Veganism

#42
I see humans as omnivorous animals. We have become apex predators through our technology, but we have also developed more harmonious methods of obtaining our food, such as farming. With our developed minds and technology, I think we are obligated to reduce suffering in the aqusition of our food.

So we are still animals that need animal products, but because of our mental evolution we should work to reduce the suffering typically seen with animals that hunt.
Okay. You are free to continue.
 
#43
Our cats have always been free to come and go as they please! Maybe this happens more in the UK - I don't know. Our cat has a 'cat flap' and he can pop out whenever he wishes.
Great! So were our family's cats when I was growing up. Part of the time we lived in a farmhouse and they pretty much had as much access to "the great outdoors" as they wanted. When a cat is happy to live with you, loved, and has the freedom to come and go as he pleases, then that's probably the best deal possible in the pet paradigm. But what about his initial choice as to where to live and with whom? What about the fact that (in all likelihood; the circumstances may have been different in your specific case) he was forcibly separated from his mother and siblings before he necessarily would have chosen to separate himself from them? What about the fact that, in all likelihood, he has not made the choice to live in an urban environment (again, I'm assuming this is the case as it typically is; it might be different in your specific case), when he would, in all likelihood, be happier in a more natural one?

And yes, it is often the case that cats are free to come and go as they please, but this is rarely if ever the case for dogs. I stand by my original comments: far too often, dogs are essentially miserable prisoners. No, not always: there are many people who love their dogs and treat them well, and at least make sure that they get out for a long walk each day. But there are far too many people who keep dogs for reasons I don't understand. The sake of it, perhaps, or a power trip. Certainly not for the love of the animal.

More extreme confinement is not unusual. In the small town where I live (population only several thousand), I have personally observed at least six homes where dogs and/or goats are currently, or have recently been, either:

  • Permanently chained on a short chain outdoors - even during winter, when the temperature sometimes gets down to the freezing point.
  • Permanently attached to a "run" - again, outdoors, even during winter.
  • Permanently kept in a cage roughly two metres by four metres, again, outdoors, even during winter.

And all of this is legal. The RSPCA have told me that unless I can prove that these animals are not provided with sufficient food and water, and/or are not provided with exercise once a day, there is nothing that they can do. And not only are the police uninterested in doing anything, they take the side of the abusers, and they actively warn me not to get involved.

These are also only the cases I have personally encountered; there are no doubt many others in this town alone. A friend told me that his neighbour kept a dog permanently on a run and literally starved it to death. It died "hanging upright" on the run.

Obviously, I'm not taking these extreme cases as representative of the paradigm of pet ownership in general, but these are the sort of things that can happen when it is deemed normal for humans to make decisions on behalf of animals - decisions which don't legally have to be in the animal's best interests.

Cats and dogs are not herbivores. Feeding them an herbivorous diet is animal abuse.
Normative statements like this are meaningless, just as are, without evidence of any actual widespread health problems in the vegan community, your normative statements about deficiencies in individual nutrients in vegan humans. It is utterly irrelevant what you think any being is "supposed" to eat if it is surviving healthily on what it *is* eating. Cats and dogs *can* and *do* live healthily on nutritionally complete vegan diets, just as humans do - yes, as I acknowledged in the first place, it may not always work out for all cats, but I haven't heard of any problems with dogs. If you didn't already know this, then you should educate yourself.

To throw a wrench in things here, what about plant intelligence and studies indicating they too seem to have some kind of sentience.
It may very well be a wrench for others in this conversation, but for several years now I have accepted the reality of plant sentience, and worked my diet around it. I do not consume plants, I only consume their fruit (by the botanical definition - i.e. including nuts, beans, seeds, grains etc).

Ok, I have a problem with this statement here. I've heard it before and to put it politely, it's ignorant.

Most dog breeds have been bred by humans to be what they are over hundreds, even thousands of years. Most dog breeds today couldn't survive on their own. For example, I have two pugs. Pugs are a breed that did not and would not exist in the wild. You can argue until you're blue in the face that humans should never have allowed for such a thing, but that is neither here nor there now. The fact is, they would die without humans. Plain and simple. So, my husband and I, knowing this, do what we can to be good stewards to these animals by providing them with a comfortable home, healthy food and good medical care. We also donate to various pug rescues, who take in stray pugs (who are almost invariably found in horrible shape, malnourished and often with a myriad of health problems/diseases/infestations). We keep a close eye on theTwitter feeds of these organizations and donate what extra we can when they've taken in a pug in particularly bad shape.

And that is just one breed. Cruelty is sending these little guys out there without the instincts or physical traits required to survive in a harsh world. As Niel said, nature is a hell of a bitch.
I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not suggesting that we just throw all domesticated companion animals out into the wild and force them to fend for themselves. I'm simply pointing out that:

  1. In most cases, the pet paradigm strips animals of many of the choices that they would naturally get to make for themselves, especially where and with whom to live, and when and even whether to leave their birth family. We have forced these animals into an artificial dependency upon us which they did not choose for themselves, and which restricts their choices.
  2. In many cases, especially for dogs, in the pet paradigm companion animals are badly deprived of liberty and social contact with other animals of the same species, especially in the case of working individuals or couples who leave their dogs confined in the backyard during the hours when they are at work. I know that this is a problem because, again, I often observe in my own town dogs pacing and barking in boredom, frustration and loneliness behind fences during the day. And of course the extreme cases of neglect are even more distressing.

