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    Thread: Moral discussion: Why do you eat animals?

    1. #51
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      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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.
      I disagree. You can't compare bias towards different species, to the bias we see towards different races/sexualities/gender. All animals on Earth are fundamentally different to humans. "Drawing the line" at species seems like the most logical thing to do, since this is where we can objectively see an enormous difference. It is in no way arbitrary.

      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.
      I was not talking about extremely cold climates, just generally cold climates. In particular, climates where you can't grow anything in the winter, without substantial consumption of energy. I'm not sure where you live, but in Denmark (and most other north European countries) prices on vegetables and food always rise in the winter, because the production becomes more expensive, or we have to import from southern countries.

      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.
      Yes it is. Destroying the Earth's climates will radically change a lot of things, such as the extinction of many many species, drought, flooding and the destruction of the ozone layer.

      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.
      This very clearly and concisely underlines the core of this entire topic, and my answer is no. It is not moral.

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Yep. Welcome to peak oil.
      I am reading some material about this right now, and it is all very disturbing. I've always known it's going to happen, but this puts things into perspective.

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    2. #52
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      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?
      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I disagree. You can't compare bias towards different species, to the bias we see towards different races/sexualities/gender. All animals on Earth are fundamentally different to humans. "Drawing the line" at species seems like the most logical thing to do, since this is where we can objectively see an enormous difference. It is in no way arbitrary.
      It pains me to see the word "logical" in such misuse. Please use "rational" instead. It's conflicting meanings in my mind, and probably others that will come across it as well. Thank you and have a nice day.
      I stomp on your ideas.

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      Quote Originally Posted by malac View Post
      It pains me to see the word "logical" in such misuse. Please use "rational" instead. It's conflicting meanings in my mind, and probably others that will come across it as well. Thank you and have a nice day.
      I'm sorry, you're right. Chayba has been using that word like a mad man lately, and it sort of rubbed off on me

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    4. #54
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      Sorry for the late post; couldn't get on yesterday after making my most recent post in this thread.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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?
      Just because something has slight intelligence doesn't mean they experience emotions. Intelligence has nothing to do with emotions. Plus, you can't reasonably compare a 3 year old child with a pig emotion-wise. We know that 3 year olds experience some type of emotion, but pigs? We don't know shit about their emotions; hell, we don't know if they even have emotions!

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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).
      I see your point, and I agree.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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).
      So, what you're saying is that we can diagnose cows with human diseases and conditions? Nice. I think they are just doing that stuff because they have nothing else to do. They may not necessarily be bored.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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. .
      OK, I now agree that an iron-deficient diet is pretty cruel. That is the only part of this that I have found unnecessarily cruel at this point in time.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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.
      Are you sure about that? Would you buy lots of furniture if it were suddenly driven down to $10 in your currency?

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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.
      OK, I now understand that their natural instincts are being suppressed in that kind of environment, and I think they have the right to them, but I still don't think they experience emotions. Like I said before, intelligence doesn't equal emotion.

      Also, when I asked if you had a better solution, I was talking about the debeaking, not the cramped conditions of the cages.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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.
      My dog wouldn't become fertilizer. >.< Plus, it would waste too many supplies to euthanize every single newborn chicken.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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.
      Once again, I don't think they experience emotions such as boredom. Intelligence doesn't equal emotion. If I did learn that they experience emotion on a scientific (not philosophical) level, I would immediately switch my position on this matter (though I think I would stay omnivore). But since my current opinion is that they do not experience emotion, then I do not think that they suffer near as much as you might think.

      Also, just to clarify, I don't think have animals have consciousness like we do, so their pain wouldn't matter as much to them as our pain would be to us. Not to be confused with me thinking that they don't feel the pain and that they don't suffer, I just don't think it is as extreme in their minds as we think.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alextanium View Post
      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.
      Rationality requires consciousness. You say that only we possess, so they don't have what only we possess. So they don't have our type of consciousness. Emotion requires consciousness. No consciousness equals no emotion. I feel that you have contradicted your sayings that animals have emotions.
      Last edited by Snowboy; 01-03-2011 at 10:57 PM. Reason: Bad Wording

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      Of course they experience emotions. But that doesn't mean you have to be a vegetarian.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Cethulsus View Post
      Of course they experience emotions. But that doesn't mean you have to be a vegetarian.
      What makes you think that they have emotions? Don't just say something without backing it up.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Snowboy View Post
      What makes you think that they have emotions?
      Not to try to answer for Cethulsus, but I find it hard to see how so many people tend to believe that they don't.

      I guess a better way to say it is that; I find it hard to see how so many people tend to believe that animal behaviors are all about 'conditioned responses,' as if our emotions are any different.

      How does the fact that some animals have been documented as slipping into (what can only be defined as) 'depression,' at the lost of certain companions, evidence that they do not have emotion? Just like humans, they will sometimes starve themselves, as if experiencing complete apathy to nourishment. Things like this seem to allude to no less of an 'emotional' response than those that humans exhibit.

      Pretty much everything I have seen (in dogs, mostly) suggest some capacity for emotion. Fear; anger; playfulness; trust; protectiveness; etc. These are things that we see in some animals, on a daily basis. How are they any different from those same exact concepts, when employed by us?

      In fact (and I know this is something that has come up in other threads, but...) I'd like to hear some opinions on why one would think such animals do not have emotions - outside of their lack of ability to effectively communicate those emotions to us, comprehensively.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I disagree. You can't compare bias towards different species, to the bias we see towards different races/sexualities/gender. All animals on Earth are fundamentally different to humans. "Drawing the line" at species seems like the most logical thing to do, since this is where we can objectively see an enormous difference. It is in no way arbitrary.
      If an animal (either a barely sentient chicken or a self-conscious chimp) has an interest in not being in pain, how is that any different to a human beings want to not be in pain? Pain in a duck is pain in a dog is pain in a chimp is pain in a human. We all share a commonly evolved nervous system (where pain originates), and a 'species line' is about as arbitrary a line as any other because they don't exist in nature at all, it's merely a label we designate onto a population that can't interbreed with any other population. This position you're taking is no different to a slave holder of the 18th century who maintained that we were justified in keeping blacks as slaves because they were sub-human.

