ScienceSkepticism

Skepchick Chat: Vegetarianism, Skepticism, and Semen

Recently, we received this note from Michael (through our contact form!):

This question I think is mainly for Rebecca, because I am only aware of her being a vegetarian from the SGU. I was recently considering becoming a vegetarian, and was wondering what sites she could recommend to start living this lifestyle. From the basic research I have done, the majority of vegetarian sites also begin to touch base within the “woo” community. I am sure there are some people who take a scientific approach to being a vegetarian and I thought Rebecca would know who they are.

Well, it turns out that a number of us Skepchicks are either veggies, pseudo-veggies, former veggies, or just opinionated. So, we decided to have a Skype chat about it. In fact, we’re having the chat right now! I’ll be live-blogging it as we go. Click to read more and keep refreshing!

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Rebecca Watson added amanda-b-l, Elyse Anders to this chat 7:59 PM

Rebecca Watson 8:00 PM hey ladies!

Elyse Anders 8:00 PM hey!

Tracy King 8:00 PM hallo

amanda-b-l 8:00 PM Hiya

Rebecca Watson added Stacey Rodberg to this chat 8:00 PM

Jill Powell 8:00 PM Hey!

Tracy King 8:00 PM is someone logging this?

8:00 PM how is everyone? We’re live!!

Jill Powell 8:00 PM Yay!

Stacey Rodberg 8:00 PM Present!

Tracy King 8:00 PM Hellooo from England!

Jill Powell 8:01 PM Hello from Canada where the snow has finally melted

Stacey Rodberg 8:01 PM Hello from Barcelona where the architecture is beautiful and the wine is delicious

Rebecca Watson 8:01 PM oh, this is an international affair

Tracy King 8:01 PM We’re cosmopolitan!

Jill Powell 8:01 PM so classy

Rebecca Watson 8:02 PM let’s do a quick survey, who here is inebriated? just curious.

amanda-b-l 8:02 PM Continental, even

Stacey Rodberg 8:02 PM <– not

Elyse Anders 8:02 PM hahahaha…. not yet

Jill Powell 8:02 PM Not me, I’m just dorky

Tracy King 8:02 PM I am fucked. I have been up for two days so far.

amanda-b-l 8:02 PM I’m fulla tequila

Elyse Anders 8:02 PM amanda, didn’t you just leave work?

Stacey Rodberg 8:02 PM This was a cool idea – I’m glad we get to chat like this

amanda-b-l 8:02 PM Yes, yes, I did. And went drinking with coworkers.

Rebecca Watson 8:02 PM okay, so a few of us are off our asses, a few sober. That’s a good mix.

Tracy King 8:02 PM I’m running on adrenilin and cherry 7up

Jill Powell 8:03 PM I’m running on…brownies?

Rebecca Watson 8:03 PM nice.

8:03 PM okay, next survey question: who here doesn’t eat meat?

Elyse Anders 8:03 PM me

Tracy King 8:03 PM I do now but was veggie for 7 years

Stacey Rodberg 8:03 PM I am pescetarian

amanda-b-l 8:03 PM not me

Rebecca Watson 8:03 PM And I’m pescetarian, too

Jill Powell 8:03 PM I eat fish, but fish isn’t cute, so I’m ok with that

Rebecca Watson 8:03 PM another good mix

Elyse Anders 8:04 PM lol

Tracy King 8:04 PM Also fish aren’t sexually attractive, unlike sheep

Elyse Anders 8:04 PM fish creep me out

Stacey Rodberg 8:04 PM Confession, though, sometimes I stray just a little

amanda-b-l 8:04 PM I just don’t eat pig in most forms. Unless it’s bacon.

Rebecca Watson 8:04 PM speak for yourself, Tracy. I’ve seen some sexy fish.

8:04 PM I mean mer-men.

Tracy King 8:04 PM Pig comes in forms other than pig?

Jill Powell 8:04 PM Did they have fish heads, or fish bodies Rebecca?

Tracy King 8:04 PM I think we should explore a shape-shifting pig villain for the comic

Stacey Rodberg 8:04 PM No pig talk. All they serve here in Spain is ham ham ham

8:05 PM Er…”hamon”

amanda-b-l 8:05 PM Oh great, I’m snorting with laughter already.

Rebecca Watson 8:05 PM Jill: both.

Elyse Anders 8:05 PM Homer: Are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Ham?

Lisa: No.

Homer: Pork chops?

Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.

Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

Stacey Rodberg 8:05 PM lol

Rebecca Watson 8:05 PM best episode of the simpsons ever!

8:05 PM don’t be fooled. if that cow had the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!

Jill Powell 8:05 PM bacon up that sausage boy!

Tracy King 8:06 PM ha ha

Elyse Anders 8:06 PM haha

Stacey Rodberg 8:06 PM One thing that’s interesting about vegetarianism is the different motivations behind it

Tracy King 8:06 PM yes

Stacey Rodberg 8:06 PM For me, it has nothing to do with emotion toward animals

8:06 PM How about you guys?

Rebecca Watson 8:06 PM a little, actually.

8:06 PM I know I’m a cold-hearted bitch, but I like to kill as few things as possible.

Tracy King 8:06 PM I did it for ethical reasons. But I was a teen.

Elyse Anders 8:06 PM animal cruelty… i work with animals for a living (or did)

Rebecca Watson 8:06 PM the smarter the animal, the less I want to eat it.

Elyse Anders 8:07 PM yeah

Tracy King 8:07 PM When i got older I decided taste is better than compassion!

Rebecca Watson 8:07 PM unless you mean “eat” in a sexy way.

Stacey Rodberg 8:07 PM No health nuts?

Rebecca Watson 8:07 PM I ate a giant brownie for lunch. No healthiness about it.

Jill Powell 8:07 PM I made brownies yesterday

Stacey Rodberg 8:07 PM Mmmmm…brownie

Elyse Anders 8:07 PM needing to lose weight was the thing that pushed me over to the veg side

Jill Powell 8:07 PM me too

Elyse Anders 8:07 PM but it wasn’t my primary motivation

Rebecca Watson 8:07 PM and did you lose weight?

Elyse Anders 8:08 PM 60 lbs

Rebecca Watson 8:08 PM because seriously, brownies are totally veg.

8:08 PM whoa!

8:08 PM congrats.

Elyse Anders 8:08 PM thanks

Tracy King 8:08 PM is 60lbs good?

Stacey Rodberg 8:08 PM That’s great

Tracy King 8:08 PM I don’t speak American

Rebecca Watson 8:08 PM I assume there was also excercise, etc. involved?

Jill Powell 8:08 PM Yeah wow

Elyse Anders 8:08 PM yeah

Rebecca Watson 8:08 PM yeah Tracy, it’s like 300 stone.

Stacey Rodberg 8:08 PM It actually can be just as hard to lose weight on a veg diet as a regular diet, depending on what you choose to eat

amanda-b-l 8:08 PM Eh, well, I stay away from meat mostly because it makes me feel icky. I only eat little bits occasionally, so that it doesn’t upset my stomach.

Elyse Anders 8:08 PM 300 stone?

Tracy King 8:09 PM I went the other way. The reason I started eating meat was doctor’s orders.

Elyse Anders 8:09 PM isn’t a stone 14 lbs?

Rebecca Watson 8:09 PM dunno, I was making it up.

Jill Powell 8:09 PM hahaha

Stacey Rodberg 8:09 PM Really, Tracy?

Rebecca Watson 8:09 PM hold on, should I live-blog this?

8:09 PM I think I should.

Tracy King 8:09 PM Yeah I was 6 and half stone

Elyse Anders 8:09 PM it’s like 4.4 stone

Tracy King 8:09 PM which is dangerously thin

Elyse Anders 8:09 PM i think

Tracy King 8:09 PM I was all the weight that Elyse lost!

Elyse Anders 8:10 PM i’m still a far cry from “dangerously thin”

Tracy King 8:10 PM Me too, these days. Thank goodness.

Stacey Rodberg 8:10 PM I spend a lot of time on the elliptical machine trying to become dangerously thin

Tracy King 8:10 PM Thank you, bacon double cheeseburger!

8:11 PM Being veggie was darn inconvenient

Elyse Anders 8:11 PM i think there are a fair number of veg skeptical chicas

Jill Powell 8:12 PM I find that in Alberta veggie is associated with dirty hippy, which bugs the crap out of me

Rebecca Watson 8:12 PM yes, I know quite a few veg skepdudes

Tracy King 8:12 PM My sister was still veggie til a few years ago. One time, we went to dinner with my in-laws, and my mother in law had cooked her a ‘nice vegetarian cutlet’…and put bacon on it

Stacey Rodberg 8:12 PM And the conflict arises in that vegetarianism often comes bundled with herbal therapies

Tracy King 8:12 PM “for flavour”

Elyse Anders 8:12 PM barf

Jill Powell 8:12 PM yeah, nasty

amanda-b-l 8:13 PM A local restaurant here serves a veggie burger with bacon on it. I must try it some day.

Stacey Rodberg 8:13 PM Amanda…seriously?

Tracy King 8:13 PM what are the manners for that sort of thing though?

8:13 PM I mean, rachael was cool about it and just pushed the bacon aside

Jill Powell 8:13 PM I’ve always been tempted to order a veggie burger that way to horrify my veggie friends with no sense of humour

amanda-b-l 8:13 PM Yeah, seriously. It’s the epitome of my food habits. Healthy veggie mostly with a topping of horriffic animal fat.

Elyse Anders 8:14 PM i actually won’t eat anything that has had meat on it… so no pulling off the sausage from my pizza

8:14 PM or removing the bacon

Tracy King 8:14 PM what if your mom-in-law served it

Elyse Anders 8:14 PM it’s probably poisoned anyway

Jill Powell 8:15 PM When my really strict veggie or vegan friends come over to eat, I make sure i know what they can and can’t have, you know, so i’m not being a jerk

Tracy King 8:15 PM is it rude to say “bitch yo done poisoned me!”

Jill Powell 8:15 PM not at all

Elyse Anders 8:15 PM if it were MY mother-in-law…. maybe

Tracy King 8:15 PM or maybe fling some pepperoni at her

Jill Powell 8:15 PM or a fish

amanda-b-l 8:16 PM I don’t think it’s wrong to stick up for your vegetarianness, even to a mother in law.

Elyse Anders 8:16 PM i’ll usually find a polite way of saying i’ll just have whatever else is on the menu

Rebecca Watson 8:16 PM see, I’m okay with just pulling meat off my pizza

8:17 PM though once my mom made me pasta with meat sauce and told me to pick the meatballs out

Tracy King 8:17 PM ha ha

Jill Powell 8:17 PM hahaha

Tracy King 8:17 PM it’s not meat if it’s mushed up

Rebecca Watson 8:17 PM she’s cute and innocent so I just laughed it off

Jill Powell 8:17 PM I just checked twitter, and A is trying to get into the conversation and can’t FYI

Rebecca Watson 8:17 PM oh! ok

8:17 PM 1 sec

Tracy King 8:17 PM When my sis and I turned veggie, my mom just stopped cooking

8:18 PM She said “if you want to be awkward, you learn to cook”

Jill Powell 8:18 PM HA!

Tracy King 8:18 PM So we did. Oven chips and fried eggs!

Elyse Anders added A Kovacs to this chat 8:18 PM

Tracy King 8:18 PM and then we got cable and learned to cook from the TV

Elyse Anders 8:18 PM welcome A

Rebecca Watson 8:18 PM yay, hi A!

A Kovacs 8:18 PM awesome!

Jill Powell 8:18 PM Woo A!

Tracy King 8:18 PM hello!

Rebecca Watson 8:18 PM and FYI, I’m trying to figure out the best way to copy/paste this to the blog

Stacey Rodberg 8:19 PM Hi A

A Kovacs 8:19 PM hiya

Elyse Anders 8:19 PM i have “history on”

8:19 PM so i’m saving it

8:19 PM i think?

A Kovacs 8:19 PM So, I was very surprised to see how many of us were/are veggies (or faux veggies)

8:19 PM I was, am not now

Jill Powell 8:20 PM I tend to go back and forth

Rebecca Watson 8:20 PM yeah, totally!

Tracy King 8:20 PM But which of us are on vitamin supplements?

Jill Powell 8:20 PM HA!….no

Elyse Anders 8:20 PM i’m supposed to take them since i’m breastfeeding

8:20 PM but i dont

amanda-b-l 8:20 PM Nope, even though my doc yells at me every time.

Tracy King 8:20 PM I took vitaman C for a week and got a cold

Elyse Anders 8:20 PM lmao

Tracy King 8:20 PM *vitamin

Stacey Rodberg 8:20 PM So, do you vegetarian skepchicks find yourselves in health food stores with lots of herbal remedies?

A Kovacs 8:20 PM Um, yeah, I am…children’s chewables

8:20 PM I “take” them about once a week

Elyse Anders 8:21 PM i don’t go to healthfood stores

Rebecca Watson 8:21 PM I used to back in Seattle

8:21 PM health food stores everwhere,

Jill Powell 8:21 PM oh yeah, all the organic stores here have a frou-frou quality to them

Rebecca Watson 8:21 PM constantly pushing new stuff on veggies

8:21 PM like omega-3 or whatever

A Kovacs 8:21 PM right on Elyse, me neither… too stinky…at least the ones here

Elyse Anders 8:21 PM unless you count trader joes… but i totally don’t count that

Tracy King 8:21 PM “have this kaftan made of hemp”

Rebecca Watson 8:21 PM which, apparently is bunk.

A Kovacs 8:21 PM HA!

Elyse Anders 8:21 PM they DO have a weird smell

amanda-b-l 8:21 PM Not since I found a non-health food store to buy good spices at, nope.

Stacey Rodberg 8:21 PM I do, but I just stay out of the supplement section and go straight to the food/juice bar.

A Kovacs 8:22 PM I think even Whole Foods is hella smella

8:22 PM but they have nice fruit

Tracy King 8:22 PM I wish I liked fruit

amanda-b-l 8:22 PM I just found out there’s an “herbal teas and remedies” store just down the street from me.

Stacey Rodberg 8:22 PM I’ve been going to a place called Mother Nature’s Pantry for years for the fresh food

Tracy King 8:22 PM I like the idea of fruit, but I buy it and then watch it rot

Stacey Rodberg 8:22 PM Best smoothies and veggie wraps

Tracy King 8:22 PM Mother Nature’s Panties?

