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    Thread: Moral discussion: Why do you eat animals?

    1. #26
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      This is good, discussion is always good, thank you for taking the time to engage the material.

      Quote Originally Posted by Snowboy View Post
      Most animals don't care too much about boredom.
      Pigs have been shown to be at least as intelligent as a 3 year old human child with their ability to problem solve and interact socially. They're also sometimes substituted for dogs as pets. Are you willing to argue that a 3 year old can't get bored when locked in a closet for 10 months straight in darkness?

      Female Cows "Issue": What? That doesn't cause any suffering. The young are just taken away. I don't think animals experience the kind of bonding to their offspring like humans do.
      Male Cows "Issue": They don't care about the dark. Not worth mentioning. For the iron-deficient diet - I will make an argument when I learn what happens when cows don't receive much iron.
      Humans are also animals. Our need to bond with our offspring is just as strong as theirs is with their own. Mammals and avians have very strong maternal and paternal urges to protect their young (Ever tried going near a baby duckling when mumma is around? She ain't happy). The perpetual darkness just adds insult to injury, and adds to their boredom. They begin to exhibit whats called 'stereotypical behaviour' like swinging their tongues back and forth or swaying their heads side to side. In humans we recognise these tells as signs of traumatic distress (or in some cases, madness). An iron-deficiency leads to a lower immune system, chronic fatigue in their poorly developed legs due to the accelerated growth of their torsos (and no exercise) and glossitis, an inflammation and swelling of the tongue.

      Pigs "Issue": We have high demands. We need to meet them (no pun intended). I don't think pigs care that much, anyway. Besides, if they are slaughtered quickly enough, they shouldn't suffer too much, if at all.
      Meat.org | The Website the Meat Industry Doesn't Want You to See Many are still alive and conscious while being slaughtered.

      Chickens "Issue": High demands. They need to be met. Although the battery cage does seem too small (I don't even see how you can fit 10 chickens into a filing cabinet, especially with their modern size), we can make it a bit bigger and it will be fine. Antibiotics... I don't see the problem. We protect the chickens, we get fertilizer for the plants. Win-win situation. For the heaviness thing - OK, yeah, that's too much, but I think we can reduce it to the point where it is at maximum allowance. There. End of story. For the debeaking? Damn, I admit it, it's a bit harsh, but do you have a better solution? That can still meet the high demands of today's society?
      The demands of todays society only exist because these cruel practices came into being in the mid-20th century. Our meat intake has tripled since the 1960's because of it. It's not a case of demand driving supply, but supply driving the price down to allow for demand. Chickens are very intelligent animals, with personality and a social structure (a pecking order). Every single one of their natural instincts like dust-bathing, roosting, wing stretching and nesting are frustrated in this environment. And yes I do have a better solution If one must eat meat, get it from organic growers that farm the old fashioned way, although very few of them still exist and the average chicken is twice the cost of the factory-farmed ones. At this point its up to you to decide if don't the right thing by another sentient creature is worth what's in your wallet.

      Eggs "Issue": OK. The mulcher will kill them before they can feel anything. And the bin thing... dammit, just throw them into the mulcher. Why do they need to even use bins for their death? It's a slow and painful death. Mulchers, on the other hand, aren't. It's quick and painless.
      By that logic you'd be perfectly happy to throw your soon-to-be euthanised pet into a dog-sized mulcher rather than a trip to the vet? It's far from painless.

      I understand where you're coming from. I made many rationalisations like this also when I was first confronted about my dietary habits. But the evidence for cognition in animals is overwhelming today compared to just 15 years ago. Their pain is real pain. Their boredom is real boredom. The only reason you can segregate it in your mind is that you think they count less because they aren't human. And this position is about as philosophically supportable as racism or sexism, because all of that is only skin deep when you consider the intelligence of the animal, and its right to live is just as valid as yours.

      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      No, because that's not what we do. Humans get sick from eating unprepared meat. However, if the meat is prepared, we can eat it and it's healthy for us. It is perfectly logical to do something that makes it more easy for us to survive. Are you going to argue that the invention of the spear is illogical too?
      Even prepared meat is a major source of contamination these days. The antibiotics pumping through chickens and bull steers create superbugs that resist them. Watch the movie Food Inc. for a major run down on this issue (and how many people die every year from E.Coli and salmonella food poisoning from PREPARED meat).

