Atheism and Veganism

The arguments against vegetarianism/veganism and atheism are both similar and weak, says Brad Pritikin.

That’s just a snippet. The full comic can be seen here.

If you’re one but not the other, what’s your reason?

Perhaps you think, as co-artist and non-vegetarian Lisa Faires does, “I can’t stop because mmmm.”

(via ReasonableComics)

  • Milena

    I agree with Lisa Faires. I try to limit the amount of meat I eat, but don’t you dare take my cheese away. I needs it!

  • http://www.thoughtcounts.net/ thoughtcounts Z

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I am an atheist. I agree that similar conversations are often had about the two things, as shown in the comic, but I don’t think that implies that being one means you ought to be the other too. After all, you could make the same arguments about eating vegetables as you could about eating meat. Who cares whether it’s traditionally done, or if people think you need it to be healthy — you can just take vitamin supplements to make up for what you’re missing! Do you think that means we should all eat only meat and no vegetables? Seriously, God is not the same as meat. I don’t even understand why someone would think these things are related, except to point out a humorous coincidence in which the same bad arguments are made in two cases. It doesn’t preclude the existence of good arguments in one or the other case.

  • Anonymous

    I’m an atheist. I’m not a vegetarian.

    I’m an atheist because I don’t believe god exists.

    I’m not a vegetarian because I do believe eating meat nourishes the body. I’m not about to argue that you cannot obtain the same nourishments from other foods. It is more complicated, and more of a commitment, and severely limits your options meal-wise. Moreover, I don’t have moral scruples regarding this because I don’t deem a human’s life an an animal’s life of equal value. I wouldn’t argue that eating meat is BETTER than not eating meat, I find equal. I cannot stand condescending vegetarians, however.

  • Konstanty

    Meat is tasty. have you ever tasted a communion wafer? No flavor at all.

  • ungullible

    If you’re one but not the other, what’s your reason?

    I’m not sure I understand where this question comes from. You point out that some arguments against them are equally weak, but it does not then follow that all arguments for them are equally strong. What has one got to do with the other?

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    Y’know what? I really like meat. I also like consumer electronics. Both of these are environmentally devastating enterprises.

    The thing is, I don’t care. I’m part of a massive framework of society that’s environmentally devastating. I can’t leave, and I can’t change it, and while it might be tempting to reduce my personal impact, that’s pretty insignificant. If I’m going to do something insignificant, I’ll do something I enjoy instead.

    Also: you may not take my bacon away. Not yours.

    @konstanty: Communion wafers are Jesus. Jesus may have been god made man, but he was definitely a man. Humans taste like pork, hence the phrase “long pork”. Pigs make bacon. Ergo, Communion wafers must really be bacon. HOLY CRAP, I think I’ve just converted.

  • JColv

    I am an atheist vegetarian and would agree that this same bad argument is made in both cases. However most of the time I feel that the person defending meat eating feels that I have the moral high ground and the person defending religion believes that they have the moral high ground.

    I agree with thoughtcounts Z that these two areas really aren’t related. They do seem to be highly correlated, though. Vegetarianism and veganism seems to occur a lot more amongst atheists than other groups. It would be interesting to see some approximate figures and know some reasons why.

  • http://homtrend.blogspot.com/ Brian Cooksey

    To me, being a vegan is healthier than being a fundamentalist. I only equate the two as being the more extreme versions of their respective states.

    I am an atheist and a meat eater but I don’t think people are likely to harm themselves or others by not eating animal products. Being a fundamentalist can, in fact, be harmful. So can eating only raw food but that’s not what you’re talking about, here.

  • http://dyfl.blogspot.com nathaniel

    I am an atheist because I don’t think that god exists.
    I am a vegetarian because, although I understand that humans are, essentially, omnivores, we have developed sufficient technology to make meat unnecessary. We no longer have to kill other animals in order to feed ourselves and be healthy, so why should we?

    I’m not a vegan, and I understand the implicit hypocrisy, but I find it too difficult a diet to stick to.

  • http://professorpolitico.net Professor Politico

    I’m an agnostic atheist. I don’t “know” that god does or doesn’t exist, so, until it’s proven that he does (because you can’t prove a negative) I choose to not believe. As far as veganism/vegetarianism goes; Meat is just too damn tasty.

  • http://odie5533.com/ David

    I’m an atheist because I have no reason to believe in god. Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years and I don’t see a compelling reason to completely stop. Sorry to anyone I offend, but the harsh treatment of animals bit doesn’t fly with me.

    That being said, I only eat fish, seafood, chicken and turkey. And milk products and eggs. If I were to find good reason to give up any of the above I’d certainly comply, but such reasoning for me remains to be seen. And unagi tastes really good :)

  • Zack

    The irony of this is that people that believe the literal story in Genesis don’t think that it is natural at all to eat meat. Apparently all the lions were herbivores back in the garden.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    I think it’s a stretch to present the arguments for/against atheism and vegetarianism as similar. Meat-eating and theism are both majoritarian practices in America, so to a certain extent they’re both going to be defended as “natural,” and what “everyone” does, just as any other common practice will. For example,

    X: So, you’re not planning on having kids?

    Y: Yep.

    X: But having kids is natural. Everyone does it.

    Or

    X: So, you like to have sex with sheep, instead of other humans?

    Y: Yep.

    X: But having sex with other humans is natural. Everyone does it.

    Other than that they’re all about majoritarian practices, I don’t see much similarity in the arguments about theism, vegetariaism, child-having, or sheep-REDACTED.

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com Justin

    I can see a connection between atheism and veganism, though I’m not sure I would go so far as to buy it.

    It could be argued that it is immoral to believe in a god, as to do so requires an immense amount of personal dishonesty, lying to oneself if not to others. Usually to both.

    It could be argued that it is immoral to kill another animal for food, especially given the way the meat is treated while alive, the environmental damage done to harvest meat and the genetic reality that we’re all basically variations on the same theme.

    It could also be argued that the above arguments are a marshmallow in the middle of a cowpatty, and that one is not going to eat that cowpatty.

    So the journey continues.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    What does not eating meat have to do with a belief in god?

    Wolves, as far as I know, don’t believe in god but eat lots of meat. :)

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Meat = tastes good
    Religion = not so much.

