Vegetarianism and Veganism for Moral Reasons

Brittney has decided to become a vegan, for mostly moral reasons (though she does have some health concerns as well).


I have some questions.  I don’t mean them to be snarky and they’re not just for Brittney; they’re for all you moral vegetarians and vegans.


1.  Many of you become vegetarians/vegans because of concerns about whether animals are treated humanely during the farming process.  Are you not also concerned about the suffering of human beings during the farming process?  Are the hands lost to augers during your soybean harvest less of a concern to you?  What about the inhumane treatment of migrant workers brought in to harvest fruits and vegetables?  Is it because you perceive they have some choice in participating in farming that makes their suffering more palatable?


2.  We have removed most of the top level predators from our local ecosystems, leaving deer populations to reach increasingly large sizes, which puts stress on other local plant and animal populations, and spreads devastating illnesses throughout the herds.  Like it or not, since we’ve removed top level predators, don’t we have an obligation to keep the herds at safe, sustainable sizes, in order to alleviate suffering?  If so, isn’t it better to make use of the harvested animals, including eating them, than to let them go to waste?


3.  The pesticides dumped onto our plants makes its way into our water supply and poisons us and the things that live in our streams, rivers, and lakes.  Does the suffering of those animals not also concern you? 


4.  Do you believe it’s possible to live a morally uncompromized life?

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68 thoughts on “Vegetarianism and Veganism for Moral Reasons

  1. The vegans I know feel like any bit they can do helps, like that story about the guy picking up starfish and throwing them back in the ocean one by one. I’m down with that, I suppose, but I like meat, a lot, so I eat meat. Whenever possible I try to buy free range/organic/etc. meat. That’s my own little bit of doing little bits to try and help.

  2. You should research into 7th day Adventists. They have strong moral and religious reasons for being vegetarian/vegan.My parent’s neighbors are an exteme example of Adventists, but they are vegans to the point of using nothing created by any living thing or creating a shadow. They grow and preserve as much of their own food as possible and trade and exchange for any other foods. They have very strong beliefs for why they live and eat the way that they do. They keep trying to convince my dad to join up, but as a beef farmer he’s not really an ideal target audience.I personally do not like mass produced food from corporate farms and I try to buy locally whenever I can and that includes meat. I do not mind knowing which chicken or pig that it was, but I don’t pet them before time either. I practice responsible stewardship when I can.

  3. Environmental ethics is a very lively field. Most of the time, as I understand it, ethical considerations don’t say "this is of great importance and this is of no importance." Rather, ethicists would probably say that the world is full of conflicting interests, all which bear some consideration. The pat answers would run like this:1) Yes, human farmers get hurt. So do field mice, voles, and other creatures. Nothing we consume is without some environmental cost. However, since a substantial part of US agriculture is devoted to growing animal feed (and another big hunk to growing corn for high fructose corn syrup), eschewing meat and processed sweets would diminish the collateral damage. 2) Abbreviating healthy life to alleviate potential future suffering sounds like a dubious proposition. If the meat is from diseased or starveling deer, would it be wise or desirable to eat it? No. So you’d be culling the good fat healthy ones, then, I suppose. 3) Most moral vegans also oppose factory farming and are, by the same token, devoted to local production and organic cultivation methods. 4) Nope. But I do think it’s possible to take the measure of the consequences of my decisions periodically and take responsibility to change what I can if I don’t think that I’m meeting my own ethical guidelines.Let it be said I am neither a vegan nor moral. Ivy pretty much sums it up, though — one tries to make little differences where one can.

  4. I see a possible relationship between organic production & health, but I am confused about the repeated association between organic production & morality. Why do so many people think that organic farmers must embody some larger shared goals when plenty fo them are just capitalists seeking a new niche? Okay, I see the connection in Aunt B’s #3, but I have never heard any kind of vegetarian make that association in their moral claims when they talk about the suffering of factory farmed animals, and I know lots of them. I am also aware of the growing localitarian movements, which make that more holistic claim. I respect them, even if I don’t agree or am too poor & lazy to live that life. I guess I’m just put-off by moral arguments against eating animals or animals products that are reactionary and incomplete, and then having people defend their choices as being healthier (which is an fair but independent claim) rather than taking the next moral step. I don’t think it’s possible (and certainly not easy) to live a morally uncompromised life. But I do think that morality requires that we come to some positive, holistic understanding – which has to be attended too and amended when necessary – of stanards for determining right and wrong and then try to stick to them rather than wait for others to do the work of pointing out who or what is suffering from what cause and what we should stop doing to be able to save ourselves from feeling responsible for that suffering.Finally, if one stops eating meat/animals products because of the WAY the animals are farmed, then I would expect to see a set of standards for how farming could happen humanely such that the boycott makes sense and the farmers have a way to respond. Otherwise, there’s no reason to change their methods, or the original moral argument is either inaccurate or at least incomplete and is then not an argument against Aunt B’s #2 or hunting in general.

  5. Professor: The vegetarians/vegans I know feel it is morally wrong to eat animals, period. The way they are farmed is adding insult to injury, to them. I think. One of my good vegan pals admits being a vegan is not for everyone, but she hopes that those of us who continue to eat meat at least try to buy free range/organic, etc. I try to eat at least one vegetarian supper a week, not so much for moral reasons, but for health benefits. Eventually I’d like to move to about 50% vegetarian, but at this point, my kids are eating what I’m eating, and I feel like they might not get the amount of nutrients necessary if I did so. I know it’s *possible* to feed kids totally vegetarian and them be healthy, but all the vegan kids I know look sickly, and that makes me nervous. (I’d like to add that when I say vegan kids, I know precisely 2 of them, so it’s not exactly a multitude of sickly looking kids)

  6. Ivy, I’m not opposed to vegetarianism or veganism. I just often find it laughable, inconsistent, and haughty what kinds of arguments and justifications some give.And I still don’t get the association between free range & organic that you keep making. They are entirely different things done for entirely different reasons. And, as Brittney pointed out, are often no less inhumane than their counterparts, even if the organic stuff might less dangerous to our health.

  7. Bridgett answered those questions much in the way I would. And Ivy summed it up best.I am not trying to change others’ behavior, only to do what I can to alleviate some of the suffering caused factory animals in this country. I am making decisions in order to lessen the amount of suffering that happens because I happen to be on this planet. It is a personal choice not to contribute to an industry that abuses animals for money. My reasoning is simple: I don’t need to eat/eat from animals to live, so I won’t. I do find it interesting that in discussing this change with others one of their first questions is why I am not doing more. Are you going to wear leather? What about honey, will you eat that? Are you going to join PETA? Why haven’t you lobbied the farming industry for change? It’s as if it’s all or nothing to some folks.

  8. "I guess I’m just put-off by moral arguments against eating animals or animals products that are reactionary and incomplete, and then having people defend their choices as being healthier (which is an fair but independent claim) rather than taking the next moral step."What is "the next moral step"?