      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      With the right technology. Getting the nutrients we need, is much easier done by eating meat.
      Every nutrient your body needs can be achieved through eating vegetables and fruits. B12 is the only hard one to come by, but there is plenty of it in soy and a little bit of it in mushrooms. Your body recycles B12 too. Also, many meat-eaters are B12 deficient their entire lives, they just don't know it.

      We need to eat meat, because otherwise we will get extremely sick. Additionally, the only reason we can live outside of the warm climates, is the fact that we eat meat. We couldn't possibly stay alive, just living on fruit and vegetables.
      Many vegans and vegetarians are living proof that you can. Although living as an Innuit probably wouldn't work as a vegan, but just because we can live in arctic climates doesn't mean we should by right.



      Quote Originally Posted by snoop View Post
      The canines in my mouth say otherwise.
      The canines in your mouth are flatter and duller than a real carnivore. Real carnivores have serrated edged teeth. Take stock of the teeth in your mouth. The largest surface area is for chewing plant matter, grinding mastication.

      As for your point on torture, please watch this video called Glass Walls before proceeding any further: Meat.org | The Website the Meat Industry Doesn't Want You to See

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      In twenty years we'll have in vitro meat and this'll all be academic.
      Agreed, but there will always be people who prefer 'the real thing' over a substitute, even if they are chemically identical.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I suppose my original post was largely directed towards prehistoric humans, which is more or less a moot point in this day and age.

      What I am saying here, is that it is my understanding, that we need advanced technology and very power demanding equipment, in order to supply larger populations with vegan/vegetarian food, as in, not meat.
      Raising animals for food consumes 75% of the grain and corn produced in the US (and comparable in other countries) and 70% of its fresh water reserves. It is a terribly inefficient conversion process. Is it ethical to let human beings starve to death and give that food to animals for the consumption of other humans?

      As for the argument that eating meat is what got us here in the first place (from prehistoric times), old reasons for doing things don't have to be reasons for doing things now. That's an argument from tradition, a logical fallacy. In 2011, eating meat isn't a necessity, it's an option.
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-03-2011 at 02:47 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      It's basically not true, livestock is much more inefficient than crops, viewed from pretty much any angle.
      Do we have any models of how much power all year around supply of fruits and vegetables would require?

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    4. #29
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      It's basically not true, livestock is much more inefficient than crops, viewed from pretty much any angle.
      what about if you hunt your meat? or what if you farm animals in land unsuited to crops?

      EDIT: but if these conditions were the only excuses for meat eating we wouldn't have very much meat.
      Last edited by JesterKK; 01-03-2011 at 02:48 AM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by JesterKK View Post
      what about if you hunt your meat? or what if you farm animals in land unsuited to crops?
      Then the question becomes less about cruelty and environmental numbers, and more about whether its ethical for another sentient creature to die so you can enjoy the taste of its flesh. Aside from that, raising cattle on land that isn't rotated destroys the ecosystem and degrades the lands ability to further produce. We're cutting down unbelievably swathes of rainforest every year for cattle ranching. This is unsustainable.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      Do we have any models of how much power all year around supply of fruits and vegetables would require?
      Considering it takes about 7kg of grain and 19,000 litres of water to make a single kilogram of beef, I don't think the numbers are even in the same ballpark.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      Considering it takes about 7kg of grain and 19,000 litres of water to make a single kilogram of beef, I don't think the numbers are even in the same ballpark.
      I'm thinking of electricity and pollution of the ground, although these large water figures are very disturbing. Do you have any numbers on different countries, like outside of the US? I'd imagine that the Danish production is much more efficient, because it is one our big exports (pigs).

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      I have absolutely no moral hangups with eating a delicious animal. *Didn't climb this high to eat grass, or smoke it.
      Snowboy likes this.

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      anything to say about fish farming?

      I've been a pescetarian before, I think I could be again. Although, I wouldn't refuse other meat if it was given to me. I just don't think it is worth the external costs to the planet (which is something I value more than my enjoyment of meat).
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      This is a very interesting thread by the way. The only reason I'm defending the consumption of meat, is because I'm convinced that it is better for our climate and environment. I thought that would be important to note. I don't really have any moral hangups regarding the issue though.

      All the arguments about meat causing disease are very convincing though, and I definitely see the advantage in living off of fruit and vegetables.

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    11. #36
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      Well... it isn't better. It's basic biology; a very large amount of energy is lost between trophic levels, so it requires a lot more energy to grow the plants to make a Joulesworth of cow than it does to just grow a Joolsworth of plants in the first place.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Well... it isn't better. It's basic biology; a very large amount of energy is lost between trophic levels, so it requires a lot more energy to grow the plants to make a Joulesworth of cow than it does to just grow a Joolsworth of plants in the first place.
      Well, we can't just live off grain only. If we're going to live a vegetarian life, I imagine we'd want fruits, like oranges, tomatoes and cucumbers. Those require a lot of energy to make, and you can't really save them for a longer time, so you need to produce all year around.