  • HP

    The last time I read the Illiad of Homer, I very nearly gave up atheism after reading of the sacrificial meals offered to Poseidon in hopes of achieving his favor in the Achaean’s fight against the Trojans, until I realized that all the temples have been destroyed, and animal sacrifice is illegal now. I did, however, quit being a vegetarian. Did you know that Sam’s Club carries lamb chine, which is just as delicious roasted as Homer describes?

    I followed the Illiad with a book called, IIRC, “The Cult of the Sacrifice.” It was about the role of animal sacrifice in the classical Indo-European religions of Greece, Rome, Asia Minor, etc. Late in the classical period, when religions like Orphism, Pythagoreanism, Christianity, and Mithraism appeared, the adherents of these fringe religions refused to participate in public animal sacrifice. The Pythagoreans and Orphists, in particular, ate no meat at all. For this, they were labeled “atheists.” Even though they all were practicing theistic faiths of one kind or another.

    I sometimes wonder to what extent the association between vegetarianism and atheism is a survival of the Late Classic conflict between the traditional, state religion based on public sacrifice, and these upstart religions.

    Epicurus, OTOH, who while nominally deist, remains my favorite of the pre-Socratic philosophers and whose morals are the foundation of my own, once wrote to friend in Athens, “There’s a pot of cheese I’ve been saving. It should be ripe just when I return home. Save it for me.” (Or words to that affect.) So he was no vegan, at least, and enjoyed some nice cheese. Yay, Epicurus! Yay, cheese!

    Vegetarianism is a perfectly appropriate decision for a person to make, and I support my vegetarian friends, atheist and theist alike, 100%. But it is neither a moral nor a rational decision.

    I don’t see any necessary connection between atheism and vegetarianism, but I don’t see any conflict either.

    We’re all just a big mess of rational and irrational motivations. Aesthetics, acculturation, and social identities all contribute to the decisions we make and the paths we take. But “correlation is not causation” with regard to atheism and vegetarianism.

  • http://perkyskeptic.blogspot.com/ The Perky Skeptic

    Mmmmmm, meat. :)

    I’m in the atheist-but-not-vegetarian category. Many years ago I was a vegetarian, for two full years. But I have a very fast metabolism, and I developed classic failure-to-thrive symptoms of listlessness and having to eat almost constantly just to keep myself going. I figured my consuming stuff ALL THE TIME wasn’t all that great for the environment, either, when just a leeeeeeetle bit o’ meat would keep me going for half a day.

    I still cook mainly vegetarian dishes, though, ’cause raw meat feels yucky on my hands.

  • http://www.jigsawdust.com Jeffrey

    Well, I’m an atheist and a meatatarian. I don’t really eat any vegetables. Mainly, because my mother would gag trying to feed them to me as a child. The only things I eat that aren’t meat are white beans, red beans, rice, corn, and french fries (only skinny). In theory, I think it would be awesome to be vegetarian, but I’d probably die trying it. I fee strange that as a student of philosophy, I should have something more pertinent to add to the discussion, but I don’t. So, there it is.

  • http://diaphanus.livejournal.com/ Ian Andreas Miller

    As far as I’m concerned, the comparison isn’t a very good one. You can come up with plenty of reasons that theism is problematic, but frankly, I haven’t seen any necessary or sufficient way to go from the reasonable “We shouldn’t go out of our way to harm animals or living things in general” position to the “Meat is immoral” position.

  • Becky

    I’m in the both category, and I for one loved this comic! :D I am pesco-vegetarian, really (as I cannot give up seafood, and animal byproducts) but I understand the ability to glean nutrition from various different non-meat sources.

    Oh… and it’s not out of empathy for animal life. I find animals cute and all, but I am a survivalist in my heart, so if it’s for survival… go for it. :p I find in this country where food is plentiful, it is bar far healthier to stick with soy, nuts, beans, etc for your proteins as opposed to animal fats. I also hated vegetables, so I became vegetarian to be able to enjoy them more.. and I do! My dad, who is a chef, is amazed at what I’ll eat now. (And I’ve lost 40 lbs)

    I’m glad I read this thread… i knew it would be very interesting to hear the veggie myths that people still believe.

  • Alyce

    I think meat-eating and religion are similar in that many people cling to each simply because they are too uncomfortable with the thought of life without it. But in both cases, the arguments for never seem to make up for the arguments against.

    God may provide some a sense of security/morality, but by worshiping God you are buying into a system that thrives on ignorance, obedience, and sometimes stubborn, if not violent, promotion and defense.

    Similarly, meat may be tasty, but by consuming it you are often supporting cruel and inhumane treatment of animals (though this is getting better), contributing to the deterioration of the environment (vegetarians offset about 4 tons of CO2 every year), and propelling the notion that meat is the only way to get protein into your diet.

    C’mon, haven’t you seen Babe?

  • Richard Wade

    The similarity between the arguments is amusing but then you ask:

    If you’re one but not the other, what’s your reason?

    This question makes no sense at all. I’ll answer that one if you answer this:
    If you’re a left-handed retired Lithuanian railroad engineer, BUT you’re not a nearsighted card-carrying member of the Gilbert Gottfried Fan Club, what’s your reason?

    Why the heck should I or anybody else have to justify their beliefs or lack thereof, their dietary habits and/or the relationship between the two? I see things the way I see things, I eat what I eat, I look for every golden opportunity to mind my own business, and ONLY when some goofball tries to impose his or her views or menu on me will I demand of THEM their reasons. Even then since I’m just defending my right to my views and my diet, my reasons are still none of their business.

  • Becky

    I’m an atheist because I have no reason to believe in god. Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years and I don’t see a compelling reason to completely stop.

    Religion has been around for just as long, so what is the compelling reason to stop that then, I wonder?

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Becky, David could answer what he thinks the compelling reasons to stop believing in God are, but what would be the point? I think we both can make a pretty good guess what his answers would be, and they’re completely different from the compelling reasons to be a vegetarian. I think there are compelling reasons for both, but they’re very different compelling reasons, so I don’t see why you would expect an atheist to be a vegetarian. I thought there were compelling reasons against invading Iraq, but I didn’t ask my friends, “Wait, you’re against the war in Iraq, too? Then explain why you believe in God.”

  • Richard

    Atheist Vegan here. I don’t need meat (or dairy for that matter) to be healthy. And I sure as heck don’t need religion.

