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    Thread: Moral discussion: Why do you eat animals?

    1. #1
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      Moral discussion: Why do you eat animals?

      A little over a month ago I finished reading 'Animal Liberation' by Peter Singer, and it's given me a lot to think about. Enough to reconsider my lifestyle as a carnivore and switch to as close a vegan lifestyle as I can.

      It's been a bit of a bumpy ride, which is essentially a given when one is considering a major lifestyle change and everyone around you wishes you would just stay the same for simplicity sake. My girlfriend kicked up a big fuss over it (Italian family, heavy carnivores) and my dad just plain doesn't understand ("You're at the top of the food chain for a reason!").

      The argument for vegetarianism (and veganism) boils down to a few facts we know about the world, specifically regarding sentience and the ability to suffer. Using humans as a measuring stick for sensory pain and emotional distress, we can be reasonably sure that animals with physiology similar to our own will experience pain and distress in the same ways that we do (eg; it is commonly accepted that all mammals feel pain). As the physiology differs from ours substantially, the subjective experience of pain becomes less certain (such as a clam or oyster, which has a simple nervous system but no actual brain), until we reach an organism such as a plant that has no nervous system to speak of at all and can reasonably be assumed to have no subjective experience of pain.

      Once we accept the proposition that cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and fish have conscious experience of the world and the capacity to suffer pain and distress our treatment of them becomes a major moral concern. Especially when 50 billion animals a year (2003 worldwide figures) are raised and killed for our dinner plates, 45 billion of which are chickens. I would like to stress that the paragraphs following this sentence are standard practices in the first world meat industry.

      Here are just a few things these sentient creatures go through to become our dinner:
      - Dairy cows are continually impregnated to produce higher yields of milk and longer lactating periods. Their calves are taken away from them less than a day after birth. Typically they are sent to slaughter after 2 lactations (4 years old), when an average cow lives to 20 years.

      - Male cows that can't produce milk are sent off to veal farms where they are packed into veal crates, wooden prisons that are so small the animal can only sit and stand, but not turn around. Here they are kept on an iron-deficient diet for 8 months without leaving their stall, spending 22 hours of a day in darkness (two hours for feeding, once in the morning and once at night). The lack of iron in their diet keeps their meat pale for the high society restaurant market. Their need for iron is so high they attempt to lick their own urine and feces.

      - Pigs are kept in similar conditions to the cow calves, kept in small stalls so they can't move or exercise, allowing for maximum weight gain to reach market weight in the smallest amount of time.

      - Chickens for meat are raised in battery cages primarily, often crammed 7-10 each per cage. A typical battery cage is about the size of a filing cabinet drawer. The birds are fed a diet of corn and grain, laced with antibiotics to fight diseases that spread among them. These antibiotics go mostly undigested and pass through them where they are collected on the ground as hundreds of tonnes of feces, which are then sold as fertiliser for organic crops (these antibiotics are the same ones you get from your doctor, adding to the problem of superbug resistance). The chickens have also been breed specifically for fast growth, to a point where their meat is heavier than their bones and internal organs allow. Death rates due to stress crowding is very high, and most birds are debeaked by a white-hot knife soon after being hatched to prevent them from pecking each other to death out of boredom and stress.

      - Eggs are also produced using battery cages, however since male chickens can't lay eggs, a full half the chicken population is slaughtered immediately after hatching. They are either thrown into a bin to be crushed by the weight of their brothers on top of them, or thrown into a mulcher (alive) to become food for their sisters in the laying cages.

      http://www.meat.org/ (watch the first video that comes up)

      I think it would be reasonable to assume that each one of you reading this right now considers yourself a moral person, or at least that you try to do the best you can for all involved in any given situation. By extension it isn't a stretch to assume you abhor cruelty to animals also. The most natural thing to do right now is to begin to rationalise to yourself how you can continue to eat the flesh of a formerly living sentient creature, yet square that away with your 'do-no-harm' instincts. And it is these reasons you are currently thinking about that I would like to enter into dialogue with you all.

      Discuss
      Last edited by Sisyphus50; 01-02-2011 at 04:51 PM.
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      First thing I would like to point out: Most animals don't care too much about boredom. At least, that's my opinion. Probably wrong, but I don't care, so I'm just going to put that "issue" to the side.

