Skepticism

An Appeal to Chickens and Other Logical Fallacies

A lot of people like to hand me a lot of pseudoscientific crap. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s simply because I spend a large portion of my time at hippy-art festivals or perhaps it is because I look like someone who would entrench themselves in alt-med quackery (the long hair, the tattoos, all the artsy praying chickencrafting). Or maybe it’s just that there are a lot of people pushing a lot of wacky ideas. Whatever the case may be, I end up with a lot of promotional flyers promoting pseudoscience and general nutbaggery. This recent handout I acquired promoting the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle filled me with laughter and then horror and then laughter again and then well, it kinda made me hungry. I present it to you, my Skepchick friends for your enjoyment!

Let me say up front that I actually think a vegetarian lifestyle is the way to go and while I don’t adhere to it as much as I would like, I do agree that it is peaceful and beneficial. I just think logic and reason are much more effective at helping people to reach an informed conclusion than manipulation and cheap appeals. But hey, take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

For fun we could name all the logical fallacies and then maybe we could email Al. Apparently Al is the direct contact to God! Good thing I got this flyer or I would never have known that!

Flyer fun after the fold!

Front of flyer:
front of handout

Back of flyer:
back of handout

Mmmmmmm delicious scientists… oops I mean delicious vegetables!

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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310 Comments

    1. All, many scientific skeptics are clearly very bad ethical or philosophical skeptics. When science rejects ethics, people take resort to religions which they find apparently more ethical. You know what happens then…

      In any case, if you are OK killing animals, I cannot see why we keep protecting terrorists, rapists and murderers in jails when they can be killed and used for both food and research. If anything, studying real humans would do us more benefit than studying animals. So ‘how’ should we kill them? But c’mon that is an ethical question again :)

      Let us ensure we are not promoting the bad old religious ‘anthropocentrism’ (“and Gawwd created humans to rule the world and do all nonsense!”)

      Last but not the least… about “Stop the kingdomism now”… lol… if that is not appeal to emotion, I don’t know what is…

  1. Aw, they missed Hitler off their ‘people who didn’t eat meat and therefore that means something!’ list :(

    I love how they appear to know the motives of the nobel laureates and scientists who became vegetarian.

  2. Its pretty Terrifying… I’ll have nightmares of a Caliber that only Bruce Campbell can save me! Preferably with a black and decker Alligator!

    Seriously do Vegetarians think their saving animals? If we all ditch meat its a bullet in the head and a mass grave for billions of Cattle, Goats, Chickens, Geese, Ducks, Etc. Etc.

  3. I don’t mean to denigrate vegitarianism, if it’s for you then that’s cool. But when people encourage vegetarianism because being an omnivore necessitates killing… well that just irritates me.

    That’s just kingdomism.

    Frankly, plants are just as alive in every sense of the word as any mammal. Eating a salad is killing in the exact same way as eating a chicken. Unless you photosynthesize your very survival depends on daily murder. Go ahead you vegans and claim your moral high ground as you eat your naturally dropped fruit but you should know it’s the veggie version of a fetus. Yeah you’re eating a plant fetus.

    All species have a different mechanism for survival and it turns out, from a species perspective, being a delicious mammal works quite well.

    Unneccessary suffering and sadism is pretty morally abhorent but simply eating animals is no worse than eating a brussel sprout.

    This comes from the “no more killing” quote on the first document (and is a little tongue in cheek for the record).

    Stop kingdomism now!

  4. @Amy: I’m heavily involved in the classical music community in my city and I find musicians tend to be like many artsy folk, and are willing to accept all kinds of woo and creative thinking processes about things that are best understood by science.

  5. What is with the cow-pig? That’s what I want to know.

    Also goddamnit now I want bacon. And I need to go grocery shopping.

    (Diet For A Small Planet is a way better argument than this. I mean, it hasn’t turned me vegetarian after reading it three times, but at least it’s interesting.)

  6. I vigorously agree with Amy. A bad argument for a good cause is still a bad thing.

    @capheind: Seriously do Vegetarians think they’re saving animals?

    Yes. We do. If everyone went cold-turkey on meat, then one generation of food animals would be killed or live out their lives as opposed to the endless generations that will be killed if we don’t. Did you even think about this as you were typing it?

    This being said I am not a vegetarian to save the fluffy bunnies. I’m a vegetarian because I believe diets based largely on eating animals are unsustainable until we figure out a way to make meat in a factory. Secondarily it is much easier to eat a healthy diet by sticking with vegetables. I think meat can be part of a healthy diet, but it is a huge amount of effort to keep the calorie count reasonable especially calories from fat. I’m too lazy for that.

  7. DaveW: not to belittle your point, but the same logic could be used to exterminate any species to prevent the suffering of its offspring. Should we exterminate the deer to prevent their savage slaughter at the paws of wolves?

  8. @capheind: wolves != people

    For starters, wolves have no moral obligation to do anything about saving anything. For another, wolves are carnivores, people. And for another, the wolf population hasn’t grown to the point where one would have to consider the sustainability of their lifestyle. For starters.

  9. True, but none of those reasons have to do with “Saving” the pray animal, which was my point. You can make alot of good points for Vegetarianism, but your not doing domesticated animals any favors.

  10. @capheind, @Amy:

    If you give someone anesthesia and then stab them you’re still killing them even though there is no pain, suffering or fear. Caring about fear and pain is a very kingdomist perspective anyway.

    And if you think plants cannot detect when they are being eaten, or they suffer it silently, consider the curious case of the acacia plant:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12717361.200-antelope-activate-the-acacias-alarm-system-.html

  11. @Amy: Yes, but also ending the Cows themselves, and loosing a significant piece of wonderfully adapted Biotechnology. I like Cows, both as food and as animals, and I would hate to live in a world where they no longer existed… I however do not kind to Pigs and eat them out of spite. Pigs are Jerks.

  12. @justncase80: Again, in my opinion we should avoid inflicting unnecessary suffering. If there are plants that have evolved a central nervous system and can feel pain and fear then I would add them to my list of things you should avoid stabbing in the face.

  13. That pamphlet is truly horrific.

    Capheind, the morality that privileges the rights of ‘species’ above their individual members is one of mankind’s stewardship over the animal kingdom, not one of consideration for the suffering of feeling beings.

    Do you think non-human animals have a teleological concept of their own species? If they did, presumably they’d have reasoning advanced enough to demonstrate some agency in determining what that ought to be. Preserving a species at the expense of the incredible suffering of its members is something humans do for other humans, not something we do for animals.

    Many of our food animals are, in any case, medical horrors by this point, subject to severe medical conditions from inbreeding for desired characteristics. We’ve effectively created modern food animals, and now it seems you’re suggesting we have to keep preserving them because… why? Just let it go.

  14. We might have to either define “unnecessary” better or stop using it in the context of suffering I think. Because to me, if you’re being killed there will be a certain amount of suffering. What makes the suffering unnecessary is when the killer intentionally draws out the process to prolong the suffering, or uncaringly draws out the process despite the ability to make it swift.

    The actual act of killing, however, is not necessarily made immoral merely by the causation of any suffering. Because all lifeforms have equal legitimacy to their life regardless of their genetics or survival strategies. You could argue that only your own species (whatever species you might be) is except from this rule. Meaning killing another member of your species is immoral because they are a member of your species not because it’s immoral to kill anything at all.

  15. I mean, unless you’re acting under the assumption that, if we stop eating meat, we’re going to need to exterminate all our food animals immediately and throw them away.

    Why not a mandate to look after the current generation of food animals? We aren’t in the business (at least openly) of violating human rights when it becomes inconvenient, and if we decide to legally recognize additional animal rights, I don’t see why it would be any different.

    justncase: by ‘unnecessary’ we mean just that. Animals do not want to be killed, and it is not necessary to kill animals for food. You can effectively ‘construct’ a dissonance-free morality that says it’s okay to continue to eat meat (such as “it’s only wrong to kill members of your own species,”) but such a thing is a post-hoc rationalization of whatever it is you already do. If that’s how we figured out morality, we’d only ever be shoring up the status quo.

  16. Chris Whitman:

    That said there are cases where human action has created massively deformed wastes of flesh (domesticated Turkeys can’t even mate through their massive lumps of muscles, Pugs.. Just pugs.. I really don’t like Pugs) but some of our Domesticated wonders border on the amazing.. That said they tend to be passed over for the more commercially Viable freaks of nature..

    I guess I have to give up the argument since My appreciation for domestication really only applies to “Heratage lines” which i am very fond of, and not to commercial animals.

    Still I’m not going to stop eating Meat, or fish, nothing is sustainable at our current population size, and everyone looks at anyone who suggests space colonization like they just donned a Klingon Uniform.

  17. @anonentity: You’ll like this advice: http://kasm.blogspot.com/2009/11/healthful-holidays.html. Specifically, “It’s all about arming yourself with information so you can make healthy choices. For example, whenever you have the opportunity to choose bacon, you should choose bacon. Bacon absorbs fat. It’s an important part of any healthy diet. This may sound like an old wives’ tale but think about it: Have you ever seen a skinny pig? Exactly.”

  18. @capheind: Seriously do Vegetarians think their saving animals? If we all ditch meat its a bullet in the head and a mass grave for billions of Cattle, Goats, Chickens, Geese, Ducks, Etc. Etc.

    Slippery Slope much?

    Like some people may know, I am vegan — but a do agree that logic is definitely the way to go.

  19. @Chris Whitman:
    We used “unnecessary” in the context of suffering not killing.

    Claiming that killing animals is unnecessary is a slightly different claim and also irrelevant. You could also claim that killing plants is unnecessary, or that your life is unnecessary.

  20. Here’s an argument you may not have thought of:

    My argument for eating domesticated meat is its a symbiotic relationship on the scale of species. The cows feed us, we keep the species from going extinct.

    IMHO, if it weren’t for domestication, cows especially, and probably some other species would have gone extinct long ago.

    Now, one thing that turns me off during a debate is the “M” word-Moral. I define morals as rules for life one person sets up for his/her life, and values are a collection of morals shared by a group of people. So, while not killing animals may be a moral judgement for one person, and a value for vegetarianism, I am not part of that group, therefore, the values don’t apply, and for me, the “moral” is not to inflict unnessecary suffering upon an animal.

    And, to almost quote charlton heston, “You can take this strip of bacon from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.”

  21. “Why not a mandate to look after the current generation of food animals? ”

    Are you personally going to pay for that? Do you really think farmers are going to bother with animals they can’t make a Dime off of? Do you really think there are enough pleasure farmers and rescue organizations to take them all in?

    The reality is that Meat industry animals aren’t bred to serve any other purpose, without a meat industry we’re talking Euthanasia.

  22. justncase, what? It’s been put forward that there are logical reasons as to why killing animals is not identical to killing plants. Maybe you’d care to answer those?

    And Capheind, I think the preservation of ‘heritage lines’ is kind of the natural fallacy. If we’re going to seriously consider the right of animals to not be killed by us, we might have to live with the end of cows. Either that or we may have to preserve them regardless of whether we can turn them into a profit. I understand what you’re getting at, but I think it’s difficult to put our desire to have cows (again, I don’t know that cows have concern over the continuation of their species, per se) up against the suffering we cause them.

  23. @capheind: No I didn’t because I’m not a big fan of exterminating a species to save it….

    Exterminating a species, really? Do you really believe this or are you trying to be cute?

    The reality is that Meat industry animals aren’t bred to serve any other purpose, without a meat industry we’re talking Euthanasia.

    This is a false dichotomy — there is no way of knowing what will need to be done until it happens, and it will most likely happen gradually.

    Right now the population is so huge because we are breeding them to be.

  24. But I don’t seriously consider animal Rights. Rights aren’t something inherent in nature, they are a list of rules we make to keep ourselves safe from one another, their irrelevant to our relations to non-sapient species.

    1. You don’t consider animal rights? Well you have enough rights, and for anything else, you don’t have the time or the interest…

      Now you know what anthropocentrism means! Are you the one who wrote the ancient texts that promoted the same thing?