    But I think that they are separate decisions. I chose both based on the evidence and my moral convictions.

  • Becky

    Autumnal Harvest,

    I don’t expect an atheist to be vegetarian. I don’t expect anyone to be anything but themselves, honestly. Like you said, there are very compelling reasons for both; and they’re both different. I just thought that the wording “Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years” was a very poor argument for the decision to eat meat. You could use that same argument for why you believe in god. I don’t associate the two, as my atheist fiance loves meat, and so do others it seems, but I would have never questioned the argument “I like meat, and if you think I should stop…suck it.” ;) Insert the word god instead of meat, and I still wouldn’t question it. Just stop using the “it’s traditional” argument for why you do things. We have to break tradition now and then. :)

    –hmm did that make sense? :p

  • http://www.aegisub.net amz

    I’m a meat-eating atheist.

    I do believe that vegetarians have a point, I just don’t think that it’s as much of a big deal as they make it to be. I don’t equate human life to animal life, and I also don’t equate animal life to vegetable life. We should be loyal to the HUMAN species.

    If we don’t eat animals, them some OTHER animal will – so what’s the point? Should we just drive all bovines extinct by stopping their domestication? They certainly can’t live by themselves in the wild. If anything, dying to feed a human sounds like the best destiny that an animal can have… After all, they are supporting the existence of the only species on the planet with the potential to spread the seed of life to other worlds.

    But we can argue from a different perspective, too (and I’m sure that many of you will frown on me for this one…). All animals that are born will eventually die. Killing an animal is not a crime against it per se, as it will no longer exist to be in any way affected by it. Killing an animal is a crime against those that it left behind… But when you kill a cow in a farm, you won’t leave sad bulls behind. You don’t leave its children scarred for life. You won’t destroy information that was stored in its brain that could be used to change our culture or our technology. I don’t believe that anybody mourns for a dead cow. So, what exactly is the sin in killing a cow?

    And even if we were to stop eating animals, we’d still need to perform medical research – anyone arguing otherwise clearly has no idea of what’s at stake here, or has no value for the life of their fellow human beings.

    “Our loyalties are to the species and the Planet. WE speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.”

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Fair enough, Becky. Although I’d point out that he didn’t just say “Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years”; it was part of a longer sentence where he said “and I don’t see a compelling reason to completely stop.” It seems reasonable to stick with tradition if you see no reason to stop.

    But it’s nice to know, for future reference, that if I get in an argument with you, you find “suck it” to be a convincing argument. :)

  • http://alenonimo.com.br/ Alenônimo

    The problem with this comic argument is that you actually need meat to be healthy (or at least some vitamins found in it) but you don’t need religion to be moral.

    False analogy, as always.

  • Becky

    Autumnal Harvest

    You’re absolutely right, I tried not to take his comment out of context… I did quote two sentences originally, I believe. LOL to the suck it line. I don’t argue with people when they truly, honestly feel a certain way. It’s like arguing with a brick wall. Personally, I would prefer the argument “I like getting my proteins through meat and calcium through dairy, as other protein/calcium options taste bad” – which is essentially the same as “I like meat, so suck it” ;)

  • http://www.tuibguy.com Mike Haubrich, FCD

    I am an atheist and a meat-eater. Hemant comes from a religion that is vegetarian, so perhaps that is an artifact of his religion.

    However, I am fine with people being vegans. I have had some fantastic vegan food and I don’t think vegans are necessarily missing out on anything they really need.

  • Becky

    Alenônimo – I won’t ever argue with the fact that meat tastes good, (oh how I miss ham) but I will argue with the fact that you need meat to be healthy. (this is including non-meat eaters, which eat animal byproducts, unlike vegans)

    A simple search of ‘vegetarian’ on Google led me to the ‘Vegetarian nutrition’ section on Wikipedia. I’m not sure if I can post links but you should really check it out! It lists potential red zones for vitamins vegetarians might be lacking on, and tells vegetarian-friendly foods that can help supplement it. :)

    It also states that: “Evidence suggests that vegetarians are generally healthier and live longer than non-vegetarians. They have lower rates of coronary heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. ”

    I’m not sure where this “evidence suggests” comes from, but they have a ton of references at the bottom that I’ll probably look at some time in the future. :)

  • http://odie5533.com/ David

    Thanks for the support Autumnal Harvest, but Becky puts forth an interesting question I’d actually like to answer:

    Religion, for a long time, was the only method for explaining things. Now that we have modern science, and more specifically the scientific method, we no longer need religion. In my mind it has far outlived it usefulness and one might wonder how useful it ever was.

    In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind old men as guides.
    -Heinrich Heine

    My personal reason for not believing in your deity of choice is that I have no reason to believe in him any more than to believe in someone else’s favorite deity or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Russell’s Teapot. If you’d like to provide me with evidence of your deity’s existence please ask him to rip off the roof from above my head and tell me he exists. A small feat to ask for from an omnipotent creator, might I add.

    Human ancestors have been eating meat for about 2.5 million years. Burial rites may have occurred about 300,000 years ago. I’ll admit that religion has been around a long time, but I won’t jump to say we are evolved for it. There might be a case to be made linking some form of religion that would be passed down through generations to evolution of the species, those that didn’t follow the religion were killed and thus everyone shared the religion. But even if such a connection could be established it would not prove religions to be true but just something we made up a long time ago.

  • Becky

    David – Cool.. I agree with you. What you said above is exactly the reason I am an atheist, too. :D I just hear the tradition argument stated within why people believe in a religion, and it’s interesting that it’s applied to meat-eating as well.

  • Daniel

    FSM doesn’t exist without meatballs. What would a vegan say about that?

  • http://odie5533.com/ David

    It is incorrectly applied to meat eating. Eating meat is no more a tradition than eating fruit. We have evolved eating meat over the past 2.5 million years. You can design diets that work just as well/better as a meat diet and you can design meat diets that are very unhealthy, but neither is a sufficient reason to stop or start eating meat.
    I guess my question is: Why should I stop eating meat?

  • belongsomewhere

    I am both an atheist and a vegetarian. I would be a vegan if I didn’t love cheese so much–I don’t eat any other dairy, but cheese is such a staple of my diet that it would be too much of an adjustment for me at this stage of my life.
    However, I do get both of those responses on a regular basis, really more so for vegetarianism than for atheism!