Jill Powell 8:22 PM The only problem I have is that alot of organic/veggie friendly stuff is really expensive, at least it is here

Stacey Rodberg 8:22 PM lol @ Teek

8:23 PM I had strawberry/chocolate fondue tonight…that is vegetarian

A Kovacs 8:23 PM I’m allergic to mango, so I gave up on smoothies entirely after the smoothie dude didn’t clean the blender well enough, and I went to the Urgent Care

Elyse Anders 8:23 PM Morningstar Farms is a staple in this house

Tracy King 8:23 PM organic is fine if it’s local, because fresher means tastier. But if it’s not, then it’s no better than the non-organic stuff.

Stacey Rodberg 8:23 PM Elyse – do you eat the pizza-veggie-burgers?

amanda-b-l 8:23 PM A, that’s awful!

Stacey Rodberg 8:23 PM I love them!

Tracy King 8:23 PM is ‘smoothie dude’ his job title, or a physical description?

Elyse Anders 8:23 PM I just bought them for the first time last week

A Kovacs 8:23 PM I’m a bigger fan of grown local than I am organic

8:24 PM both Teek

Tracy King 8:24 PM yeah, local is better regardless of the chemicals

Elyse Anders 8:24 PM my husband likes them… but i think they’re weird

Stacey Rodberg 8:24 PM Hm.. Elyse Anders 8:24 PM lmao

amanda-b-l 8:24 PM Absolutely, local all the way.

Stacey Rodberg 8:24 PM What do you like from MF, Elyse?

A Kovacs 8:24 PM Has anyone read What To Eat by Marion Nestle

8:24 PM ?

Elyse Anders 8:24 PM breakfast sausage

8:24 PM i loves me some BF sausage

8:24 PM and italian sausage

Tracy King 8:25 PM Boyfriend sausage?

8:25 PM you mean

Elyse Anders 8:25 PM i used to love the chick patties, but i ate them all day every day while pregnant

Tracy King 8:25 PM

A Kovacs 8:25 PM It’s an interesting accounting of how to navigate the grocery, and how she might choose among options available

Elyse Anders 8:25 PM yes, boyfriend but don’t tell my hubby

Stacey Rodberg 8:25 PM hehe

A Kovacs 8:25 PM d’oh!

Tracy King 8:25 PM unrelated to this topic but I just saw this smiley and had to share. Very sorry!!!

amanda-b-l 8:26 PM You can buy BF sausage at the grocery store? Who knew!

A Kovacs 8:26 PM what about GF sausage? No, that’s not right

Elyse Anders 8:26 PM comes in handy when the man is out of town

A Kovacs 8:26 PM unless your GF is extra special

Tracy King 8:26 PM strap-on sausages?

A Kovacs 8:26 PM Awe. Some.

Rebecca Watson 8:26 PM I can’t believe it took this long to get pornographic.

amanda-b-l 8:26 PM GF tacos? By which I mean Gluten Free of course.

Tracy King 8:26 PM ha ha

Stacey Rodberg 8:26 PM For a bunch of vegetarians, we sure are interested in sausage

A Kovacs 8:26 PM Amamda FTW!

Tracy King 8:26 PM yeah, it’s telling

Rebecca Watson set topic to ‘ Vegatarianism, Skepticism, and Porn ‘ 8:27 PM

Elyse Anders 8:27 PM nice

Tracy King 8:27 PM Or simply: Vagatarianism

A Kovacs 8:27 PM OK, so- I have a real question: what sort of vegetarianism do each of you practice (for those who practice?)

Tracy King 8:27 PM see what I did there?

Rebecca Watson 8:28 PM Oh, sorry A we did a roll-call a bit early. I’m pesectarian

Elyse Anders 8:28 PM pink veggies teek

8:28 PM lacto-ovo

Stacey Rodberg 8:28 PM So it seems that those who are vegetarians due to animal cruelty would be less susceptible to the psuedoscience of supplements, no?

8:28 PM A – pescetarian

A Kovacs 8:28 PM I was vegan/veggie/pesci in heavy rotation for about 13 years

Stacey Rodberg 8:28 PM Vegan that is rough

A Kovacs 8:29 PM yeah, and I ate like crap

Tracy King 8:29 PM That sounds sensible, although I wonder if there’s a strict dividing line between ëethicalí and ëhealthí. I suspect most veggies would state a bit of both

Rebecca Watson 8:29 PM yes Stacey, I think you might be right

Stacey Rodberg 8:29 PM I give you props for discipline

8:29 PM A – to catch up, what was your motivation?

A Kovacs 8:29 PM I was opposed to eating anything with ankles, then anything that could possibly be sentient

Stacey Rodberg 8:29 PM R/T – well, I seem to be the sole pesce that does it for health reasons

A Kovacs 8:29 PM then back to ankles

Stacey Rodberg 8:30 PM and I can see how that would be the case

Tracy King 8:30 PM Hereís a topical anecdote:

A Kovacs 8:30 PM now Iím most interested in the ìdoing less harmî aspect

Tracy King 8:30 PM I dated a vegan

8:30 PM His sperm tasted much better than your average

8:30 PM It was like a health drink!

Stacey Rodberg 8:30 PM For example, about 8 years ago, I got caught up in the psuedoscience of Harvey & Marilyn Diamond (Fit For Life)

Tracy King 8:31 PM End of anecdote

Jill Powell 8:31 PM O_O @ teeks

Elyse Anders 8:31 PM hahaha

A Kovacs 8:31 PM Really Teek? I found that onion comes through, which is kind of not-so-great actually.

Elyse Anders 8:31 PM my hubby is not veggie and our fertility doctor said his sperm were ìferrarisî

A Kovacs 8:31 PM Is he Italian?

Tracy King 8:31 PM ha ha. Omg I am laughing so hard my neighbour can probably hear me.

Elyse Anders 8:31 PM and i had vegetarian fiat eggs

amanda-b-l 8:32 PM I have a friend who swears vegans smell funnyÖ everywhere. I havenít tested that theory, myself.

Tracy King 8:32 PM vegetarian eggs seems like an oxymoron

Stacey Rodberg 8:32 PM Elyse – Ferraris are fast, but rare

Elyse Anders 8:32 PM vegetarian-fed lazy ass eggs

Tracy King 8:32 PM I dated a clown once. He smelt funny.

Elyse Anders 8:32 PM rare he is

8:32 PM and thatís all iím saying

8:32 PM Stacey Rodberg 8:32 PM Oh, clowns are scary. Iíd rather date the trapeze guy, or maybe one of the midgets

Tracy King 8:33 PM ew

Jill Powell 8:33 PM as long as he didn’t wear the clown makeup during

A Kovacs 8:33 PM you go with your bad self Stacey

Elyse Anders 8:33 PM i’d rather date the bearded lady than the clowns

amanda-b-l 8:33 PM What about the contortionist?

Stacey Rodberg 8:33 PM Oh the contortionist

Elyse Anders 8:33 PM werd

A Kovacs 8:33 PM Girls, I think I’d date anyone who was really in the circus has to be worth a few dates

Tracy King 8:33 PM I didnít date a clown! it was a bad pun on ‘smells funny’!

Jill Powell 8:33 PM hahahaa

Tracy King 8:34 PM Just in case that wasn’t clear

Elyse Anders 8:34 PM it was your weird accent

Tracy King 8:34 PM ha

Jill Powell 8:34 PM way to get us off topic T

8:34 PM Tracy King 8:34 PM it was inevitable

A Kovacs 8:34 PM Anyone get kind of stuck in a rut with the same foods over and over?

Tracy King 8:34 PM yes!!

Elyse Anders 8:34 PM so here’s my question: why do i have to want to go to homeopath school to get a really great artichoke recipe?

Tracy King 8:35 PM Homemade lentil bake

Stacey Rodberg 8:35 PM All the time. I go in cyclical spurts.

Elyse Anders 8:35 PM i’m crafty

Tracy King 8:35 PM every sunday instead of a roast

8:35 PM this was before I learned to cook

Stacey Rodberg 8:35 PM Oh, you donít Elyse. Iíll send you a few.

Elyse Anders 8:35 PM awesome

amanda-b-l 8:36 PM Now that itís warm, I donít know what Iíll do without my standard veggie soups and stews.

Elyse Anders 8:36 PM i donít want to be sold vitamins or call a pet psychic either

Stacey Rodberg 8:36 PM Plain and in dips artichokes mmmm. Especialy in warm parmesan dips.

8:36 PM *especially

Tracy King 8:36 PM what’s the gender split of veggi-ism?

Jill Powell 8:36 PM I’ve never had artichokes and now I’m curious

Elyse Anders 8:36 PM i think itís mostly 15 year old girls

Stacey Rodberg 8:36 PM Oh, it has to be biased toward females

A Kovacs 8:36 PM I’d agree, but donít know the stats

amanda-b-l 8:37 PM Ha! I have to agree with Elyse.

Stacey Rodberg 8:37 PM Probably a lot of college age girls

Tracy King 8:37 PM I just did a quick google but failed

Elyse Anders 8:37 PM from wiki: A 1992 market research study conducted by the Yankelovich research organisation claimed that ìof the 12.4 million people who call themselves vegetarian, 68 percent are female while only 32 percent are male. [136]

Tracy King 8:37 PM OR I could have used wiki

Stacey Rodberg 8:37 PM Age, Elyse?

Elyse Anders 8:37 PM One observational study in British Medical Journal found that high childhood IQ was associated with vegetarianism in later life. According to the study, ìHigher IQ at age 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at age 30 […] IQ remained a statistically significant predictor of being vegetarian as an adult after adjustment for social class (both in childhood and currently), academic or vocational qualifications, and sex.

8:38 PM nothing about age

Stacey Rodberg 8:38 PM Jill – I just want to interject that Steve Jobs is pescetarian

A Kovacs 8:38 PM My mom was in nursing school when i was a kid, and we spent a year vegetarianÖ.do you think the opposite is also true about IQ

Jill Powell 8:38 PM I know Stacey, siiiigh

Stacey Rodberg 8:39 PM

Jill Powell 8:39 PM aaaaand I’m back

Elyse Anders 8:39 PM lol

8:40 PM anyone know and raw foodies?

Rebecca Watson 8:40 PM Just so you all know, I’m posting the chat to SkepchickÖit ainít pretty, but itís there!

Tracy King 8:40 PM ha ha

Jill Powell 8:40 PM Do any of you come across really militant veggies or vegans?

Tracy King 8:40 PM Everyone will think I date clowns

A Kovacs 8:40 PM sweet! hi Skepchick readers!

Stacey Rodberg 8:40 PM I have not. All the veggies I know are very considerate.

Tracy King 8:40 PM I used to know a few

Amanda 8:40 PM I met some militant ones in college.

A Kovacs 8:40 PM But, Iím telling you TeekÖ.that wouldnít really be all bad

Tracy King 8:40 PM When I was a student

Stacey Rodberg 8:40 PM What do you all do at big events like Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Rebecca Watson 8:40 PM I, and all the veggies I know, are really respectful of others and their choices

Tracy King 8:40 PM Hey, clowns must have something filling those baggy pants, right?!

Rebecca Watson 8:41 PM def. not militant

Elyse Anders 8:41 PM fotunately, i have a kick ass cousin who is also veg, i bake a tofurkey

Rebecca Watson 8:41 PM and at T-giving I load up on mashed potatoes

Tracy King 8:41 PM tofÖwhat?

Jill Powell 8:41 PM I eat ice cream, thats my treat

Rebecca Watson 8:41 PM mmmmmmmmmmmmmashed potatoes

Amanda 8:41 PM Eat your weight in green bean casserole, right?

Rebecca Watson 8:41 PM omg, Teek. Tell me the UK has Tofurkey!

Stacey Rodberg 8:41 PM MmmmmÖ.mashed potatoes

Elyse Anders 8:41 PM Tofurkey is amazing

A Kovacs 8:41 PM NO! Tofurkey is squeaky

Tracy King 8:41 PM not that I know of, but I donít run in veggie circles these days

Stacey Rodberg 8:41 PM And pumpkin pie

Rebecca Watson 8:42 PM I like Tofurkey, Iíve met very few others who do

A Kovacs 8:42 PM Iíve been to a vegan ThanksgivingÖ.Iím thankful I donít have to do it ever again

Elyse Anders 8:42 PM I always thought it was one of those creepy hippy foods that crazy vegans eat

Jill Powell 8:42 PM I had a bad experience with tofu, but as long as I donít see it in the food, I can eat it

Elyse Anders 8:42 PM then i ate it

Stacey Rodberg 8:42 PM What is a vegan Thanksgiving like, A?

Elyse Anders 8:42 PM my husband loves it too

A Kovacs 8:42 PM Oh, itís harsh

Stacey Rodberg 8:42 PM Whatís on the menu?

A Kovacs 8:43 PM I think thereís a mental disconnectÖ.if it was just any other dinner, steamed squash, and things made with tamari would be great, but if feels wrong

8:43 PM on that day, anyway

Stacey Rodberg 8:43 PM I agree

8:43 PM MmmmÖ.tamari

Elyse Anders 8:43 PM i love tamari

Tracy King 8:43 PM what are/is tamari?

Stacey Rodberg 8:43 PM But I donít want hummus on Thanksgiving

A Kovacs 8:43 PM but there was lentil loaf, a great salad, fresh cranberries (which are a special kind of hell) and hummus

Jill Powell 8:43 PM yeah, clue me in on the tamari

Stacey Rodberg 8:43 PM Itís like a sesame paste

Elyse Anders 8:44 PM soy sauce

Amanda 8:44 PM Fresh unsweetened plain cranberries?

Stacey Rodberg 8:44 PM FYI, I make the best cranberries ever.

8:44 PM But, I use sour cream (and jello), so I guess that wouldnít comply with vegan standards

A Kovacs 8:44 PM Wait, Stacey, I think youíre talking about tahini

Stacey Rodberg 8:44 PM Oh, you are right!

Elyse Anders 8:44 PM thatís good stuff too

A Kovacs 8:45 PM tamari is like a soy sauce, but more nuanced

Stacey Rodberg 8:45 PM Tamari is the soy sauce

Jill Powell 8:45 PM ok, i was getting confused

Stacey Rodberg 8:45 PM Tahini is the sesame paste

A Kovacs 8:45 PM Amanda- yes, just plain, washed cranberries

Stacey Rodberg 8:45 PM Sorry

A Kovacs 8:45 PM they were really tart and really rough

8:45 PM kind of like me sometimes

Rebecca Watson 8:45 PM So letís get back to what started all this ó are there ANY resources out there for skeptics who are thinking of going veggie?

