Vegetarianism

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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  cleanwillie on Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:35 am

True, it doesn't say a word about vegetarianism. But as you phrased it yourself:
this report suggests we should be concerned with this issue is because the demand for meat is increasing.
Doesn't it follow then, that one way to fix this would be decreasing the demand for meat? Now I'm not trying to deny better quality food from people who are just acquiring the level of wealth that can provide it to them. I'm saying that us, who are fortunate enough to have been born in the wealthy parts of the world, could and should dramatically change our meat consuming habits.

You might be right that this doesn't necessarily have to do with vegetarianism, since reducing meat consumption isn't the same as giving up meat altogether. But as I mentioned before, I'm not big on the black & white/either/or -idea anyway.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Robert on Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:30 pm

Jim wrote:"suffering" a loss of life is an equivocation on suffering. that's not what utilitarians have in mind at all. … if they can feel happiness and suffering (and that's a big if!), then it's likely they were happy for their lives which were largely devoid of suffering.
So loss of life can’t be suffering, but animals can be “happy for their lives.” Right.

How about restriction of freedom? Can that be suffering? If I can kill folks so long as they don’t suffer and no one else fears for his or her safety (watch out homeless drifters!), I’d like to know the rules for keeping them as slaves too.


Jim wrote:the idea that the survival of chickens is at stake seems silly. i'm willing to bet we have more chickens now than at any other point in history. that said, what does it matter if chickens survive morally?
I didn’t bring up the survival of chickens. If it comes down to it, I’d support the species’ existence (because chickens are fabulous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkxO91TLKVg). But at this point, you’ll have to ask someone who’s interested in enslaving a species to ensure its survival.


Jim wrote:and what is this about eggs hatching? the issue here is unhatched eggs. but it's worse than that. it's unlikely that newly hatched chicks suffer much from suffocating. when you weigh that against the pleasure and lack of suffering that people who eat eggs get from eating eggs, it is likely that pleasure wins out.
Which issue comes first, the chickens or the eggs? I’m going to presume that the pleasure of eating is going to win out in most, if not all, of your measurements.



Jim wrote:i'm guessing this is supposed to be sarcastic…
All of my posts are sarcastic.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Robert on Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:35 pm

politas wrote:Sorry, I don't accept that death = suffering. Try again. ... They live healthier, safer lives than any animal living in the wild. They don't seem to particularly dislike their lives. Cows walk themselves up to the milking shed, allow themselves to be herded fairly calmly. Where's the suffering? Death, as I said, is not suffering. ... Do you have any evidence that is what happens, rather than male chicks being raised to adulthood and then killed for their meat? This seems a more likely scenario. Farmers don't waste animals.
How convenient this economic farming wonderland of your is. I'm surprised the animals don't sing on their way to the slaughterhouse, at peace with the knowledge that the pleasant cessation of their lives is part of the continued representation of certain molecules in their bodies. Here’s a bit of research for you: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-happens-with-male-chicks_100.html. You’ll have to do the research on the rest, including the “nonsuffering” involved in killing.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Jim on Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:38 pm

Robert wrote:So loss of life can’t be suffering, but animals can be “happy for their lives.” Right.
no, you don't suffer when you're dead, but you can be happy when you're alive. that seems rather obvious.

Robert wrote:How about restriction of freedom? Can that be suffering? If I can kill folks so long as they don’t suffer and no one else fears for his or her safety (watch out homeless drifters!), I’d like to know the rules for keeping them as slaves too.
sure, restriction of freedom might be a cause of suffering for species that can suffer. so, then the question is whether or not chickens can suffer at all, and, if so, do they suffer when not allowed to roam free. do you have some reason to think that they do?

as far as the same applying to humans, i explicitly responded to that in the post you're quoting. check it out.


Robert wrote:I didn’t bring up the survival of chickens. If it comes down to it, I’d support the species’ existence (because chickens are fabulous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkxO91TLKVg). But at this point, you’ll have to ask someone who’s interested in enslaving a species to ensure its survival.
yes, you did "bring up the survival of chickens," and i quoted it in my response. i'll quote it again:
Robert wrote:But, if you're eating the eggs, how is the chicken's genetic survival ensured?


Robert wrote:All of my posts are sarcastic.
great, then let me pat you on the back for your humor. i thought these were some quite odd arguments you were offering.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Robert on Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:36 pm

Jim wrote:no, you don't suffer when you're dead, but you can be happy when you're alive. that seems rather obvious.
Wow, do you have to physically shield your eyes to miss the point? Vegetarians don’t object to meat because chewing a dead animal causes it to suffer. Vegetarians avoid meat because it requires the killing of the animal. Which is suffering because the animal’s ability to be happy about being alive (or the ability to feel anything) is forcefully taken away.