  • J Myers

    I’m an agnostic atheist. I don’t “know” that god does or doesn’t exist, so, until it’s proven that he does (because you can’t prove a negative) I choose to not believe.

    All this talk of bad arguments, and no one jumped on this one? If you can prove a positive, you can prove a negative; the idea that you “can’t prove a negative” is falsity that just won’t die. You cannot, however, choose what you believe.

  • Saint Splattergut

    Fully agree with Lisa.
    Btw, I actually like this comic on the same website better…

    here

  • Queequeg

    I found the argument, that no one mourns a dead cow interesting. And it’s also one of the reasons I don’t feel guilty eating meat (I’m a meat eating atheist). However, studies have shown some sort of mourning expressed by dairy cows, when their calves are taken away, so assuming that all other aspects of the farming methods used were humane, I would consider it worse to drink milk or eat cheese, than I do eating meat or eggs. Also, dairy cows and egg layers get the worst deal out of all the farmed animals (ok, chickens and turkeys have it pretty rough too), so maybe I should stop eating eggs and dairy products, while still eating meat. Now that’s a bit backwards, isn’t it?

    Anyways. I try to source my meat carefully, to avoid the worst factory farming, but I essentially don’t think it’s wrong to kill an animal (for whatever reason) so long as it is done humanely, and I do love my meat.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Daniel, your post is heresy! The FSM is simply spaghetti and a light tomato and garlic sauce. No meatballs! I beg you to reconsider. Your immortal kreplah is at risk!

  • http://veganrepresent.com Dan D Lion

    Daniel: FSM doesn’t exist without meatballs. What would a vegan say about that?

    Thanks for your question infidel. I’m a high priest of a reformed Pastafarian Vegan sect and our Dear Lord is comprised of consecrated whole grain flax pasta with wheatballs. This may sound like gibberish to nonbelievers but Veganarians know what i’m talkin about. We eat cake and we have it too.

    The comic itself may not have nailed home Brad’s original point but many of those quick to dissent have illustrated it in a much more representational rendering.

    Brad Pritikin: You would think that people who claim to be rational wouldn’t resort to logical fallacies.

    I do find it interesting when an atheist can painstakingly dissect a religious argument calling out the myriad of logical fallacies but turn around and resort to the very same when defending the irrationality of exploiting non-humans.

  • Richard Wade

    What’s irrational about exploiting non-humans? Seems like a much more rational thing to do than trying to exploit humans. After all, humans are more apt to fight back effectively against exploitation, while non-humans can be exploited with far less danger and trouble. Whether it’s chickens or carrots, those non-humans are a lot easier to exploit. So that seems rational to me.

    Bananas on the other hand…

  • Finn

    I don’t really get the connection, as it suggests veganism is the only acceptable conclusion a rational person can come to when considering their own diet. I’m an atheist because no argument has ever convinced me that there is a god, and I am not a vegan because no argument has ever convinced me that it’s a better (or more moral) lifestyle.

    I was a vegetarian for about six or seven years in my youth, and stopped around when I went to college (ironically when everyone I knew seemed to flip the other way), which was also the same time I totally gave up any sense of belief in god and went from a deist to an agnostic – I basically evaluated all the beliefs I held and gave up any that didn’t seem to hold to rational argument. I do feel very guilty eating pork, because pigs are very smart and I do think that’s rather unethical (but why did they have to be so delicious), and I refuse to eat animals like dogs or horses. But chicken? And cows? Not so much with the pathos. I do think they should be treated well and support free-range eggs and the like. And I only JUST realised, after being on this planet over two decades, that duh, cows have to be kept pregnant to produce milk, which sounds ridiculous when we were all protesting against doing the same thing to horses a few years back. But I think I would go into deliciousness withdrawal and die without dairy, seriously. I wouldn’t have survived being a vegetarian if I hadn’t allowed myself dairy and fish (come on, even dumber than chickens).

    Also, I became a vegetarian originally (I was like 12) because I felt bad about us RAISING animals for slaughter and not giving them a good quality of life before killing them. It seems unsportsmanlike. I’ve never had an ethical problem with killing domesticated farm animals, who are basically bred to be as stupid as possible. If we could grow steaks in labs, I’d be all for that, but we are working the other way (to make livestock walking steaks). I believe PZ Meyers had a post about this, but it was forever ago and I’m not eager to go dig it up. XD

    And yeah, I’m aware any appeals to us being “built” to be omnivores or “but the other carnivores do it!” are not effective or sound arguments. But I do think we get certain things from meat which we do not get from a diet or pure plant matter.. and at some level, I have to wonder what the difference is between killing one living thing for food and killing another. Is it the central nervous system? The brain? I just keep thinking of Mike the Headless Chicken and wondering what the difference between eating him and a cabbage is. And why is it not acceptable to kill and eat a chicken but it’s acceptable to kill billions of insects with pecticides so we can eat crops? It just seems to me like you have to draw a line at what kind of life is “acceptable” to kill in the pursuit of food, and I draw that line comfortably at domesticated cattle.

    Sorry for the teal deer. ;)

  • http://calldiesel.blogspot.com Mark Daniel

    Well, why *not* eat meat? If you’re going to tell me that it’s cruel and inhuman, I’m going to tell you that we’re animals, and that many *many* other animals do it every day. Our digestive system is built to handle it, so in my opinion, it’s natural.

    Yes, I agree that many of our current methods of meat “farming” are inhuman and indeed cruel, but that has nothing to do with eating meat in the first place. Eating some meats in moderation is good for our diets, plain and simple.

    I have to say that associating atheism and vegetarianism/veganism is quite ridiculous. One has *nothing* to do with the other. I choose not to believe in an imaginary friend in the sky because, well, that’s simply a silly thing to believe in, and I see no reason to. I do not practice vegetarianism because I see no reason to. Neither theism nor vegetarianism are beneficial to me, and that is where their similarities end.

    Honestly, I think associating one with the other, and placing expectations on others (such as the idea that vegetarianism and atheism should go hand-in-hand) is a bit unfriendly.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    I’m a vegetarian through choice. I’m an atheist because I can’t force my brain to accept the religious point of view. Not that I want to.

    In other regards I share many common characteristics with meat eating theists.

