"Eating Animals" Article

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"Eating Animals" Article

#1 Postby Fallen_Horse » Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:44 pm

Some good, mostly bad. Why is it that 'ethical omnivores' always happen to forget the death involved in their lifestyle, not to mention the moral and ethical implications of choosing to kill versus choosing not to?

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Re: "Eating Animals" Article

#2 Postby MartinVegartin » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:28 am

Nicolette: I gave up meat as a freshman biology major after hearing that beef was deforesting the Amazon. I'd been a vegetarian for over a decade when I began working as an environmental lawyer focused full-time on pollution from animal agriculture. At first, my new job -- touring factory farms and researching their water, air, and soil contamination -- reinforced my rejection of meat. But as I studied ecologically based food production, I learned that animals were essential to sustainable farms, which don't rely on fossil fuels and chemicals. Animals can increase soil fertility, contribute to pest and weed control, and convert vegetation that's inedible to humans, and growing on marginal, uncultivated land, into food. And as I visited dozens of traditional, pasture-based farms, and came to know the farmers and ranchers, I saw impressive environmental stewardship and farm animals leading good lives. Although I've continued to follow a vegetarian diet, I support other people's choice to eat meat.

Vegan-organic farming and permaculture can grow abundant food without the need for farm animals. Soil fertility is increased - especially with permacuture. An experiment in a middle eastern desert showed that soil can be made from sand and plant compost. When the project was over and the land was more or less left to its own devices, the fertile soil continued to be created and the area expanded further into the desert. If it had been managed, the transition would have been greater. I don't advocate turning deserts into farms because plants and animals that live in them have a right to continue living in them but it shows what can be done.

A well managed, vegan-organic farm will have natural 'pest' management because the animals that eat marauding insects and slugs will be attracted to it.

Organic farm animals might lead good lives but the end is always the same - a bolt shot through the head or a blade to the neck. There is nothing good or ethical about this.

Tovar: I became a vegetarian at 20, after reflecting on the compassionate words of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Soon I went vegan. Almost a decade later, having moved back to a rural community from New York City, I realized that all food has its costs. From habitat destruction to combines that inadvertently mince rabbits to the shooting of deer in farm fields, crop production is far from harmless. Even in our own organic garden, my wife and I were battling ravenous insects and fence-defying woodchucks. I began to see that the question wasn't what we ate but how that food came to our plates. A few years later, my wife -- who was studying holistic health and nutrition -- suggested that we shift our diet, and my health improved when we started eating dairy and eggs. It improved still more when we started eating chicken and fish. Two years later, I took up a deer rifle.

He complains about rabbits being minced, deer being shot and woodchucks getting through fences. Humans stole the land of these animals as we expanded like a disease across the planet. Or we imported rabbits to be used as meat and then complained when the rabbits escaped and started eating. But breeding cattle, sheep and pigs and then killing them won't make those other problems go away. It just means more animals being killed. As a vegan diet requires much less land and fewer crops, there won't be as much to defend against deer, greenfly and woodchucks. There won't be a need for so many combine harvesters because grains won't have to be grown to feed chickens and cattle.

Some meat eaters preach about 'grass-fed beef' as if it is the answer to all the planet's ills. But do we want to see the world turned in a giant prairie to house all these cattle? Cattle cause pollution and churn up the soil. They will have to be transported to where they will be killed or sold. More predators will be attracted to all these vast herds. The predators will have to be killed. Other animals, who eat grass, will have to be killed. Even more so as their predators will have been killed to stop them eating the animals that eat the grass these other animals want to eat.

The only answer is veganism. Most people wouldn't want that but it is the only answer. There are too many humans and they can't all exist on a meat-based diet. We will see even more problems as the Chinese and Indians begin to eat more meat as they become financially better off.

Joshua:Eventually I went, literally, whole hog into eating meat again; it was bacon that pushed me over the edge. Once I saw how the meat we were selling had been raised, and met the farmers who were striving to raise animals sustainably and ethically, I overcame my aversion to consuming meat. I realized I didn't have a problem with meat. I had a problem with the inhumane practices of the commercial meat industry. Once I saw how things could be done, I was happy to support the farmers who make our business possible and profitable.

He seems to forget the cruelty at the end of the whole process. These people seem to think that humans have a right to do whatever they want to other animals. White people used to think that way about black people. Slavery was successful in building huge fortunes for individuals and countries but only when a few people owned slaves. Not everyone could have had a slave. Not every human can eat meat in the quantities that are eaten in rich countries. It won't work. As the climate changes and sea levels rise, there will be even less land to waste on making meat. Seven thousand million people cannot eat meat. But they can eat a vegan diet. They can choose meat and cause more destruction, misery and death or they can choose veganism. I think many humans will hang on to their lust for meat, though, because their bellies rule their hearts and their heads.

Even vegan advocacy groups generally counsel their followers to take nutritional supplements because the majority of vegans are deficient in vitamin B-12, found almost exclusively in foods from animals, and because the human body is far less capable of utilizing the forms of iron and zinc found in plants. Yet there is little proof that pills can adequately provide essential nutrients. "Clinical trials rarely show much benefit from taking supplements," says nutrition professor Marion Nestle. And a new University of Minnesota study raises fresh doubt about the wisdom of relying on pills for iron and other nutrients. It found that middle-aged women who took nutritional supplements -- especially iron -- had shorter lifespans than those who did not. Meat and eggs, in contrast, contain ample iron, zinc, and B-12, in forms that are easily absorbed by the human body.

I and many others get all our B12 from supplements. It clearly is possible to get enough. We can get enough iron and zinc form plant foods.