      Our emotions come out of our mammalian brain primarily (a few exceptions, like fear and anger come from the reptilian parts buried deep down at the stem), so what basis could you give for denying even bare-sentience to other mammals when they possess most of the same hardware that we do? (short of a highly developed cerebral cortex, which animals such as elephants and whales have too)

      Quote Originally Posted by Snowboy View Post
      Rationality requires consciousness. You say that only we possess, so they don't have what only we possess. So they don't have our type of consciousness. Emotion requires consciousness. No consciousness equals no emotion. I feel that you have contradicted your sayings that animals have emotions.
      I have made no contradiction, although I could have spoken more eloquently, as I'm not entirely convinced that humans are the sole holders of rationality myself and I now regret typing that. What I meant to elucidate was that we possess the highest level of rationality, where some animals such as chimps and elephants possess more rudimentary forms of it. You have to be careful to not confuse self-consciousness with sentience. Something can be barely-sentient and experience emotion, but still have no concept of 'I'. When you hurt a chicken, it likely doesn't think 'Owwie, I am in pain! I wish it will stop soon!', most likely it just thinks 'OWWWIIE'. Dolphins, elephants, the great apes and even a few dogs have been shown to exhibit self-conscious behaviour. They can recognise their own reflections in a mirror as themselves, whereas most animals either think their reflections are another animal or just ignore it completely. This demonstrates that they have a conceptualisation of themselves. Mirror test - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Quote Originally Posted by Snowboy View Post
      Just because something has slight intelligence doesn't mean they experience emotions. Intelligence has nothing to do with emotions. Plus, you can't reasonably compare a 3 year old child with a pig emotion-wise. We know that 3 year olds experience some type of emotion, but pigs? We don't know shit about their emotions; hell, we don't know if they even have emotions!
      Intelligence actually has a lot to do with emotion. And there is a host of scientific literature on emotion in animals. While we're on the subject, you don't even know if I have emotions. I might just be a really convincing robot, and since you can't get inside my head you just have to take my word for it that I'm happy or angry or depressed. Or rather that I experience a subjective state which I can label these things. You could hook my brain up to an EEG and see the firing of my neurons going on (which look similar to the firing of your neurons when you're happy or sad), but there is no direct way for you to experience my subjective mental state. We're at the same point with animals. We can see the same areas of their brains light up as in ours when they are gleeful or depressed or angry - on what basis can you deny them internal emotional states, but not me?

      Even if we were not sure, would it not be better to err on the side of caution? If we continue to slaughter animals the way we do, the worst case scenario is a 50 billion individual per year genocide of species. If animals are merely automata as Descartes believed (for religious reasons), then the worst that could happen is a lot of empty minded animals live pain free lives free of human involvement, but don't actually experience anything different in their inner dimension. But in order to take this position you have to ignore a host of evidence in favour of animals being just as interested in their future pleasure and avoidance of pain as you are. That's too big a pill to swallow.

      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut View Post
      Pretty much everything I have seen (in dogs, mostly) suggest some capacity for emotion. Fear; anger; playfulness; trust; protectiveness; etc. These are things that we see in some animals, on a daily basis. How are they any different from those same exact concepts, when employed by us?
      I've seen elephants mourn their dead. They bury them with leaves and stand guard over them for 2-3 days before one by one leaving the body behind, usually the last to walk away is the family member who was closest to the deceased. Mothers have been seen lagging behind the herd for weeks after their babies have died to lion attacks, their ears always down, their gaze always to the ground. Depression isn't something only humans experience for sure. African buffalo return for their fallen comrades when they regroup after a lion attack (I'm sure we've all seen the Buffalo vs Lion vs Croc video on youtube). Chimps and other apes and monkeys have been seen showing altruism to one another, mostly to their own families and other kin.

      Emotions are a good survival mechanism, for they provide an impetus to react to our environment quickly. Anger and sexual lust are referred to as primal emotions for a reason.
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-04-2011 at 12:44 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      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):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.

      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.
      I'll admit, I was living in ignorance in regards to the amount of protein you can get from a vegetarian diet. I've never been presented that information before. Through reading on the internet I've found that it's apparently a myth that vegetarians don't get enough protein to be athletes. That doesn't mean I'm convince everyone should turn vegetarian, however. And it's worth mentioning that most studies regarding vegetarian diets are built around sedentary adults, not athletes.

      I agree with most of the points in this article, but not all: Bodybuilding.com - The Infinite Argument: Is Man Vegetarian Or Carnivorous? - Ron Kosloff

      One of my original points was that variety is a good thing in regards to diet, and it's more natural to eat both meat and non-meat foods. You are unnecessarily restricting yourself by switching to a vegetarian/vegan diet. There are so many different sources for a meat eater to get the nutrients they need which are readily available, whereas that isn't true for vegetarians. It takes conscious effort and dedication to stick to a vegetarian diet, and with no definite advantage other than a few possible long-term health benefits (which depend heavily on a variety of extraneous variables,) there is no reason for an individual to completely eliminate meat from their diet, unless of course they have strong moral convictions regarding the slaughter of animals. The issue of disease is so miniscule that it isn't really even worth mentioning in my opinion, since all meat is obviously not created equal and one could still orient their diet to avoid heart disease without eliminating meat entirely. So the moral standpoint seems to be the only legitimate argument which could rightfully cause an individual to want to put forth the effort it takes to uphold an honest vegetarian diet. (Unless you're really worried about heart disease, in which case you might be a hypochondriac!)
      "Someday, I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement." -- Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) Last of the Mohicans

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      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      I agree with most of the points in this article, but not all: Bodybuilding.com - The Infinite Argument: Is Man Vegetarian Or Carnivorous? - Ron Kosloff
      I read the first two points and felt that I got the gist. The first is a rambling anecdote about hydrochloric acid, the point of which I am unable to discern. The second asserts that vegetarian mammals like cows and rabbits produce "cellulace" [sic] in order to digest plant material, which is patently false. Clearly some quality arguments in this document.

      It doesn't matter in any case, because this whole class of argument concerning what we are "meant" to eat or what is "natural" to eat is silly and irrelevant, whether it aims to show that we are "meant" to eat meat or that we are "meant" to eat plants. If I am "meant" to eat or not eat something, who exactly is it that means this for me? And what does it even mean to say that something is "natural" or "unnatural" for me to eat? These are confused notions from the start and they certainly shouldn't serve as a basis for what you or I should eat. What matters is simply that one eats what makes the most sense for one to eat. If someone wants to argue that it doesn't make sense not to eat meat, or that it doesn't make sense to eat meat, then fine, make that argument. That's really what's at stake, after all. Preaching about what is "natural" for people to eat is nothing more than empty words no matter which side it comes from.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      The issue of disease is so miniscule that it isn't really even worth mentioning in my opinion, since all meat is obviously not created equal and one could still orient their diet to avoid heart disease without eliminating meat entirely.
      A reliably lower prevalence of obesity, coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, hypertension, type II diabetes, gallstones, and diverticular disease is "minuscule" in your opinion?

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      It takes conscious effort and dedication to stick to a vegetarian diet, and with no definite advantage other than a few possible long-term health benefits (which depend heavily on a variety of extraneous variables,) there is no reason for an individual to completely eliminate meat from their diet
      This is a bit like saying that there's no need to completely quit smoking cigarettes just to lower your risk of lung cancer; one could smoke just a few a day instead and still be better off than before. That's granted, but of course it's a pretty silly point. Obviously quitting completely is still going to be better than smoking just a few. If getting a few cigs per day is worth it to you, then hey, that's your prerogative.