  9. I’ll just say this in regards to haughtiness and reactionary reasoning: I know that my eschewing of meat and animal products reduces suffering. Even if this only means a single animal is spared the life these creatures lead, then I know my choice is the right one for me.

  10. But Britteny, I don’t think that you should eat meat. Nor do I think that you are not justified in trying to reduce the level of suffering in the world. But just because you’ve done something doesn’t mean you are now free from question and even criticism. It’s exactly that that I am reacting to – that vegetarians and vegans talk as if they get some sort of of moral pass because they don’t eat meat. The reason that these questions always come up is because you involked moral high ground and we want to know how high is high enough – just enough to be above me?

  11. How have I invoked moral high ground? And also, what is the next moral step you referenced earlier?And why the hell do you think I think I am free from criticism?

  12. When someone says that they are a volunteer at a homeless shelter, do you then ask them why they haven’t found to volunteer at battered womens’ shelters?

  13. The next moral step is to be proactive, instead of just reactive. It would be to articulate standards for humane treatment and only partake of products produced according to them. Note that there has been plenty of discussion of producing one’s own food or purchasing from only local/known manufacturers.

  14. I am aware that there is more I can do to reduce the suffering of animals. One step at a time, as they say. But the EASIEST one for me is this personal decision.I’ll get to lobbying legislators a bit later.

  15. I don’t see the analogy. This conversation is about deciding what & how to eat, which can be done in a holistic & thorough manner, especially in terms of what not to eat, what to not spend time & money on. The other is about when & to what to offer one’s time. One could never volunteer at all of the shelters even within a few dozen miles of home, but one could decide what to consume. If people who reject animal products on moral grounds don’t think that it would be better for more people to do so, then 1) I don’t know what "moral" means and 2) why do people always describe, in gruesome detail, what happens to those animals, unless there is at least some hope of understanding that will lead others to lose a taste for those products?

  16. "It’s exactly that that I am reacting to – that vegetarians and vegans talk as if they get some sort of of moral pass because they don’t eat meat."This is projection, plain and simple. I did not talk like that. Nowhere did I give that impression.

  17. Yes, I think it would be better if more people ate less meat. Will I actively try to convince them to? Likely not.Tell me again how that makes me haughty and claiming some sort of superiority toward you.

  18. Professor: I eat organic because I think growth hormones and antibiotics are unhealthy. That’s a health decision. I mention organic because, I dunno, I just did. I eat free range so the animals (hopefully) have a better quality of life before they end up my tasty dinner. :DBrittney: I know these questions irritate you, but *are* you planning on eating honey?

  19. The Professor seems like a sad sad person. I’m not sure who they are reacting to, but it isn’t anyone who is writing here. Brittney has made a choice to reduce her participation in an activity that she sees as unnecessarily cruel. She hasn’t claimed moral high ground over anyone, and she hasn’t compared her morality to anyone else’s.No one is claiming that Brittney should get a moral pass.The Professor said "But just because you’ve done something doesn’t mean you are now free from question and even criticism". That is the opposite if what The Professor is doing, which is using Brittney’s action as a justification for an increase in question and criticism. She has made a step towards living a life that is morally acceptable to her, and for some reason, The Professor feels threatened by this.The morality of others is irrelevant to Brittney’s actions. Her actions would fit her reasoning of reducing the suffering of others no matter what the actions of other people. Her goal is not the elimination of suffering, but a reduction in her participation in the suffering of others, and her actions achieve that goal.

  20. Ivy, that doesn’t irritate me. It’s all in how you ask. :)Regarding honey, I don’t know. I don’t eat very much honey at all anyway, so I’ll probably just avoid it. If I really want some honey I’ll buy some locally from a beekeeper who doesn’t destroy the hives by burning, which is why most vegans object anyway.

  21. There is a strong element of denial and dissociation (and basic lack of knowledge about mass meat production. To be brief, causing suffering to sentient beings that might be avoided is — in this particular ethics system — an unethical act. As an explanatory measure (and as a prompt to the conscience of others, no doubt), the descriptions of animal cruelty help to establish the moral necessity of the choice being made.If I’m understanding the Professor correctly, what she wants is a set of "cruelty-free" criteria — that’s assuming that animals have no moral agency (and thus no claim to rights), so the problem to be resolved is how to gently snuff Daisy. What moral vegans might insist is that animals such as Daisy do have moral agency which must be respected and as such, there is no way to deny them life and liberty that does not violate their innate right to be. (Again, personally, I have huge problems with other implications of utilitarian ethics of the Peter Singer variety…I’m not flying the flag, merely trying to explain the position as I understand it).

  22. Even if there were a perfect method of raising and killing animals for meat that did not cause suffering, and the only suffering in the entire agricultural industry was that of the humans involved, the decision to not eat meat reduces the suffering of humans, as raising animals for meat (and the plants to feed those animals) is less efficient than growing plants for food.

  23. I hate the way honey tastes, so I figure if I ever do become a vegan, I’ll be able to say, "And I don’t eat honey either, so there! Nyah!";)

  24. I don’t think Brittney has actively condemned meat eaters or is working very hard to make omnivores vegans. I recognize that, on her site, she has described her own process of decision-making on this topic, which I respect. Of course, I find that reasoning to be not only not in line with my own but incomplete in itself. Even in its incompleteness, she is reducing the suffering of animals, which is exactly what she wants to do. That was never up for debate; that was not something I ever denied or even made fun of. I don’t even think that to be a good person, she must do more. Very little of my original comment was directed at Brittney specifically. If it were, I would have placed the comments on her site. Aunt B. made some probing questions about a topic that Brittney’s post inspired. I responded, like Aunt B: "I have some questions. I don’t mean them to be snarky and they’re not just for Brittney; they’re for all you moral vegetarians and vegans." She’s surely not the first one I’ve encountered in my life, not even this week. I’m glad Brittney came to talk. I’m sorry she assumed that all of that was about her or even her alone. I will still defend my reasoning and describe my experience of the general tone of the conversation that happens when many vegans talk about the moral arguments for veganism. Bridgett is right. I wanted a discussion about differing arguments about mistreatment or consumption of animals in general and the relation between moral arguments and health arguments. If it’s wrong to eat animals, then it’s wrong to eat animals no matter how they are treated. I don’t see why the creulty has to be described to make that claim. Brittney, I never said you were haughty, not even for not taking the next step. What I said is haughty (which is not something you ever did nor is it something I ever claimed you did) is shifting around and combining arguments rather than working out and holding a consistent position. Sure, I got annoyed when you assumed this was all about you and got pushy. And, even if you don’t preach all that much and I don’t think you’re being uncool about moral high ground, I will defend what I said above that you do think it would be better if everyone were a vegan. Even if you don’t mistreat people as a result of that belief, that’s what I mean by moral high ground. I know you expected to get plently of questions and even condemnation – that’s in your post. Then why are you so bothered by it? Veganism is still rare; an announcement of the sort will not usually lead to congratulations and sentiments of pride from others.