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    13. #38
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      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      Ok, so I think the difference between our arguments is the difference between mere survival and really thriving. I wasn't talking about female athletes. If I want to reach my full potential as a football player (who plays a contact-intensive position,) it is recommended that I match my body weight in grams of protein per day (at least!) That would be 190 grams per day, more than double your generous recommendation. A lineman may be eating upwards of 300 grams per day. We have to take into account the variety of athletes out there. A cross country runner obviously doesn't need quite as much protein as a football player or a wrestler who spends day and night in the weight room trying to gain weight and trying to get stronger. I weigh 190 pounds and I would probably weigh 150 if I didn't work out, and I am almost certain I couldn't have reached the point Im at now on a vegetarian diet. I can personally attest to the amount of energy a football player can burn working out, especially during two-a-days. It's like you have to be constantly stuffing your face if you don't want to collapse out on the field, so I don't think matching your body weight in protein is overkill. It's a fact that I can get the protein I need much more efficiently and tastefully through eating meat. Vegetarian athletes have to jump through all sorts of hoops to make sure they get enough protein without too many calories. Sure, an athlete can get by on a vegetarian diet, but I can't help but feel they are preventing themselves from reaching their full potential. It seems like such a hassle and I guess I don't really understand why they would put themselves through it. I don't necessarily agree with the morality standpoint.
      I get that you "can't help but feel" that you need to match your body weight in grams of protein per day in order to flourish athletically, but there is literally zero empirical evidence to support that this is true--the evidence suggests that, not only will consuming that much protein per day not result in proportionally increased muscle gain, but that forcing your body to deal with such excessive amounts of protein puts great strain on your kidneys and is a health risk in the long term. On this page, a dietitian answers questions from athletes who hold the same view as you, citing evidence for the following conclusion (emphasis added in bold):
      Athletes can maintain protein equilibrium (muscle building equals muscle breakdown) on 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So take your weight, divide by 2.2 then multiply by 1. In fact most persons can achieve protein equilibrium (positive nitrogen balance) at 0.6 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram per day.

      According to Dr. Carol Meredith at the University of California at Davis, muscle protein synthesis decreases during exercise and nearly doubles during recovery. Research she has shows that additional protein (studies of 1.35 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day) does not increase muscle mass or strength. In addition resistance exercise like weight lifting is a powerful anabolic (building) process that improves protein synthesis (increased muscle mass).

      In fact what athletes need is increased caloric intake (60 calories per kilogram of body weight per day) which may contain protein food sources as well.
      So what is required for peak muscle gain is simply elevated caloric intake, but past a certain proportion of protein, there is no additional benefit in an exaggerated proportion of those calories coming specifically from protein. Further increasing your calorie intake may be beneficial for further increasing muscle mass, but increasing the proportion of those calories coming from protein is not. See the link above for references, but as a warning, they tend to be broad references to researchers and institutions (and at least one book) rather than to specific papers, which can make it tedious to track down the individual studies. It may also be relevant to point out that dietitians--unlike so-called "nutritionists," this being an unregulated title which anyone may legally self apply--must receive degrees and certification, so they are the actual authorities among the many, many people who claim to be.

      I know that the misinformed view that one needs exorbitant amounts of protein in order to build the most muscle runs deep among athletes, and it's doubtful that a little thing like the evidence will alter this intuition, but as outlined above, there is no systematic, non-anecdotal basis for this belief.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      As for meat causing vascular disease, Im sure lifestyle would play into that right? Most dieticians I've met have always advocated a variety of both meat and vegetables, which is natural. I can't see how excluding one completely from your diet can actually be healthier.
      Of course, vegetarians are just as capable of having terribly unhealthy diets as are meat-eaters. There's no meat in ice cream and cookies, after all. And it's equally true that meat-eaters are just as capable of having perfectly healthy diets as are vegetarians.

