only eat fruit (carefully avoiding chewing on plant fetuses, aka seeds), or you look the other way through the looking glass and say that since eating plants is cruel, eating only fruit is too impractical and eating animals is also cruel, we'll just have to be cruel anyway?

Thanks for interesting links, although it would be nice if you first ascertained their credibility. No biggie, though.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Plant "pain" (5.00 / 2) (#133)
by swr on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:26:12 PM EST

Unless my biology teacher was lying to me, they don't have nervous receptors.

How animal-centric of you to assume that nervous receptors are the only means of experiencing pain.

I seem to recall some study of grazing behaviour of giraffes leading to the discovery that acacia trees release a chemical to make themselves less tasty to the animal. They are "aware" on a biochemical level that they are being damaged.

Okay, found a Google search that brings up a few relevant links.



[ Parent ]
re: plant pain (3.00 / 2) (#167)
by Rainy on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:25:32 PM EST

How animal-centric of you to assume that nervous receptors are the only means of experiencing pain. It's also life-centric of me to assume that rocks don't feel pain. When you hit a rock with a sledgehammer, it will likely spray you with sharp debris. Sure, they (rocks) aren't very accurate throwers, but then again carrots aren't that apt in protecting their life, either. We also take a very multicell-centric position when we say that microbes we kill with every breath don't feel pain.

So, here's my point: for all we know anything and everything can feel pain. But the only beings that we are certain feel pain in the same way we do are organisms with a brain and a nervous system.

On an intiutive level, it seems to me that there's a proof beyond doubt that plants don't feel pain is that they grow parts of themselves for animal consumption, as an evolutionary mechanism for spreading out. Can you possibly imagine a human growing a 3rd hand so that it can be gnawed off by someone for food, with a seed inside of it that grows to be a fetus?

To be honest, this whole argument seems to me to be made up as an excuse for eating cows and not feeling too bad. "These vegans eat cucumbers, too, after all". When this argument is traced down to its roots, it becomes self-destructive at best (and thus it means its proponents don't truly believe it, 'cause why are they still around if they did?), or absurd at worst. Or maybe absurd at best, self-destructive at worst? Either way, it smells bad, real bad.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

About eating people... (5.00 / 1) (#209)
by deryni on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:36:34 AM EST

Another possible reason for veganism is that animals have a nervous system, they experience the world in ways close to ours, and killing them is abusing our own humanistic compassion. If you eat them why not eat some dude? If you eat some dude why not eat some aquaintance of yours? If him, why not eat a friend? If you'd eat your friend why wouldn't he eat you?

And why not? I have made this comment here before, and have had this discussion with friends and family, and have yet to get a "good" response.

I see nothing wrong (religious, and societal rules aside) with eating people. Now before you all jump down my throat, I did not say we should kill people to eat them, and I did not mean that, all I meant was that I see nothing wrong with the act of eating human flesh.

I eat meat and I enjoy it. I don't enjoy the knowledge of what is generally involved in the production of it, namely the mistreating of the animals. I would much prefer it if ways could be found to eliminate the suffering of the animal, and in the best case scenario, I would like it if we could find a way to use the flesh of an animal that simply died, either by accident, or by any other cause which would leave the flesh whole, and fit for eating.
This idea brings with a whole new set of revulsions from people, but I don't want to discuss those now.

I think our belief that there is some fundamental difference between eating a person and eating an animal is wrong. I believe that there is something to be said in favor of not killing anything in order to eat it, but that is not enough to stop me from eating meat as it exists and is produced now.

I think there are probably cultures in the world which place the killing and eating of certain (perhaps all?) animals at the same level as killing and eating a human being. I think that such a philosophy has more validity then one that separates the two categories overly much.

This post has probably wandered significantly from the topic, and so I'll wrap it up. I started this by saying that I have yet to hear a "good" response to my question. I say this because the responses I've gotten so far have been along the lines of, "but it's a person", or "that's disgusting". I did get one reasoned answer and it tried to make eating all meat a moral problem by saying that the genetic closeness between humans and other animals is too close to justify eating it, but that argument failed to convince me. I think the reason that I have not gotten a "good" answer to this is because no one has really taken the time to think about it.

And so to all I say, What is it about a human that makes their flesh more sacred then that of an animal?

So, a vegan is saying, I'll draw the line as far away as I can do without starving myself to death.

Why do we need to draw the line "as far away" as possible? Why not obviate the need for a line by realizing that flesh is flesh, once the spirit/soul/life is gone from it, and that it doesn't matter what used to be in it only what it can do for us now.

I don't argue for widespread "cannibalism" nor do I argue for the cessation of animal butchering, but I do want people to think about the things they do and say.

[ Parent ]
Cannibalism is too risky (3.33 / 3) (#212)
by Jel on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:57:08 AM EST

And why not? I have made this comment here before, and have had this discussion with friends and family, and have yet to get a "good" response.

The biggest (and perhaps only) non-moral issue with cannibalism is the fact that any community eating it's own dead runs the risk of quickly spreading any disease that the dead person died from. Whole tribes have been wiped out this way, and, assuming we don't have some hard-wired objection to it (as opposed to cultural) it's probably why cultures which practice cannibalism are so uncommon -- those who practiced it simply didn't survive.



[ Parent ]
Medical information has grown recently (none / 0) (#371)
by deryni on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:18:52 PM EST

While it is true that you risk the spread of disease by eating your dead. The main risk was from the fact that there were many diseases which killed silently. Today with our many advances in medical technology, I believe we would have a much better shot of avoiding this problem. Furthermore with the more national/global nature of society today we would be less likely to keep the corpses local. This dispersing of the dead would help limit the casualties involved. Of course the process for examining the bodies would be rigorous and thorough, and the places where they meat was sent would have to be well kept.

[ Parent ]
Eat human flesh? (none / 0) (#412)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 11:54:51 PM EST

Go ahead. Make my day. Personally, I wouldn't do it. I believe in that you "are what you eat", so by eating a person, that can affect you negatively. So eating a human that has lived for 50-90 years, is really risky because that human has accumulated alot through a whole life. Why not let all that stress and everything be finally released in nature?

Anyways, eating humans would not really help the food supply. There simply isn't enough flesh on us. Except for fat Americans, but fat is hardly nutricious food. Old people probably leave a bad taste and not so tender meat. However, you could probably put it in sausages today and nobody would notice any difference!

I am SO glad I'm vegetarian ;*)

Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
Road kill (3.00 / 2) (#276)
by derch on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:35:15 PM EST

and in the best case scenario, I would like it if we could find a way to use the flesh of an animal that simply died, either by accident, or by any other cause which would leave the flesh whole, and fit for eating.

just an aside: in the parts of Virginia where deer are often road kill, there are charities that will clean and butcher the carcass then distribute it to the needy. that's assuming the deer isn't picked up by the person who ran into it. i'm sure there are similar practices in other parts of the country/world.

[ Parent ]

I never understood this attitude. (4.05 / 18) (#62)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:55:32 PM EST

So, okay - Let me think out loud about this for a moment:

Let's posit that humans aren't superior to any other animal species. Why then, do only humans worry about the rightness of killing their prey? Do wolves fret about this? Do cheetah or lions agonize about their choice of antelope over tofu?

But humans do worry about this, and are intelligent enough to realize they have alternatives to eating meat. Doesn't that, in itself, set them apart from the animals? (I won't argue superiority - but certainly different).

So, okay, humans are different from all other animals because we perceive (a) the suffering we cause in our prey, (b) the damage we do to the ecosystem when we hunt our prey (lots of animals can "damage" an ecosystem - beavers, for example) and (c) that there are alternatives to eating meat at all. (Some people argue that the alternative exists because humans are not truly carnivores or even omnivores. But I've noticed that we include lots of rice in the food we give our supposedly carnivorous pets.

But still, I don't get it. From a religious viewpoint, (except for Hinduism) the idea that eating animals is wrong is just a non-starter. Some religions have codes of conduct to minimize the suffering of the food, but that's about it. Hinduism is different, and from their point of view, I guess I have to agree that veganism is the only answer.

Meanwhile, from a non-religious view point this seems like nothing more than rationalizing squeemishness. If we are no different from the animals, then why should we hold ourselves to higher standards of conduct than other predators?

I guess the critical difference (again) is that only humans realize that they have a choice between beef and tofu, and the skills to make the tofu. Do those two facts create a moral requirement that we choose the tofu?

I dunno. I'm willing to be swayed, but no one's given me a good reason for switching sides. I sympathize with vegans, but they come in very low on my sympathy list when compared to, say, women being sold into slavery by their parents.


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


Step back a little, and look again. (3.75 / 4) (#66)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:39:21 PM EST

Let's posit that humans aren't superior to any other animal species. Why then, do only humans worry about the rightness of killing their prey?

The question there is... does worrying about the righteousness of a kill make us superior, or does it just make us what we are? I suggest it is the latter. Further, I suggest that lifeforms who do things differently, are equally just what they are. Therefore, they are equal. I could follow other logic to the same conclusion, but the conclusion is the same.



[ Parent ]
Happy reading (3.00 / 3) (#125)
by greenrd on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:11:33 PM EST

I'm willing to be swayed, but no one's given me a good reason for switching sides.

OK then. Here's a directory of arguments (probably not very well maintained though). If you read just one of those sites, read this one.

Remember, you did ask for it.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

oK, I read it (4.60 / 5) (#204)
by Josh A on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:18:01 AM EST

If you read just one of those sites, read this one.

So I went to http://www.vivavegie.org/vv101/101reas2001.htm and read 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian, by Pamela Rice. I read each and ever reason, all 101 of them, and found none of them compelling enough to merit vegetarianism.

Eating meat is not the proximate cause of any of the problems Rice brings up. I suspect that being vegetarianism allows the weak minded and guilt-inclined to go about their lives guilt free without every actually doing anything that might help solve the mentioned problems.

Which is sad and angering, actually, considering the predictions--cited in this list!--of what will happen if we don't fix them. But, why worry about being effectual or doing anything truly difficult, when you can just swear off meat and then enjoy a fulfilling life preaching to your neighbor about it?

The other thing I saw was a lot of bad science, bad logic, and studies quoted in ways that suggest to me a number of common flaws in "health" rhetoric. No, I'm not going to waste my time reading all of the studies mentioned, assuming enough information was given about them to track them down. Find one which proves causation rather than relying on correlation and get back to me.

Oh, don't forget the plentiful doses of propaganda and scare tactics. The list was an insult to human intelligence.

And after all I went through to read all 101 reasons, a great number of them didn't even support the argument. So many off topic, irrelevant points that fail to support the idea that one should be vegetarian. <laugh> Many of these are decent arguments for eating more grains and vegetables, but fall flat as far cutting out meat all together. Perhaps a more accurate title would be 101 things that have some tangential relationship to human consumption of meat. BTW, I'm a vegetarian.

So, yeah, I'm kind of disappointed.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Maybe.. (none / 0) (#409)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 11:03:53 PM EST

Maybe it's just you that should be defending why you absolutely need some meat at all? You have, after all an opinion, a position "to prove" (that you must eat meat). Anyways, I think it is wrong to push people into becoming vegetarians or vegans. Such changes is best left to the individual to decide for itself (Maybe I should start calling everybody who sees themselves as animals as "it" ;). It is interesting though, that you ask for "evidence". Such is hard to come by in this world where everyone has an agenda and all sides are oblivious to being objective. Maybe it's because true objectivism cannot be achieved?

Myself, I'm vegetarian because it brings up my energy level and joy, instead of becoming dull by eating meat. It is both more healthy, easier and faster to digest by the stomach (worst cases: 4 hours compared to 3 days with meat) and the pollution is on orders of magnitude less, especially heavier metals which are stored in the body. I must confess, I have never been a great eater or a feinsmecker of steaks. So I feel I have made no sacrifice when I stopped eating meat. For more info, look up my other comment (though it is heavily biased): here :-)

PS: Do not think that vegetarians are always hungry, or just luuuv salad ;*). We need good meals, just like everyone else. Some vegetarians look like they starve themselves, run away as fast as you can. Those cannot teach you anything ;*) The spices will make the food tasty. With good meals of vegetarian food, you'll hardly notice the different, except becoming more vital, feeling fresher, younger, and your skin will be more shiny. Being vegetarian is often in combination with a positive lifestyle, like doing yoga. That is, you start doing things that makes you feel good. Instead of feeling bad or ok, and then do the stuff that feels-good-for-a-short-time-then-makes-you-feel-worse.


Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
My main issue with "101 Reasons" (4.75 / 4) (#237)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:08:26 AM EST

The "101 Reasons" is clearly propaganda, rather than serious argument. Why? Because it makes unsupported assertions about living conditions, animals being flayed alive, etc.. without actually providing any evidence for their claims.

All of it could be true, but without hard data, it's just another diatribe.


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
philosophical issue (4.00 / 2) (#214)
by kubalaa on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 06:52:44 AM EST

Here's an example of a non-religious rationalization. It's hardly scientific, but it should at least give you an idea for what might go through a vegetarian's mind.

Plants live very close to the earth; the natural cycle of life. They do not move, think, or have motivations, but simply exist. They consume the nutrients of their own dead relatives, intermingle roots, release seeds; the idea of an "individual" plant is pushing it, and in some cases (mangroves, for example) the distinction can be impossible. Often plants expect to be eaten; this is how their seeds are spread. Often you don't have to kill the plant in any way to eat of it. In any case, consuming, dying, spreading, are very much the natural cycle of a plant life, and very few plants resist it in any way.

Animals, on the other hand, are very strongly attached to their individuality, and while of course they too participate in the life-death cycle, they are far removed from it and constantly fighting it. To take the life of an animal is almost always violent, abrupt, and quite against its will. From an objective perspective, it's just as "natural" as killing a plant, but there is nonetheless a clear qualitative difference. With a plant, you feel like you are participating effortlessly in the cycle. With an animal, you feel like you are injecting yourself roughly into it.

You'd probably feel this most concretely if you had to grow all of your own food. With a plant, you take something which the plant and the earth share with you. With the animal, you take something which it gives only against its will.

(It should be noted that eggs, milk, etc. are clearly "okay" in this perspective, and I still haven't understood any philosophy where they're not.)

[ Parent ]

tribal vs. modern views re: killing animals (5.00 / 1) (#307)
by jombee on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:16:24 PM EST

kubalaa is quoted in italics:

Here's an example of a non-religious rationalization.

I would like to bring up example of a religious nature regarding participating in the life-death cycle of killing animals.

Plants live very close to the earth; the natural cycle of life.

Historical, and a few modern, tribal communities tended to hold religious beliefs that put themselves in more frequent contact with the natural cycle of life. Their lifestyle was more directly dependent on the cycle, with fewer layers of unnatural abstraction separating them from the earth and its living forms.

To take the life of an animal is almost always violent, abrupt, and quite against its will. From an objective perspective, it's just as "natural" as killing a plant, but there is nonetheless a clear qualitative difference.

The difference between these two killings was most certainly reflected in the degree of ritual, and in many cases deep respect, that tribal communities tended to exhibit in their religious expressions. Perhaps, as Joseph Campbell posited, simply to create "religious reasoning" to alleviate their guilt for taking life and to find a way to ensure the continuation of the cycle on which they were dependent.

The greatest tragedy to me about eating meat is the meat industry. Reverence and respect is completely absent from the whole means of raising, slaughtering, packaging, preparing, and often in the end of devouring animal flesh. Industrial animal herders, farmers, meat processing factory workers, supermarket deli employees, truck drivers, chefs, and fast-food consumers probably do not put forth spiritual kotow to the life-death cycle in their hands.

=jombee



[ Parent ]
Eh? (none / 0) (#229)
by FredBloggs on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:18:37 AM EST

I sympathize with vegans, but they come in very low on my sympathy list when compared to, say, women being sold into slavery by their parents."

What makes you think Vegans require your sympathy?

[ Parent ]
LoL. (none / 0) (#233)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:03:30 AM EST

Because they don't get to eat meat, of course.

Do you seriously not understand my point? Vegans generally want other people to join them - in other words, they want me to sympathize with their cause.


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
Well, (none / 0) (#245)
by FredBloggs on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:35:25 AM EST

if thats your definition of sympathize, then i dont think theres any group of people anywhere in the world who arent exactly the same.

[ Parent ]
My definition? (none / 0) (#273)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:59:32 PM EST

From dictionary.com:

sym·pa·thize

  1. To feel or express compassion, as for another's suffering; commiserate.
  2. To share or understand the feelings or ideas of another: sympathized with the goals of the committee.
  3. To be in accord; correspond.

--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
Existing (1.88 / 9) (#73)
by xriso on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:53:25 PM EST

Sure, every plant and animal that has ever existed has indeed existed. They always stop existing eventually, but they sure did exist.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
predators (2.90 / 10) (#79)
by highenergystar on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:31:56 PM EST

many of the arguments put forth human efforts/consumption on the same plane as those of other predators. I would like to put forth that it has been at least 100 years (if not more) since humans have hunted for food. Meat that is eaten now (for good or bad) is more in line with any other agricultural produce. No, we do not chase down and hunt our food (ever notice that the animals we do eat are among the dumbest easiest to catch and herd- but thats a different point). I think my viewpoint here is not 'is there harm in killing a sentient being' if that was an essential part of my diet (note that other primates are also omnivores- yet hunt/kill/eat meat much less frequently) but 'is it moral to raise a sentient being exclusively to be my food'. Two different approaches...

Yes, agreed. (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by Jel on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:37:29 PM EST

I would like to put forth that it has been at least 100 years (if not more) since humans have hunted for food.

Yes, agreed, that's why I talked about things like: sustainable meats, such as beef

is it moral to raise a sentient being exclusively to be my food'. Two different approaches...

Agreed, it's the same two approaches I discuss. There are certainly moral issues with either option. Quite a dilemma, eh?



[ Parent ]
Humans ey? (2.50 / 2) (#106)
by axxeman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:31:46 AM EST

I guess I'm not human then, nor are some of my friends, for I do occasionally hunt and eat the catch. I don't fish, not my thang, but a hell of a lot of people do.

As for being predators, we certainly are intraspecially.

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

occasionally! (3.00 / 1) (#144)
by highenergystar on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:11:42 PM EST

you said so yourself :) ...put in a situation where you had to eat only the meat that you caught..(not fished) ah there's the rub..it's easy to live on a diet with a high proportion of meat when the effort involved is a drive to the supermarket/restaurant....

[ Parent ]
In what fairy land do you live? (4.00 / 3) (#130)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:57:12 PM EST

I would like to put forth that it has been at least 100 years (if not more) since humans have hunted for food.

I see. So, there are no subsistence hunter-gatherer societies in South America, Asia or Africa anymore. Just lots of super markets?


--
I'm not a sexist pig!
I'm a plain-old-everyday pig!


[ Parent ]
dang stupid cows (4.33 / 3) (#145)
by highenergystar on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:19:24 PM EST

having owned cows all my life ( this is true, i grew up on a farm ), i would have to tell ya that while cows give the appearance of being stupid, they definitely aren't. Also i would imagine that the argument being made in this topic is the presence of feeling of pain, if dumbness was a criteria i have quite a few humans to offer on the plat du jour...

as for the fact that predators in nature catching the slowet dumbest.. there is the statistic that most predators have less that a 25% success rate when they go hunting, you might want think of that when you think that popping into macdonalds for a big mac is the fulfillment of a predatory evolutionary characteristic..damn thats the third big mac that got away from me today!

[ Parent ]
hmm point by point.... (5.00 / 1) (#177)
by highenergystar on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:37:41 PM EST

pain is not a a signal for damage, pain is a feedback mechanism to avoid damage, so that action is taken (key) to avoid the possibility of current damage, or future damage from the current stimulus.
If there is nothing that the plant can do about it i doubt that the plant would spend resources to feel pain, most damage avoidance in plants comes in the form of healing (in which it far batter than animals) and in long term development that make it distasteful chemicals to its predators.
No flnching going on when plants are damaged...
And that is the point i am trying to make.
Morality is relative, there are no absolute standards, some people (jains, and other communities, I am familiar with a number personally) are aggreived at the thought of 'harm' of any sort to any species, because of their world view and morality ....others are perfectly comfortable eating their enemies.
It is entirely a personal choice where to draw that line. Thus any pontificating that goes on here, especially mine, should not be a _reason_ for vegetarianism or otherwise. Reason and emotion are best separated, and if I found that my fellow man tasted pretty good, I will invent any number of reasons to paint him inferior to me so I can morally justify the fact that i can have him for dinner.
That's what i think, we draw a line, based on our worldview, either one that we grew up with, or one that we found impressive enough to adopt. From there it's all excuses, justifying my actions to me/rest of world.

Para 2....
I did not imply that we were better off eating animals more difficult, I was just pointing out that we do eat 'cultivable' animals. Any conclusions you draw from that are your own.
Vegetarians (and granola types) who are at peak condition mentally, v. anand (and indian who is at the top of the chess world), stallman (one might argue he has contributed something to software, if nothing else the GPL, which seems watertight) chandrasekhar (discoverer of the chandrasekhar limit), al einstein, bose (bosons et al) and the list goes on...

as for being in peak condition physically yes there is no physical advantage in being vegetarian. However this should be viewed in perspective. All those that eat meat are not healthier than those that do not, in fact a significant percentage of vegetarians (in the west) are healthier than non-vegetarians, if only because of their awareness of what they eat. Eating meat does not make you fitter, leaner meaner or stronger, it only prepares you for the effort involved in that transformation.

Yes meat packs the most punch for its volume, but then again it has to be remembered that this raw material was processed before it was available, in a typically wasteful process (read links earlier in this thread). More meat (by upto 2/3rd) is eaten than necessary in the developed nations (with over 25% suffering from obesity), this is of course a coincidence like (http://www.satirewire.com/news/march02/coincidence.shtml)

[ Parent ]
I can't believe this is getting voted up. (2.83 / 24) (#83)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 10:47:27 PM EST

It can be argued that, since we can live by eating plants, we don't need to kill animals for food, and therefore shouldn't. There is an inherent assumption there, though -- that animals are better than plants. But don't plants live too? What makes one better than the other?

This is just a long and boring write-up of the good old childish "But plants are alive too!" argument. Wishy-washy braindead USian new age yuppie vegetarian types may be at a loss for a good answer, but they are stupid anyways.

The trivial answer is that of course, plants are going to get eaten: that's the way the fucking biosphere fucking works! You know, the basic energy source for the planet's life is the Sun, and it's plants that tap into it via photosynthesis. So, any other life form ultimately depends on the consumption of plants. So no, animals are not "better" than plants. It just so happens that plants are indispensable.

Are you suggesting that vegetarians, despite not realizing it, are ultimately committed to the belief that we should all voluntarily starve to death? If so, you deserved to be laughed out of the building.

Might the same be true of our foodsources? It cannot be denied that farming has aided the spread of potatoes and other crops in much the same way.

I think you are starting to personalize plants a tad too much there. Yeah, there's all this biological literature by the likes of, say, Richard Dawkins, which provides a way of conceiving of a plant's interests (well, rather the interests of its genes). Why should we care about those "interests", anyway, and why do you bring up the point that in a sense we have aided them?

In any case, the spread of the staple crops of industrial farming (like potatos) has had major environmental repercussions, decimating ecological diversity all over the world.