      One's risk for the health problems I mentioned above increases as the amount of meat consumption, especially red meat, increases. So to the extent that you wish to lower your risk for these diseases, there is reason to cut meat from your diet. Maybe having the occasional steak is worth the slightly increased long-term risk of disease to you, and that's fine; obviously the choice of how much meat to eliminate from your diet, if any, is for you and you alone to make. But eliminating all meat is better for health than eliminating some meat.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      It takes conscious effort and dedication to stick to a vegetarian diet...
      [...]
      ...the effort it takes to uphold an honest vegetarian diet.
      You really seem to think it's difficult, huh. Take it from me: it's not that difficult. It's hard for a little while because eating meat has become so habitual, but once you get over the "hump" and learn to adapt, it's pretty much a breeze. Last March I decided as a personal experiment to not eat meat for a year. For the first couple months I got occasional meat cravings, and I had to learn to adjust my diet to make up for the missing meat. But now, 9 months later, I don't crave steak. I crave things like mushrooms. Big, delicious, marinated mushrooms. (Although I do still occasionally crave, of all things, buffalo chicken wings. Hopefully that will pass with time as well. ) Meeting my nutritional needs is also a non-issue. In fact, the only time my diet is really ever an inconvenience to me is if I'm invited to something like a BBQ restaurant where I know that their menu will require that I eat a boring salad.

      As for my experiment, I've already decided that when this March rolls around, I don't need to go back to eating red meat or poultry--but the jury is still out on whether I'll resume eating fish and seafood. Continuing to read the discussion in this thread may help me make up my mind.

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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      but the jury is still out on whether I'll resume eating fish and seafood. Continuing to read the discussion in this thread may help me make up my mind.
      If you start from a point of considering the suffering of conscious creatures, then one must first determine whether a creature is conscious before you get to the question of whether it can suffer. Philosophically, I have no objection to eating oysters for example (their taste on the other hand...). Their nervous systems are so primitive (they lack a brain for a start) that they are highly likely incapable of an inner dimension of subjective experience. What it is like to be an oyster may be equivalent to what it is like to be a rock. I can't be 100% sure of this but that is the direction the evidence points towards. If I were to place an arbitrary line between two species to designate that on this side of the line there is a barely sentient creature that can suffer, and on that side of the line there is a rock-like oyster experience, I'd probably place it somewhere between shrimp and oysters or jellyfish.

      Take pause to note however that this is not an argument based on outward physical appearances. If a shrimp possessed all the same mental and biological functions it currently does but outwardly appeared to be a homunculus (a tiny human), I daresay fewer people would eat it, and for less than philosophically robust reasons haha. The fact that we seem to be more comfortable eating animals that look more dissimilar from us is just another manifestation of our species-bias, a firing of our modern anti-cannibalism mechanisms.

      I am thoroughly enjoying this thread and invite any lurkers we have here to jump in for a swim. There's plenty of ground we haven't covered yet.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Plants don't have brains.


      There's plenty of ground we haven't covered yet.
      I'm here to cover the ridiculous ground.
      Xei likes this.

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      Well you're not far off the mark. The most radical of the Jains believe that killing anything, including plants, is wrong. They watch every step they take so they don't step on bugs, and won't pull any rooted plant up from the ground. They'll pull individual leaves off of a lettuce but leave the bulb in the ground. They won't pluck fruit from a tree, but wait for it to fall to the ground first. Clearly not many people choose (or feel compelled) to live this way.

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      There is a moral argument, and there is a natural argument, and then there are arguments that are neither moral or natural (insane arguments). I believe the moral argument quickly becomes an extremist argument.

      I am against extremism because it leads to being judgemental. And there is an extremism in some spiritual communities to spread the idea that you are morally wrong if you choose to eat meat, and that vegans or fruitarians are automatically more spiritually enlightened. When spiritual enlightenment has nothing to do with what one eats, or doesn't eat. There are vegans who genuinely hate people, and or believe that humans are lowly sinners who deserve to be wiped off the face of the planet.

      The moral argument needs to meet the natural argument half way. The natural argument concerning food does not allow for the cruelty or mistreatment of animals. But neither does it require that every human on the face of the earth convert to veganism.

      What is the natural argument?

      First and foremost, the natural argument recognizes that humans are natural beings, and a part of nature as much as anything else. And that our natural bodies are not sinful things, but rather, by listening to our body we can be brought into personal balance, well being and happiness. On the contrary, some people would have you think to desire to eat meat means you are a lusting. Just as Christianity told us we are sinners for desiring sex.

      The desire to eat meat is completely natural. And yes, people desire to eat meat.

      A true herbivore wouldn't desire to eat meat. Ever. The smell and taste is repulsive and toxic to a herbivore. A human herbivore is repulsed by knowing where it came from. Yet the smell, especially for newly converts, can remain enticing. Spiritual elitists would make you feel ashamed for even liking the smell, even though it is perfectly natural that you are attracted to it.

      Were it not completely natural, we wouldn't even be able to digest or process the meat. And contrary to what was said earlier in this thread, the human being is perfectly capable of eating uncooked, raw, riggling meat. Then why do we have to cook most meats to consume them?

      The same can be asked of water. .When did we become afraid that "wild" water would make us throw up or give us diarrhea? What animal is this paranoid about water? What animal is so afflicted by wild water?

      The gruesome truth is, plenty of humans have eaten red meat raw, raw eggs, raw fish, and even raw chicken, without getting sick, and finding the food pleasurable and satisfying. This would not be possible if were biologically herbivores.

      It's possible because we biologically omnivores.

      But. . . . . . The natural argument would also recognize humans weren't meant to eat meat at the large quantities being consumed today. It has been said that the average american consumes 300% more meat than their ancestors. Our bodies literally aren't designed to consume the large quantities of meat that Americans do, leading to diet related diseases. The amount of meat we are designed to consume can only be described as "once in a while".

      The moral argument places human values onto an animal. This strategy may or may not work, and rides on the individuals belief of whether or not human values should be placed on a non-human.

      The natural-moral argument works a little different. The natural-moral argument recognizes the sovereignty of all living things. Animals and plants. I don't consider it beneficial to base the moral argument on comparing one organism to another (an animal versus a plant) and basing its worth. That quickly gets into fishy territory when mammals, of which we just so happen to be, always end up on top.

      I personally consider a plant that has lived thousands of years a lot more special than most animals.

      All organisms have a will independent of any human.

      The root of the problem with farming ethics isn't the suffering of an animal. Because chicken living in a box doesn't even know that there is a sun missing from its life. Does it miserably miss the sun? It doesn't' even know there is a sun! No. The real problem is a complete and total lack of free will for sovereign creatures of the earth. Show the chicken the sun, and it would find the dark box miserable.

      The mentality that we humans have the right to take another sovereign entity, and manipulate every aspect of its life for the sole purpose to feed us or give us pleasure - started with plants. Agriculture. Which is why its harmful to base the moral argument on a judgment of animals versus plants. We won't be able to see the root of our problem is with all life forms, not just animals.