  25. I’m shocked (SHOCKED!) that Brittney could read something like "The reason that these questions always come up is because you involked moral high ground" and come to the conclusion that someone was talking about her.Regarding "If it’s wrong to eat animals, then it’s wrong to eat animals no matter how they are treated. I don’t see why the creulty has to be described to make that claim.": The cruelty if often cited by those giving up meat because for them, the moral truth that they are working from is not "It is wrong to eat animals". They are working from the moral truth that "It is wrong to be unnecessarily cruel", from which they derive that it is a personally moral decision to lessen their involvement in an endeavor that is, in their best judgment, unnecessarily cruel.

  26. Prof. I think you’re missing that this is an anti-cruelty position — of a piece with other "rights work" in which one engages. As such, establishing cruelty is necessary to making the argument that one should stop engaging in the behavior. Susan Pearson wrote an excellent dissertation about the historic roots of animal rights activism and its historic connections with other sorts of social justice causes. I think the title is *The Rights of the Defenseless: Animals, Children, and Sentimental Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century America* (UNC 2004).

  27. Ugh. I’m glad to come home to a lively discussion, but god, Brittney, I hope you don’t feel piled on. Because you know I love you and want to have eight curly haired obnoxious liberal babies with you, which can’t happen if you’re upset at me.I don’t mean for this to be some kind of wild accusitorial "aha! I caught you in some giant vegan paradox" post. It’s a big change that involves a lot of hard work and thought and I’m just interested in what motivates that.Also, of course, it comes back to the eternal problem that I don’t want to believe that people I care deeply about are doing evil things, so my initial response is not the typical "you vegans think you’re so much better than the rest of us" one. My gut instinct is "show me. Come with me into my world and show me the farmers who would treat their animals this way. Because, until I see with my own eyes that this is a wide-spread problem, I won’t believe it of the people I care about."That doesn’t mean I’m not wrong, of course.I just don’t believe that farmers are sadists. Again, I could be wrong.But I do know that the large corporations, like Archer Daniels Midland, that are responsible for bringing us so much of our plant-based diet do act in unethical ways that hurt the land and the people on it.Which is where I think the Professor and I are looking at this from one perspective–if animals are suffering in the farming process, then this is just one more indication that how we’re doing food production in this country has a cost higher than we should be willing to pay and therefore further evidence that we need to revise how we use the land in more ethical ways.But I believe that Brittney is coming from it in a different manner–if animals are suffering, I should do what I can to aleviate that suffering.I don’t think those are incompatible views, but they’re different views (which we all seem to get, because we’re fighting), but they don’t have to be views in opposition to each other, just because they are different.

  28. "Come with me into my world and show me the farmers who would treat their animals this way. Because, until I see with my own eyes that this is a wide-spread problem, I won’t believe it of the people I care about."You should read the book. It’s pretty eye-opening.

  29. Here’s a video I saw about pig abuse:http://www.goveg.com/sdpigfarm.aspWARNING: it is VERY graphic and disturbing. The worst part to me is, pigs are intelligent animals. I absolutely believe they suffer. Cows and chickens, I think they do suffer, but I don’t think they have an understanding of suffering the way pigs do. Plus, chickens are mean and probably deserve it. ;) FYI: I still do eat pork, but I eat a lot less pork than I did before. I may eventually stop eating pork altogether, I dunno. I’m weak. Love bacon. And ham.

  30. Ivy, if all you’ve eaten is grocery store honey, I can understand your feelings. It’s flavorless sugar syrup. As the rural transplant here, I have to stand up for the difference between corporate farming and family farming. It’s like comparing WalMart to the local 5&10 (which hardly exist anymore). The business rules, attention to detail and mass production short cuts cannot be compared.Small farm cows are grass fed and "free range" if you mean that they can get through the fence and run around on the road. They get very few antibiotic and no hormone shots. But also, it is not profitable to keep and maintain these cows past a certain age and weight, that’s when they enter the corporate feed-lot system and the rules change. My dad is old school in that his pigs are loose and free to run around in the woods and eat what they find. It has not been profitable for him to feed and sell these pigs for several years, so they run around and he sells them locally to people who want one to eat. The large scale demand for cheap meat sources have driven down the prices paid to traditional small scale farmers and they can’t afford to compete any more. Meat at every meal used to be a luxury, now it’s considered a neccessity for most.Back to the honey question that inspired me first. Most strict vegans eschew any animal products and honey as well as dairy products fall into this category. The honey is "taken" from the bees and used for food. This is a matter of perspective and I can support either view. As a 3rd generation Apiarist(beekeeper) I can tell you that maintaining honey supplies in the hive are very important. I will write a more detailed post about beekeeping on my own spot, I could just go on and on. But, local honey comes in lots of flavors and colors and is very different from that grocery store crap. If you are going to include complex sugar in your diet, honey is a good choice and cruelty free source.

  31. A lot has already been said here, and I’m not going to try to address anything point-by-point. I’ve been alternately vegan and lacto-vegetarian for the past 10+ years, and I would like to weigh in with a few comments. One, the suffering of human farmers and farm-hands has nothing to do with the suffering of animals, in that, just because I choose to modify my diet in such a way as to reduce my burden on the suffering of animals, it doesn’t follow that I don’t care about the suffering of humans. On the contrary, the stories I’ve heard first-hand from people who’ve worked in slaughterhouses and factory farms are enough to convince me that avoiding animal products not only has a positive impact on so-called "food" animals, but also stands a chance of positively impacting human work conditions. Two, proactive work can be done alongside veg*nism, and Gene and Lorri Bauston of Farm Sanctuary (http://www.farmsanctuary.org/) prove it daily. They have been instrumental in lobbying for laws banning "downers," foie gras, and much more. They’re not alone. There are dozens of other organizations doing great things for farm animals and other animals, and much of that work protects non-veg*ns, too (such as work done to prevent the spread of BSE, or Mad Cow disease). Three, my back hurts and I’m growing tired of typing. :) But I write about this in my own blog occasionally (http://kateo.livejournal.com/tag/veg%2Anism — although I just realized that most of those entries are protected, sorry) and I welcome any constructive dialogue there.

  32. Haven’t plowed through all these comments, but you know I always have two cents to spare and just want to say, by virtue of experience, that it is very difficult to end up healthy as a vegan. Very difficult to get all the protein and other nutrients you need. I’ve been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 34 years for conscience and health reasons, primarily conscience reasons. "Lacto-ovo" means I eat dairy products and eggs. The animals did not die to produce those foods.Some vegetarians may eat eggs but no dairy products, or vice versa.I am descended from dairy farmers, who, as the custom was then, treated their cows like family. That type of dairy farm is rapidly disappearing. As an animal-rights activist, I am well aware of the horrible treatment of meat-,milk- and egg-producing animals in modern corporate farm operations. Their lives are nightmares. So many causes, so little time. I do what I can. I try to do something for animals every day. If you think I’ve gotten grief for my immigration-control views, you should see the vitriol fired at me when I publicly oppose hunting.I raised my children as vegetarians but did not force my views on them. The boy abandoned vegetarianism as soon as he could choose his food at school. The girl is still a vegetarian. Both are grown. My daughter ended up stricter than I on diet. She will not eat vegetables cooked with meat, such as turnip greens or beans one might get at a restaurant. I used to pass those by and taught her to pass them by, but now I will pick out the meat and eat them if choices are limited. It still bothers me, though.For years I did not wear leather, froze my feet in canvas, but now I do wear leather athletic shoes, because my aging feet need the arch and other support on my long walks. Read labels. Animal products are in many, many foods.The diet has served me well. I’m still pretty healthy and fit, and look younger than my age, people say.