I wonder... is vegetarianism or veganism the right way to go? Does it really accomplish anything, except choosing a dumber looking victim (ie, a plant, over an animal)?

I'm not terribly worried about causing pain to a plant, you know. If you are, I'd suggest you seek professional help.

--em

Interesting (4.75 / 4) (#107)
by axxeman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:36:02 AM EST

It seems most comments that directly insult the poster of the parent are modded to the vicinity of 1.

For someone of your calibre, EM, that surely is a cheap tactic, and I shall foil it to my best abilities.

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

Well, that was a fine example (2.33 / 3) (#111)
by Jel on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:04:56 AM EST

I'd consider your post directly insulting -- you almost accused me of rigging the system. Hell, you DID accuse me of rigging the system. But look, no mods for you, yet. Could it be that he just didn't read the article properly, made irrelevant comments, and got modded down for it?

[ Parent ]
Au contraire, monsieur (4.50 / 4) (#112)
by axxeman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:36:33 AM EST

On re-reading my comment, I see how it can be easily misread in the manner you did.

It seems most comments that directly insult the poster of the parent are modded to the vicinity of 1.

This was stated as a general principle on k5 - it has applied to myself plenty of times.

By "the poster of the parent" I was referring to the direct parent post - to illustrate, in case of your reply, my comment was the parent, making me the poster of the parent.

Could it be that he just didn't read the article properly, made irrelevant comments, and got modded down for it?

You don't know EM very well, do you?

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

uhh.. OOPs :) (4.00 / 2) (#113)
by Jel on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:48:58 AM EST

*blush*

Sorry, it makes sense when you put it that way. That'll be my lesson in humility for today then, I presume :)

And.. no, I don't know EM :)



[ Parent ]
Is cool (3.00 / 1) (#114)
by axxeman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:51:20 AM EST

Stick around for a bit and it'll all start making sense.

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

If we're not supposed to eat animals... (2.40 / 15) (#85)
by Zeram on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 11:12:04 PM EST

how come they're made out of meat?
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
If we're not supposed to eat people... (3.71 / 7) (#91)
by Ni on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:37:11 AM EST

how come they're made of meat?


<mrgoat> I can't believe I just got a cyber-handjob from ni.
[ Parent ]
Eh? (3.66 / 6) (#93)
by Zeram on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:52:42 AM EST

We're not supposed to eat people!?!?!?!?!?!

Damn....
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
That sucks (4.50 / 4) (#96)
by PhillipW on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:01:32 AM EST

I guess I'll be changing my diet :(

-Phil
[ Parent ]
Simple. (3.80 / 5) (#137)
by mofospork on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:44:56 PM EST

Because you're usually not supposed to eat your own kind, everything else is fair game.

[ Parent ]
Your own kind (2.00 / 1) (#183)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 10:01:59 PM EST

> Because you're usually not supposed to eat your own kind, everything else is
> fair game.

Actually, I believe stimulating muscles to grow in vitro, then harvesting the meat does, urrpp, allow, gag, the legitimate eating of, burrrrp, your own kind.

Urp.




[ Parent ]
Damn. (5.00 / 1) (#188)
by Canar on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:16:45 PM EST

My girlfriend's gonna be devastated...

[ Parent ]
Then evolve divergently (none / 0) (#282)
by pin0cchio on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:55:50 PM EST

Because you're usually not supposed to eat your own kind, everything else is fair game.

Well, if half the people evolve into subterranean carnivorous lemur people, and the other half evolve into frugivorous Precious Moments people, are the lemur people justified in herding and eating Precious Moments people?

(Apologies to H. G. Wells.)


lj65
[ Parent ]
Because it's a bad idea to eat at the top.... (3.33 / 3) (#138)
by Rande on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:52:47 PM EST

of the food chain.
All the poisons get concentrated. But if I was starving like those 'Survivor' people, then I wouldn't hesitate to eat the frozen bodies. When you are dead, yu are just meat. Perhaps not the best meat given what people eat these days, but it would keep me alive.

[ Parent ]
Misses one very important point (3.33 / 12) (#101)
by concept on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:39:46 AM EST

Namely, that many people are vegitarian not just because of religious belief, ailments, etc. but because they dont like to torture and kill things. Such people can justifiably eat plants, as pain and suffering are not 'felt' the same way in plants as they are in animals - as they are not concious.

Answered elsewhere (4.66 / 3) (#109)
by Jel on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:53:58 AM EST

That's been answered, in other threads.



[ Parent ]
I don't see a problem (2.60 / 15) (#102)
by hovil on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:21:14 AM EST

If plants and inferior animals don't like being eaten, why don't they do something about it?

They do (3.50 / 6) (#126)
by ip4noman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:17:31 PM EST

When animals are chased, caged, trapped, or penned, they run, stuggle, and cry out.

By the way, please define "inferior".



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Yeah, well. (3.40 / 5) (#136)
by mofospork on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:42:08 PM EST

When animals are chased, caged, trapped, or penned, they run, stuggle, and cry out.

I think he ment that they do something effective. Being pathetic and ineffectual has never been enough to save anything from being eaten by anything else, save a few weak hearted humans.

By the way, please define "inferior".

In this context, something that I can kill and eat. Simple, eh? Don't be silly and try to extend the rights of Man into the rights of all animals: going too far down that path is folly.

[ Parent ]

Your definition needs work. (5.00 / 2) (#181)
by EriKZ on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 08:40:04 PM EST

Something you can kill and eat is inferior? That means everything digestable is inferior. Including other people. Interestingly enough, if we meet an advanced alien race that's digestable, by your definition, they are inferior. Bet they don't have THAT covered in the first contact handbook.

[ Parent ]
Obvious reference (none / 0) (#226)
by zakalwe on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:45:24 AM EST

Interestingly enough, if we meet an advanced alien race that's digestable, by your definition, they are inferior. Bet they don't have THAT covered in the first contact handbook.
Or they'd just judge us as inferior - after all, we're made out of meat

[ Parent ]
Yeah, but we're winning! (5.00 / 1) (#278)
by jmzero on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:42:32 PM EST

It's like Monty Burns says - nature pummeled mankind for millenia. But now that we're winning, everyone's crying out for poor nature.

Boo hoo.

By the way, I think we're all joking...


.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Animal/Plant Kumite (none / 0) (#163)
by Holloway on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:14:03 PM EST

Why - it's almost as if some kind of epic battle dome is required. Of course and unfortunately Jean-Claude Van Damme would fight for humans. Wandering Cow for all cow kind. The brazilian crushing vine to defend crawlers and the wirey cabbage tree for grounders. Larry the litter-fighting eagle swoops without warning. We could call the show the The Pit and we fight to the bitter end to find which species gets to piss over all the others regardless of the unnecssary pain they cause. Face it, if a cow had the chance, he'd kill you and everyone you love.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]
Abstraction, efficiency (4.68 / 16) (#103)
by blackwizard on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:34:56 AM EST

Okay, I admit it, I'm a vegetarian. I don't usually say much about this because it tends to make people look at me like I'm crazy and stop talking to me. However, I'd like to point out that it's really not about what is "superior", plants or animals -- it's more about function; think about what animals do, and what plants do, to live.

When you eat an animal, you add an extra layer of abstraction between you and your food. That animal that you ate had to consume some stuff in order to live and grow. When you eat a plant, you are getting your energy at the lowest possible level of abstraction possible for humans -- we can't absorb energy directly from the sun, but by eating the things that do, then we are eating more efficiently than when we eat things that have eaten other plants or animals.

Let's assume that, pound-for-pound, an average (herbavore) farm animal eats n times its (edible) weight in feed before it's slaughtered. (I believe n is generally thought to be about 10 for herbavores, but I could be wrong, and I'm sure it varies animal-to-animal) That would make eating plants n times more efficient than eating an animal that is a herbavore, and eating plants n^2 times more efficient than eating a carnivorous animal. (This of course assumes that we have the ability to use the same amount of food that the animals would have eaten to feed ourselves.)

Why should you care? The lost efficiency translates into a huge amount of waste. (water, land, energy, etc, not to mention urine and feces of the animals in question) When all this inefficiency is crammed into a slaughterhouse, you have a horrible place that nobody wants to live within a radius of several miles from because of the foul stench. Personally, it's wasn't very difficult for me to get rid of my part of the contribution to this gross inefficiency -- so why not? As an engineer, it comes naturally. =)

Anyway, I just happened to come across an article on the subject, so here is a little MLP for anyone interested. It has some figures for land use and water use for animal agriculture -- but I'm sure those figures are hotly contested by the meat and dairy lobbyists, so you can take them with a grain of salt if you wish.

Ahh, yes... but... (4.25 / 4) (#108)
by Jel on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:51:51 AM EST

When you eat a plant, you are getting your energy at the lowest possible level of abstraction possible for humans

Ahh, but we could do better, you see. Through synthesis, we could generate food at the same level that plants do it (via photosynthesis). Or, through symbiosis, we'd be letting other creatures synthesise foods for us, and we'd be simply making use of food which exists, rather than killing lifeforms for food.



[ Parent ]
What? (3.33 / 3) (#115)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:29:25 AM EST

Through synthesis, we could generate food at the same level that plants do it (via photosynthesis). Or, through symbiosis, we'd be letting other creatures synthesise foods for us, and we'd be simply making use of food which exists, rather than killing lifeforms for food.

Are you seriously proposing that we place our bets not only on somebody actually inventing this and its getting widely accepted, but even more, on this putative invention being more energetically efficient than plants? Keep on dreaming.

--em
[ Parent ]

No, I'm not (4.66 / 3) (#120)
by Jel on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 09:25:42 AM EST

Are you seriously proposing that we place our bets not only on somebody actually inventing this and its getting widely accepted
No. If you had read the article seriously, you'd see that I'm posing moral questions, not making practical proposals. If anything, by saying "Until then, though, I wonder if it is not the unsustainable foodsources that we should worry about most...", I was simply implying that the technology would most likely become available at some point, and would be worth considering.
but even more, on this putative invention being more energetically efficient than plants?
By both blackwizard's understanding, and my own, (which is based upon hearing it many times in various places), lower-level foods are naturally more efficient. The second law of thermodynamics would seem to support it too. If we eat plants, we digest them, and discard what we can't digest. Moving up an abstraction level in the food chain, eating an animal discards not only what we can't digest of the animal, but also, indirectly, what the animal couldn't digest of it's plant-based foods. This seems quite obvious to me, and apparently to blackwizard, and obviously to all the biologists and/or economicists that that seem to make the theory well known. What is the problem here? You doubt that it's possible to achieve food sources through symbiosis? That's how we get cheese, yogurt, beer, and lots of other stuff. Synthesis, granted, is a little tougher, but I doubt that it's a lot tougher, given that many medicines are made in such ways.

[ Parent ]
undigestible stuff (4.00 / 3) (#124)
by VoxLobster on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:07:38 PM EST

eating an animal discards not only what we can't digest of the animal, but also, indirectly, what the animal couldn't digest of it's plant-based foods.

You make a good point, but interestingly enough, most animals that are slaughtered for meat are able to almost completely digest the plants they eat. There is actually little waste if the animals are eating the correct food.

VoxLobster -- The aimless blade of science, slashing the pearly gates

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

Featured... (4.25 / 4) (#135)
by MKalus on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:29:35 PM EST

... word: IF.

And I guess that's part of the problem. Most of the meat produced nowadays comes from a farm, and what do animals get fed there? Exactly what's cheap. Most cow's never taste Grass, because that would be way too complicated to harvest and feed to the animals.

[ Parent ]
indeed (3.66 / 3) (#143)
by VoxLobster on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:01:28 PM EST

you are correct... but my main point is that other animals are far more efficient when digesting plants than humans are.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

digestion efficiency (4.60 / 5) (#148)
by blackwizard on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:34:08 PM EST

You have a good point -- of course, many herbavorious animals can more efficiently digest raw plants than we can. So that decreases the efficiency of eating plants by a little bit, assuming that we could more efficiently digest a piece of meat -- which is questionable. However, even if the ratio of how much plant food we have to eat compared to our weight is twice that of a cow, eating plants is still much more efficient for us than feeding the cow, and then killing it. It would be hard to imagine the total efficiency of eating plants being less than what it would take to use plants to raise animals for food. You'd have to eat plants that are completely undigestible, and then try to claim that it's way more efficient to just eat the cow.

[ Parent ]
the best way to settle this efficiency argument (4.00 / 3) (#190)
by VoxLobster on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:49:27 PM EST

would be to check and see which food, meat or veggies, gives you the highest caloric energy per unit of mass. Although I agree that overall, it's a lot less work to maintain plants. But maintennance aside, I wonder which has the highest energy value?

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

kcal per pound of food, water use (5.00 / 4) (#208)
by blackwizard on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:10:07 AM EST

I think it's generally agreed upon that meat contains more calories than vegetables pound for pound. But it depends on what meat and what vegetables we're comparing. And that's not the whole picture either. Just because a pound of meat has more calories than a pound of vegetables doesn't mean it's more efficient, except when you're eating it. Somebody still has to grow all the stuff you feed to the animals.

Let's look at the big picture. This page contends that 7 ounces of tofu has about 150 calories, and the same size serving of beef has 798. (not sure what cut of beef they are talking about, you'd have to use the nutrition database linked below.) That would make the meat have 5.32 times as many calories. But tofu is not exactly packed with calories, I'm sure there are other foods much higher in calories. (if it's plain tofu, then it's not really a good comparison, because you have to flavor it, and that would add calories, etc.) So, let's use the USDA nutrition database and get some numbers for a food we have more data for. A microwaved potato, w/skin, is 105 kcal per 100 grams. There are 196 grams in 16 ounces (1 lb), according to the 1:28 ratio on this page. So multiplying 1.96*(105 calories per 100 grams) there are about 206 calories in 16 oz of potatoes. So the meat in this case has 3.87 times more calories than the veggies. But what does it all mean? Well, according to the article I originally linked, potatoes take 60 total gallons of water per pound to grow, compared to beef which takes a total of 12,009 gallons per pound. The efficiency in terms of water use, then, would by these numbers be (converting 7 oz to one pound) 206*(1+9/16)/60 = 206*1.5625/60 = 321.875/60 = 5.36 calories per gallon of water. Since the beef has 3.87 times more calories, then we can adjust the ratio by saying we only need about 1/3.87 ~= 1/4 as much beef to get the same amount of calories. So 1/4 * 12,009 = 3002.25 gallons of water to get the equivalent of one pound of potatoes worth of calories from this beef. Now we again divide 322 calories by 3002.25 gallons of water to get the calories per gallon of water used for beef. That's about 0.10725 calories per gallon of water. So for water use, by the kcal, beef is roughly 50 times less efficient than potatoes. (5.36/0.10725)

Now, I think water use is a pretty good indicator, but it would be interesting to run the numbers for land use as well. It's kind of a given that it's going to be less efficient; the animals are always going to lose some of those calories to moving around and living. (I guess that's why they cram them into cages so small that they can't move -- then they don't lose anything to movement, only urine and feces) So, common sense dictates that it's not really a question of if it's less efficient, only how much less efficient. More accurate numbers are needed to find out exactly how much less.

[ Parent ]

okay...you've convinced me (4.00 / 2) (#228)
by VoxLobster on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:11:33 AM EST

indeed....you are right, veggies are more efficient than meat...but IMHO, meat is tastier :)

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

Speculation... (4.33 / 3) (#151)
by blackwizard on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:58:06 PM EST

Would a chicken laying an egg for us fit your symbiosis example? If so, then again consider the efficiency. The chicken has to live, so we have to feed it. We have to grow the feed, so automatically we know that no matter how many eggs that chicken lays, if we had used the same land that we grew the chicken feed on for growing human food, we could have fed about an order of magnitude more people. (depending on nchicken) And this is ignoring the ethical aspects of keeping chickens to lay eggs -- when a male chicken hatches, you either have to feed it and make it into meat, or you kill it. In the chicken industry, they are placed in plastic bags and suffocated after they hatch. So under the best conditions (free range chickens, etc) you still have (arguably) ethically bad things happening, and efficiency problems. Perhaps you are suggesting synthesize some female chickens and keep the males out of the picture? That would perhaps be less ethically questionable, but not more efficient.

As far as synthesis, I can't imagine that we could devise something that would have inputs of inorganic raw materials and sunlight, and output organic food. Are you thinking of something like a star-trek style replicator? I can see this being more efficient when there are no means available for farming, but it would probably be easier and more efficent to grow the food naturally. And if you have to input anything organic into this "synthesis machine" for it to work, then you had better make sure you carefully consider its efficiency. If we ever got to the point where we could synthesize food without killing anything, more efficiently than growing it, then great, but we'd better make sure that it's sustainable. If we were to somehow lose this technology and farming became obsolete, the human race might have to re-learn farming all over again if something were to happen. OK, I'm done philosophizing (yes, that is a word) now -- back to the real world.

[ Parent ]

Energy from the sun? (5.00 / 3) (#179)
by EriKZ on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 08:29:00 PM EST

What about molds and fungi?

[ Parent ]
What about them? (5.00 / 3) (#206)
by blackwizard on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:42:47 AM EST

Mold is here to eat dead organic matter. It gives people allergies. What about it? Is there some kind of mold-food that I am unaware of? Perhaps if I let some meat sit on the table long enough then I'll have mold instead of meat, but I still wouldn't want to eat the stuff. I vote for inefficient.

Fungi are a bit different. Not knowing much about how mushrooms and other fungi work, I had to do a google search, but according to the linked page they feed on dead plant material. So without further information it seems that they are less efficient than eating plants that get their energy from photosynthesis. Does that mean they are less efficient than eating meat? Don't know. I'd lean toward saying no, they are probably more efficient, but I'd have to get some numbers on exactly how much dead plant matter mushrooms use to grow, and then use that to figure out the efficiency from there. I'd also have to know what specific organic matter is used to grow the mushrooms. If it turns out that mushrooms are being grown using animal wastes, then there might be a lot of unhappy vegans. =) However, that page does imply that only dead plant matter is used. The next question is what dead plant matter? Is it plant matter that would otherwise go to waste? If so, then I don't see the problem. I also came across this cached google page that says that mushrooms are sustainable when grown in the forest. Sure, it might be more efficient to cut down the forest and grow crops from the standpoint that we could get more food out of the land, but it seems to me that if we value our forests then what's the harm in gathering mushrooms from there? It sort of fits right into the whole symbiosis argument brought up by the author -- we take care of the forest, the forest gives us mushrooms. Gives you that warm, fuzzy, symbiotic feeling, doesn't it?

[ Parent ]

Doesn't the Energy Level Still Stay the Same? (3.00 / 3) (#195)
by Sethamin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:44:51 AM EST

If your rationale for eating plants rather than animals is efficiency, then there is a flaw in your argument. Namely, why are we trying to be so efficient? If you conside the earth as a system in Thermodynamics, then we are losing energy from heat loss but gaining energy from photosynthesis and solar energy. Whether its a net gain or not is debatable, but in any case the only energy that's lost is from heat. The best way to reduce the energy lost from heat would be to kill off all the animals. So you see, if you follow your metric (efficiency) to its logical conclusion, what you end up with is extinction. And I'm fairly certain noone wants that.

My point here is just that efficiency does not seem the only thing to consider. Sure, eating more efficiently would allow Earth to support a larger human population. But as it stands now the Earth is not close to its capacity of the population it can support. If we ever start to approach the limit, then I can see vegetarianism being a viable argument. But for now it will only fall on deaf ears.

A society should not be judged by its output of junk, but by what it thinks is significant. -Neil Postman
[ Parent ]

Capacity (2.50 / 4) (#210)
by marx on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:05:36 AM EST

If everyone lived like you, the Earth would be past its capacity a long time ago. So yeah, we can probably squeeze in a few billion more starving people. But not many would agree with you that it's fun to starve.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Let's not start flaming (none / 0) (#280)
by Sethamin on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:49:25 PM EST

I rather resent the insinuation if everyone lived like you [my bold]. I didn't say one way or the other how I eat.

Now I'll reiterate my point, since you didn't quite pick it up the first time. From a capatilistic point of view (i.e. supply and demand) people will not eat vegetarian based on efficiency arguments unless there is a scarcity of demand. In other words, since people generally like eating meat, unless the earth is nearing capacity people will not be compelled to give it up based on the efficiency of energy transfer. I'm just pointing out the obvious; it's similar to the fact that people don't generally conserve water of electricity unless there's a drought or shortage.

A society should not be judged by its output of junk, but by what it thinks is significant. -Neil Postman
[ Parent ]

Capitalism (5.00 / 1) (#305)
by marx on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 07:29:19 PM EST

From a capatilistic point of view (i.e. supply and demand) people will not eat vegetarian based on efficiency arguments unless there is a scarcity of demand.

This is a tautology. My guess is that you meant "supply" instead of "demand".

About 15% of the world population is "chronically starving", i.e. they output more energy than they input. A much bigger part eat less than they want to, it's not fun to live on the edge of sustainability.

If everyone in the world started eating like the average person in the US, there would be even less food. Meat is about 50 times less efficient than vegetables. So a large part of the world population would die of hunger within a short time.

people don't generally conserve water of electricity unless there's a drought or shortage.

Of course there's not a shortage of food for rich people. Say that you have X area for growing food, capable of satisfying the entire population. 1% of the population has 99% of the money in the world. This 1% wants super-inefficient food, which requires 100 times more area to grow, for the same amount of food. So if originally 1% of the area could be used to feed 1% of the population, you now have a situation where 100% of the area is used to feed 1% of the population. So there's no shortage for the 1%, but what they're doing is creating a shortage for the rest of the population.

You can claim that the current situation is imperfect, and that according to some silly economic theory everyone should be able to eat. This is reality though. I think we've had enough of fundamentalists sacrificing the lives of millions of people for not conforming to the ideology of the day.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

But efficiency doesn't seem to be the problem (none / 0) (#329)
by Sethamin on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 03:47:44 AM EST

I don't dispute the figures you put forth. But what I do dispute is the rationale. By eating more "efficiently", I don't think that less of the world would neccessarily be well fed. This is because at the current juncture it's not that the resources are not there to feed the world, it's that the economics are not there. In other words, the countries that have the starvation you refer to either don't have or don't spend the wealth neccessary to get the food from richer nations. Like it or not, this is a fact of life. IMO, everyone eating vegetarian won't solve this fundamental imbalance of wealth.

A society should not be judged by its output of junk, but by what it thinks is significant. -Neil Postman
[ Parent ]

This really creeps me out (3.75 / 4) (#240)
by epepke on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:17:16 AM EST

I can understand the ethical argument for vegetarianism. I can, to some extent, understand the health argument, though I think a diet with some but not too much meat is more healthful than a diet with no meat. The "efficiency" argument, though, really creeps me out, because the other word for inefficiency is "life."

I'm from Florida, the biggest cattle state east of the Missisippi. A typical cattle field around here supports thirty or so major plant species, at least a half a dozen mammal species other than the cows, and countless species of insects and arachnids. Plus, it's self-fertilizing.The water comes out of the sky--it rains around here. The cattle are "fed out" on grain for a few weeks before slaughter, but even that is misleading, as most of the grain is a waste product of brewing (another big Florida industry). Doubtless a field of soybeans would be more "efficient" in that it supports way fewer species, but why is one compelled to consider that automatically good?