  25. Ask why we aren’t saving the poor plants? check.
    Talk about how much they love to eat animal X? check..
    Say that being an omnivore is ethical because we are omnivores? check.
    If someone would just suggest it’s committing some sort of child abuse to raise your child vegetarian or that it is impossible to be healthy.

    Contrary to what most non-vegetarians believe, the tedious thing about being a vegetarian isn’t the food, it’s the banal predictability of the conversation that always seems to spring up immediately after the topic comes up.

    I swear, no topic from prisoner torture to warfare seems to more passionately rouse the armchair moral philosopher from their slumber, torpid and rambling, than the mere whiff of the word “vegetarian.”

  26. @Chris Whitman: Either that or we may have to preserve them regardless of whether we can turn them into a profit. I understand what you’re getting at, but I think it’s difficult to put our desire to have cows (again, I don’t know that cows have concern over the continuation of their species, per se) up against the suffering we cause them.

    This is purely my opinion here but I completely agree. Not that I can begin to know what a cow would want, but if it were me I’d rather human beings died out than live our entire existance in factory farms.

  27. @Chris Whitman: I’m sorry, did I miss something? When were cows granted the right to not be killed by us? When was anything granted the right to not be killed by anything else?

    Part of life is death. All animals have to kill/injure something in order to live, and so do some plants. While we have the option to kill plants or animals, the “moral” issue of it is simply a human construct. There’s neither a right nor wrong answer.

    1. Here is the problem: with human rights, you see a definite ‘yes or no’ and you are already enjoying all legal rights. With animal rights, everything suddenly becomes subjective and ‘do what you wish’ types. See the discrimination?

  28. Capheind, unless I’m wrong, I think you’re asking how we’re going to make this enormous mess we’ve gotten ourselves into economically beneficial. Unfortunately, respecting the rights of others can be expensive. If the right of non-human animals to life were to be legally recognized, I assume it would be respected because the alternative would be jail for mass murder.

    I’m not saying it would be cheap or easy to deal with the fallout from that, but I think you can see how, under the assumption that non-human animals have a right to their lives, that is not justification to continually defer its recognition.

    And again, presupposing some rights for non-human animals, I think breeding animals that want to be eaten is akin to creating drone humans for our service positions (something which may soon be a viable moral conundrum to consider). I haven’t thought enough about it to put my foot down one way or another (although I’m tending towards ‘against’), but it’s definitely a weird, gray area.

  29. @capheind: Still I’m not going to stop eating Meat, or fish, nothing is sustainable at our current population size, and everyone looks at anyone who suggests space colonization like they just donned a Klingon Uniform.

    Wow. Rarely have I seen so much sloppy thinking crammed into such a small space. You must have a V8-powered crap compactor. What this boils down to is “I can’t see my way through a problem so my plan is to make the problem worse. And, just in case you are thinking of arguing with me, I’m going to make nonsensical allusions until you stop.”

    There are plenty of logical reasons to justify eating or not eating meat. This is none of them.

  30. @infinitemonkey yes!

    @Chris Whitman: It’s been put forward that there are logical reasons as to why killing animals is not identical to killing plants.

    The only one I’m hearing is that plats don’t have central nervous systems and therefore do not feel pain. Were there more?

    My response to that is, so what? Having a central nervous system doesn’t make you any more alive and it doesn’t mean that you’re claim to life is any more legitimate than any other living thing. Valuing a central nervous system is a bias only given by beings with central nervous systems. This does not, of course, stop the accacia tree from killing entire herds of antelopes or oak trees from killing caterpillar larvae.

  31. @namidim: Contrary to what most non-vegetarians believe, the tedious thing about being a vegetarian isn’t the food, it’s the banal predictability of the conversation that always seems to spring up immediately after the topic comes up.

    I swear, no topic from prisoner torture to warfare seems to more passionately rouse the armchair moral philosopher from their slumber, torpid and rambling, than the mere whiff of the word “vegetarian.”

    I’ve noticed, even among logical thinkers, when what they eat comes into question reason flies out of the window.

    The topic is to pick apart the fallacies within the flyer, and indeed we can rip it apart but it seems a lot of people just argue vegetarianism instead with some more fallacies all of their own.

    We can logically argue either side — so far I have yet to see that though.

  32. @justncase80: What about deadly viruses? Should we preserve them too? Is their right to life equal to mammals?

    Does trimming a rosebush or picking an apple create the same pain as slicing a lambs jugular?
    (Sorry, I know that was a bit obnoxious but you know what I’m trying to say.)

  33. @justncase80: The only one I’m hearing is that plats don’t have central nervous systems and therefore do not feel pain. Were there more?

    I have to double check my sources but the one I use is we have to feed a cow a lot more plant material than we would have to in order to feed the people who would eat that cow. It also uses more water to raise the plants and THEN raise the cow.

  34. @Surly Nymph: Appeal to authority – Nobel Laureates
    Non-Sequitor – Spread of pandemics
    False Dichotomy – “compationate, noble, peace”
    Poisioning the Well – “gruesome sacrifice
    Appeal to Morality – “no more killing, be healty and loving
    will you accept “Appeal to Cuteness”? pictures of cute animals

  35. Argh, this is all coming in very fast and I have class in a few minutes, but a couple of quick responses.

    Capheind, we know from (in my best mad scientist voice) *SCIENCE* that humans and many non-human animals share a great number of cognitive traits, including first-order theory of mind, empathy, etc. If we’re going to consider rights for humans and not rights for non-human animals, our knowledge of our similarities makes the species distinction seem increasingly artificial.

    @infinitemonkey I’m really trying to demonstrate that these arguments follow logically from the assumption that animals should be granted further rights, and are therefore not unreasonable. As for why animals should have rights at all, Peter Singer lines up the arguments pretty well, and I know there are podcast lectures where he discusses it. Time-permitting I’d be happy to hash out the arguments here, but I sort of have to get going.

    As for the ‘death is part of life,’ ‘we kill plants,’ and ‘other animals kill each other’ issues. I think these are basically all red herrings.

    – Morality is something we do have, and we have an ability to rationally discuss whether something is right or wrong.

    – Death may be part of life, but we don’t excuse the killing of humans, and as I’ve pointed out it’s logically difficult to separate why it should be okay to kill animals and not okay to kill humans.

    – Other animals do a lot of things. We can’t make decisions for them, but we can make decisions for ourselves, so I don’t see this is as justification.

    – Please, please stop bringing up the plants thing, because it’s already been replied to here and it just looks like you’re being lazy.

    In fact, in general a lot of these arguments, the same ones vegetarians come up against again and again, are easily answered in other places. If you legitimately want answers, and don’t just want to debate for the sake of getting into a fight, why not consider the issues yourselves or do some reading up on them? If you continually ask questions with simple, commonly available answers, it starts to look increasingly like you’re asking others to do your thinking for you because you can’t be bothered. I’d love to help you out, but I just don’t have all day. Maybe do some studying up in your own time?

  36. @Amy: I’m sorry I think I misrepresented myself. Yes a virus has the same right to life as all non-human animals, which is to say none at all.

    With regards to the slicing question, no it does not cause the same pain but it does have the same moral consequences. Is it immoral for a rose to prick an animal with a central nervous system with its thorns?

  37. I was listening to skepticality yesterday and a portion of the program dealt with vegetarians. Swoopy was interviewing Dr. William Meller about his book Evolution RX.

    From what I remember children who are raised on on vegetarian or vegan diets are smaller physically, have smaller brains and aren’t as smart as children raised on a diet that has more protein and fat in their diets. Dr. Meller also talks about some studies that show the vegetarian or vegan diets are less healthy than omnivorian diets.

    We didn’t evolve to only eat plants. We aren’t herbivores. We are omnivores at least evolution made us omnivores.

    If you want to be vegitarian or vegan you are free to do so but your choices do not make you anymore ethical or moral than someone who doesn’t make the same choice as you are.

    I am very skeptical about the health claims made by vegitarians and vegans. The claims don’t seem to be standing up to the science.

    As far as animals not suffering in vegitarian societies, this is a testable claim. Large portions of India are vegitarian do to religous reasons. Cows are held sacred by the vegitarians due to other religous reasons. Are those cows leading happy healthy lives? Do they live longer? Do they get treated by vets?

    The animals that we raise for food, with the exception of pigs, are not adapted for life in the wild. Without a farmer or rancher to raise them most would be extinct in a year or two. If you release a flock of chickens or domestic turkeys into the wild most of them will be dead by the end of the week. Cows would last a little longer. Horses would be okay but there is only a small market for human consumption of horse in America. Most domestic dogs would die off without humans taking care of them. Cats would do better at survival but would lead terrible lives.

    I would like to see some non-Peta provided information about the terrible suffering of farmed animals in America.

    I am skeptical that farmers go out each day and beat the cattle.

  38. And I know it sounds a bit like I’m being a jerk, but really, so much of this is 101 type stuff. If you really want to know, there are *tons* of resources out there that address exactly the questions that are cropping up here.

    If you have questions about animal rights, it’s only fair to ask for so much of someone else’s time to explain the concepts to you. Please do take some initiative in looking for other places where these questions may have already been answered.

  39. @Chris Whitman:

    Why does anything have a Right to life? we do because we’ve gotten together and decided we do, and we’ve put people in place to ensure we do, and we teach our kids that we do, but those “rights” disappear the second you leave that civilization, and even within civilization the fact that your murderer will get a trial doesn’t exactly make you less dead, it just means that, hopefully, on the average fewer people will murder.

    So really we humans don’t even have a right to life, we’ve just decided to act as though we do so that, on the whole, fewer people are killed.

    I’m not sure we have a moral Obligation to recognize the rights of species who have no capability to request/work for those rights. Animal welfare sure, not because its right, but because we’re humans and its in our nature not to hurt beyond our need to do so.

    When we find species that are capable of functioning as independent (or even semi-independent) members of our civilization then by all means, rights galore, but so far we haven’t found anything like that.

  40. Almost all animals that are eaten are only born because they will be eaten. Would you prefer a short life followed by a quick, even if painful, death, or no life at all?

    Do vegetarians think tens of millions of chickens, pigs, and cows will be raised by loving benefactors if they won’t be used for food? They could do that now. What’s more cruel, some life or no life?

  41. @Gabrielbrawley: It’s great that a doctor wrote a book that said that, but in general that contradicts the position of every major nutritional organization in the world (that I’m aware of), so it hardly counts as scientific consensus. I can also produce people with degrees who will confirm Young Earth Creationism and the existence of Bigfoot. That’s why it’s important to look at the consensus instead of simply the position of one person who supports your argument.

  42. Boy I sounded a little bit like a psycopath there, sorry. Maybe I should rephrase that. I think everything has an equal right to live, inherently. And that ideally I should kill as few things as possible and in general be a steward for all forms of life. I should have a preference for my own life first however, then members of my family and my species next. Beyond that every form of life is equally important and legitimate.

    I will kill anything that I feel is a threat to my own life or species of course (viruses) but when it comes to the need to eat all life forms are candidates. Prioritized by many factors, health, deliciousness, availability, sustainability etc. I just don’t see why a central nervous system exempts anything from that list.

  43. @Capheind, again, this question has been answered in many other places.

    Nowhere am I suggesting an ontological basis for a right to life. All of this works within our concept of moral considerations. As for whether animals need to request rights or be able to work for them, we do not hold humans up to these standards: i.e., humans who are non-communicative but demonstrate consciousness and feelings are not suddenly considered to have forfeited their right to life, nor are humans who are disabled and incapable of work.

  44. @Gabrielbrawley:

    From what I remember children who are raised on on vegetarian or vegan diets . . . have smaller brains and aren’t as smart as children raised on a diet that has more protein and fat in their diets.

    And there’s studies that say the exact opposite, that children who are raised vegetarian have significantly higher IQs.

    Reality: benefits and dangers are exaggerated on both sides.

    I am raising my son vegetarian. People love to get all in my face about how I’m a child abuser, that I’m neglectful and cruel… that I have no business raising a child. Seriously? Then call DCFS.

    If I saw someone actually abusing their child, beating the hell out of them or whatever, I wouldn’t just stand there and tell them to stop and call them names, I’d report them.