I trust and believe that you love your companion animals and that you are genuinely doing your best to look after them. That's a good thing. For better or worse, this is the paradigm that, for the moment, we have to work with, and you are obviously doing your best within that paradigm.

I wish a vegan lifestyle was an option for me, but I have certain dietary issues that would make that an incredibly unhealthy endeavor for me.
If you are willing to share which dietary issues you think would make veganism an unhealthy endeavour for you, then please do, privately if you prefer.

I accept that at times we are the predator, and at others, we are the prey.
Seriously, when are we the prey? You mean like when some idiot jumps into an enclosure in the zoo and gets mauled to death by a lion? In the modern world, the ratio of the instances in which humans are prey compared to predator is so vanishingly small that it may as well be zero, and the cases when it is not due to a human knowingly putting him/herself at risk are even rarer. Many more animals are slaughtered globally and annually for mere human pleasure than even exist humans in the world!

I see humans as omnivorous animals.
And if by that you mean that humans are physiologically capable of consuming both plant-based and animal-based foods, then you are right. But as a normative statement it's totally false. We don't need to consume animal products.

Sure, that's totally likely, but notice something key in that hypothesis: the wolves-evolving-into-dogs retained and exercised their right to make choices. They chose whether to try to cosy up to a group of humans, or whether to make their way in the wild, and, if they chose to cosy up to humans, they were free to choose which humans they would cosy up to, and where, and whether or not to stay or to return to the wild. Things are very different in the modern world. Companion animals have effectively no choice in any of these things.

And this person probably then ate some vegan product that indirectly mangled animals in the process to let them rot. I guess that is more respectful of animal lives.
We've been over this ad nauseum. My responses are all there on the public record if you've forgotten them.
 
#45
Great! So were our family's cats when I was growing up. Part of the time we lived in a farmhouse and they pretty much had as much access to "the great outdoors" as they wanted. When a cat is happy to live with you, loved, and has the freedom to come and go as he pleases, then that's probably the best deal possible in the pet paradigm. But what about his initial choice as to where to live and with whom? What about the fact that (in all likelihood; the circumstances may have been different in your specific case) he was forcibly separated from his mother and siblings before he necessarily would have chosen to separate himself from them? What about the fact that, in all likelihood, he has not made the choice to live in an urban environment (again, I'm assuming this is the case as it typically is; it might be different in your specific case), when he would, in all likelihood, be happier in a more natural one?

And yes, it is often the case that cats are free to come and go as they please, but this is rarely if ever the case for dogs. I stand by my original comments: far too often, dogs are essentially miserable prisoners. No, not always: there are many people who love their dogs and treat them well, and at least make sure that they get out for a long walk each day. But there are far too many people who keep dogs for reasons I don't understand. The sake of it, perhaps, or a power trip. Certainly not for the love of the animal.

More extreme confinement is not unusual. In the small town where I live (population only several thousand), I have personally observed at least six homes where dogs and/or goats are currently, or have recently been, either:

  • Permanently chained on a short chain outdoors - even during winter, when the temperature sometimes gets down to the freezing point.
  • Permanently attached to a "run" - again, outdoors, even during winter.
  • Permanently kept in a cage roughly two metres by four metres, again, outdoors, even during winter.

And all of this is legal. The RSPCA have told me that unless I can prove that these animals are not provided with sufficient food and water, and/or are not provided with exercise once a day, there is nothing that they can do. And not only are the police uninterested in doing anything, they take the side of the abusers, and they actively warn me not to get involved.

These are also only the cases I have personally encountered; there are no doubt many others in this town alone. A friend told me that his neighbour kept a dog permanently on a run and literally starved it to death. It died "hanging upright" on the run.

Obviously, I'm not taking these extreme cases as representative of the paradigm of pet ownership in general, but these are the sort of things that can happen when it is deemed normal for humans to make decisions on behalf of animals - decisions which don't legally have to be in the animal's best interests.



Normative statements like this are meaningless, just as are, without evidence of any actual widespread health problems in the vegan community, your normative statements about deficiencies in individual nutrients in vegan humans. It is utterly irrelevant what you think any being is "supposed" to eat if it is surviving healthily on what it *is* eating. Cats and dogs *can* and *do* live healthily on nutritionally complete vegan diets, just as humans do - yes, as I acknowledged in the first place, it may not always work out for all cats, but I haven't heard of any problems with dogs. If you didn't already know this, then you should educate yourself.



It may very well be a wrench for others in this conversation, but for several years now I have accepted the reality of plant sentience, and worked my diet around it. I do not consume plants, I only consume their fruit (by the botanical definition - i.e. including nuts, beans, seeds, grains etc).