Sure, cattle grazing is problematic in some areas, where overgrazing happens. So don't graze cattle in those places, Einstein. Or do something else. Train pigs to forage for the water hyacinths and kudzu that are messing up the ecology. You get healthier streams and rivers, plus some nice ribs.

It isn't limited to meat. Sometimes, even some of the same people tell me that hemp is great because it can make paper and you can have six crops a year. Yeah, great. I really want a bunch of dirt-stupid paper companies sucking six crops of nutrients out of the soil every year.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
You asked for it... (none / 0) (#304)
by bumdass on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 06:01:47 PM EST

Six crops a year is pushing it. Naturally growing hemp can be harvested twice in a year. But it requires little or no fertilizer (unlike cotton, which requires a LOT of fertizilers). Hemp is resistant to insects (it doesn't require pesticides...corn and cotton require TONS of pesticides). And it doesn't drain the soil of nutrients (it actually enriches the soil). You can grow hemp on the exact same plot year after year and the soil will get better. Hence, you don't have to rotate crops when you grow hemp. Hemp grows in every region in the world with a viable growing season.
Combine that with the fact that hemp creates more biomass per year (it's an annual) than any other plant, and you have a very convincing argument for agricultural hemp.

Hempseed provides a buttload of protein...only soy provides more. Furthermore, hempseed is loaded with essential fatty acids that make it one of the most nutritious plants we know of.

You're right about the paper though. Hemp is 16 times as efficient as trees at growing pulp for paper. Hemp paper does not need to be acid-treated, so hemp paper lasts indefinitely (our constitution is written on hemp paper, as was the declaration of independence). Wood-pulp paper that has been treated will deteriorate over time; this is why libraries have to have special-made acid-free maper for all of their books.

Hemp fiber can also be woven into clothes. Hemp clothes are more durable than cotton clothes, and hemp is actually softer than cotton. Hemp is superior to cotton in nearly every regard.

Say what you want about the tree-huggers, but they're just plain RIGHT when it comes to hemp. You can find all this information in Jack Herer's The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which can be downloaded in its entirety for free.

[ Parent ]

Sustainability (none / 0) (#385)
by blackwizard on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 05:26:17 PM EST

Perhaps where you live cattle farming is sustainable -- I wouldn't know. If these are cows that don't eat feed grown on other land (i.e. they graze their whole lives -- which most cows don't) then perhaps this is the case. If so, then if the goal is to feed people then from an efficiency standpoint I don't see the problem. (More efficient than not using the land, if you can't farm it, right?) And you're right -- it would be sad if we cut down our forests, etc, and did nothing but farm with our land in the name of "efficiency". (although at the rate we're using up water it might start getting difficult) As with most ethical arguments I've seen, if you take them too far to the extreme, you start to wonder if they really represent what's ethical.

In any case, the argument is that efficiency is important because of sustainability. I mentioned in my original post that because of this gross inefficiency, a lot of waste is generated. We can't keep farming at this rate forever -- we're losing topsoil, and our aquifers are draining. (much of the water that is used to grow crops comes from aquifers that, when they run out, won't fill up for a long, long time) You and I think it's obvious -- if it's unsustainable, don't do it, Einstein. But most of the agricultural practices in use right now in North America (and who knows where else) could in no way be described as sustainable. Einstein would not approve. =)

Personally, I'm a vegetarian because of a sort of combination of all the arguments. It's just that I often see the efficiency argument overlooked, and I think it deserves more visibility.

[ Parent ]

More benefits than that! (none / 0) (#407)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 09:36:51 PM EST

There are many benefits to vegetarianism, and I can't believe we are so ignorant about them; myself included. I first became vegetarian after going to Yoga classes. The practices we do, breathing, moving, stretching etc, really makes you more aware of yourself and your own body. So after a while I naturally wanted a healthier diet, because I started to care about my body and what I put in it. Eating light food really helps in class, while eating lots of meat is probably one of the worst thing to combine with these techniques. It's hard to explain without your experience of it, but if you combine lots of soda, smoking, beers or heavy duty eating with yoga, your body is in for a shocker. You get all these nasty vibrations all over - it's not a good feeling at all. The different energies clash together in the stomach and heart region, it's a sign that you're going in two directions at the same time. The heart also becomes more sensitive to sugar through these exercises. Eat too much of it and you feel pain in your heart.

Just to be precise, I'm not vegan, I drink milk and eat a little egg and cheese etc. My rule regarding food is to eath what I feel is best for me. Sometimes, I eat candy, not because it's necessarily good for me, but once in a while you just gotta have something to put you down to earth again. It's very important in spirituality to not go too far with things, because if you awaken certain energies prematurely (kundalini), you're in for a REALLY rough rollercoaster - for the rest of your life. Not many knows this, but I believe it very important to inform so that people don't burn themselves on yoga and similar things. I also believe in telling people the facts as I know them, even if it can scare them away. The reason I stay with yoga? Because I'm not a pussy and it's very good. Besides, you can have bad Kundalini effects just because you're born to have them. Knowing about it can really help those people.

Here is my top list of benefits:

1) Less pollution and poisons. Plants are first in the food-chain and therefore contain less amounts of poison.

2) Organic plant-food is more healthy than meat. You can get all the amino acids, vitamins and whatever as long as you're not vegan. The food will be easier to digest, so your body will distribute less energy to the stomach (guess why you feel dull after eating a heavy meal). It's important that the food is fresh. Fresh food have more life-energy (prana) and at such will nourish the body better.

3) Most often the breeding and killing is cruel to the animals too. For those who believe in karma (what goes around comes around), this will also effect people that eat the animal. They may absorb the animal energies and become more irrational (animal like) in their actions (like starting fights and wars and stuff ;*). You can also absorb the cruelty done to the animal, which can really screw up your mediation. Some people who have done alot of yoga, cannot eat meat, eggs or drink milk at all, unless "organically made" (whatever that is!). Not because of poisons or anything, they get sick because the animals have not been treated well. At least they say so :*)

4) Plants are less complex than animals, while animals are more like us (canibalism anyone?). This is not in conflict in spirituality, because in spirituality you accept that everything is on different evolving stages. You don't gloat over how stupid monkeys are, but keep in mind that maybe once upon a time you were on that stage too. Does the parent gloat over the stupidity of their children? Of course not, they're delighted because they know it's a stage, and an innocent one at that! OR: Maybe monkeys are enlightened, they're just playing a show for us back here on earth.. (You never really know with spirituality, or at least you shouldn't pretend to.) So I eat plants, because I need fresh food and it's the best food available. If I could extract energy from the air, I wouldn't need to eat plants. But lo and behold, doesn't some plants actually WANT to be eaten too? Why do trees carry fruits and why do vegetables taste good? I think some people commenting really need to broaden their horizons here..

5) With the right spices, vegetarian food can be just as tasty as meat. Most often, the taste in meat comes from spices. You don't _have_ to have meat with every meal, that's just habit. The food will not make you hungrier faster either, unless you only eat salad and stuff with no proteins. You do have to educate yourself a bit about a balanced diet, but most people who eat meat need that anyways. Meat-eaters are currently being drugged by their eating habits without even knowing it. You become dull and uncaring from it.

6) Cheaper and more efficient. To feed an animal its whole life, then kill and eat it is guaranteed to be inefficient.

For a more complete list, get some ideas here: 49 Good Reasons For Being A Vegetarian

And if 49 reasons were not enough, here's 101: 101 Reasons why I'm a vegetarian

For more, check out the links in Dmoz: Benefits of vegetarianism

There's really lots of information you can get by using Google and Dmoz. Maybe it's time people educate themselves on this (me included), instead of ranting and saying things we don't really know. Maybe we take our food a little bit too personal? :) It's when people get defensive they don't have a leg to stand on. Well, I don't mind that people eat meat, but I sure as hell would appreciate a little more clue-in and less apathy in the masses. I accept some people will crush my reasons above just because they don't believe in such things, but that is why we have our opinions. I merely express mine to give ideas.


Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]

Personally. (3.11 / 9) (#128)
by Icehouseman on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:31:15 PM EST

I don't care about the animals. I don't eat meat 6 days a week; not because I like the animals; but because it's just not healthy. Hamburgers are good; hotdogs are good; ham is good; KFC is good; well I mean they taste good. Fruits and vegies are much healthier.

The whole argument is that eating plants kills something too. When you pick an apple off a tree; does the tree die? No. I can't believe this weak-ass shit got to the front page....horrible.
----------------
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory

bad analogy i think........... (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by stpna5 on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 03:18:12 PM EST

Those tasty processed foods you mentioned are the end result of a great deal of preparation, packaging and even R&D over many years ---even if they are junk food --- and often are prepared using vegetable products, anyway. A carrot or or head of lettuce might be a more apt comparison than an apple as the apple is going to fall off a tree even if no one ever picks it or eats it. Legumes, tubers, or beans and corn also might be more analogous, as they require preparation and will die whether they are harvested and eaten or not. Trees, whether fruit-bearing or not are almost unique in their longevity in the plant world, and even those which don't thrive in climates temperate enough for fruits and nuts have long been harvested and used for wood and paper, but otherwise survive even after lightning strikes, fires, quakes and tornadoes, though sometimes they might be quite damaged. Most of the moral and ethical arguments over these foods are from hoary cultural superstitions anyway,except for the Eastern non-violent notions. And those would involve not using leather, bone and such non-edible products as well if one were sincere. Does using wool harvested from a lamb which is not killed, but would otherwise not give up an entire batch of wool qualify in this rabbit test? Who knows?

[ Parent ]
symbiosis ,compassion and sustainability (4.00 / 7) (#134)
by calimehtar on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 02:27:52 PM EST

Eating fruit is participation in a symbiotic process. Fruit (say, apples for example) actually is actually tasty by design -- apple trees depend on animals like us to eat the apple (and hopefully swallow the seeds) to spread the seeds via our feces.

Contrary to what it says in the article, I as a non-strict vegetarian, am more inclined to eat meat or fish that was hunted in the wild than to eat farmed animals. The reason in that between the two practises, farming seems to be the less sustainable. Farming animals in our society seems to require the torture, imprisonment, and medication of the animals in question. I'm not merely criticizing the amount of human intervetion required, but also commenting on the seemingly inevitable side-effects of eating farmed food. Growth hormones in cows, pesticides in plants, mad cow disease ... etc. Compassion plays into it as well. Wild animals probably run a much better chance of enjoying life than their farmed couterparts.

I think that as, apparently, the dominant species on the planet, we humans have the responsibility to consider not only the happiness of the species with whom we share the planet but also the more general effects our food choices will have on the ecosystem of our planet. Like it or not, we have the power to change the planet for better or worse.


+++

The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


So, what? (4.50 / 2) (#257)
by Stickerboy on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:34:21 PM EST

Eating fruit is participation in a symbiotic process. Fruit (say, apples for example) actually is actually tasty by design -- apple trees depend on animals like us to eat the apple (and hopefully swallow the seeds) to spread the seeds via our feces.

Do you take your dumps in your backyard, to complete this "symbiotic process", or do you flush it down a toilet like the rest of us, where the seeds have absolutely no hope of being used the way they developed by evolution?

Spreading seeds via our feces to the local sewage treatment plant sounds to me like another touchy-feely way that vegans can feel good about themselves without actually doing anything useful.

[ Parent ]
actually... (5.00 / 2) (#265)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:25:11 PM EST

...I have a composting toilet. I don't use the compost to grow food, but the principle is the same. My waste is utilized by the environment (the forest I live in). I realize this is not an option for urbanites, but just wanted to let you know that some of us do use alternatives.

So, what touchy-feely ways do you employ to feel good about yourself without doing anything useful? --- Uh, nevermind, I don't really want to know ;)

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

I never eat the seeds. (none / 0) (#332)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 07:14:07 AM EST

But I don't eat the seeds. I through the apple core into the bush outside--completeing the symbiotic process.

This goes for most of the fruit that I eat.

[ Parent ]

This 'vegetables are healthier' argument... (3.53 / 13) (#149)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:39:06 PM EST

... really aggravates me. I'm something of a "hobby-bodybuilder" and health nut, and I or anyone else into nutrition/bodybuilding can tell you that's complete bullshit.

You will never gain any descent muscle, or maintain a good physique eating only vegetables (unless you supplement the shit out of yourself, which is 'cheating' for the purposes of this argument). I realize that not everyone wishes to gain muscle, but the point still stands that meat is good for you. We are 'designed' to eat meat. We need meat. Meat has alot of really good things for us in it that plants simply do not have.

I can respect someone's decision to become a vegan (or vegetarian, or whatever), but it's not "more healthy". We need a balanced diet, cutting any one thing out of your diet is (really) bad for you. That goes for meat and vegetables.



How about Bill Pearl? (4.00 / 7) (#153)
by raaymoose on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:58:56 PM EST

You know, 4 time Mr. Universe as a vegetarian?

"With each succeeding year the diet (lacto-ovo vegetarian), I've felt better. I'm more healthy, I can train with more energy, and I'm not as much of a "hard guy" as I used to be. I've become more concerned with my fellow man and the other inhabitants I share the planet with. I have now been vegetarian for almost 20 years. We have no fish, fowl, or red meat in our diet. Yet I can still carry the same amount of muscle as I did in winning my four Mr. Universe titles. People can't believe it. They think that to have big muscles you have to eat meat - it's a persistent and recurring myth. But take it from me, there's nothing magic about eating meat that's going to make you a champion bodybuilder. Anything you can find in a piece of meat, you can find in other foods as well." -- Bill Pearl


There's quite a few others I can think of offhand - Frank Zane, Larry Scott, John Hansen, Dave Draper, etc etc. The list is extensive. It's not difficult to be muscular on a vegetarian diet without supplements, and it's far more common than you seem to think.



[ Parent ]
Supplements (none / 0) (#160)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:53:27 PM EST

I specifically mentioned supplements for that reason.. if we're comparing the nutritional benefits of vegetables to meat, saying that you can eat just vegetables with a crazy amount of supplements to make up for the meat doesn't really mean much. I don't see anything in there that says Bill doesn't/didn't use supplements, and frankly I very very higly doubt it.

Vegetarians are far better off than vegans, because whey protien (easily the most common protien supplement) comes from milk, which is a no-no for hardcore vegans. I know it's possible to get huge as a vegetarian, but it's harder because you're missing out on a lot without the meat.



[ Parent ]
from personal experience (none / 0) (#162)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:06:58 PM EST

Actually, I found it easier to build muscle mass once I kicked the meat habit, and it didn't involve whey or any supplements. While I may not be Mr. Universe, I've been successful on the local amateur scene for more than a decade. I don't give a crap about the ideological implications of being vegetarian, it is healthier, and there's no evidence to support your premise to the contrary. (though I'm too lazy to go dig up all the links, I am a [bio]chemist by trade)

There's nothing in meat I cannot get from a better plant source. This is logical - where did the animals aquire these things themselves? - plants. This is good for a couple of reasons. One, I love eating, going with vegetarian food lets me eat more without having to worry about stuff like the saturated fats that plague most animal foods. Two, the metabolic pathways for processing fat aren't clogged by rancid saturates, which means I can utilise my body fat more easily and have the edge for endurance-oriented sports, like rugby which I play regularly.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
To each his own... (none / 0) (#168)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:35:39 PM EST

I, in contrast, see significant decreases in my gains when I cut out the meat (I did once attempt to decrease the meat and substitute vegetables). Different people respond to different things, vegetables for you, meat for me.

Also, there's no evidence I've seen that supports your premise to the contrary, so touche :) (nutritionally anyway, yeah meat can have some nasty stuff in it, but I still maintain we are capable of handling it).

On a sorta-sidenote, I saw an interesting study once that compared nationality to food requirements, but I can't find the damn thing now. Basically they found that traditional diets of various cultures have modified our bodies to be more adapted to certain foods (italians and pasta for example). Perhaps people with ancestors from regions where meat is a staple in their diet are more dependant on meat than people from more vegetable heavy cultures. Nifty idea, even if it is dead wrong. :)



[ Parent ]
has to be done right (none / 0) (#171)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:41:37 PM EST

I know plenty of people that 'switched' from a meat-based diet to something 'vegetarian' and managed to make themselves good and sick in the process. Its not just a simple matter of replacing meat with vegetables, it requires an overhaul of the entire diet. I find that's what people quite often do wrong and then assume because they weren't successful in figuring out how to maintain their current ability or improve on a vegetarian diet that it's not possible.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#173)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:52:19 PM EST

Since I really enjoy eating meat (beef in particular) and it's a much easier source of nutrition than vegetables, switching isn't something I plan on doing.

And, since I personally think that meat isn't bad for you (unless you eat it like a moron), and couldn't care less about the poor widdle animals, I have absolutely no incentive to abandon it.

I'm sure it's possible, but I just don't want to.



[ Parent ]
ease (none / 0) (#175)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:01:10 PM EST

Well, it's a matter of what you're doing. I strive for doing things with the least possible effort in my life, I can tell you, heating some vegetables and soy is quicker and easier than having to cook some slab of meat. Of course it depends on just what you're doing to either that in the end dictates the ease of preparation. And it's a cheaper diet, which is another bonus.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#176)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:11:28 PM EST

But on the flipside, eating a can of tuna is one of the quickest and easiest ways of getting some protein into you (as well as fish oils and other things), and has almost no fat to boot.



[ Parent ]
heh heh (none / 0) (#180)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 08:30:12 PM EST

Yes, now, which is faster? Opening a package of tofu and eating it, or a can of tuna? Sounds like a good contest to me. ;)


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
My canopener.... (none / 0) (#185)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:07:05 PM EST

... is turbocharged. And tofu tastes bad. :)



[ Parent ]
whoo (3.33 / 3) (#187)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:12:15 PM EST

and tuna tastes like a combination of sweaty socks and a yeasty ... well, we know what else is 'fishy'.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
tofu pudding (5.00 / 1) (#261)
by psinpsycle on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:10:16 PM EST

I bet you'll love it.
  1. Take a cup of tofu, drain it well and pat it dry. Add it to a blender.
  2. Take a cup of fruit (i'v tried bannana and blueberries. Add to blender.
  3. Take a tablespoon of honey, add to blender.
  4. Blend. Enjoy.

First time I had it I was kind of scared - but it turns out it is very yummy!

[ Parent ]

sounds good (none / 0) (#270)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:45:23 PM EST

and it's simple, this sounds like a winning recipe. One question though - what texture of tofu do you use? I imagine it could work with any, but is there any optimal setting?


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
tofu pudding (none / 0) (#292)
by psinpsycle on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:40:22 PM EST

I make it with soft tofu, however I hear silken blends better....

[ Parent ]
yes yes (none / 0) (#315)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:39:44 PM EST

I tried it using the only stuff I had around - extra firm. Not a good idea unless you like gritty pudding. Had to add fruit juice to even get it to puree.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Whey (none / 0) (#256)
by MKalus on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:33:34 PM EST

Yes,

I use Whey as well, reason for that being that the stuff I have good experience with (Endurox R4) is based on Whey and the demand for Soy is not high enough.

Granted, I am not trying to become a body builder, but rather train for endurance.

[ Parent ]
Nutrition of Plants (3.75 / 8) (#154)
by archivis on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:02:55 PM EST

There is nothing vital provided in meat that is lacking in a purely vegetable diet for humans, we are quite capable of being extremely healthy and living off of plants. Heck, *everything* in a steak came from plants in the first place. Meat is generally a nutritionally dense food - eating a small amount gets you a large bang for your buck with regards to proteins and the like. You also get all the poisons built up in that animal that it's system couldn't process, fats, diseases, etc. (BTW that is another reason for vegetarianism: if your lettice and your hamburger patty both came from sick sources, you're a heck of a lot more likely to catch something from the biologically similar hamburger meat than the lettue). However, simply because plants tend to be less nutritionally dense simply means that you need to eat a larger variety of them to ensure proper nutrition. You don't have to eat giant portions, you just need to know which plants are nutritionally dense in whatever you are interested in increasing in your diet. Nuts, berries, fruits, seaweed, whatever. If you compare the dentition of a human with a carnivore, such as a cat, you can tell that we are *not* truely designed as meat eaters. Our teeth are relatively quite blunt, and our molars are designed to mash vegitable matter. Our teeth can handle meat, but we really need to cut it up and cook it till it's tender. We are omnivorous, capable of consuming both plant and animal matter - but plants are the crux of our historical diet. We do just fine on them, given sufficient variety.

[ Parent ]
Protein (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:57:02 PM EST

From what vegetables can you get a descent amount of protien? (I mean this as a serious question, not just as a point for my argument). I get all my protein from meat and dairy, so looking for high protein vegetables isn't something I need to waste time doing.

I know there's vegetarian protein supplements, but I mean just normal vegetables. It seems to me that protein would be the big thing you'd be missing on a vegetarian diet (and protein is realy damn important).



[ Parent ]
protein (5.00 / 2) (#164)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:20:08 PM EST

Ah, while not strictly vegetables, they are plant source - legumes and beans.

My personal standby is soy. Take generic tofu, a typical 5oz serving has about 16g of complete protein. Soy milk has about 9g of protein per 250mL, again variable. You can get soy flour, which is about 50% protein by weight. Soy is pretty good as far this goes. Then there's Tempeh (an indonesian soy food), which has 31g of protein per 250mL, incredibly protein dense.

Compare this to a lean cut of beef, bottom round lets say - a typical 8oz. piece will have 25g of protein. Tofu is nearly identical in terms of protein content as beef. The thing that makes the choice for me as far as protein source, is that tofu has less than 1g of saturated fat per 5oz, while the beef will have ~5g per 8oz.

This is a very crude comparison yes, and the numbers will be variable according to source and crop yields and animal feed and other factors, but it gives a general idea.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Ah (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:23:43 PM EST

So that'd be why soy and tofu are used as meat substitutes in veggie foods.

Personally, I think it tastes like crap and doesn't come close to meat in taste/texture, but good to know nonetheless. :)



[ Parent ]
taste/texture (none / 0) (#169)
by tarsand on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:37:18 PM EST

Of course the taste and texture aren't the same, it's soy, not meat. Though I do enjoy tofu's lack of taste because it tends to absorb the taste of things it is cooked with. But that's all a matter of preparation. I've had some soy-based things that are nearly identical in taste and texture, such as the vege 'burgers' you get at M&M Meat shoppes in western Canada ... very close.

All that aside, it's a good source of protein.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
This is true (none / 0) (#174)
by der on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:55:51 PM EST

Nothing tastes like beef. I don't know what it is, but when I eat beef it gives an instant satisfaction no other food has, eating beef has a 'sensation' to it that you can feel through your whole body. And many of my friends agree with me on this, I'm not some crazy beef addict or something. :)

I'm pretty good at refusing things I know I shouldn't eat, but there's no way in hell I could resist a good steak or burger given the opportunity. :)



[ Parent ]
Comfort food. (4.00 / 1) (#255)
by MKalus on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:31:27 PM EST

That's probabaly the reason why. You grew up with meat and have some good memories attached to it.

For me comfort food is a good salad.... Guess it depends on what you grow up.

[ Parent ]
Protein Sources (5.00 / 3) (#259)
by psinpsycle on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:02:26 PM EST

Most vegetarian foods do not contain complete proteins. What makes a protien complete? The presence of 8 specific amino acids that are considered essential. It is currently not understood if you have to eat these 8 amino acids in the same meal for them to have their full effect, or if eating them in the same day is OK.