  45. @justncase80: that doesn’t track.. (arguing against my own point now… damn) because logically you’d be a Vegetarian since you would end the life of less plants if you ate them directly vs. the feed to meat ratio of a Cow, Duck, or Chicken….

  46. Two points.

    First,
    Veganism is not a natural state for humans. It is against our evolution. What makes me say that? Vitamin B12. Nutritionally available only in animal proteins (some plants contain small amounts that are metabolically unavailable to humans) or man-made forms, is necessary for brain and nervous system function as well as for the production of blood. So in the strictest sense, veganism is unsustainable for humans without technology.

    Having said that, I have no problem with people living in ways that are reliant on technology, lots of lifestyles would be unsustainable without “outside help.”

    I do, however, have a problem with some of the claims made by the animal rights crowd. I agree that we should come up with better, more humane, ways to farm. I agree that the current farming practices are unsustainable long term. But I feel the most ardent anti-meat people make the same type of mistakes that Al Gore made in An Inconvenient Truth. Al overstated some facts, and overemphasized some situations, to make his point. In the end the point was still valid, but an out was given to anyone who wished to discount the entire message. Global climate change is still real, but overstating the case is not the way to win anyone over.

    I hear one “statistic” stated over and over again as a fact, that beef uses 10X the resources to produce the same energy as plants. It is usually stated in this way, sometimes the claim is for all meats, sometime a particular plant (rice or wheat) will be used, but the 10X number never changes. I have done my level best to try and find a source for this “statistic” with no success. I do see it popping up in close proximity to the names PETA, ALF, and Greenpeace a lot. For all I know this might be an accurate account of the extreme waste involved in animal farming but I suspect that this was a number that someone liked because it suited their cause and is uncritically passed on by others wishing to further their own points of view.

    Let’s just say I’m skeptical of that number and because of that I am having a hard time swallowing these organizations’ other statistics.

    And second,
    If animals want us too stop eating them they should stop being so damned tasty.

  47. @Chris Whitman: You also have to consider real life. People have been sent to prison because they were strict vegans and would not feed their babies properly. Veganism can be a sustainable diet for someone, but only if its done properly, and that takes a lot of balance. The argument isn’t “Don’t raise your children to be vegans”, its “If you’re going to raise your children to be vegans, make sure you’re doing it right.”

    http://whatstheharm.net/childvegetarianism.html

  48. I’m not a vegetarian, for no good reason really. However, I’m always amazed at how far other non-vegetarians will go to justify their eating habits. Seriously, most vegetarians aren’t judging you. For the few who are, why do you care? When you go this far to justify your meat-eating, it seems like you actually think it’s wrong and you’re trying very hard to convince yourself and others that it’s not. So just keep eating meat, let vegetarians eat what they want, and get on with your life. You probably won’t change any vegetarians into meat-eaters, and why would you want to anyway?

  49. @capheind:

    There are many factors in the prioritization of what to eat, maxiumum preservation of life is one of them. Along with deliciousness, availability, hunger level and healthiness. In no particular order.

    Things that are poisionous generally go to the bottom of the list. Humans are the next to bottom, but I’d probably eat a human if my hunger level was high enough and availability of anything else was low enough.

  50. @mrmisconception:

    Veganism is not a natural state for humans.

    This is the appeal to nature fallacy. Do I really have to make this point on a skeptical blog? Computers, air conditioning, shaving, and electricity are also not our natural state. They also “go against our evolution”. You could say that humans have worn clothing or eaten certain food for a certain period of time, but what amount of time has to pass before it counts as “natural”? Honestly, you should know better.

  51. @catgirl: Thats not entirely true, Vegan groups have, and continue to, fight to outlaw meat. I don’t care if someone doesn’t want to eat meat.

    I have plenty of Vegetarian Friends who you could ask and they would say I’ve never been anything but respectful of their choice.

    I do have a problem with people who want to treat me like I’m an immoral monster because I choose to eat what my body is made to eat, a mix of Fruits, Vegetables, nuts, animals, and one rock.

  52. @catgirl: I have a coworker who’s vegetarian, and I’m perfectly ok with that. Sometimes, I will ask her “would you eat….” because I’m not sure where that falls in the diet spectrum. (Like chicken flavored stovetop. I doubt there’s really ANY real chicken flavor in it.) I rib her more because she eats once a day.

    The only time I get defensive when someone pulls that “morality” crap. There’s one guy, I forget who, POI has interviewed him a couple of times, and he’s coined the term “speciesims”. He likes to claim its our “moral obligation”, or something like that, but when he says that, he just infuriates me.

    If you’re going to pull morals, then say “personal morals”, and leave it at that. You can choose any reason you want, that’s fine. Some people are vegetarians, and some are omnivores. Some are gay, some are straight. We are all different, and no one choice is better than any other.

  53. @infinitemonkey: People have been sent to prison because they were strict vegans and would not feed their babies properly.

    Woah, woah, woah!! Do we claim that omnivorism is a bad diet because parents malnurish their children?? Are we arguing that being an omnivore is bad because a parent feeds their child McDonalds everyday with obesity as a result?

    That case was bad parenting, not the fact that veganism is bad for children. Unfortunately those parents were idiots and veganism got blamed.

  54. @Surly Nymph: You didn’t read the rest of the comment. I’m not saying its inhearantly bad, I’m saying it takes…critical thinking. If you are skilled enough to raise your baby on a strict vegan diet, and be successful, props to you! That’s why I posted the link to Whatstheharm.net.

  55. @Surly Nymph:
    Are we arguing that being an omnivore is bad because a parent feeds their child McDonalds everyday with obesity as a result?

    If the child died from it then they certainly would go to jail for the same reasons. But it’s borderline child abuse even if they don’t die in my opinion. However, some people like being fat… or certain levels of fat at least. It’s somewhat dictated by culture.

  56. @Surly Nymph: I think it does. There’s a lot more credible research out there, a lot more desent advice, and a lot more pediatrians to ask about how to feed a baby with a more standard diet than a vegan one. That takes a lot more care, researching, and analasys.

    Elyse, since you’re a skeptic, and raising your child as vegetarian (which I understand is not vegan), what do you think?

    BTW, I totally support Elyse’s decision to raise her child as vegetarian.

  57. @Elyse: As I said if you want to be vegetarian or vegan that is fine. It doesn’t bother me at all. But I am still skeptical of the health claims of vegetarianism versus a balanced diet. I am still not convinced that vegetarianism or veganism is at all morally or ethically superior. It is a personal choice and if it works for you then good for you.

  58. @infinitemonkey:

    People have been sent to prison because they were strict vegans and would not feed their babies properly.

    Yeah… that couple that claimed they couldn’t give their child breastmilk or formula because they were vegan so they only fed it apple juice or some shit. Um… thing is… turns out they kind of planned on killing the baby because they didn’t want it and used their new “strict vegan lifestyle” as an excuse to starve their kid.

    Mose vegans frown on starving babies to death on purpose… sort of goes against everything that veganism stands for.

  59. @Gabrielbrawley: First off, feeding a child an UNBALANCED diet would be the word here. Saying it is “artificial” is an appeal to nature. Eating plants is by no means artificial.

    Other than that, you are right on point. Feeding a child an UNHEALTHY diet, be it omnivore or vegan, is detrimental. Just because a so-called vegan family killed their child through neglect doesn’t mean veganism was the cause — poor parenting and stupidity killed him.

  60. @infinitemonkey and @Gabrielbrawley: :

    A balanced diet is a balanced diet. It doesn’t have to include meat. It does have to include B12 and Omega3, which take extra effort when you don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. However, it’s not impossible or even a big deal to supplement.

    Vegetarian/Vegan does not necessarily equal unbalanced in the same way omnivorous equals balanced.

    Anyway, if it is true that a vegetarian diet makes kids dumber, it can only help me… since my kid is out-thinking me already!

  61. I find the balanced diet vs. the vegetarian vs. the vegan diet morality ethics debate to be terrible frustrating.

    I am willing to bet that most of the computers we are using were either made in China or have a large number of parts in them that were made in China. Many of the people who worked on them were mistreated terribly.

    A lot of our clothes are made by people in near slave conditions.

    I have been reading reports about slavery in America today. People being chained to posts in fruit and vegetable fields in Florida and locked in cages at night.

    That is a moral outrage to be upset about.

    Children and woman in sex slavery in America.

    Humans in slavery in America.

    That is a moral outrage to be upset about. And unlike the farming of animals it is something that you can do something about. You are not going to convince very many people to stop eating meat.

    But you might be able to start a letter writting campaign to all of the elected representatives from your political district telling them that something should be done about slavery.

  62. I Have simple rules when it comes to what I should eat.

    1) avoid anything thats likely to die out soon if I eat it.
    2) Avoid anything who’s species might one day RULE THE WORLD
    3) Eat many more plants than animals.

  63. @Elyse: It’s because he has a young mind and you have a not as young mind. He is still in the natural scientist stage of life.

    On a complete non-sequitor. I just looked across the street at the flop-house hotel across from my office. Apparently they are trying to wish a
    merrychristma to the city.

  64. @catgirl

    Either I wasn’t completely clear or you missed my point. I was NOT arguing against anyone being a vegan. I was simply pointing out that we will DIE without B12. We have to get that from animal proteins or suppliments. Veganism IS a viable choice, but only because of technology.
    All the things you named (computers, air conditioning, shaving, and electricity) we cant live without, not so B12. No fallicy at all, just a fact. If I was using it to argue against a vegan lifestyle it would have been a fallicy, but that was not my arguement.
    No harm, no foul. :)

  65. @Elyse: And there’s studies that say the exact opposite, that children who are raised vegetarian have significantly higher IQs.

    Reality: benefits and dangers are exaggerated on both sides.

    I agree.

    This is another study that would be very difficult to do rigorously. The best would be to find parents who are raising both vegetarian and non-vegetarian children. This would control better for income level, education, attention to diet, and culture. I know some families like this, but they tend to have older children and it was usually the child’s idea to go vegetarian. This would not be good for studying the effects of a vegetarian diet on younger children.

    And because I feel like saying it: Good for you! My parents raised us “mostly vegetarian”, but I really wish now they had gone all the way. I had a bit of a learning curve when I started cooking for my family.

    @Gabrielbrawley: I would like to see some non-Peta provided information about the terrible suffering of farmed animals in America.

    The Omivore’s Dilemma covered this pretty well and Michael Pollan is most certainly not a Peta type.

    I agree with you that the ethical/moral arguments for vegetarianism are difficult to present logically. I think the sustainability arguments are much more logical.

    I disagree with you that we should continue to raise domesticated animals because without us they would go extinct. I think letting them go extinct is by far the better choice for us and them.

  66. @Elyse: Ok, so it takes a little more critial thinking than normal.

    I would like to point out that 1)the case in question is not the only case of children dying from vegetarian/vegan diets gone wrong and 2) when this happens, its not the diet to blame, but the parent who applied the diet incorrectly.

    But, kinda as an aside, I don’t have questions I’d like to ask a vegan… And even for this board, its probably a bit too much.

  67. @Surly Nymph: @Elyse:

    I’m not trying to persuade any one, I’m not making comments about parenting skills or fitness to parent.

    As I have said several times, it is your choice and if it is one that works for you good for you.

    I just do not think you are more moral or ethical.

    The only way that I can see you winning that arguement is if you start off from a position that says eating a diet that includes meat is inherently immoral or unethical.

    At that point it isn’t a debate it is a diatribe.

  68. The manage your subscriptions feature seems to be broken. I just get a message that says “You may not access this page without a valid key.” I’d like this to stop flooding my inbox :P Help?

  69. With regard to B12. You can get it from yeast. The microorganism that grown out of the air and has been used by mankind since time immemorial.

    Lack of B12 is an issue if you happen to be such a strict vegan that you will not consume microorganisms which I don’t think is an argument anyone here is making.

  70. “All the things you named (computers, air conditioning, shaving, and electricity) we cant live without, not so B12”

    CAN, can, … that was supposed to be can.

    (Not having Javascript sucks-Ancient computer at work running WindowsME- yikes)

  71. @capheind: Yes, this. I’m really tired of this “I am better than you because I don’t eat meat!” attitude that seems rampent among vegetarians and vegans. And I have a lot of vegetarian and vegan friends whom I love, but they still tend to lean in that direction: I AM MORAL AND YOU ARE NOT!