      One of the most sophisticated organs of a plant, that is more human than most realize, is the sexual organs of a plant. Botanists have actually referred to a flower as an "ovary with eggs". The fruit? "A swollen ovary with an embryo or embryos and/or an embryo sack to nourish the embryo as it develops". No seriously, this is the terminology that has been used. Seeds have been referred to as both eggs and embryos depending on their stage of development, paralleling animal eggs and embryos.

      Even plants like to have sex, and they do a damn good job advertising when they want it!

      Whats my point?

      Sex (procreation) is so fundamentally natural, and crucial and if not, the most important natural activity that has ever taken place anywhere in the natural world. None of us could possibly be here if our parents didn't have sex. And if their parents didn't have sex, and so on and so on. Sex is also so important to this thing called genetic diversity.

      I want you to keep this in mind. Because what we did to agriculture (plant cultivation) we did to animals.

      Every aspect of the plant is manipulated in modern day agriculture. First, they are grown in rigid straight lines as a giant monotonous monoculture. Because we thought it was convenient. Sound familiar? But plants do not naturally grow in straight lines, or as a monoculture. Without the natural diversity that the plant would naturally live in, the plants became weak to plant diseases and plant pests. So we added extremely dangerous and toxic chemicals to control the diseases and pests. Like wise, the density and monoculture of animal farms is also a cesspool of diseases.

      Next. We wanted. And we wanted it now. Even though oranges don't ripen in the winter, and broccoli hates the scorching heat of summer, we wanted any vegetable and any fruit when ever we damn wanted it.

      Our demand for fruits and vegetables when ever, meant that the fruits and vegetables now have to live in artificial environments. The greenhouse is an awesome invention that I still love today. But it doesn't end with a glass building. You see, there wasn't enough sun for Europeans to have their on demand tropical fruits.

      So an artificial sun was put in place. Now these plants don't even grow to natural sunlight. (chickens)

      Were still impatient. Why aren't these bloody things producing faster? We come up with the idea to bypass the natural life cycle of plants. Blooming flowers and seeds bursting forth from the earth, takes too damn long. Let's chop up the plants into little pieces, give them rooting hormones, and make a single plant into dozens, hundreds, sometimes even thousands of clones. These rooting hormones btw are so toxic its currently illegal to use them for fruits or vegetables, else we are poisoned. Not that its stopping companies from trying.

      Our obsession of giving plants hormones and pesticides is linked to the greatest spike in diet related diseases in the past decade. GMOs are potentially more toxic than meat these days, and that's saying a lot because the meat isn't all that safe to eat either.

      We forced plants into straight lines, just as we forced animals into a militant life. We forced plants to produce unnaturally faster than the wild could ever allow. And we have done so with animals. Produce. Produce. Produce. We have harvested vegetables and fruits before they even mature, no not because its tastier, but because production demands it. And we have done the same with animals, can't afford to have them sit around and age. Plants with no sun? Freaky! And we have done the same with animals. We give plants hormones. We give animals hormones.

      Fruit trees that no longer produce worthy fruit are turned into mulch. We do the same thing with milking cows.

      We can't really address the problem with farms, if we don't address our problem of manipulating sovereign life forms for our mere pleasure.

      But I'm not arguing that its morally wrong to eat meat. Because I base my moral judgment on what is natural. Death is natural. We feel it is wrong to kill, because most of us certainly don't want to die. Unfortunately for our denial, death has always been a part of the cycle of life. And everything that lives on earth, dies. And everything that dies is consumed. It doesn't matter if human didn't kill the cow. Cow will die. Cow will be eaten, if not by you, then at least by worms.

      The human will die. And the human, just like the food on your plate, will be consumed.

      Vegans in the past have made the argument that its selfish to kill an animal for food. Yet many of these same vegans have written on paper. Keep this in mind before passing judgement onto others. No one using a computer is living a non-violent life. Regardless of what you do or don't eat, innocent beings have died for your pleasure, and by the thousands.

      I am however am not the one saying that its wrong to kill. Anymore than I will say that its wrong to die. I will say that I believe its wrong to deny free will, even the free will of a mere plant to procreate. Or the free will of an individual human being.. I will also say I believe is extremely wrong to label pleasure as sinful! We have every right, as any other living thing on this earth, to seek out a pleasurable existence. Only a human considers his pleasure sin.

      Tricky isn't it? Balancing your selfish, but your right to pleasure, and honoring the free will of other sovereign beings. This is why I believe in balance, and not extremities.

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      If an animal (either a barely sentient chicken or a self-conscious chimp) has an interest in not being in pain, how is that any different to a human beings want to not be in pain? Pain in a duck is pain in a dog is pain in a chimp is pain in a human
      Firstly, thanks for posting an interesting and thought-provoking thread Alex. Hopefully I'll be able to make a more detailed response later.

      For the moment though, I'd like to take exception to this point.

      There are two aspects to pain:
      1. The physical sensation
      2. The psychological aspect

      I'd agree that physical pain is likely to be pretty similar between species. However I strongly disagree with the idea that animals can psychologically suffer to the same degree as humans.

      If we accept this as true, this is a pretty significant point.



      One other point whilst I'm here. Given the complexities of human personalities and our potential, I would say human life is more valuable than animal life*, and so destroying it is more morally wrong. In a similar manner, destroying a blank canvas is not especially bad, but destroying a priceless artwork would be a terrible thing. One is much more valuable than the other.

      *Though if there was a non-human species of equal capabilities I would say it has equal value to human life. Just to try and avoid accusations of being anthropocentric.

      I'm going to have to save the justification for the idea that one life can be more valuable than another for a later post, but just wanted to get this viewpoint out there.

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      Thanks for joining in guys

      You've raised a few points I'd like to address:

      Quote Originally Posted by juroara View Post
      I am against extremism because it leads to being judgemental. And there is an extremism in some spiritual communities to spread the idea that you are morally wrong if you choose to eat meat, and that vegans or fruitarians are automatically more spiritually enlightened. When spiritual enlightenment has nothing to do with what one eats, or doesn't eat. There are vegans who genuinely hate people, and or believe that humans are lowly sinners who deserve to be wiped off the face of the planet.
      How specific people of a particular philosophy decide to relate to the world has zero bearing on the truth or falsity of their philosophy. Considering I don't believe in any kind of spiritual realm, I'd find it hard to claim I had a higher spiritual enlightenment. Bare in mind I'm not condemning any meat eaters in this thread for 'being horrible sinners'. I'm just enjoying engaging in an argument that is not heard often enough these days and deserves more attention than it gets. This is not an argument built out of personal purity, but one built with regards to moral conscience - is it ethical to take a sentient life that need not be taken for the sake of our palates?

