Hmm this took a few minutes to copy and paste, but hey, important issue, so I thought I might as well copy these replies of mine for posterity, rather than let them be lost in the internet black hole of back issues of the Atlantic :/ I certainly got a bit acerbic at times, but it was hard to resist... some award-winners from the omnivore debating society:
Simply over analyzing the issue. These animals are designed to be eaten.
Yes, the benevolent Creator designed animals to be eaten.
And He designed factory farms to appear in the 20th century, so animals could be eaten on a larger scale. And He also designed humans to be eaten, by the powerful aliens who are fattening us up for the slaughter unawares as we speak. And in His all-seeing wisdom, he designed the Common Cold, so that we would more keenly appreciate our health. And moreover, He designed the Appendix and Tonsils, in His infinite glory, so that surgeons might have a more stable income. Furthermore, He designed deadly Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Infant Mortality, Birth Defects, Old Age, and those Akward Middle School Years, so that, well there is certainly an important Reason for these phenomenon, which, in His Infinite Glory, he has kept from us, because if we knew it, then there wouldn't be any more mystery....
You envision a world without livestock animals? You prefer they were extinct? Or just kept in petting zoos?
I don't get it.
I used to use that same reasoning with my vegetarian sister when I was 12.
But you could also say, could you envision a world without underage sex slaves born into brothels? Would you prefer they just be let to die, instead of being kept alive by their captors, who are actually doing these enslaved minors a favor?
Yes, utilitarianism is popular in academia and has influenced policy, but overall the moral framework of our laws and policies is so far not based on utilitarianism (or on any one philosophy).
Ethics based on shared emotions is quite difficult. How do we really know what shares emotions with us? Cows? Lobsters? Bees?
I suppose if I truly believed that killing of any sentient being was always wrong (or potentially wrong given there is no accurate way to know what really shares our emotions) I would eat a calorie-restricted vegan diet based on a limited amount of low-impact hand-harvested organic crops. And I would refrain from reproducing since any child I bring into this world only causes more death of other beings. Quite bleak, really. A true utilitarian would also not excuse animals from causing pain and death and might make an effort to reshape ecology.
I keep hearing the same fallacies repeated in different ways.
By that logic, we musn't attempt to reduce suffering, because we cannot reduce it to zero, and because we cannot be 100% sure of the consequences of our actions.
That sounds like nihilism, and a pretty weak argument against veganism and in favor of the status quo.
It's like saying, well, game theory indicates that we are all f-cked, so let's hurry up and get ours whilst we destroy the planet quicker. Is that really the person you want to be?
ahhh. Anthropomorphism. I gotcha. I suppose I shouldn't eat the kale in my garden either, because someone somewhere might consider it a family member? Maybe we should all be breatharians?
Plants do not have brains. They don't have pain receptors, nervous systems, or sense organs. That is why we distinguish them as "plants."
And we're back to the perfectionist argument... nobody can be perfect, so let's not even try to improve ourselves one iota!
Again, I have much more respect for someone who simply admits, I kill and eat animals, I don't care about them, than for someone who tries to prove that caring is wrong.
We care, get over it. Most people who didn't have some hidden guilt wouldn't be on a message board arguing with vegans...
No, I'm not referring back to some perfectionist argument. I'm poking fun at the vegans who seem to think that if they refuse to eat animal products something marvelous will occur... I have a right to eat animals, you have a right to abstain.
Yes, and two hundred years ago you would have had a "right" to own slaves. Does that mean it would have been ethically desirable, all things considered?
As for what is accomplished by one person being Vegan, what is accomplished by one person voting in an election? Not much. Is that a good argument against voting? No. Because society is made up not of one person, but of many. Most large-scale human phenomena are composed of the smaller effects of many individual choices made by individual people.
I used to eat meat, some of my family members and many of my friends and coworkers eat meat. Custom is very powerful, and most vegans myself included do not go about life with some self righteous or holier-than-thou attitude.
But if you bring up the subject, yes, we will explain our reasoning, as I have been doing here.
Why do people always bring dogs into these conversations? A dog is an animal we keep as a pet. Not a preferred source of meat in our culture - and I would argue that's due to the lack of meat on dogs - but if they are in another culture (and many eat dogs), what's the big deal?
I eat cows and other sentient animals. I make no excuses about this. If you are a vegan, you are complicit in the death of animals too. Indirectly to be sure, but still. Life feeds on life, you can not remove yourself from this circle.
True. Vegans still are complicit in the death of animals. Therefore, they should revert to eating meat, and killing more animals.
By that logic, nobody should ever do anything to try to improve anything, because they cannot be perfect. That makes sense....
Killing is killing is killing... sentience or not, doesn't matter. All you plant eaters are killers just the same, except you pick slower, weaker prey that is rooted in place.
Plants don't have brains, awareness, senses, or pain receptors, genius.
So why is it, then, that sunflowers rotate to face the sun as it passes across the horizon?
It's a chemical reaction. What, you think they decide in their nonexistent sunflower brains, hmm i was just hanging out here in this field, but wouldn't it be nice to follow the sun? Where were you people in Biology 101?http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index ... 836AAbAAVP(In reply to someone who wrote "I value Human life more than Animal life")
Valuing human life and valuing animal life are rarely mutually exclusive.
If we value sentient life in general, we will try to preserve the Earth for our children and their children ad infinitum, not destroy it in an orgy of excess. This planet is our life raft.
Farming grain to feed livestock is incredibly wasteful, with 7 billion people on the planet, many of whom aspire to an animal-heavy Western-style diet.
"The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7600005.stm(In reply to someone who said "I won't apologize for my ancestors hunting and gathering nor should anyone be attacked for carrying on the tradition of something that's obviously working. Evolution makes no moral judgements, only that you survive long enough to pass on your genes to the next generation or not.")
There is a strong evolutionary basis for Rape, as well. Sure gets the genes passed on to the next generation!
I won't apologize for my distant ancestors practicing Rape. But personally I tend to view Rape as barbaric.
Reductio ad absurdum...(In reply to "Domesticated livestock that actually cannot survive without human intervention are hardly comparable to child sex trafficking.")
Why not? Children can't survive without human intervention either.
We all have brains and 5 senses. Where do you draw the line? We all draw it somewhere. Europeans used to believe aborigines weren't human, that it was ridiculous to draw a comparison between a Native and a White Man, and so we could do what we wanted with them- kill, enslave, exploit.
How about the disabled? Is it cool to kill a mentally retarded person because he couldn't survive without human intervention? How about a great ape, our closest relative?
Again, we all draw the line of empathy or identification somewhere, Vegans just take it a bit further than Carnivores.