  33. I like and admire vegetarians and vegans. Some of my best friends are vegetarians. (Ha!–stereotype, but it’s true.) I think it’s a fine personal choice to make. I even think it’s fine to throw in with other veg folks to try to change the world for what they see as better. What’s the point of having a belief if you don’t do what you can to see it through? What I DO mind is when the Veg lifestyle becomes openly judgmental and proselytising. I appreciated Brittney’s original post on the subject very much. She was open an honest with her feelings and reasons for choosing that lifestyle, and she did it on her own space. If she had gone into every blog written over the weekend about turkey and left a scathing comment about the poor treatment of farm birds, then I’d have a problem. The reason that scary-preachy vegetarian/veganism bothers me is the same reason that scary-preachy Christianity bothers me. There are a lot of veg Ted Haggards out there who vocally rail against the exploitation of animals, only to make little compromises behind the scenes when it suits them. I don’t want to be yelled at for going to Chik-Fil-A only to find out that you wear leather gloves because you’re allergic to the vinyl alternatives. If you are a vegetarian or vegan I applaud your personal decision. If you come to my house I’ll go out of my way to fix you dishes that conform to your wishes (I do it all the time.) But I eat meat, eggs and dairy and am always going to. So as long as you’re okay to let me live as I see fit, then I don’t mind if you do the same.

  34. I find it interesting. I hope no one feels picked on, because that’s not my intent, but I find it fascinating precisely because, to me, the problems seem so enormous and tangled and because I don’t think my thinking on the issue is clear.I mean, I already knew that animals suffer during the harvesting process (whatever that process might be). Anything that results in death might be fairly called, at the least, "unpleasant."So for vegs to say that animals suffer… I’m both sympathetic to that and also not outraged. Of course they suffer.Is their suffering beyond what’s necessary in order for them to provide me food? Then maybe that’s a problem for me.Also, at the same time that I don’t want to be like those jackass scientists who insist, in the face of all evidence, that animals don’t feel pain, I’m nervous about ascribing complex brain malfunctions like insanity to animals like chickens.And I still don’t think we’ve even begun to touch on the problem of the necessity of reducing herd populations back to more manageable levels. We’ve let whole ecosystems get so out of whack that we are beyond killing off just the weak and the old in order to keep the problem from getting worse.Which brings me to my next concern. The animals that most of us eat are domesticated. Sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, chickens, etc. have been domesticated for about 10,000 years. If we stop using them as food, why would we keep them as domesticated animals?And then what happens to them?

  35. " I find it fascinating precisely because, to me, the problems seem so enormous and tangled and because I don’t think my thinking on the issue is clear."It’s always one of those difficult issues for me. I agree with a lot of Veg thinking, because I’m an animal nut. But I also weaken on issues of practicality, laziness and expense. "And I still don’t think we’ve even begun to touch on the problem of the necessity of reducing herd populations back to more manageable levels. We’ve let whole ecosystems get so out of whack that we are beyond killing off just the weak and the old in order to keep the problem from getting worse."I live in a crowded subdivision near the lake, but my house backs up to a hilly common area. It basically gives me the equivalent of a 1/2 acre of land surrounded by .2 acre lots with houses ass-to-elbow. More than half a dozen times I’ve had LARGE HERDS of deer (as many as 19) walk over that hilled common area behind my house after dark. (The things you see when you have insomnia.) It always breaks my heart, because they’re obviously starving. We don’t allow hunting around Priest Lake (where they live), and we’ve chopped down all the surrounding forest and farm land that used to be food and shelter. Now they are overbred and dying of starvation. That’s a much crueller death than a bullet between the eyes, as I see it.

  36. Veg*nism is sometimes a health choice. Sometimes it’s a moral choice (whether in reference to animal cruelty or the environmental effects of factory farming). And sometimes it’s a combination. If the Professor has encountered people who have "incomplete" arguments, my question is, why argue with them? They’ve made a choice that you’ve not made. If they’re trying to convert you, just say "I like to eat meat" and the argument’s over. People frequently ask me why I’m a vegetarian and I respond, "Do you like to eat meat?" If they say yes, then I say, "Then you don’t want to know." I’m not going to tell anyone anything they don’t want to hear or aren’t willing to understand.Do I feel like I’m better than meat-eaters? Sometimes. Particularly those who want their meat in sandwiches or shrink-wrapped and sitting on grocery shelves. Those who are disgusted by the process and would never do what’s necessary to get their own meat (ie, slaughter and prepare an animal), but happily consume their fried chicken salad at the local Applebee’s. Those are the people that support factory farming, which is the root of the real meat consumption problem. People who go out and shoot deer? Well, I don’t want to be close to a person that can kill an animal, but I respect the fact that they’re willing to do it to eat.

  37. A lot of this depends on where you think humans belong in the order of things. If we have been granted dominion over cattle (as I was at my wedding…) by God, then human use of animals is divinely ordained. Other people have some other justification for believing that humans are superior animals to others, among them "other animals feel no pain or their suffering isn’t as significant as my need to eat meat," "other animals aren’t as smart," "other animal life is not as valuable to me as human life," or "other animals need us to eat them for their own welfare — what would happen to their breeds if we didn’t eat them?" But at the root of all these beliefs is a fundamental idea that humans are both more important than other kinds of animals and that humans have a superior right (and even a duty) to order the world for their own benefit.Not everyone thinks that this is so. To a person lacking the humans-first imperative, many of your questions just wouldn’t make much sense. Is it a necessity for the pink apes to act as super-predators because they’ve short-sightedly created the conditions for a vast deer park they no longer want? Do the pink apes have a duty to maintain certain species and breeds they’ve cultivated (pretending that they are necessary to the prolonged survival of animals stronger than themselves that were born with hooves, horns, teeth, and claws and that rapidly go feral within a few generations) or can they conceive of a world in which their ape selves are not so needily central? I don’t think most humans can conceive of themselves as a species among innumerable species and as such, they will continue to feel philosophically unsettled by the ethical claims of moral vegans.Sort of connected to this…Anyone interested in the ways in which English colonists connected "advanced" civilization with livestock cultivation should read Virginia Anderson’s Creatures of Empire. Really, the whole "animals/humans" connection with social and political virtue is a deepseated cultural belief, one we can see in our ideas about the agricultural "heartland" as emblematic of all that is good, decent, sensible, and worth celebratinging. Just watch some Chevy commercials. They aren’t showing you a Maryland suburb or even a highway. Cows and horses sell trucks, even in NYC.