      The natural argument concerning food does not allow for the cruelty or mistreatment of animals. But neither does it require that every human on the face of the earth convert to veganism.
      The hidden premise of your natural argument is that it is not immoral to (humanely) raise and kill another sentient animal for the sake of your taste-buds. While raising animals for slaughter from non-factory farming has its merits (it's a step in the right direction at least from the Holocaust they experience right now) it's still possible to object on philosophical grounds that they should have to die for us at all. If someone wanted to cook and eat me, I don't think there is a reason in the world they could offer me (short of extortion against my own children) to make me believe it was reasonable to allow that. And this is the challenge laid at the feet of the meat eater.

      The desire to eat meat is completely natural. And yes, people desire to eat meat. A true herbivore wouldn't desire to eat meat. Ever. The smell and taste is repulsive and toxic to a herbivore. A human herbivore is repulsed by knowing where it came from. Yet the smell, especially for newly converts, can remain enticing.
      Permit me an analogy to evolutionary morality theory, if you will. I recently read that it was likely our war-like nature that allowed for conditions to exist that fostered the development of altruism. When two rival families or tribes are fighting one another it benefits one particular group if they are more co-operative with their own members. This means sharing food, helping the wounded, caring for the sick, building shelter together etc. Our bloody tribal history allowed for our better moral virtues of charity, cooperation and kindness to develop. But now we live in the 21st century. We're on the verge of creating a global civilisation that requires we all get along peacefully and in cooperation. Unfortunately we still carry all our old war-like aggression and baggage - we never left it behind. But were it not for that very war-like nature, we'd never have got this far in the first place. It is now a challenge issued to us in this century to transcend and shed our warrior ancestry and cultural hang ups, lest we destroy ourselves with ever-increasingly deadly weapons.

      Now compare this to eating animal flesh. In our prehistoric history this was necessary, before we domesticated plants and learned agriculture. But today we have the technology to feed every person on the planet on a plant based diet, we only lack the political and economic will to do so. This view that eating flesh is evolutionary baggage has been put forth long before I was born, and it has merit. I said this earlier in the thread but it bears repeating: old reasons for doing things are not adequate reasons for doing things today. This is an argument from tradition, a logical fallacy. And I'm afraid that what your natural argument boils down to. In order for it to hold water you need to show that eating both meat and plants (a balanced diet) is the ONLY way to live a healthy life, and I'm afraid all the statistics are against you. Veg*ns are less likely to be obese or overweight, have lower incidence of heart disease and cancer, and are statistically likely to reach 100 years of age more often than meat eaters (really good book on this called 'Blue Zones', i recommend it). Even elite athletes don't need meat to be competitive Carl Lewis competed in the Olympics as a vegan, winning 3 golds and 1 silver (look at his medals history, he started being a vegan in 1990).

      Were it not completely natural, we wouldn't even be able to digest or process the meat. And contrary to what was said earlier in this thread, the human being is perfectly capable of eating uncooked, raw, riggling meat. Then why do we have to cook most meats to consume them? The same can be asked of water. .When did we become afraid that "wild" water would make us throw up or give us diarrhea? What animal is this paranoid about water? What animal is so afflicted by wild water? ... It's possible because we biologically omnivores.
      One word answer: bacteria. We're not tribal nomads anymore and have lost any resistance our bodies once had to eating raw, uncooked flesh. And life expectancy in prehistoric times wouldn't have been high for a number of reasons, this probably being one of them. If we were 'biologically omnivores' (we are, but that's not the point of contention here) our incisor teeth would be serrated, not dull. Same with any other great apes teeth. Their incisors are large and dull, not serrated razors. And they eat a predominantly vegetable diet, with rare occasions of meat eating (which you acknowledged in the next paragraph).

      I personally consider a plant that has lived thousands of years a lot more special than most animals. All organisms have a will independent of any human.
      This is a subjective, sentimental value that you place upon the plant. There is no inner dimension to that plant, no consciousness, no internal awareness that can be detected in any shape or form. You can be no more moral towards a plant than you can a rock.

      The root of the problem with farming ethics isn't the suffering of an animal. Because chicken living in a box doesn't even know that there is a sun missing from its life. Does it miserably miss the sun? It doesn't' even know there is a sun! No. The real problem is a complete and total lack of free will for sovereign creatures of the earth. Show the chicken the sun, and it would find the dark box miserable.
      I disagree, it is entirely about the suffering of the animal. I invite you to watch the videos I posted earlier in the thread if you sincerely believe that animals which have been denied their natural habitats from birth just accept their lot and are happy with it. Please do so now There is a plethora of evidence that shows the natural instincts of animals to forage for their food, to flap their wings, to crow at the rising sun, to dust-bathe, to sing - are all innate urges. Putting a chicken in a cage or a pig in a stall doesn't just put the animal on standby mode like a TV that has powered down. They are restless, bored, they thrash against the sides of their pens. Their conceptual abilities are very primitive but they know they are meant to be able to move more than a few inches in any direction for their entire lives.

      Many of them actually die from the stress of confinement! The poultry industry even has a name for it: Sudden Avian Death Syndrome, or SADS. A more accurate acronym was never coined. Up to 10% of a 'flock' of 80,000 caged or barn hens can die from SADS every season, but this is considered acceptable loss by the industry.

      *stuff about plants*
      Morality only matters between sentient creatures. You can't be moral towards a rock. A single person on a desert island can't be moral to anything. Plants aren't sentient creatures, they're what I'd probably refer to as a 'merely living system', whereas something like a shrimp would be a 'merely sentient system', emphasising it's most basic level of sentience it may possess that we can infer from its behaviour. Truly it would be a terribly useless adaptation for plants to develop the ability to feel pain. Pain is used by sentient creatures to retreat from danger or to warn an organism of damage so it may flee from the cause of said damage. A plant can do neither of these things. They also possess no nervous system to speak of, or anything equivalent. Therefore there is likely nothing 'in there' to care about itself, much less for us to care about it. That we care about 900 year old Californian redwoods being cut down is more a matter of conservation of ecology and our own sentimentalism for 'old things' than any true basis in morality.

      Two fun little thought experiments:

      But this is a fun argument so I'd like to take it one step further: Even if I grant you that plants were sentient and could feel pain (but were on a lower order of sentience than animals, which possess a lower order of sentience than ourselves), it would still be logical for all humans to be veg*ns. If we were trying to build a world with the least possible amount of suffering (and we considered all sentient entities rights to not suffer or die needlessly EQUALLY), then the most logical course of action would be for every human being to be vegetarian as it would result in the fewest amount of plants killed to feed the animals that would otherwise be feeding us. Chicken and cattle consume around 75% of the grain and wheat produced by the developed world. That's nearly 8 times more plants that had to 'suffer and die needlessly' than would have if all humans didn't eat meat!