  • mikespeir

    For the record:

    mikespeir eats meat. Incorrigibly. The last meal he ever eats will probably involve meat.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    I’m vegetarian and atheist. I chose the vegetarian life style a decade ago once it dawned on me that I can be a whole lot healthier by dropping meat from my daily menu. I can see why religion and meat consumption are lumped together – there are many parallels between them:

    Both are harmful.

    Neither is necessary for health or life.

    Both are based on traditions, opinions, irrational beliefs, and feelings/emotions rather than science (i.e. meat eating is tasty, childhood comfort foods often include animal products in the West, the erroneous belief that to not eat meat means to miss out on essential nutrients and thus, some kind of extra effort must be made, or supplements must be taken, the idea that our ancestors knew better than modern man regarding health, morality, from whence we come, etc.).

    Both are cultural (i.e. humans are cultural, not biological, omnivores – in other words, they are classified as omnivorous based on observation of their behavior, not on biological adaptations as is customary in classifying all other living things).

    Both traditions are often fiercely defended, even when not under attack (the mere presence of a vegetarian/atheist in a room full of meat eaters/religious people often makes the latter feel defensive, offensive, or both, and they sometimes assume the vegetarian/atheist is silently judging them).

    Both are addictive (like most harmful things).

    Both give the illusion of well being (like smokers who feel great for decades, until they don’t).

    Both have erroneous beliefs about morality and their opponents’ ethics (religious people believe there can be no morality without god, and meat eaters often assume that people go vegetarian on ethical grounds alone, which may explain why they may feel judged by vegetarians even when they are not).

    Both have fanatics in their midsts.

    Both are judged (and smeared) based on their respective fanatics most of the time.

    Both are prone to using their own numbers as a way to justify their behavior and beliefs (there are more religious and meat eating people in the world than not, therefore, both traditions are correct, or superior). There are more religious people in the world than there are meat eaters, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Both have a thing about males (religions put them first and make them out to be superior to women, male meat eaters think it’s macho to eat meat).

  • Marzipan

    David: We have evolved eating meat over the past 2.5 million years. You can design diets that work just as well/better as a meat diet and you can design meat diets that are very unhealthy, but neither is a sufficient reason to stop or start eating meat.
    I guess my question is: Why should I stop eating meat?

    Some people just happen to think that not all ways of surviving are morally equivalent. Your argument is identical to the one in the comic. If you don’t care about the suffering of non-human animals, no one can convince you that you should stop eating meat.

    Similarly, if a theist doesn’t care about objective evidence, it is useless trying to convince them that they shouldn’t believe in God.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com Transplanted Lawyer

    Rationally, objectively, reasonably, and without reference to any sort of divinity or other supernatural entity, bacon cheeseburgers are teh yummy.

  • http://odie5533.com/ David

    Some people just happen to think that not all ways of surviving are morally equivalent. Your argument is identical to the one in the comic. If you don’t care about the suffering of non-human animals, no one can convince you that you should stop eating meat.

    Are you implying the only valid argument for not eating meat is that it stops the inhumane treatment of farm animals? I can think of a number of other arguments for vegetarianism. And the argument in the comic is unsupported. Providing support makes it a valid argument. I agree, without the support I’ve added, my argument is similar to the comic’s argument, and quite poor at that.

    Bananas on the other hand…

    I heard a pretzel put up a good fight against the President. As far as I know, it’s been his only attempted assassination.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    I’m with the people who don’t get the question in the first place. Atheism and vegetarianism are completely different things, entirely unrelated. I can’t choose to believe or not believe in god, but it’s certainly a choice to eat meat. One which I make almost every day. Although I recognise many good reasons not to eat meat, right now it’s simply not feasible for me to make that transition. I have trouble getting enough sustenance as it is and constantly have to fight to stay at a healthy weight. Perhaps in the future.

    For the record, I think being a “vegetarian” but still eating fish (from fisheries) is one of the most hypocritical choices one can make. The oceans are depleted. We’re killing them. The ecological disaster that overfishing has caused and is causing every day is far, far worse than what we do to livestock. If one purports to care about the welfare of the earth as a whole, one should never, ever eat fish or seafood again.

    J Myers, I’m confused – how do you prove the nonexistence of something? Can you prove that Russel’s Teapot does NOT exist? It may be possible to prove a negative, but not nonexistence – that’s a special case, surely?

  • http://3thingsdaily.com ngl

    i’m a vegan and an atheist. i get the same questions too.

    “you’re a vegan?”
    “yeap.”
    “what do you eat?”
    “anything that doesn’t come from animals.”
    “you’re an atheist?”
    “yeap.”
    “what do you believe?”
    “not in god.”

    it’s strange how those answers completely freak people out.

  • Gullwatcher

    @vegatee

    I can see why religion and meat consumption are lumped together – there are many parallels between them:

    Ummm….. I don’t suppose you realized that about 75% of those also apply to vegetarianism? (Glass houses, stones, etc.) My one problem with vegetarians as individuals or groups is their fanaticism.

  • Gullwatcher

    @Marzipan

    If you don’t care about the suffering of non-human animals, no one can convince you that you should stop eating meat.

    Those are really not the same issue. Many countries in Europe have laws to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals. It makes things more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do. I would fully support such legislation here, but I see little interest in that in this country, and I think that’s partly the fault of vegetarians. When anyone tries to start a conversation about humane treatment of farm animals, it immediately gets sidetracked on to “we shouldn’t be eating them at all”. They are such fanatics that there doesn’t seem to be any room for a middle ground, and it’s the animals that pay for that.

    Domestic animals are dependent on humans to survive. Many species of wild animals have gone extinct when they got in our way, but that will never happen to the domestic animals, and that is a major plus considering the way the environment is going at the moment. They get benefits from this arrangement, it’s not all one-sided.

    In Victorian England, dogs were sometimes a commercial animal. They pulled dog-carts for people who needed a small cart for their business (peddlers, ragpickers, etc.). When they were made illegal in London in 1840, the week after the law was put into effect the streets were full of dead dogs, killed by the owners because they couldn’t afford to feed them.

    So here’s my question for vegans – what is supposed to happen to all the cows and chickens if people no longer need dairy products or eggs? It’s not like they are going to become apartment pets. Why is extinction better than an arrangement that benefits both? Why is abandonment of an ancient relationship a better moral position than working for laws for humane treatment?