      The benefit--a likely benefit, but not a necessary benefit, as you rightly point out--lies in the fact that, all things considered, meat is really not that good for you in the context of the universe of possible foods for modern humans. So when you exclude it from your diet, the foods that you choose to replace meat with are likely to be better for you than the meat which they are replacing, if only because most foods are (but presumably you're making a conscious effort as well ). In particular, they are likely to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and to contain more beneficial antioxidants. Again, this does not necessarily have to be the case (e.g., you won't get much out of reaching for a bowl of ice cream in place of the hamburger), but it's likely to be the case, because meat in general is relatively high in saturated fat and cholesterol and low in beneficial antioxidants compared to non-meat foods.
      Last edited by DuB; 01-03-2011 at 09:46 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I'm thinking of electricity and pollution of the ground, although these large water figures are very disturbing. Do you have any numbers on different countries, like outside of the US? I'd imagine that the Danish production is much more efficient, because it is one our big exports (pigs).
      It may be more efficient in terms of water usage depending on what irrigation technology the Danish are using (I don't know if it is or isn't), but in terms of amount of grain fed to the animal and product output (how much saleable meat it generates) the only way to maximise that is to prohibit the animal from exercising. The meat industry considers the energy an animal expends on moving around as 'wasted feed' because the energy is going to movement instead of meat production. Europe has been much more progressive on this issue, with many countries banning veal crates and chicken battery cages over the last 15 years. The US is still the worst offender in the world for conditions and volume though, so their numbers are more available and published. And don't forget, that water figure isn't just for the water to grow the food that the animals eat. For the ~3 years they are alive they require water to survive also. Pigs are kept perpetually hungry for their entire lives to maximise their weight gain.

      Quote Originally Posted by greenhavoc View Post
      I have absolutely no moral hangups with eating a delicious animal. *Didn't climb this high to eat grass, or smoke it.
      So you presumably also have no moral hang up about eating a 3 year old human child, if she tasted good?

      Quote Originally Posted by JesterKK View Post
      anything to say about fish farming?
      Aquaculture (underwater factory farming) was covered in the third video in the link I provided, narrated by Alec Baldwin. Essentially fish are crowded together in much the same way that their chicken counterparts are, in tanks far too small for their numbers. They are swimming in their own excrement for their entire lives, which makes it difficult to breath. A fatality rate of 40% is considered 'standard' in the aquaculture industry, but because the oceans are being picked clean by fishing trawlers the price of fish is high enough to compensate for losing half of their stock before they reach market weight. Then there is the method of slaughter, which typically involves letting them asphyxiate to death on dry land, gasping for air for several minutes at a time, or they are crushed to death by the weight of their brethren as they are drained from their tanks.

      The only silver lining I can give aquaculture is that without it the oceans would be in even worse shape than they already are, leading to mass extinctions of ocean wild life (both the ones we want to eat and the ones we don't, like dolphin). And none of this even touches on whether or not it is ethical to kill another sentient creature for consumption when we have other options.

      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      This is a very interesting thread by the way. The only reason I'm defending the consumption of meat, is because I'm convinced that it is better for our climate and environment. I thought that would be important to note. I don't really have any moral hangups regarding the issue though.

      All the arguments about meat causing disease are very convincing though, and I definitely see the advantage in living off of fruit and vegetables.
      I'm very glad you're enjoying it and thank you for your time to engage the topic!

      As for your claim that its better for the environment, lets look at the facts and evaluate:
      - Xei has already mentioned that most energy is lost between trophic levels (as much as 90% in the case of mammals because we burn at least 50% of that energy just to keep our core temperatures high), so essentially we are growing 9 times as much food for animals as we are for human beings. If those animals didn't exist, that food could be feeding the hungry of the world (although I really don't want to get bogged down in a talk about the economics of dumping billions of tonnes of grain on the open market and undercutting poor African farmers, that's another thread for another day).
      - If you rotate your crops rather than continuously only planting corn or wheat you invigorate the soil rather than spoil it. This keeps the land sustainable rather than forcing you to put millions of tons of fertiliser on it every year, a huge huge saving in farming investment. All that extra water can be used by people instead of animals. Take my home country, Australia, as an example. We're in the middle of the worst drought in our history (~230 years). We've been on water restrictions since 2003, some states even earlier than that.
      - As populations increase, the demand for food increases, ergo the demand for meat also increases, and you need 9x the resources to feed that animal as you do one human. This is unsustainable if our population doesn't plateau soon, and is unsustainable anyway as at least 3 billion people on Earth are vegetarians not by their own choice, they are just too poor to buy meat. As the economies of developing countries grow, they will want to eat like Westerners do. There isn't enough room on Earth to grow that much meat for everyone. Last figure I heard, ~25-30% of the Earth's livable land mass is used for agriculture. We're going to hit 9 billion people by 2040. The numbers don't work.
      - One person going vegetarian (not even vegan) saves 300,000 litres of fresh water a year. Compared to washing your car with a bucket, or turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, or having 2 minute showers, this is far and above the best thing you can do for being an environmentally conscious individual in today's world.