      But I can go one step further than that. If you believe in human exceptionalism (that is, we are the highest form of life on Earth and therefore somehow 'special'), then the 'Best Possible World' we could create would be one in which the greatest number of humans could live peacefully, thrive and be happy. Now its just simple economics. If you take all the land on Earth that is possible to farm, minus the land required to preserve the territory for just enough of a population of every other species to live and replenish itself peacefully without our intervention (or with it, whatever your fancy), and farmed exclusively plants and vegetables you would achieve the Best Possible World by everyone being vegetarian. Say this number of humans happens to be 25 billion, just to pick a number at random. If all farms on Earth are operating at peak efficiency with zero wastage, it becomes a zero-sum game. If I want to eat more, you have to eat less (or someone does). For every one person in that 25 billion that wants to eat meat, you have to subtract 8 peoples food rations (or 8 people, since they couldn't live anymore) to make up for that one persons meat eating. And every person you subtract takes you further and further away from the Best Possible World of maximising the specialness of human exceptionalism. Alternatively everyone else has to go with sub-optimal nutrition to keep those extra 8 people alive, but since you are now eating less than what you need, your happiness and ability to flourish will go down, taking you further away from the idyllic Best Possible World.

      Quote Originally Posted by Photolysis View Post
      I'd agree that physical pain is likely to be pretty similar between species. However I strongly disagree with the idea that animals can psychologically suffer to the same degree as humans.
      While it is true that humans have the capacity to suffer more because we can anticipate the future in a more fully realised fashion, this doesn't take away from the actual experience of the animals pain and suffering (your listed number 1). For example, if there was a serial killer abducting young people from the local park every night and murdering them, it would cause anyone living nearby emotional (and physical) stress in the knowledge that there is a killer on the loose. And this is to say nothing of whatever the victim has to experience. I wouldn't go as far as to say that animals like chickens can conceptualise this kind of 'future dread' like we can, but we would be remiss to assume that they can't make associations between events and emotions. If a human has mistreated them horribly in the past they are going to associate the two together and be terrified upon seeing that human (or another human) again. They also squawk in terror at seeing their fellow caged birds mistreated and killed. We may never have seen or heard the screams of a member of our species when they are about to die, but there is no mistaking that experience when it occurs.

      Frustrating all of their natural desires is another form of stress, and as I mentioned earlier, this kills millions of animals every year. If you doubt this, just watch the videos I linked. And there are many studies to draw from also, mostly from psychological journals that are freely available online.
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-04-2011 at 01:31 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Photolysis View Post
      There are two aspects to pain:
      1. The physical sensation
      2. The psychological aspect

      I'd agree that physical pain is likely to be pretty similar between species. However I strongly disagree with the idea that animals can psychologically suffer to the same degree as humans.
      While it is true that humans have the capacity to suffer more because we can anticipate the future in a more fully realised fashion, this doesn't take away from the actual experience of the animals pain and suffering (your listed number 1). For example, if there was a serial killer abducting young people from the local park every night and murdering them, it would cause anyone living nearby emotional (and physical) stress in the knowledge that there is a killer on the loose. And this is to say nothing of whatever the victim has to experience. I wouldn't go as far as to say that animals like chickens can conceptualise this kind of 'future dread' like we can, but we would be remiss to assume that they can't make associations between events and emotions. If a human has mistreated them horribly in the past they are going to associate the two together and be terrified upon seeing that human (or another human) again. They also squawk in terror at seeing their fellow caged birds mistreated and killed.

      Anyone who has spent time in an animal shelter for mistreated pets knows that they are traumatised by their experiences. I rescued my dog from a welfare league 15 years ago, and even after all this time she is still scared to death of water (she was found as a puppy in a sack that had washed up on a stream). Even anecdotal evidence like this casts a shadow of doubt on your #2, even if I grant that she probably doesn't sit around being terrified of water when there is none around to remind her of it, like a person would in a neighbourhood with a murder on the prowl.

      Frustrating all of their natural desires is another form of stress, and as I mentioned earlier, this kills millions of animals every year. If you doubt this, just watch the videos I linked. And there are many studies to draw from also, mostly from psychological journals that are freely available online.

      One other point whilst I'm here. Given the complexities of human personalities and our potential, I would say human life is more valuable than animal life*, and so destroying it is more morally wrong. In a similar manner, destroying a blank canvas is not especially bad, but destroying a priceless artwork would be a terrible thing. One is much more valuable than the other.

      *Though if there was a non-human species of equal capabilities I would say it has equal value to human life. Just to try and avoid accusations of being anthropocentric.

      I'm going to have to save the justification for the idea that one life can be more valuable than another for a later post, but just wanted to get this viewpoint out there.
      This is another version of human exceptionalism that I covered from the material in juroara's post and earlier with Marvo, bottom of page 2 I think. Any argument that rests on potentiality is a rocky argument (just look at the abortion debate). Our ability to thrive and achieve our potential is no less realised under a vegetarian or vegan diet. For this argument to hold up you'd need to show that there are heights of human achievement that are only realisable - today in 2011 - with a meat eating diet. I wish you luck in doing so

      There is also one more point I'd like to add to the potentiality argument you raised. If you admit that healthy adult human beings are capable of a certain amount of cognitive potential and function, and it would be unwise to turn a blind eye to all the evidence showing cognition in other large brained mammals, then we can probably agree that intelligence, cognition, emotional awareness, all these traits lie on a continuum from the most basic, barest sentient animal (a shrimp), up to us at the top of the scale. As soon as you do that, you admit of the possibility of an animal having one of those traits in a higher quantity than a severely retarded human being. Furthermore, this means there are some animals out there that are more worthy of our moral attention than some of our very own retarded sons and daughters, due solely to their potentiality! If one is to argue that our potential is all that matters they instantly have to give up the claim to human exceptionalism (as you almost did at the bottom of your post), else you fall into the same trap of drawing an arbitrary line between species, where no such line exists in nature.

      Now if I take your argument to its logical conclusion this means it is ethical to place a higher value on the life of a healthy child over a child with Down Syndrome (anyone in favour of infanticide will not be swayed by this argument, for it agrees with them). Where do we draw the line? What if they are only physically disabled, missing a leg or a foot. Is the healthy child still 'worth more' in moral terms? What if they are just missing their thumbs, and will never play a Playstation (the horror!). Does this diminish their potential enough for the healthy child to count more? What about colour blind children? You can quickly see how this gets very bogged down, very quickly, showing that physical disabilities (and on the materialist worldview, even a mental disability is by nature a physical one) ought to be no barrier to who should and shouldn't exist outside our moral sphere. And if physical disability ought not to be a barrier, then different physical bodies (ie: being a different animal) should also have no baring on our moral compass. In 1789, Jeremy Bentham wrote:

      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Bentham
      It may one day come to be recognised that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate (torture). What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-04-2011 at 01:41 PM.

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      Here's a question, disregarding the possibility of lab-grown steaks and whatnot:
      If you could genetically modify chickens, cows, etc. to essentially be braindead, save for the instinct to feed and carry out normal body functions, would it be morally questionable to raise them for slaughter? If you could guarantee a life of non-suffering, of essentially being rock-like meat satchels, would there still be a problem?

      This is a question for vegetarians/vegans, too.