    It’s a real question by the way – while it’s clear what side of the issue I’m on at this point, I’ve never had an opportunity to ask a vegan for their take on it.

    For the record – I buy my eggs at a farmer’s market, from happy hens. I get as much of my meat there as possible too.

  • Jacob Dink

    I remember reading a quote, something to the effect of:

    “I’m going to just admit that there are no good arguments for eating meat. That way, when I do it, I won’t be both a hypocrite AND a liar.”

    This is charming, but I think too generous. As an atheist, I would say my argument for not being a vegan is:

    I don’t believe animals dying is morally bad, so there’s nothing bad about killing them for food.

    I DO believe that animal suffering is morally bad, but not eating meat is an impractical and impotent way to ameliorate this. Instead, one should focus on reforming the industry, not ignoring it.

    I DO believe that PETA hurts this cause, so I would never help them. But other organizations that are purely for reducing animal cruelty would be great, and I would gladly support them.

    It’s impractical to believe that humans will ever stop eating meat, and it’s self-righteous to think that, because I’m not taking part in it, I’m somehow morally superior. If I’m not helping the problem in a meaningful way, then I’m not helping the problem in a meaningful way. There’s no moral high ground here.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Gullwatcher

    My one problem with vegetarians as individuals or groups is their fanaticism.

    You’re stereotyping. You assume that the majority of vegetarians are fanatics. One of my points was that, like religious people, vegetarians are judged based on the extremists amongst them, not the majority.

    As for 75% of the parallels applying to vegetarians… I don’t see it, except in cases wherein vegetarianism is a culture-based choice, which would make it no different from religion or meat consumption.

  • Jacob Dink

    Well, why *not* eat meat? If you’re going to tell me that it’s cruel and inhuman, I’m going to tell you that we’re animals, and that many *many* other animals do it every day. Our digestive system is built to handle it, so in my opinion, it’s natural.

    That seems disingenuous. The very fact that we ARE humans means that we are intelligent, and capable of moral reasoning, which allows us to not do cruel things that other animals do. Just because something’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s right.

    Let’s take your argument, but replace eating meat with rape.

    Well, why *not* rape people? If you’re going to tell me that it’s cruel and inhuman, I’m going to tell you that we’re animals, and that many *many* other animals do it every day. Our reproductive system is built to handle it, so in my opinion, it’s natural.

    Natural does not equal good. Reductio ad absurdum, QED.

  • Jacob Dink

    Vegatee, I’d be curious to know how you’d respond to the rest of the gullwatcher’s points. His argument is similar to mine: the morally bad part isn’t the killing animals for food, it’s the animal cruelty. Veganism/vegetarianism does little to solve the latter problem, and groups like PETA might even make it worse. This does not mean veganism/vegetarianism is bad, but it might mean that meat eating with a concience towards animal suffering (like in Europe) is not bad either.

  • http://www.reasonablecomics.com Brad

    First, I’m flattered at the discussion our comic has spawned.

    Second, thanks for linking to us Hemant, I’m a fan.

    Third, there are a lot of questions here and a lot I’ve gotten via e-mail since publishing this comic. I’m thinking the best way to handle this might be to put up a FAQ about it. If anyone has a question they want me to address, e-mail me and I’ll consider putting it in the FAQ.

    There is a lot here I’d like to respond to and simply don’t have time to but I want to clarify one thing.

    The comic isn’t meant to say that the case for meat-consumption and atheism are equal. For one thing one is an ethical issue and the other is a scientific issue (I think).

    The comic is meant to point out that not only do both theists and meat-consumers rely on logical fallacies, they often rely on the same logical fallacies.

    Thanks again!

  • Gullwatcher

    @Vegatee

    You’re stereotyping. You assume that the majority of vegetarians are fanatics.

    It’s you who are assuming here. I didn’t say all or most are fanatics, I just said that the ones I have problems with ARE. I know lots of lovely vegetarians and none of them are fanatics, because I tend not to befriend the fanatical. But they are out there, I have met them.

    I can’t say the same for groups – all the groups that have brought themselves to my attention (note the qualifier there) do seem to be fanatical.

    For brevity’s sake, I’m going with numbers. You had 12 parallels – 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 all apply to vegetarianism as well.

    Has anyone else here read “Real Food” by Nina Planck? She was a vegan until her job required her to eat different foods, and she found that her health improved enormously. It’s a very interesting book.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Gullwatcher

    So here’s my question for vegans – what is supposed to happen to all the cows and chickens if people no longer need dairy products or eggs? It’s not like they are going to become apartment pets.

    I’m not a vegan, but since I’m pretty close seeing how the only animal product I eat is eggs, I’ll try to answer this. Your question implies that somehow, meat consumption would disappear suddenly, over night, and the next day there would be millions of critters with no purpose all over the world. It’s a rather absurd scenario, don’t you think? I think that if such a thing as worldwide vegetarianism was ever to become a reality (not gonna happen), it would happen gradually. As with any decline in consumption that happens gradually, be it switching to hybrid cars, or cutting back on tobacco products, less demand would result in less production, until, eventually, there would be no demand at all.

    As for your comment on the domesticated animals becoming extinct. So what? What’s the big deal about having domesticated animals? More than 99% of every species that has ever existed on this planet has gone extinct. Who are we to stand in the way of nature taking its course? Most domesticated animals are human-made versions of their wild ancestors. They’re unnatural in a way. I say, good riddance!

    You mention that an arrangement wherein food animals are treated nice until they die is a good arrangement for both. I don’t see how any of us can decide what the animals may feel are good arrangements for them by using our own, human, and subjective points of view. We can only assume that they would prefer a severely shortened life span to be sheltered and given food to living out their lives in the wild. Since we’re applying human assumptions to animals’ views, we should also ask ourselves which we would prefer: living until we are ten years old, protected, fed, and sheltered, then whacked over the head to be made dinner, or live into our sixties or seventies, free, and on our own?

  • Gullwatcher

    @Vegatee

    As for your comment on the domesticated animals becoming extinct. So what? What’s the big deal about having domesticated animals?

    Interesting – I always thought that vegetarians liked animals. I guess I was stereotyping there. I didn’t realize that they might consider whole categories of them as disposable. Do you include dogs and cats in that as well?