    I’m tired of people implying that I”m an evil, immoral person just because I like steak.

  72. I’ll stick to my mantra “Eat and let Eat”, secure in the knowledge that there is never likely to be a unilateral ban on the sale-purchase of meat in the US.

    Worst case a dedicated group gets enough laws passed to kill the meat industry and I have to move to the country and raise Jacobs sheep… which is something I wouldn’t mind doing anyways :)

  73. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Geez, just because there are worse things happening in the world doesn’t mean that nobody should care about anything else. This fallacy comes up so often on skeptical blogs, but I don’t know if there is actually a specific name for it.

    And unlike the farming of animals it is something that you can do something about.

    Wait, are you saying that people can’t do anything about the farming of animals?

  74. It’s really sad that I’m not even a vegetarian and I yet I have to point out so many bad arguments among others who aren’t vegetarians. It’s really weird to disagree with people that I actually agree with it, but there are some arguments on this thread that are nearly as bad as the vegetarian arguments in the ridiculous flier! Bad arguments are bad, no matter what the conclusion is.

  75. @Gabrielbrawley:

    I am saying that you aren’t going to stop it, you aren’t even going to make a dent in it.

    Well, I disagree with this. We have actually made changes to farming. Either way, you’re basically saying that they should give up because their failure is inevitable.

    I like to try and fight a battle that I have some hope of winning.

    Since when can we each only fight one battle at a time? Fighting against slavery and fighting against meat-eating are not mutually exclusive. It really is a ridiculous argument.

  76. @catgirl: And if working against slavery isn’t your thing there are a lot of problems that you can have a positive impact on.

    If you can donate blood then you will save someone’s life.

    If you can’t donate blood, do you have the time to work with habitat for humanity?

    Too busy or unable to do the manual labor, can you mentor a child at school?

    Can you help prepare tax returns for poor peopld?

    Can you write a letter to an elected representative and tell that person that you want them to adhere to the seperation of church and state?

    Maybe organize coat drive in your neighborhood or just donate a coat to the local homless shelter.

    Or a bag of canned goods.

    There are so many things that can be done that are moral and ethical and will have a postive effect on the world.

    You don’t want to eat meat. Hey I’m cool with that. I won’t try and talk you into eating the meat. Just don’t think it makes you a more moral person.

  77. @Gabrielbrawley: Actually Historically diet fads (like veganism) have been able to have impacts on the food we eat, and agricultural methods. They’ll never get meat outlawed (unless humans suddenly lose the ability to digest meat) but they could make a dent.

    Look at what the “FAT IS EVIL” diet fad did to pigs, American pigs used to taste GOOD, then we replaced the lard hog with leaner European cousins, and now we have dry pork chops.

    The Atkins nonsense has forever changed the recipes of many forms of processed foods, especially breads. I’ll probably have to go to small French-styled bakeries for the rest of my life to get a decent loaf.

    So she could make a dent, could doesn’t always imply should.

  78. @infinitemonkey:

    @davew:

    I disagree with you that we should continue to raise domesticated animals because without us they would go extinct. I think letting them go extinct is by far the better choice for us and them.

    WOW! didn’t see that one coming!

    I didn’t think it was that surprising. It is possible you read over the word “domestic?” I can’t imagine anyone getting upset over the fryer/broiler going the way of the Dodo except maybe Colonel Sanders.

  79. @Gabrielbrawley:

    None of these things is mutually exclusive with fighting against meat-eating. Your entire argument is a logical fallacy, and a pretty silly one. What if you donate blood, help poor people, mentor children, give your old coats and canned vegetables away, and still fight against eating meat? Doing one doesn’t prevent you from doing any of the others. Even more importantly, not fighting against meat-eating doesn’t make you do any of those other things! It’s silly to assume that if these people just gave up, they’d use their extra time to do volunteer work rather than play video games or something.

    You don’t want to eat meat. Hey I’m cool with that. I won’t try and talk you into eating the meat. Just don’t think it makes you a more moral person.

    I eat meat. In fact, I completely agree with your conclusion. Unfortunately, this conclusion doesn’t follow from the ridiculous argument you are giving to support it.

  80. @davew: No, I completely understand. According to the comment, as stated, you’d rather the cows go extinct than slaughtered. I personally find it more perferable to slaughter the cows if that means the species gets continuted than stop slaughtering the cows and the species goes extinct.

  81. While we’re on the topic of inventing terms, isn’t there a better term for non-vegetarians than “omnivores”? I’ve only heard “omnivore” used to describe a species or subspecies, and technically I think even vegetarians are omnivores, because they’re part of an omnivorous species. We don’t call vegetarians herbivores, so can we come up with a better term for non-vegetarians?

  82. While I wouldn’t care if the Fryer goes extinct, I would feel a deep loss if the Dominique went extinct.

    While a commercial overmuscled monster might not cause me to shed a tear, I’d probably cry a little at the loss of the Dutch Belted or the Guernsey.

    I probably wouldn’t care if the dry, massive breasted, practically sexless commercial turkey died out, but the loss of the Narragansett would break my heart.

    You can’t paint all domesticated breeds with the same brush. Truly Domesticated animals are part of human heritage, their biotechnological works of art.

  83. @infinitemonkey:

    It doesn’t take more critical thinking. It takes more planning.

    And a lacto-ovo vegetarian child (eats dairy and eggs) doesn’t need to supplement for B12 at all, and Omega3 is quite simple to “work” into a diet. Worst case scenario – plain old fashioned Flintstone’s vitamins.

  84. @catgirl: Yeah, this is a good point although I do know vegans that call themselves herbivores. I use omnivore because I think it sounds a lot more pleasant in a logical sense than “meat eater.” I am open to suggestions myself :-P

    Also, I love you for being rational in your arguments even though you aren’t vegetarian. You have my respect!

  85. @davew: “I agree with you that the ethical/moral arguments for vegetarianism are difficult to present logically”
    @Gabrielbrawley: “I just do not think you are more moral or ethical.”

    My problem with the vegetarian animal moral suffering argument is that it must inevitably lead to a discussion of abortion. If you want that argument to be a defining part of your ethics you should at least have the consistency to be opposed to abortion also. I only bring this up because clearly if suffering is the issue with killing then it seems to me that a fetus has a nervous system capable of feeling pain and the viability argument does not seem part of the issue.

  86. @infinitemonkey: According to the comment, as stated, you’d rather the cows go extinct than slaughtered. I personally find it more perferable to slaughter the cows if that means the species gets continuted than stop slaughtering the cows and the species goes extinct.

    Most domesticated animals especially the fowl are so genetically screwed up that they can’t even survive into adulthood let alone fend for themselves. We created these species. Why should we feel obligated to continue them?

  87. Also, can we please stop with the vegetarians are sanctimonious assholes argument? It’s pure confirmation bias.

    More than likely, most of the vegetarians you know are people you don’t realize are vegetarians… because they don’t talk about it. If you ask me if I am and why, I’ll tell you. But if we’re sitting at a restaurant talking about your promotion at work, I’m just going to order a veggie burger without further comment.

    I didn’t even know Amy was veg (or mostly veg) until this post… and we’ve been friends forever (seriously, like at least since May).

  88. @Amy: Can I invoke Richard Dawkins on this one? To live and die is preferred to never had lived.

    The goal is not to have suffering inflicted upon it, but to be killed humanely. I’m completely against causing a painful and prolonged death. While I understand that they live in conditions we may not like, should we assume that since we don’t like it, they don’t like it? We value freedom, and liberty, and free will. They value cud.

    I think the whole vegetarian cruelty/morality argument is based on personification of animals. Unless you know what they are thinking, you really have no evidence to base that on.

    1. @infinitemonkey I am glad you brought up Dawkins. Watch this video. Dawkins clearly agrees with Peter Singer that vegetarianism is ethically much better. Next time, check your sources so that they don’t defeat your opinions and stop appealing to authority.

  89. @infinitemonkey:

    No, he shouldn’t get all the credit. The only reason I brought it up is because it happens so often. In a recent Dear Abby column, some guy wrote in to complain that anyone would ask about pillowcases when we have wars and poverty going on. Sometimes I hear people complain that feminists shouldn’t worry about things like bras and abortion and wage equality, because there are women in Afghanistan who are treated like property. Then of course, there’s the old parenting guilt trip that you shouldn’t complain about your food because of the starving kids in Africa or whatever. It’s so common that I was surprised there wasn’t already a specific name for it.

  90. @James Fox: Does a fetus have a fully developed nervous system? I ask out of ignorance, not snark.

    Also, the animals are fully developed and outside of the mothers body. With abortion we concider the term of the fetus as well as the fact that it is still technically part of the mother.

    Before anybody chimes in: the problem with eggs if you were talking to a veg*n is not that the egg is a baby chicken (which it isn’t until fertilized anyway) but the manner in which the battery hens are treated.

  91. @Elyse: Yes, it’s true and while I fall off the fruit truck now and then I do think being a veg is the way to go. No need to really talk about it unless people like @James Fox: compare it to abortion which is silly. Unless we are breeding babies with the intent on killing and eating them . You aren’t actually going to do that are you Elyse? Elyse…

  92. @Elyse: This is so true. Nobody even knows I am vegan until they ask why I am not eating the office birthday cake or something :-P

    And then you have some who, after seeing you don’t eat said cake, go on and on about why being vegan is stupid.

    Oi.

  93. @Surly Nymph:

    Yeah, good call on not going with “meat eater”.

    Also, I love you for being rational in your arguments even though you aren’t vegetarian.

    First, thank you.

    Second, this reminds of that story in Sideways Stories from Wayside School, where the kid counts randomly but ends up getting the right number anyway. Getting to the “right” conclusion through the wrong path is no better than getting to the “wrong” conclusion. There are plenty of good reasons for people to be non-vegetarians, or even be vegetarians and be quiet about it, but this Bigger Fish fallacy certainly isn’t one of those good reasons.

    @Elyse:

    Thank you! Times a million. I was almost engaged to a vegetarian-then-vegan, and I knew a lot of his friends. My current best friend is the kind of vegetarian who will eat fish. None of these people have ever judged me for eating meat, but I wouldn’t have even known they were vegetarian/vegan if I didn’t know them so well.

  94. @Elyse:

    Also, can we please stop with the vegetarians are sanctimonious assholes argument? It’s pure confirmation bias.

    I think non-vegetarians and non-vegans tend to do this because we are tired of being told: “Eating meat is immoral!!!” I’m sorry, but that IS being an asshole, because you are implying that I am immoral for eating meat, and that you are somehow better than me for not eating meat.

    And can I say: Someone above said “eating meat is not necessary” but that is NOT true for everyone. I’m tired of vegans/vegetarians assuming that everyone can and should stop eating meat. Many people can’t because they lack the resources, or because of medical reasons (it’s hard as shit to go vegan/vegetarian if you can’t eat gluten), and even religious reasons.

    1. Well tell me how it is not more moral? Is not moral that you are preventing the deliberate killing of animals and effectively also reducing the number of plants killed (think about the second part yourself!). If that is not more moral, what in your opinion makes something more moral than the other? Just being good to humans?

  95. @infinitemonkey: Dawkins also says that we are all distant cousins of animals. We are all a big mammal family no?

    Recent studies have shown that dogs have the intelligence of 2 year olds and know when they are being treated unfairly. My guess is that many other animals know and feel a lot more than we give them credit for.

  96. @James Fox:

    The abortion debate has so many more levels than “it’s alive like a chicken”… first, because it’s not alive like a chicken. And because there are other lives involved – lives that matter, lives that already exist.

    If fetuses were grown in a lab, totally separate from parents, and could thrive on their own after they were done incubating, then we could talk about whether it’s okay to kill them… also whether it’s okay to eat them.

  97. @marilove:

    You do realize that saying “vegetarians are assholes” is like saying “atheists are assholes”. Some are. Most aren’t. Those of us who aren’t REALLY don’t like it when we’re lumped into the asshole group then treated accordingly whenever we dare mention that we don’t eat meat.