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      If it could be guaranteed that there was no suffering being experienced, I see no grounds for a moral objection. One can't be moral towards a 'nothing'. I'm just taking you on the terms of your thought experiment though, since I don't think its possible to create such a creature. In the philosophical literature these kinds of beings are called 'philosophical zombies' or 'p-zombies', and are used as an argument for dualism regarding consciousness (just FYI if anyone is interested). Besides, lab-grown steaks would be more efficient. No bones, internal organs, feet or beaks to waste energy on creating.

      Just a point I'd like to mention as an aside though, while it is my intent to perhaps persuade some of you to changing your lifestyle upon considering these arguments as I did, I hold no expectation that it will happen. It's long been known that humans come to their opinions for emotional reasons first which we then persuade ourselves of with post-hoc reasoning. Therefore it doesn't matter how many of your arguments I can refute using evidence and logic, for even if I knock them all down most of you will walk away from this discussion believing that your position is still right but you just couldn't elucidate why it was. This is why 99.9% of arguments against religion don't persuade someone to become an atheist either, as one has to arouse an emotional change in a person to alter their position on an issue as deep as this one. Anyone who doesn't feel compassion for an animal in pain, or treats them like a living tool rather than a sentient being will likely never be persuaded by argument anyway, emotional or intellectual.

      But I am enjoying the debate all the same
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-04-2011 at 02:17 PM.

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      To cut more to my personal argument, I eat meat because it tastes good. I like the smell, the taste, the texture, the versatility. To a lesser extent, I eat it because it swiftly and easily satisfies some of my dietary needs, and because I don't like most vegetables nearly as much, if at all. On some level, I suspect or know the continued abuse and slaughter of animals is "wrong," but I either don't care or am so desensitized to it that it doesn't bother me in the least, and I simply go back to eating my pulled pork sandwich. I know that my position is difficult or impossible to justify given today's technology (or lack thereof), but I lack both the will and desire to change my carnivorous habits.

      On a side note, I would try human meat, given the right circumstances. I'm an adventurous eater, and I wouldn't mind nibbling on Flank Steak a la Fred, just to see what it (he?) tastes like.

      And if perchance I have offended, have some Jimmy Buffett. YouTube - Jimmy Buffett: Cheeseburger in Paradise

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      This reminds me of when Ali G was interviewing a vegetarian about the ethics of a vegetarian diet and Ali G asked him: "What about if someone gave you some fired chicken and told you to eat it or else he would kill another living chicken?" The vegetarian was perplexed.

      I am vegan for all the reasons already gone over. I would also like to point out that not only is it possible to get protein from a vegan diet, it is a higher quality protein. For example, most plant proteins are in the form of amino acids that the body doesn't have to break down. When eating animal protein the body has to spend energy breaking down the protein into amino acids and then putting them back together again in different combinations suitable for our bodies. The best source of protein on this planet is a simple plant. It is spirulina. And it is yummy. One tablespoon of spirulina has more digestable protein in it than a one pound steak.

      Given all of the evidence: social responsibility, environmental, moral, nutritional and health, I have come to the conclusion a long time ago that anyone who continues to eat animal products (besides roadkill) just doesn't really care or is ignorant about these issues.

      Chimps very occasionally hunt and eat monkeys, but it seems to be based on territorial elimination of competition rather than a need to eat meat. Gorillas also have incisors like us but they are vegans except for the occasional grub. Even many "herbivores" (deer, rabbits, squirrels) will munch up locusts and cicadas.

      But nature hasn't really had a conscience until the evolution of humans, and hasn't really needed to. Because only creatures with a conscience can decide to not listen to it and to cause needless suffering. Only humans disregard their conscience.

      However, I agree with some things that Juroara said. Life feeds on death. We can become very fanatical and self-righteous and not know where to draw the line. But with the issues that exist in this modern day I think that it is extremely selfish to eat meat. There is no denying it.
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    22. #72
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      Let's say you're an omnivore. What do you eat?

      Animals and veggies, or meat and veggies?

    23. #73
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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      I read the first two points and felt that I got the gist. The first is a rambling anecdote about hydrochloric acid, the point of which I am unable to discern. The second asserts that vegetarian mammals like cows and rabbits produce "cellulace" [sic] in order to digest plant material, which is patently false. Clearly some quality arguments in this document.
      I kind of expected you to say as much. I wasn't too impressed with the guy either and I even noticed some of his information was off the mark, but I thought it was worth posting anyway because it mirrored my opinion on most aspects of the argument. Such as the fact that our species evolved as hunter-gatherers who ate meat, which opposes the notion that it's immoral to eat meat (not considering how the animals are treated before their slaughter.) If there is no moral reason to turn vegetarian, and it offers no significant advantage, while requiring extra time and effort to adhere to, I see no reason for me to change my diet. I'd say the jury is still out on whether a vegetarian diet is even equal with a meat diet, let alone superior to, in terms of athletic performance. It could very well be the case that it is, but there aren't enough vegetarian athletes out there to know for certain (it's a fact that there has never been a vegetarian Mr. Olympia, but that's not really a fair argument considering the ratio of vegetarian bodybuilders to meat-eating bodybuilders. That argument would hold true for nearly every sport, however.) There is the argument that, especially among female athletes who need a lot of protein, it's difficult to get the protein they need without eating too many calories. This means they need to spend more time on cardio to avoid getting fat, which is of course an unnecessary burden on their training schedule.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      It doesn't matter in any case, because this whole class of argument concerning what we are "meant" to eat or what is "natural" to eat is silly and irrelevant, whether it aims to show that we are "meant" to eat meat or that we are "meant" to eat plants. If I am "meant" to eat or not eat something, who exactly is it that means this for me? And what does it even mean to say that something is "natural" or "unnatural" for me to eat? These are confused notions from the start and they certainly shouldn't serve as a basis for what you or I should eat. What matters is simply that one eats what makes the most sense for one to eat. If someone wants to argue that it doesn't make sense not to eat meat, or that it doesn't make sense to eat meat, then fine, make that argument. That's really what's at stake, after all. Preaching about what is "natural" for people to eat is nothing more than empty words no matter which side it comes from.
      I can't say I understand what you mean. Some species are naturally carnivores, some are naturally omnivores, and some are herbivores. It would be "natural" for an omnivore to eat both meat and plants, and it would then be "unnatural" for a herbivore to eat meat, or vice versa. There is no "who" involved. There isn't anybody to dictate what's right and what's wrong in this argument. If we evolved eating meat, I can't see the act of eating meat as an inherently negative thing. Meat in itself doesn't cause disease (assuming it's properly prepared,) it's a number of other factors. Just like the sun can give you cancer, but that doesn't mean you should never go out in the sun. I do agree that omnivores are not bound to either extreme and could therefore exercise more choice in the matter.