  38. Kat, I’d guess I’d say that herds regulate themselves at carrying capacity absent human intervention and they’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years. If humans keep "thinning," thinking that they are reducing suffering, then the deer will keep starving. Starving does will not reproduce, but by shooting healthy animals and artificially suppressing populations, humans are triggering a population explosion that otherwise would not be happening. It would also help if y’all knew something about the colonial southeast. It was originally a deer park. There were very few predators large enough to take down a deer (panthers were about it) and so the deer population was huge. It is not that humans have removed the predators. Humans have always been the most successful predators for the deer in this ecosystem. It is that we have removed the edge habitat and have introduced competition species like cows (ruminants that have a 98% crossover diet with deer) so that the deer have less range and thus the carrying capacity of the southeast has dropped. If you want to help the deer, combat sprawl.

  39. I think cows and chickens should be thankful that I eat them. If I did not, they’d be extinct. Seriously, do either of these occur naturally anywhere?

  40. Bridgett, you were granted dominion over cattle at your wedding? Was this before or after the King of Leinster gave you as much ground as your cloak could cover?I get what you’re saying about my line of thinking setting us apart from animals in ways that moral veg*s might not understand. But doesn’t the scenario you describe also require setting humans apart from animals? Whereas every other species eats what they can find when they can manage to find it, we refrain from eating animals… why? Because we are different than them?Plus, eating something is not always an indication of our feeling of dominion over it. It can be a way of showing respect for that thing and a way to attempt to embody qualities of that thing that we respect.

  41. But I went to all this trouble to build a gingerbread house so that you and your brother, Hansel, would come along and I could stick you in my oven!

  42. Dominion over cattle — a funky bit of wording in the version of the Catholic rite we used. It made for a good laugh, as we were both vegetarians at the time. I wish the King of Leinster had been at my wedding. He and my uncle Ernie would have been a fine pair.Good point about how humans differ from other animals…not sure what I think of this. Why don’t we eat other humans, since there are a hell of a lot of us and we could certainly do with a thinning by the reasoning proposed above? Why do we think cow is good and rat is bad? Why can you get horsemeat in the south of France but people think you vile if you propose eating horse in South Carolina? I think it goes down to a set of cultural beliefs about the sacred vs the profane and everyone draws their line somewhere differently. To the extent that humans are omnivorous and can thus survive on pretty much anything but tin cans, we can be a little more selective about what to eat. Even hardcore animal lib philosophers concede that there are culturally appropriate settings in which meat-eating is integral to the health and well-being of a people. Nashville doesn’t make this short list, however.I don’t agree about consumption being simply a mark of respect. It’s pretty to think so when you’re the one holding the fork, but harder when you’re the entree. Certain indigenous peoples practiced ritual cannibalism, symbolically incorporating their enemies’ spiritual power by taking small bits of human flesh into their own bodies. It’s not clear that the defeated thought this such an honor, though. Likewise, me thanking Bambi for the gift of its life may keep me in right relation with my prey, but the whole apology complex lacks meaning for the dead deer.

  43. Would that I could, I would live on protein drinks and pizza, popcorn and beer for the entirety of my existence. And rice and unagi. Outside of those quirks of taste, I could live on entirely man-made food sources and not think much about it. Even my fiber source would be man made. I dunno, could vegans exist on MetRx?

  44. Hmmm.I was lact/ovo/pesca vegetarian for a while. (I really hate that phrasing, and usually say something shorter, like "pescatarian," which tends to just inspire eye-rolling from all sides) Not for any particular moral or health reasons, but simply because I could, and I felt like it, and wanted to see how long it would last.Being where I am, I’m not used to thinking of veganism or vegetarianism as uncommon. Less common than general omnivorousness, sure, but not terribly rare, either. In college (which, admittedly, is in a whole different state, and its own little island of weird up there, to boot), every single meal had at least vegan option and at least one meat-eating option – the third or fourth options tended to waver, or be self-assembled. Since there was a special fund set aside for class socializing (that is, each professor was given a certain amount of money for each course they were teaching, which was to be used for something fun an social, like going bowling or ordering pizza for a review session), we always had food, and in four years at school, I was *never* in a class that didn’t have at least one vegan and several vegetarians. Let alone people who wouldn’t/couldn’t eat gluten, or had religious dietary restrictions, or were researching something to do with food and therefore very opiinionated about it.(In keeping with the ‘island of weird’ bit, as much of our food as was reasonably possible was also sustainable, locally grown, free-range, free from growth hormones, and fair-trade when applicable. I went to neither Wilammette http://www.willamette.edu/about/sustainability/info/07_bon_appetit.htm nor Mount Saint Mary’s, http://www.msmc.la.edu/pages/3775.asp but the same company ran our food service, in exactly the same way. The text at the MSMC link is exactly the same text (minus locational references) as on posters we used to have in our cafeteria.) [I am going to stop here, and continue my comments below, just on the off chance that TCP decides to get fussy again.]

  45. Be a vegan/vegetarian if you wish, for whatever reasons, and get on with it. But if anyone thinks that what we humans do to animals we raise/harvest for meat is overly cruel, please watch some Discovery Channel right quick. You really think that seal is getting a fair shake from the great white shark slicing it in half (with an insanely germ/bacteria infested mouth, by the way) or the cute little zebra is enjoying being chased/brought down/ripped apart by that cheetah? Come on now, people, it’s just nature. And just to be a pain, even if you’re "just" eating plants, it died to nourish you, and I haven’t seen a lot of people eating oak tree bark lately to survive, have you? :)

  46. [Continuing from above. Thank the internet gerbils for continuing their endless travails.]Anyway, the point of that moderately long digression was that I was surprised to see the assertion that "Veganism is still rare; an announcement of the sort will not usually lead to congratulations and sentiments of pride from others." I’ve seen shock ("How can you stand not eating animal products?") and confusion ("So are you not going to eat honey?"), and attack… lots of attack ("Well, glossy paper is made with animal products – are you going to stop buying newspapers? What about silk? And leather? And taking medicine that went through animal trials? Or participating in anything (say, space travel) that was tested on animals first?"). But with the exception of that last bit (which comes out far more in discussions like this than simple pronouncements of one’s eating habits), almost all of what I’ve seen has been in a tone of respect and acceptance. ‘Wow, that’s a really impressive committment.’That said, my sentiments fall fairly close to Coble’s, when she says: "If you are a vegetarian or vegan I applaud your personal decision. If you come to my house I’ll go out of my way to fix you dishes that conform to your wishes (I do it all the time.) But I eat meat, eggs and dairy and am always going to. So as long as you’re okay to let me live as I see fit, then I don’t mind if you do the same." That’s generally my approach to most lifestyle decisions. I will respect what others do, and am certainly willing to engage in discussion about it (heck, I might even change my mind as a result of said discussion), but I am what I am, and I live as I live. I ask only the respect that I extend.[One more truncation, then I promise I’ll let someone else talk.]