Tracy King 8:45 PM LOL

Jill Powell 8:45 PM i was just gonna sayÖ

Elyse Anders 8:45 PM honestly, i donít think there are

A Kovacs 8:45 PM What to Eat, by Marion Nestle, is a great food book

Rebecca Watson 8:46 PM A, can you give us the short overview?

A Kovacs 8:46 PM itís not specifically about becoming a vegetarian, but it discusses where the food that comes to your local market comes from, the process it goes through to get there, and (some) of itís nutritional benefit

8:46 PM it came out last summer, and is an interesting read.

Rebecca Watson 8:46 PM ah, nice

Stacey Rodberg 8:47 PM Well, a google on ìskeptical vegetarianismî shows several results, including a thread from the JREF forum. Sounds like interesting reading.

Jill Powell 8:47 PM Iíll have to look for that

A Kovacs 8:47 PM I think you can also search the SciAm podcasts from June 2007 and find an interview with her and Steve Mursky

Rebecca Watson 8:47 PM I googled vegetarian skeptic and found our very own Skepchick Masala_Skeptic as result #2

A Kovacs 8:47 PM who is not even vegetarian

Rebecca Watson 8:47 PM I know!

Elyse Anders 8:47 PM and she is not even vegetarian

Rebecca Watson 8:47 PM funy

Elyse Anders 8:48 PM oh

Rebecca Watson 8:48 PM funny

Jill Powell 8:48 PM is there an echo in here?

8:48 PM

Elyse Anders 8:48 PM is there an echo in here?

8:48 PM hahaha

Jill Powell 8:48 PM touche

Rebecca Watson 8:48 PM I wish there were a sort of PETA for skeptics. Or non-crazy people.

A Kovacs 8:48 PM So, I would also say that the local Ministry of Health, or even PubMed might have some good guidelinesÖunless youíre in the US

Jill Powell 8:48 PM yeah, that would be lovely

A Kovacs 8:49 PM Our USDA are fools for being influenced by industry

Jill Powell 8:49 PM Iím not super up to date on how it is in Canada, Iíll do a search

Tracy King 8:50 PM I googled ískeptic vegetarianí and masala came in at #1

8:50 PM So I guess order is important after all!

A Kovacs 8:50 PM so, for those of you who are veggie, or sometimes veggieÖwhatís your downfall?

Rebecca Watson 8:50 PM sushi

A Kovacs 8:50 PM what weakens the will?

Tracy King 8:50 PM Mine was McDonalds

8:50 PM and a bacon sandwich

A Kovacs 8:50 PM Teek! really?!

Rebecca Watson 8:50 PM Teek. Ugh.

Tracy King 8:50 PM hee hee!

8:51 PM I havenít been for ages tho

Stacey Rodberg 8:51 PM For me itís the desire to try new foods

A Kovacs 8:51 PM I love thatÖ. do you eat a lot of McDonaldís now/

Jill Powell 8:51 PM sushi, a thousand times sushi, and cheese

A Kovacs 8:51 PM it was sushi for me too

Elyse Anders 8:51 PM iím pretty fortunate, i donít really care about meat at all

Rebecca Watson 8:51 PM if sushi didnít exist, I would rarely if ever eat fish.

Stacey Rodberg 8:51 PM Like this week. I had to try all the tapas so I could experience the Spanish food

Amanda 8:51 PM Sushi and cheeseburgers.

Jill Powell 8:51 PM I couldnít live in a world without cheese

Tracy King 8:51 PM I used to have a Big Mac about once a quarter, until about 18 months ago when I was sure there was sperm in it.

Elyse Anders 8:51 PM it used to be buffalo wingsÖ. but i make them with cauliflower now

Tracy King 8:51 PM Thatís quarter year, not quarter of an hourÖ

Rebecca Watson 8:51 PM Elyse, really? Not even bacon? Because god damn bacon smells good and veggie bacon SUCKS.

A Kovacs 8:51 PM aaaand, back to the sperm

Elyse Anders 8:51 PM i donít mind veggie bacon

Stacey Rodberg 8:51 PM For me, itís the whole of my diet that is more important that a little cheat here or there. I want to experience life.

Tracy King 8:51 PM always back to the sperm

Jill Powell 8:51 PM sperm is a popular topic

A Kovacs 8:52 PM with good reason

Stacey Rodberg 8:52 PM Well, it is vegetarian

Rebecca Watson 8:52 PM is it?

A Kovacs 8:52 PM some would say no

Rebecca Watson 8:52 PM itís an animal by-product

Stacey Rodberg 8:52 PM Itís not vegan

Rebecca Watson 8:52 PM a vegan would say no

Tracy King 8:52 PM and it has little tiny men in it! Right?

Elyse Anders 8:52 PM i went to france when i was preggoÖ that was rough. thereís very little to eat in france when you canít have meat or french cheese

Stacey Rodberg 8:52 PM But tís vegetarian, no?

Rebecca Watson 8:52 PM ha, yes Tracy, eating humonculi is so not vegetarian.

Tracy King 8:52 PM Eating Sperm is Murder!

Rebecca Watson 8:52 PM did I just use the right word?

8:53 PM I hope so.

Elyse Anders 8:53 PM homunculi were the product of conception

Stacey Rodberg 8:53 PM I did not recognize that word at al

Elyse Anders 8:53 PM i thought

Jill Powell 8:53 PM Is there a People for the Ethical Treatment of Sperm?

Stacey Rodberg 8:53 PM all*

Tracy King 8:53 PM But do they taste good barbequed?

Rebecca Watson 8:53 PM Jill: There should be.

8:53 PM PETS.

Stacey Rodberg 8:53 PM Not barbecued, but definitely spread on an English muffin

Jill Powell 8:53 PM Iíll make up some tshirts

A Kovacs 8:54 PM OK, dudes. Ew.

Stacey Rodberg 8:54 PM lol

Elyse Anders 8:54 PM i believe sperm falls into the same category as breastmilkÖ itís okay if you have the permission of the animal providing the food product

A Kovacs 8:54 PM good point ElyseÖ.

Rebecca Watson 8:54 PM ah, good point

8:54 PM there really is an echo.

Stacey Rodberg 8:54 PM As long as your motivation is animal cruelty

8:54 PM If not, then you have to analyze the healthiness of the product

A Kovacs 8:55 PM sperm, not so nutritionally valueable

Jill Powell 8:55 PM I donít want to analyse sperm

Stacey Rodberg 8:55 PM No, A?

Rebecca Watson 8:55 PM Check what ìnowooî says on the blog:

8:55 PM Richard Dawkins was in Vancouver last week and gave his God Delusion talk. Afterward,

instead of questions from fundamentalist religious believers he got hit with numerous

questions about why he isnít a vegetarian. He wondered if it was an organized campaign

by vegetarians to corner him on that issue, but I think it was just a sign of the culture

of Vancouver. Dawkins is sympathetic toward vegetarianism and is in favour of greatly

improving the lives of farm animals, but he admits heís weak and hasnít been able to stick

to a vegetarian diet himself. He said it would be easier if the majority of society were

vegetarian, and then there would be better recipes too.

A Kovacs 8:55 PM some protein, some electrolytes, some vitamin A, I thnk

Stacey Rodberg 8:55 PM Iíve heard mixed reviews on that, but I donít know the actual facts.

A Kovacs 8:56 PM yeah, I donít know for sure either, but Iíll see if I can find itÖ

Rebecca Watson 8:56 PM Dawkins is such a slave to peer pressure. Who knew?

Elyse Anders 8:56 PM iíve heard that itís mostly the stuff of urban legends that itís good for you

Stacey Rodberg 8:56 PM Hey, no one is good at everything

Elyse Anders 8:56 PM making the switch is hard

8:56 PM lets face it: meat is delicious

Jill Powell 8:56 PM Meat IS delicious

Rebecca Watson 8:56 PM hey, switching to atheism was tough but he did that!

Jill Powell 8:56 PM nom nom nom

Elyse Anders 8:57 PM yeah, but communion wafers taste like shit

Amanda 8:57 PM Atheism is way easier than vegetarianism.

Tracy King 8:57 PM I worship roast lamb. SoÖI guess vegetarianism is like atheism

Rebecca Watson 8:57 PM heh

8:57 PM okay, is it?

8:57 PM I thought going veg was easier than atheism.

A Kovacs 8:57 PM not for me

Stacey Rodberg 8:57 PM I think atheism is less of a choice.

Rebecca Watson 8:57 PM I mean, atheism comes with all kinds of freak-outs about the afterlife and family stuff and all that

A Kovacs 8:57 PM atheism much easier to maintain everyday

Rebecca Watson 8:57 PM veggie was just kind of like, um, no pepperoni please.

Stacey Rodberg 8:58 PM Once you realize that you donít believe in God, itís hard to go back.

Rebecca Watson 8:58 PM true

Amanda 8:58 PM Yep, exactly, Stacey.

Jill Powell 8:58 PM actually I didnít embrace my atheism until a road trip to Cali, listening to the SGU for the first time

A Kovacs 8:58 PM but one always struggles with belief in nuggets

Stacey Rodberg 8:58 PM And, if you have trouble in everyday situations, you can always downplay it

Elyse Anders 8:58 PM atheism is kind of like being gayÖ it just happens

Jill Powell 8:58 PM nuggets are hard to let go of

Amanda 8:58 PM I donít get cravings for God but I do get cravings for a big juicey burger.

Rebecca Watson 8:58 PM aw, that warms my heart, Jill!

Stacey Rodberg 8:58 PM I think ìcoming outî as an atheist might be similar in difficulty

Rebecca Watson 8:59 PM (and speaking of, Steve N is calling me right now, I think we have an SGU meeting)

Elyse Anders 8:59 PM people are kind of huge dicks about coming out as a vegetarian too

A Kovacs 8:59 PM thatís a good point Amanda, i wonder if some folks do get cravings for God

Jill Powell 8:59 PM Rebecca, you should see the post I wrote about it on my blog about the people I admrie

Elyse Anders 8:59 PM I did when my grandma died

Stacey Rodberg 8:59 PM Yes, I have cravings for God too.

Amanda 8:59 PM I think some people do, A. And maybe I will some day, but it hasnít happened yet.

A Kovacs 8:59 PM I know I missed the community of faith for a little whileÖ.then I realized they were crazy

Elyse Anders 9:00 PM i wanted there to be something

9:00 PM more than i wanted beef

Stacey Rodberg 9:00 PM Usually when something is beyond my control and I wish I had an ìinî with someone who could help

9:00 PM (like when a hurricane is swirling toward my house)

Elyse Anders 9:00 PM but to be atheist and vegetarian

9:01 PM people seem to have very little respect for my vegetarianism since itís not imposed by god(s)

A Kovacs 9:01 PM My best friendís wife was a veggie for 18 years, until she had a big health crisis, and kind of went ìIíve been missing out on all this good stuff BECAUSE it is supposed to keep me healthyÖ.screw it, Iím having a burger.î

9:02 PM she sort of lost her faith in vegetarianism in a way

9:02 PM and canít turn it back on

Elyse Anders 9:02 PM i can see that if youíre a health-veg

9:02 PM there is no magic food potion

Jill Powell 9:02 PM i find it harder to be an atheist here in Alberta than a veggie (from what Iíve heard from my more hardcore veggie friends since I am not all the way veggie). Alberta is considered the Canadian Bible Belt (lucky me) and I find I have to deal with that more than anything, especially at work

9:03 PM people think since i donít believe in god, then i must be dead inside

Elyse Anders 9:03 PM i used to get cornered at work and interrogated about vegetarianism

9:04 PM iíd just be trying to eat my lunch

A Kovacs 9:04 PM yeah, me too.

Elyse Anders 9:04 PM and every day it was ìwhat are you eating?î

9:04 PM like it had to be disgusting and fascinating if it didnít have meat

A Kovacs 9:04 PM especially since thereís this idea that somehow thereís judgement about others inherent in your personal choice

Rebecca Watson 9:04 PM Hereís another response from the blog:

9:04 PM posty mcposterton No Gravatar // May 8, 2008 at 8:58 PM Iím a skeptic and a vegetarianÖ but I think itís for unrelated reasons.

A Kovacs 9:04 PM I get similar sass about not liking chocolate

Elyse Anders 9:05 PM thatís what i meant when i said saying ìno thanks, iím veggieî gets the same response as ìYour mom is such a whoreî

Amanda 9:05 PM It amazes me how much shit I get just for eating a low-meat diet.

Rebecca Watson 9:05 PM does anyone think their food choices are directly related to their skepticism?

Elyse Anders 9:05 PM yes

Tracy King 9:05 PM Only in that I donít care about organic

A Kovacs 9:05 PM what if your mom is a whore?

Jill Powell 9:05 PM well, I donít do juice cleanes or crap like that, so probably

Elyse Anders 9:05 PM then your mom kicks ass

Tracy King 9:05 PM Oh, and I once ate that copy of Flim Flam

Elyse Anders 9:05 PM and iíll share my veggie burger with her

Tracy King 9:06 PM I thought it said ìFish Flanî

Jill Powell 9:06 PM hahahaha Teeks

A Kovacs 9:06 PM AND, my mom wears combat boots (or at least she did before she retired from the Army.)

Stacey Rodberg 9:06 PM No, in my case.

Amanda 9:06 PM Well, in that I donít listen to the ìeat low carbs!î, ìeat low fat!î, ìeat all organic!î yelling.

Stacey Rodberg 9:06 PM But skepticism has helped me separate the good advice from the crap

Jill Powell 9:06 PM yeah me too, Iím more aware

Stacey Rodberg 9:06 PM And there is a LOT of crappy diet advice to sort through out there

Elyse Anders 9:06 PM being a skeptic and atheist made me painfully aware of suffering and the lack of a ìbetter placeî in the end

A Kovacs 9:07 PM Iím with Jill- kind of, but only insofar as not buying into all things natural are better, etc.

Stacey Rodberg 9:07 PM Some of it, very convincing

Elyse Anders 9:07 PM after that i couldnít feel okay killing something for pleasure

Stacey Rodberg 9:07 PM I, for one, never found Atkins convincing. To me, thatís an obvious fad.

Jill Powell 9:07 PM as a chubby girl, there is a lot of crap quick fixes that can tempt you, but you just have to be smart about it, not lazy

9:07 PM I try to eat well and I go walking, running and be active

Elyse Anders 9:08 PM it wasnít an overnight transition for me, but it makes it easier for me to look myself in the mirror

Stacey Rodberg 9:08 PM But natural hygiene concepts such as proper food combining took more research. Especially since it seems to work, and yet itís crap.