      I don't know what sort of adverse effects may come of feeding a herbivore meat, but it probably wouldn't be good. That's what I mean by "natural." Our digestive systems are built to handle meat.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      A reliably lower prevalence of obesity, coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, hypertension, type II diabetes, gallstones, and diverticular disease is "minuscule" in your opinion?
      Yeah! I'm at risk for most of those things by mere virtue of being alive. I can speak for myself and say I lead an otherwise healthy life, so I don't see why I should concern myself with those things. It's the fat asses who don't eat any vegetables and go to McDonalds everyday who end up with those diseases. Honestly, I have about 7% body fat and I have a diverse diet, am I really at risk for type II diabetes? Health nuts get cancer and have strokes all the time.

      One could also pose the argument that vegetarianism is a lifestyle in and of itself. There is a mindset among vegetarians that is very health oriented, and it could therefore be their lifestyle and not the fact that they eat no meat which is responsible for their greater health.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      This is a bit like saying that there's no need to completely quit smoking cigarettes just to lower your risk of lung cancer; one could smoke just a few a day instead and still be better off than before. That's granted, but of course it's a pretty silly point. Obviously quitting completely is still going to be better than smoking just a few. If getting a few cigs per day is worth it to you, then hey, that's your prerogative.
      I don't quite see those things as being related. Cigarettes have no advantage whatsoever. To compare the health risks of smoking to eating meat is to blow the risks of eating meat way out of proportion.

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      You really seem to think it's difficult, huh. Take it from me: it's not that difficult. It's hard for a little while because eating meat has become so habitual, but once you get over the "hump" and learn to adapt, it's pretty much a breeze. Last March I decided as a personal experiment to not eat meat for a year. For the first couple months I got occasional meat cravings, and I had to learn to adjust my diet to make up for the missing meat. But now, 9 months later, I don't crave steak. I crave things like mushrooms. Big, delicious, marinated mushrooms. (Although I do still occasionally crave, of all things, buffalo chicken wings. Hopefully that will pass with time as well. ) Meeting my nutritional needs is also a non-issue. In fact, the only time my diet is really ever an inconvenience to me is if I'm invited to something like a BBQ restaurant where I know that their menu will require that I eat a boring salad.
      I've heard it's a son of a bitch, but that's all I have to go on since I've never tried it for myself. I guess I'd have to take your word for it. I'm assuming you aren't an athlete though, and I'm guessing things would be more difficult for a serious athlete.

      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      Given all of the evidence: social responsibility, environmental, moral, nutritional and health, I have come to the conclusion a long time ago that anyone who continues to eat animal products (besides roadkill) just doesn't really care or is ignorant about these issues.

      Chimps very occasionally hunt and eat monkeys, but it seems to be based on territorial elimination of competition rather than a need to eat meat. Gorillas also have incisors like us but they are vegans except for the occasional grub. Even many "herbivores" (deer, rabbits, squirrels) will munch up locusts and cicadas.
      Why are you comparing humans to other species? How do chimps and gorillas have any bearing on what we eat?

      I still don't get how it could be considered immoral for a meat-eating creature to kill and eat another creature. I don't see how the development of a conscience plays into this at all. The fact that I know I am inflicting harm does not and should not have an affect of the fact that Im hungry and it would make sense to eat this meat that is in front of me. American's have the luxury to choose what they eat, but in a lot of places you still have to take what you can get. It's seems kind of arrogant in my opinion that you would attach any sort of negative stigma to the act of eating meat. And it's wrong to call it ignorant.

      If it's the knowledge that animals are suffering that you can't stand, how do you cope with the knowledge that you won't ever end that suffering? Animals will be slaughtered no matter what you eat. Just like hippies and war protesters won't ever bring the world any closer to peace. It doesn't make sense for me to base my life philosophy on other people's actions. As long as I don't torture any animals myself, or am not directly responsible for their torture, I don't think I should be made to feel guilty about the issue. I literally have no control over it.
      Last edited by Caprisun; 01-05-2011 at 02:51 AM.
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    24. #74
      DuB
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      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      If we evolved eating meat, I can't see the act of eating meat as an inherently negative thing.
      I'm not sure that I would want to make the strong argument that eating meat is inherently negative. I'm attempting to make the less strong point that there are rational reasons to choose not to eat meat.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      I don't quite see those things as being related. Cigarettes have no advantage whatsoever. To compare the health risks of smoking to eating meat is to blow the risks of eating meat way out of proportion.
      They're certainly related. It was a carefully chosen analogy. Cigarettes give you a nice buzz. Meat tastes good. Neither is particularly good for you. And neither is particularly easy to quit using. (Although being a former smoker as well I would claim that neither is particularly difficult either.)

      I also fully disagree that this analogy blows the health consequences of eating meat out of proportion. In fact, the data suggests that meat consumption and cigarette smoking in the US both result in very similar national annual medical costs. This 2002 CDC report estimated that the total medical costs in the US attributable to cigarette smoking over the years 1995-1999 were approximately $39.25 billion per year ($157 billion over 4 years). This 1995 paper in the journal Preventive Medicine estimated that the medical costs attributable to eating meat in the year 1992 alone were between $28.6-61.4 billion. Those are pretty similar figures.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      Yeah! I'm at risk for most of those things by mere virtue of being alive. I can speak for myself and say I lead an otherwise healthy life, so I don't see why I should concern myself with those things. It's the fat asses who don't eat any vegetables and go to McDonalds everyday who end up with those diseases. Honestly, I have about 7% body fat and I have a diverse diet, am I really at risk for type II diabetes? Health nuts get cancer and have strokes all the time.
      I'm not telling you personally what you should or should not eat. Speaking personally, I may not eat meat but I do other unhealthy things such as drink alcohol. This isn't a lecture or a contest. I'm only talking about evidence and facts, not judgments. My goal is simply for you to acknowledge the medical evidence that, on average, it is healthier not to eat meat than to eat meat. This evidence is vast, well-accepted, and uncontroversial. What you choose to do with that information is entirely up to you.

      Quote Originally Posted by Caprisun View Post
      One could also pose the argument that vegetarianism is a lifestyle in and of itself. There is a mindset among vegetarians that is very health oriented, and it could therefore be their lifestyle and not the fact that they eat no meat which is responsible for their greater health.
      Controlling for this in a statistical analysis is trivial. The evidence supports that the vegetarian diet itself, over and above things like activity level and etc., is beneficial for health.
      Last edited by DuB; 01-05-2011 at 02:57 AM.

    25. #75
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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB
      I also fully disagree that this analogy blows the health consequences of eating meat out of proportion. In fact, the data suggests that meat consumption and cigarette smoking in the US both result in very similar national annual medical costs. This 2002 CDC report estimated that the total medical costs in the US attributable to cigarette smoking over the years 1995-1999 were approximately $39.25 billion per year ($157 billion over 4 years). This 1995 paper in the journal Preventive Medicine estimated that the medical costs attributable to eating meat in the year 1992 alone were between $28.6-61.4 billion. Those are pretty similar figures.
      I don't believe medical cost has very much to do with actual health risk. As a "meat eater" who has quit smoking, I agree with CapriSun, in that I think comparing eating meat with smoking cigarettes is a completely unrealistic analogy.
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