      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.

      Pigs "Issue": We have high demands. We need to meet them (no pun intended). So, guess what we do? What you just described. 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.

      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?

      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.

      You have me unconvinced.

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      I used to be a vegetarian, not because I loved animals, but because I hated plants!
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      Animals do very much care about boredome, proof: they get sick. My grandpa had somehow gotten a bunch of chickens from a factory.. they couldn't even run.. they had to hop to move themself.. like bunnies. If you chased after them too long, they dropped dead out of exhaustion.

      Animals are treated extremely cruel for our sake of getting cheap meat. There is plenty of video evidence on youtube. By eating meat, we the consumers are the cause for this cruelty. We demand cheaper and cheaper meat, we demand more and more cruelty.

      All nutrients in meat can also be gotten out of plants. All meat is made tasty using plants or salt in the first place (spices, sauces, etc). So the whole meat eating thing doesn't make much sense to start with as we totally cover up the true taste of meat by cooking and spicing it. Does anyone on here even know how chicken or cow tastes like, unprepared? I think nobody even wants to know.

      I can't come up with any reason whatsoever to eat meat, at all. It is nothing but a crazy cultural habit pretty much like cannabilism. The only reason why eating meat could be benificial is if we would get the spirit of the animal by eating it, which is probably the superstition that has led to this crazy cultural habit of eating meat. Do you honestly feel like eating a bite out of a cow when you see him standing in a field? Will you go up to it and take a bite out of his ass? I don't think so. This is proof that eating meat is not natural, not instinctive, at all. If it was, we would have the desire to do this. But we don't have it.


      Leaving extreme animal cruelty aside, eating meat serves no logical purpose, and isn't instinctive at all, it is unnatural, culturally enforced, crazy behavior. Has anyone on here honestly ever had the desire to grab a bunny a take a bite out of it when you would see it crossing the street?
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      Try going for a week without any food and then let us know what your body does when it sees a cow standing in a field or a bunny crossing the road.
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      Quote Originally Posted by ChaybaChayba View Post
      Animals do very much care about boredome, proof: they get sick. My grandpa had somehow gotten a bunch of chickens from a factory.. they couldn't even run.. they had to hop to move themself.. like bunnies. If you chased after them too long, they dropped dead out of exhaustion.
      Cool story bro.

      Animals are treated extremely cruel for our sake of getting cheap meat. There is plenty of video evidence on youtube. By eating meat, we the consumers are the cause for this cruelty. We demand cheaper and cheaper meat, we demand more and more cruelty.
      So what?

      All nutrients in meat can also be gotten out of plants.
      With the right technology. Getting the nutrients we need, is much easier done by eating meat.

      All meat is made tasty using plants or salt in the first place (spices, sauces, etc).
      This is why I love arguing with you Chayba. This isn't actually an argument, it's just a remark about how we make food taste better, yet you somehow use it to make your post fill more.

      So the whole meat eating thing doesn't make much sense to start with as we totally cover up the true taste of meat by cooking and spicing it.
      Sure, salt (which we don't get from plants) makes food taste better, but you can't eat more than 12 grams of it a day.

      Does anyone on here even know how chicken or cow tastes like, unprepared? I think nobody even wants to know.
      Chicken doesn't really taste like anything. Cow certainly tastes like something, but it tastes even better with spices. This is besides the point. We don't eat food because it tastes good, we eat food because we'd die otherwise. Getting food from animals is a hundred times easier than getting it from plants, especially in the colder environments.

      I can't come up with any reason whatsoever to eat meat, at all. It is nothing but a crazy cultural habit pretty much like cannabilism.
      What's wrong with cannibalism?

      The only reason why eating meat could be benificial is if we would get the spirit of the animal by eating it, which is probably the superstition that has led to this crazy cultural habit of eating meat.
      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.

      Do you honestly feel like eating a bite out of a cow when you see him standing in a field? Will you go up to it and take a bite out of his ass? I don't think so. This is proof that eating meat is not natural, not instinctive, at all. If it was, we would have the desire to do this. But we don't have it.

      Leaving extreme animal cruelty aside, eating meat serves no logical purpose, and isn't instinctive at all, it is unnatural, culturally enforced, crazy behavior. Has anyone on here honestly ever had the desire to grab a bunny a take a bite out of it when you would see it crossing the street?
      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?
      Last edited by Marvo; 01-02-2011 at 07:47 PM.