I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not suggesting that we just throw all domesticated companion animals out into the wild and force them to fend for themselves. I'm simply pointing out that:

  1. In most cases, the pet paradigm strips animals of many of the choices that they would naturally get to make for themselves, especially where and with whom to live, and when and even whether to leave their birth family. We have forced these animals into an artificial dependency upon us which they did not choose for themselves, and which restricts their choices.
  2. In many cases, especially for dogs, in the pet paradigm companion animals are badly deprived of liberty and social contact with other animals of the same species, especially in the case of working individuals or couples who leave their dogs confined in the backyard during the hours when they are at work. I know that this is a problem because, again, I often observe in my own town dogs pacing and barking in boredom, frustration and loneliness behind fences during the day. And of course the extreme cases of neglect are even more distressing.

I trust and believe that you love your companion animals and that you are genuinely doing your best to look after them. That's a good thing. For better or worse, this is the paradigm that, for the moment, we have to work with, and you are obviously doing your best within that paradigm.



If you are willing to share which dietary issues you think would make veganism an unhealthy endeavour for you, then please do, privately if you prefer.



Seriously, when are we the prey? You mean like when some idiot jumps into an enclosure in the zoo and gets mauled to death by a lion? In the modern world, the ratio of the instances in which humans are prey compared to predator is so vanishingly small that it may as well be zero, and the cases when it is not due to a human knowingly putting him/herself at risk are even rarer. Many more animals are slaughtered globally and annually for mere human pleasure than even exist humans in the world!



And if by that you mean that humans are physiologically capable of consuming both plant-based and animal-based foods, then you are right. But as a normative statement it's totally false. We don't need to consume animal products.



Sure, that's totally likely, but notice something key in that hypothesis: the wolves-evolving-into-dogs retained and exercised their right to make choices. They chose whether to try to cosy up to a group of humans, or whether to make their way in the wild, and, if they chose to cosy up to humans, they were free to choose which humans they would cosy up to, and where, and whether or not to stay or to return to the wild. Things are very different in the modern world. Companion animals have effectively no choice in any of these things.



We've been over this ad nauseum. My responses are all there on the public record if you've forgotten them.
I find it sickening that you have fooled yourself into justifying feeding carnivorius animals a vegan diet. That is abuse.

Or are cats and dogs just blindly following a "belief system" that they should eat meat, which you label as carnist apologism?
 
#46
P.S. I don't know of any vegan who would be so offensive as to associate "respect" with these deaths. It is only those seeking to justify their skewed values who associate unnecessary killing with respect.
Because there is nothing wrong with killing an animal for food.

The difference is a meat eater actually eats the animal they kill, where vegans just waste the animals' lives.
 
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#47
It may very well be a wrench for others in this conversation, but for several years now I have accepted the reality of plant sentience, and worked my diet around it. I do not consume plants, I only consume their fruit (by the botanical definition - i.e. including nuts, beans, seeds, grains etc).
If you accept plant sentience, how can you say that it is okay to exploit plants for their fruits and seeds, but it's not okay to exploit chickens for their eggs?
 
#48
Great! So were our family's cats when I was growing up. Part of the time we lived in a farmhouse and they pretty much had as much access to "the great outdoors" as they wanted. When a cat is happy to live with you, loved, and has the freedom to come and go as he pleases, then that's probably the best deal possible in the pet paradigm. But what about his initial choice as to where to live and with whom? What about the fact that (in all likelihood; the circumstances may have been different in your specific case) he was forcibly separated from his mother and siblings before he necessarily would have chosen to separate himself from them? What about the fact that, in all likelihood, he has not made the choice to live in an urban environment (again, I'm assuming this is the case as it typically is; it might be different in your specific case), when he would, in all likelihood, be happier in a more natural one?

And yes, it is often the case that cats are free to come and go as they please, but this is rarely if ever the case for dogs. I stand by my original comments: far too often, dogs are essentially miserable prisoners. No, not always: there are many people who love their dogs and treat them well, and at least make sure that they get out for a long walk each day. But there are far too many people who keep dogs for reasons I don't understand. The sake of it, perhaps, or a power trip. Certainly not for the love of the animal.

More extreme confinement is not unusual. In the small town where I live (population only several thousand), I have personally observed at least six homes where dogs and/or goats are currently, or have recently been, either:

  • Permanently chained on a short chain outdoors - even during winter, when the temperature sometimes gets down to the freezing point.
  • Permanently attached to a "run" - again, outdoors, even during winter.
  • Permanently kept in a cage roughly two metres by four metres, again, outdoors, even during winter.

And all of this is legal. The RSPCA have told me that unless I can prove that these animals are not provided with sufficient food and water, and/or are not provided with exercise once a day, there is nothing that they can do. And not only are the police uninterested in doing anything, they take the side of the abusers, and they actively warn me not to get involved.

These are also only the cases I have personally encountered; there are no doubt many others in this town alone. A friend told me that his neighbour kept a dog permanently on a run and literally starved it to death. It died "hanging upright" on the run.