      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      Well, we can't just live off grain only. If we're going to live a vegetarian life, I imagine we'd want fruits, like oranges, tomatoes and cucumbers. Those require a lot of energy to make, and you can't really save them for a longer time, so you need to produce all year around.
      More than enough fruit and vegetables grow around the Earth's equator to feed every person on the planet, and feed them well. The world already produces all vegetables all year round anyway, we'd just be scaling the industry up. You can get cherries in winter any time you like, they'll just cost more because they're shipped from another hemisphere. And even if this was a numbers game when it comes to money, fruit and vegetables are far and above the cheaper menu option. I've saved so much money by eating vegan I wish I'd done this years ago. The asian food market down the road from me is so cheap that Woolworths and Coles should be ashamed of what they charge.

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      And as far as the climate goes, the meat industry accounts for 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions, due to cow farts basically (methane is ~150x better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide). That's more than cars, trains, boats and planes combined.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      The benefit--a likely benefit, but not a necessary benefit, as you rightly point out--lies in the fact that, all things considered, meat is really not that good for you in the context of the universe of possible foods for modern humans. So when you exclude it from your diet, the foods that you choose to replace meat with are likely to be better for you than the meat which they are replacing, if only because most foods are (but presumably you're making a conscious effort as well ). In particular, they are likely to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and to contain more beneficial antioxidants. Again, this does not necessarily have to be the case (e.g., you won't get much out of reaching for a bowl of ice cream in place of the hamburger), but it's likely to be the case, because meat in general is relatively high in saturated fat and cholesterol and low in beneficial antioxidants compared to non-meat foods.
      I read some figures yesterday, vegetarians are 4 times less likely to be obese than meat eaters, and vegans are 9 times less likely. But as you said, NOT eating meat doesn't mean you aren't stuffing your face with ice cream, potato chips and other high-fat food items.
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-03-2011 at 09:53 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I don't really have any moral hangups regarding the issue though.
      And this is the part I most want to talk about. If you accept that cruelty is wrong for cruelty sake, and that animals we use for food are at least as intelligent as a human toddler, then how do you reconcile their slaughter and consumption?

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      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      And this is the part I most want to talk about. If you accept that cruelty is wrong for cruelty sake, and that animals we use for food are at least as intelligent as a human toddler, then how do you reconcile their slaughter and consumption?
      I just don't care. I honestly don't feel sad or bad when I hear all those crazy horror stories. Then again, it has a lot to do with me being Danish. We treat our animals better here, although cases still pop up, where farmers are treating their animals badly, especially when transporting them. But again, I just don't care. I do agree that treating animals badly, just for the hell of it (actual cruelty to animals), is a very bad thing, and I think an effort towards stopping this should be made, and it certainly has been, at least in Europe.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      It may be more efficient in terms of water usage depending on what irrigation technology the Danish are using (I don't know if it is or isn't), but in terms of amount of grain fed to the animal and product output (how much saleable meat it generates) the only way to maximise that is to prohibit the animal from exercising. The meat industry considers the energy an animal expends on moving around as 'wasted feed' because the energy is going to movement instead of meat production. Europe has been much more progressive on this issue, with many countries banning veal crates and chicken battery cages over the last 15 years. The US is still the worst offender in the world for conditions and volume though, so their numbers are more available and published. And don't forget, that water figure isn't just for the water to grow the food that the animals eat. For the ~3 years they are alive they require water to survive also. Pigs are kept perpetually hungry for their entire lives to maximise their weight gain.



      So you presumably also have no moral hang up about eating a 3 year old human child, if she tasted good?



      Aquaculture (underwater factory farming) was covered in the third video in the link I provided, narrated by Alec Baldwin. Essentially fish are crowded together in much the same way that their chicken counterparts are, in tanks far too small for their numbers. They are swimming in their own excrement for their entire lives, which makes it difficult to breath. A fatality rate of 40% is considered 'standard' in the aquaculture industry, but because the oceans are being picked clean by fishing trawlers the price of fish is high enough to compensate for losing half of their stock before they reach market weight. Then there is the method of slaughter, which typically involves letting them asphyxiate to death on dry land, gasping for air for several minutes at a time, or they are crushed to death by the weight of their brethren as they are drained from their tanks.

