Here’s one from the British national health service - admittedly a nation of pale, worm-like creatures.
Well sure that and sugar and ice-cream and chocolate and probably a bunch of stuff.... Most of the food we eat is not for survival. Across the board.
And it is true that it is not only animal farming that causes harm to the environment. Thus, one could argue that if vegans want to be completely internally consistent, they should also give up such luxuries as chocolate and coffee, which we don’t really need, but the farming of which does require us to clear natural land. A valuable little nugget to keep in mind next tome someone tells you meat is murder.
Of course, one needs to separate conservation and animal welfare issues. The two simply aren’t the same, and are sometimes directly in conflict.
I think a vegetarian diet really does tend to be kinder to the environment than a meaty one, though it does depend to some extent on where you are. E.g. in South Africa a lot of beef cattle are kept on lands not suitable for growing crops anyway, and it is my understanding that the methane problem occurs mostly in grain fed animals (admittedly our beef cattle are usually “finished” for a few months in a feedlot).
I wonder if these vegans have a problem with lab grown meat that produces no methane?
So do I. I suppose it will depend on the individual. Some vegans may happily take up eating lab grown meat, while others will point out that the original cells to grow the meat from were taken by biopsy without permission from animals, and thus it’s all wrong. Vegans tend to display varying levels of fanaticism.
Another anecdote: my brother knows an Indian lady who grew up vegan simply because she grew up in a Hindu community which happened to be vegan. So to her it was never a moral issue; it was just what she was used to. Then she developed mild anemia, and the doctor told her she could take supplements, or just try out eating meat. Adventurously, she took the latter option. And has never looked back since.
Right, this is what I was getting at earlier. The fact that we eat meat doesn't relate to the ethics of the farming methods used.
Indeed. As I may have noted, I have no problem with killing and eating animals; I have a problem with cruel treatment of said animals. The irony about it is that I hold to this stance precisely because I grew up on a small farm where we produced almost all our own meat. But our animals were well treated, and did not spend days of discomfort and/or terror before finally getting a bullet in the brain. They were perfectly happy one moment, and in cattle heaven the next, without noticing a thing.
My father was very strict about this; he couldn’t stand cruelty to animals. We had a railway line running past our house, and once, a bunch of railway workers wanted to buy chickens from us. He refused, knowing that the chickens would be kept alive in some small cage somewhere, perhaps for days, without food or water, before being slaughtered. But he had no compunctions about slaughtering animals as such, and us kids happily assisted. Some of my very earliest memories are of me helping him slaughter pigeons for the table; I was probably no older than four or so.
He also had no problem with my brother and I and our pals hunting birds with slingshots or air rifles, but he had one rule: you eat what you shoot. No indiscriminate slaughter just for the fun of it. We kept to this rule, and I have happy memories of us making little fires in the veld to barbecue a sparrow or two.
Some years ago we visited the farm with some city kids. They wanted to know if they could shoot birds with their air rifle. “Sure,” I said. “But you eat what you shoot.” They promptly lost their interest in hunting.
We learned from personal experience that farm animals have no concept of death and do not fear it: cattle would calmly graze within meters of where we were slaughtering one of their herd, without any alarm. Thus, I grew up having no problem with the killing as such. But I do have a problem when animals are tortured in life and then tortured to death. Perhaps torture is too strong a word, but I can’t imagine that they are happy about the conditions they are sometimes kept in.
[....] In my opinion, they are probably actually making the rhino situation worse, because all the emotion will lead to more draconian laws, which will drive up the price of rhino horn, which will attract ever more ruthless people into the poaching business. But that's another story.
I completely agree. This is exactly why some rational thinking needs to be brought into these things. Are we trying to optimise the outcomes or make ourselves feel better?
As it happens, I recently had a question on Quora about the rhino situation: there was a recent case in which a poacher was killed by animals in Kruger Park. The questioner wanted to know what people thought. Predictably, lots of answers from armchair conservationists expressed great glee, so I gave them all a piece of my mind, which you can read here if you really want to:
Now that's a perfectly good argument too, and has the added advantage of actually being honest instead of trying to sugarcoat things. You'd make a good LaVeyan Satanist, by the way. :D
Read some of it… some truth, some bs, not really all that interesting. I’d rather think about and develop ideas than *SUBscribe to yet another theology.
Satanism is a bit of a hoot, and I’m pretty sure LaVey invented it for no other reason than to have a bit of fun at the expense of his society, and perhaps make some handy cash in the process. He succeeded on both counts, and is probably giggling in his grave to see how seriously some take it now, not to mention the schisms that happened in his church (has there ever been ANY frickin’ church or ideology which did not promptly experience angry schisms?)
He did make some good points, mind you…
Err, don't look too deep into that rationale, you may find your significant other(s) fit the bill. IOW: If you use the word "just"... you are being a bit down on nature. Natural explanations for phenomena don't need to remove the magic. I find human's insistance that their feelings need to transcend natural explanation quite puzzling.
I quite agree on that, but what I meant was that perhaps when dogs look soulfully into the eyes of their owners, they are actually not feeling much of anything besides hope for a snack. I have noticed this in my landlady’s little Maltese. I’m always the one who give him his evening snack, and he awaits that moment with great anticipation, looking for all the world like he is filled with love and gratitude. This year, my landlady is mostly overseas for work. The dog seems to miss her all day long. But come snack time, all his depression disappears in a flash. So how much of it is “real” and how much just a simulation, like those Japanese crabs Carl Sagan once mentioned, that look like Samurai warriors?
I suppose we may never know. Reminds me of that scene in the film A.I., in which robots are cruelly and gleefully murdered in an arena, for the pleasure of spectators. But are the robots actually scared, or just mindlessly following programming? No one can tell. It’s an interesting philosophical question, in a film that was otherwise perhaps a bit too sentimental for its own good.
Now in the case of animals, there is evolutionary continuity between them and us, and we thus have every reason to think they experience at least some of what we do. Thus we are horrified to learn of Descartes’ vivisection of dogs, for example. Still, we probably get too sentimental.
Thought experiment: you keep a hundred prisoners in solitary confinement. For a year, their only companion is a cute and cuddly soft toy. At the end of the year, as price of their freedom, they have to burn the toy. I wonder how many of them will wince a bit, or indeed even be traumatized. Will any actually refuse? Hopefully the experiment will never be carried out.
This is my riposte to the frequent meme of "If we gave up religion we'd all be raping and pillaging naked in the streets". One I've had to employ often in real life, I assure you.... "Well, if I did that, wouldn't be too long before the town had about enough of me and strung me up, no?"
Yup, as social creatures, most of us are aware of the social costs of what we do. And real psychos are not stopped by religion anyway. On the contrary, they sometimes enthusiastically take up religion precisely because it puts them in a position to do their worst and get away with it.
In fact, bacteria and fungi may kill us all yet, and with good reason given of how many of THEM we've killed....
They have every reason to hate us. Lucky for us, they are not burdened by such emotions.
Assuming there is a galactic council that gives 2 fucks about our moral codes and appeals to fairness at all.
Yes, indeed. In the end, might really does make right. And thus, when a vegan tells you eating meat is murder, perhaps the best answer is this: “Yes, you are right. Lucky for me, it is currently perfectly legal for me to murder and eat animals.” That will really piss them off.