Meat is considered a good source of all 8 of these essential amino acids. Plant foods are usually missing one or more of them and are considered incomplete. Other than this difference, both meat and vegetables give the same protein benefits.

So, how do you get complete protein with non-meat sources? You have to compare different types of products.

  • Milk Products + Grains = Complete Protein
  • Legumes + Grains = Complete Protein
  • Milk Products + Legumes = Complete Protein
  • Nuts or Seeds + Legumes = Complete Protein
  • Nuts or Seeds + Milk Products = Complete Protein

There you have it, if you mix up your vegetarian foods like above, you should be getting complete proteins.

So, anyone else wonder what Legumes are? Here's a list: Black Beans, Black-Eyed Peas, Chick Peas, Flageolets, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Mung Beans, Pinto Beans, SoyBeans, Split Peas, White Beans... there are of course many more.

Another thing about protein, for best results you have to eat it at the right time of day. Protein is important, it helps to build/repair muscle, and it also helps to keep us mentally alert. Therefore, you need protein early in the morning! For breakfast. You should eat most of your protein for the day at breakfast and lunch, and slowly taper off for the rest of the day.

Having a large protein meal a few hours before bed is not helping at all, and may actually be hurting. Protein also takes a long time to digest, so it is good to help regulate our blood sugar levels.

If your going to eat meat, small portions are better than large ones. A 4oz piece of red meat gives you plenty of protein and other needed nutrients.

Of course, red meat is also a good source of iron, so if you are vegetarian be careful to get good iron sources from your foods as well as protein. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of non-heme iron (plant irons) so be sure to have an orange or something similar with your vegetarian iron source.

I learnt most of this stuff from The Enlightened Eater.

[ Parent ]

soy protein is complete (4.50 / 2) (#262)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:17:35 PM EST

Good general overview. Combining incomplete protein sources is an important skill for vegetarians. However, you fail to mention that soy protein is an exception, it is a complete plant protein - it has all 8 essential amino acids. This is why soy is so important in many vegetarian diets.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Why no supplements? (3.33 / 3) (#186)
by dachshund on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:11:23 PM EST

You will never gain any descent muscle, or maintain a good physique eating only vegetables (unless you supplement the shit out of yourself, which is 'cheating' for the purposes of this argument)

What do you define as supplements? Soy protein isolates? Things derived from vegetable sources? What makes this cheating?

[ Parent ]

NOT Designed to Eat MEAT (4.20 / 5) (#198)
by Sattwic on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:02:41 AM EST

Bullshit. A Cow, Horse or an Elephant as compared to a Tiger, Lion or a Hyena: Who is stronger? Can you ride a Tiger? It won't take you 10 steps. Talking about muscles... the main point is about the time period you need to build them. Meat eating is the shortest.. but who said you cannot do without meat? What is there in Meat that a Vegetarian Diet cannot afford to provide? Next time you see rippling muscles on a Horse, ask yourself the question: where did the horse get those muscles from! Quote: Meat has alot of really good things for us in it that plants simply do not have. Its a Myth.

[ Parent ]
Meat vs. Veggie Myths (4.20 / 5) (#224)
by catseye on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:30:00 AM EST

Yes, herbivores get protein from vegetables, but they're designed to digest the vegetable matter in its raw form and get the most out of it. We are not. We don't get anything out of most beans, for example, unless they've been cooked. If we have to highly modify (such as via cooking) a food source in order to gain nutrition out of it, then it's not our natural food source. We can still eat it, but we weren't designed to.

We cannot get all the essential nutrients we need, especially when growing up, from vegetable matter only, without heavily processing it. We can, however, get all the nutrients we need from a combination of unprocessed vegetable matter and unprocessed meat. We don't have to cook meat to make it edible -- it's just safer and more tasty.

In order to thrive without meat, we have to heavily process our foof and take supplements. It's not a bad thing, but it's by no means natural.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#254)
by MKalus on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:27:20 PM EST

Nobody says that you have to go out and eat grass.

You can digest most vegetables very nicely, the fact that Meat is "everything" readily "availble" is actually part of the problem.

Your body doesn't need to work to get his stuff, he just has it.

Also, humans can adapt quite nicely, the problem in todays society is though that most people unfortunatly are adapted to the "meat and dairy" culture that you are brought up in.



[ Parent ]
Cattle (3.50 / 2) (#271)
by derch on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:50:38 PM EST

Cattle have four stomachs. I forget how many horses have (and dont' feel like googling it). They are herbivores, and their digestive systems evolved to efficiently live off plant life.

Humans have only one stomach. We are omnivores. We evolved to live off a mix of food sources. We naturally *need* some meat. I'll point to an ex-girlfriend who was vegetarian. Once a month her period would come and her body CRAVED meat. Her body knew it needed meat for the iron and protein content it was losing because of menstration.

I'm not saying the people who eat meat with every meal are okay. That's verging on gluttony, but the occasional steak or roasted chicken makes the body happy. At least mine. :)

[ Parent ]
another case of ... (5.00 / 1) (#272)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:58:41 PM EST

circumstancial incidence of someone that hasn't managed to understand the proper way to have a vegetarian diet. Your body doesn't 'crave meat', it craves certain nutrients that can be easily aquired from either animal or non-animal sources. Protein is exceptionally easy to get in a vegetarian diet, see the thread on it in another part of the comment tree from this comments root ancestor.

As for iron, its quite easy, eat large amounts of dark green leafy plants, or eat fortified (and nearly everything is these days) foods along with a good dose of vitamin C.

We're omnivores, which means we can eat meat -- not that we must eat meat. Important distinction.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Only one... (none / 0) (#394)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:35:25 AM EST

... which is why horses need extremely careful feeding. You can turn them out to graze, but if the grass is too long, they'll literally eat themselves to death.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#287)
by PhillipW on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:18:07 PM EST

If we have to highly modify (such as via cooking) a food source in order to gain nutrition out of it, then it's not our natural food source.

So you eat raw meat? If you don't cook your meat, you could quite easily get maggots. This doesn't mean that nature intended for us to not eat meat... does it?

-Phil
[ Parent ]
raw meat (5.00 / 1) (#313)
by mofospork on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:33:11 PM EST

So you eat raw meat? If you don't cook your meat, you could quite easily get maggots. This doesn't mean that nature intended for us to not eat meat... does it?

Maggots are probably very nutritious, the problem is that they're found in rotting meat. There's nothing wrong with eating meat raw, just as long as it is very fresh.

[ Parent ]

mmm... maggots (none / 0) (#314)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:37:33 PM EST

Except for blood-borne and tissue-borne parasites, as well as non-species-specific infections etc. But maggots are good for you I imagine, as are most insects. They have lots of protein and little fat, and your stomach acid would kill them... mmm mmm good.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Sheep get maggots really easily. (none / 0) (#393)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:34:11 AM EST


Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
der (3.40 / 5) (#252)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:17:24 PM EST

We are 'designed' to eat meat. We need meat

What, because you said so? I have a friend who, while no body builder, is 6' 6", 260 lbs, and makes his living as a bouncer. He is also a vegetarin, and has been for 15 years. I suppose your argument is correct for competition level body builders, but most of us just think you people are freaks. As a freak, speaking from a freakish point of view, I don't think you're really qualified to make judgements about what normal people need to eat to be healthy. You could make the exact same argument about how anabolic steroids are really good for you.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

people REQUIRE amino acids (5.00 / 3) (#283)
by FieryTaco on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:58:35 PM EST

it's odd, but there are certain necessary amino acids (ie. protiens, of which meat is a primary source, and which you cannot typically get via vegatarian only eating) and there are certain necessary fats. there aren't any essential carbs.

[ Parent ]
Peanuts (1.00 / 1) (#286)
by PhillipW on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:15:55 PM EST

Rich in protiens. I'm not a vegetarian, because it's really hard to not eat meat. You'll have a hard time finding something that you can only get from consuming meat.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
Sorry, no. (4.00 / 3) (#289)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:34:12 PM EST

Of the 8 amino acids, all can be obtained easily from a vegetarian diet. See the comments titled 'Protein' in other parts of this thread, it's been covered. Most of the essential "fats", which are generally fatty acid chains, are more easily obtained from plant sources. This is because the saturated fats found in meat tend to overwhelm the lipid absorption process and the less abundant necessary fatty acids are passed unabsorbed. Vegetable sources tend not to have this problem.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
so does everything else (3.66 / 3) (#291)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:38:17 PM EST

Including cows. Where do they get 'em? How do vegetarians survive? Shouldn't they all be dead? Do you just not believe in vegetarians or something?

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Cows, (3.50 / 4) (#309)
by mofospork on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:26:36 PM EST

Including cows. Where do they get 'em?

Cows have four stomachs, and they digest food in a radically different way than humans do. That's were they get them. Do you have four stomachs?

[ Parent ]

look at the difference in diet (4.50 / 2) (#311)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:32:17 PM EST

Of course, bovines have four stomachs because they rely on bacteria to break down the tough fibres in the grass they graze on. If cows ate the kinds of vegetables humans eat, they wouldn't need four stomachs. However, I believe the point the grandparent of this post was trying to get at was that you can obtain all the essential amino acids from plant sources without a problem. This, of course, is true.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
your local vegetarian triathlete says fooey! (4.00 / 5) (#296)
by raygundan on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:49:38 PM EST

I am a marathon runner and a triathlete. And vegetarian (nearly vegan, with soymilk on my cheerios). I'm doing just fine-- I put in a 12.4mi run yesterday in 90:23, followed by some upper-body lifting at the gym.

Now, I am simply not built like a body-builder-- I'm lean and mean and designed for efficiently running away from guys like you. But the guy in the cubicle next to me is a 6-foot 210-lb. wall-of-muscle weightlifter who is also strictly vegetarian.

It is certainly possible, without supplements, to get enough quality protein from a vegetarian or vegan diet to maintain both an extreme endurance-training program or a heavy weightlifting regimen.



[ Parent ]
The success of cows. (4.57 / 14) (#150)
by Cuthalion on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 04:47:16 PM EST

There are a lot of cows. More than wolves or badgers or gazelles. Why? Because they're stupid, docile, and tasty. Those didn't used to be survival traits.

The conditions on Earth have been changing very very rapidly over the last couple millenia, with the rise of human civilisation. In many parts of the world, successful lifeforms are those that are useful or aesthetically appealing to people (eg: cats, dogs, cows, grass, flowers).

Indeed, one could say that farm animals and vegetables have a symbiotic relationship with humans. Humans feed the animals and protect them from less moderate predators, encouraging growth and reproduction, ensuring their survival.

But they're mistreated! They're unhappy!

(I've said this part before) My ethical system holds that beauty, creativity, and happiness are Good, and that pain and suffering are intrinsicly Bad. Life is not iherently valuable, but merely a prerequisite to both good and bad things. I can't know for sure, but I strongly believe that cows have a lesser capacity for these traits than humans, and plants lesser still. Mistreating cattle or laboratory animals for the benefit of humans CAN be justified (within limits), and mistreating plants for the benefit of humans can too (within broader limits). Viruses and yeast and so on are pretty much morally equivalent to granite.

FWIW, I do not eat any meat, but this is due to my hypersensitive taste buds rather than any sense of moral responsibility. I also don't eat most of what we conventionally think of a vegetables (I eat fruits, grains, and dairy, and that's about it.)

nice diet, bad morals (none / 0) (#383)
by fringd on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 03:04:35 PM EST

(I've said this part before ) My ethical system holds that beauty, creativity, and happiness are Good, and that pain and suffering are intrinsicly Bad. Life is not iherently valuable, but merely a prerequisite to both good and bad things. I can't know for sure, but I strongly believe that cows have a lesser capacity for these traits than humans, and plants lesser still.
i hear statements like this alot from meat-eaters. and from people in favor of animal testing, and people participating in any other behavior, or in support of such behavior that involves killing or mistreating animals.

why is it that people feel this way? have they never seen cows scream when they are chainsaw massacred? have they ever wondered how their pet cat or dog would respond to being meticulously stabbed, probed, and cut open alive? do they think that humans are "special" animals?

well they are right that we are special. we have great capacity for higher thought. we can weild math, logic, and poetry pretty well. maybe we are the only ones who feel pain and suffering? maybe not though. we share a huge part of our brain design with the bulk of large animals on the planet. down to simple lizards and mice, we are really quite similar in almost all ways. the reason we experiment on rats in the first place is because their bodies and minds are very similar to ours.

try to use some introspection. you'll agree that alot of the time you make decisions in very "animalistic" fasion. decisions regarding food, water, shelter and sex, are decidedly un-logical for the most part. you just sorta do what you do. we can overide these desires, but we know where they come from. they come from that same part of the brain that all animals have. now... when i burn your hand and you pull it back, what part of your brain do you use? when i stab you in the gut and you feel suffering, what part of your brain are you in? when i take away all your food, your friends, your shelter, and leave you to starve in solitude, what part of your brain do you use?

do you think to yourself "gee, i'll no longer have food and human comfort, that means i'll be alone and suffering, and eventually, i will die because i will run out of energy, guess i should be sad?" no, you probably don't. fear, suffering, and misery are basic animal traits. there is no scale with humans at the top, animals somewhere lower down, and plants a little bit lower.

the reality of the situation is that all animals (virtually all) have the capacity to suffer, and to feel almost all the same emotions as we do. the reason vegetarians don't kill and eat these other animals is because we have the conscious ability to realize the pain and suffering we would cause by doing so, and we elect to remove ourselves from such a system.

now, i hear lots of counter-arguments to this, so let me adress a few of them. "it is natural for some animals to hunt others, and humans have done so in the past, why is it ok for a wolf to hunt, but not for me?" well first off, we are not ignorant. we know now what killing means. we can understand the result of our slaughter. just because it is in the nature of the wolf, does not mean that it is ethical. if we used that logic, then so would stealing, murder, and much else be ethical. natural is not equivalent with ethical. nature is fucking evil, if we should have emulated it, then we should never have come this far.

another argument is "but you NEED protien in your diet right?" correct, but this doesn't mean eating meat. meat is NOT the only source of protien. most of the world (read, not america) gets along fine with practically no meat. the entire sub-continent of india was vegetarian for millennia(sp?).

"hunting keeps deer populations in check." yeah now that you've killed all the natural predators, jerk.

many more, this is already too long. anyhow, my point i think is clear. animals feel. humans are not so special. the golden rule should indicate something here. remember that slaves were given the same consideration long ago. society was very wrong. it is again now. some day that will be clear.

FWIW, I do not eat any meat, but this is due to my hypersensitive taste buds rather than any sense of moral responsibility.
apparently it's not worth much.

[ Parent ]
Look up on spirituality (none / 0) (#408)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 10:00:00 PM EST

I've said this part before) My ethical system holds that beauty, creativity, and happiness are Good, and that pain and suffering are intrinsicly Bad. Life is not iherently valuable, but merely a prerequisite to both good and bad things. I can't know for sure, but I strongly believe that cows have a lesser capacity for these traits than humans, and plants lesser still. Mistreating cattle or laboratory animals for the benefit of humans CAN be justified (within limits), and mistreating plants for the benefit of humans can too (within broader limits). Viruses and yeast and so on are pretty much morally equivalent to granite.

I would advice to look up on indian or tibetan philosophies, for instance hinduism or some books from Dalai Lama. Then you may come to understand that Good and Bad are just our labels we put to our experiences. It differs from person to person, time and place, and is therefore 100% subjective in the greatest sense. If you have experienced suffering in your life, you maybe also appreciate that then is when you have grown the most. You cannot grow very much from joyfully playing a harp in heaven you know ;-) That is why we have come here to earth, to experience pain and struggle, overcome this and grow on the lesson.

Put another way: Surely you have sometime reasoned that without Bad there cannot be Good? That is more true than you seem to think! It is both logically and philosophically sound. So if only Good has value, as you stated, then that Good cannot exist! Without its bad counterpart, it would just be "an experience" and not Good at all. Now maybe we would be content to having "an experience" (Neutral) all the time, but then there is nothing to propel us into evolving. It would get boring pretty fast.

Just food for thought though. I'm not saying I know all your ethics, or that it is wrong. I just found what I read in disharmony with what I think I "know" ;*)


Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
I think the line is sentience, not life (4.00 / 10) (#156)
by carbon on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:09:06 PM EST

It's simply impossible or stupid to avoid killing certain kinds of living things (bacteria, weeds, etc). I haven't met a vegetarian yet who lives in a regulated bubble suit so as to avoid harming any bacteria (they wouldn't live long either, because their digestive system requires external microbes to run...).

So where's the line that determines what you can kill safely and without regret, and what you can't? It lies somewhere between the flu virus and the chimpanzee, but where? My guess would be sentience.

Of course, you can't measure or prove sentience, but we can probably make a fairly reasonable guess based on a few factors, including maybe some of:
  • Memory : Does a member of the species in question remember and conceptualize things that happened to it in the past, and use that to determine its responses in the future?
  • Individualism : Is the behavior of a member of Species X distinguishable from another member of the same species?
There are probably more, but I can't think of any at the moment that aren't some combination of these two. On this measurement though, the line gets put, IMO, somewhere in the fish area.



Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
Sentience (5.00 / 3) (#158)
by SlickMickTrick on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:17:14 PM EST

I have always considered self awareness a trait of sentience. To be aware of one's position in the system, and understand the difference between one's self and another.

I think, therefore I am.

[ Parent ]
Re: Sentience (none / 0) (#159)
by carbon on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:41:51 PM EST

Well, self awareness is sentience, by definition. By traits I meant those that are observable.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
NO. (4.00 / 2) (#241)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:18:25 AM EST

Sentience is the ability to feel pain or pleasure. That is the canonical definition.

If you are a vegetarian, I suggest you stay away from this argument. In other words, is that really a good way to put a value on life? Of course, it's all arbitrary.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

In that case, s/sentience/self awareness/ (none / 0) (#285)
by carbon on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:08:35 PM EST

Ah, didn't know that. In that case, in all my postings above, s/sentience/self awareness/. By self awareness, I mean conciousness, as in possessing a POV. It's a difficult concept to write, but for all of you who are concious (hopefully, a good portion of you, though you never know on k5) you know what I mean.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Are you talking about a soul? (4.00 / 1) (#295)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:45:32 PM EST

I understand your position. It is difficult to discern what it is exactly that separates us from the animals. I would posit free will, but that isn't something I came up with.

Animals generally do things that help them to survive. They wouldn't go to a rock concert or a movie or read/write a book, etc.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Yeah, I suppose (5.00 / 1) (#376)
by carbon on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 03:14:21 AM EST

Can you prove that animals don't have a soul? I don't think "doing things other then to survive" is a good definition. I've seen dogs that did all sorts of things that didn't help them to survive, such as save their owners from death, or paint (no, really). You can logically justify just about any animal's action through instinct or through free will, so there's really no way of telling which side of the (potentially non-existent) line it's on. Uwee hee hee, laughing Kefka philosopher time.

And furthermore (while we're on the subject of really, really old arguments), can you prove we have free will? My theory is that we don't, but it doesn't matter, because our actions are prescripted to act just as they would if we had free will. Fun, isn'it it? :-)


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
I can't prove it. (none / 0) (#380)
by derek3000 on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 11:31:21 AM EST

But if we didn't have free will, it would be really convenient in that we could do whatever we wanted and not take responsibility for it. I think it's better to think we have free will, wouldn't you say?

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Hope you have a first story window (none / 0) (#382)
by carbon on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 01:59:49 PM EST

No, that's a common mistake, that without free will you would have no responsiblity for your actions. But that doesn't quite work...

Let's say I walk into your house and throw your pet out the window. You shout "HEY! What are you doing?!" and I respond "Well, you can't blame me for it, it was just a prescripted set of neurons firing in my brain that made me do that, it wasn't my fault." But then, you can throw me out the window, and you have the exact same excuse :-)

And besides, even if we don't have free will, we are guarnateed to behave as though we did, so responsiblity still applies.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Hold up. (none / 0) (#395)
by derek3000 on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:52:23 AM EST

And besides, even if we don't have free will, we are guarnateed to behave as though we did, so responsiblity still applies.

You are assuming what you intend to prove.

If all of our actions are predetermined, then we have no control over them. Therefore no responsibility. You can't act as if we had free will if we didn't.

I don't think it's so much a 'common misconception' as it is an 'objective truth'. It's nothing personal, believe me--I just can't agree with you on this one.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Free will != responsibilty (none / 0) (#398)
by carbon on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 02:07:39 PM EST

Therefore no responsibility. You can't act as if we had free will if we didn't.

What you or anyone does is, without a doubt, predictable, if you had all the information in the universe. This is because the entire workings of the universe is based on a series of cause/effect relationships (unless you want to get into quantum probability, which I don't). But the whole point is, it is predictable, and I can make that assumption safely, unless you want to dispute that one by itself.

Now look at how the human brain works. We don't know exactly _how_ it works, but we do know that, by nature, its input is limited to that which it can percieve, and its output is limited to that which it can do. That is, you can only understand something if you get it through one of your senses, or if you compute it based on data you already know and have gotten through your senses, or if its instinctual. This is another assumption, and you can refute this one as well.

But if you're willing to make those two assumptions, and I'm fairly sure they're safe, then you can also assume that even if we had free will, we would still act exactly as if we didn't, because we would be acting upon and responding to the exact same data. So whether we have free will or not would be irrelevant, since we'll percieve the same input and do the same output.

Besies, I don't understand how losing free will (which we can't even properly define in the first place) will also remove responsibility. Looking at it in a purely functional way, we all have internal mechanisms to understand cause and effect relations, therefore we can understand the concept of responsiblity (you caused a, and a caused b, therefore, you caused b). Without free will, you don't have to do anything to resolve or handle this responsiblity, but you don't have to if you have free will anyways.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
I fear we are at an impasse. (none / 0) (#400)
by derek3000 on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 04:05:41 PM EST

What you or anyone does is, without a doubt, predictable, if you had all the information in the universe.

Again, you are assuming what you intend to prove. You can't have free will if the above is true--which I don't believe it is.

This is because the entire workings of the universe is based on a series of cause/effect relationships (unless you want to get into quantum probability, which I don't).

Well, I don't know exactly how, or when, you figured out how the universe works. I, for one, don't believe that any amount of science can completely determine what it is that goes on around us or inside of us. You think that it's only a matter of time before we figure all of that stuff out--I respect that, but I would also suggest that you don't hold your breath.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Assumptions ahoy! (none / 0) (#401)
by carbon on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 06:15:04 PM EST

Again, you are assuming what you intend to prove. You can't have free will if the above is true--which I don't believe it is.

You're right, I am making an assumption. I already said that. Why don't you belive that's true? I'm genuinely interested in hearing your reasons, because my logic seems pretty foolproof (though only to me :-D ).

Well, I don't know exactly how, or when, you figured out how the universe works. I, for one, don't believe that any amount of science can completely determine what it is that goes on around us or inside of us. You think that it's only a matter of time before we figure all of that stuff out--I respect that, but I would also suggest that you don't hold your breath.

I never said I figured out how the universe works, I said I thought I was making a safe assumption. Let me repeat that : I'm not being at all scientific, I'm making assumptions, and the unsupported hypothesis (dogma) is the opposite of science. Not that assumptions are neccessarily a bad thing, but they are neccessarily a leap of potential inaccuracy. And again, I'd like to hear your arguments against my assumptions (though realize that if you don't put forward evidence either, then your responses will be assumptions as well).