      The only silver lining I can give aquaculture is that without it the oceans would be in even worse shape than they already are, leading to mass extinctions of ocean wild life (both the ones we want to eat and the ones we don't, like dolphin). And none of this even touches on whether or not it is ethical to kill another sentient creature for consumption when we have other options.



      I'm very glad you're enjoying it and thank you for your time to engage the topic!

      As for your claim that its better for the environment, lets look at the facts and evaluate:
      - Xei has already mentioned that most energy is lost between trophic levels (as much as 90% in the case of mammals because we burn at least 50% of that energy just to keep our core temperatures high), so essentially we are growing 9 times as much food for animals as we are for human beings. If those animals didn't exist, that food could be feeding the hungry of the world (although I really don't want to get bogged down in a talk about the economics of dumping billions of tonnes of grain on the open market and undercutting poor African farmers, that's another thread for another day).
      - If you rotate your crops rather than continuously only planting corn or wheat you invigorate the soil rather than spoil it. This keeps the land sustainable rather than forcing you to put millions of tons of fertiliser on it every year, a huge huge saving in farming investment. All that extra water can be used by people instead of animals. Take my home country, Australia, as an example. We're in the middle of the worst drought in our history (~230 years). We've been on water restrictions since 2003, some states even earlier than that.
      - As populations increase, the demand for food increases, ergo the demand for meat also increases, and you need 9x the resources to feed that animal as you do one human. This is unsustainable if our population doesn't plateau soon, and is unsustainable anyway as at least 3 billion people on Earth are vegetarians not by their own choice, they are just too poor to buy meat. As the economies of developing countries grow, they will want to eat like Westerners do. There isn't enough room on Earth to grow that much meat for everyone. Last figure I heard, ~25-30% of the Earth's livable land mass is used for agriculture. We're going to hit 9 billion people by 2040. The numbers don't work.
      - One person going vegetarian (not even vegan) saves 300,000 litres of fresh water a year. Compared to washing your car with a bucket, or turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, or having 2 minute showers, this is far and above the best thing you can do for being an environmentally conscious individual in today's world.
      Great post. I agree with most of what you're saying and I see the perspective in all of it. I do however have one big problem with something you said.

      More than enough fruit and vegetables grow around the Earth's equator to feed every person on the planet, and feed them well. The world already produces all vegetables all year round anyway, we'd just be scaling the industry up. You can get cherries in winter any time you like, they'll just cost more because they're shipped from another hemisphere. And even if this was a numbers game when it comes to money, fruit and vegetables are far and above the cheaper menu option.
      This part. What I've been getting at in my posts, is that the countries in colder environments are going to need to import a whole lot of fruits and vegetables, and there are two immediate problems with this:

      1) A transport requires fuel, so unless we make some breakthroughs, we're going to be using a lot more fossil fuels to haul all this food around the world.
      2) We need to treat the food with certain chemicals, in order to preserve them. Freezing fruits and vegetables is impractical and destroys it.

      You could probably argue that livestock consumes even more fossil fuels, than the transport of fruits and vegetables does, and it's probably true, but then we suddenly have a different problem; we can't actually keep the entire world supplied with food, as things are right now. Eventually we will run out of fossil fuels.

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    18. #43
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      I've been vegan for 2 1/2 years now. I might join in the discussion, when I find the time.

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      I eat animals because I am an omnivore. I don't think I should 'feel bad' about eating another animal, anymore than a shark should 'feel bad' about eating another animal. Personally, I don't think food preparation has much to do with catalyzing the answer to the question that was asked. One could carefully, personally, and humanely (as possible) prepare their food so that the animal does not suffer, and still be asked the same question, in all fairness.

      Eating meat is also not intrinsically unhealthy. Doing careless amount of anything, without moderation, can be bad for you. An unchecked diet, vegan or otherwise, can be equally as bad for you.

      I love eating meat and the bottom line is that I simply haven't seen any good enough reason to swear off eating it. Even if I were to stop eating commercially prepared/processed meats, on principle, I would quickly resort to learning more about hunting my own game. I may not agree with some of the practices used in mass-handling of slaughterhouse animals, but I see nothing wrong with the fundamental act of 'eating animals.'