    I like animals. I don’t judge them as unfit to live because they aren’t ‘natural’. I like lots of unnatural things, like sleeping in a house and indoor plumbing, all good unnatural things that most of us enjoy.

    You mention that an arrangement wherein food animals are treated nice until they die is a good arrangement for both. I don’t see how any of us can decide what the animals may feel are good arrangements for them by using our own, human, and subjective points of view.

    Actually, I specifically mentioned dairy and egg-producing animals. I expect that the reason you decided to switch it to meat animals in your reply is that you realized your argument won’t work for that (nice Palinizing, BTW).

    As for the rest of the argument, I take it you have never had a pet. You can tell when an animal is healthy and happy. It’s not about ‘forcing a point of view on them’ (which is an absurd notion in and of itself), it’s obvious in the way they are. A healthy happy animal is a good thing, be it a dog, a cat, a cow, or a chicken.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Gullwatcher:

    I didn’t say all or most are fanatics, I just said that the ones I have problems with ARE.

    That’s not true. You did not say “the only vegetarians I have a problem with are the fanatics”, you said

    My one problem with vegetarians as individuals or groups is their fanaticism.

    That’s a blanket statement.

    As for the parallels you mention as applying to vegetarianism as well (2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11):

    2) Neither is necessary for health or life.

    Plant based foods are necessary for both health and life. Meat is not.

    3) Both are based on traditions, opinions, irrational beliefs, and feelings/emotions rather than science.

    Vegetarianism, although in many instances is based on tradition and/or emotions, is also based on scientific facts, rather than anecdotal evidence as is the case with meat consumption and religion.

    4) Both are cultural (i.e. humans are cultural, not biological, omnivores – in other words, they are classified as omnivorous based on observation of their behavior, not on biological adaptations as is customary in classifying all other living things).

    See my answer to number 3.

    5) Both traditions are often fiercely defended, even when not under attack (the mere presence of a vegetarian/atheist in a room full of meat eaters/religious people often makes the latter feel defensive, offensive, or both, and they sometimes assume the vegetarian/atheist is silently judging them).

    Yes, some vegetarians defend their lifestyles even when not under attack.

    7) Both give the illusion of well being (like smokers who feel great for decades, until they don’t).

    The scientific consensus is that vegetarians live longer, healthier lives. No illusions here.

    8) Both have erroneous beliefs about morality and their opponents’ ethics (religious people believe there can be no morality without god, and meat eaters often assume that people go vegetarian on ethical grounds alone, which may explain why they may feel judged by vegetarians even when they are not).

    It’s true, I’m sure, that some, or even many vegetarians have false beliefs about the thought processes and ethical standing of meat eaters and religious people.

    9) Both have fanatics in their midsts.

    Yup, there are extremes in every community.

    10) Both are judged (and smeared) based on their respective fanatics most of the time.

    Yup, vegetarians are smeared and judged based on the minority of fanatics among them all the time.

    11) Both are prone to using their own numbers as a way to justify their behavior and beliefs (there are more religious and meat eating people in the world than not, therefore, both traditions are correct, or superior). There are more religious people in the world than there are meat eaters, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Vegetarians are the minority, so, I fail to see how this applies to them.

    So, I agree that some (four out of twelve) of these points apply to vegetarians as well (I never said they didn’t), but hardly 75%.

  • Gullwatcher

    @Vegatee

    Ok, I’ll give you #11. I was thinking of “numbers” in terms of statistics, not as in the majority is right.

    Vegetarianism, although in many instances is based on tradition and/or emotions, is also based on scientific facts, rather than anecdotal evidence as is the case with meat consumption and religion.

    Your scientific facts are outdated and were often the product of bad science in the first place. For an interesting history of food science, check out “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes, which sets out 40 years of food science and the government policies based on it, and how it was influenced by the politics and commercial interests of the people performing and funding the studies. The whole “meat bad, low-fat good” was a manufactured myth, and is not supported by the research.

    A vegetarian diet is no healthier than a varied diet, low in processed foods, that includes meat. It’s just not a valid argument.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Gullwatcher

    Interesting – I always thought that vegetarians liked animals. I guess I was stereotyping there. I didn’t realize that they might consider whole categories of them as disposable. Do you include dogs and cats in that as well?

    There’s a difference between producing animals and disposing of existing animals. To dispose of something, it has to exist first. I do not suggest we dispose of existing animals.

    Dogs and cats are euthanized (humanely or otherwise) by the billions each year. Their suffering is of monumental proportions. Ideally, spaying and neutering would be regulated by law, and response to animal abuse would be enforced on all accounts. Unfortunately, the law still sees pets as objects in most cases, which can be used or abused with little more than a slap on the wrist for those who mistreat them.

    I like animals. I don’t judge them as unfit to live because they aren’t ‘natural’. I like lots of unnatural things, like sleeping in a house and indoor plumbing, all good unnatural things that most of us enjoy.

    Your indoor plumbing is not sentient and does not suffer from being used.

    Actually, I specifically mentioned dairy and egg-producing animals. I expect that the reason you decided to switch it to meat animals in your reply is that you realized your argument won’t work for that (nice Palinizing, BTW).

    Actually, I did not notice, as I read too quickly over your reply. Sorry about that. Dairy cows can only produce milk if they are pregnant first. What happens to all the calves that are necessary to keep the milk flowing? Egg laying hens are probably the only domesticated food producing animal that can fit the scenario you describe, though, it’s highly unlikely, given the need for mass production, that it would ever come to be.

    As for the rest of the argument, I take it you have never had a pet. You can tell when an animal is healthy and happy. It’s not about ‘forcing a point of view on them’ (which is an absurd notion in and of itself), it’s obvious in the way they are. A healthy happy animal is a good thing, be it a dog, a cat, a cow, or a chicken.

    I don’t remember ever having lived without a pet (dogs, and lately one cat and dog). I don’t, however, have pets to eat them whenever I get a craving. My point is that, unlike a family pet, a farm animal can not have similar luxuries without reducing production to a great extent. People want their meat and that’s that. Cutting down their supply to make the necessary changes wouldn’t go over well.

  • Gullwatcher

    @Vegatee

    Who are we to stand in the way of nature taking its course? Most domesticated animals are human-made versions of their wild ancestors. They’re unnatural in a way. I say, good riddance!

    Those are not the words of someone who thinks of animals as valuable and as something that enriches the world. Sorry, they just aren’t – unless you misspoke or overstated your case?