Jill Powell 9:08 PM yeah, definitely, I still have a lot of work to do before Iím comfortable, but Iím not going to achieve it by being blind and ignorant about it

A Kovacs 9:08 PM So, going back to the nutritional value of sperm: about 6 calories a teaspoon, mostly from protein. Thereís some small amount of fructose, some Vitamin C, some Zinc, and H2O. Nothing you canít get from a cube of avocado

9:09 PM well, nothing nutritional

Jill Powell 9:09 PM well thereís something to tell the boyfriend tonightósorry no, Iíll just have an avocado instead

Stacey Rodberg 9:09 PM Thatís good research, A.

A Kovacs 9:09 PM as for the other uses of sperm, avocado might not be your go-to substituteÖ. but if it isÖgo with your bad self

Elyse Anders 9:09 PM every time i eat an avocado iím satisfied

Tracy King 9:09 PM ha ha

9:10 PM also, avocados donít get pissy if you donít swallow

Stacey Rodberg 9:10 PM Iíll never look at an avocado the same

Amanda 9:10 PM Iíll never look at guacamole the same way again.

Elyse Anders 9:10 PM iíve never spit guac

A Kovacs 9:10 PM but really Teek, who doesnít swallow avocadoÖ. no one!

Amanda 9:10 PM Hahaha

Tracy King 9:10 PM not whole

Elyse Anders 9:10 PM seriously, itís rude

Tracy King 9:10 PM Iím not THAT good

A Kovacs 9:10 PM all it takes is practice, I bet

Tracy King 9:11 PM Deep Throat – The Mexican Years

Stacey Rodberg 9:11 PM rofl

A Kovacs 9:11 PM thereís probably a circus side-show in there, so you can find your one true clown

Jill Powell 9:11 PM Did anyone ever had weird food phobias when growing up? I, for instance, couldnít eat Mac n Cheese because of the color. The first time I had it was when I was 16

Elyse Anders 9:11 PM next time iím at Chipotle, iím going to giggle when i order the guac

A Kovacs 9:11 PM I had/have a texture thingÖ

9:11 PM gritty foods give me pause

Amanda 9:12 PM Yeah, I have a texture thing, too.

A Kovacs 9:12 PM raisins are an example

Jill Powell 9:12 PM no one like a gritty aftertaste

Stacey Rodberg 9:12 PM I had a fear of tomatoes on anything. But now I like them.

Elyse Anders 9:12 PM i canít stand the texture of seafood

A Kovacs 9:12 PM oh!

Amanda 9:12 PM Tomato innards are disgusting. Theyíre so mucousy.

Jill Powell 9:12 PM agreed

Elyse Anders 9:12 PM my dog used to pick the tomatoes out of his tacosÖ it was annoying to special order tacos for the dog

Stacey Rodberg 9:12 PM omg, I know. You have to scrape that part out.

Elyse Anders 9:13 PM speaking of squishy innards, i have to go change a diaperÖ brb

Jill Powell 9:13 PM Apparently when I was five I really like pate

9:13 PM I have no memory of this, but my mom says thats all i would eat

Stacey Rodberg 9:14 PM Ok, itís 3:15 am hereÖIím falling asleep. Iíve enjoyed hearing everyoneís perspective on this topic. Have a great night.

Jill Powell 9:14 PM bye stacey!

A Kovacs 9:14 PM bye stacey! Have fun!

Amanda 9:14 PM gínight!

Rebecca Watson 9:15 PM night stacey, thanks!

Tracy King 9:15 PM night

Rebecca Watson 9:15 PM what do you guys think, should we call this a night?

Tracy King 9:15 PM I need to bail too

9:16 PM before I die of lack of sleep

Rebecca Watson 9:16 PM this was a lot of fun, we definitely have to do it again

Amanda 9:16 PM Sounds good.

A Kovacs 9:16 PM Indeed, before it gets back to porn

Rebecca Watson 9:16 PM ha ha

Tracy King 9:16 PM Iíve been awake since 1984!

A Kovacs 9:16 PM Thanks Chicks!

Tracy King 9:16 PM night all!

Elyse Anders 9:16 PM night

Rebecca Watson 9:16 PM okay, Iíll post this on Skepchick. night all!

Tags

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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82 Comments

  1. Richard Dawkins was in Vancouver last week and gave his God Delusion talk. Afterward, instead of questions from fundamentalist religious believers he got hit with numerous questions about why he isn’t a vegetarian. He wondered if it was an organized campaign by vegetarians to corner him on that issue, but I think it was just a sign of the culture of Vancouver.

    Dawkins is sympathetic toward vegetarianism and is in favour of greatly improving the lives of farm animals, but he admits he’s weak and hasn’t been able to stick to a vegetarian diet himself. He said it would be easier if the majority of society were vegetarian, and then there would be better recipes too.

  2. Funny enough, most of the skeptics I know are vegetarian. It is really annoying to be associated by vegetarianism to the woo crowd, though. Also, I wish that it wasn’t associated with scary groups like PETA.

  3. All righty then. Do you want the html breaks included in the text file, or are you using some sort of plain text entry system?

    Also, I’m fairly confident, but not out and out promising that my pretty little ASCII file won’t turn to shit when plugged into the html. I’ve been around the internet way too long to just assume something will work when I’m pretty sure it will. :)

  4. I’m a skeptic and a vegetarian. In my case I’d say they’re related. I liked meat a lot, but when I faced up to the reality of how it gets to the plate I decided to give it up (now for 8 years).

    It seems to me that the willingness to give up something of personal value based on closer inspection is an important part of skepticism. It’s easy to be a skeptic when the evidence leads you to a conclusion that doesn’t require any personal sacrifice.

  5. Alright, I’ll represent for the skeptical omnivores out there. I love carcass, it’s way tasty. I tried to give it up but I couldn’t.

    Having said that, I have recently become very concerned with the source of all my food and have tried to purchase meat from places that at least treat the animals well when they’re alive. I’ve also tried to cut back on meat since the amount of meat most Americans consume is clearly not globally sustainable.

    I do have to say that I think killing a cow by driving a pneumatic hammer through its skull is quicker and less painful than many of the types of natural death it may face in the wild. Yeah, I realize that the hammer sometimes misses and that this may just be rationalization on my part. But still, it doesn’t seem like breaking a leg and starving to death or being devoured alive by coyotes is a good way to go. Is that a horribly fallacious line of reasoning?

    I’m surprised at how many people said they caught flack for being veggie. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in LA, but it seems rude to assume someone eats meat. Menus out here that don’t highlight veggie/vegan options are few and far between. But that might just be a function of the restaurants I frequent.

  6. @ namidim
    Yeah, that makes sense. I guess i came at being a skeptic from a more religious slant… which is why I didn’t make a connection. At least my “conversion” to being a veg wasn’t due to skepticism.

    ~Dan

  7. I always love how everything is an extreme in society, even with skeptics.

    How about, if you don’t like meat, you’re a vegetarian.

    If you like meat, try to find a balance. You don’t have to be some Atkins wierdo, but discover the beauty of flipping omlette or Pad Thai.

    It’s an ugly word in modern political discourse (and make no mistake the the vegans have made vegetarianism a political issue) but MODERATION. Ouch!

    It works for everyone. meat eaters eat meat in moderation. People who think eating meat is speciesm, go commune with a polar bear and learn the fundamentals of a food chain (which we are not at the top of) and moderations of their claims.

    While eating more vegetables works for the social fabric, the environment and our health, 100,000 years of gnawing on meat tells me, its going no where EVER! We are omnivores and you can’t cherry pick evolution.

    So if you wish to eat less meat, do so…I applaud you. If you decide to moderate and have meat 2-3X a week, like me, I applaud you too. If you are an avid meat eater, try a salad or veggie pizza once a week….it won’t kill you. And if you are some fundie about the whole thing on either side, well you know.

  8. I’m not a Skepchick in the lack-of-a-penis sense, but I’ve read Skepchick for quite awhile, I’ve been vegan for 7 years, lacto-ovo for a year before that, and a skeptic for around 20 years, so I may have some insight into the original question.

    The best sources of woo-free discourse on vegetarianism, in my opinion, are the writings of Peter Singer. Read the food-related chapters of Practical Ethics, and all of Animal Liberation. I’ve heard good things about The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, but I haven’t read it.

    There is plenty of woo in the veg world, especially among the raw foodies, fruitarians, and organic food people, and I’ve read my share of logical fallacies on vegan mailing lists. But unfortunately, I hear nothing but fallacious reasoning from people who defend eating and wearing animal products. A few arguments come close, but they seem to fall apart under scrutiny. I say that’s unfortunate, because I keep looking for a convincing justification for going back to being an omnivore; prime rib sounds pretty good right about now.

  9. JOTS: I think you’re reading a bit too far into this. Most of us who don’t eat meat do so as a personal choice. I don’t think many of us are going to blast you for eating meat. In addition, it sounds to me like most of us who are skeptics and vegetarians aren’t especially fond of groups like PETA. I know I’m not. One of the main reasons that I am a vegetarian is that I could not kill an animal. My stomach is too weak. Meat is associated with the thought of killing, so meat tends to make me feel sick. I have no problem with anyone else eating it.

    That said, I don’t really think that our heritage as part of the food chain should drive our choices. As beings with meta-cognition, humans get to make decisions that are against the “natural order”. And that’s a good thing, because natural selection is, frankly, somewhat disturbing. While a good mechanism for evolution, I don’t think that nature should drive our moral choices. I think that those are our own to make.

  10. @Kumarei

    I would disagree slightly if I may. As to what one eats – of course it is their choice, and attempting to force one to have a certain diet is begging for trouble.

    I for example am pretty close to a pure carnivore (organ meats, etc with the occassional veggie to keep everything working). For one reason or another lots of veggies (ie: an average ‘omni’ diet) wreaks havock with my intestines and gives me a bad case of ‘Ghandi’s revenge’. I also come from a rural background so animals dead/dying is something I experienced from an early age.

    However, the catch is with a lot of carnivorous or omnivourous types, we _do_ cop a lot of flak from militant vegans (and occassionally not-so-militant ones like to make a scene how wonderful they are because they are vegetarian), so his JOTS reaction is understandable. All too often you have fringe veggie groups running around screeching ‘animal killer’, ‘graphic photos’, ‘selective use of arguements’ or generally acting like twits in an attempt to make you fall at their feet and worship ‘the morally superior vegeterians’.

    A lot of their experience with nature appears to come from Bambi cartoons, and that tigers and wolves are closet Veggies and that only ‘dirty humans’ are animal killers. Nature is not a nice – ‘Red in tooth and claw’ as Lord Tennyson said. Animals eat animals all the time – animals even snack on humans if they get the chance. There is nothing ‘unnatural’ about a carni/omni diet any more than there is anything ‘unnatural’ about a pure veggie diet.

    If one makes their choice to have diet X, power to them. But others also deserve to be allowed their choices. Which is where the problem lies…

    Hmm, rambled a bit here…will shut up now :)

  11. JOTS: “I always love how everything is an extreme in society, even with skeptics.”

    Sorry, to what or whom are you directing that? I think all the skepchicks on the chat were pretty relaxed about the topic.

  12. flib,

    “I say that’s unfortunate, because I keep looking for a convincing justification for going back to being an omnivore; prime rib sounds pretty good right about now.”

    I’d be more interested in your justifications not to, (go back to being an omnivore), from the sound of that post.

    From my perspective, humans are biologically omnivorous. So any choice we make about what philosophical approach we take to eating can’t be argued away as, “this is better for us than that”. There is plenty of evidence at this point to show that there is nothing bad (or particularly good) about being vegetarian or even vegan; and likewise there is no harm OR overall benefit to being an omnivore.

    There IS plenty of evidence showing that either major extreme is bad. We are not cats and so can not survive, healthfully, as only carnivores; but nor are we cows, and so we are guaranteed to be malnourished if we follow the path of the raw foodist.

    In my case. I eat everything. I love my veggies, but I love my BBQ ribs too. However, half the people in my office are vegetarians of one stripe or another and I respect their choices in that, (except when one starts trying to tell me that ‘this’ diet or ‘that’ diet will ‘cure’ the cancer a family member of mine was diagnosed with…… I don’t have much tolerance for that conversation). What it comes down to for me is that choice, and why people make it.

    For me, yes. I know exactly how all that food gets from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’. I just don’t have a problem with any of how the food I eat gets to me.

  13. I’m sorry I couldn’t chat with the rest of you, because I’m really into this issue now. I’m slowly switching over to eating only meat NOT factory-farmed, which is choice for both ethical and health reasons. Basically, I don’t believe it’s inherently wrong to eat animals, but I do think you can respect and understand the animals you’re eating and what’s involved in all that. Plus, as with locally-grown veggies, local, ethically-raised meat tastes so much better.

    My m-i-l is vegetarian, and is helpful – she’s certainly not a militant, but she isn’t as into skepticism as I am. Another issue for me is that I’ve always been chronically underweight, and it’s hard for me to gain weight. Vegetarianism doesn’t make that any easier, unfortunately.

    However – I find that many vegan baked goods are extremely yummy. There’s a vegan bakery in my town that makes a banana muffin I’m practically addicted to.

  14. I am an omnivore, myself. Aside from the moral concerns that do seem to lead many to vegetarianism, adequate nutrition is often a problem I see.

    I am a martial artist (think Sammo as opposed to Bruce, though), and my best friend is a power lifter. And because we are extremely physically active, we have to be sure we get our daily compliment of calories, phytonutrients, macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.

    While extremely healthy in most respects, it takes a lot of thought and effort to obtain (for example) adequate protein, or zinc, or calcium on an exclusively vegetarian diet. not impossible; but difficult.

    I’m sure that here, we all being skepchicks (either of the honourary or true double-X type), we know enough to properly plan out meals so that we get complete amino acid chains and so forth. But many people don’t, and so eating animal products is a much easier prospect.
    Also, for humans, animal proteins are more readily assimilated that plant proteins.

    Again, not to dissuade anyone from a vegetarian diet. But how many people have shied away from it because it requires more thought and effort than the standard omnivorous diet?

    (Anyway, by the same token, too many omnivores skimp severely on fruits and vegetables. This sin’t particularly good either, I’m sure we all know.)

  15. I couldn’t stand being vegetarian, and vegan even less so. I’ve a completely unholy love of dairy (which is weird, beacause I can’t stand to drink milk – go figure). Frankly, I just can’t consider something a good meal unless at least three animals had to die to make it. My Dove is almost completely carnivorous (she only eats meat, pasta, and candy – won’t even drink juice), and I’m the only person in my household who will so much as look at a salad.