I'm saying, the workings of a system are predictable as long as there isn't a random element (true randomness hasn't been proven to exist, though it might, but I'm going to assume that it doesn't, because that's pretty reasonable) and as long as the rules stay the same, and as long as things work linearly (which time does, or at least, so I assume [getting tired of that word yet?] ). I'm going to stand behind that argument till it gets whipped out from underneath me with a better argument or with evidence (both of which are likely to happen at any time). Because it's predictable, that takes away the element of free will.

And I have no idea where you got the idea I was saying anything at all about the boundaries of knowledge. Though I'd also like to hear your reasons for thinking that there are certain things we can't understand.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Correction (none / 0) (#402)
by carbon on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 08:22:27 PM EST

You're right, I am making an assumption. I already said that. Why don't you belive that's true? I'm genuinely interested in hearing your reasons, because my logic seems pretty foolproof (though only to me :-D ).

I read my comment again and saw that this could be misinterprted. By 'that' i mean, why don't you think that the universe is predictable, not why don't you think I'm not making an assumption (which I am :-)


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Where to begin? (none / 0) (#403)
by derek3000 on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 12:41:08 AM EST

That certainly was a mouthful. I'm not sure if I can refute your argument point-by-point, so I'll try it this way instead:

Surely, if you want to make predictions, you are going to have to use some sort of scientific method, if you want to be reasonably close. Or let's put it this way--you want to make an educated guess. The education comes before the guess. So that education comes through trial and error, or something like that. Which is, at the heart, scientific in nature--'I think this will happen, but let's see.'

If you can agree with me on these vague ideas, keep reading--otherwise, I'm just making assumptions. Note that I don't believe what I've said to this point to be true (a better word: valuable), necessarily.

Now, how long have humans been around? 100 years ago, we never even knew about DNA. 500 years ago we believed trepanation to be a cure for headaches. A long time ago we thought the earth to be flat.

What's the point? From your posts, I get the feeling that you think we're moving forward, making progress--and in a sense, we are. But what will people be saying about the beliefs of the 20th century? And the 30th?

What you believe to be an understanding of 'things' may be a thinly veiled illusion over what is really going on. How would you prove that the world is not a figment of my imagination? Can you present a good, thoroughly-researched Unified Theory on Love? What about the complete disregard for human life exhibited by Hitler, Pol Pot, etc.? I don't believe that there is some apex that we are climbing towards. This isn't a knock on mankind, it's just that I don't expect us to get there. If we could understand everything, then we'd be omnipotent. And you know that there is only one/none omnipotent entity out there, depending on the person.

So what I said about assumptions was deceiving, because there isn't too much that you don't have to take with some faith.

Going back to what we were talking about--free will, if you can remember, because I almost didn't--I don't know how we would come to the conclusion that the universe is predictable, given what I said above. The weatherman may tell you it will be sunny, and then end up raining. Was it predictable that the weatherman would predict wrong? Or is it just chaos, the idea that the butterfly in Japan effects the Gulf of Mexico. Or was that predictable too? If you somehow disprove free will, you can't have accountability. Something else is pulling the strings, that 'else' is using me to carry out it's actions through me. Or, the modern day equivalent: "I cheated on you because my grandmother beat me."

I think it boils down to a fundamental belief, but we already knew that--deterministic or random?

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

No such thing as random (none / 0) (#404)
by carbon on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 06:00:53 AM EST

First of all, you're very right about the way advancement of human knowledge works. Our current views will probably be considered truly stupid in a couple centuries. But they will seem less stupid then they were a couple centuries ago. So we're slowly reducing our stupidity, which is good (hopefully)

Second of all, I don't think there's such a thing as a random number. A random number is making something out of nothing. I'd be happy to be proved wrong on this, but so would every mathematician born :-)

Also, I still maintain that without a degree of pure randomness, it is possible to predict the location or velocity of every molecule in the universe. It's never going to happen, but it's possible, because without a random element, knowing all data and all the rules will give you all future sets of data. And even if we did happen to know the location of every molecule in the universe, that wouldn't mean we'd understand it. Quite a bit of knowledge is simply the combination of two other bits of knowledge. In that sense, knowledge is indeed (theoretically) limitless, but I think there's a point at which it's simply too abstract to mean of value.

Finally, about the free will stuff (heh, I had forgotten this too). Without free will, _everything_ is within the system of predictability. Relying on an external factor to assume your responsiblity because you yourself do not have free will is logically flawed, since that external factor is no less predictable in a deterministic universe then you are. People who say "I cheated on you because my grandmother beat me." aren't really understanding or agreeing with the concept of a predictable universe as I'm trying to present, though they might have a valid point as well.

Also, let me just say that this has been a really interesting discussion so far. If it continues on long enough, we may have to collaborate a story on it .


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Maybe we should. (none / 0) (#405)
by derek3000 on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 08:06:32 PM EST

Also, let me just say that this has been a really interesting discussion so far. If it continues on long enough, we may have to collaborate a story on it . I updated my info to show my e-mail.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Vegos don't eat fish!!! (4.10 / 10) (#165)
by sal5ero on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 06:20:49 PM EST

Given that most vegetarians I've heard of, as opposed to vegans, will eat fish.. shouldn't they switch places?

Vegetarians don't eat fish (or chicken for that matter). If they eat fish, they are not vegetarian.
People who eat fish or chicken and call themselves vegatarian piss me off. It is thanks to them that when I ask a waiter at a restaurant if a meal is vegetarian, they say yes even if it has fish or chicken in it. I always have to define vegetarian for them because of these people.

Vegetarians don't eat any animal, period.
Vegans don't eat any animal, or animal derived product (such as milk or honey...). That is the difference between vegetarian and vegan - not whether they eat fish or not!!





Not exactly (none / 0) (#182)
by andaru on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 09:22:35 PM EST

Technically (by definition), a vegetarian subsists entirely on vegetables.

A vegan avoids foods based on their source (if they come from an animal).

A vegetarian chooses foods based on their source (if they come from edible plants).

Vegetarian and vegan are not different intensities of the same principle. An actual vegetarian does not eat cheese, honey, or supplements (unless they come from a vegetable food source).

I understand about being pissed-off by the idea that vegetarians will eat absolutely anything except live, bloody beef, but at the same time, you must appreciate that there are many different things which people mean by 'vegetarian' and most of them are inaccurate.

Someone who is upset that their vegetarian soup has chicken stock might not be upset that their vegetarian burrito has cheese in it. Someone who is upset that their vegetarian burrito has cheese in it might not be upset that their bagel is made with egg.

To go way off of the deep end, I could say, "People who drink water from a well, tap, or spring and call themselves vegetarian really piss me off. Real vegetarians' water comes from vegetables. It is thanks to them that when I ask a waiter at a restaurant if a meal is vegetarian, they say yes even if it has water in it."

So you must decide if you want to use the absolute definition, which applies to almost no one, or whether to use some gradation of the classification in order to express your meaning, in which case someone else using a different gradation should not offend you so.

War games? With "live targets"? With real bullets? Really! Search Google for (cnn philippines "live targets")
[ Parent ]

Re: Not exactly (none / 0) (#184)
by sal5ero on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 10:36:52 PM EST

OK, point taken. I was referring to the vegetarian as short-hand for lacto-ovo-vegetarian. But certainly, one who eats fish or chicken cannot be considered vegetarian. I think that vegetarian is (among vegetarians of one type or another) the generally accepted term for a lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
I have heard of the term pesco-vegetarian to refer to someone who eats fish also.
But, a vegetarian is not one who subsists entirely on vegetables by definition; the vege in vegetarian does not stand for vegetables, but comes from the latin vegetus, meaning healthy diet. So I am not sure how your comment regarding water that doesn't come from plants applies. I believe it was Pythagoras who first coined the term vegetarian.

... someone else using a different gradation should not offend you so
It is not that it offends me - it is that it makes eating out even more inconvenient than it is already. I have to constantly explain what I mean by vegetarian, which, believe me, gets old, very quickly. I once asked a waitress if the "veggie pie" was suitable for vegetarians, and she looked at me like I was stupid and said "it's called a veggie pie isn't it???" but some places mean "vegetable pie" and therefore might have bits of chicken or whatever in it also. She lost her boss future business over that. And I once went especially to a cafe that billed itself as being vegetarian, only to find that every dish had some sort of fish, chicken or pork in it!!
But now I'm getting off-topic...




[ Parent ]
I Know the Feeling (5.00 / 1) (#220)
by Wildgoose on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:13:52 AM EST

For example, my wife asking at our local supermarket for vegetarian cheese only to have the assistant adamant that all cheese was vegetarian, and implying that she was in some way stupid. (For the record, cheese is "set" using rennet. Vegetarian cheese uses vegetable rennet, but the traditional sort uses shredded calf's stomach).

Personally I have never claimed to be vegetarian, despite not eating meat for years, because I have always eaten fish. And the interesting thing I find, is that I've received far more grief from vegetarians for eating fish than I've ever received from omnivores for not eating meat.

[ Parent ]

dairy products / cheese (none / 0) (#227)
by lazerus on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:00:19 AM EST

Traditionally I've been ok with consuming dairy products (although I freely admit that I didn't know about the rennet aspect of it until your post, so I'll have to re-evaluate, I guess) based a fairly simple test: I drank milk directly from a horse, and she didn't seem upset. Now, if I had tried to hack her head off and cook her, I'm sure that she wouldn't have been very impressed.

I know what you're saying about the vegetarians that give you grief for eating fish, the same often happens with vegans who blast non-meat eaters for eating dairy products. Remember, though, that those people are only one portion of the vegan/vege population and their views shouldn't be taken as representing the entire vegan/vege community.

Some do, but I wouldn't try and force people to stop eating meat - but I will explain why I think it's wrong if a discussion about the subjects happens to come up.



[ Parent ]
Definitions and classifications (none / 0) (#349)
by andaru on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:42:15 AM EST

I was referring to the dictionary definition of vegetarian, not its etymology.

As far as pesco vs. lacto-ovo, you say, "certainly, one who eats fish or chicken cannot be considered vegetarian" and I have certainly heard Hindus that I know say the same thing about people who eat eggs. "Certainly, if you eat eggs, you are not a vegetarian."

What I am saying is that you either have to choose to use the word literally, which tends to be useless, or you have to use it to mean some gradation on a gradual spectrum. You have to explain what you mean to the waitress because everybody has to explain to the waitress what they mean.

What if you, being lacto-ovo, went to a restaurant and asked if they had anything vegetarian and they said no, because everything had milk or eggs in it? That would not satisfy your definition either, but there is no way for them to know in advance what your definition is.

Some people (I am not one of them), when they ask if food is vegetarian, actually want to have an answer in terms of red meat only. To those people who consider themselves chicken-eating-vegetarians, the waitress is giving the correct answer.

Unfortunately, any time a word starts to get consistently misused, it becomes open to wide interpretation. Try using the word "moot" correctly and everyone will misunderstand you because almost everyone uses it to mean "irrelevant" when it means "debatable".

War games? With "live targets"? With real bullets? Really! Search Google for (cnn philippines "live targets")
[ Parent ]

the ideal... (none / 0) (#414)
by sal5ero on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:39:16 PM EST

would be for restaurants etc to be enlightened about the subject so that they actually ask what sort of vegetarian food you require. i know of one good restaurant that asks about whether you eat eggs, fish, chicken, etc, even down to whether you eat garlic or onions (they apparently get a lot of people there such as the Hare Krishnas who do not eat these). i think it is important that workers at restaurants should be enlightened on food issues, and the needs of their patrons, on this and other issues such as people with allergies, etc.



[ Parent ]
Different veggies (5.00 / 3) (#193)
by Gwen on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:31:13 AM EST

Just thought I'd pop in here and talk about different sorts of veggetarians (these would be very basic descriptions and do not include groups such as fruitarians which I don't know much about):

  • Ovos eat eggs, but no meat
  • Lactos eat milk and milk products, but no meat
  • Pescatarians eat fish, but othe kinds of animals
  • Vegans eat/consume nothing coming from an animal including the above as well as less obvious products such as leather, silk, pearls, honey etc

You can combine as desired. For example, I'm a lacto-ovo veggetarian, which is your run of the mill veggie. No meat, no fish, but dairy and eggs are fine. I also don't consume leather or anything else that comes from a dead animal, even though many others do, because it seems a bit hypocritcal to me that I should use the skin but not the flesh of a cow. OTOH I have yet to boycott glue, which AFAIK is often made of ground up horse bones etc. Different people draw different lines.

What's important to me is that I live as cruelty-free as possible in the culture that I was born into and am addicted to. It's just my bit, you know?


--
"So raise your hands in the air like you're born again
But make a fist for the struggle we was born to win"
-The Coup ft. Dead Prez, Get Up!


[ Parent ]
Person's diet vs. Product Claim (2.00 / 1) (#216)
by ip4noman on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 06:59:23 AM EST

Good summary of types of veg*an people, Gwen.

But what pisses me off is when products which contain animal products (usually eggs and/or dairy) are labled "Suitable for Vegetarians" (like Veggie Patch products. Well, they aren't suitable for *all* vegetarians! (this one, for example)

I often am amused by many restaruants idea of a "vegetarian dish", usually something like a cheese omlette. Argue about definitions all you like, but there is not much about a cheese omlette that seems vegetarian to me.

Even more insidious is something I spotted on a box of Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patties: a little green plant symbol circumscribed with the text "100% Vegetarian!" The problem is, every one of their products labeled "100% Vegetarian!" contained either eggs or dairy. I consider this to be deceptive.

That is, until I noticed the little R with a circle around it (®). Which means, that the text "100% Vegetarian!" *is not* a product claim, but a "registered mark of trade". While it resembles a statement of fact, it is actually some kind of devious doublespeak mindwash, intended to persuade you to give them money.

So, people can call themselves vegetarians and still eat horse feathers for all I care. But when a product calls itself "100% Vegetarian!" or "Suitable for Vegetarians", it had better be vegan, IMHO.



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Do yourself a favour (4.50 / 2) (#222)
by synaesthesia on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:43:34 AM EST

But when a product calls itself "100% Vegetarian!" or "Suitable for Vegetarians", it had better be vegan, IMHO.

Save yourself the trouble of fretting over this, and accept that the (unqualified) word 'vegetarian' means 'lacto-ovo-vegetarian'. As has been discussed elsewhere, the word 'vegetarian' derives from 'vegetus', not 'vegetable'. There is already a perfectly good phrase for describing vegan food: 'Suitable for Vegans'.



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
e(pisto)(ty)mology (4.50 / 4) (#200)
by kurthr on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:25:07 AM EST

Quite a while ago I tried looking around for the original usage and definition of Vegetarian, looking on the web and the Unabridged. What I found was interesting in that at the time of first usage there was of course no definition. Origin means little, just look at the poor millena old swastika.

The term Vegetarian was not coined, but co-opted in 1847 by the Vegetarian Society of the UK, as written records exist from 1839, and usage certainly pre-dated that. The previous term was Pythagorean since Pythagoras was also a vegetarian. http://www.takeourword.com/TOW111/page4.html (there are multiple pages on the site about the origin) Unfortunately, naming a dietary convention after famous adherents isn't that great an idea. http://www.urbanlegends.com/celebrities/hitler_vegetarian.html (a much better treatment of legend than one might fear given the name)

I don't ultimately mind the current use of the word, but really dislike people telling me dogmatically what vegetarianism means to them. I use it to mean non-ovo/lacto, but then I live in N. California. Currently my response to those who disagree with my definition is simply ask if they were breast fed as children or chewed their fingernails. Since this applys to most everyone, I can then conclude that they are not vegetarian.

If you deny that this is true, and believe that one can consume animal products (or un/fertilized ovum) and remain vegetarian, then I would claim that most anyone could claim to be a vegetarian between meals (this particularly refers to the famous "vegetarian" named above though he might be considered pragmatic -see below). No, I don't usually go into this unless I find someones dogma to be so annoying that my tired quips are more interesting.

Basically, I feel that people get far more worked up and judgemental about what they and other people eat than is usually justified. They are very happy to read/site material with very flimsy basis (or even collect whole books of it) just to justify their own position. Unfortunately, like religion it is cultural, personal, and ultimately undecidable. I respect the Jainists (see the relevant posting and check out esheep) quite a bit since they seem to be at least try to be internally consistent...ethical vegetarians leaving the suburbs and flying to Bali to ride around on elephants are not.

There's a type of vegetarians which are almost ignored by the current discussion, pragmatic vegetarians. These include most of the poor people in the world, and anyone else that happens to be visiting them (when in India). Even in this country there are _very_ good health reasons to avoid eating under processed commercial food products including milk, eggs, apple juice, salad bars, and sushi (but don't believe everything you read in Diet for a new America).

"...but that's just my opinion, I could be wrong"

[ Parent ]

Slaughtering without inflicting suffering (3.57 / 7) (#189)
by beg2differ on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:17:09 PM EST

There's a subset of vegetarians who don't want to eat meat because they don't want to cause an animal to suffer. This would seem to suggest that if there were some way of taking the animal's life without inflicting physical and emotional pain, then these people would no longer have any qualms about eating animals. For instance if an animal were to be anesthetized in an environment that didn't provoke any fear, then slaughtered, presumably these people would feel no moral qualms about eating this particular animal since it experienced a pain-free death.

Eh. (4.00 / 6) (#196)
by DJBongHit on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:49:32 AM EST

For instance if an animal were to be anesthetized in an environment that didn't provoke any fear, then slaughtered, presumably these people would feel no moral qualms about eating this particular animal since it experienced a pain-free death.

Bah. I want my beef to be scared out of its mind when it dies. Tastes better that way.

And as for all you touchy-feely vegetarians out there who say it's immoral to kill animals for food, I say it's immoral to deny your place in the world. Which, coincidentally, is at the top of the fucking food chain.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
been smoking some crack (2.00 / 1) (#205)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:19:31 AM EST

Top of the food chain? Better check what you've been smoking. For an experiment, we'll put you in an arena with a hungry grizzly bear, each with only what they were born with. I'm betting the bear will be enjoying DJ burger soon.

Now, if you can kill the bear and eat it, no problem. Enjoy.




"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Heh (4.80 / 5) (#207)
by DJBongHit on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:01:14 AM EST

For an experiment, we'll put you in an arena with a hungry grizzly bear, each with only what they were born with. I'm betting the bear will be enjoying DJ burger soon.

That's fine. I'm not gonna be lecturing the bear on the fact that eating me is immoral. I'll be using something I was born with (my brain) to attempt to escape or use a tool of some sort to defend myself. If the bear wins, well, he'll enjoy his "DJ Burger" and then go do something else.

Anyway, you're going to have to use a bit more substantial argument than "Better check what you've been smoking" to try to argue that we're not at the top of the food chain. Humans rarely get killed by animals in the developed world. In fact, a number of special interest groups (and k5 readers) argue that it's our "moral responsibility" to stop killing other creatures because, frankly, most of them don't stand a chance against us.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
yep (none / 0) (#264)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:20:52 PM EST

My poor attempt at humour, at least someone got it. Just a check to make sure people remember that they can be eaten themselves at times. "They're" right though, it is important we [humans] keep a check on what we're doing in regards to what we're killing.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Sod the food chain (2.00 / 1) (#266)
by synaesthesia on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:29:35 PM EST

Could you please explain why you think it's immoral to deny one's place in the world?



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
Morality (none / 0) (#340)
by katie on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:25:52 AM EST

Probably on the basis that the vegans are throwing random claims to things being "immoral" around, so why shouldn't the carnies?



[ Parent ]
Two wrongs don't make a right (none / 0) (#352)
by synaesthesia on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 11:02:06 AM EST

At least veganism is morally sound in some sort of Universalisable / Do Unto Others / Kant's Golden Principle way. DJBongHit's reasoning basically invites anyone who wants to harm him, and has the capability to do so, to do so.


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
OK - fine (5.00 / 3) (#247)
by Yellowbeard on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:44:25 AM EST

Me, the grizzly, and my M-60 will have a little chat, and then I'll enjoy some bear burgers. The thing is, you are all going to say "But you have to be in there without weapons." Why? The bear has his weapons. I'm just using the weapons that my species has created with its major weapon - its brain - to fight back. Culture /is/ a part of nature. Humans /are/ natural. M-60s are just as natural as beaver dams. If the bear gets his claws, I get my M-60 (or bfg9000, or whatever). If you think humans aren't at the top of the food chain, go look at the world. We are able to put cities anywhere we want for a reason.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


[ Parent ]
tarsand (4.75 / 4) (#308)
by mofospork on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:16:50 PM EST

Top of the food chain? Better check what you've been smoking. For an experiment, we'll put you in an arena with a hungry grizzly bear, each with only what they were born with. I'm betting the bear will be enjoying DJ burger soon.

You have managed to completely misunderstand the concept of the food chain. It isn't about who can eat who with only what nature gave them, it's about who can eat who with the advantages nature have given them and the advantages the they've created for themselves.

Now lets revise your experiment, so it actually represents what you're talking about (the food chain):

DJBongHit vs. A Bear

The bear gets: his claws, his teeth, and his superior muscle.
DJBongHit gets: A small group of people with guns.

No problem.

[ Parent ]

yeah yeah yeah (5.00 / 2) (#310)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:28:05 PM EST

I know better. Don't worry about it. I just thought DJ vs. a grizzly would be cool.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
I know (5.00 / 1) (#415)
by mofospork on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:05:12 AM EST

But, DJ could probably kick the bears ass without any guns with his mighty druggie powers.

[ Parent ]
Top of the Food Chain (2.00 / 2) (#223)
by catseye on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:23:53 AM EST

Er, no, I wouldn't say we're at the top of the food chain. Maybe in an urban setting, but in most of the world we share (or are below, since we won't eat most predatory animals) the position with sharks, crocodiles, polar bears, other large bears, tigers and other great cats.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Hmm (4.50 / 2) (#238)
by DJBongHit on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:10:29 AM EST

Maybe in an urban setting, but in most of the world we share (or are below, since we won't eat most predatory animals) the position with sharks, crocodiles, polar bears, other large bears, tigers and other great cats.

I'd wager to say that most of the people who are participating in this argument here are in no direct danger of getting eaten by a shark, a polar bear, or any other animal (ok, so every once in awhile you hear a news story about somebody getting chewed to bits by a shark while they're snorkeling. Humans still eat more sharks than sharks eat humans). Humans in modern society have no natural predators, and hence are at the top of the food chain. The situation in the third world has no bearing on this discussion, since you don't hear them trying to convince people that they shouldn't eat meat because they feel bad for the poor animals.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Taste (4.00 / 2) (#306)
by spiralx on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 07:38:51 PM EST

Bah. I want my beef to be scared out of its mind when it dies. Tastes better that way.

Actually it doesn't; IIRC the chemicals released when the animal gets loads of adrenaline produced actually make the meat taste worse.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

If God did not want us to eat animals.. (2.54 / 11) (#191)
by mindstrm on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:13:39 AM EST

Then why did he make them out of meat?