I like how you’ve illuminated a route to the end of all suffering, though. Think of the lack of suffering if everyone would just be dead!


Jim wrote:sure, restriction of freedom might be a cause of suffering for species that can suffer. so, then the question is whether or not chickens can suffer at all, and, if so, do they suffer when not allowed to roam free. do you have some reason to think that they do?
Really? I get to do the research again? Oh, good, I’d hate for you to have to even imagine that the burden should be on the one claiming that there’s no suffering. See if you have time for this: Google “welfare of hens in battery cages.”


Jim wrote:yes, you did "bring up the survival of chickens," ...
Yeah, that was in response to someone else. You’ll have to take it up with him.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Jim on Sat Oct 10, 2009 7:12 pm

Robert wrote:Wow, do you have to physically shield your eyes to miss the point? Vegetarians don’t object to meat because chewing a dead animal causes it to suffer. Vegetarians avoid meat because it requires the killing of the animal. Which is suffering because the animal’s ability to be happy about being alive (or the ability to feel anything) is forcefully taken away.
that is a very non-standard definition of suffering, and for a good reason. it is wholly contrary to our intuition of what it means to suffer. we don't think of dead things suffering, while being dead is absolutely a removal of anyone's "ability to be happy about being alive (or the ability to feel anything)." i'm going to suggest here that you don't have a leg to stand on here for that reason. if you were versed in utilitarian ethics, you'd know that.

I like how you’ve illuminated a route to the end of all suffering, though. Think of the lack of suffering if everyone would just be dead!
indeed! no one suffers once they're dead. glad i cleared that up for you.

Really? I get to do the research again? Oh, good, I’d hate for you to have to even imagine that the burden should be on the one claiming that there’s no suffering. See if you have time for this: Google “welfare of hens in battery cages.”
this is just question-begging. what reason do you have to think that suffering is occurring? what reason do you have to think that chickens can suffer at all? upon what theory of mind are you relying to make that inference?

Yeah, that was in response to someone else. You’ll have to take it up with him.
no, i can respond to anything you say. language in general as well as the rules of the board are cool like that.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  billybingg on Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:26 am

I really like this thread and the opinions being shared. Great group of people with different opinions, and I am in a weird position in that I feel eating meat is wrong. Cow farms are disgusting and the cows living on these farms do not live the life of the California cow we see on T.V. I did not grow up on a farm nor have i ever been involved with that business. I just lived a part of my life in central California where the farms are everywhere and i got to see first hand the way they live and it was not the greatest of living conditions. I have struggled with this issue for many years and have given this issue many hours of thought and my only conclusion is this: I eat meat for selfish reasons. It is reprehensible and I can not justify it and I have not found a rational argument to change my mind. The answer is staring me right in the face but i refuse to look because I know it will reveal my hypocrisy. I guess that's how ray comfort feels!...BONG!!!
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:30 am

Robert wrote:How convenient this economic farming wonderland of your is. I'm surprised the animals don't sing on their way to the slaughterhouse, at peace with the knowledge that the pleasant cessation of their lives is part of the continued representation of certain molecules in their bodies.
Aren't strawmen easy to argue with? How convenient for you.

Robert wrote:Here’s a bit of research for you: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-happens-with-male-chicks_100.html.
404 Page not found. Something else?

I don't feel a big need to do the research. I'm not the one trying to convince anybody to change their ways.


Last edited by politas on Wed Oct 14, 2009 4:31 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : tag fix)
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:05 am

Where do we draw the line?

The Silent Scream of the Asparagus
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/065njdoe.asp?pg=1

"At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the "dignity" of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be called "plant rights" is being seriously debated."

I wonder what's left to eat after we rule out animals and plants?
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Janiner on Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:28 am

politas wrote:
Robert wrote:Here’s a bit of research for you: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-happens-with-male-chicks_100.html.
404 Page not found. Something else?

I don't feel a big need to do the research. I'm not the one trying to convince anybody to change their ways.

The slaughter of male chicks after hatching is pretty standard practice. Suffocation is sometimes used, but grinding them alive is much more common since it is more efficient. You can watch video of the practice here if you are interested. The reasons behind it are much the same as the reason male calves are made into veal. Males in both the dairy and egg industries are a burden on profits. Males are virtually useless and so disposing of them as early as possible while making some profit on them is the most desirable option for the industry. You might be thinking that males are desirable since they are required for reproduction, but I think we all realize that it takes very few males to allow for reproduction among a large number of females. In both cases (egg and dairy) sperm is usually shipped to the farm from a male off site. Raising a male yourself for that purpose is costly considering you must feed them. Instead it is more cost efficient to purchase sperm from a male raised specifically for that purpose.