Obviously, I'm not taking these extreme cases as representative of the paradigm of pet ownership in general, but these are the sort of things that can happen when it is deemed normal for humans to make decisions on behalf of animals - decisions which don't legally have to be in the animal's best interests.



Normative statements like this are meaningless, just as are, without evidence of any actual widespread health problems in the vegan community, your normative statements about deficiencies in individual nutrients in vegan humans. It is utterly irrelevant what you think any being is "supposed" to eat if it is surviving healthily on what it *is* eating. Cats and dogs *can* and *do* live healthily on nutritionally complete vegan diets, just as humans do - yes, as I acknowledged in the first place, it may not always work out for all cats, but I haven't heard of any problems with dogs. If you didn't already know this, then you should educate yourself.



It may very well be a wrench for others in this conversation, but for several years now I have accepted the reality of plant sentience, and worked my diet around it. I do not consume plants, I only consume their fruit (by the botanical definition - i.e. including nuts, beans, seeds, grains etc).



I think you're misunderstanding me. I'm not suggesting that we just throw all domesticated companion animals out into the wild and force them to fend for themselves. I'm simply pointing out that:

  1. In most cases, the pet paradigm strips animals of many of the choices that they would naturally get to make for themselves, especially where and with whom to live, and when and even whether to leave their birth family. We have forced these animals into an artificial dependency upon us which they did not choose for themselves, and which restricts their choices.
  2. In many cases, especially for dogs, in the pet paradigm companion animals are badly deprived of liberty and social contact with other animals of the same species, especially in the case of working individuals or couples who leave their dogs confined in the backyard during the hours when they are at work. I know that this is a problem because, again, I often observe in my own town dogs pacing and barking in boredom, frustration and loneliness behind fences during the day. And of course the extreme cases of neglect are even more distressing.

I trust and believe that you love your companion animals and that you are genuinely doing your best to look after them. That's a good thing. For better or worse, this is the paradigm that, for the moment, we have to work with, and you are obviously doing your best within that paradigm.



If you are willing to share which dietary issues you think would make veganism an unhealthy endeavour for you, then please do, privately if you prefer.



Seriously, when are we the prey? You mean like when some idiot jumps into an enclosure in the zoo and gets mauled to death by a lion? In the modern world, the ratio of the instances in which humans are prey compared to predator is so vanishingly small that it may as well be zero, and the cases when it is not due to a human knowingly putting him/herself at risk are even rarer. Many more animals are slaughtered globally and annually for mere human pleasure than even exist humans in the world!



And if by that you mean that humans are physiologically capable of consuming both plant-based and animal-based foods, then you are right. But as a normative statement it's totally false. We don't need to consume animal products.



Sure, that's totally likely, but notice something key in that hypothesis: the wolves-evolving-into-dogs retained and exercised their right to make choices. They chose whether to try to cosy up to a group of humans, or whether to make their way in the wild, and, if they chose to cosy up to humans, they were free to choose which humans they would cosy up to, and where, and whether or not to stay or to return to the wild. Things are very different in the modern world. Companion animals have effectively no choice in any of these things.



We've been over this ad nauseum. My responses are all there on the public record if you've forgotten them.
So you think it is not okay to "force" a cat or dog to live with us, but it is okay to force them to eat a diet that they would not choose on their own?

How can you advocate wanting animals to be in a natural environment, and in the same breath advocate forcing an unnatural diet on them?
 
#49
I find it sickening that you have fooled yourself into justifying feeding carnivorius animals a vegan diet. That is abuse.
Does any of this sound like abuse?:

"Barney's general health has significantly improved since I discontinued feeding
him a meat-based diet (previously Science Diet or other quality food). The
vomiting and gagging has improved, so I reduced medication to about 10%." —
Beverly W., Eastlake, Ohio

"For three years prior to this diet, she had abdominal pains, vomiting, bloody
stools, was given antibiotics/steroids by vet — did no good — made her feel
worse — she no longer has this problem!" — Judy C., Phillipsburg, Kan.

"Before he was vegetarian, he had diarrhea every two to three months. Stool
sample was always negative and vet said some dogs are just sicker than others.
Since I've had him on veggie diet, he has not been sick at all. This has been
approximately one year. He used to eat Science Diet." — Andy S., Chicago, Ill.

"Used to have instances of momentary paralysis and had to be given an aspirin
to help her come out of it (lasted five to 15 minutes). Hasn't had any episodes in
the last year." — Andrea and Mike B., Ft. Myers, Fla.

"Dog had severe case of osteochondritis dissecans in hind hocks at five months.
After operation at Angell and months of aspirin and Feldene treatment, hocks
were swollen to the size of golf balls. Following change of diet to natural and
vegan and homeopathic treatment, dog is completely normal. She used to be
unable to walk around the block and now she will run with my horse for hours
with no adverse effects." — Elizabeth F., Bristol, R.I.