  98. @marilove:

    I think non-vegetarians and non-vegans tend to do this because we are tired of being told: “Eating meat is immoral!!!” I’m sorry, but that IS being an asshole, because you are implying that I am immoral for eating meat, and that you are somehow better than me for not eating meat.

    You have a very good point here. It is a bit tiresome.

    But I’ll just add that for me, being called immoral because I eat meat is just another in a long line of reasons people might have to call me immoral. The good news is, I’m in a good place with all the things that others see as immoral in me, so the meat eating thing is hardly a blip on my “things I give two craps about” radar.

  99. As someone who thinks about what people eat and WHY they choose to eat it, I find this discussion to be every kind of fascinating. People make choices about their food for a bewildering number of reasons including ethics, medicine, convenience, cost, availability, social status and religion.

    A statistic I would like to see would be a “tipping point” for vegetarianism. What is the critical mass of people choosing to be vegetarian that would actually impact the commercial production of meat? For myself, I would like to see better practices in how our food is produced from both a sustainability and ethical viewpoint.

    Our do we just need everyone to go out and read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle?

  100. @Amy: I understand the difference in why a human offspring is typically produced as opposed to a food animal offspring. However can someone with this ethical imperative make a differentiation when it comes to suffering?

  101. Come to Texas and work on a farm raising cows for a while. When you’ve cleaned up a a certain amount of cow poop with a squeegee you no longer view them as cute animals. Also, after working your young butt off in the mornings keeping them clean and happy you won’t feel so bad about eating one once and a while.

  102. I have just one question. Where are you guys meeting all these judgmental, moralizing vegetarians? I’ve never met a vegetarian that called me immoral for eating meat, and I know tons of vegetarians. Am I just extremely lucky that I’ve never encountered these jerks?

  103. @marilove: I’m tired of vegans/vegetarians assuming that everyone can and should stop eating meat. Many people can’t because they lack the resources, or because of medical reasons (it’s hard as shit to go vegan/vegetarian if you can’t eat gluten), and even religious reasons.

    “Should stop eating meat” is sanctimonious. “Can stop eating meat” is easy and obvious. It is also a fallacy that vegetarian is a more expensive diet. My grocery bill went down when I went vegetarian. The bulk of my calories and protein come from beans and brown rice which are not only dirt cheap but fit with a gluten-free diet. The only thing I’d miss dearly if I went gluten-free is seitan, but I’d do it if the alternative was dying. I still wouldn’t eat meat, though.

  104. @JP: Our do we just need everyone to go out and read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle?

    That doesn’t work either. I know people who have read Fast Food Nation and seen movies like Food, Inc. and Earthlings (and have read The Jungle) but it takes something within that person to get them to change. Outside sources don’t always work.

    I remember when I was eating meat, no amount of “do you know what a hot dog is made out of?” Or even Peta videos didn’t get me to change. It took the movie Earthlings to totally snap it into my brain — but even after my Mom watched it, what I concider a life changing movie — she still eats meat. She feels guilty but she eats it.

    Honestly the thing that I think will get the majority to forgo meat are convenience and price. If it’s hard to get, people won’t go through the effort. If it’s horribly expensive, the general population just won’t be able to afford it.

    Morals alone won’t change society as a whole which is why when people ask me why I am vegan, I tell them what I feel and then give them my sources if they enquire any more. Forcing the issue will just turn people off.

  105. @Elyse: I agree to a point and I’m only discussing this because of the implications of holding to one moral standard and the apparent inconsistency of some in applying a different moral standard to the abortion issue. They do not seem that dissimilar on many levels.

    @Surly Nymph: Likely at 24 to 28 weeks based on known brain development, but few definitive statements seem to be present in a quick look at scholarly articles. Some say earlier and some researchers say pain requires a level of environmental and cognitive awareness that can only be present some time after birth. So if abortion is acceptable because the first or second trimester fetus does not feel pain, it seems to me that the same would go for a pain free killing of a food animal. If the moral issue is pain then problem solved. (and FYI I’m pro choice.)

  106. @mrmisconception: Exactly so. Although Sinclair was really more concerned with the humans, so that’s a reasonable takeaway.

    But do we have the modern equivalent of The Jungle? I don’t really know. There are a lot of good food books and some thought provoking documentaries out there, but we have yet to see something that truly shifts mass consciousness towards how we produce food.

  107. @James Fox:

    When do embryos and fetuses start feel pain? Can they suffer at all? What about the people who want even want to protect fertilized eggs (from IVF), which clearly can’t suffer from being destroyed? What about the woman that the embryo is inside of? She feels pain and suffering too. It’s really not a strong analogy. Cows don’t live inside you.

  108. @catgirl:
    Yeah, you’re pretty lucky or haven’t been on livejournal before. :P

    That said, the majority of commenters here aren’t assholes, though they do sometimes tend to tow the line.

    For instance, last time we had this discussion, several people said they believed that eating meat was essentially the same thing as walking up and killing an animal in cold blood, and if I remember correctly (I’m going to try to go back on the comments when I get home), at least one person claimed that people who work in slaughter houses must be horrible people because they kill animals for a living, all the while ignoring the fact that people need jobs to fucking live.

    That right there is being a preachy asshole.

  109. @marilove: I’m not impying that you are like this marilove, but what you said got me thinking:

    If you don’t want to be considered an asshole, then don’t imply that I am an immoral person just because I eat meat. It really is that simple.

    The thing is, for me, the mere knowledge that I am vegan causes some omnivores around me to assume I am judging them morally. I don’t have to say a thing aside from, “I’m vegan.”

    Of course there are always obnoxious people in the bunch, same goes for people who eat meat, but nine times out of ten, in the situations I have been in, people assume I am morally judging when I am not.

  110. What’s funny is no one in this lengthy thread has even made the moral argument. Ethics have been brought up, but only very specifically with regards to sustainability. If you speak against the general moral and ethical arguments you are arguing with people who are not here.

  111. @davew: Your grocery bill went down. It is easier and less expensive for some. I tend to not eat a lot of meat for that very reason. But you are not everyone, and you are also privileged in many ways. Not everyone has the resources, time, or luxury to become vegetarian. Many vegetarians have to substitute with man-made vitamins which can be expensive (note that I know not all vegetarians have to do that). Culture (and religion) makes a big difference too. Not to mention the fact that just because it’s easy for YOU to get fresh produce cheaply doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28300393/ - And that’s just ONE article I quickly found by googling “Urban areas and food”.

    I don’t really see the “can” argument being any better. Not everyone CAN become vegetarians. I have many friends who are highly allergic to gluten, which makes vegetarian and especially vegan diets difficult — it can be done, but it requires a LOT of extra *time* which many people don’t have the privilege of, and sometimes expensive supplements which many people can’t afford. Not to mention the fact that if you live in an urban area where getting fresh produce is difficult, AND you’re allergic to gluten? Have fun there!

    Again, SOME PEOPLE CAN, but not everyone can, and I’m tired of people implying that everyone can OR should.

  112. I’d like to say that this is an issue, like abortion, with no blanket right or wrong answer, just an answer that’s right or wrong for each individual.

    The same can be said for a wide variety of issues, and they are all hot-buttons. While eating meat is prefferred for me, I would not judge you according to your “meatyness”. Your choices are your choices, and I have no say in what you choose, as long as it doesn’t get me killed. If you get me killed, I’m never speaking to you again. Sorry, but I hold grudges on things like that.

  113. @Surly Nymph: Your experience matches my own observations and readings for the most part.

    But my prior question remains. If we are only speaking of personal morality (which is something of a touchy subject) that’s one thing. But have we gone too far down the road of cheap, plentiful food to truly change how we produce sustenance?

    You make an excellent point about costs, but I’m just not sure how we get there, or even if we should.

  114. @marilove: I’d also like to add — For instance, last time we had this discussion, several people said they believed that eating meat was essentially the same thing as walking up and killing an animal in cold blood

    This isn’t necessarily judging either (although I am not talking about comments like this in my last comment). This isn’t preaching, it’s explaining a view point regarding why I, as a vegan, might find it immoral. Nobody is pointing a finger at you and screaming: MARILOVE OMG YOU ARE SUCH AN ASSHOLE BECAUSE YOU PARTAKE IN THIS HORRIBLE TORTURE!!!!1

    A lot of the times (not all, I know but I am referencing the last argument about animal rights) it’s explaining a viewpoint and why is might be concidered immoral. I don’t think (but I might not be remembering correctly) anybody was actually calling anybody on this forum immoral.

  115. @catgirl: This is not an issue for me nor do I hold to the opinions I’m representing in this discussion. However if a fetus in the first two trimesters does not feel pain and therefore abortion does not conflict with the moral standard that inflicting pain is bad, then it seems to me that a pain free death of an animal raised for food should adequately address that moral issue for someone who does not eat meat because of animal pain.

  116. @davew:

    I admit I haven’t read the entire thread, so this may have been covered, but in addition to the moral and ethical arguments, there is also the taste argument. Meat is effing delicious!

    That’s why I eat it.

    Come on! I mean, bacon, dude. BACON! Delicious with a captial “d” and a pretty big “licious” as well.

    Oh, and often I eat it to give a shout out to the high protien diets of our (humankind’s) recent past that help us develop our brains and junk.

  117. @Surly Nymph: But you HAVE morally judged us. In a previous discussion on vegetarianism, you clearly tried to make the connection between killing kittens and eating meat. “How is it any different to kill a kitten and eat a steak?”

    That’s about when my attitude went from “She is just a vegan, cool” to “She is an asshole vegan.”

    I know I’m being blunt and I wanted to try to avoid “calling you out”, but there it is.

  118. @Sam Ogden You know, noone has said that yet at all. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever heard that reaction before anywhere and what’s more I am convinced. Game over man. We can finally end the thread.

  119. @marilove: And btw, you can be an asshole vegan while still being an otherwise cool person. I just tend to not bring up meat around vegans who clearly think that way.

    I DO understand the passion. But people need to realize that when they start claiming that “EATING MEAT IS MUUURDERRR!” you are essentially calling your friends and loved ones murderers, and that many people won’t like that, and for a good reason.

  120. @marilove: Not to mention the fact that just because it’s easy for YOU to get fresh produce cheaply doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone.

    This is most precisely what I did not say. I said the bulk of my calories and protein come from beans and brown rice. I shop at the megamart that is most convenient to me, and I don’t eat any more or less fresh produce than anyone should. Fruit and veg are not a meat alternative. I do not spend an inordinate amount of time either shopping or cooking. I can’t. I have a full-time job and lots of hobbies.

    Again, I’m not saying that you should be vegetarian. I’m just saying that if you think that vegetarianism is more expensive, more time-consuming, or incompatible with a gluten-free diet I believe I can convince you that you are wrong. If you have a desire to become vegetarian then I can help. If you have no desire then there isn’t much point in talking about it since it’s not going to happen anyway so the “how” is irrelevant.

  121. OH NOES! I STILL GOTS ME 15 POUNDS OF PRIME RIB IN THE FREEZER!

    Beef; It’s still what’s for dinner.

    Or chicken, shrimp, turkey, pork, fish, clams, crab, octopus, lobster, sea urchin, bison, (maybe all of the above if it’s gumbo!).

    Now I’m hungry again!

  122. @marilove: I remember that exact argument and I don’t know how I can be any clearer really. I am not morally judging you — mainly because I know society as a whole was raised to be a certain way and I can’t flip a switch and get everyone to see my moral point of view.

    In that discussion we were talking about morals and how we treat certain animals. I posted a quote I found interesting because it expressed my view points. I am not morally judging you because we differ in opinion and I am sorry if you read it like that.

    People make judgments every day regarding eachother. I have a friend who is Mormon — I think that religion is completely rediculous. She probably thinks I am going to hell and am immoral because I drink alcohol and don’t believe in god. We can get into a discussion about this, expressing our view points but that doesn’t mean I am actually judging her in a malicious way and vice versa.

    What do I care that she thinks I am going to hell? I don’t. I know I won’t and she thinks I am rediculous and she is going to go to heaven and all will be great when she dies.

    Expressing viewpoints isn’t necessarily judging. Even if it is, people do it all of the time and I chose what and what not to affect me.