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      Eating unprepared meat making us sick is proof that eating animals is not natural, or we would not need to prepare it. Fire wasn't always there in the time of cavemen, so your argument is pretty much proof that we are naturally herbivores. Thanks for pointing this out marvo!

      Can anyone spot the contradiction?
      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      We need to eat meat, because otherwise we will get extremely sick.

      Humans get sick from eating unprepared meat.
      Last edited by ChaybaChayba; 01-02-2011 at 08:30 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      Cool story bro.

      Thanks thats what I thought too!

      So what?

      Animals are being tortured while they could as well be treated normally and you say "so what?" This is pointless behavior, and it spread to treating animals this way to treating your fellow human this way, with no care at all.

      With the right technology. Getting the nutrients we need, is much easier done by eating meat.
      And this right technology would be animal torture?

      This is why I love arguing with you Chayba. This isn't actually an argument, it's just a remark about how we make food taste better, yet you somehow use it to make your post fill more.
      It was a counter-argument, as most people would vargue we eat meat because it is yummy, but raw meat is not yummy

      Sure, salt (which we don't get from plants) makes food taste better, but you can't eat more than 12 grams of it a day.
      FYI you're supposed to use salt as a spice, not just eat it like that.

      Chicken doesn't really taste like anything. Cow certainly tastes like something, but it tastes even better with spices. This is besides the point. We don't eat food because it tastes good, we eat food because we'd die otherwise. Getting food from animals is a hundred times easier than getting it from plants, especially in the colder environments.
      Chicken doesn't taste like anything, so don't eat it, raw chicken even causes paralyziation. Getting food from normal animals being easier is just an argument out of lazyness, and isn't justifying the unnecessairy cruelty here.

      What's wrong with cannibalism?
      So there wold be nothing wrong with you being captured, put into a cage, tortured, just to be eaten... by your own fellow human beings?

      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.
      Yes that is why all vegetarians instantly drop dead after a few weeks.

      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?
      Good point creating a spear might be out of necessity because there is no other food around. But this still leaves us with the mystery why cavemen had to urge to chase bunnies and eat them, while we don't. I don't have an answer to this argument yet.
      Totally not agreed with most of your arguments, but you did make a good point there about the spear.
      Last edited by ChaybaChayba; 01-02-2011 at 08:52 PM.
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      Contradiction? What contradiction? He said that if we eat meat unprepared we get sick. The other part said that if we don't eat it, we will get really sick. That is assuming, of course, that you aren't making a conscious effort to get the nutrients you need from plants. I agree with both of you. There is not much of a logical reason for eating meat since we can get the nutrients it has from plants, but I also think it is easier to get those nutrients from animals. It's just a matter of intelligence evolving. Cavemen didn't even know about nutrients, never mind knowing other possible sources for them. So, guess what? They did something easier - they ate animals. It stuck for generations, and here we are. Eventually we will eliminate the need for meat some day, and I don't think that is too far off. But in the meantime, we eat meat. End of story.

      Also, Marvo, I agree that it might have developed for religious purposes, but I can't be too sure. Maybe someday we will find out.

      EDIT: Ooh, that came a bit late. I will post response later.

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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?
      You seem to be arguing that eating meat made good sense for prehistoric proto-humans. That's an interesting point, and probably true, but given that it is now the year 2011 I don't see how your point really addresses the present argument about whether you or I should choose to eat meat in today's society.

      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      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.
      Again, I'll assume you're referring to prehistoric humans here, because it's obviously false in today's world, as attested by the substantial world population of healthy veg*ns, which includes myself. In fact, the evidence shows that a meat-free diet is healthier than one which includes meat, especially with respect to incidence of vascular disease, the #1 leading cause of death today worldwide. Eating meat may have made good sense 10,000 years ago, but it's far less clear that it makes good sense today.