Okay. Sorry. (4.00 / 3) (#192)
by mindstrm on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:23:26 AM EST

Someone already used that line ;)


[ Parent ]
chicken a la petri (3.40 / 5) (#194)
by kurthr on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:39:29 AM EST

I've looked and can't find anyone who mentioned the growth of chicken protien in a dish. I know it was mentioned on that other site, but jeez...

Are you vegitarian if you eat this? What if you eat thousands of little farmed yeasts in your Marmite? Are they not animals? What about Quorn? It's grown in a dish too. http://www.adage.com/news.cms?newsId=34274

Sorry, but what people put in their mouths, whether it be wine, coffee, cheese, or meat inspires near religeous beliefs. They won't be changed by argument, but will lead to much intentional and unintentional "trolling" (yes I know the "definition"). I don't see much informative coming from the discussion, but then I guess I resemble that remark.

yes i was drunk! (NT) (1.00 / 1) (#202)
by kurthr on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:09:20 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Pig Tail! (4.25 / 4) (#211)
by QuantumG on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:10:57 AM EST

<a href="http://rtfm.insomnia.org/~qg/biodome/pigtail.html">Here</a> is a rant about making animals that grow meat which just drops off for collection (ala fruit). The animal lives a long and happy life (perhaps as a pet!) and produces much meat which it is not needlessly killed for. Note: I'm not a vegatarian, nor a vegan.



Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
Correction... (4.60 / 5) (#213)
by Jel on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 06:13:06 AM EST

The second law of thermodynamics would seem to support this too, which (to oversimplify) basically says that we can't get energy without taking it from somewhere.
Actually, that's the First Law of Thermodynamics

Yet again! (5.00 / 1) (#243)
by FredBloggs on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:32:47 AM EST

Perhaps the first law should be `everyone gets the first law wrong`!

[ Parent ]
Not sure what you mean... (none / 0) (#359)
by Jel on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:49:42 PM EST

Are you saying it's NOT the first law? If not, why? Or are you just saying that you're unsurprised I got it wrong originally?

[ Parent ]
What's the big deal? (4.00 / 9) (#218)
by the original jht on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 07:14:11 AM EST

I's called the food chain for a reason. Most animals are adapted to eat a particular type of food. Cats, for instance, mainly eat small mammals and birds. A lot of bird species are adapted to eat plants - in turn, some plants are designed to have seeds spread by bird poop. Other birds hunt and kill their fellow birds and ignore plants. Humans, like most primates, are designed to be able to get nutrition from a wide variety of sources. We have teeth designed for tearing flesh, and grinding plants. We are essentially hunters and scavengers by design, and can eat whatever works best for us at a given time. This lack of specialization is part of why humans were able to thrive so well.

Humans are also pretty much unique, in that we have domesticated certain species which now are managed strictly for their food value. The problem with the modern diet is that many humans depend excessively on the domesticated animals for food sources - that's poor nutrition. We were designed for variety.

Another thought is that humans are the sole species on this planet that makes moral choices about their food. Virtually no creature that is designed with the physical capability to eat a human would hesitate to do so if given an opportunity. Yet some of us restrain from eating animals.

Anyhow, this is how life works. Living things consume other living things. The point I give to the vegans is that we don't need to be unnecessarily cruel about it - in most cases, the animals I eat are purchased from companies that raise their animals in decent conditions, don't feed them their own kind in their food, and aren't stuffed with drugs (When I eat out I can't guarantee that animals I order are treated like that - but I can in my supermarket). I don't eat certain things (like veal) where the entire basis for the meat is a cruel act (raising them in a confined pen for a short, unhappy life). But I have no issue with those who would eat it themselves.

If a human feels they can get all the nutrition they need from plants, fine. More power to them. I'll remain in the active food chain, myself.


- -Josh Turiel
"Someday we'll all look back at this and laugh..."

Amusing contradictions (2.40 / 5) (#263)
by Unicycle Scrub on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:19:59 PM EST

The point I give to the vegans is that we don't need to be unnecessarily cruel about it.
You don't need to eat animals, killing them is therefore unnecessary cruelty.

[I]n most cases, the animals I eat are purchased from companies that [...] don't feed them their own kind in their food, and aren't stuffed with drugs
Interesting how you're applying human morality to an issue you (indirectly) ascribe as being an amoral system, particularly with regard to cannibalism.

Of course, these 'decent conditions' will often involve things such as forced pregnancy, in the case of milk-producing cows, the de-beaking of chickens (admittedly not universal, perhaps you're aware of this issue and avoid it), and the killing of many unwanted male animals at birth.

[ Parent ]

This point is where reasonable people disagree... (4.50 / 4) (#335)
by the original jht on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 08:46:32 AM EST

Here's the point of disagreement - vegans believe we are essentially herbivores, and even if we ate meat in the past, we should no longer do so. Between designed meatless diets and what can be done through modern dietary supplements, I agree to a point - modern humans will not die of malnutrition or fail to thrive on a proper meatless diet.

However, where I disagree is in the basis of that argument. Humans evolved as omnivorous creatures. We have the ability to eat virtually anything and get nutrition from it - in fact, many humans have evolved the ability to get nutrition from cow's milk (a recent mutation in evolutionary terms), even. If it exists, humans are capable of eating it.

I don't buy (nor will I ever, regardless of where this thread goes) the extreme vegan argument that meat is completely unnecessary. I do believe that people can manage without it, but I also believe that we evolved the ability to eat animals for a reason - and that reason is for us to have as varied a diet as possible. Most Western societies eat far too much meat in their diet, and we suffer bad health effects for it. Even if vegetarianism isn't considered by most, we should all eat less meat.

Now, as for the issues of animal farming - I prefer to eat animals that were raised humanely for several reasons. One is that animals raised humanely are healthier. They are less likely to carry the nasty germs and such that most modern farming methods encourage. So that's purely my own self-interest talking. Another reason is that more organic farming methods are smaller-scale, and easier to sustain, with a lower environmental impact. Helping the planet survive is not incompatible with a diet that includes meat.

Where I really apply morals is at this level: were I hunting for my meat, I'd have no qualms about how I kill the animal in question. But I choose not to do so, because hunting doesn't appeal to me and because it's not a practical use of my time (not to mention I live in a small city - all I'd have to choose from are pigeons, squirrels, and skunks). However, I earn enough that I'm willing to pay more for animals that I believe were raised and harvested via methods that appeal to me. It also doesn't bother me if other people buy their chickens from Tyson, while I buy free-range.

Where do I draw the line? Well, despite the fact that many species have no qualms about eating their own kind, I don't eat humans. And I avoid things like veal that are raised in truly nasty circumstances. There's nothing inherently wrong with vegetarian (or even strictly vegan) eating as a choice, and a lifestyle. But my own eating habits aren't wrong, either - given that humans have the capability to eat animals as part of their diet there's no reason not to do so, responsibly and in moderation. Eat a steak every day and you'll probably die early. Eat a steak once in a while, exercise, and make sure you get a balanced diet, and you'll probably live just as long as the vegan. And there's no reason to feel bad about it, either.

- -Josh Turiel
"Someday we'll all look back at this and laugh..."

[ Parent ]
WTF? (none / 0) (#392)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:26:23 AM EST

and the killing of many unwanted male animals at birth.
Any idea where this happens? Which branch of farming?
I've never heard of this. I have lived on a farm pretty much all my life. Even now, although I live in a city, I spend a lot of time at home, running a farm.
What tends to happen is that male animals are *neutered*, not quite at birth, but shortly afterwards.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Domesticating Species. (5.00 / 1) (#339)
by katie on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:21:57 AM EST

"Humans are also pretty much unique, in that we have domesticated certain species which now are managed strictly for their food value."

Ants.

ISTR there are others, but ants come off the top of my head. They farm aphids, which can eat leaves ants cannot. The aphids produce milk, which the ants can eat. Interestingly analogue with humans and cows.

Vegetarian argument: Don't eat meat, it's inefficient, eat the vegetables.

Problem: Humans can't eat grass. Cows ARE our way of eating grass. It doesn't matter if it's less efficient in pound-for-pound food terms if one of the foods you're comparing is indigestible...



[ Parent ]
Yep - I remembered that one (none / 0) (#353)
by the original jht on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 11:03:03 AM EST

I remembered the ant/aphid relationship, which is why I qualified it with "pretty much". There are other species that have symbiotic relationships, but ants are the only other species that I'm aware of that have domesticated another species to their purposes besides humans.

Interestingly, meat is typically much more dense, nutritionally speaking, than plants. It's a more efficient food in that regard. Each step up the food chain concentrates the nutrients further, for the most part.

- -Josh Turiel
"Someday we'll all look back at this and laugh..."

[ Parent ]
Searching for answers? (2.83 / 6) (#219)
by geekdean on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:07:23 AM EST

I'm sure many will view this as a troll, but it is my true belief, take it or leave it and throw a fat steak on the Bar-B-Que

Gen.1

[26] Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

[28] And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."


Talk is cheap - Free speech isn't.

Control issues (4.00 / 3) (#221)
by A Trickster Imp on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:29:19 AM EST

I rather wonder about the control issues.

Most vegetarians are liberal. That is, they don't want Man to prey on anything but other men. Launch the savage, brutal, mass assault to steal things from those who produce. You build that farm, plowed it, we're starving, we are more, we're taking it.

Let's see someone remove savage behavior from all aspects of human life, and start with the important one: voting away other people's stuff and effort.




[ Parent ]
I'm missing it... (none / 0) (#387)
by Iron Squirrel on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 09:05:13 PM EST

What are you talking about?

[ Parent ]
Buddy Christ, dashboard diety (5.00 / 1) (#316)
by jombee on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:05:28 PM EST

I'm not sure what your exact beliefs are, geekdean, but do you think Buddy Jesus would "thumbs up" the meat processing plant your steak comes from for love and compassion? If you believe humanity was granted dominion over animals and plants do you believe humanity was granted the responsibility as stewards of His creation as well? I'm curious to know more of your particular beliefs on this issue.

=jombee



[ Parent ]
It's times like this... (none / 0) (#321)
by ip4noman on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:52:22 PM EST

... that I wish I save my "5"'s for something really special, like this one. Excellent!



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
WWAD? (none / 0) (#388)
by Iron Squirrel on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 09:18:12 PM EST

What would Allah do? While I respect your right to worship as you choose this makes me sigh. Heavily. I don't have a problem with people eating meat, but your religion justifies neither wonton cruelty (regardless of whether it is directed at people or animals) nor does it address the environmental damage done by the enormous amount of meat consumed in this country (the US). Two thousand years ago be fruitful and multiply sounded like a great idea. Now it's more like: HOLY SH*T PLEASE STOP MULTIPLYING!!!

Just make sure that steak isn't full of nasty chemicals and support your local farmers!

[ Parent ]

Humans vs. Other Animal (3.75 / 8) (#225)
by catseye on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:32:58 AM EST

I have a question for vegetarians out there -- the one that think every animal has a right to live and will not eat meat for ethical reasons. It may have been answered elsewhere in this chain already, but there were 200+ messages in it when I got to it and I might have missed it.

How do you feel about the rest of the food chain? Is it "wrong" when a cat eats a mouse or a lion eats a gazelle?

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
The answer is (4.00 / 5) (#230)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:45:16 AM EST

No. Animals are incapable of making ethical judgements. Actually, the answer to your question isn't really "No", it's more like "That question is unaskable since it presumes a falsehood to be taken as true." Conversely, if this is your argument in support of being carniverous, you would have to conclude that there was nothing seperating huamns from animals in the area of making ethical judegements, and so it would be ok to eat other people, too, if you felt like it.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Or maybe... (4.50 / 4) (#232)
by DJBongHit on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:00:15 AM EST

Animals are incapable of making ethical judgements.

Or maybe humans just have a tendancy to come up with silly ethical judgements that ignore the harsh realities of the food chain and the life/death cycle to make themselves feel better.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
If they're silly, try living without them (3.00 / 1) (#246)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:38:47 AM EST

That is if you can find some kind of 'Road Warrior' style no rules anarchic dog-eat-dog society to live in. There's a reason that mode of 'civilization' has never proved too popular: it's not very successful. Maybe you're tough enough to climb your way to the top of that food chain, but why bother? Wouldn't you rather enjoy a much better standard of living just by adhering to a few not-too-difficult-to-obey rules? Even if you are bad-assed enough to institute an absolute totalitarian regime based on fear of your capacity to deal death unto others, I seriously doubt that you'd be able to engineer a society that provided a better than iron age level of technological sophistication. And chances are you're not that tough, and would get chewed up and spit out in short order.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Dog-eat-dog? (none / 0) (#317)
by DJBongHit on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 09:32:58 PM EST

That is if you can find some kind of 'Road Warrior' style no rules anarchic dog-eat-dog society to live in.

I never said anything about dog-eat-dog. I'm talking about dog-eat-cat. I'm clearly not advocating that people should eat other people. I'm saying that people should, if they so desire, eat other animals that we have evolved, either biologically or sociologically, to eat.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Oh, so ethical considerations are only silly (none / 0) (#337)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:04:38 AM EST

when it's convenient to your argument. Well, there's no argument to that! You win! In any case, I wasn't referring to a cannibalistic society, I was using the 'chewed up and spit out' phrase as more of a metaphor. I just meant that a society that's not guided by ethical considerations will rapidly devolve into brutish chaos, which is more or less the state of nature, the "harsh realities of the food chain and the life/death cycle" as you put it.

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[ Parent ]

*blink* (none / 0) (#345)
by DJBongHit on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:57:57 AM EST

Oh, so ethical considerations are only silly when it's convenient to your argument.

I didn't mean to imply that ethical considerations are silly. I meant that this particular ethical judgement (the idea that we are somehow above the food chain) is silly.

In any case, I wasn't referring to a cannibalistic society, I was using the 'chewed up and spit out' phrase as more of a metaphor. I just meant that a society that's not guided by ethical considerations will rapidly devolve into brutish chaos, which is more or less the state of nature, the "harsh realities of the food chain and the life/death cycle" as you put it.

I never said that our society shouldn't be guided by ethical judgements. I simply meant that we are part of the food chain, and there is no reason, ethical or practical, for us to pretend that we're not. It makes no sense. We evolved to eat animals as well as plants, and the animal kingdom evolved (and continues to evolve) around us and with us. And as much as vegetarians make noise about how we shouldn't eat animals, they still fail to provide a convincing argument as to why we shouldn't (aside from the horrible treatment of animals in the food industry, which isn't an argument against eating meat, but rather an argument against the fucked up, capitalistic society in which we live).

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
I see your point, but... (none / 0) (#350)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:43:03 AM EST

I didn't mean to imply that ethical considerations are silly. I meant that this particular ethical judgement (the idea that we are somehow above the food chain) is silly.

Except for one thing: we are above the food chain. We manipulate the chain as we see fit all over the place! When was the last time you had a meal consisting completely of hunted and gathered food items? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say never. The food chain describes an ecological system which has been set up over billions of years through random processes of evolution. Humans came along, hunted and gathered for awhile, then one day a particularly bright one said "Screw this! It's too much work hunting and gathering. I'm going to try something a little more efficient." SNAP! went the food chain, as far as humans are concerned. We can shape it however we want, and any deviation from absolute efficiency in the system can be thought of as 'silly'. We didn't evolve to eat Twizzlers, did we? Of course not! You can only say that you like them, or not (I think they're gross). It's basically a luxury. So is meat. Therefore, any reason you can think of pro or con regarding eating meat is just as arbitrary as any other, until you start addressing the efficiency of the system as a whole. If you think it's mean to kill animals to eat them, that's as valid a reason not to eat meat as enjoying the taste is to eat it. If you think it's wasteful to eat meat (at least farmed meat), then I think you've got a leg to stand on.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Ok (none / 0) (#377)
by DJBongHit on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 03:21:25 AM EST

Well, I see your point too (that the natural order of the food chain is a pretty far cry from the way it is today), but even if that's the case, I still see no valid reason not to eat meat. If you don't want to eat meat, for whatever reason, then more power to you. But I enjoy meat, so I'm going to continue eating it until I hear a convincing argument why I shouldn't. "We don't have to" isn't a reason.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
If animals have no capacity (3.60 / 5) (#235)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:05:03 AM EST

to make those kinds of judgements, what responsibility do we have towards them?

An animal can kill me and not be held morally responsible. Why can't the reverse be true? Think of how you would feel if you were always ethical when dealing with a certain person, yet they never had any ethical consideration for you.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

We have the responsibility of stewards (5.00 / 1) (#242)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:31:35 AM EST

An animal can kill me and not be held morally responsible. Why can't the reverse be true?


Who says it isn't? Certainly the animal itself is not going to 'hold you responsible'. Neither is it's family, though if a momma bear finds you standing over the bloodied corpse of her cub, you may find yourself being 'held responsible' into leetle teeny peeces. Other humans may hold you morally responsible though, which is OK. You don't have any right to be well liked. Depending on the circumstances, you may be held legally responsible as well, which is where things get kinda fuzzy. Why is it OK to slaughter a cow in a brutally cruel way but not OK to beat your dog to death? Seems like an emotional double standard to me.

Think of how you would feel if you were always ethical when dealing with a certain person, yet they never had any ethical consideration for you.


I guess I would feel superior to them. Kinda like I feel towards animals. I have the benefits of my superior position ethically, which serves me well (it's the foundation of every legal system we have, basically). Consequently, I have certain responsibilities that go hand in hand with those benefits. Also, I wouldn't trust that person, just like I don't trust a crocodile not to eat me if given the opportunity.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

wait--are you arguing with me or agreeing? n/t (none / 0) (#258)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:55:32 PM EST


-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

how could I argue or agree... (none / 0) (#260)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:06:54 PM EST

...when all you did was ask some questions (imploring me to "think how you would feel if..." is functionally equivalent to asking me "how would you feel if...?)? I'm not sure what point you were trying to make, I just responded to the questions you asked. What is your position? Does mine agree with it or not? Only you know the answer...

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

who's on first? (none / 0) (#274)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:27:17 PM EST

I was saying that we can't hold ourselves morally responsible to our actions towards animals if they can't do the same.

Now go out back and grill me somethin'...
...
...

Please?

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

how 'bout a nice zuccini? (2.00 / 1) (#277)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:41:13 PM EST

Um, I don't follow your logic, I'm afraid. What's to prevent me from holding you morally responsible for your actions towards, say, a rectangular piece of cloth with red and white stripes and some stars on a blue field on it? Nothing, which is why you still hear people blathering about flag burning amendments. Conversely, if a flag floating on the wind landed on your windshield and you crashed your car as a consequence, would you hold it, or the wind, morally responsible? What if your house collapsed in an earthquake? Do you chastise the earth? That'd be pretty damn silly, but you could do it. Our sense of morality isn't some kind of absolute quantity like the speed of light, it's built from the choices we make as moral beings. There's nothing that requires those choices to be logically consistent.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

er... (none / 0) (#284)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:07:57 PM EST

What's to prevent me from holding you morally responsible for your actions towards, say, a rectangular piece of cloth with red and white stripes and some stars on a blue field on it?

I dunno, maybe because it's an inanimate fucking object? Only if it's a flag someone else owns can I rightly be held accountable for destroying it. Just because people babble about it doesn't mean that their opinion is worth considering.

The rest of your post is ridiculous. If you don't think morality is absolute, then excuse me while I rape your dad.

I hope you're just trolling. Essentially, what you just said in that last line is that whatever we do is moral because we are moral beings. I hope that you can be man enough to admit that this is ridiculous.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

nope (none / 0) (#290)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:35:32 PM EST

I never said that, or implied it. I do think that whatever we do can be judged as moral or immoral by any one of us.Whatever we do can be judged because we are moral beings is the essence of it. As for the inanimate staus of a flag, I don't see what that has to do with it. The point is, it is an object that possesses no inherent moral attributes, just like an animal or a gun or a volcano. Holding any object responsible for its effects on a person is patently ridiculous. This includes animals, which are mere objects morally speaking for the purposes of this argument. However, people can choose to hold each other morally responsible for their effects on objects, and often do. Try spitting on a cross during a catholic mass and see if you don't get held morally responsible. You may not agree that you've commited an immoral act, but the congregation will have other ideas. Who's right? It just depends on the perspective of the observer.

If I found you had raped my dad, I'd hold you morally responsible for it. Why this has to be based on some absolute principle I don't know. If you know what absolute right and wrong is, could you please do the rest of humanity a favor and let us know? What is the force of nature that leads to morality?

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

By definition, (5.00 / 1) (#293)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:41:39 PM EST

What is the force of nature that leads to morality?

God.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

oops... (2.00 / 1) (#294)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 03:45:18 PM EST

Sorry, didn't realize I was dealing with a theist. All I can say is "Prove it". No, really, please prove it, I'd really like to know for sure that there's a god.

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[ Parent ]

Prove there isn't one. (5.00 / 1) (#297)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:10:40 PM EST

No, really, please prove there isn't a god.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

I can't... (3.00 / 2) (#298)
by fn0rd on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:25:03 PM EST

...but I'm not the one claiming to believe in things for which there is no empirical evidence. I don't know if there's a god. I'd like some proof one way or the other, whichever way you can lay it on me.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Interesting. (3.50 / 2) (#300)
by derek3000 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:36:22 PM EST

...but I'm not the one claiming to believe in things for which there is no empirical evidence.

1. Go read Hume's Nature of Human Understanding and tell me if you ever feel the same way about the words 'empirical' and 'a priori' again.

2. Is there any way to prove that your mother loves you, empirically? Love is something that you can't see, analyze, or prove. But it exists, right?

3. Don't look down on people who are 'theists.' In reality, there are smart people on both sides of the argument. I find it funny that you are so intolerant, especially since people like you claim other religions to be intolerant.

4. You believe in God too. Its name is science, though, which assumes that we have a grasp on empirical knowledge. See #1.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

losing interest rapidly... (none / 0) (#334)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 08:41:37 AM EST

1. Haven't read it, don't have time to read it then rebuff, this is a crappy ploy in an argument. Go read the The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

2. I experience love. I appear to be human. My mother appears to be human. I love my mother. She tells me she loves me. I have no evidence to the contrary. I have plenty of evidence through her actions to support her claim. Did god tell you it exists, let alone loves you, or did some other human tell you this? If someone, even your mother, told you there was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater behind you, would you flinch? Have you ever beeen lied to? Have you ever been misled by someone who meant well, but had the wrong information?

3. Why not? Who are you to tell me who I should look down on? Actually, I don't think I look down on anyone. I just think theists should identify themselves as such immediately when engaging in discourse on such topics as the nature of morality, so that those among us who do not share their views can refrain from wasting our time. As a theist, you have agreed to sacrifice a certain degree of critical thinking in order to maintain your faith. I have no interest in dislodging you from your position, because it would be fruitless. It'd be like arguing with Easter Islanders that using all their resources building big stone heads is a bad idea.

4. Hardly. Why is it that the only alternative to god for minds afflicted with faith is some other brand of faith? I have no confidence at all in humankind's ability to ever fully grasp the 'truth'(see #1). In fact, that is the only unprovable axiom within my belief system. You have chosen to follow the herd in persisting in the belief for something which may or may not be there.

I'm tired of this... I think I'm done unless you have a really intriguing argument. Have a nice life :)

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

That's ok. (none / 0) (#336)
by derek3000 on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:01:58 AM EST

Hardly. Why is it that the only alternative to god for minds afflicted with faith is some other brand of faith? I have no confidence at all in humankind's ability to ever fully grasp the 'truth'(see #1). In fact, that is the only unprovable axiom within my belief system. You have chosen to follow the herd in persisting in the belief for something which may or may not be there.