  123. @Sam Ogden: “…there is also the taste argument. Meat is effing delicious!”

    Yeah, that’s my problem too. I know intellectually that meat is a much less efficient and sustainable food source than vegetables but, on the other hand, OMGBACONDOUBLECHEESEBURGER!

  124. @Sam Ogden: I admit I haven’t read the entire thread, so this may have been covered, but in addition to the moral and ethical arguments, there is also the taste argument. Meat is effing delicious!

    You are quite right. I’ve never been a bacon fan, but I miss ribs intensely. And I still eat cheese from time to time.

  125. @davew: This isn’t about me. I have no desire to become a vegetarian, but I did say that I tend to not eat a lot of meat because it IS expensive (and because I suck at cooking it). But that wasn’t really my point. My point is that not everyone has access to fresh produce, and if you can’t fresh produce but are a vegetarian, I am pretty confident that you are lacking in some serious nutrients. YOU, davew, still have easier access to fresh produce than many people in the middle of urban areas, and therefore have an easier time being a vegetarian. THAT was my point.

    Also, I’m sure it’s completely doable to be a vegetarian and gluten-free, but it is still quite a bit harder, and many people just don’t have the luxury of time that it involves.

  126. @James Fox – If the driving force behind the choice to terminate a late-term pregnancy was dinner related I would not have any problem with saying it was amoral.

    The consequences and costs between abortion and eating meat are not comparable.

  127. @Surly Nymph: Um, there is actually a reason why I don’t tend to have right-wing or very religious friends: Because they DO think I’m evil and “going to hell” (because I have gay sex and believe in gay marriage), and while I don’t believe in hell, I have no desire whatsoever to have friends that think so fucking poorly of me. It’s offensive.

    And I still think that was an asshole quote to leave. ” I posted a quote I found interesting because it expressed my view points. ” Basically, your view point is that meat eaters are like those who kill kittens. That is a jerkish thing to say!

    Also, someone, I think, implied that working in a slaughtering house makes you a murderer and that they must enjoy killing, and are horrible, immoral people. I can’t remember and can’t find the damn discussion, and it may very well have been a comment somewhere else on some other board. Anyway, regardless, if anyone thinks that way, it’s a pretty disgusting view, because not everyone has the privilege to not work. Having known many people who have worked in slaughtering houses, it’s not an easy job, and they do it because they have to, not because they are murders and enjoy killing animals. People need to make a living.

    It’s THOSE kinds of arguments that tend to piss me off and scream “ASSHOLE!” Those arguments (“omg you kill animals for a living you are evil evil evil!!”) are seeped in privilege and completely uncalled for.

    Tangentially related, I actually have an ex-boyfriend that used to do deep-sea fishing and who can no longer eat octopus, which he apparently used to love, because they are such smart creatures. He got these sad puppy dog eyes when talking about it; it was kind of cute if a little hypocritical (since he happily ate bacon).

  128. @marilove: The only thing I can say then is I’m sorry you feel that way and by your definition we can never be friends. Mainly because of a choice I made and chose not to force onto anybody else. I have to deal with people all of the time who think I am harming my child by raising her vegan. We can discuss it all we want we will never see eye to eye but as long as they respect my decision and avoid doing sneaky things behind my back like feed to meat, then I am ok with that.

    FWIW — I did not make the comment regarding slaughterhouse workers.

  129. @Surly Nymph: “Are we arguing that being an omnivore is bad because a parent feeds their child McDonalds everyday with obesity as a result?”

    There’s meat in McDonalds?

    Sorry to interrupt a serious discussion with a flippant comment, but seriously, this post was about a silly flyer being handed out, not about the rights/wrongs of eating meat/not eating meat. Who’d have thought that this could end up with a comment rate faster than 100 cph (Comments per hour).

    Personally, I couldn’t give a shit whether people are vegetarian, vegan or meat eaters. It isn’t something than concerns me. I’m not going to think any differently of someone because of their diet.

  130. @marilove: Um, there is actually a reason why I don’t tend to have right-wing or very religious friends: Because they DO think I’m evil and “going to hell” (because I have gay sex and believe in gay marriage), and while I don’t believe in hell, I have no desire whatsoever to have friends that think so fucking poorly of me. It’s offensive.

    I felt the need to add — I understand where you are coming from and I can agree. This mormon friend and I aren’t close but we do associate. With something so amorphous as religion and moral views such as animals rights, I find sometimes civilly associating with people of different viewpoints can change minds.

  131. @marilove: Um, there is actually a reason why I don’t tend to have right-wing or very religious friends: Because they DO think I’m evil and “going to hell” (because I have gay sex and believe in gay marriage), and while I don’t believe in hell, I have no desire whatsoever to have friends that think so fucking poorly of me. It’s offensive.

    I just feel the need to add — I can understand what you mean and I don’t want to belittle that feeling.

    What if there was a person though who was generally a good person, she just tending to be part of some funky religion that disagreed with your view points. For all intents and purposes she is judging you but still loves you as a friend and values you as a person even if she thinks some imaginary being in the sky won’t let you into heaven?

    Maybe, by remaining that good friend, or seeing past these differences you might change her mind? I only ask because I have seen this before.

    I am not setting out with the goal of changing anybody’s mind, but I do have a secret hope that me just being here will encourage questions and might just help someone else see things the way I do.

  132. @Sam Ogden: No kidding. I could have my membership card revoked if they knew I was associating with you “pinko veggie-communists”.

    Now I’m picturing a giant belt buckle with “Skepchick” emblazoned across it. That’d go over big at the rodeo. :-)


    @Amy Actually, this thread was supposed to be about logical fallacies and funny cartoon chickens!

    Um, sorry.

  133. So, I haven’t read thru the whole thread since I left it, but I’ve read the most recent dozen or so comments and I want to commend you on being so awesome and funny and polite.

    But then I realized there are 222 comments and there’s a very good chance some of you have been assholes. So please just keep up the non-asshole-ishness that has been on display in the previous dozen. That is all.

    222? Seriously that’s up there with the Twilight threads.

  134. Just an FYI: That list includes Ben Franklin, who briefly dabbled in vegetarianism as a teen, and occasionally later when his gout kicked up. However, he recommended electrocution as a way to kill food animals, as it made their meat so tender. Especially turkeys.

    Personally, I’d like to make coq au vin out of that sanctimonious chicken, thereby demonstrating the inefficacy of prayer.

    My stepson is an ovo-lacto-pesci-vegetarian, primarily because he’s a vet and did a rotation on a farm; he doesn’t like how meat-cows are raised. His vet fiancee doesn’t eat poultry, because she observed that chickens pretty much wallow in their own feces. She, however, will eat a steak. Then I have the soy-allergic semi-brother [gives him hives] and my shellfish allergy [anaphylaxis] and the vegan god-daughter of a friend – is it any wonder that it took me three days to get through all the dishes from Thanksgiving?? [Admittedly, I air-dry them so that took some time, but still…]

  135. @James Fox:

    Gary Francione (http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/faqs/):

    “Question 11: If we want to treat similar interests similarly, does our recognition that animals have a basic right not to be property mean that abortion should also be prohibited?

    Answer: Abortion raises a number of difficult issues, particularly because of the religious dimension of the controversy. Many who oppose abortion believe that ensoulment occurs at the moment of conception. This belief leads some abortion opponents to oppose any measure that will interfere with the subsequent development of the fetus, including the use of intrauterine devices or drugs that prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum on the uterus wall. As far as these abortion opponents are concerned, the fact that a fetus or fertilized ovum is not sentient is irrelevant; the fetus has spiritual “interests” and is considered a full and complete moral being in the eyes of God as soon as it possesses a soul.

    Another complicating factor in the abortion debate is that as a cultural matter the status of a pregnant woman as a “mother” and of a fetus as a “baby” tends to kick in immediately after the woman learns that she is pregnant, particularly in cases in which the woman wants to have a child. That is, from the moment of conception, or learning of conception, we tend to think of the fetus as the human person–the baby–that it will become. But that characterization does not alter the biological fact that a fertilized ovum does not have interests in the way that the baby does.

    If we approach the abortion question outside the framework of religion and souls, and outside social conventions that characterize a pregnant woman as a “mother” and a fetus as a “baby” from the moment of conception, it becomes much more difficult to understand how fetuses–particularly early-term fetuses–may be said to have interests. Although it is not certain that any fetuses are sentient, it is clear that early-term fetuses are not, and therefore they do not have interests in not suffering–they cannot suffer. Moreover, it is not clear how nonsentient fetuses can have an interest in continued existence. Although a normal fetus will continue to term and result in the birth of a human person, the nonsentient fetus cannot itself have an interest in continued existence.

    Sentient beings are those who are conscious of pain and pleasure; those with some sort of mind and some sense of self. The harm of death to a sentient being is that she or he will no longer be able to have conscious experiences. If you kill me painlessly while I am asleep, you have harmed me because you have deprived me of having further experiences as a sentient being that I, by virtue of the fact that I have not chosen to commit suicide, wish to have. And our experience of sentient beings other than humans reasonably supports the position that all sentient beings share in common an interest in continuing to live–sentience is merely a means to the continued existence of organisms who are able to have mental experiences of pleasure and pain. We cannot analogize a fetus and a sleeping person; the fetus has never been sentient and therefore has never possessed the interests that are characteristic of all sentient beings.

    If we claim that a nonsentient fertilized ovum has an interest in continued existence simply because there is a high degree of probability that in nine months it will become a child with interests, then we are committed to the view that a fertilized ovum has an interest in continued existence immediately upon conception. And if we can say that a fertilized ovum has an interest in continued existence immediately upon conception, it becomes difficult to understand why we would not also say that a sperm and an egg have interests in conception before their union occurs. The primary difference between the fertilized ovum, and the sperm and egg, concerns probability (it is more probable that a fertilized ovum will eventually become a human baby than it is that any particular sperm will fertilize an egg), and nothing more.

    To the extent that we might say, for instance, that it is in the “interest” of the fetus that the pregnant woman not smoke cigarettes during pregnancy, such an assertion is no different from saying that it is in the “interest” of an engine to be properly lubricated or of a plant to be watered. Although it may be prudent for the pregnant woman not to smoke if she has an interest in having a healthy baby (just as it is prudent for us to put oil in our cars or to water our plants), the nonsentient fetus does not yet have an experiential welfare and does not prefer or want or desire anything. In the absence of a religious belief about the ensoulment of fetuses, it is difficult to understand why the abortion of an early-term fetus is morally objectionable or how abortion can be considered a harm to a nonsentient fetus. If the abortion of a nonsentient fetus is morally objectionable, then so would be the use of intrauterine devices or drugs, such as RU 486, that prevent the attachment to the uterine wall of a fertilized ovum. And we may be committed to the view that a sperm and an egg have an interest in being united so that the use of contraception violates the interests of the sperm and the egg. Again, in the absence of a religious framework, such views appear quite untenable.

    What if we determine that some fetuses are sentient? Certainly, late-term fetuses react to certain stimuli. It may be the case that such fetuses are sentient and have an experiential welfare. In this case, it would make sense to say that such fetuses have interests. But even if we assume that sentient fetuses have a basic right that prevents their wholly instrumental treatment, abortion presents a most unusual conflict of rights. One right holder exists within the body of another right holder and is dependent upon her for the very existence that serves as the predicate for the fetus having interests in the first place. Such a conflict is unique, and protection of fetal interests risks state intrusion on the woman’s body and privacy interests in a way that no other protection of the basic right of another requires. If a parent is abusing her three-year-old, the state may remove the child in order to protect the child’s interests. The state cannot protect fetal interests without intruding on the bodily autonomy of the woman and forcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy. But it may be the case that the sentience of fetuses militates in favor of abortion methods that are equally safe for the woman but that preserve the life of the fetus. “

  136. @Samuel: Interesting quotation, except the conclusion merely says abortion is unique and assigning the fetus value risks state intrusion if you allow your moral standard to apply to the issue of abortion. This appears to me to be a case of special pleading and/or inconsistency that I find hard to understand in the “animal rights abolitionists” camp when it comes to abortion.