    Animals are tasty. So I eat them. Even the cute ones. If you don’t eat meat, that doesn’t bother me so long as you don’t try to inflict me with it, but don’t come over for dinner. Some people will call me rude for that, and they’re right, I suppose, but my general policy is that I’m cooking what I feel like cooking, and if you don’t like it, then don’t eat it. I won’t be offended if you don’t want to eat it, but I won’t be cooking something special just for you – well, unless the whole point of the meal is that I’m cooking something special just for you. Even I’m not THAT much of a jerk.

  16. @fib

    Yeah, I know that non-veggies get a lot of flack, especially from some vegans and from groups like PETA. And what I was trying to express wasn’t that it doesn’t happen, it was that I think the skeptic veggies in general don’t associate with that way of thinking, and that for most of us, I don’t think there is that animosity.

    @Rystefn

    God yes dairy is delicious. As for coming over for dinner, I usually don’t mention that I’m vegetarian in advance when dining with multiple people. I just take whatever I can, and if there isn’t much I grab something extra when I get home. It still feels kind of impolite, but less so than forcing extra work on the host.

    Out of curiosity, what do other vegetarians here do about that?

  17. So disappointed I missed this chat.
    I’ve been vegetarian for 20 years (albeit some experimentation with eating fish over the past year, but other than that I’ve been mostly vegan for the last few years.)
    Since I generally have to put up with an overwhelming amount of alternative medicine and general woo from the majority of vegetarians I know, it is very comforting to a nice sized group of skeptical vegetarians/pescetarians.

    Coincidentally, just yesterday one of my myspace vegan friends had posted an anti-vaccine video, which had left me thinking about deleting her as a friend (social network friendships allow one to be fickle). I’ve decided I will try to use it as a teaching moment instead, and leave it for her to decide if she wants to delete me.

  18. @Rav Winston
    “I am an omnivore, myself. Aside from the moral concerns that do seem to lead many to vegetarianism, adequate nutrition is often a problem I see.”
    This is a pretty common complaint. All I can say is it hasn’t been my experience. When I became a vegetarian I was very active in biking/running/etc and actually did a fair amount of research. Vegans may have an issue with b12, but as far as vegetarians there isn’t anything you can’t get in spades. Protein in particular seems to be the common complaint. I’m not sure why. Gluten, soy, eggs, milk, peanut butter, etc, etc all have plenty of it. I mean if you want to eat just ice cream and salad, sure it isn’t going to work, but that’s perfectly true of a meat-based diet as well.

    @Rystefn
    Say the words “I’m actually a vegetarian, thank you” when offered meat in front of a group of people and prepare to get at least an hour of this. I’m not sure what a veggie is supposed to get out of it. If it is a moral argument it is a very weak one. What is it that inspires everyone to immediately tell vegetarians about just how much meat they eat daily, how much their friends and family eat, what cute animals they like to kill and/or eat, all followed up by the most disgusting animal-based product they ever ate and how great it is?

    If you have a moral argument to make then make it. If you just want to generally pontificate about meat and how much you looove to consume it do it with someone who likes talking about meat.

    @kumarei
    Usually there is something edible. If it someone I’m friends with they usually know anyway and if it isn’t I certainly wouldn’t expect them to change their plans. The exception is if it is a one-on-one situation where they are cooking for specifically me and my wife. It is way less rude to let your host know ahead of time than it is to show up and not want to eat anything.

    On a side note, one of the big things I really noticed after becoming a vegetarian is how strange people are about food issues. What other people eat, when, and how is a big gut-level emotional issue for a lot of people (be it for being picky or vegetarian or whatever). I’ve come to think there is a pretty strong instinctual influence that comes into play.

  19. @kumarei
    “Out of curiosity, what do other vegetarians here do about that?”

    Most of our friends (or people who would invite us over for dinner) know that we’re vegetarians. We usually always bring a dish (or two) anyway; so it’s more of a communal event, and we know we’ll have something to eat. :)

    ~Dan

  20. @MoltenHotMagma:

    “I say that’s unfortunate, because I keep looking for a convincing justification for going back to being an omnivore; prime rib sounds pretty good right about now.”

    I’d be more interested in your justifications not to, (go back to being an omnivore), from the sound of that post.

    I’m vegan for ethical reasons, so I won’t go back until faced with a valid ethical argument in favor of omnivorism.

    From my perspective, humans are biologically omnivorous. So any choice we make about what philosophical approach we take to eating can’t be argued away as, “this is better for us than that”. There is plenty of evidence at this point to show that there is nothing bad (or particularly good) about being vegetarian or even vegan; and likewise there is no harm OR overall benefit to being an omnivore.

    I agree. The convincing arguments for veganism are not based on health, they’re based on ethics.

  21. However, the catch is with a lot of carnivorous or omnivourous types, we _do_ cop a lot of flak from militant vegans

    Yes, omnivores are horribly oppressed in today’s society.

  22. I gave up meat nearly thirty years ago. I’d like to say it was because I had some overwhelming compassion for animals, but really it came down to two things: First, my older brother told me that if you poured vinegar on pork, little worms (I guess he meant trichonosis) would come out Second, I was one of five kids being raised solely by my mom. I was thirteen, I was being a pain in the ass.

    While my initial motives were probably less than scientifically based or selfless, I never really heard a good reason to go back to eating meat. I didn’t miss it and I remained pretty healthy and athletic, despite the warnings of friends and neighbors and sometimes complete strangers that I would dissolve into a pile of goo. As I got older and more aware of industrial farming practices I realized they were pretty fucked up. While not vegan, I do try to purchase dairy and eggs from local sources and try to minimize my leather purchases (Payless is great for vegetarian shoes! ).

    Oh wait, I’m an atheist–I can’t possibly have compassion or “moral values.”

    The only time I give omnivores a hard time is in jest, when someone declares another culture’s choice of meat or animal body part horrifying or disgusting (such as horse, dog, beetles, etc.) As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to eat one animal or part, why discriminate based on aesthetics, religion or any other non-nutrition based rationale.

  23. @Rav Winston
    I am a martial artist (think Sammo as opposed to Bruce, though), and my best friend is a power lifter. And because we are extremely physically active, we have to be sure we get our daily compliment of calories, phytonutrients, macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.

    I was the 2005 NYC APF Women’s Powerlifting Champion at the age of 39 and after 26 years veg. Protein is overemphasized in the American imagination. It is easy to get the standard 50 g per day recommended for most adult women. Hell, it was easy for me to get the 150 g per day I needed while training.

    @Rystefn

    but my general policy is that I’m cooking what I feel like cooking, and if you don’t like it, then don’t eat it. I won’t be offended if you don’t want to eat it, but I won’t be cooking something special just for you

    I agree with you 100%. Trust me, as a vegetarian, it is just as annoying to have to deal with someone making a big fuss about cooking an extra dish or trying to accomodate my choice (particularly if it is a dinner party and not a meal being made especially for me). I will always tell the host that I am accepting the invitation for the company, not just the food, and that they needn’t go out of their way. Nobody would expect me to serve meat at a party just because most of the guests are omnivores.

    I think I’ve found the theme here regarding vegetarian skeptics. Like much else in life, we do our research, make our decisions and don’t try to force our moral/ethical choices on everybody else.

  24. I was the 2005 NYC APF Women’s Powerlifting Champion at the age of 39 and after 26 years veg. Protein is overemphasized in the American imagination. It is easy to get the standard 50 g per day recommended for most adult women. Hell, it was easy for me to get the 150 g per day I needed while training.

    WireMonkey, I think I speak for everyone when I say: you are awesome, and also please don’t hurt me.

    Oh and I agree. I’ve heard a lot of people exaggerate the difficulty of keeping a healthy diet as a vegetarian. I don’t know about pregnant women, babies, and the elderly, but for your typical healthy adult it couldn’t be easier to get the right amount of nutrients just by eating a healthy diet.

  25. I’m a skeptic and a pescetarian. I’ve (mostly) stopped calling myself vegetarian, because that just isn’t an accurate statement. Plus, like Rebecca, sushi is my weakness.

    I find myself in a position very much like Jill, but what makes it worse is that in the business sector I work in out here in Alberta, it’s EXPECTED that one will order up a massive steak at a business lunch, or tear into that beef on a bun for the company summer BBQ, or the like.

    I’ve met a few militant vegans, but what gets me more are the “natural” vegans, who are so knee deep in the woo and BS that they’re pretty much too far gone. Same goes for vegetarians. In my experience, at least, there’s a very distinct dichotomy in veg-heads. Either they’re totally credulous, or lean towards the skeptical edge of things.

    On the topic of the chat in general though, it was great to read that so many of you are veg/pescetarians. I wonder what the distribution of vegetarianism is among the male half of the skeptic population, myself included in that. I’ve found vegetarianism in general to be more dominated by females, at least out here where I live. Is that true elsewhere as well?

  26. @Rebecca
    WireMonkey, I think I speak for everyone when I say: you are awesome, and also please don’t hurt me.

    Thanks! Though strong like ox, I am peaceful, like teeny-tiny bunny. Seriously, I couldn’t hurt a fly. I open the window and shoo them out.

    I actually got out of competitive powerlifting because it is overrun by fundie Christians . I got up and left the room during one competition because there was this evangelical christian prayer/invocation going on. A lot of the guys would give a shout out to Jebus prior to a lift. I giggled to myself when the most ostentatious of them completely fucked up what should have been an easy lift for him after one five minute prayer-rant. I probably should have shouted “Hail Darwin” or something before what I knew would be my winning deadlift, but at the end of a ten hour day of mostly just waiting around, I just wanted to get out of there with minimal hassle.

    And, full disclosure: there were only four women competing so it is a nominal victory at best. It just isn’t a big sport in NYC.

  27. @Rebecca
    “I don’t know about pregnant women, babies, and the elderly, but for your typical healthy adult it couldn’t be easier to get the right amount of nutrients just by eating a healthy diet.”

    I don’t know about the elderly but my son is vegetarian so I looked into the issue before he was born to make sure I wasn’t hurting him. Anyway the USDA and most doctors, etc say it’s fine to bring up your child vegetarian. Also my wife isn’t a strict vegetarian, but I do the cooking for the most part so she ate mostly vegetarian during pregnancy with no problems.

  28. I don’t know about pregnant women, babies, and the elderly, but for your typical healthy adult it couldn’t be easier to get the right amount of nutrients just by eating a healthy diet.

    I maintained a vegetarian diet while preggo. I am still maintaining a vegetarian diet while nursing.

    I went into labor on my due date and gave birth to a 8 lb 13 oz baby boy with an APGAR score of 9.

    I did end up having a C-section because his noggin was too big to squeeze out. Aside from some bruising on the top of his head from his fruitless attempt to descend into the world, he couldn’t have been healthier.

    He’s 9 months old now and had exceeded every one of his physical milestones. He could flip himself from his back to his belly at 9 days old! He was sitting up without support at 3 1/2 months. He started crawling at 5 1/2 months, pulling himself up to a stand at 6 months and currently he’s able to stand unsupported for up to a minute.

    I’m not saying that in a omg-my-baby-is-full-of-so-much-awesome or look-at-my-genius kind of way. I’m not that mom. Nor am I saying that vegetarianism makes super-babies. Despite being my kid, he managed to get some pretty good genes… and my veg diet has not hampered that in any way.

    It is important to pay special attention to diet while pregnant, but that’s the case whether you’re veg or not. There’s no reason a vegetarian can’t have a perfectly healthy pregnancy as far as diet and nutrition are concerned.

  29. Say the words “I’m actually a vegetarian, thank you” when offered meat in front of a group of people and prepare to get at least an hour of this. I’m not sure what a veggie is supposed to get out of it. If it is a moral argument it is a very weak one. What is it that inspires everyone to immediately tell vegetarians about just how much meat they eat daily, how much their friends and family eat, what cute animals they like to kill and/or eat, all followed up by the most disgusting animal-based product they ever ate and how great it is?

    If you have a moral argument to make then make it. If you just want to generally pontificate about meat and how much you looove to consume it do it with someone who likes talking about meat.

    The question was how many people are vegetarians. Vegetarians didn’t seem to feel shy about expounding in great detail about their answers and their reasons and history, I fail to see why I should be different in this… I’m not sure why you thought I was making a moral argument as opposed to simply answering a question and explaining my answer in mild detail, but you were wrong. There’s no moral point within ten miles of why I eat or sdon’t eat anything. Period.

    If you think vegetarians get a lot of this this sort of thing, you may be right, I couldn’t say, but if I may, I’d like to venture a guess as to the reason: If they’re anything like me, they’ve had about million too many sessions of listening to overzealous hippie calling them evil for eating meat. It’s more than enough to make a meat-eater defensive about it, and maybe even pre-emptively aggressive. It’s human nature.

  30. I found more comments about Richard Dawkins being questioned about vegetarianism in this thread:

    http://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=39052#p855200

    Here are several quotes from that forum thread (see the original thread for proper attribution of each quote):

    “I was dissapointed by the moronic people that were asking questions though. 4 people asking about why he’s not vegetarian? The last one got booed down and fortunately he refused to even respond. Really too bad there were no religious zealots around to get him going. Oh well.”

    “It did suck, though, when two more people asked him pretty much the same thing — ie. why he’s not a vegetarian (I believe it was three questioners total). I was among those clapping, when he stated that he felt the question had been asked and answered. There was no reason for these questioners to push their luck, like that.”

    “And it was 3 direct[questions] and 1 that seemed vegetarian and then she changed it.”

    “I don’t particularly care if people vegan or vegetarian but there are serious doubts about the sustainability of world resources if everyone were to be exclusivly vegetarian or vegan. I honesetly don’t believe the world could do it.”

    [nowoo: I thought a vegetarian diet is FAR more sustainable than one that includes meat.]

    “I tried the vegetarian thing…was for a year and a half (not quite vegan…still ate animal byproducts like milk and eggs)…but it’s just not for me personally. Kudos to those that are, and fair enough to ask him about it since he has publically talked about it before that it would be his preference…but spin kick to the lips for repetitive question askers on the same topic and wasting all of our time which could have been used with more constructive questions like…what is his favorite colour.”