      And all of this is to say nothing about the moral argument, which is supposed to be the point of this thread.
      Last edited by DuB; 01-02-2011 at 09:12 PM.
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      What about athletes? Does it makes sense for athletes to eat meat? Or what if my career is more physically demanding than that of an athlete? I don't think a vegetarian diet could sustain me in that case.
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      It is not true that consuming meat is a necessity to optimally meet the protein requirements of athletes--albeit probably with the exception of so-called body-builders. The CDC recommends 56 grams of protein a day for a healthy adult male. So let's assume, generously, that a professional athlete needs 150% of that: 84 grams per day. It is trivially easy to consume 84 grams of protein in a day without eating any meat, especially if following a diet which allows for dairy (i.e., vegetarian rather than vegan). Consider, for example, that a small 6-oz container of greek yogurt contains 22 grams of protein, according to the containers in my refrigerator. For the vegan, a single cup of cooked beans contains up to 30 grams of protein depending on the variety. That's more than a third of the daily protein for an athlete and it's not even a complete meal. The fact is that most people following a meat-eating diet, athletes included, consume way more protein than they really need.

      Eating meat as an athlete may "make sense" in the minimum possible sense that it is not completely illogical, but it's not any more a necessity than it is for non-athletes, that is to say, it isn't at all.
      Last edited by DuB; 01-02-2011 at 09:46 PM.

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      Alex, have you not had prime rib? That would probably sway you over to the meat side. Just saying. Great shit.
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      Quote Originally Posted by ChaybaChayba View Post
      Eating unprepared meat making us sick is proof that eating animals is not natural,
      The canines in my mouth say otherwise. Besides, you don't always get sick from eating raw meat. You do realize that eating certain plants makes you sick too, right? Is that proof that we aren't supposed to be eating plants, that it's unnatural to do so? The truth is, it is natural to eat both meat and plants. If you eat the two in a healthy balance, then you will be a healthy person. What is there left to discuss?

      By the way Chayba, what Marvo was saying about "with the right techonology" is that in order to get the proper amount of complete proteins, you have to genetically engineer plants to have them. Way to completely miss the point, I guess it went right over your head. Genetically engineering plants is very expensive, and not everyone can afford to eat these products. Hell, even normal vegetables cost a lot. Eating meat is much easier and affordable for everyone. Eat what you like, but don't force others to spend more money just because you feel like eating meat is wrong.

      I'm curious, Chayba, what exactly gives you the idea that all the animals we eat have been tortured? The most common way slaughter houses kill animals in this day and age is to either stun an animal senseless (in case you don't know what this means, it means they can't feel anything) or zap them right between the eyes (a painless way to kill an animal) and then hang them by their feet and cut their throats to let the blood drain. The process is completely humane, and the animals feel no pain. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in order to be tortured you need to feel excruciating amounts of pain, right?
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      In twenty years we'll have in vitro meat and this'll all be academic.

      But yes, Marvo, meat production is grossly inefficient in modern, globalized times. You're talking as if your family are hunter gathers.

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      The longest I lasted as an 'instant-vegetarian' from watching how those poor animals died:



      5 hours.
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    17. #17
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      I don't think time you ordinarily spend between meals without eating counts.

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      You're correct. rephrase:

      Five hours later, after deciding to become a vegetarian, was around the time I ate a meaty meal. Thus, resulting in the violation of the the unwritten vegetarian code, and deeming me inconsistent with vegetarianism. From there on after, my attitude, regarding my dietary habits, returned to being pro omnivorous.

      My joke version sounded cooler
      Last edited by malac; 01-02-2011 at 11:53 PM.
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      I was just acknowledging that I got your lovely joke.