    For myself I have no problem with animals being considered property and do not think they have any inherent rights. For that matter I don’t think humans have inherent rights either, except those agreed upon or identified by humans on our own, making our own laws in our own countries. And issues of religious context in the discussion have no meaning for me at all, except to recognize the historical context of the abortion discussion.

  137. @Elyse: I’ll say it again, you are super.
    @marilove: As far as people in urban areas not having as much access to fresh produce, I can only speak from personal experience here, but I call bullshit. I live smack in the middle of Brooklyn and there are accessible farmer’s market’s all over the city, every day. And they have cheap, cheap produce. Every day.
    Of course that’s only here, but this is pretty much the largest urban area in the country.

  138. @Shiyiya: Absolutely I have heard of white flight. That’s a very interesting article and doesn’t surprise me. I live in a relatively impoverished neighborhood that does happen to have a few supermarkets, but I usually hit up the Trader Joe’s on the way home from work (8 subway stops from home).
    However, my point was that the farmer’s markets to which I refer, are independent of supermarkets, are setup in park areas (generally) and are, in my opinion, very accessible and very cheap.
    Of course this is just NYC and the situations can certainly be different in other urban areas. That’s why I said in my above comment that I was only speaking from my experience in this particular urban area.

  139. @marilove:

    Many people can’t because they lack the resources, or because of medical reasons…

    That’d be me. I’m allergic to latex proteins and those damn things show up in a hell of a lot more than condoms and gloves.

    Soy – there goes a good portion of the vegan/vegetarian diet right there. No pretend meat products, no tofu, no soy milk, etc…

    Vegetables – Celery. Okay, there’s nothing decent in celery anyway.

    Nuts – Chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts… I’m pretty much limited to almonds and pecans.

    Fruits – Bananas, avocados, papaya, guava, pears, mangoes, ugly fruit, kiwi, etc…

    Legumes/Grains – Buckwheat, garbanzo beans, and a few other things I wouldn’t even eat if I could.

    So… basically my diet is limited to the point where it sucks anyway. Remove meat from it and I’d really be sunk. *shrugs*

  140. @Shiyiya: I should have phrased my statement better. I came off a little too harsh.
    Of course there is disparity between the burbs and urban centers. However, my point was, there are still many options in urban areas, which I think is really great (many cities now have local farmer’s markets).
    And of course I very explicitly said that I was speaking from my own observations and I didn’t disagree with the article you linked.

  141. @Skept-artist: I assume you’re near Park Slope. I’m in Flatbush and trust me, fresh veg is hard to find here. Mostly bodegas and a Stop n Shop with lots of rotting veg and expired food. My hubby and I usually go to Park Slope to buy food since it’s so crummy in our neighborhood.

  142. Personally, to end the suffering of all them farm critters, I think we should consider the proliferation of Long Pig Stew which when freeze-dried is more commonly known as…

    Soilent Green!

    Problem solved! You people should really listen to me, I have logical, workable answers to everything :)

  143. @marilove: “I’m sorry, but that IS being an asshole, because you are implying that I am immoral for eating meat”

    But the same would apply to any moral claim. It’s implicit in thinking that murder is immoral that others shouldn’t kill people as well. If I don’t eat meat because I think it’s unethical then, of course, I think meat-eaters are being immoral when they eat meat. There is no nice way around that. So basically, in your view, nobody should take an ethical stance against anything you want to do?

    “Basically, your view point is that meat eaters are like those who kill kittens. That is a jerkish thing to say!”

    I disagree with that. In a conversation about the ethics of meat-eating it is perfectly legitimate to ask why people think the two situations are different. I think you would get offended if you had a thin skin or couldn’t quite work out why they’re wrong. Of course declaring it to a stranger in a restaurant is definitely not socially acceptable.

    But I myself eat meat, mainly because I’m too lazy/not that bothered to decide if it really is unethical or not. And if someone wants to say I’m being immoral then I don’t have a problem with that. (But they’d better not be a hypocrite!)

  144. @Amy:

    “My opinion is that we should alleviate suffering whenever possible. It is a messy world true, but there are ways to survive that don’t require as much harm.”

    Agree wholeheartedly with this.

    I think at the end of the day people have to make moral decisions for themselves, but at least get the facts you’re basing those opinions on as straight as you can.

    This goes to all of this talk about plants feeling pain, or non-human mammals like cows not feeling pain. All of our scientific understanding of how the nervous system works suggests that cows (and monkeys and dogs… and cephalopods, among others) have a subjective experience of pain that is very similar to ours, and that plants do not. Similarly, insects do not either.

    Also, there seems to be a whole lot of “well evolution favored eating meat, therefore that must be the best thing for us.”

    If by best you mean best, then you need to be introduced to the “is/ought” fallacy — imagine if religion were evolutionarily advantageous for us, does that mean we should all be religious?

    And if by best you mean healthiest, sugar is amazingly selected for evolutionarily, please get diabetes by eating sugar all day. Numerous scientific studies have shown that increased consumption of meat leads to various health problems. This doesn’t mean people shouldn’t eat any meat, but it certainly does suggest that we needn’t eat mostly meat.

    There aren’t only two options: eating loads of meat or never eating meat ever.

  145. @roguekitten: Welcome out of the shadows! I was a long-time lurker as well.
    Actually, I’m in Bushwick. One of my co-workers lives in your neighborhood.
    My wife worked for a few seasons in the farmer’s markets. She got to go to all different neighborhoods day -to-day. She actually got to meet Kurt Vonnegut on her first day at the Greenmarket near the UN (that’s where he lived). I was so jealous.

  146. Whether or not an organism feels “pain” in a way that we’re able to empathize with is completely irrelevant. Every living thing is organized in a way to survive, they all have equal claims to life, they all have different strategies to make it so. Plants and animals. To kill a plant is morally equivalent to the killing of an animal.

    The relationship between livestock and humans is analogous to that of the bee and the flower. The flowers are selected by bees and in turn the features by which the bee selects the flower become more and more exaggerated over time. This same thing happens with humans and plants as well. These types of relationships are found all throughout nature and they are beautiful. In fact you might argue that all life is this very same relationship at the macro level.

    Additionally, plants will readily kill animals to ensure their own survival:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12717361.200-antelope-activate-the-acacias-alarm-system-.html

  147. @Amy: Yes, I have lived in Malibu and the Vally, and we had access to many farmers’ markets. Inexpensive and very good. Also, I disagree that “fresh produce” is required for vegetarianism. Or that it is expensive. I have been veggie for 25+ years. Sometimes w/o fresh veggies at all. Sometimes on the cheap.

  148. @justncase80: “The relationship between livestock and humans is analogous to that of the bee and the flower. ” No, actually not at all considering humans are the only creatures who modify and select their own food, not because of pressures from the environment but because of ability and choice. It may have been a valid argument before commercialized farming or the industrial revolution but it no longer applies.

    …and BTW an avocado is a fruit.

  149. Oh boy, someone bit on the fruit vs. vegetable bait!

    This is the same as the “is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable” question. There’s one important thing to know right up front, when you ask this question and that is that you are using the common usage of the term fruit rather than the scientific usage. Botanically a tomato and an avacado are both fruit, as you suggest. The word vegetable, however, has no definition botanically. So when you ask, is it a fruit or a vegetable then it’s a matter of the common usage of the terms.

    The distinction between the two is, during what course do you tend to use the ingredient – during dessert it is a fruit, during the main course or soup / appetizer it is a vegetable. Therefore, avacado and tomatos are vegetables. Another way of asking the question, is it sweet or is it savory? Savory has no botanical definition but it is a culinary term.

    If you don’t believe me you can read about how the Supreme Court ruled that a tomato is a vegetable in 1893 in Nix vs. Hedden for this very reason:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nix_v._Hedden

  150. @justncase80: Humans farming and and creating genetically modified food for consumption is not the same as a bee pollinating a flower. The majority of humans can select their own food not by environmental pressure but by choice. A bee can’t grow a garden and invite his bee buddies over for his modified version of a sunflower. A bee has to move to where the flowers are, unless he gets that wacky bee flu and gets lost on his way back to the the hive and then he gets nothing. We could change our food and our eating habits in a single generation if we so desired whereas selective pressures in the bee world would take many many cycles. Also, whether or not a plant would kill you is completely irrelevant. Lots of things will kill you, what this discussion has primarily been about is whether or not a vegetarian diet is objectively better.

  151. Bee’s choose which flowers to go to, the most attractive flowers to bees get pollinated the most. This process of natural selection actually modifies the flowers over time. I’m not seeing how this is any different?

    Also in the original flier the fallacy I saw was the line where it said “stop the killing”, so I thought the discussion was on whether or not eating animals was immoral. My main argument was simply that eating plants is also killing and that it is morally equivalent to eating an animal. The line stop the killing seems to imply that it’s immoral to eat animals.

  152. @Amy:

    I think it’s actually called the “Simultaneously annoy and bore the shit out of everyone” argument.

    When I can have a sunflower that I can keep as a fucking pet, we can talk. Otherwise…. *yawn*

    Now, I’ve got to get back to the Oak Tree clinic to perform some acorn abortions.

  153. @justncase80:

    “Every living thing is organized in a way to survive, they all have equal claims to life, they all have different strategies to make it so.”

    So if a train is speeding down a railway with two paths, and there’s two seedlings of grass growing one way, and one human strapped onto the tracks the other way… you’d direct the train into the human because that’s one organisms right to life vs two rights to life?

    Personally, I don’t think unconscious bundles of perpetuating chemical reactions that (almost certainly) have no perception of themselves or anything else need to be treated with as much care as something that has some or all of those (other mammals, for instance), and those still don’t need to be treated with quiiite the same level of care as humans or primates.

    I completely disagree when you say suffering is irrelevant. Reducing suffering is a direct result of catering to an organism’s biology. You don’t need to adopt plants because they need a good home. I don’t think a plant cares. I think humans do, along with many other big-brained mammals.

    Does a chunk of carbon atoms (coal) care if I break it? No. Does a more complex molecule like a string of DNA care if I pour acid on it? No. Does a single cell care if I step on it? No. Does a more complex sponge, composed of millions of cells mind? No. Does grass mind being stepped on? No. Does a cow mind having its leg broken? Almost certainly yes. Do you care if I break your arm?

    Now are there other reasons to not indiscriminately kill plants and amoebas and bacteria other than because of their cognitive capacities? Absolutely! But when the choice is between killing something that we know suffers vs something that we just about certainly know doesn’t, I’m inclined to at least take this into consideration.

    At the end of the day it’s your choice what you value, but personally I’m less worried about putting grass in a lawnmower as I am about putting cats in a lawnmower.

  154. @justncase80: “Additionally, plants will readily kill animals to ensure their own survival”

    Plants have no way of thinking about what they kill (for the fraction of a percent of plants that kill animals…) They have no intent, they can’t decide otherwise — they don’t “know” anything.

    Natural selection is blind, genetic drift is random. Why would you assume that evolution will always arrive on the most ideal circumstances? We have the ability to think beyond simply what happens to work for us in the immediate here and now.

    Evolution is stupid. The fact that animals kill to survive or that plants even do says nothing about whether or not we should think that’s an ideal situation. We can use our brains to try decide what to do in a way blindly mutating DNA cannot.

    If you really want to look at it in a way that shows the beauty of evolution and the natural world: in a way, sure natural selection has lead to animals (and plants) killing each other indiscriminately to survive, but it also gave us our brains to decide there might be better ways to do things because evolution itself cannot.

  155. @Elyse:

    When I can have a sunflower that I can keep as a fucking pet, we can talk. Otherwise…. *yawn*

    Heh, when I was a kid, my dad had a pet philodendron that he even named “Albert”. Yeah, I had a weird childhood.

  156. Interesting thread. I can’t really get behind the idea about caring about my food animals but I at least appreciate that the vegetarians here have a logically consistent reason for wanting to do so. I tend to have pretty cynical cave men attitudes when I comes to things like food. Always enlightening to listen to other people think things out.

  157. @Sam Ogden:

    No good reason? No reason like the fact that 270 comments in and this guy is still calling vegetarians hyprocrites because we won’t stop eating plants? Insisting that plants and animals are the same thing? That plants KNOW when they’re being eaten?