Then how can you be so sure that believing in God is pointless? Have you not chosen to follow a herd yourself? Ask yourself these questions honestly. Being an 'individual' doesn't mean what you think it means. I feel sorry for you--you seem so fucking agro for no reason at all, and think that arguing with people who don't share your beliefs to be a 'waste of time.' Seems to me that arguing with people who share your beliefs is the truly pointless excercise. I hope you have a nice life too, really.

All the best,
Derek

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

OK, one more time... (4.00 / 1) (#338)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:15:11 AM EST

Then how can you be so sure that believing in God is pointless

I don't. I just don't know whether or not it's pointless. Occam's razor says it's easier to not believe than to believe.

you seem so fucking agro for no reason at all

Funny, this is the second time you've resorted to cursing in this thread. That's generally regarded as a sign of aggression.

you...think that arguing with people who don't share your beliefs to be a 'waste of time.'

No I just think arguing with people who are taking a position which is both irrational and unshakable to be waste of time. Such is my experience with theists. What's the point? Nothing I say or could say would make you change your mind, or admit that I could possibly be right. I will admit that you could be right, I've got no evidence to the contrary, but you'd never admit you could be wrong, otherwise your faith would be a sham.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

all right. (none / 0) (#341)
by derek3000 on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:32:30 AM EST

I wasn't cursing in an agro way, just a disappointed one.

No I just think arguing with people who are taking a position which is both irrational and unshakable to be waste of time.

Again, I don't know how you can think it's irrational if you don't believe we can have completely objective empirical knowledge of the world.

I guess this is getting no-where, which isn't our fault. Nice talking to you anyway, fn0rd.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

quickly... (none / 0) (#342)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:41:27 AM EST

Again, I don't know how you can think it's irrational if you don't believe we can have completely objective empirical knowledge of the world.

The belief in god is an attempt at a "completely objective empirical knowledge of the world". It is completely objective because saying that god is at all subjective is putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. It is empirical because theists point to existence itself as proof of god.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Maybe that's true for other people... (none / 0) (#344)
by derek3000 on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:57:01 AM EST

but not me.

I brought up love because it is not something you can measure quantitatively, prove objectively, etc. It shows the futility of science--prove the existence of something that is such a big part of our lives. It can't be done.

Why then, do we have some idea that killing innocent people is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc., if there is no moral absolute? I don't think you need society to tell you these things for you to know them, or at least have a semblance of them.

Someone much smarter than me once said that when you talk about the origins of the universe, you talk about yourself as well. When you fall in love, do you think of a bunch of chemicals interacting in your body to produce a sensation of euphoria? When your mother dies, and you are sad, is that too just a chemical reaction?

That is my postion. I can respect your position of no faith in anything. That is completely understandable. But you have to think about how I feel when atheists (and god knows there are a lot of them on the internet) attack me for having faith, when they place their faith in man. You know who else placed their faith in man? Stalin. Stalin thought he could find God in himself, which is a dangerous assumption, because that means that whatever decision he makes is morally correct, by definition.

The world we live in is strange indeed. Almost as strange as any science fiction novel, where the author can completely blow our minds by changing small details of everyday existence: the sky is purple, there are two moons instead of one, trees are blue, God has been replaced with Ford, the assembly line has been applied to conception, etc. Things are strange enough as it is to completely understand them.

Therefore God.

All right, just kidding. But you get the idea.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

ask hitler (4.00 / 1) (#346)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:21:04 AM EST

Why then, do we have some idea that killing innocent people is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc., if there is no moral absolute?

Hitler thought killing people was the right thing to do, that he was on the side of god, that he was guided by a moral absolute. So did the guys who took down the wtc. I have come to the conclusion that killing people is wrong through a quite simple set of logical steps:
1)I am alive.
2)I don't want to be killed.
3)Other people are in the same boat.
4)We all agree not to kill one another. If one of us kills, that person has violated the contract, and cannot be trusted. That person needs to be isolated from the rest of us.
5)Besides, I like people, I'm empathetic. Killing one would make me feel bad. This contract is easy to live up to, it's a win-win :)

To bring this back on topic, I offer the following corallary:
6)Animals don't want to die either. While I don't trust them not to kill me, I, thanks to my advanced mind, can empathize with them without expecting a quid pro quo. Because they are not moral beings, I can justify taking the life of one in a case of duress (if I am starving, for instance). I can't do this with a person. Of course, in the case of self-defense, where some other entity (human or not) is actively seeking my death, I can do what is necessary to survive.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

I hear that. (none / 0) (#348)
by derek3000 on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:32:17 AM EST

I was a strict vegetarian for 3 years. I pretty much took the same position. I actually wouldn't mind people eating meat if they killed it themselves. I mostly thought (and still think) it strange that we raise animals as they were vegetables.

Also, there is a certain touch of cannibalism in all of this--especially when sitcoms, commercials, movies, pop culture in general, etc., seem to 'humanize' animals--i.e. Babe, Mr. Ed, Lassie. It's a strange situation right there that deserves some research; Lacan once said that the job of the therapist was to "eat your being-there," loosely translated from French and the German word Daisone (I think). Maybe it's a way to reclaim reality. Maybe I'm talking out of my ass. Just something worth pointing out.

Getting back to what you said at the top: that is a Hobbes-like view that does seem logical. I would just hope for a more...idyllic motivation than self-preservation.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

yeah, well, that's the danger (none / 0) (#351)
by fn0rd on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:48:23 AM EST

I would just hope for a more...idyllic motivation than self-preservation

The danger being that it's easy to come up with an idyllic motivation to justify any behavior. Look at Israel, or Northern Ireland. Whenever someone gets murdered there, there's a group who idolizes the murderer.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Sure. (none / 0) (#372)
by derek3000 on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 10:03:59 PM EST

People have been twisting religion to meet their needs for thousands of years. Just like Stalin did with atheism.

Tkatchev said once that all religious wars are really political, and I buy it. It might seem like a convenient cop-out, but you have to maul the core ethics of most religions if you want to justify killing other people.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

re: Cannibalism (4.00 / 3) (#236)
by catseye on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:07:22 AM EST

Regardless of ethics and morals, and even species, cannibalism is medically dangerous. Cannibalism in cows can lead to BSE. Cannibalism in humans can lead to kuru. Cannibalism is unnatural in most mammal species, and usually only results in cases of famine or stress due to overcrowding. (With the exception of male lions, who will eat the young produced by other males, in order to get the females into heat again and produce their own offspring.)

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How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Meaganism (2.83 / 6) (#267)
by asv108 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:32:52 PM EST

In a past life, I use to attend quite a few Phish shows where vegetarianism and especially Veganism are quite prevalent. There were lots of Vegan food and information stands around the parking lot; here was my idea.

Meagans... Let's save the plants
Meaganism is based on the idea that all green plants are sacred. All plant killers such as cows and any other herbivore should be killed and eaten. Carnivores and Omnivores should not be eaten since they eat the evil plant killers. The only vegetables us Meagan's are allowed to eat are potatoes since they grow under ground, they are considered to be a dirty plant, which is ok for Meagan consumption.

Dr. Who (5.00 / 1) (#268)
by epepke on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 01:42:35 PM EST

There was an episode of Dr Who about this during the Tom Baker years. The villain was someone with a thing for plants who only wore leather and considered bonsai a hideous act of cruelty.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
This is a pyramid scheme.. (none / 0) (#325)
by phlog on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:33:43 AM EST

I assume you're kidding, but it wouldn't quite be possible if it were successful. Let's say you do a great job (in your mind), and manage to eat the cows and other plant-eaters (are you going to eat me next?) that are eating all the precious plants. If you kill them off before they can eat too many plants, they'll start dying off, because they won't be growing large enough to reproduce, etc.

Eventually, you'd run out of things to munch on in some rabid frenzy.

And I'd hate to be your heart surgeon.

-Phlog

[ Parent ]
A noble plan, but flawed. (none / 0) (#384)
by raygundan on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 05:16:28 PM EST

Unfortunately, by subsisting mostly on plant-eating animals, you kill far more plants than if you ate plants yourself. Cows eat a crapload of plants, and most of the energy gets used moving the cow around and maintaining its warm-blooded body temperature. The cow eats and eats, much more than you do, since it's bigger than you (my apologies if you outweigh a cow), and does this for months until it's big enough for you to eat, turning tons of precious plants into cow farts.

Save the plants. Eat them directly.


[ Parent ]
Vegans for thermodynamics! (3.87 / 8) (#279)
by raygundan on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 02:46:15 PM EST

I am vegetarian, and was vegan for about 3 years before backing off a bit and allowing small amounts of dairy back into my diet.

My primary reasons for this choice have little to do with the welfare of animals, and more to do with the welfare of people. It's a question of efficiency-- if you could either:

1. Grow some plants and eat them.

or

2. Grow some plants, feed them to an animal which wastes much of the energy as heat moving around and maintaining body temperature and repeat until the animal is large enough to eat.

Which one do you think will feed the most people? A significant portion of the calories in the original plants is lost in the months-long growing process for livestock.

Becoming vegan, vegetarian, or even just eating a little less meat helps distribute the calories in plants much more efficiently. This savings could be realized in more food for the world, less land used for farming, and less farming labor effort.

So, for me, it's not so much a way to keep people from killing the "cute cuddly animals" but a responsible environmental choice in a crowded world. It's like recycling. And if a few less animals get killed because of me, that's just icing on the cake.

Eat meat if you want. Eat only bananas if you want. But do consider the issue outside of the normal "it's mean to kill animals/it's natural to kill animals" arguments that are all we ever hear.

(1) no pain, (2) no damage to the ecosystem. (3.20 / 5) (#299)
by gasull on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:32:34 PM EST

Humans are social animals. So we have moral. You can use the postmodern argument that we have not enough intelligence to understand the universe and aply moral to it, but this argument is moral itself.

Then, because we can't build our moral only with logic, we can also use our feelings and emotions to build it. I mean, empathy is a feeling that is necesary for humans. If not, humanity would die. We feel empathy for people, and also for animals and plants. We feel the need to protect the whole ecosystem.

If you take something from the ecosystem, say a plant or an animal, and you eat it, without making pain to it, then there's nothing wrong if it is sustainable.

Eating a lot of meat from farms is bad for ecosystem (it isn't sustainable), and the the animals are suffering that life. That's why I try to avoid meat. I also try to avoid GMO, beacause they aren't sustainable.



GM species (4.00 / 2) (#302)
by kuran42 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:01:08 PM EST

I don't see anything inherently unsustainable about genetically modified species. Current attempts probably do more harm than good to the ecosystem, but that need not be the case. Why do you think they are not sustainable?

--
kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
Dogs (3.85 / 7) (#301)
by shrike7 on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 04:50:29 PM EST

We haven't wiped out breeds of dogs, simply because we created the concept of 'breeds' of dog when we domesticated the wolf. I think the larger question of vegetarianism is one of personal choice. I can't see the universal immorality of eating animals, but I can't conclusively prove its universal acceptability, so I just wish everyone would make their choices and go on with their lives.
CXVI
Why I'm a vegetarian (sort of) (3.50 / 2) (#312)
by agentkhaki on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 08:32:54 PM EST

I'm a vegetarian for one reason, really. It's not that I'm opposed to eating animals. It's that I'm opposed to how we raise them, and then kill them. Hell, if they lived a perfectly normal life, running about like they were intended to, and then we popped them in the head with an air-piston, I'd probably be all for eating meat. But the conditions in which they live - chickens, stacked 20 and 30 high in cages, with their beaks and tongues cut off with a hot wire when they are born - is horrible. If these animals lived their normal lives, and then we killed them, it'd be no different than them living their normal lives, and then being killed by, say, a grizzly bear. The death would be painful, but they'd have had a fair chance at living a normal life.

As far as eating fish goes, most fish is caught in the ocean (lake, whatever), falling into my above stated beliefs. Therefore, I eat it when I have to - ie, when there's nothing else to eat. The same goes for eggs. Chicken, on the other hand, is meat, and anyone who claims to be a vegetarian eating it is an ass. 'Nuff said. That is all.
404 - Signature not found

Slaughter practices (4.00 / 1) (#343)
by catseye on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 09:54:24 AM EST

If modern slaughterhouse methods bother you (as they should bother anyone with an ounce of feelings) then try to buy meat that doesn't come from that type of process. Some of the new, smaller meat companies such as Laura's Lean Beef and Newman's process the meat themselves or use smaller operations to do so.

There's also the option of only eating Kosher meat. There are strict rules on how an animal can be treated when it is raised, killed and processed and still be Kosher. My fiance's grandfather owned a Kosher slaughterhouse and from what I hear it wasn't that bad. The animals were shot in the head, cleanly, and verified as dead before processing began.

As more people are beginning to be bothered by inhumane animal treatment, more companies are bowing to pressure and changing their practices. Instead of feeding the cattle chicken shit (really), they'll feed only grain. You can get meat from animals that have not been feed grain laced with antibiotics. You can get meat from free-range chickens. You can get hormone free beef and dairy products.

There are options out there if you do like meat, but don't want to contribute to needless suffering or ingest lots of chemicals you can't pronounce.

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How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
raising cattle (none / 0) (#354)
by heatherj on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 11:15:43 AM EST

I don't know about chicken raising or much about cattle slaughterhouse conditions, but I have lived in areas in which dairy or beef farming were important parts of the economy all my life. I have NEVER seen a cow fed anything that wouldn't actually be safe for a person to eat. (Granted, I don't find grass, hay, silage, or raw oats appetizing, but they wouldn't poison me.) Nor have I ever seen them cruelly treated on farms. Beef cattle spend all their time standing in a pasture doing their own thing. They aren't quite as well treated as dairy cattle, as they are outside in all weather. Dairy cattle are treated at least as well as an outdoor dog. They are the royalty of the food-producing livestock world. They spend nights and bad weather in a nice, warm, clean barn. They are kept clean. They spend their days outside in grassy pastures. They are milked twice a day. If you have never seen a cow with a full udder, or a human mother who needs to nurse her baby, you know that milking is certainly not any kind of cruelty!

Are you aware that Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" has NO basis in fact? It was written strictly as a rabble-rousing piece by a socialist who had NEVER been inside a slaughterhouse. Current reports of slaughterhouse conditions, especially those produced by such politically motivated agencies as PETA and various eco-terrorist groups should obviously be suspect. Have you seen these cruel conditions for yourself? Or have you just read the propaganda?

The only pigs and chickens I've seen raised were family operations done for family food, with at the most, a few extra to sell. All of these situations were such that the animals lived in humane conditions at the least, and some were pets, plain and simple. If you live in the city or suburbs, do not sit at your computer and tell me the "horrible" things about how animals are raised. I have always lived in farming areas and/or on farms and I have seen firsthand how things are done.

One of the biggest problems about city/suburban living is that too many people are insulated from the realities of life. Get beyond the sidewalks and the shopping malls and see how the food gets to the supermarket for yourself before you criticize!

[ Parent ]

Exactly (none / 0) (#358)
by MKalus on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:38:52 PM EST

>>One of the biggest problems about city/suburban living is that too many people are insulated from the realities of life. Get beyond the sidewalks and the shopping malls and see how the food gets to the supermarket for yourself before you criticize!<<

This was one of the reasons why I stopped eating meat.

Not only can I not confirm where it comes from, nor do I think it is ecological useful.

As for your description, have a look at: Fastfood Nation

By far not a PETA write up and written by a guy who still eats his hamburger.

Nevertheless, the stories he's telling do enough to put me off of eating meat.

The problem is usually not so much your 5 ounce steak that you buy at a butcher, but the food processing industry.

[ Parent ]
Time for decaf (3.00 / 1) (#360)
by catseye on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 01:11:51 PM EST

First of all, I've never read "The Jungle", so that has no basis in anything. And no, I'm not getting all my information from PETA or other similar sources. As well, I do not have to personally tour a slaughterhouse to know whether or not "bad things" occur, just as you do not need to personally visit China to know the Great Wall exists.

When deciding what kind of food to eat and whether or not to support the meat industry I did use some information from PETA. Although they are a bunch of whack jobs, they do occasionally get a few things right when they go undercover into facilities and take video. Their videos, when brought to public light, usually result in fines to the plant, at the very least, and possibly arrests. No, not every slaughterhouse is horrible, but some are.

Other sources I used were Dept. of Agriculture research. A copy of one of their reports can be found here: Survey of Stunning and Handling in Federally Inspected Beef, Veal, Pork, and Sheep Slaughter Plants. This survey took place in 1996. 64% of plants were rated unacceptable in stunning their animals, having to stun them multiple times.

There have been cases of inspection violations, such as SLAUGHTERHOUSE OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL MEAT INSPECTION ACT VIOLATIONS, where the owner admitted to slaughtering dead, dying and diseased cattle in direction violation of federal regulations. Uninspected meat was combined with inspected meat and all sold as inspected.

There are many, many other links if you just do a google search. Some are from animal-rights groups, some are not. The Washington Post (registration required) has a number of archived stories about bad slaughterhouse practices.

I'm glad the ones you've seen have been humane, but it's naive to think that all are.

For examples of some that are not humane, click on the links below. Yes, they are peta undercover videos, and while they're crazy, I don't think they're crazy enough to stage some of this stuff. [warning: links may contain animal abuse, graphic pictures of diseased and injured animals]
  1. At a pig farm
  2. On a turkey farm
  3. Another pig farm
You can also view more photos and video (non-peta) at Factory Farming.

Even if this kind of activity only goes on at 1% of the plants/slaughterhouses/farms in the US, just think of how many animals that is.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Blah, blah, blah... (none / 0) (#368)
by beergut on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 05:18:55 PM EST

... when they go undercover and ...

Please, go and visit a slaughterhouse. Unless and until you do so, you have not seen what really happens. PETA holds about as much credibility as Greenpeace when looked to as a source of information (baby seals, anyone? how about dolphins in nets?)

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

You missed something (none / 0) (#369)
by catseye on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 05:42:39 PM EST

I provided links to sources other than PETA.

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How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
I've lived in both places... (none / 0) (#364)
by agentkhaki on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 03:21:00 PM EST

I was born on a farm. I'll most likely die on one. I've spent the time in between spread evenly between urban and rural life. If you think that Farmer John's 'Betsy' (the chicken) is where the meat you buy in the stores comes from, you're either sadly mistaken, shopping at a small store in a rural area, or shopping in a store that specifically carries such things.

As far as beef goes, it's not so much the living conditions as the dieing ones. I mean, I'm sure a good majority of them live happy, quaint little lives, wandering around in pastures much larger than most of us could ever even imagine. And then, _BAMN_ we hit them in the head with an air piston, several times. Perhaps they die. Perhaps not. If not, they're going to be in a world of hurt.

But perhaps that rather large package of ground beef did come from a cow that was treated fairly through life and even through death. Does that make it any healthier for me? No. Sure, I need the protien. I can get that elsewhere. What I don't need are the fats and other chemicals that can lead to heart disease, etc. Besides, I like plants and plant-based products. They just... taste better.
404 - Signature not found
[ Parent ]

Fine... (none / 0) (#367)
by beergut on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 05:16:34 PM EST

You want to be a vegetarian, or personally find using animals as food to be disturbing.

Please do not try to force your religion upon those of us who live in the real world.

I will agree that, e.g., Tyson, raises their stock in vile conditions. Fine. Don't agree with it? Don't buy Tyson chicken, or contact them and let them know that you want them to offer free-range chickens. If they see enough demand to make such an offering profitable, you can bet they'll do it. It would be solid business.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

I thought vegetarians were gay or female (1.50 / 6) (#318)
by exa on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 10:31:39 PM EST

Sorry I just can't imagine a man who does not produce saliva in response to a well cooked roast beef. He he :) I know it's hard to accept, but as mankind we base our existence on slavery of other species. We don't have the technology to remove that yet.
__
exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
There is no perfect circle.

you are a troll (5.00 / 1) (#319)
by tarsand on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:06:15 PM EST

but I'll bite.

I'm a big burly manly man, rugby player, weightlifter, and a *gasp* vegetarian. And oddly enough, married to a female even! We're quite common.


"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Non-salivating straight, male vegetarian (4.00 / 2) (#324)
by phlog on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:20:29 AM EST

Well, if you really want to see one, I have a picture of myself at http://netdrain.com/phlog/pictures/phlog7s.jpg

And I think we very much do have the technology to live without eating meat. It's not even that complicated, just a little research finding out what's necessary to eat to maintain a healthy vegetarian diet. And, really, it's not as hard as it may seem. I don't miss meat at all.

-Phlog

[ Parent ]
Vegetarians. (2.66 / 3) (#320)
by FoGoF on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 11:18:22 PM EST

Arogance as humans leads us to run aways from the fact that we are animals. Even though we can think, and we know that we know, we are still animals. Now, humans have this thing with thinking that they are superior. I mean if you are a vegetarian because you can't digest meat, or animal produce, then fine. But if you deside not to eat meat for moral issues than you are hiding from the fact that you _are_ an animal. That _we_are_all_ animals. And as animals, we (most of us) _need_ proteins that we can only find in meat. Human arogance doesn't imply killing an animal to eat it, but not killing a cow to save it's feelings, now that implies human arogance.

Every thing is good in moderation, even moderation itself.
I don't think I'm particularly arrogant.. (4.50 / 2) (#322)
by phlog on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:11:11 AM EST

I'm a vegetarian for a few reasons. In no particular order:

it's much healthier to be a vegetarian. Meat is full of plenty of junk (animal fat, possible diseases, etc.). And, yes, you can get your fill of protein without having to eat meat (beans and rice, nuts, etc.)

growing animals to feed to people is very inefficient. If you feed the grains and plants directly to the people instead, it's cheaper and provides the potential for much more food to supply our out-of-control population (not that I'm trying to encourage overpopulation, but vegetarian diets can help feed those that aren't getting enough food right now as it is).

animal grazing to provide food, at least beef, is horrible for the environment. Land gets over-trampled, cows release excess methane into the air, which contributes to global warming, and their solid waste washes away to our water sources, potentially contaminating them.

some people may disagree, but, personally, I think that raising and killing conscious (as in, able to think) animals for food is just an unnecessary uncomfort to another living being. Would you mind walking around in a closed environment for the rest of your life, doing as you're prodded, just so you can eventually be slaughtered? It may help to look at things from the other side of the fence.

I'm not "not killing a cow to save it's feelings", I'm not killing a cow so I can feel generally healthier, not contributing to world hunger, not contributing to environmental descruction (in one way, at least), and so another conscious lifeform won't have to lead a boring-at-best life, so I can get an extra-juicy burger.