"Since becoming vegetarian, she has had a lot more energy..." — Peggy J.,
Arlington, Texas

"Prior to vegan diet — vomiting acidic yellow substance, ear infections, skin
allergies ... vet recommended low-fat high-fiber diet. Tried him on Prescription
d/d (Hill's) Lamb & Rice, which caused severe diarrhea. Put him on vegan diet
and almost all symptoms disappeared." — Diane W., Rockville, Md.

"They became more playful and energetic with vegan diet." — Carol B., Mountain
View, Calif.

"Floyd ... stays at a good slimmer weight since going veg. Loves the food."
"[Weasel] loves the food — was a picky eater before going veg." — Lanie W.,
Visalia, Calif.

"He has always had a thyroid problem so he's on thyroid medication. This diet
has decreased the amount of supplemental thyroid he must take." "She used to
throw up occasionally but since becoming vegan no longer throws up." —
Beatrice K., Sunrise, Fla.

"Much better since we switched to vegan diet. Better coat, more energy,
revitalized!!" — Elmo M., Laundale, Calif.

"Two months prior to eating a vegan diet, my dog had cystitis twice, with blood in
his urine. He has been tested since and no longer has blood in his urine or
cystitis. Since being on a vegan diet, my dog is no longer overweight and
lethargic. He looks and plays like a dog half his age. About two to three years
before this, he had stopped playing with sticks, balls, etc. It is almost
unbelievable to see the positive change in him." — David F., Rumford, R.I.

There are many, many more testimonials in the study where that came from: Dog Health Survey.

Some other results from that study:

"There appeared to be a distinct advantage to being a vegan or vegetarian for a
larger percentage of one's life—all of the following percentages are greater than
for the entire surveyed population:
Of the 12 lifelong vegetarians in the study, 100% were in good to excellent
health.
Of the 26 dogs who had been vegan or vegetarian for 90% of their lives, 22
(84.6%) were in good to excellent health.
Of the 65 dogs who had been vegan or vegetarian for 75% of their lives, 53
(81.5%) were in good to excellent health.
Of the 142 dogs who had been vegan or vegetarian for 50% of their lives, 120
(84.5%) were in good to excellent health.

There also appeared to be a health advantage to veganism over vegetarianism:
82% of dogs who had been vegan for five years or more were in good to
excellent health, while only 77% of dogs who had been vegetarian for five years
or more were in good to excellent health".

As for cats, the study, Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers, found the following (emphasis mine):

"Blood was obtained from 17 cats. Mean ± SD age
of the cats in this subset of group V was 6.6 ± 4.4 years,
and they had been fed a vegetarian diet for 4.4 ± 3.4
years. Seventy-six percent of the cats were kept strictly
indoors, 76% were reported to be in ideal body condi-
tion, and 94% were reported to be in good health.
Forty-seven percent of the cats were fed a commercial-
ly available diet,c 12% were fed food prepared with a
commercially available supplement,d and 41% were fed
a combination of the 2 components. In 2 instances,
plasma was not submitted; therefore, plasma taurine
concentrations were available for only 15 of 17 cats.
Mean plasma taurine concentration was 119 ± 41
nmol/mL (median, 114 nmol/mL; range, 52 to 188
nmol/mL; reference range, 60 to 120 nmol/mL). Only
1 sample yielded a value less than the reference range,
and no values were less than the critical concentration
of 40 nmol/mL. Mean blood taurine concentration was
388 ± 117 nmol/mL (median, 364 nmol/mL; range,
224 to 672 nmol/mL; reference range, 300 to 600
nmol/mL). Three cats had a value less than the refer-
ence range, but those values were greater than the crit-
ical concentration of 200 nmol/L. Serum cobalamin
concentration for all cats was within reference range
(mean, 873 ± 326 ng/L; median, 1,005 ng/L; range, 299
to 1,201 ng/L; reference range, 290 to 1,499 ng/L)".

Standard, commercial pet food is based on meat deemed unfit for human consumption. Some of this meat is from cancerous or otherwise diseased animals, or from animals which were so unhealthy that they died before reaching the slaughterhouse. If anything's abuse, it's feeding food of that quality to a companion animal, not feeding it a nutritionally complete, healthy vegan diet on which it thrives.

Or are cats and dogs just blindly following a "belief system" that they should eat meat, which you label as carnist apologism?
Please, Neil, let's try to stay grounded. Animals in the wild, and humans in subsistence cultures before the modern era of agriculture, had limited choice in what they ate; they often had to pretty much take what they could get, when they could get it. Belief systems such as carnism become applicable when choice becomes predominant. When you can - as can almost all of us in the West - freely choose whether to destroy an animal's life to get your nutrition or to eat the fruit of a plant, and you freely choose to destroy the animal's life, then it is obvious that you are operating from a belief system as much as are vegans.

Because there is nothing wrong with killing an animal for food.
Repeating a blind assertion doesn't make it true. I have engaged with the basic premise of your position: that animal products are essential for human health. I have argued that it has no basis in fact, and I have provided evidence to support this. On the other hand, you have utterly ignored the basic premises of my position: that avoidable harm ought to be avoided, and that the consumption of animal products entails avoidable harm. I have pointed out that the first is a premise that essentially all humans accept, and that the second is self-evident. The conclusion based on these two premises renders your assertion false. You are free to continue to ignore this argument, but if you do, I will continue to point out that it renders your assertion false.