    It’s annoying. It’s condescending. And frankly, it’s stupid. Animals are not plants. If you can’t figure out the difference between a dog and a tomato, then you don’t deserve either… and you’re certainly too ignorant to have a discussion about them.

  158. @sporefrog: Back to the kingdomism. haha.

    The position that humans are somehow above evolution or superior to other life forms is pretty egocentric. Intelligence is itself an adaptation to promote survival, it is merely one strategy. You may not be able to apply words like “want” or “suffer” or “intent” towards a plant with the same anthropomorphic characteristics that you might apply to a mammal but the plants entire genetic being is based on the exact same principals that you or I are based on and we do actually share quite a bit of the same genes with everything else on earth. The end game is survival, propagation, how we get there is just different. Being able to “suffer” doesn’t make your life any more legitimate, which also means that not being able to suffer in human terms doesn’t make you any less legitimate.

    In your analogy of the train, suppose the two seedlings were actually the last two seedlings of an entire species? Or what if it wasn’t a human on the other track but, say, a sewer rat?

    We use fairly complex criteria to evaluate the worth of some other organisms life but I don’t think you can simply say that eating animals is wrong while eating plants is ok simply because the animal shares more genes with you. I think your ego is biasing your judgement.

    I also think eating the flesh of an animal is not only morally ok it can be done respectfully and reverentially and be a beautiful example of the symbiosis of life on earth. Death is part of life. And in our raising of stock animals we also promote the survival of their species.

  159. @Elyse: Sorry if you felt like I was calling anyone a hypocrite. I was specifically addressing the comment in the first flier regarding line that says “stop the killing”.

    As an omnivore that statement made by vegetarians also feels annoying, condescending and stupid. The same can probably said for any subject where people have completely different positions.

  160. @justncase80: And in our raising of stock animals we also promote the survival of their species.

    It blows my mind that people are still making this argument. This isn’t blue whales we’re talking about here. In most cases I can think of the species that gave rise to domesticated animals are still alive and well. What you are talking about are breeds and like most animals that humans have tinkered with these breeds are chalk full of hideously maladaptive traits. Nothing will be lost if Holsteins die out. Actually if there is anything worthy of conservation it is the ancestor species much as Seed Savers does with plants.

    If you want cattle raised for your steaks, fine, but don’t wrap it in the flag of Green Peace and call it conservation. It’s nothing of the kind.

  161. @justncase80: Ok, let me try this:

    Are we not skeptics? Do we not wait for scientific and sufficient evidence in order to make our decisions? Is it not shown through various scientific studies that higher brained animals feel pain and show some form of suffering/physical stress?

    Do we have sufficient amount of evidence that this is the same of plants? Do plants show some form of consciousness? Do they have a central nervous system that -as we understand it- relays the message of pain to the brain? In how we understand suffering, do plants seem to suffer?

    Plants do not equal animals. When sufficent evidence proves otherwise than I will listen to your argument. Until then, it is mere speculation and no different than entertaining that idea of ghosts.

  162. @Surly Nymph: agreed, they are not animals and they do not feel pain or have conciousness. Never claimed that.

    The claim is that plants are equally alive. Killing a plant is still killing. Whether or not an organism might feel pain or have consciousness matters not.

    There are lots of things that plants can do that we cannot, such as photosynthesize.

  163. @justncase80: So, than — with your logic, we should just eat both (concidering we have to actually feed the animals plants) even though if we lived on plants alone we wouldn’t have to use both the plant AND the animal. That’s efficient.

    If we are arguing “stop the killing” than yes, I agree — killing plants is still killing. I cannot, however agree when you argue that it makes no difference whether it be a plant or an animal. You have to kill far more plants eating an omnivorous diet, mainly because you have to feed the cow and since we HAVE to kill something in order to survive I’d rather cut out the middle man.

  164. @Surly Nymph: Now you’re talking, these are reasons I can get behind.

    There are many factors in my prioritization of what to eat, maxiumum preservation of life is one of them. Along with deliciousness, availability, hunger level and healthiness. In no particular order. I guess I could add efficiency to that list too, or maybe call it sustainability.

    I guess I’m not convinced that getting rid of all meat is any more sustainable or healthy than eating some meat (not to be confused with eating LOTS of meat) in the long run.

  165. Good discussion Justncase80! You’ve been very civil despite our disagreements.

    @justncase80:

    I think the basis of our disagreement is simply a subjective value-judgement. You value everything you can consider life equally. My value runs on a spectrum: if a million bacteria die, there are plenty more, there won’t be bacteria who miss them, and they won’t mind dying or suffer in any way because of it. These factors matter to me.

    What is strange to me about your position is that beyond just caring about killing and not killing, you seem to claim “deliciousness” is a factor in your choice of what to eat (and thus kill).

    Why do you value deliciousness but not suffering?

    Being able to “suffer” doesn’t make your life any more legitimate, which also means that not being able to suffer in human terms doesn’t make you any less legitimate.

    No but it means I’d rather kill something that doesn’t suffer than something that does, if I have to kill anything at all. That’s all I’m saying. There’s nothing egocentric about that — my position is all about caring about OTHER organisms’ wellbeing.

    You seem to think there’s some intrinsic “stuff of life” that makes something either living or unliving. My understanding of biology tells me that there’s no point when you can say life suddenly emerges (and I’m not talking out of my ass here, I have a degree in biology and am currently getting a PhD in microbiology).

    How do you define life? Clearly breaking a rock in half is not killing like you claim it is for a plant. How about bacteria? How about a virus? How about tornados, which are born from a soup of gas, live, die and return to the soup of gas, only to be reborn?

    I would never advocate that we shouldn’t value and preserve bacteria and plants, I’m merely saying that if I have to eat something, an organism’s biology plays into my choice. I don’t think systems of cognition and perception should be ignored, nor do I think to consider them is to be egotistical.

    Clearly you value one string of ribonucleic acids and a few hundred amino acid chains encased by lipids (a simple cell) more than a lattice of silicon, oxygen, aluminum, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosporous, tin, and other chemicals (i.e. a granite).

    I would not be tempted to say that you are being unfairly egotistical in valuing the cell over the rock. Sharing genes has nothing to do with my decision to value a cow or an octopus more than a corn plant (not to mention many plants, like apples, oranges, berries, nuts, etc don’t even need to be killed to provide food).

  166. As a quick followup to the sharing genes thing: if we came across another life form elsewhere in the universe that shared none of our genes, (or, more likely, had nothing remotely resembling genes as we know them) I would not value their biological concerns any less.

  167. @sporefrog:
    I would just like to try to simplify my main argument as much as possible first off.

    In the first flier in the blog post above it says “stop the killing”. I would like to suggest that eating vegetarian is also killing.

    If this suggestion is true then either the author of the flier does not understand the nature of life or they mean to equate the killing of animals to the killing of humans (by humans). The latter is not a value I share and find preposterous. Becuase the process by which I (and us all) decide to to kill or not kill something is more nuanced than this and I, of course, value human life, in general, much more highly than animals. Thus this whole discussion.

    You said “You value everything you can consider life equally”. As a starting point perhaps, but like you say the continued evaulation runs on a spectrum. You say if there are millions more and therefore you don’t mind killing some thing, that’s also what I meant by availability or sustainability perhaps.

    But next you say “… and they won’t mind dying or suffer in any way because of it.” And this is a slightly different subject we delved into but applying words like “minding” or “suffering” to bacteria is a very human thing to do. This is also what I meant about egocentric but I think that might be a little more inflammatory of a word than I really want. What I’m saying is that while a bacteria might not have wants or a human ability to suffer it is still alive in the exact same sense as us. It sill has the same goals as us, to survive and propagate. My conclusion is that it’s ok to kill them not because they are different from me but because they threaten my survival. This applies even to humans. And the bacteria that I kill callously I usually only do so because it’s too much effort not to.

    There are many good reasons not to kill an animal, merely because I share a lot of the same biological processes with it is not a compelling reason to me.

    You asked “Why do you value deliciousness but not suffering?”. Probably the valuing of deliciousness could simply be explained by my biology. It might be interesting to see how people would eat if everything tasted the same. I think the reason why the ability to suffer is not a compelling reason for me (in animals other than humans of course) is because I believe that this is a natural part of the relationship between predators and prey, the circle of life if you will . It ends up being a very low priority in the evaluation process for me. A value judgement as you suggest. I’m an equal opportunity omnivore.

    My use of the word ‘legitimate’ in that quote was probably unfortunate. I was trying to say it in context of evaluation of whether or not something is alive, not being able to suffer doesn’t disqualify you.

    “… my position is all about caring about OTHER organisms’ wellbeing”. Fair enough, I apologize for the use of “egocentric” here. Again I was just trying to say other organsims here should be all of them, not just those that happen to be more human like.

    “How do you define life?” Good question, you probably are more qualified to answer this than me but maybe it’s as simple as any cell that contains DNA? It would be interesting to see what makes up life on other planets, to see if you can even further generalize that definition.

    And finally “not to mention many plants, like apples, oranges, berries, nuts, etc don’t even need to be killed to provide food”. In many of these cases you’re essentially eating potential plants, or plant a “fetus”. But like we discussed before this is all part of the plants or animals survival strategy. Someone else here on this forum suggested it would be better to let entire species of animals die then it would be to continue to breed them. I find this to be a profoundly disturbing viewpoint and truly hope that person is never in a position to decide such things.

  168. @justncase80: Someone else here on this forum suggested it would be better to let entire species of animals die then it would be to continue to breed them. I find this to be a profoundly disturbing viewpoint and truly hope that person is never in a position to decide such things.

    I said breed not species. I said it at least twice.

  169. @justncase80:
     I think it’s fair to say that we as humans hold a privilaged position on this planet and while your argument that all life forms have a right to life may hold true to a certain extent, to the extent that all life is created equally that does not mean that all life evolves equally. More complex lifeforms require more complex consideration. We also have an obligation to make educated decisions in regards to what we allow to become food and what we allow to survive. Yes, I said allow. Whether you or I like it or not we as humans have created selective pressures upon all the other creatures on this planet. My hope is that you and others will take into consideration the feelings of other sentiant beings before causing harm. It is not as simple as you want it to be.

  170. If I may wander back into the conversation, since I seem to still be unable to stop it being emailed to me, I’m seeing justncase80’s argument not as “all life is equally valuable” but as “the flier said ‘stop the killing’ and technically killing plants is also killing”.

  171. @justncase80: True, sorry. I find that no less disturbing however.

    Then you’ve got your work cut out for you. People are creating new breeds every day. If we’re going to save them all we’re going to need a bigger planet or I’m sure future generations will condemn us for failing to conserve the holsteindoodle.

  172. @Shiyiya:
    “If I may wander back into the conversation, since I seem to still be unable to stop it being emailed to me,”

    Haha sometimes I get the email spam and sometimes I don’t… I don’t understand how it works :P

    “I’m seeing justncase80’s argument not as “all life is equally valuable” but as “the flier said ’stop the killing’ and technically killing plants is also killing”.”

    Right, but then we got into the whole vegetarianism thing and he said he didn’t see a difference between eating a cow vs corn, and furthermore than he didn’t really consider suffering something to worry about. It sort of developed over the course of like 200 posts though, so :P

    @justncase80:

    I completely agree that the flier’s stupid, I’ve just been going off on a tangent this whole time :P

    I think this is the major point of our disagreement:

    What I’m saying is that while a bacteria might not have wants or a human ability to suffer it is still alive in the exact same sense as us.

    I don’t think a bacterium is alive in the exact same sense as most animals. Bacteria’re extraordinarily complex, interesting organisms that are worth preserving (the vast majority of all bacteria cause no harm to humans, and we would be dead without them. We have around 10 trillion human cells in our bodies, and around 100 trillion bacterial cells). But I’m not bothered killing one or tearing it apart like I’m bothered killing or tearing apart a horse or a human. The purpose of my granite analogy was to show that there’s no clear line where things go from being non-life to life, and I rank killing bacteria closer (but not equal) to smashing rocks in half than to killing humans. That’s not to say that humans are “better” than bacteria.

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