Early human diets apparently included (PDF) a hefty 500 mg daily dose of cholesterol, more than what's found in two eggs. During the 20th century, consumption of eggs declined and overall animal fat consumption dropped by over 20 percent, while consumption of vegetable fat (which contains no cholesterol) increased by over 400 percent. Yet blood cholesterol levels steadily rose and deaths from heart disease increased more than fivefold. Harvard School of Public Health researchers have concluded that eating foods that contain cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol levels.

Eating cholesterol can lead to increases in blood cholesterol if cholesterol levels are already high. Modern blood cholesterol increases and increased heart disease could be explained by the fact that modern humans sit around all day. And they eat highly processed foods.

That PDF says: (gatherer-hunter) 'groups studied during the last century were the best, if imperfect, surrogates for Palaeolithic humans. Their subsistence patterns, obligatory physical activity and biomarkers (serum cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose responsiveness, BMI, etc.) can be considered representative of those for humans living 50–25 kya. Proximate analyses of the game animals, fish, shellfish and uncultivated plant foods consumed by HG provide further information concerning nutrient intake of those ancestors.'

You can't use modern human groups to deduce what humans ate 30 thousand years ago. These groups are spread all over the world and contend with different climates, plants and animals. They have different levels of physical activity and different cholesterol levels. And one of the tools of anthropologists for assessing the contents of diets (radioisotopes) can lead to wrong conclusions. A recent analysis came to the conclusion that some group were heavy meat eaters because the isotopes in their bones suggested they ate animals. But someone else pointed out that the same isotopic signatures would be found in people who ate the same plants that those animals ate.

In considering ethics, it is important to recognize that animals live and die in all kinds of conditions. Whether raised for eggs, milk, or meat, birds and mammals can be treated horribly or humanely. And whether on a ranch, at a slaughterhouse, or in the woods, they can be killed callously, with no concern for their suffering, or killed swiftly and carefully.

As any attentive observer of nature knows, life feeds on life. Every living thing, from mammals, birds, and fish to plants, fungi, and bacteria, eats other living things. Humans are part of the food web; but for the artifices of cremation and tightly sealed caskets, all of us would eventually be recycled into other life forms. It is natural for people, like other omnivores, to participate in this web by eating animals. And it is ethically defensible -- provided we refrain from causing gratuitous suffering.

This is a stupid and callous argument. People get murdered, raped and robbed. Why don't we all go out murdering, raping and robbing, then? It would be ethically defensible as long as we did it kindly.

There is also a practical dimension to consider. Americans are far more likely to stick to a regimen that includes meat, dairy, and eggs, all of them staples of our national diet. Most people have no interest in giving up these foods. Over the past two centuries, various groups -- including religious sects, social reformers, naturopathic physicians, environmentalists, and animal rights advocates -- have promoted vegetarianism in the United States. Yet the diet has never really taken hold. Today, only about three percent of Americans are vegetarian and 0.5 percent are vegan. And surveys consistently show that the vast majority of Americans who do try vegetarianism or veganism -- about three-quarters of them -- return to eating meat. Rather than urging people to consume only plants, doesn't it make more sense to encourage them to eat an omnivorous diet that is healthy, ethical, and ecologically sound?

No, it doesn't make more sense to encourage people to be omnivores. There have been religious and political attempts to stamp out crime and wars. But crime and wars persist. Is that a reason for us all to become criminals or warmongers? These three meat-apologist, ex-veggies are just trying to justify their own weak-willed surrender to the desires of their bellies.

Concerns about health, the environment, and ethical eating do not require giving up meat. What they do require is a new ethics of eating animals: one rooted in moderation, mindfulness, and respect.

They are as hypocritical as the slave owner who might have said that slavery could continue as long as the slaves' rights were respected and they were treated nicely.

I believe our very distant ancestors - not sure if they were human or prehuman - ate a largely plant-based diet. Earlier ones will have been almost exclusively plant eaters like our chimp cousins. The fact that we can live on a plant-based diet now shows that we can live on a plant-based diet now.

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Re: "Eating Animals" Article

#3 Postby SunWarrior » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:03 am

. When it comes to health- the ingestion of any dietary cholesterol is terrible for your health and will eventually lead to health problems. It doesn't matter how you got your animal products, they're still the only source of dietary cholesterol. We aren't made to eat these animal foods. It isn't natural to eat eggs from a hens menstrual cycle, it isn't natural to drink milk from a mother cow that would otherwise go to feeding her babies. And it isn't natural for human beings to kill and eat animals. We aren't carnivorous, have you ever seen a lion cook his kill over flame till it was just right? No, they eat it raw. Something their intestines were made for. So go try to eat a bunch of raw meat. See what happens to your body.
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Re: "Eating Animals" Article

#4 Postby joelbct » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:16 pm

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:

wscaddie56 wrote: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....

USisLiberal wrote: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?

Melilssa wrote: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?

ShaneSimpson wrote: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...

ShaneSimpson wrote: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.

ShaneSimpson wrote: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....

plant_advocate wrote: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.

Britrider wrote: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?

Dogs, cats?

Again, we all draw the line of empathy or identification somewhere, Vegans just take it a bit further than Carnivores.

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Re: "Eating Animals" Article

#5 Postby MartinVegartin » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:34 pm

joelbct wrote: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:

Good points. Arguing with meat eaters on forums is an interminable process. You no sooner answer a question when someone else asks the same one in a different way. You put someone right about something and show the studies and then someone else starts a thread about the same thing and it all kicks off again. Do you often get involved in online debates?

I keep copies of debates where I have posted important info. One epic one went on for about 100 pages. I have it all saved.

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