The difference is a meat eater actually eats the animal they kill, where vegans just waste the animals' lives.
OK, so, since you refuse to let this issue drop, and since apparently the responses that I have already made are not enough for you, then let me add some more. My pre-written response to which I directed you linked to Gaverick Matheny's paper, Least harm: a defense of vegetarianism from Steven Davis's omnivorous proposal. I strongly doubt that you took the time to read it. I encourage you to remedy that. Here are a few highlights from it:

Davis suggests the number of wild animals killed per hectare in crop production (15) is twice that killed in ruminant-pasture (7.5). If this is true, then as long as crop production uses less than half as many hectares as ruminant-pasture to deliver the same amount of food, a vegetarian will kill fewer animals than an omnivore. In fact, crop production uses less than half as many hectares as grass-fed dairy and one-tenth as many hectares as grass-fed beef to deliver the same amount of protein. In one year, 1,000 kilograms of protein can be produced on as few as 1.0 hectares planted with soy and corn, 2.6 hectares used as pasture for grass-fed dairy cows, or 10 hectares used as pasture for grass-fed beef cattle (Vandehaar 1998; UNFAO 1996). As such, to obtain the 20 kilograms of protein per year recommended for adults, a vegan-vegetarian would kill 0.3 wild animals annually, a lacto-vegetarian would kill 0.39 wild animals, while a Davis-style omnivore would kill 1.5 wild animals. Thus, correcting Davis's math, we see that a vegan-vegetarian population would kill the fewest number of wild animals, followed closely by a lacto-vegetarian population.

However, suppose this were not the case and that, in fact, fewer animals would be killed under Davis's omnivorism. Would it follow that Davis's plan causes the least harm? Not necessarily. Early in the paper, Davis shifts from discussing the harm done to animals under different agricultural systems to the number of animals killed. This shift is not explained by Davis and is not justified by the most common moral views, all of which recognize harms in addition to those associated with killing.

[...]

I cannot think of an ethical theory that equates 'harm' with 'number of deaths.' All the theories of which I am aware are quite concerned with the treatment of animals up to their deaths. Davis, in discussing the number of animals killed rather than their treatment prior to death, ignores an important question that must be answered in order to assess which system of agriculture causes the least harm.

In comparing the harms caused by crop and ruminant production, we should compare the treatment of, say, a wild mouse up until his or her death in a harvester, with that of a grass-fed cow. The wild mouse lives free of confinement and is able to practice natural habits like roaming, breeding, and foraging. In contrast, the grass-fed cow, while able to roam some distance in a fenced pasture, may suffer third-degree burns (branding), have holes punched in his ears (tagging), be castrated, have his horns scooped out of his head (dehorning), and be kept from breeding naturally. Once reaching market weight, he can be transported up to several hundred miles without food, water, or protection from extreme heat or cold; then he is killed in a conventional slaughterhouse. The conditions of slaughterhouses have been described in detail elsewhere (Eisnitz 1997). Suffice it to say, it is hard to imagine that the pain experienced by a mouse as she or he is killed in a harvester compares to the pain even a grass-fed cow must endure before being killed. Likewise, those who are concerned principally with the treatment of animals, rather than simply the number of animals' deaths, have more reason to become vegetarian. Again, this is because vegetarianism causes the least harm, understood in terms of animal suffering, compared to any system of animal agriculture, Davis's included.
And to respond specifically to your point: these lives are not necessarily wasted. It has been observed that birds of prey follow harvesters around, and it is likely or at least possible that they consume many if not most of the small animals killed by the blades of harvesters.

If you accept plant sentience, how can you say that it is okay to exploit plants for their fruits and seeds, but it's not okay to exploit chickens for their eggs?
Firstly: there are problems with the way plants are treated in modern agriculture, in particular growing them in monocultures, which is in all likelihood not their preferred environment, and selectively breeding them based on human ends rather than their own best interests.

That said, there is little real comparison in the treatment of plants in the procurement of fruits and seeds with the treatment of chickens in the procurement of eggs. Plants are naturally immobile; there is no question of "confining" them. There is really no sense in which plants in agriculture are "imprisoned", nor even "mistreated" other than the above mentioned caveats. This is obviously radically different to the imprisonment and mistreatment (debeaking with blowtorches, separation from the opposite gender, amongst other things) of hens in the procurement of eggs. Another radical difference is that male chicks, being of no commercial value in the production of eggs, are routinely destroyed, often by grinding them up alive - obviously, no such horror occurs in orchards.

So you think it is not okay to "force" a cat or dog to live with us, but it is okay to force them to eat a diet that they would not choose on their own?
I think it is wrong to force other animals to die for our pets when we have the choice not to do so.

How can you advocate wanting animals to be in a natural environment, and in the same breath advocate forcing an unnatural diet on them?
The appeal to nature fallacy is exactly that: a fallacy. What you or anybody else considers "natural" is irrelevant; in this context, all that matters is what is ethical and healthy.
 