      That's just me, though.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I just don't care. I honestly don't feel sad or bad when I hear all those crazy horror stories. Then again, it has a lot to do with me being Danish. We treat our animals better here, although cases still pop up, where farmers are treating their animals badly, especially when transporting them. But again, I just don't care. I do agree that treating animals badly, just for the hell of it (actual cruelty to animals), is a very bad thing, and I think an effort towards stopping this should be made, and it certainly has been, at least in Europe.
      OK, interesting. Allow me a thought experiment here:

      If a few hundred million humans of a particular ethnic group you didn't belong to were being subjected to treatment like this solely for committing the 'crime' of being a member of that group, would you hold the same level of indifference towards them?

      - If yes, then there's really nothing I can say to you that will change your mind that suffering matters, because your moral sphere isn't large enough to include people you don't know or have any involvement with.
      - If no, then you are conceding that at least HUMAN suffering on this scale matters, at which point I would argue your position is no different to someone who wishes to discriminate based on gender, race or sexual identity. You just choose to arbitrarily draw the line at 'species' instead. Viewed in light of the evolutionary tree of life of all living things on Earth, this position has about as much solidity as smoke.

      This part. What I've been getting at in my posts, is that the countries in colder environments are going to need to import a whole lot of fruits and vegetables, and there are two immediate problems with this:

      1) A transport requires fuel, so unless we make some breakthroughs, we're going to be using a lot more fossil fuels to haul all this food around the world.
      2) We need to treat the food with certain chemicals, in order to preserve them. Freezing fruits and vegetables is impractical and destroys it.

      You could probably argue that livestock consumes even more fossil fuels, than the transport of fruits and vegetables does, and it's probably true, but then we suddenly have a different problem; we can't actually keep the entire world supplied with food, as things are right now. Eventually we will run out of fossil fuels.
      What I've been learning over the last month or so is that being a vegan or a vegetarian isn't a binary concept (you are or you aren't). It's about doing as little harm as possible. In the case of people who live in frigid temperatures, they will not be able to avoid doing as much harm as those of us that live in Western cities can. Short of leaving their home lands and moving to warmer climates they are justified in doing whatever it takes for them to survive; at least I can see someone making a case for it.

      While true, that fossil fuels are bad for the environment (electric engines are on their way, one day), none of this is an argument against eating animals. That Inuit people would have to import all their vegetables rather than eat whale blubber and fish is just an unfortunate side effect of them all suddenly becoming vegetarian overnight, had this happened. But yet again we're getting slightly off the main point of the topic, that being if it is moral for a 21st century Westerner to participate in an industry of cruelty for the sake of their taste buds when other cruelty-free options are available. We can think of exotic examples where animals are the only food source until the cows come home (ha), but this will be the question that affects those of us reading this the most.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut View Post
      I eat animals because I am an omnivore. I don't think I should 'feel bad' about eating another animal, anymore than a shark should 'feel bad' about eating another animal... but I see nothing wrong with the fundamental act of 'eating animals.'
      On your first point: a shark doesn't have the capacity to reflect upon it's actions. Sharks, bears, wolves, all predators need to eat meat to survive. That is their nature, it's what their biology is designed to do (and a good thing too, they need to keep herbivore populations in check lest they eat themselves out of house and home). But humans have a higher capacity: rationality. We are able to reflect upon our actions before, during and after we have acted upon our desires. This is something quite unique we possess and that is what holds us morally accountable where it does not hold them.

      On your second point: Do you also see no fundamental wrong with cannibalism? Would eating a human be just as palatable if they were killed humanely and tasted good? I'm not being facetious, I am looking for an honest answer.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium
      But humans have a higher capacity: rationality. We are able to reflect upon our actions before, during and after we have acted upon our desires. This is something quite unique we possess and that is what holds us morally accountable where it does not hold them.
      I understand this, which is part of the reason that I touched on:

      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut
      I love eating meat and the bottom line is that I simply haven't seen any good enough reason to swear off eating it. Even if I were to stop eating commercially prepared/processed meats, on principle, I would quickly resort to learning more about hunting my own game. I may not agree with some of the practices used in mass-handling of slaughterhouse animals, but I see nothing wrong with the fundamental act of 'eating animals.'
      Again, upon reflection, I have concluded that there is no intrinsic 'wrong-doing' in the simple act of eating meat.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alexantium
      On your second point: Do you also see no fundamental wrong with cannibalism? Would eating a human be just as palatable if they were killed humanely and tasted good? I'm not being facetious, I am looking for an honest answer.
      Correct. As with any other animal, there is no inherent, objective 'evil' in eating humans. Don't get me wrong - it's not my thing, and I have no desire to try it - but any reason for my not doing so is merely subjective, and based on my own biases.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut View Post
      As with any other animal, there is no inherent, objective 'evil' in eating humans. Don't get me wrong - it's not my thing, and I have no desire to try it - but any reason for my not doing so is merely subjective, and based on my own biases.
      Quite true, but this can be said of anything in the universe. I believe it relates to G.E. Moore's open question argument: "Doing X is good for Y - but is X good in and of itself?". Since all value in the universe is placed upon things by conscious creatures such as ourselves, clearly there is no 'intrinsic' value in anything, it's entirely subjective and arbitrary. But just because its arbitrary to each person, this doesn't mean there isn't a 'right' answer to the question of whether it is wrong to kill something to eat it.