    “I was rather annoyed by the vegeterian questions:
    – they just confirm the stereotype of Vancouver as a yuppie hippie-ville (which holds quite some truth, unfortunately…)”

    “- more importantly: it really seemed as they were trying to use prof Dawkins to spread their own personal convictions — how rude! One of the questioners even mentioned his position of power due to fame as an opportunity to spread vegetarianism (which, btw, has no relation to atheism whatsoever!). Now, I feel part of the reason prof. Dawkins was able to acquire quite a fan club of scientists/free thinkers – not particularly easy fan material – is his honesty. He does not allow himself to become a convenient medium between us and those with alterior agendas – he speaks what he truly means. And assuming that he should lend himself to propogate your own convictions is a bit insulting, I think.What is he, your loby to the atheist community? I’m quite happy that thus far, Dawkins hasn’t erroded our trust. Even if we are generally skeptical (as we should be), he still has our trust.”

  31. hey…sorry i missed the chat last night. i look forward to joining in future ones.

    i spent 8 years as a lacto/ovo/pesce (mmm…sushi…). i think i was 19 when i quit meat, i think mostly because i wanted to be contrary, and also because i do tend to analyze things that others tend to take for granted. in that way, i suppose my skepticism and my vegetarianism definitely came from the same place.

    i’ve gradually slipped back into an omnivorous diet over the past few years, but i’d say at this point meat makes up a fairly small portion of my diet. i very rarely eat any red meat…i just never really liked it that much anyway.

    i’m in the process of going off meat again, because i’ve put on some weight and find it works better for me to eat healthier when i am following a vegetarian diet because i actually have to think about what i am eating.

    as for woo in vegetarian culture…i guess i’ve noticed it, but since i tend to approach things in an a la carte manner, taking what i want and leaving the crap, it’s not something that i feel has impeded me in any way.

    having said that, i think we skepchicks are in a position to offer a science-based viewpoint on this, and i think we should. would anyone else be interested in putting something together? maybe we could get steve novella to guest post with a medical perspective on vegetarian diets.

    let me know what you think.

  32. @Wire Monkey– Yes, it was easy for you to maintain more than a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. I have no doubt.

    But I maintain that that is because you pay careful attention to what you eat and understand your nutritional needs as a lifter.

    In my experience, however, it is very easy for the average person to become unhealthy, because it is easy to say– “I am eating a vegetarian diet! There’s nothing unhealthy about it!” That kind of thinking led my best mate’s sister to bloat up hugely, because she never considered the breads, pasta, and sugars she consumed to be bad. It was “all natural,” you see, and completely vegetarian.

    I suspect that it’s no accident that our resident athletes, being skeptics, have had a very good time on vegetarian diets, because they are not caught up in the woo in which so many non-skeptical vegans and raw foodists are mired.

    By the bye– Are you familiar with Krista Scott-Dixon’s website–?

  33. flib,

    “I’m vegan for ethical reasons, so I won’t go back until faced with a valid ethical argument in favor of omnivorism.”

    Works for me. If that’s the case, however, I think you’ll die a vegan. I can’t even begin to think of any ethical sets I’m familiar with, (well… there is one but I won’t waste anyone’s time on it here because I wholly disapprove of applying ‘survival of the fittest’ to social situations. I just don’t think it stands up on the societal level, or the individual level in the long term), that are equipped to make a case about why eating meat would be somehow better than not eating it. *shrug*

    Still, if you come across one I would be interested.

    oh.. and I just have to say this part from you.

    “Yes, omnivores are horribly oppressed in today’s society.”

    priceless. :)

    TheWireMonkey,

    “The only time I give omnivores a hard time is in jest, when someone declares another culture’s choice of meat or animal body part horrifying or disgusting (such as horse, dog, beetles, etc.)”

    I agree, and for the other omnivores reading this thread I’ll let them know ahead of time:

    Horse is tough, don’t eat it unless you actually need to.

    Dog is quite tasty, the Koreans do it best.

    Snake = chicken, (why is that?)

    Gator = good

    Roo – kinda tough and gamey.. unless you cook it with onions, then it’s lovely.

    Bamby – delicious

    Bear – basically taste like pork

    Ants – they will keep you fed in a pinch if you are patient.

    Beetles – I didn’t like them, I consider them to fall into the same category as ants

    Umm.. and I’ll stop now before I too thoroughly gross out some of the people on this thread. ;)

    more pertinent, in response to this bit from you,
    “A lot of the guys would give a shout out to Jebus prior to a lift.”

    I always prefer to respond to those sorts with a quote from the great and wise, Homer J. Simpson, when he once yelled – “Save me Shaka-Kahn!!!” ;)

    If it doesn’t get me attacked or ignored, it does sometimes get me into a conversation where I can address the fact that even if God is real… I doubt if (s)he cares if you: Win your fight, your race, make your lift, spell the word right, or win the game; and even if by some fluke (s)he is a fan, it is unlikely (s)he will intervene for someone. After all, wouldn’t that be like god cheating for the person? And god wouldn’t cheat would (s)he?

    But yeah, I am impressed that all you did was just leave the room.

    Ubermoogle,

    “I wonder what the distribution of vegetarianism is among the male half of the skeptic population, myself included in that. I’ve found vegetarianism in general to be more dominated by females, at least out here where I live. Is that true elsewhere as well?”

    I work for an all male engineering consulting company. About a third of the office is either vegetarian or vegan. I think that a lot of it really depends on the area you are in and the cultural background you are dealing with.

    Rebecca,

    “I don’t know about pregnant women, babies, and the elderly, but for your typical healthy adult it couldn’t be easier to get the right amount of nutrients just by eating a healthy diet.”

    If India is any example, (surprisingly high instance of vegetarianism amongst Hindus), I’d say that pregnant women, the elderly and children do fine on it.

  34. As far as I’m concerned folk can eat and drink what they want. (Blood of unborn pre-dead monkey’s excluded) For myself I find no ethical argument that would convince me to not eat meat. I find plenty of arguments from biology that indicate meat has always been part of the human diet. Some meat foods have a more substantial impact on the environment than others, and it seems a reasonable argument can be made about choices based on ones sense of social responsibility. Like Rebecca said somewhere above most of the veggies I’ve met don’t make a big deal out of their choice. But I’ve certainly met a fair number of truly annoying strident veggy/organic/raw types who usually seem to conveniently forget the barbaric slaughter of yeast organisms involved in the making of their beer and wine and the dead mold spores and bacteria responsible for their cheese.

    And can someone explain why, every time I go to a pot luck and the vegetarian’s salad contribution always seems to have the worst flavor and usually lacks any imagination? Sometimes vegetarian food seems almost ascetic or self punishingly foul tasting.

  35. @Rav Winston
    By the bye– Are you familiar with Krista Scott-Dixon’s website–?

    You mean Mistress Krista, of Stumptuous. Her site is the reason I started doing the heavy lifting in the first place.

    @James Fox
    And can someone explain why, every time I go to a pot luck and the vegetarian’s salad contribution always seems to have the worst flavor and usually lacks any imagination? Sometimes vegetarian food seems almost ascetic or self punishingly foul tasting.

    This is the main reason I usually do not choose “vegetarian” restaurants–what’s with all the raisins? Luckily where I live gives me easy access to all sorts of cuisines that offer many spicy non-meat protein dishes (the many Indian buffet joints in Jackson Heights, the incomparable Sriprahpai in Woodside, Kebab Cafe in Astoria!) Added bonus, I can dine with omnivores and everybody is happy. Traditional Carribbean, sub-saharan African, Central and Eastern European, French and British/Irish restaurants are a little tougher to navigate, gustatorially speaking.

    But I’ve certainly met a fair number of truly annoying strident veggy/organic/raw types who usually seem to conveniently forget the barbaric slaughter of yeast organisms involved in the making of their beer and wine and the dead mold spores and bacteria responsible for their cheese.

    Yep, I point that out to strident types too. Bathing is genocide!

    btw: I would say being concerned about the environmental impact of raising meat would fall under the domain of “ethics”. Don’t let that word be hijacked by PETA to mean only being nice to fluffy animals at the expense of human welfare. Heck, if I or a loved one (or even an enemy for that matter) needed a heart valve replacement, the pig is toast.

  36. Agreed WireMonkey re. the pig valve and any reasonable medical testing where substantial benefits can not be achieved with other methods.

    I tend to fall into the Anthony Bourdain school of carnivorous eating when I’m feeling particularly snarky or just cranky toward moralizing vegans. Where most vegan/vegetarians are seen as upper middle class philosophical dilatants devoid of any real passion for life and understanding of the poor, humble and working class origins most great cuisines have. I suppose that’s a topic for another time. We also have a number of great ethnic vegetarian restaurants just north of here in Vancouver CA which I’m happy to visit when in the great white north.

  37. I find plenty of arguments from biology that indicate meat has always been part of the human diet.

    Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature for a discussion of the fallacy that you’re committing here. Meat has always been part of the human diet, murder and rape have always been part of human behavior, slavery has always been condoned by human societies.

    As kumarei said last night, “As beings with meta-cognition, humans get to make decisions that are against the “natural order”. “. I would replace “get to” with “are obliged to”.

    By the way, I don’t equate meat eating with murder, rape, and slavery. Those were only chosen to illustrate the fallacy.

    I’ve certainly met a fair number of truly annoying strident veggy/organic/raw types who usually seem to conveniently forget the barbaric slaughter of yeast organisms involved in the making of their beer and wine and the dead mold spores and bacteria responsible for their cheese.

    None of which are sentient, or have interests.

    And can someone explain why, every time I go to a pot luck and the vegetarian’s salad contribution always seems to have the worst flavor and usually lacks any imagination? Sometimes vegetarian food seems almost ascetic or self punishingly foul tasting.

    Sounds like you know some boring vegetarians. When I go to a potluck, I don’t bring salads, and nobody complains about my dishes.

  38. Agreed WireMonkey re. the pig valve and any reasonable medical testing where substantial benefits can not be achieved with other methods.

    For what it’s worth, I agree. Animal testing in the cosmetics industry, which is inherently unnecessary, is another story.

  39. huh, flib.

    “Meat has always been part of the human diet, murder and rape have always been part of human behavior, slavery has always been condoned by human societies.

    As kumarei said last night, “As beings with meta-cognition, humans get to make decisions that are against the “natural order”. “. I would replace “get to” with “are obliged to”.

    By the way, I don’t equate meat eating with murder, rape, and slavery. Those were only chosen to illustrate the fallacy.”

    I’m having trouble with this. Behaviors don’t seem to be valid analogies to nutrition practices. Behaviors are things we do, nutrition has to do with how chemicals effect our bodies. I’m not saying this very well, but I hope you get the gist.

  40. Where most vegan/vegetarians are seen as upper middle class philosophical dilatants devoid of any real passion for life and understanding of the poor, humble and working class origins most great cuisines have.

    You forgot to mention that we’re sickly and we fart a lot too.

  41. I’m having trouble with this. Behaviors don’t seem to be valid analogies to nutrition practices. Behaviors are things we do, nutrition has to do with how chemicals effect our bodies. I’m not saying this very well, but I hope you get the gist.

    I think you said it well. But the USDA has stated that a reasonably balanced vegan diet is appropriate for all stages of human development, from infancy through childhood, adulthood, pregancy, and old age. The only special step we need to take is to supplement with B12.

    Some would state that the B12 issue proves that we have not evolved to thrive on a vegan diet. That would be true, if we had not also evolved the ingenuity needed to manufacture cheap B12 supplements.

  42. flib, invention is not evolution. And since, for a long time, most of the supplements necessary for a “vegan” diet were derived from animals, I find the point sort of moot.

    If vegans want to argue a moral absolute, then it’s absolutely moral, regardless of its technological status, to avoid animal stuff and all of its derivatives.

    But that reminds me of a slippery slope I once saw: if you hang the basis of a moral absolute on taxonomy, the lines drawn between what’s moral and immoral are… arbitrary. At best.

    Extremists don’t like grey areas, but taxonomists absolutely cannot live without acknowledging their reality.

    Which is a tad awkward, and is why I remain chiefly vegetarian, but do so love chawin’ down on some dinosaur.

  43. This is awesome; I had no idea there were so many veggie skeptics. I’m vegan, for animal cruelty/environmental reasons, and it is frustrating dealing with all the pseudoscience pushed by certain members of the veg community. It’s nice to know there are other rational vegetarians out there.

  44. flib, invention is not evolution.

    My point was that we evolved the capability to invent.

    And since, for a long time, most of the supplements necessary for a “vegan” diet were derived from animals, I find the point sort of moot.

    Moot then, not moot today.

    If vegans want to argue a moral absolute, then it’s absolutely moral, regardless of its technological status, to avoid animal stuff and all of its derivatives.

    Many vegans, myself included, look at things from a utilitarian standpoint. If it were technologically impossible to thrive in a vegan lifestyle, I would not be living a vegan lifestyle. It is possible, so I’m stuck here in Veganland.

    Extremists don’t like grey areas, but taxonomists absolutely cannot live without acknowledging their reality.

    I know what you mean, and I agree. Many vegans that I know are quite black-and-white in their thinking. For instance, they say that I’m not a vegan at all, because I eat honey. From a strict semantic perspective, they’re right – honey is an animal product, and I consume it, so I don’t qualify for the label “vegan”. I could go on and on about vegan fundamentalism and label worship, and the harm that they’ve done to the animals by making us look like nuts. And I could go on and on about the gray areas that I’ve had to work through in the 7 years I’ve been vegan.

  45. flib:” By the way, I don’t equate meat eating with murder, rape, and slavery. Those were only chosen to illustrate the fallacy.”

    I think you have misread my intent. I was not making any form of ethical argument about meat eating; Just an observation of the dietary characteristics of our species. Absent depravation, religion or quite contemporary “ethics”, eating meat is what humans do and the human body has evolved with respect to this history. I feel no need however for any form of argument or rationale for my meat eating or anyone else’s not eating meat. Do as you please…

  46. I eat meat but I think there’s a valid argument about vegetarianism being on higher moral ground, ether because one is concerned about the ethical treatment of animals, or simply because of the limited resources of the planet and the number of humans making it impractical to produce enough meat. Really both: with the number of people on the planet, it’s impossible to produce enough meat while at the same time treating animals decently. There’s just not enough room for all the cows, chickens, pigs, and turkeys we eat to be raised in a free range environment, which most people seem to feel provides the animals with a decent life.

    Douglas Hoftsatdter has a very interesting discussion about vegetarianism in I Am A Strange Loop. Worth checking out if you’re interested in the subject.

  47. I think you have misread my intent. I was not making any form of ethical argument about meat eating

    Regardless of intent, if you re-read your messages, you’ll find that you made at least two arguments about the validity of vegan ethics. I was just pointing out the fallacies in those arguments. (Appeal To Nature, which you’ve repeated in your most recent message, and assigning interests to yeast and mold).