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      I became religiously vegetarian for about a year, to the point of disregarding my own health when my parents did their best to force me to eat meat by reducing as many vegetables as possible in the house. Needless to say, it became an ego battle rather than a health one that I was fighting. However, during this time, I did numerous research topics on the subject, and even developed a diet that had all the necessary vitamins and minerals as meat does. The one thing I came to understand as the difference between eating meat and vegetables is that eating vegetables has much less mild metabolic neuro-toxins resulting from their intake. As for a moral or righteous standpoint, considering we don't even know how consciousness works in plants, isn't it a bit ignorant to presume that our treatment of them to grow faster, better, and more succulent is some how better than the way we treat animals? It is not eating animals that I object to, it is the way that we treat them. While they may have smaller brains than us, in many cases they have as much, or more emotion to their existence than we do. And what do we do, we break them down, plow into their minds that they are just meat for consumption. Eating animals isn't bad, treating animals badly is bad. It is the mirror of how we treat our fellow humans. You are what you eat, and if you eat an animal that is treated badly by society, then you are an animal that gets treated badly by society. As for the "eating meat isn't logical", thats sort of laughable, because if you analyze the way teeth are constructed, like mine, they are made for eating meat, not plants. And its very logical, if you read about the different types of iron, and how the iron in meat is absorbed a heck of a lot better than the iron in plants. Oh and the vitamin b12 issue. Morality wise, eating meat is fine as long as you thank the animal for its existence to sustain you, and have that conscious forethought in your eating action. Health wise, it is better to eat plants, as long as you can find a good source for B-vitamins, and Iron. But a shitty attitude towards your environment is a shitty attitude towards your environment. Environment meaning our spaceship through the Cosmos- i.e. Earth. If we fuck this up, goodbye human race. Considering we still have no knowledge on the entire energetic spectrum available to us, our thoughts could be having a much greater effect than we realize, and treating anything with such indifference as we do animals would have a particular nasty reaction to the human race as a whole. I would love to just eat vegetables, and fish, problem is, its expensive, mercury in fish because of shitty attitude, and vegetables are expensive. So I do my best to stick to chicken, and whenever I eat red meat, I do a meditation in nature to reconnect. We continually get more and more distant from our environment, and call it evolution, but its mastering your environment harmoniously and then taking the next step which is true evolution. Otherwise, we are escaping that which we fear by doing our best to control it. If we truly separate ourselves from nature, and continue to use it maliciously, then nature will consider us a foreign toxin that needs removal. Who knows what the nervous system of the Earth could do, considering its been here a lot longer than we have.
      All of experience is fun for me, whether in a dream, or in reality, because I love existing, learning, and continuously evolving and sustaining. Then again, who knows, I may not enjoy existing so much if I caught a face full of buckshot from an angry farmer. But hey, at least I'd got out with a bang.

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      Plants don't have brains.

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      3 reasons:
      - morality is a joke
      - I am a hypocrite and I'm ok with that
      - it tastes nice

      I could stop eating meat quite easily if I had to because I'm used to meat substitutes. But out of choice I'd go with what is cheaper, tastier and easier to cook (don't actually know what that is, I need to find out).
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      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      It is not true that consuming meat is a necessity to optimally meet the protein requirements of athletes--albeit probably with the exception of so-called body-builders. The CDC recommends 56 grams of protein a day for a healthy adult male. So let's assume, generously, that a professional athlete needs 150% of that: 84 grams per day. It is trivially easy to consume 84 grams of protein in a day without eating any meat, especially if following a diet which allows for dairy (i.e., vegetarian rather than vegan). Consider, for example, that a small 6-oz container of greek yogurt contains 22 grams of protein, according to the containers in my refrigerator. For the vegan, a single cup of cooked beans contains up to 30 grams of protein depending on the variety. That's more than a third of the daily protein for an athlete and it's not even a complete meal. The fact is that most people following a meat-eating diet, athletes included, consume way more protein than they really need.

      Eating meat as an athlete may "make sense" in the minimum possible sense that it is not completely illogical, but it's not any more a necessity than it is for non-athletes, that is to say, it isn't at all.
      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.

      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.
      Last edited by Caprisun; 01-03-2011 at 02:49 AM.
      "Someday, I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement." -- Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) Last of the Mohicans

    24. #24
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      I suppose my original post was largely directed towards prehistoric humans, which is more or less a moot point in this day and age.

      I would like to clarify a part of my post, that most people on here misunderstood:

      With the right technology. Getting the nutrients we need, is much easier done by eating meat.
      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. What I am basically getting at, is that herding large amounts of animals requires less power, than producing the amounts of fruit and vegetables that we need. This is largely in respect to the colder climates though. Of course, if we were to only eat apples and berries, we would be fine, but if we want tomatoes, oranges and cucumbers, all year round, we are going to have to use a lot of energy to either produce it or import it from other countries. The latter option is the worst, since that will require fossil fuels.

      Is it really worth sacrificing our climate, so that we won't have to mass produce animals?

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    25. #25
      Xei
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      It's basically not true, livestock is much more inefficient than crops, viewed from pretty much any angle.

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