As for the link provided by Robert, the link works just fine if you take the period off the end of the URL.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  cleanwillie on Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:02 am

politas wrote:Where do we draw the line?

The Silent Scream of the Asparagus
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/065njdoe.asp?pg=1

"At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the "dignity" of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be called "plant rights" is being seriously debated."

I wonder what's left to eat after we rule out animals and plants?

If I understand correctly, the plant dignity concept doesn't really extend outside science. It is silly and I do feel sorry for swiss scientists for having to deal with it, but no one is really arguing that we shouldn't eat vegetables.

What strikes me as odd is the choice of article you linked to. A Weekly Standard piece by a Discovery Institute fellow seems like a weird choice, when there's plenty of good ones out there too. For example: http://www.practicalethicsnews.com/practicalethics/2008/04/the-dignity-of.html
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:06 am

Janiner wrote:The slaughter of male chicks after hatching is pretty standard practice. Suffocation is sometimes used, but grinding them alive is much more common since it is more efficient. You can watch video of the practice here if you are interested. The reasons behind it are much the same as the reason male calves are made into veal. Males in both the dairy and egg industries are a burden on profits. Males are virtually useless and so disposing of them as early as possible while making some profit on them is the most desirable option for the industry. You might be thinking that males are desirable since they are required for reproduction, but I think we all realize that it takes very few males to allow for reproduction among a large number of females. In both cases (egg and dairy) sperm is usually shipped to the farm from a male off site. Raising a male yourself for that purpose is costly considering you must feed them. Instead it is more cost efficient to purchase sperm from a male raised specifically for that purpose.

As for the link provided by Robert, the link works just fine if you take the period off the end of the URL.
Yeah, I figured that out later, and had a huge edit on that post all typed out before doing something weird with my keyboard that completely lost it, after which I wasn't interested enough to re-type. I note that the link describes both suffocation and maceration as humane methods for killing the unwanted male chicks.

I'm still left not really understanding the point of the original question, "if male chicks are all killed, can you eat eggs and be a vegetarian?" (to paraphrase). My answer would be "probably no, but I'm not the person to ask about that, since I'm not a vegetarian."

Generally, I'm extremely supportive of the RSPCA and the work that they do.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:11 am

cleanwillie wrote:If I understand correctly, the plant dignity concept doesn't really extend outside science. It is silly and I do feel sorry for swiss scientists for having to deal with it, but no one is really arguing that we shouldn't eat vegetables.

What strikes me as odd is the choice of article you linked to. A Weekly Standard piece by a Discovery Institute fellow seems like a weird choice, when there's plenty of good ones out there too. For example: http://www.practicalethicsnews.com/practicalethics/2008/04/the-dignity-of.html
No particular meaning in the choice, it's just an article I came across via a link somewhere (possibly on JREF). I didn't go searching for other articles on the topic, and the discovery Institute nonsense wasn't bad enough to bother me unduly. They still reported the original story.

I'm glad no one is really arguing that we shouldn't eat vegetables (apart from the fruitarians, of course). I do think there is a valid point in saying that all life is related, and ultimately a dividing line between plants and animals is just as arbitrary as a dividing line between humans and non-humans. Both lines have their own set of justifications.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Janiner on Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:49 am

politas wrote:
I'm still left not really understanding the point of the original question, "if male chicks are all killed, can you eat eggs and be a vegetarian?" (to paraphrase). My answer would be "probably no, but I'm not the person to ask about that, since I'm not a vegetarian."

My view on it is that yes, you can eat eggs and be a vegetarian. But if you (general you) are a vegetarian because you want to avoid all suffering, are concerned with animal rights, or for environmental reasons, then being a vegetarian is inherently hypocritical. Both eggs and dairy cause the death of animals and cause the same environmental degradation. If someone is vegetarian for health reasons, then eating eggs/dairy (although I don't find them very "healthy" myself) would fall under then definition quite fine.

Personally, I am a vegan. No big surprise there I'm sure. And while the idea of avoiding suffering is important to me, the overriding principle is consent. And environmentalism definitely plays a part as well. As an chemistry undergrad at a university surrounded by animal agriculture, I studied first hand the affects that the industry was having on our community. And working in water testing for the various farms was about the only job available in our field, so most of us chem majors did a lot of their water testing as well. It wasn't pretty. But enough rambling from me.

politas wrote: I'm glad no one is really arguing that we shouldn't eat vegetables (apart from the fruitarians, of course). I do think there is a valid point in saying that all life is related, and ultimately a dividing line between plants and animals is just as arbitrary as a dividing line between humans and non-humans. Both lines have their own set of justifications.