    I’ve proably come across as pretty argumentative in this thread, but I only argue about veganism when someone makes a claim about the validity of the ethics, directly or indirectly. If somebody says that they don’t care about the ethics of animal treatment, I don’t argue with them. I didn’t argue with your last two sentences, or Rystefn’s messages. Likewise, if someone acknowledges that there may be ethical implications to eating animals, but for whatever reason they choose not to assign a high enough priority to them to change their lifestyle, as writerdd indicated, I don’t argue with them.

  48. flib: “(Appeal To Nature, which you’ve repeated in your most recent message, and assigning interests to yeast and mold).”

    I was not aware that observation and appeal had become synonyms. Observations may have varying degrees of validity or may be demonstrably true of false. I don’t believe they can be fallacious in the same manner as an appeal. Data informs an argument, it is not an argument in and of itself.

    *”Observation is either an activity of a sapient or sentient living being (e.g. humans), which senses and assimilates the knowledge of a phenomenon or an instrumental recording of data. The term may also refer to the data collected during this activity.” (Wikipedia)

    *”Appeal is an application (as to a recognized authority) for corroboration, vindication, or decision.” (Merriam-Webster)

    *”Fallacious embodies a fallacy or is tending to deceive or mislead.” (Merriam-Webster)

    Saying Og ate meat is no more an appeal to nature than saying T-Rex did not eat Og.

  49. Saying Og ate meat is no more an appeal to nature than saying T-Rex did not eat Og.

    Appeal To Nature is the name of the logical fallacy that results from extrapolating that because Og ate meat, eating meat is ethically acceptable. That’s what you did in sentences 2 and 3 of your first post to this thread.

    If eating meat is ethically acceptable, it’s not for that reason. If you have any others candidate reasons, I’d like to hear them. After all, maybe I’m wrong.

  50. “If eating meat is ethically acceptable, it’s not for that reason”

    Since this particular fallacy gives no insight whatsoever into the issue (protohumans used to poop, it’s okay for modern humans to poop. Fallacious reasoning? Yes, but still perfectly true), pointing out the fallacy is rather useless, unless you demonstrate why it’s not true.

    “If you have any others candidate reasons, I’d like to hear them. After all, maybe I’m wrong.”

    What would it take for you to accept the ethicality of animal edibility?

    Of course, given that the diet of humans is widely and diversely omnivorous, perhaps the onus should be on you to show why meat is suddenly unethical.

    In particular, I’d like to know more about why technology enables an innovative ethical position, one which is not as black-and-white as, say, murder, rape, or slavery.

  51. flib: “Appeal To Nature is the name of the logical fallacy that results from extrapolating…”

    I have made no extrapolation. All I said was that Og ate meat. That is not an argument, it is not a logical fallacy, it is not an “appeal to nature” and I did not make the statement to support my position regarding meat eating. Just an observation that human biology and archeological evidence does in fact indicate humans have always been meat eaters. Again, this is a generally accepted view supported by data that I drew no conclusion from, except to say I agreed that humans have always been meat eaters.

    To eat meat or not is, I suppose, a matter of personal ethics, morals, religious beliefs, parental imposition, whim or preference. We choose these beliefs for what ever reason and act accordingly. We do not choose our history or that of our species.

    As for the “moral” or “ethical” arguments for vegetarianism (or omnivoreism), I find them no more or less valid or compelling than those used to argue for or against other human behaviors involving a choice. I do see a troubling inconsistency in the broader application of these purported ethics by some, especially when the ethic appears to be selectively applied. Meat eating is not a moral or ethical decision for me, therefore any relevant arguments are moot.

  52. protohumans used to poop, it’s okay for modern humans to poop. Fallacious reasoning? Yes, but still perfectly true

    It’s ok for people to poop, not by virtue of the fact that protohumans pooped, but because pooping harms nobody.

  53. Of course, given that the diet of humans is widely and diversely omnivorous, perhaps the onus should be on you to show why meat is suddenly unethical.

    Fair enough; after all, it does sound like an extraordinary claim, considering that the vast majority of western society are omnivorous. As a skeptic, it feels uncomfortable to have such a minority view. When that happens, I check and recheck my premises and my reasoning. So far, I haven’t seen any convincing contravening arguments.

    For a full answer to your question, please read Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation (not to be confused with the Animal Liberation Front, a radical animal activism group). In a nutshell:

    Most reasonable people would probably agree that when taking an action or making policy, the interests of all interested parties should be taken into account. The interests of people of color should not be weighed differently from the interests of white people; if we have the same interests, we should be considered equally. A pig does not have an interest in being able to vote for the president of the US, so we don’t need to consider them with regard to that. But they do have an interest in having a mentally stimulating environment so they don’t go crazy with boredom and restlessness. Chickens don’t have those same interests, but they do have an interest in scratching in dirt and spreading their wings.

    To the extent that we don’t consider the interests of animals, those animals suffer. That’s not to say that we should weigh the suffering of animals above our own suffering; if it were impossible to thrive as a vegan, as may be the case when stranded on a deserted island, I wouldn’t be one. But neither should we consider the minor suffering that accompanies a craving for a cheeseburger (which happens less and less the longer you’re vegan, by the way) as being worth more than the major suffering experienced by billions of intensively farmed animals around the world.

    I haven’t done the arguments justice here, and I haven’t covered the arguments against painlessly killing freerange animals. I don’t have a nice elevator speech for this subject, at least not for this audience. I really do recommend reading Singer’s book.

  54. What would it take for you to accept the ethicality of animal edibility?

    Convincing evidence that animals are in fact automatons without the ability to experience suffering, as DesCartes believed. Convincing evidence that a vegan lifestyle results in more, not less, suffering in the universe. I don’t know what else, I’m open to suggestions.

    In particular, I’d like to know more about why technology enables an innovative ethical position, one which is not as black-and-white as, say, murder, rape, or slavery.

    Unless you’re getting your morality from holy books, ethics are not static. As new technology is developed, new concerns are raised, and others are resolved. If we develop technology to upload our “selves” to a data center, and use a 3D printer to create a new body at will, murder will not be the major ethical issue that it is today. Conversely, technology has empowered us to thrive as vegans, so we need to consider the ethical ramifications of that. With great power comes great responsibility.

  55. I did not make the statement to support my position regarding meat eating.

    The juxtaposition of these two sentences made it seem that way to me: “For myself I find no ethical argument that would convince me to not eat meat. I find plenty of arguments from biology that indicate meat has always been part of the human diet.” If I’m wrong about that, then never mind.

    To eat meat or not is, I suppose, a matter of personal ethics, morals, religious beliefs, parental imposition, whim or preference. We choose these beliefs for what ever reason and act accordingly.

    Logic and reasoning are (or should be) important in determining right from wrong. We didn’t just wake up and decide on a whim that murder is wrong, we used reasoning to come to that conclusion. Likewise, reasoning should be used to determine if eating animals is or is not generally wrong. Now the meta-ethical question of whether or not I should care about right and wrong is a different matter; that’s personal.

    I do see a troubling inconsistency in the broader application of these purported ethics by some, especially when the ethic appears to be selectively applied.

    Can you give an example? I may agree with you on that, but I’m not certain.

  56. flib: “Can you give an example? I may agree with you on that, but I’m not certain.”

    I can not accept that animals, or for that matter plants as some are now suggesting, have rights. If the dividing line is being sentient then it seems to me that those who choose vegetarianism for ethical or moral reasons must be unequivocally opposed to abortion at some early point of embryo development. And I can not accept that the road to Auschwitz began at the slaughterhouse, as some animal rights proponents claim or that there is some level of moral equalivance.

  57. …with the number of people on the planet, it’s impossible to produce enough meat while at the same time treating animals decently.

    Maybe if you take the world as a whole, single unit, but technology hasn’t quite made the earth that small just yet. On the drive to work in the morning, I see more cows than people. Don’t go thinking that’s because I live in the middle of ranch-land or something, either, because I do not. The line from my home to downtown Houston is unbroken urbanized land. There are a lot of myths and stereotypes about Texas, but this one is true – we have more cows than we know what to do with. In many places cattle are the most economical method of cutting the grass. We’ve more than enough beef to go around locally, and the same goes for deer and rabbits.

    Devil’s advocate time – simply because a philosophy which can’t stand before criticism is without value: Ethical case in favor of consuming animal products – specifically bovine products. It is my understanding that the animal we domesticated to get modern cattle is extinct. Unless I have been misinformed on this subject, the modern domesticated cow exists on this earth solely because of its value to us as leather, meat, milk, etc. Further, after hundreds (thousands?) of years of breeding selectively for the purpose, do you know what happens to a dairy cow which isn’t milked? A most unpleasant death. No, the little baby cows are NOT sufficient to the task here. So, at least until we breed dairy cows back away from this, it is horrifically cruel to NOT drink milk… Alternatively, we could stop breeding them altogether and be responsible for yet another extinction event, but how is that more ethical than drinking milk?

    Please note – these are not my reasons for eating meat, and I don’t drink milk at all. As I said, ethics and morals never come within ten miles of my dietary considerations (at least so far, anyway), I’m just tossing around a few points.

  58. Ethical case in favor of consuming animal products – specifically bovine products. It is my understanding that the animal we domesticated to get modern cattle is extinct.

    Yeah, I think modern cattle are closely related to the water buffalo.

    Alternatively, we could stop breeding them altogether and be responsible for yet another extinction event, but how is that more ethical than drinking milk?

    The extinction of a species is a problem when that species is an important part of a natural ecosystem. If cattle and dairy cows went extinct, that would be about as tragic as if french poodles went extinct. I.e., not at all.

    If we all stopped eating animal products right now, we would stop breeding farm animals now, but there would still be some temporary issues about what to do with the farm animals that are alive today. But this is a really unrealistic scenario; it’s a non-issue. In my opinion, it would be a good problem to have.

  59. I can not accept that animals, or for that matter plants as some are now suggesting, have rights.

    Considering that rights are legal constructs, and have nothing to do with ethics per se, I don’t normally talk or think about them with regards to animals. Assuming that we’re talking about ethical considerations, not rights:

    If the dividing line is being sentient then it seems to me that those who choose vegetarianism for ethical or moral reasons must be unequivocally opposed to abortion at some early point of embryo development.

    Sentience is a continuum, and I’ve read that a two month old human baby is not as sentient as an adult dog. I’ve also read that the first sparks of sentience in humans begin sometime during the second trimester, and gradually increase from then on. So my tentative conclusion is that a human fetus has an interest in not being made to suffer sometime late in the second trimester, and certainly in the third trimester, and any abortifacient administered during those times must be humane in order to be morally acceptable. One difference between human fetuses and adult animals is that the fetus has not known the experience of living in the world, so it has no interest in continuing that life through its natural course.

    And I can not accept that the road to Auschwitz began at the slaughterhouse, as some animal rights proponents claim or that there is some level of moral equalivance.

    I think Peta’s “Holocaust on your plate” campaign was horribly ham-handed, and an embarrassment. There’s not much love lost between Peta and me. One major difference between the Holocaust and animal slaughter is intent. And consciousness (awareness of self and surroundings) creates interests in humans that most other animals don’t have. And from a utilitarian perspective, considering that humans have more modes of suffering than other animals do, and the death of a human causes great suffering in those who know and love them, I think we need to weigh the life of a human more heavily than the life of other animals. But not an infinite number of animals, as many people believe. To believe that the life of a single human is worth more than an infinite number of animals would require religiosity or some other form of superstition, or perhaps just a lack of critical thought, IMHO.

  60. The extinction of a species is a problem when that species is an important part of a natural ecosystem. If cattle and dairy cows went extinct, that would be about as tragic as if french poodles went extinct. I.e., not at all.

    Your humanocentric worldview is at odds with your later statements. To think humans are somehow set completely apart from animals so that the life of one is worth the lives of the other without limit requires superstition, but you posit that humans are somehow “unnatural” as if it is an unassailable fact? I assure you, it is not. domestic cattle are as much a part of the “natural” ecosystem as aphids farmed by ants.

    Also, I’m fairly certain that, regardless of close cousins, the modern cow is descended from the Aurochs, which has been completely extinct for some years (unless, as has been suggested, they are still the same species… such lines aren’t really clear, especially when one of the breeds hasn’t existed for hundreds of years).

  61. but you posit that humans are somehow “unnatural” as if it is an unassailable fact? I assure you, it is not. domestic cattle are as much a part of the “natural” ecosystem as aphids farmed by ants.

    I never said that humans are unnatural. The monstrosities that are domestic cattle and dairy cows are unnatural. Not that there’s anything inferior about organisms that have been selectively bred or genetically modified, I just don’t buy that they’re as intricately interwoven into the food web, and that their extinction would cause the same kinds of problems as, say, aphids.

  62. “Yeah, I think modern cattle are closely related to the water buffalo.”

    Cattle are Bos taurus, buffalo belong to several genera: Bison, Bubalus and Syncerus.

    “If cattle and dairy cows went extinct, that would be about as tragic as if french poodles went extinct.  I.e., not at all.”

    No. Poodles are Canis lupus, same as a German shepherd or any other breed of dog.

    “Not that there’s anything inferior about organisms that have been selectively bred or genetically modified, I just don’t buy that they’re as intricately interwoven into the food web, and that their extinction would cause the same kinds of problems as, say, aphids.”

    And I think eliminating one of the oldest economies in the world would have consequences you are incapable of forecasting, but okay, on what do you base this assertion?

    I’ve observed that there are a number of organisms that interact with cattle (not including humans). What have you observed? And what does “intricately woven” have to do with any organism’s status in a food web?

    I want to point out the consequences of merely preempting the byproducts of certain crops have on the environment: increasing a demand for biofuels results in increased deforestation (to plant more crops to produce biofuels). Even just tapping corn syrup for ethanol has had unexpected and widely felt consequences.

    Economy and environment are intertwined, as far as farming is concerned.

    [Earlier]
    “Convincing evidence that animals are in fact automatons without the ability to experience suffering, as DesCartes believed.  Convincing evidence that a vegan lifestyle results in more, not less, suffering in the universe.  I don’t know what else, I’m open to suggestions.”

    No organism is entitled to a life without suffering, so I’m not particularly compelled to accept that suffering should be a keystone in your argument.

    […]
    “Unless you’re getting your morality from holy books, ethics are not static”

    I don’t see how this changes anything. For one, morals are often derived from other sources. For another, many fundamentalist religions possess highly fungible notions of what is or isn’t “ethical” regardless of their moral base. And this also doesn’t mean that because your position is newly-enabled by technology it is strictly unethical to not adopt it.