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#54
feeding it a nutritionally complete, healthy vegan diet on which it thrives.
Well that's a oxymoron when it comes to diet for carnivorous animals. They cannot convert plant forms of nutrients into necessary forms like most humans can. They don't have the enzyme pathways. Their digestive systems are not made for that type of food. It is abusive.

Not only that, you're a hypocrite, because you think that keeping pets is akin to slavery since you force them to live with you, yet you are perfectly happy forcing a carnivorous animal to eat a vegan diet because of your belief system! Put down some veggies and oatmeal next to a piece of chicken or fish and see what the cat freely chooses. You want to harp on animals being able to freely choose whether to come or go, but you want to force them to eat an unnatural diet because you want them to.


Laird said:
Please, Neil, let's try to stay grounded. Animals in the wild, and humans in subsistence cultures before the modern era of agriculture, had limited choice in what they ate; they often had to pretty much take what they could get, when they could get it. Belief systems such as carnism become applicable when choice becomes predominant. When you can - as can almost all of us in the West - freely choose whether to destroy an animal's life to get your nutrition or to eat the fruit of a plant, and you freely choose to destroy the animal's life, then it is obvious that you are operating from a belief system as much as are vegans.
This is complete non-sense. It's not a belief system! It's called our natural diet. We have historical, physiological, and paleoanthropological data that shows we not only ate meat, but eating meat was key in the development of our brains and social aspects. Our digestive systems are much closer to that of a predator than an herbivore, since we lack all the additional stomachs, produce strong stomach acid, etc. There is genetic variation in enzyme pathways for these conversions, which makes some genetic backgrounds more reliant on animal products. We have evolved eating animal products and they are involved in us being healthy, yet you want to ignorantly call it a believe system. It's called a natural diet, and what vegans practice is a way of eating that is foreign to humans and based on beliefs about not harming animals. Just because a vegan diet is based on a belief system does not make eating a natural diet based on a belief system.


Laird said:
Repeating a blind assertion doesn't make it true. I have engaged with the basic premise of your position: that animal products are essential for human health. I have argued that it has no basis in fact, and I have provided evidence to support this. On the other hand, you have utterly ignored the basic premises of my position: that avoidable harm ought to be avoided, and that the consumption of animal products entails avoidable harm. I have pointed out that the first is a premise that essentially all humans accept, and that the second is self-evident. The conclusion based on these two premises renders your assertion false. You are free to continue to ignore this argument, but if you do, I will continue to point out that it renders your assertion false.
1. Vegan diets don't supply all necessary nutrients and also lack many conditionally essential nutrients. I thought we agreed not to get into posting a bunch of research? There is plenty out there showing deficiencies/insufficiencies for vegans, including insufficiencies of conditionally essential nutrients often lacking in vegan diets, which you seem to dismiss as even being a health concern, as if the only nutrients that matter are vitamins.

2. You wish to promote a foreign diet as being perfectly fine for everyone, which already should raise a red flag because not everyone does well on the same sort of diet:

a) It is unethical to put developing children on a vegan diet, to force an unnatural diet based on a faulty belief system, that could affect their development. Particularly, the fat soluble vitamins are vital for genetic expression, which is involved in things like proper bone structure so they don't have crowded teeth or develop cavities!

b) It is racially biased because not all ethnic backgrounds can do as well on a vegan diet which you ignore. Many Native American tribes do not handle plant-based diets well at all, since their ancestral diets have made them genetically more reliant on animal products.

c) You completely ignore the reality of research that you wish to claim supports your position by looking at averages and say that everything is okay. People are individuals, not averages! To ignore the people that do poorly on a vegan diet because the average may do okay and then say that they should also follow a vegan diet because "on average it is okay" is unethical.

d) There are many diseased states that make a vegan diet contraindicated, since either enzyme pathways converting plant forms of nutrients into the necessary forms may be compromised (possibly severely), or their digestive systems may not be capable of handling a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons. To say that these people should also be on a vegan diet is unethical.

Laird said:
OK, so, since you refuse to let this issue drop, and since apparently the responses that I have already made are not enough for you, then let me add some more. My pre-written response to which I directed you linked to Gaverick Matheny's paper, Least harm: a defense of vegetarianism from Steven Davis's omnivorous proposal. I strongly doubt that you took the time to read it. I encourage you to remedy that. Here are a few highlights from it:

And to respond specifically to your point: these lives are not necessarily wasted. It has been observed that birds of prey follow harvesters around, and it is likely or at least possible that they consume many if not most of the small animals killed by the blades of harvesters.
Oh! It's okay to mangle the animals because scavenger birds will eat most of the rotting carcasses. Got it.

Laird said:
Firstly: there are problems with the way plants are treated in modern agriculture, in particular growing them in monocultures, which is in all likelihood not their preferred environment, and selectively breeding them based on human ends rather than their own best interests.
So eating their seeds, which they intended for reproduction, is in their best interest?