-Phlog

[ Parent ]
First three conceded (5.00 / 1) (#374)
by shrike7 on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 02:12:25 AM EST

I'll concede that vegetarianism or veganism for the first three reasons you cite is entirely justifiable. I question the implicit assumption in the fourth reason that animal impulses and desires are identical to our own. I have no idea if they are or not. But the argument could be made that being raised for slaughter has proven to be an exceptionally successful evolutionary strategy for cows, sheep and chickens, and for all we know the overriding impulse for farm animals is the passing on of genetic information. Again, I don't know if this is the case. But basing an argument on the premise 'They must hate being raised for slaughter, because I would' seems dubious to me, because we really have no idea how animals think. If this argument is accepted, eating meat becomes a question of deciding whether the health and environmental consequences are worth the aesthetic pleasure of consuming meat. You might not think that they are. I can certainly imagine scenarios where they wouldn't be for me. But, that said, I think the first three concerns you raise-well, maybe not the first one-can be dealt with if we manage our resources properly. The world produces enough food to feed everyone properly, and delivery of that food is slowly getting better. Eventually, the second concern you raise should be dealt with to everyone's satisfaction. As to the environmental consequences...I guess I don't really have an answer, other than to say that eating less meat probably is a good idea, but that an ecologically sustainable beef industry is entirely possible. Probably not on the scale the current one is on, but possible none the less. I will say that you put the vegetarian argument an awful lot better than I've usually seen it argued.
CXVI
[ Parent ]
Umm... in point of fact, we ARE superior. (5.00 / 1) (#333)
by Kasreyn on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 07:30:10 AM EST

To just about everything but the insects and bacteria, which are the dominant lifeforms on this planet, that is. =P

However, we're at least the most individually powerful ones. We're at the top of the food chain because that's where we've put ourselves, using our intelligence. There may be greater species out there in the universe, greater intelligences or powers than we're aware of, to whom we may appear nothing more than cattle to make hamburgers out of. If so, then that's life. We eat; we will be eaten. I consume the flesh of dead animals on a daily basis, not to mention the reproductive organs and entire corpses of various plant and fungal life forms. Not to mention the armies of bacterium and virii which my immune system puts to death on a daily basis.

I'm a walking slaughterhouse, in fact, and so are you. It's nice as a philosophical effort to be a Jainist - to avoid the taking of any life. It's a nice guilt-reduction method, I guess. But the only way we stay alive is by killing. Our bodies do it constantly. We're natural born killers, to quote a movie. =P Just by existing, we cause the deaths and suffering of other animals. It's that damn first law of thermodynamics coming back to bite us in the backside - for one of us to have energy, we have to take it from somewhere else. Perhaps that makes plants the most innocent of us all, since they take their energy directly from light and elements. However, who's to say the sun isn't alive in some way...?

And frankly, people whining over vegetarianism while there are humans suffering in the world piss me off. If it's a choice between a cow getting butchered and eaten, or a man starving, I will personally cook that man a hearty steak dinner. Vegetarianism is all about guilt-avoidance, but it's also about cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Folks, there are larger problems we could be dealing with than "cruelty to animals". How about cruelty to humans, for starters?

We talk about arrogance of humans? How about the unmitigated arrogance we have, in that we think we can "save" everything, that animals need our help, that the planet needs our help? That's human arrogance for you, not the fact that I eat meat. Everywhere you go you see this mindset that we are the keepers or minders of this planet and everything on it. I guess it's some holdover from biblical Genesis. It's bullshit either way. I say, let's stop trying to save things we can't save, let's stop trying to deal with problems that are neither within our capabilities to solve nor within our jurisdiction as a single species. The planet doesn't need us to save it; other animals don't need to be saved from us. Let's deal with ourselves and each other before we worry about all this unimportant bullshit beyond it.

Me, I don't worry about the animals I eat. That's their lookout. I eat; I will be eaten (fungi and worms, a.k.a. decomposition or rotting to the un-scientifically minded). Until such day as I'm eaten, I will count my blessings and continue to live at the top of the food chain, a position which I share with 6 billion of you for no greater reason than you - I was lucky enough to be born a human. And I will dedicate *my* efforts towards eliminating cruelty to my own species. And if, at any time, I think that that problem has been solved, THEN I might have a spare instant to worry about whether the animals I consume have had a tough time.

But not bloody well until.


-Kasreyn,

confirmed carnivore and Vegan-mocker extraordinaire.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
If you're starving... (none / 0) (#365)
by agentkhaki on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 03:28:34 PM EST

...there's nothing wrong with killing an animal to save your hide. That's survival of the fittest at its finest. But if you can make the choice between meat and non, why not choose non? You or I, living in America, most likely have this choice. A poor, starving Somlian doesn't really. But he also isn't going to be going to the local Kroger and buying a package of mass-slaughtered cow. He's either going to do it himself, or go to a local butcher.
404 - Signature not found
[ Parent ]
A Common Misconception (4.42 / 7) (#323)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:13:23 AM EST

A common thread among many anti-vegitarianism arguments is that eatting plants is just as bad as killing animals. The argument is based on the misconception that all plants are killed in order to harvest them. For many plants this is not true. Fruits like bannanas, pineapples, apples, etc. are the reproductive byproducts of those plants. By no means does eatting an apple result in the death. They are meant to be eatten by an animal, and have the seeds deposited someplace else in a nice mound of fertilizer.

Now I admit there are other types of plants that are "killed" for food. This is true, but if you are REALLY concerned about the poor plants being killed, giving up on them and going to animals would be worse. Think of how many plants it would take to raise a pig or a cow until it was ready for slaughter. Now remember that they are animals, and as such, they many calories to reach that level. These calories come mostly from plants or other animals (if you didn't know, they feed animal byproducts back to most farm animals.) Now to get that nice juicy 600-calorie steak you would have to let the cow eat well over that many calories in plants. So much for saving the plants.

Not that anyone against vegitarianism has any desire in saving plants. But the point is still valid: to raise an animal for slaughter, you end up giving it many more calories more in plants than you get out of the beast. For a world with as much hunger and famine as we have, there are better uses of agriculture than to waste it on billions of hamburgers.

"too insensitive to hear a carrot scream" (1.33 / 3) (#331)
by A Trickster Imp on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 06:11:37 AM EST

> For a world with as much hunger and famine as we have, there are better uses
> of agriculture than to waste it on billions of hamburgers.

Satisfying the desire for meat makes a bigger and stronger economy than a purely vegetarian one.

The starving people starve because of government activities, not because of cheap, plentiful food. Food is wasted by the gigaton already, thanks for playing.


It's strange, but I've respected all types of vegetarians except one.

- If you want to be healthier, especially with respect to heart disease, I can respect that.

- If you think meat is gross, that is certainly a mental aberration (I, myself, once used to like eggs over easy and now think they're gross) but it is a legitimate reason.

- If you're worried about standard environmentalist crap, I think you're 180 degrees wrong, but it's a legitimate reason.


What I can't respect:

- Not eating meat because of some philosophy about animals having rights.


Since animals have no significant brainpower or self awareness, it's obvious on the face of it that there's nothing wrong with using them for food, fun, and profit.





[ Parent ]
Interresting. (4.33 / 3) (#357)
by MKalus on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:30:54 PM EST

>>Since animals have no significant brainpower or self awareness, it's obvious on the face of it that there's nothing wrong with using them for food, fun, and profit. <<

You are touching on an interresting subject:

What is intelligence.

and

How to measure it.

If you find the answer, please let us all know.

[ Parent ]
Obvious (4.66 / 3) (#361)
by Vogue State on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 02:10:10 PM EST

Is it obvious that all animals have no intelligence and no self-awareness? My cat seems to have a little of the former and a lot of the latter. My neighbor's dog -- the other way around. Cows are probably pretty dumb, but how do you know they are not self-aware? How do I know you're self-aware? If you can't prove it, can I eat you?

I am not a vegetarian.

--
Now is the time
Get on the right side...
You'll be Godlike!

[ Parent ]

Yes (1.00 / 1) (#379)
by A Trickster Imp on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 08:44:48 AM EST

> If you can't prove it, can I eat you?

Certainly, but you'll have to watch out for my self defenses.


Pre-reflective cogito and all that, remember?



[ Parent ]
regarding rights and behavior (5.00 / 1) (#386)
by Iron Squirrel on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 08:05:58 PM EST

If you're worried about standard environmentalist crap, I think you're 180 degrees wrong, but it's a legitimate reason. Crap? Being concerned that people are destroying soil and water is being concerned about crap? You drink that water too ya know. I agree that the idea of plant's rights delves deep into the realm of goofiness. Don't anthropomorphize your vegetables. But the idea that we can use animals any way we want and if it means they have miserable lives from beginning to end I cannot agree with. I DON'T CARE how stupid an animal is, to deliberately make it suffer for your amusement or convenience is, IMO, wrong. I'll probably regret this analogy, but... when Africans were first brought to this country they were considered anmials. I don't mean to marginalized their suffering or the subject of racism, neither am I saying I think someday we'll discover chickens are actually capable of becoming great scientists and painters. What if we humans were to encounter a race of beings so much more intelligent than us that they considered us no better than animals. I don't mean to sound goofy, but as the "top dogs" of the planet, it can be difficult for us to objective about the suffering we cause. For the record - I eat very little meat - never cook it at home. Mostly because I don't like what factory farming does to the environment, the way the animals are treated, the fact that small farmers are put out of business, and the chemicals we ingest through the meat we eat. Thanks for your time!

[ Parent ]
Rod Serling and Brita filters (none / 0) (#389)
by ip4noman on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 01:59:52 AM EST

Nice post IS.
You drink that water too ya know.
Basic fact: when two people make more than two babies, the world population increases. And the way I look at it, that's just one more person peeing in the water supply. So by this twisted logic, I figure that anyone with more than 2 kids, owes me a Britta filter. ;^)

What if we humans were to encounter a race of beings so much more intelligent than us that they considered us no better than animals.
An interesting analogy, which has been explored before to great effect. This Porno for Pyros song comes to mind, as well as Rod Serling's Twilight Zone episode, called "To Serve Man".



--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
[ Parent ]
Brittas and recipies (none / 0) (#399)
by Iron Squirrel on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 02:19:26 PM EST

I like your idea about the filters. Those things are expensive!

For a lot of people the damage we're doing isn't going to sink in until, for example, water is rationed ALL the time, not just in the summer or when there's a drought. I'm sure a lot of people will be shocked to find that they don't have a RIGHT to all the water they can waste. (This is AMERICA, dammit!) It's just so frustrating that the rich and powerful, who can do the worst and the most damage don't even understand that the toxic waste they dump is going to be there for their grandchildren to deal with. They don't even give a f**k about their own families, how could they care about the rest of the world. Maybe they think money protects them from pollution.

I had forgotten all about that "To Serve Man" episode as well! Too funny. I bet those people didn't think so when the aliens brought out the carving knives!

[ Parent ]

Can't agree with you there though.... (none / 0) (#391)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:10:29 AM EST

Since animals have no significant brainpower or self awareness, it's obvious on the face of it that there's nothing wrong with using them for food, fun, and profit A comment typical of someone who has no experience of animals. Bugger off and live on a farm for a couple of years.

The larger mammals have a very great deal of brain power, are self-aware, and have distinct personalities.
Doesn't stop me eating them, though.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Stats please. (2.00 / 1) (#390)
by gordonjcp on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 10:02:21 AM EST

But the point is still valid: to raise an animal for slaughter, you end up giving it many more calories more in plants than you get out of the beast
Commonly quoted by PETA, along with the line about feeding tons of grain to animals for food.
I grew up on a farm. We never fed grain to any animals. In fact, the only animals I can think of that eat grain as actual *grain* are hens and humans.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Links and data from somebody besides PETA (5.00 / 2) (#396)
by raygundan on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 02:10:57 PM EST

http://www.schoolmilk.nf.ca/milk3.htm

Says that an average 1300lb. cow eats:

4kg of hay
16kg of silage (about half a kiddie pool full)
10kg of mixed grains, salt, vitamins, and minerals
and 60L of water.

From this, it can produce about 24L of milk per day. (That surprised me-- I always thought it would be lower)

Since I'm not a farmer, I had to look up silage: "fodder converted into succulent feed for livestock through processes of anaerobic acid fermentation (as in a silo)"

And this site: http://cattle.guelph.on.ca/kids_cattle/beef_everywhere/system_a2.html

Shows beef cattle eating the following amounts of feed at various stages in their lives:

birth: 1.7kg/day
6 months: 7kg/day
midgrowth (yearling heifer): 8kg/day
maturity: 10.5kg/day
preparation for market: 15kg/day

I assume that the milk production is the reason for the higher diet of the dairy cow, but that's just a guess.

So, here's a rough (estimates for how long the animal is at each stage, and using 30-day months) calc for how much feed beef cattle eat in two years:

(1.7kg*4*30)+(7kg*7*30)+(8kg*7*30)+(10.5kg*6*30)=5244kg

This ignores the 2-4 month 'fattening period' where they are fed even more.

To confuse matters more, here's a link that says when grazing, cows can consume 100kg of food/day:

http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/beef/5496.html

Now, clearly people don't eat grass, so things get difficult here. Could the land be used for something besides cattle eating and pooping? How much land does growing 100kg of grass require? How much wheat/corn/soybeans would the same land grow? At the very least, simple thermodynamics tell us that the cow will lose some of the energy as heat, and that eating the cow is at least *slightly* less efficient than eating plants directly. But how much so? PETA (and similar groups) give numbers that I wouldn't trust any more than numbers from the beef industry.

And I just found this:

http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/agec2/mf264.pdf

Which gives a ton of data on what cows eat. (Lots and lots of whatever you're feeding them)

For example, "Finish Yearling Steers" eat (among huge amounts of other things) 2250 lbs. of corn. in just 212 days, Which is equal to about 2,250,000 calories. If the cow produces 600lbs. of beef at 1240 calories/lb., we get 744400 calories of beef from it. So from just ONE of the things the cow is being fed (the chart shows the same cow eating 1565lbs. silage, 520lbs. alfalfa, and 1770lbs. sorghum) in just a part of its lifetime (212 days) the cow is already behind in how many calories we get for how many we put in. Even if we ignore everything but the corn it eats, it's still a losing investment. I'll leave it as an excercise for the reader to determine exactly how bad an investment it is when you take the other feed into account.

So, I've given it a whirl. Anybody have any better information?


[ Parent ]
Fairy nuff... (none / 0) (#397)
by gordonjcp on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 09:57:39 AM EST

Yep, that all seems about right. Although, 5 tons per head for two years seems a bit high.
The problem is that in a lot of places, you can't just grow soya instead of grass (hence my diary entry about hill farms). Hardy breeds of cows can be raised organically, and eat nothing much more than scrubby grass, draff (brewery mash), and silage.

Incidentally, silage is *extremely* dense stuff. Not all animals can eat it - you can't feed it to horses in most cases. Hardy breeds of pony, like Highland and Eriskay ponies can eat small amounts of it without getting colic, but they can eat anything.
Generally, you take very long grass, cut it, and pack it densely while it's still "green". People used to use silage "pits" to do this, but now (at least in the UK) we just use modified hay balers to pack it into round bales about 5 feet across, which are then wrapped in plastic sheeting. Over time, the moisture in the grass comes out, the grass partially ferments, and you get silage.
The bales weigh easily 1500kg or more, which means that handling them is difficult. You need special gear to pick them up without bursting the wrappers (because if air gets in, it just goes sour).

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
one question to all vegans: (3.50 / 2) (#326)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 01:05:06 AM EST

if we turned all of the pastures into farmlands, where would all of the cows go?

-Soc
I drank what?


Not this again (3.00 / 2) (#362)
by Unicycle Scrub on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 02:30:18 PM EST

If this is the old "but since we eat cows more of them get a chance to live" argument, I must confess I'm sick to death of it.

They'd die, one way or the other, for the most part. Even if they could find good grazing, most modern cows varieties have been selectively bred to be domestic and would have a hard time on their own.

This in no way conflicts with vegetarianism, and the question itself is stupid. Why do those cows even exist? They shouldn't. If we stopped raising them they wouldn't. And good riddance.

The argument that usually goes hand-in-hand with this one is that by eating cows we're doing them a favour, as they wouldn't have been born and lived, otherwise. That's just daft, ask any human what they would think of being born and raised just to be killed and eaten - I don't think you'll find them very appreciative.

Of course, being vegetarian, I think we need to keep a few for milk and cheese purposes :)

[ Parent ]

i think you're reading too much into my question (none / 0) (#370)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 08:05:17 PM EST

of course, they would likely die in the wild, and they certainly shouldn't be maintained domestically. If honey is a form of bee slavery, then keeping cows for milk & cheese is no different, that's why i was asking Vegans not vegetarians. However, I'm both joking and also trying to figure out the honest answer.

If we did suddenly and universally adopt veganism, would it be more merciful to euthanise a certain portion of the population? What do we do with their remains? If we do not euthanise them, what part of the worlds would be flooded by their re-introduction and how much damage could we expect them to do to their habitat?

I seriously don't know. Likely, if we adopted veganism, it would be a gradual process, so this won't be too much of an issue, but I think it's amusing to speculate.

I asked one question and you answered another. Sheesh. Lighten up, people.


-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
My take on the matter (1.00 / 1) (#355)
by heatherj on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 11:42:20 AM EST

Here is the long and short of my response to vegetarianism. If that's what you want to do, it's your right. No one has the right to tell you what to put in your body. Enjoy yourself.

It is NOT, however, how I choose to maintain my body. That is my right. Animals are not humans and CANNOT HAVE RIGHTS. It does, however, behoove us not to be wantonly cruel to them, or to torture them. I have not, however, seen BELIEVABLE research (this means impartial, nonbiased, not from the "animal rights" organizations or the meat industry) that meat animals are tortured or treated cruelly, and my personal experience suggests otherwise.

Now here is the part that people tend to miss. My philosophy about eating meat does not agree with a vegetarian's philosophy. We do not have the right to force our philosophies on each other, nor do we have the right to use gov't for that purpose. Also, NO ONE has the right to deliberately destroy the property or livelihood of other people who are not violating any human rights, but only happen to disagree with your opinions. This includes the financing of such terrorist organizations as PETA, EarthFirst, and the Animal Liberation Front. If you support such organizations, you are financing terrorism in the US.

Please Note: (4.00 / 1) (#356)
by Jel on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 12:24:59 PM EST

This article isn't about vegetarianism vs. omnivorism. It could be considered to be about the best method of practising vegetarianism, and the alternative methods of achieving the same goal. But even then.. it's only a philosophical discussion, and could be discussed equally even if vegetarianism did not exist. I'm not preaching to anyone -- as I say, I currently sit on the fence on the whole issue, so I'm in no position to preach.

[ Parent ]
Re: Please Note (3.00 / 1) (#363)
by heatherj on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 02:32:12 PM EST

Granted. However, many of the posted comments are on the order of vegetarianism vs. omnivorism and are preaching. I posted this comment on themain thread largely because I did not wish to repeat myself by posting the same response every time someone starts preaching. I did not say you were preaching, and I'm sorry if it came across that way.

[ Parent ]
here's a funny story (4.66 / 3) (#366)
by Yellowbeard on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 04:21:01 PM EST

I live in Arkansas, the home of Tyson foods.

Some people who like meat but also are appalled by the living conditions of food animals are willing to eat things that are raised in "better" conditions. This gave birth to the free range chicken. Now, in order to call your chickens "free range," it is required that you allow them open access to X square feet of open yard per chicken. This means that their house has to have an open door where they can leave at their leisure and go run around free.

Now, in looking at the Tyson free range chickens, it was noticed that their free range chickens were much bigger than any other companys' free rangers. In fact, the Tyson free range chickens were almost the size of regular chickens. Investigations commenced.

The story goes that Tyson had solved the problem of growing large, free range chickens in this manner: Build Chicken house. Put door in. Leave door open. Put fenced area with Y square feet of open yard where Y>X*chickens and X is the minimum amount of square footage allowed of open yard so you can still call your chickens "free range." Now put concrete owl statues on all the posts that comprise your fence.

You see, the chickens could go range freely if they wanted to; they just didn't want to. I thought it was an interesting hack, although I cannot verify it. Anyway it's a good story.

You know, one great way to maximize food production in terms of energy but still be able to eat meat had been around for hundreds of years. It's called: veal. It's yummy, and it's a great alternative to feeding all that grain to cattle - I say just eat the grain - and, while we're at it, just clone the cows - and never let their brain stems develop above the medula oblongata - then no one can bitch, because we're just being cruel to vegetable cattle.

Also, there's this solution. Hey, it's spinach. It just looks like a pig. ;)


"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


Glad I'm vegetarian (3.00 / 1) (#411)
by Steeltoe on Sat Mar 30, 2002 at 11:35:50 PM EST

Even though this story maybe just a rumour, it's nothing compared to what really goes on in the industry. They use every trick in their book to keep people eating their bad food, and defend it too!

And as for crossing pigs with spinach to make them healthier? Well, if you're into GM food, what can I say? It's like not caring about your food taken on a whole different level :-)

Actually, people can eat what they want and do all the mistakes they want. All I want is to inform those that is beginning to glimpse the negativity and insanity to wake up: YOU don't have to be part of it.
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
Teeth... (5.00 / 1) (#373)
by bobothy on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 11:01:33 PM EST

Looking at Human teeth, it is pretty obvious that we have evolved to be able to digest both meat and plants. We have canines for tearing meat, molars for crushing meat and plant, and incisers for cutting plants.

Didn't I already say this (2.00 / 1) (#381)
by Yellowbeard on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 01:04:00 PM EST

on that other thread. But I got creamed for it. In short, I agree with you, bobothy.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


[ Parent ]
We won't be able to end this discussion... (4.00 / 1) (#375)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 02:55:23 AM EST

...until we breed an animal that both wants to be eaten and has the vocal capability to express that desire clearly.

Douglas Adams (RIP) had the right idea.

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.

Vegetarianism (2.50 / 2) (#378)
by cariad on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 07:12:24 AM EST

I think putting vegetarianism in terms of human superiority is missing the point - entirely!!

I have been a vegetarian for two years and believe it to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. For me, it actually has very little to do with the rights of animals, but more to do with pollution and destruction of ecosystems. The idea that we can keep raping the oceans and pumping animals full of antibiotics, and still maintain our own health is idiocy. The meat industry is going to destroy the health of humans.

So what if we have evolved to be the dominant species on this planet, or if we have evolved to have teeth that show we have been eating meat for millenia. This says nothing about what we are eating today. The pollution from abattoirs (sp?) and the destruction of species of fish in the oceans is a testament to how unnatural this process is.

The idea that our dominance over all other species is shown by our eating flesh from process factories and intensive fishing illustrates the kind of human hubris that will probably be our undoing.

false premises? (2.00 / 1) (#413)
by gordopolis on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 08:53:19 PM EST

My basic point of contention with your argument is its basic premise. The reason people are opposed to killing animals for food is not simply because they live, but because the way they live in some way parallels our own. Why don't we practice cannibalism? Because most people lack the ability to devour something with which they can associate. The level of this sympathy varies from one person to another, and one situation to another.

I wouldn't eat my dog because I have formed a connection with it, and therefore associate its emotions with my own. Look at Bambi; the death of his mother was so compelling because of the personification her and the cute baby deer. People who choose vegetarianism because they don't like the idea of killing animals do so because they associate more closely with them than most people.

The extension: killing plants is much easier than killing animals because plant-life is fairly distant from our own. Plants lack the cognition of humans and other animals. We don't associate emotions with them so we feel little connection with them. It's easier, therefore, to justify using them as sustenance.

Yes, we do make distinctions when choosing what to eat. But the distinctions are not based on superiority; they are based on simpatico.


On Vegetarianism, and Human Superiority | 413 comments (383 topical, 30 editorial, 1 hidden)
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