Personally I find the whole "plants have feelings" type of thing to be utter BS. I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment. But I will say that if we do ever encounter someone who believes such a thing, it seems quite apparent to me that they should stop eating meat/dairy/eggs entirely. We all must consume some sort of food, and since feeding cattle and other livestock plants in an effort to raise them for slaughter requires more plants than if we were to just eat a plant-based diet, then avoiding meat/dairy/eggs actually requires less of these plants to die. Although people who propose the "plants have feelings" kind of thing are rarely serious, I have heard plenty of arguments concerning the death of small rodents due to the harvesting of plants, the loss of land to raising plants, the environmental concerns, etc. The point still stands for those as well. If we want to reduce those negative effects of raising plants, then minimizing the amount of plants we raise is important and not raising livestock is part of that equation.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:41 pm

Janiner wrote:Both eggs and dairy cause the death of animals and cause the same environmental degradation.
And, as you mention, harvesting crops causes the death of small animals, and insects are killed to prevent them eating fruit and vegetables.

Janiner wrote:And while the idea of avoiding suffering is important to me, the overriding principle is consent.
Non-human animals consent to be eaten just as much as plants do.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Janiner on Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:51 am

politas wrote:
Janiner wrote:Both eggs and dairy cause the death of animals and cause the same environmental degradation.
And, as you mention, harvesting crops causes the death of small animals, and insects are killed to prevent them eating fruit and vegetables.

Indeed. I don't think anyone debates the fact that there is a limit to what can be done. But because we can't do everything does not mean that we should do nothing. From a vegan standpoint, we can keep such death to a minimum. As I said earlier, in the case of small rodents, the less plants we raise the less such death occurs. And to that end, the less livestock we raise the less plants that must be raised. As for insects, although not all vegans eat organic exclusively, organic is of course an option. For me personally, I eat organic whenever possible for a variety of reasons including my own health.

politas wrote:
Janiner wrote:And while the idea of avoiding suffering is important to me, the overriding principle is consent.
Non-human animals consent to be eaten just as much as plants do.

When you can demonstrate to me that plants are sentient, or even have a CNS, then we can talk about the lack of consent from plants. Wink But as we already covered, we cannot live off of air and water alone. We must eat something. If you are truly concerned with a lack of consent on the part of animals and plants, then ideally you would choose to eat only plants as choosing to support animal agriculture involves the death of more plants than a plant-based diet alone as well as the death of the animals. As I already elaborated on above.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:52 pm

Janiner wrote:As for insects, although not all vegans eat organic exclusively, organic is of course an option. For me personally, I eat organic whenever possible for a variety of reasons including my own health.
I think you should investigate more carefully exactly what "organic" means. It does not mean that no insecticides are used.

Janiner wrote:If you are truly concerned with a lack of consent on the part of animals and plants, then ideally you would choose to eat only plants as choosing to support animal agriculture involves the death of more plants than a plant-based diet alone as well as the death of the animals. As I already elaborated on above.
No, I'm saying that non-human animals do not have the capacity to consent, just as plants don't. Therefore, discussing the concept of consent is irrelevant to choice of foodstuffs.

I am not concerned with a lack of consent on the part of the things I eat. It is patently obvious that eating another life form involves a lack of consent of the part of the life form being eaten. If you want to eat things that consent to being eaten, you should become a consensual cannibal.
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Article on NPR that is an interesting perspective on the morality of eating meat

Post  Sosa on Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:57 pm

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114298495&sc=fb&cc=fp
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  cleanwillie on Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:33 am

Sosa wrote:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114298495&sc=fb&cc=fp

That's interesting. I had no idea that Foer was so passionate about vegetarianism. I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about a year ago and loved it. Eating Animals seems like an interesting read too.

And I do agree with Foer that eating dogs is not really that different from eating pigs for example. To me there are two ways of looking at this: you might say won't eat pigs either or you might say there's nothing wrong with eating dogs. I think as Foer was pointed out, most people don't really think about it.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:36 am

I would say there is a difference between eating pigs and eating dogs. Dogs are usually fed a high meat diet, while pigs kept for human consumption are usually fed an almost entirely vegetarian diet.

Eating carnivores is not optimal. It introduces risks due to bioaccumulative toxins. Thus, most of our food animals are herbivores.

I wouldn't say there's any moral difference, though. Anyone who wants to eat dogs and/or cats is fine by me.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  cleanwillie on Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:52 am

politas wrote:I wouldn't say there's any moral difference, though. Anyone who wants to eat dogs and/or cats is fine by me.