Laird said:
The appeal to nature fallacy is exactly that: a fallacy. What you or anybody else considers "natural" is irrelevant; in this context, all that matters is what is ethical and healthy.
Give a cat a piece of fish or chicken and put it next to your choice of plant. What will it freely choose? It seems you are okay with forcing animals to do something so long as it fits with your inconsistent belief system.
 
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#55
What I am noticing is that when regarding ethics, the belief system behind veganism is internally inconsistent, while the belief system behind the ethical concerns of an omnivorous diet is not.

The reason for this seems to revolve around the belief that it is ethically wrong to kill, harm, or exploit any living thing in order to eat. This results in internal inconsistency for a vegan diet, because there is no way to survive without killing or exploiting living things. Even if you only eat botanical fruits, there is going to be some sort of harm to some living organism, either directly or indirectly. Even the act of showering is going to kill living organisms, since you wipe out almost entire ecosystems of bacteria on skin, hair, etc.

It also results in internal inconsistency because we are not herbivores, and not everyone will do well on a vegan diet for genetic/epigenetic reasons, as well as their current health status. To want everyone to consume a vegan diet for ethical reasons creates a contradiction, since it is unethical to wish to implement a universal vegan diet for populations that do not handle it well.
 
#56
Seriously, when are we the prey? You mean like when some idiot jumps into an enclosure in the zoo and gets mauled to death by a lion? In the modern world, the ratio of the instances in which humans are prey compared to predator is so vanishingly small that it may as well be zero, and the cases when it is not due to a human knowingly putting him/herself at risk are even rarer. Many more animals are slaughtered globally and annually for mere human pleasure than even existhumans in the world!
I truly do not understand what is the big mystery behind understanding that yes, indeed, sometimes we are the prey. Just google it. There are literally hundreds of articles outlining the many times humans have been prey to many animals. There have been several instances contemporarily of animals seeking out humans specifically. In our modern age it is more rare, but most of human history has consisted of humans defending themselves against predators. It baffles me that anyone believes otherwise.

Do you have a belief that animals are inherently better than humans? Do you believe they have more of a right to live on planet Earth than humans do?

And one more question, unrelated to the above: what are your sources of protein?
 
#57
Even if you only eat botanical fruits, there is going to be some sort of harm to some living organism, either directly or indirectly. Even the act of showering is going to kill living organisms, since you wipe out almost entire ecosystems of bacteria on skin, hair, etc.
I totally agree here, and this was the point I (clumsily) was trying to make in a previous post.

The reality is that this reality we all share, plants and animals alike, requires that to continue to live we must intake energy. As of yet, there is no way whatsoever to avoid harming or destroying some living thing in order to do so.

And where do you draw the line? Bacteria are living organisms, as are parasites. Even viruses show some characteristics of life, though it's still controversial. Should we not defend ourselves against these microbial predators? Should we accept an infestation of tapeworm as a matter of course and allow ourselves to be destroyed so as to avoid destroying a living thing? Even if we argued that antibiotics and anti-parasitics are akin to self-defense, that is survival. So is eating. We eat to survive. So where can the line be drawn? Should we avoid using yeast for breads since they are living things too?

The fact is, it's all a matter of perspective. There is no hard and fast rule stating one life is worth more than any other. If one chooses to place the importance of their own life as lesser than that of any other living thing, that is their choice. But they do not have a right to force their choice on someone else. My children's lives are surely more important to me than they are to anyone else. As others children's lives are more important to them than mine. Inherently, there is no value base for this. It's all in what we choose to apply value to.

Of course all living things deserve respect and avoidance of the unnecessary loss of life is certainly desirable. But again, one cannot avoid the facts of our reality. Some will win, and some will lose.

I accept that I live in a reality where I have a physical body with physical needs in order to continue living in this reality. I may not necessarily like all that is required to survive, but I accept it. To accept only the spiritual aspects of ourselves while remaining diametrically opposed to our physical natures is to be a being out of balance.

In some ways this is in line with Carl Jungs theory of the shadow self. That to be a psychologically healthy individual, we must confront and accept all aspects of ourselves, and integrate them into one self. We must accept that we are both shadow and light. And that we are physical and spiritual beings.
 
#58
Laird,

I apologize in advance if you've already answered this and I missed it. I did read your blog/website but I'm still feeling confused on this part.

In your irrefutable ethical argument for veganism, who determines what is "avoidable harm"? Is it an individual assessment? Is there a worldwide, agreed upon, prioritized list of avoidable harm? I read the "guide to compassionate living" but there were no prioritized lists of harms to avoid.

For example, I drink water from my well which does not go through a purification (harmful killing) process. I think purified bottled water in plastic containers is a major "avoidable harm". Not only does purified bottled water require the mass killing of billions upon billions of organisms, but also an argument could be put forth that there is environmental harm as well.

Is purified bottled water on some sort of "avoidable harm" list somewhere? How would one know if avoiding purified bottled water for a year is more/less harmful than eating a beef steak once a week for a year?

Grorganic
 
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