  47. [Aaand… on to the actual response to Aunt B. I just work backwards. Yeah, that’s it. I’m not getting distracted by other points at all!]4. I don’t think it’s possible to live a morally uncompromised life, but doesn’t it seem like a better idea to live a less-morally-compromised life, if that option is available, than to live otherwise? You can never get to absolute purity (lack of sin, freedom from patriarchy, absence of prejudice, life that doesn’t hurt other life just by living), but if you can do something to make things better, oughtn’t you?I think there are practical limits to this doctrine (you can’t volunteer at all the shelters, and quite frankly, it’s silly to expect everyone with an interest in [whatever cause] to dedicate their life to [that cause, all its related causes, the moral issues creating that cause, the socio-political systems that perpetuate the problem, and the fires you have to put ouf that were the result of all your other work] too.), but it seems like taking this discussion (or any other) to an absolute level like that is misleading. Total absolution or total complicity is a false dichotomy; the issue is really whether one is a) doing what is Right/Good (depending on your issue – those are very different concepts and people place them in vastly differing hierarchies. I ask that you use the one here that is more important to you), and b) doing as much of that Right/Good as they are able, given their personalities and circumstances (with, perhaps, the addition of c) that they be doing this Right/Good in a way that is as uncompromising as possible. Not unbending, but un-compromising, in that it does not compromise them, making them less than they are).3. Yes, but that hasn’t been the thrust of what I see most moral veganism/vegetarianism to be about. I think, given the opportunity to do so (this including having the information and time to make an informed decision), most moral vegans/vegetarians would argue that of course harming those animals is problematic. The solution isn’t to stop eating plants (a physical impossibility at the moment) or compromise one’s diet (a morally and socially unsatisfactory answer), but rather to change the way farming is done to cause the least harm to other animals. That means fewer pesticides (or the development of friendlier ways to keep crops whole), changes to industrial farming techniques, and if we want to get really crazy about it, changing our relationship to food and geography in general. What’s in our hands is first what we eat, then how we farm. Eating vegan/vegetarian helps. Buying organic helps. (Yes, this is disregarding the structural problems between the market-as-currently-constructed and agricultural life on non-industrial scales. I’ll get to that, though it might have to be tomorrow, as I should be going home soon.)2. I happen to agree on that point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we <i>all</i> need to eat them. If they are going to be killed anyway (regardless of how we get there, the system is currently set up such that killing a certain number of animals is more humane than not killing them, given that we aren’t going to cede the territory back anytime soon), then making use of them, making their deaths mean at least a little bit, is better than not. But I don’t think it compromises someone to say that this ought not be the case and they won’t participate in it, if they can manage not to.[I’ll have to finish this thought, and tackle 1 and some other things I saw in comments later. Sorry to all that find the walls of text a bit much!]

  48. About the deer: A long time ago, I researched so-called deer overpopulation and concluded that this is a manmade phenomenon — it’s where your donations to "wildlife resources," "wildlife management," and widlife "preservation" go. Nature’s own management of animal populations is deliberately interrupted and interfered with by wildlife managers and hunters, who know exactly what they are doing: creating an excuse to kill, an excuse many of you will buy. Lew Regenstein, a guy I ran across in Atlanta, and others have researched this at length and written books about it.Aside from this deliberately induced overpopulation of hunted animals, we have increasing loss of animal habitat because of human development and pollution. Left to its own ways, Nature would reduce the number of young born each year in response to crowding and food availability. But Nature encounters a lot of paid human interference and responds accordingly, action and reaction. Wildlife/game "managers" put food out. Does are killed. They’ll tell hunters how many does to kill. How many they can kill, need to kill. They know exactly what they are doing. And there’s other deliberate human interference that causes Nature to react by producing more young, with more does than bucks being born in order to produce more young. Nature does this, changes the number of females and males born, in response to environment. Think like Nature and see the chain of events, action and reaction. Biologists and other experts have studied this. I am not pulling it out of the air.Deer overpopulation is orchestrated by humans. Same with some other hunted animals in this country.Another thing to keep in mind: coyotes, not native to this portion of the U.S., have moved into our area in large numbers as development and loss of habitat and prey push them this way. Without a natural predator here and with plenty of prey, they are reproducing in large numbers, and we are losing many deer to coyotes. We have a very unbalanced situation in which humans have played an uncaring and ignorant part.A version of mad cow disease is in the deer population — more widespread, I hear, than the kind in cows. Hunters know this, and the smart ones are not eating the deer they kill, never intended to eat it. They kill for the sheer rush of killing, sheer blood lust. They leave the carcasses to rot or "magnanimously" give the venison to homelsse shelters, where the ignorant and innocent consume this possibly/probably diseased meat. No one in their right mind should be eating venison anymore.Human and animal suffering is something we don’t get a pass on in civilized society. If we are aware of it, we are obligated to speak up about it.

  49. "A version of mad cow disease is in the deer population — more widespread, I hear, than the kind in cows. Hunters know this, and the smart ones are not eating the deer they kill, never intended to eat it. They kill for the sheer rush of killing, sheer blood lust. They leave the carcasses to rot or "magnanimously" give the venison to homelsse shelters, where the ignorant and innocent consume this possibly/probably diseased meat. No one in their right mind should be eating venison anymore."Sources, please.

  50. The name of the disease is Spongiform Encephalopathy. Google it and you’ll be floored at how widespread the research is on this (commonly referred to as "chronic wasting disease") on both captive and wild populations. There are also — though I’ll have to hunt to find them — good maps that detail where in the US affected herds are ranging. According to the Tennessee WRA, no cases have shown up in Tennessee yet. States (and hunters) vary in their willingness to report spongiform; I’ve heard deer-hunting friends in Iowa and Kentucky report that they’ve seen it in herds in those states, but I don’t see it being talked about in the official channels of those states. I would not take it to the bank that TN is clear of the disease, therefore.Right now, the jury is out about whether eating the flesh of infected animals is a means of transmission to humans; scientists working on this disease, Mad Cow, and scapie disagree on exactly what part of the animal must be consumed and in what quantity, etc. You’ll get conflicting advice from various state agencies, depending on how much of their tourism dollars depend on attracting hunters to the state. (I’m looking at you, Idaho.) The most cautious approach — as it’s clear that if you don’t eat the meat, you do not contract the illness — would be to avoid the meat. This is from the 2005 Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency Hunting Guide:Stop The Spread Of Chronic Wasting Disease!New Carcass Importation Laws Are Now In Effect.CWD has NOT yet been found in Tennessee and does not pose a risk to human health. Should CWD ever be discovered in Tennessee it will absolutely have an affect on the way we manage our white-tailed deer herd.Therefore…If you plan on hunting cervids (deer or elk) in the following states or provinces, you must properly prepare the carcass BEFORE transporting it into Tennessee.ColoradoIllinois*KansasMinnesotaMontanaNebraskaNew MexicoNew YorkOklahomaSouth DakotaUtahWest Virginia Wisconsin WyomingAlbertaSaskatchewan*That portion north of Interstate 80Carcasses and other parts from these areas that may be brought into or possessed in Tennessee include:a) meat that has bones removedb) meat that has no portion of the spinal column or head attachedc) antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates or cleaned skulls (whereno meat or tissues are attached to the skull)d) cleaned teethe) finished taxidermy and antler productse) hides and tanned products.Failure to comply with the above will be in violation of Tennessee law!