Exactly my point. I always find it a bit silly when people state their disgust with the dog eating habits of some cultures, while they themselves are munching on pork chops etc. nearly every day of their lives.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Neon Genesis on Sat Dec 19, 2009 8:20 pm

Here's a twist to the vegetarianism debate. If you're a vegetarian for moral reasons because you don't want to harm living animals, would you go back to eating meat if scientists are able to grow it in a lab? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article6936352.ece
SCIENTISTS have grown meat in the laboratory for the first time. Experts in Holland used cells from a live pig to replicate growth in a petri dish.

The advent of so-called “in-vitro” or cultured meat could reduce the billions of tons of greenhouse gases emitted each year by farm animals — if people are willing to eat it.

So far the scientists have not tasted it, but they believe the breakthrough could lead to sausages and other processed products being made from laboratory meat in as little as five years’ time.

They initially extracted cells from the muscle of a live pig. Called myoblasts, these cells are programmed to grow into muscle and repair damage in animals.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  politas on Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:44 pm

Neon Genesis wrote:Here's a twist to the vegetarianism debate. If you're a vegetarian for moral reasons because you don't want to harm living animals, would you go back to eating meat if scientists are able to grow it in a lab? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article6936352.ece

No response from the "moral vegans"? Is cognitive dissonance silencing them?
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Re: Vegetarianism

Post  Daneel Olivaw on Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:24 am

politas wrote:
Neon Genesis wrote:Here's a twist to the vegetarianism debate. If you're a vegetarian for moral reasons because you don't want to harm living animals, would you go back to eating meat if scientists are able to grow it in a lab? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article6936352.ece

No response from the "moral vegans"? Is cognitive dissonance silencing them?
Mh.. PETA was (at leas in 2008) offering a $1 million price for developing synthetic meat. I think ethical vegetarians would not have any trouble with it.
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Not to beat a dead--oh. Oh. I'm so sorry. I'm just, just...

Post  Clint on Mon May 31, 2010 6:42 pm

But seriously folks. I'm a molecular biologist/microbiologist by trade, not a stupid guy by any means, but my understanding of philosophical propositions beyond basic logic is embarrassingly limited, so I hope you'll have the grace to allow me to make what may be a stupid point based on my ignorance here.

To start off, you can feed a whole lot more people with a whole lot less money with plants, and that sounds to me like the greatest good for the greatest number. Just convert existing pasture land to farm land and grow legumes and rice and a couple other crops and you could probably feed the whole extant human population very cheaply on a fraction of the land we currently use for both ranching and farming. You could make so much food that warlords couldn't even afford the storage necessary to keep it from their subjects. You could bribe the persons of hardscrabble lands into indolent, lazy existences that would preclude the possibility of horrible revolutionary movements. You could use also natural fertilizer alone and the resulting smaller crop yields would still provide plenty of cheap, non-perishable food for the whole world, given that you've got so much land with which to work. And that's a good thing, given that artificial fertilizers require a tremendous amount of energy to produce, and most of that comes from fossil fuels.

This all sounds fine to me. I love beef and pork and lamb and chicken (turkey sucks, I don't know why people eat that shit), but I'd forego my massive muscular physique and ability to shrug off common viral infections if the one-fifth or so of us who go to bed hungry didn't have to. I really would. But all the cows and sheep and pigs have to die, or pretty much all of them.

Where do they go? And how do you justify keeping them in the numbers at which they currently persist? Cattle are the biggest culprits here, in that they consume massive amounts of food and water that, if we're being true to the spirit of the greatest good for the greatest number, should really go to starving, thirsty humans first. And to bring up fossil fuels again, they also produce a not insignificant amount of methane exhaust, and methane is a more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2. We should only keep them around in the numbers at which they can effectively contribute to the greatest good--that is to say, as dairy animals (if we still want to keep them for that) and as muscle power for plowing (I'm assuming here that an animal working in the service of the people who feed him isn't considered to be undergoing suffering). You certainly can't let them breed freely. They'll quickly grow out of their own set aside pasture land and either starve or ravage human crops (like they do in rural India). As for the rest of the animals we use for food, they're practically useless to a vegan world aside from the occasional truffle hunting pig. So you have to kill them and bring them down to levels sustainable by minimum effort, as far as I'm concerned. Once again, that's cool with me. I already carry the guilt for killing lots of animals, and aside from all the dinners I'll miss and the fact that my bench press will go down to less frightening levels, it doesn't bother me. But to the extent that it would bother Peter Singer, I question his dedication to utilitarianism.

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Re: Vegetarianism

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