    [This has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, but I can’t resist. Mea culpa.]
    “If we develop technology to upload our “selves” to a data center, and use a 3D printer to create a new body at will, murder will not be the major ethical issue that it is today.”

    It won’t? If we upload ourselves to a data center, and someone deletes that file or (shudder) installs Windows Vista, what would you call that, if not murder (or mass murder, in the case of Vista)?

    A change of modus operandi doesn’t close the case on the moral status of murder.

  63. And what does “intricately woven” have to do with any organism’s status in a food web?

    My understaning is that an extinction event is a problem to the extent that other species depend on the extinct species. I would expect that domesticated cattle going extinct would create much less of a problem in this respect than a species that has evolved over millions of years in a natural ecosystem. Would you agree?

    And I think eliminating one of the oldest economies in the world would have consequences you are incapable of forecasting

    Eliminating animal agriculture would not eliminate all agriculture. This isn’t going to happen overnight, and economies adapt. Economics should be considered when weighing ethically-driven changes like this, but not exclusively or even primarily. Slave owners used to complain about the economic consequences that abolition would have.

    I want to point out the consequences of merely preempting the byproducts of certain crops have on the environment: increasing a demand for biofuels results in increased deforestation (to plant more crops to produce biofuels). Even just tapping corn syrup for ethanol has had unexpected and widely felt consequences.

    That’s a good point, but eliminating domesticated animal agriculture would have the opposite effect of your example. It takes on the order of 9 times as much vegetation to feed farmed animals, compared to if we processed and ate the plants ourselves. I recently read that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than transportation does. I don’t normally talk about the environmental affects of animal agriculture, because I think those points are weaker than the ethical points, but I really doubt that we can give much credence to the idea that the environment would actually suffer if we stopped animal agriculture.

  64. No organism is entitled to a life without suffering, so I’m not particularly compelled to accept that suffering should be a keystone in your argument.

    So the fact that all organisms suffer implies that we should be unconcerned about the unnecessary suffering that we impose on others?

    “Unless you’re getting your morality from holy books, ethics are not static”

    I don’t see how this changes anything. For one, morals are often derived from other sources.

    For example?

    For another, many fundamentalist religions possess highly fungible notions of what is or isn’t “ethical” regardless of their moral base.

    Because some fundy religions have dynamic ethical systems, that weakens the claim that ethical systems should be dynamic? Anybody: What logical fallacy is this an example of? Weak Analogy? Guilt By Association? I’m stumped.

    And this also doesn’t mean that because your position is newly-enabled by technology it is strictly unethical to not adopt it.

    Technology has removed the previously valid excuses for not adopting it.

    “If we develop technology to upload our “selves” to a data center, and use a 3D printer to create a new body at will, murder will not be the major ethical issue that it is today.”

    It won’t? If we upload ourselves to a data center, and someone deletes that file or (shudder) installs Windows Vista, what would you call that, if not murder (or mass murder, in the case of Vista)?

    A change of modus operandi doesn’t close the case on the moral status of murder.

    Good point. I was referring to killing the biological host, not killing the biological host after deleting the person’s “self” file.

  65. The monstrosities that are domestic cattle and dairy cows are unnatural.

    The only difference is human influence. Ergo, you are saying human influence on another species is unnatural while any other similar relationship between species is natural. How is this not saying humans are unnatural by extension?

    My understaning is that an extinction event is a problem to the extent that other species depend on the extinct species. I would expect that domesticated cattle going extinct would create much less of a problem in this respect than a species that has evolved over millions of years in a natural ecosystem. Would you agree?

    Not remotely. All ecosystems are natural… unless you are positing the existence of a supernatural ghostly ecosystem or something. HUMANS ARE NATURAL. Get used to this point, I think I’ll have to be repeating it at you many times.

    It takes on the order of 9 times as much vegetation to feed farmed animals, compared to if we processed and ate the plants ourselves.

    Did you miss the part where I explained how cows are used as lawnmowers? I mean, if you want to eat indigestible scrub grass, you go right ahead. It’s your funeral.

    Technology has removed the previously valid excuses for not adopting it.

    Weak. What makes you the final arbiter of what constitutes a valid excuse? Personally, I find “meat tastes good” to be a perfectly valid excuse to eat meat. Same as the lion does.

    You still fall into the trap of saying with one breath that animals are equal to humans and with the other that humans are somehow a separate thing, and everything we do is unnatural. How can you reconcile this cognitive dissociation?

    I find this a common thing among hippies… well, the double-standard is a common fallacy across the board, but this particular instance is repeated over and over until I wonder if I’m just getting the old ctrl+c, ctrl+v treatment.

  66. “I would expect that domesticated cattle going extinct would create much less of a problem in this respect than a species that has evolved over millions of years in a natural ecosystem.  Would you agree?”

    Probably not. Organisms closer to the bottom of a food web (like invertebrates like plankton) could pose significantly higher complications than organisms nearer the top (like vertebrates like mammals–because more organisms and systems depend on organisms nearer the base). But if only one species of plankton goes extinct, opportunists generally move in rapidly without sending much of a ripple upweb (assuming there hasn’t been a decline in available resources). If cattle go extinct, repercussions will be felt worldwide, but much of that could be economic, and probably temporary, given that some other animal will be tapped to replace it.

    Suddenness of extinctions have a greater overall effect on an ecosystem than gradual ones, as well. Also, having more of them is bad.

    But without any data, I see no reason to support your notion.

    “Eliminating animal agriculture would not eliminate all agriculture.”

    No one is saying it would. Yet cattle are very important to agriculture at large. Removing them removes a large source of fertilizer, which you were planning on replacing with what?

    “ It takes on the order of 9 times as much vegetation to feed farmed animals, compared to if we processed and ate the plants ourselves.”

    Is this really a problem? (It does ignore the other uses farm animals serve.)

    But even if it is, I’ll point out you’ve started to argue that a decrease in biodiversity (extinction of cattle) is somehow a solution to an ethical problem (one which assures cattle have a right to exist!), one for which–if you’ll forgive me–you don’t seem to have fully considered even immediate consequences.

    It seems to me that being vegan is fully fine as a personal choice, but would probably be horrible policy.

    “I recently read that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than transportation does. ”

    Really? Then why do cities produce more CO2 emissions than rural areas (~3:40 to 4:40)? (Which is exactly what I’d expect for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.)

    “So the fact that all organisms suffer implies that we should be unconcerned about the unnecessary suffering that we impose on others?”

    Who decides what’s unnecessary and why? Note: I’m not talking about factory conditions a la Upton Sinclair, but farm animals that are raised under reasonable conditions to be eaten, which exists aplenty here in Alaska.

    If the vegan position says that no animal agriculture is reasonable, then I beg to differ. I need better reasons than someone’s say so or a knocking down an existential strawman argument (cf. Descartes), or a flat assertion that animals shouldn’t suffer needlessly.

    “For example?”
    Sure.

    “Anybody: What logical fallacy is this an example of?  Weak Analogy?  Guilt By Association?  I’m stumped.”

    You presume my logic is fallacious, but you can’t identify the fallacy? Okay, how about this (a restatement of my point): the mere fact a system of ethics is “dynamic” doesn’t create valid ethics–regardless of how its mores are derived–nor does not adopting newly-formed ethics become unethical merely because the ethics are new.

    “Technology has removed the previously valid excuses for not adopting it.”

    And if there are no excuses? I make no excuse for eating meat on occasion. The point was that new technology doesn’t validate the ethics–the technology is a product of the concern, not a reason for adoption of the concern. If you’re a vegan, you’re as vegan as you can be and still maintain your health–but a purely vegan position does not become valid merely because techology now exists to allow for it.

    “Good point.  I was referring to killing the biological host, not killing the biological host after deleting the person’s “self” file.”

    Ha, well, maybe that wouldn’t be murder. That would be destruction of private property, and then murder.

  67. The only difference is human influence. Ergo, you are saying human influence on another species is unnatural while any other similar relationship between species is natural. How is this not saying humans are unnatural by extension? […] All ecosystems are natural… unless you are positing the existence of a supernatural ghostly ecosystem or something. HUMANS ARE NATURAL. Get used to this point, I think I’ll have to be repeating it at you many times.

    I don’t care about what is or is not natural! That’s all very tangential to the point about the extinction of cattle probably not being a major problem. Which is in itself tangential to the main points about the ethics of animal agriculture, considering that cattle will not be going extinct any time soon.

    Did you miss the part where I explained how cows are used as lawnmowers? I mean, if you want to eat indigestible scrub grass, you go right ahead. It’s your funeral.

    That’s actually a very good point; animals can eat plants that we cannot, so they can make use of arid scrubland that we would not otherwise be able to make use of. But what percentage of grassland is actually unusable for crops that we can digest? And what percentage of the land that we currently use for growing grain for animals could be repurposed for growing human-edible crops? Depending on the answers to those questions (which I don’t know), and considering that eating plants is an order of magnitude more efficient than eating plants filtered through meat and dairy, we may not need to make use of the arid land that is unusable for growing human edible crops.

    Technology has removed the previously valid excuses for not adopting it.

    Weak. What makes you the final arbiter of what constitutes a valid excuse?

    As I mentioned in a previous message, ethical arguments are subject to logical analysis. I’m having a hard time understanding why you and others in this thread would presume that ethics should be static when our technology-driven milieu is dynamic. That sounds like an extraordinary claim to me.

    Personally, I find “meat tastes good” to be a perfectly valid excuse to eat meat.

    That’s an example of Appeal To Hedonism. Various individuals with unusual proclivities could use the same excuse to defend all sorts of harmful acts against others. If it feels good, do it, unless it harms others.

    Same as the lion does.

    Lions are carnivores, humans are omnivores. And unlike lions, like it or not, we have evolved the ability to think and act morally.

  68. Removing them removes a large source of fertilizer, which you were planning on replacing with what?

    Good question. Synthetic fertilizers made from minerals and salts exist, and production could presumably be ramped up. Home gardeners use compost, I don’t know if that would work on a large scale. And let’s not forget that humans crap too. I don’t know a whole lot on the subject, but I know that there are alternatives to manure.

    “ It takes on the order of 9 times as much vegetation to feed farmed animals, compared to if we processed and ate the plants ourselves.”

    Is this really a problem? (It does ignore the other uses farm animals serve.)

    I don’t know, I don’t usually raise the environmental concerns of eating meat. I was replying to a claim that abating animal agriculture would be an environmentally bad thing, which I think is a stretch.

    “I recently read that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than transportation does. ”

    Really? Then why do cities produce more CO2 emissions than rural areas (~3:40 to 4:40)? (Which is exactly what I’d expect for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.)

    Here’s a URL: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20772&Cr=global&Cr1=environment I guess the main culprit WRT farmed animals is methane and nitrus oxide, not CO2

    “So the fact that all organisms suffer implies that we should be unconcerned about the unnecessary suffering that we impose on others?”

    Who decides what’s unnecessary and why?

    I don’t know how to answer that without a tautology; if an action is necessary, it’s not unnecessary. Eating meat is not necessary.

    Note: I’m not talking about factory conditions a la Upton Sinclair, but farm animals that are raised under reasonable conditions to be eaten, which exists aplenty here in Alaska.

    The majority of animal products produced today are produced in intensive conditions. As writerdd pointed out above, it must be that way with demand as it is today. I’m all for omnis choosing free range meat, eggs, and dairy. But that’s not a viable solution on a global scale.

    You presume my logic is fallacious, but you can’t identify the fallacy?

    Sure, that happens all the time. Have you ever heard “Name that logical fallacy” on the Skeptic’s Guide To The Universe podcast?

    the mere fact a system of ethics is “dynamic” doesn’t create valid ethics–regardless of how its mores are derived–nor does not adopting newly-formed ethics become unethical merely because the ethics are new.

    None of that addresses the original point, that technology must be considered when determining right and wrong.

  69. But even if it is, I’ll point out you’ve started to argue that a decrease in biodiversity (extinction of cattle) is somehow a solution to an ethical problem (one which assures cattle have a right to exist!), one for which–if you’ll forgive me–you don’t seem to have fully considered even immediate consequences. […] If the vegan position says that no animal agriculture is reasonable, then I beg to differ.

    The discussion today has mostly centered around the consequences of allowing farmed animals to go extinct. I doubt that any dire consequences would occur if that were to happen, but let’s assume that my intuition is wrong, which it very well may be. If faced with consequences in the future, there’s nothing that says we have to go all the way. Dramatically reducing animal agriculture to the point where intensive factory farms are not needed to fill the demand would be fine by me. In that eventuality, veganism by all may not turn out to be the optimal solution. However, today, in a crowded society where the masses eat meat voraciously, veganism is the optimal choice for individuals.

  70. I don’t care about what is or is not natural!

    Really? Let’s see about that, shall we?

    “domesticated cattle going extinct would create much less of a problem in this respect than a species that has evolved over millions of years in a natural ecosystem”

    “The monstrosities that are domestic cattle and dairy cows are unnatural.”

    “The extinction of a species is a problem when that species is an important part of a natural ecosystem”

    Sounds like you care to me.

    Which is in itself tangential to the main points about the ethics of animal agriculture, considering that cattle will not be going extinct any time soon.

    Tangential? Exploring the ethical and economic ramifications of the end result of what you are directly advocating (and specifically stated would be a “good problem” whatever that means) seems to be the opposite of tangential to me.

    But what percentage of grassland is actually unusable for crops that we can digest?

    So you’re advocating the mass restructuring of entire ecosystems for human gain? That seems to run counter to some of your previous ideas of humans mucking about with other forms of live. “Unnatural” and “monstrosities” were words you threw around not too long ago.

    I’m having a hard time understanding why you and others in this thread would presume that ethics should be static when our technology-driven milieu is dynamic.

    When did I say that? When did I say anything like that? When did imply that? In short, what are you babbling about? Either you are deliberately lying, or you have failed to keep track of who is whom in this discussion. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now.

    If it feels good, do it, unless it harms others.

    Do we get to separate out humans? I mean, we are unnatural, right? So we have no more ethical demand to feel sympathy for animals than a robot does to feel it towards us, right?

    Lions are carnivores, humans are omnivores. And unlike lions, like it or not, we have evolved the ability to think and act morally.

    Humans are OMNIVORES. Thank you. Thank you for conceding the point to me. Of course, if you’d like to create a new breed of unnatural monstrosities of semi-humanity which are herbivores, that’s a problem for your own morals to try to reconcile. It won’t work, of course, but really, I’m just curious if you can continue to maintain so many cognitive dissociations at once or if your brain will melt out of your ear like a creationist denouncing science on the internet.

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