  51. Hmmm. I don’t know anything about deer. They live nearby in somewhat small numbers, but forest fires and mountain lions ensure that they don’t make it anywhere near ‘pest’ levels. (Of course, since where they *can* live is actually mostly in and around research labs and college campuses, they may be trending toward "pet" status instead.)I do, however, think the rest of this conversation is framed interestingly. As I was washing dishes last night (I know! I’m such a geek.), I wrote (going wayyy back in the discussion):It’s not that farmers are sadists, it’s that farmers have to make money. One doesn’t have to get off on cruelty to wittingly or unwittingly create conditions that are cruel.It actually sounds a lot like some of the feminist discussions. There is a group looking at something (the way animals are raised/slaughtered, the place of women in modern society), and saying "That’s fucked up." And then you have a bunch of people who turn around and say "Well, here’s the logical/moral/obvious conclusion to your politics – why aren’t you doing *this* instead?"Echoes of "why aren’t you helping women in Iraq" abound. One might not be doing ‘everything’ because a) it’s impossible, b) it’s not really what we’re talking about, or c) what we’re looking at right now is also a problem, and it’s within our grasp to do something immediate about, and an inability to control all aspects of a situation doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t work on the ones one has access to."That’s fucked up" naturally leads to "so what can I do to make it right?" The obvious, and easiest way is to absent oneself from the (immediate) system as much as possible. Stop overt discrimination, be nice yourself in everyday life, stop eating foods you know are obtained in untenable or unethical ways. The next step is, yes, to change the system – take away the sources of the problem so you don’t have to keep bandaging the outside. But committing oneself to the first doesn’t mean that one is required to carry the burden (dare I say it? "cross") of bringing about the second on one’s own.That said, in every movement, there are people who would do their cause a world of good by just shutting up already, and letting more reasoned and informed voices speak. There are *always* people whose given reactions to a situation do more harm than good. The trick is separating those people (who are often loud, and prominent, and stick in the mind) from the rest of everyone (who are generally trying to do what they can, and aren’t speaking up for fear they’ll be taken as the first group), and working from there.—It skips around a bit, and it’s nowhere near a perfect analogy, but I thought the rhetoric being employed was a really interesting match.To continue skipping around (forgive me – it’s early, and I haven’t finished my coffee yet), and finally finish up my thought about number 1 in Aunt B.’s initial volley of questions, I think it’s rather the same answer as 3. Yes, of course human suffering is bad and ought be eliminated. But that’s not the point, and the people who eat vegetables aren’t actually the problem. The problem is a structural one (how we farm, how we treat field workers, how market pressure encourages unhealthy, unethical industrial-style farming to the detriment of everyone, consumers included, except for the people at the very top of the ladder), and one that requires separate action to deal with. Choosing not to buy one’s vegetables from places that are awful to their workers is one way a person might do that, but that doesn’t have anything to do with moral veganism or vegetarianism, it has to do with ethical consumerism.Aand.. with that, I think I’ll finish my coffee, in the hopes that I might be able to add something less scattered to the conversation at some point.

  52. Ug. Some of these comments are so deeply depressing. My husband (vegan for almost 15 years) and I (eater of fish and other animal products) have managed to happily co-exist and eat together for almost a decade. He eats his food, and I enjoy mine. I’m baffled by the hostility some omnivores have toward vegans. I’ve yet to meet a vegan who’s as righteous as the omnivores who bitch about them.

  53. I still think the most interesting part of this discussion is how we’re all struggling to understand what our relationship to nature us.We can’t say that it’s unnatural for us to eat meat. Our teeth say otherwise.And yet, the argument seems to be that it’d be best for everything if we acted in an unnatural manner, but, of course, in an unnatural manner different than the way we’ve been acting, which we seem to agree has not been the best for all involved.Here’s something slightly off-topic, but I wonder. If we stop eating meat because we recognize some shared… something with animals… I mean, if we don’t see our role as stewards, but as peers with the thing of the earth, how will that work? Will we negotiate with animals for use of their land? How can we be sure of their intentions towards us?I mean, what does it mean to see one’s self as a peer to something that, for all we know, can’t return the feeling?

  54. Careful about catching the "body parts as determinants of destiny" train. I don’t think you’ll like the scenery on that route. Should you wish to pursue the hunt in the way that our ancestors did when they bequeathed us those teeth, then more power to you — I think I know where I can get you an atlatl and there is a pretty good chert source only a couple days’ walk from where you are right now. Otherwise, yes it is unnatural to eat meat in the quantities we currently do and through the productive mechanisms that we currently use in the US.

  55. Yes, but *that’s* exactly what I find interesting and, for myself, hard to understand.I can understand and agree with the argument that eating as much meat as we do, especially processed as it is, is bad for us. I am also convinced, though unwilling to change, that I could eat much better if I ate no meat.But how can we say that it’s unnatural for us to eat as much meat as we do? Aren’t we also a part of nature? Therefore isn’t whatever we do natural?It seems to me that we equate "natural" and "good." But clearly, as you’re hinting at with your good natured ribbing, "natural" isn’t always better.

  56. People who work in the field distinguish between "first nature" (that is, trees, rocks, atoms, climates, etc — what we might think of as wilderness or things not substantially altered by human intervention) and "second nature" (the historically situated cultural interactions of humans with their environments). Some even propose the concept of "next nature" — when nature and culture transpose relationships. (My head melts down about this point. I get it in that far-off "squint at it and look sidelong and it comes into focus briefly" way, but damned if I can articulate it clearly for someone else.) What you’re feeling for is the term "second nature," I think — the cultural understanding of human relationships to the world that surrounds them that masks/mediates the knowing of "first nature".Incidentally, chimps also have incisors. They use them for getting into fruits with hard rinds, not meat. Teeth can be used for a lot of different things.Outta time for today, but I love talking about this stuff.

  57. Bridgett responded to the question about mad deer disease, so I won’t, except to say that I read a Tennessee newspaper article last year that suggested that this chronic wasting disease has indeed been found in deer in Tennessee. I wouldn’t believe anything wildlife managers tell the general population. And knowing them, if it comes to that, they’ll use mad deer disease as a new excuse to shoot deer.Deer don’t recognize state lines. If infected deer have been found in other states, there is simply no guarantee it isn’t here. It’s risky to eat deer meat. If infected, humans might not show evidence of it for many years after ingesting the meat. That’s the way mad cow works. So, some of these hunters may be ticking time bombs.Homeless shelters and feed-the-hungry programs should refuse any offers of venison.Perhaps these wasting diseases are one way, the only way, that Nature/animals can fight back.