      Sam Harris recently wrote a book, The Moral Landscape, in which he argues that if one accepts the single premise that maximising the well-being of conscious creatures is a fundamental 'good' in the universe (if the word good can mean anything at all it must apply here), then any action which causes more pain and suffering than it alleviates can be considered an immoral act. It's neither moral objectivism (religion) or moral relativism (my truth is true for me, yours is true for you, but our truths may be mutually exclusive of one another). I don't really know what to call it; moral maximalism or practicalism perhaps. At its essence it is utilitarian, but he goes further into discoveries in neuroscience that may allow us to soon build a 'suffer-o-meter', which truly will allow us to compare the suffering between two people with a broken leg against a thousand with a mild headache and make the appropriate moral decision of which to give the pain killers to.

      All this is fascinating but I'm getting off track here. The root of the argument being that causing unnecessary suffering (that is, suffering which does not lead to some kind of greater flourishing to make up for it) is an inherently immoral act. The focus must be on suffering as the only two motivations we have in life are for the maximising of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. However pain takes precedence as it is easy to conceive of pain overriding an experience of pleasure, but not so easy to see an experience of pleasure overriding and obscuring an experience of pain.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Alexantium
      The root of the argument being that causing unnecessary suffering (that is, suffering which does not lead to some kind of greater flourishing to make up for it) is an inherently immoral act.
      The key word in that sentence is "greater." This word, itself, is subjective, and based upon so many different arbitrary factors and variables that I believe taking on the (near impossible) task of perfectly quantifying all of the "knowns" and "unknowns" of it to be daunting, at best. Overpopulation of a species; the manner of the kill; the abundance of other sources of nutrition (or lack thereof); efficiency; condition of the animal; condition of the consumer; etc. etc. must all be taken into account, if someone were try to create some objective "rule" as to whether or not the eating of an animal (or the sparing of that same animal) is for a "greater" good.

      There are some attempts at moral "perfection" that I believe are above and beyond the call of duty, as I don't believe in such a thing as "moral perfection." Moral ambiguity is something that will always exist, seeing as how the bottom line of whether or not something is moral will always come down to a matter of either personal bias, or some infinitely complex computation of all known (and unknown) variables in the equation; which isn't - realistically - the type of measurement that can be taken in every single instance that any particular person has to make the tiniest of moral decisions.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alexantium
      However pain takes precedence as it is easy to conceive of pain overriding an experience of pleasure, but not so easy to see an experience of pleasure overriding and obscuring an experience of pain.
      I'm aware of many tattoo artists, human canvases and fetishists, who would disagree with this statement. People react differently to pain, and people gauge pain and pleasure differently. The fact is that you can't infallibly assume whether people would consider something more painful/pleasureful than something else without asking them. Otherwise, you are simply working off of your own biases, which are no more inherently accurate than anyone else's.

      Which is worse, the bullet through the head of a deer, to feed one's self and/or familiar, or the hardship of an already financially-struggling man to afford a diet of either self-farmed or store-bought, healthy foods? There are so many variables which can go into the equation that any given answer is likely to be incomplete. Even within those sets of variables, each, independent aspect will hinge on whether or not a variable is important enough to be considered - which, largely, will depend on that person's biases as well.

      Which is worse, a parent that spanks his/her child, whom grows up to learn respect of authority, and to keep his/herself in check, or a parent that refuses to spank a child, and lacks the wherewithall to direct that child into a responsible adulthood, psychologically?

      How long would a list of every possible, determining factor be? Is there really even a right or wrong answer to the question?
      Last edited by Oneironaut Zero; 01-03-2011 at 04:36 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      You could probably argue that livestock consumes even more fossil fuels, than the transport of fruits and vegetables does, and it's probably true, but then we suddenly have a different problem; we can't actually keep the entire world supplied with food, as things are right now. Eventually we will run out of fossil fuels.
      Yep. Welcome to peak oil.

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