  58. I love the exchange that’s going on here. We, as humans, are indeed a part of the food chain (as some above here have said), going back millions of years. Whether species are either exclusively herbivorous or carnivorous is, often, a simple matter of biology. Nobody’s going to make a wild animal eat something it does not want to, unless, perhaps, it is faced with starvation, and mostly, not even then. That is why we have species becoming extinct as their natural food sources dry up. They are what they are; and they are what they eat, or else they’re goners. As are we.We humans, as cognizant beings, have some choice over this, being able to survive as either herbivore or carnivore. That’s a BIG difference right there, as it is our biology.So if a person, in our day and age, wants to be a vegetarian or even a vegan, they, for what ever reason (and that reason would be EVOLUTION) want to eschew animal products, well, then good for them. (I feed my family at least once or twice a week vege myself, for health reasons. And I try not to think that I am morally superior for doing so. ((I would insert a smiley face here, just for effect. Is this too many parentheses?)))But I think, because I have always been a kind of a science/anthrolpology/history geek, that everyone needs to chill out on this subject and just let people eat what they want to eat, within the confines of what their own conscience will allow. Every living thing on this earth needs to eat something else in order to survive. Watch some Animal Planet, or National Geographic or somesuch. Baby seals eat baby fish, and whales eat baby seals. It’s just the way life works.And I LOOOOVE those shows. But many people were all upset when Shakespeare apprarently died at the end of last season’s Meerkat Manor, because there’s a big anthropomorphizing happening in our modern society as we get more aware about these issues.Which is not a bad thing, mind you, in my opinion. Like, who eats veal anymore? The practices are barbaric. I do not condone that. And I think Fast Food Nation should be required reading for everybody. You want your eyes opened about corporate food production? It’s absolutely appalling, the methods that are practiced, industry-wide, not only in respect to animal-rights issues, but for the workers in these industries and the ways the public is manipulated with he marketing and all. I do believe I have gotten a bit off-track here, so I’ll stop now.

  59. "there’s a big anthropomorphizing happening in our modern society as we get more aware about these issues."And how. I have a sister who will not eat chicken unless someone cuts it up for her into small pieces that don’t make her think of the baby chicks from her 7th grade science class. Once this has been done, however, chicken is one of her favorite meals. I’m an omnivore myself (or, I guess, an omnivore with religious restrictions), but I have no quarrel with those who refuse meat or animal products for reasons of health or humane behavior (reasons of health and humane behavior are, after all, behind the religious restrictions I accept on my own diet). It’s the sentimentalists like my sister who drive me up the wall.

  60. I just returned from an elk hunt in Colorado last month. I got a cow. That’s about 400 lbs of meat. Having said that. I want to add that I am both a vegetarian and a member of PETA. I know, I know, it sounds like a mystery wrapped inside and enigma and so on, but it is totally, verifiably true.I know you’ve heard the old saying you are what you eat, right? Well, a cow is a vegetarian isn’t it? Okay, work with me, If I eat the cow, and the cow is a vegetarian, then I am a vegetarian. Then there is also another way to "get there". I am an extended vegetarian. The cow eats the grass, I eat the cow, therefore I am a vegetarian! See, it’s pretty simple.Now the inverse of this is not a pretty site. The cow takes a dump in the field, which fertilizes the grass, which these other vegetabletarians eat, which . . . . Ok, the part about being a member of PETA. You though I was going to say I was lying didn’t you? Nope, People Eating Tasty Animals!Tada

  61. I can’t believe I read all that this evening.Perhaps this conversation died already, but I’ll put in my two bits.I find it interesting how conversations about veg*nism turns to "natural vs. unnatural". For example Aunt B.’s comment "We can’t say that it’s unnatural for us to eat meat. Our teeth say otherwise."And as Bridgett replied "Incidentally, chimps also have incisors. They use them for getting into fruits with hard rinds, not meat. Teeth can be used for a lot of different things."I’d also like to add that most great apes have larger/more developed incisors than humans, and for the most part they eat little meat to no meat. Just because an animal has incisors does not mean it eats meat.I find the "natural vs. unnatural" argument to be very weak at best as we sit around in our house with perhaps airconditioning on or an electric heater, or perhaps while driving our car and we can say we are justified to eat meat, because it is "natural". As I’m sure some or many of you have heard, "rape, murder, war, domination, death, disease, etc" are also natural.Does "natural" mean okay? Then what does "unnatural" mean? Is this not okay or is it?I don’t understand the extension of saying just because something is natural then it is okay or justified or "good".If it is okay to eat meat because one saw, on the Discovery Channel or on a nature film, a lion ripping into a zebra, a killer whale flipping baby seals into the air and into pieces, etc, then is it okay to kill another human? I’ve seen lions attack other lions and kill them on a nature film. What chimps? They attack neighboring groups, kill sometimes. Some chimp mothers will eat the babies of another mother in her own group. Am I now justified to kill one neighbor, and eat the child of another? I don’t follow. Perhaps you could enlighten me on that.On Bridgett’s question about Powell’s "Omnivore’s Dilemma" I too have wanted to read the book, however the last time I went to the book store I flipped through it and felt disappointed, and did not want to read it. I will probably read it this coming year, if I can find it at the library.

  62. Oh and I had another bug who crawled somewhere. It is bothering me. It is the "let me live my life doing whatever I want and do not preach to me about this veg religion."I guess I believe ultimately that people should be free to do what they want so long as it does not impinge upon another’s rights. We’ve heard the "let me live my life doing whatever I want and do not preach to me about this equal rights of women religion."Or the "let me live my life doing whatever I want and do not preach to me about this equal rights of races religion."But of course now we know better. But this whole "veg" movement is just ridiculous. (sarcasm) Why I ask?What makes the suffering of non-human animals, the exploitation of non-human animals, or the deaths of non-human animals any less deserving of attention? Why is it that if one feels that it is morally wrong to use animals this way, or perhaps that we are impinging upon the rights of animals, that people think they should be silent? Why not speak out against atrocities? Why is it "converting" and not just enlightening or informing?

  63. i became a moral vegan 25 years ago because i was interested in becoming a better person and improving all of my relations (human, plant and animal).

    i realized then that as long as i killed animals i was capable of killing a human being. its is a simple fact that if we want to stop killing each other as humans, we must first stop killing animals. I am vegan as a result of my value for human life. period.

    i’m still angry and violent, but i think that I have become more tolerant of others as a result. I enjoy a freedom from guilt and hatred that I didn’t have before. i gained a deeper appreciation for all life, and am able to relax in nature more often. and i have been blessed by the mother in ways i could not have imagined before my moral choice.

    i hunt and kill black widows around the house out of fear for my infant, but am saddened by each loss of life that i take. and I certainly don’t want to stop anyone from fulfilling their blood thirst or convince them of anything. what goes around comes around, and we harvest the seed we plant.

    having made this turn, I can never go back.

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