    People want their meat and that’s that. Cutting down their supply to make the necessary changes wouldn’t go over well.

    And that’s a reason not to try, because…. why?

    And I’m sorry, beyond that, your reply does require a more thoughtful answer than I can do right now, I have an appointment to get to. More later, I hope.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Your scientific facts are outdated and were often the product of bad science in the first place. For a good history of food science, check out “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes, which sets out 40 years of food science and the government policies based on it, and how it was influenced by the politics and commercial interests of the people performing and funding the studies.

    Taubes has zero background in nutrition education, whereas, I am working on my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Forgive me if I don’t suddenly bow to his conclusions. I am well aware of corporate influences on the studies that lay people have thrown at them. I am also aware of the mind boggling amount of influence the meat, dairy, and sugar industries have, not only on government recommendations, but the ADA itself.

    I’m less than pleased that I may have to add an ADA certification to my resume, since I am disgusted, to say the least, by the conflict of interest inherent in their organization stemming from the funding they receive from the above mentioned industries. I am considering teaching and a private practice instead of hospital work simply so I can bypass having to have my name associated with an organization I think so very little of.

  • Tav

    I don’t see anything more than pure eristics this time.

    The point is there IS a difference – atheism is a culture thing and it actually intesified the position of morality in our civilization, the need of eating meat is biological (and it’s one of the most basic), so it’s completely independent from any culture issues.

    I mean – veganism and vegetarianism are sort of a way round – getting what has to be gotten, but in totally different way than the nature ‘planned’ it. Someone feels better that way – ok, but it’s kind of cheating on our dark bestial side, fully natural, though.

  • Gullwatcher

    @Vegatee

    Taubes has zero background in nutrition education, whereas, I am working on my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Forgive me if I don’t suddenly bow to his conclusions.

    Fine, then refute them, but don’t just tell me that you know better and expect me to accept that.

    I actually consider his lack of background in the field to be an asset, as it means he has no axe to grind. Were you a vegetarian before you started your studies? If so, how can I be sure that that hasn’t influenced you?

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Gullwatcher

    I’m sorry, beyond that, your reply does require a more thoughtful answer than I can do right now, I have an appointment to get to. More later, I hope.

    I may not be as available as I would like to be for this discussion, as I am buried up to my eyelids in biochemistry homework and I will be gone all weekend (Canadian thanksgiving) and have to finish everything before Friday. So, if you do feel like continuing this, that’s fine, but I may not be able to get back to you until next week. Already, I’ve spent much more time here today than I wanted, not to mention I got myself in a discussion about the ethics of vegetarianism which were not the reason I went vegetarian in the first place. I usually stay away from this line of debate. I don’t know what possessed me to get into it now. :o)

    As for my love of animals, think what you may. As I said before, not wanting to see them bred for our own gustatory pleasures is not the same as not loving them or thinking they are disposable. I would go into a fiery inferno to save my little dog, just as I would for a friend or any other human being. Perhaps my use of the phrase “good riddance” was a bit over the top, but I do feel strongly about the overproduction of animals for our pleasure, be they food producers, or pets. It’s unethical, as far as I’m concerned.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    don’t just tell me that you know better and expect me to accept that.

    Ditto. Just throwing a name and book title out there isn’t going to change anyone’s mind either.

    Were you a vegetarian before you started your studies?

    I was a vegetarian before starting my Master’s. However, it was my study of nutrition as an undergrad that made me go vegetarian. As I mentioned before, ethics had nothing to do with it, nor did my feeling sorry for animals. I felt sorry for them before I went veg, but I still enjoyed my filet mignon and BBQ’s.

  • Pamela

    yawn. Many of these comments, sadly, are the same comments that are on Digg.

    I luv meatz LULZ. I could never give it up. Pass the bacon, LOL!!! Isn’t that so funny!? One time I put meat in a vegetarian co-worker’s sandwich. I’m awesum!

    As soon as people find out you are vegetarian or vegan, they suddenly seem to have a degree in nutrition (even though they can’t name a non-milk source of calcium).
    Also- it has to be said- as a vegetarian, I am really sick of hearing about “smug” or “preachy” vegetarians. Almost every discussion or disagreement I have been involved in (I mean VAST majority, over 90%) was started by an omnivore. Maybe a few of you are projecting.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Jacob

    meat eating with a concience towards animal suffering (like in Europe) is not bad either.

    I hear what you’re saying, but, in the end, it comes down to this: since meat eating is not a necessity, is it ethical to breed animals, humanely or not, so that we can kill them for our own pleasure?

  • http://jewishatheist.blogspot.com JewishAtheist

    I’m an atheist who eats meat because I care more about eating meat than I do about the fact that the meat comes from animals. Occasionally, I feel a little guilty about it, but not too much.

    I also happen to think that people are best suited to an omnivorous diet that contains a considerable amount of animal-derived food. I think the rise of vegetable-derived food as primary calorie source has been terrible for people’s health. I’m sure it’s possible to eat healthy as a vegetarian by consuming lots of cheese, eggs, olives, etc., but it’d be pretty hard for a vegan.

    (I’m a low-carb believer, if it’s not clear. Whole vegetables are great, but starch-as-staple is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion.)

  • Gullwatcher

    @Vegatee

    Just throwing a name and book title out there isn’t going to change anyone’s mind either.

    Granted, but that’s still one more source than you have cited.

    And it has about 140 pages of citations at the back, so it’s not quite the average book on nutrition, either.

    @Pamela

    yawn. Many of these comments, sadly, are the same comments that are on Digg.

    And exactly what of value have you added to this conversation? Nothing yet.

    Leafy greens, by the way.

    Damn, I gotta go NOW or I’ll miss my bus…..

  • http://vegan27.livejournal.com Paul Szewczyk

    Atheist and vegan here.

    If you acknowledge that humans have no immortal souls–and that we are a result of natural selection as much as any other species–it makes no sense to inflict pain upon any being who can feel it.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    I hear what you’re saying, but, in the end, it comes down to this: since meat eating is not a necessity, is it ethical to breed animals, humanely or not, so that we can kill them for our own pleasure?

    Why wouldn’t it be? Given an ideal world, where animals could be raised and slaughtered with absolutely no suffering, what would be the foundation of the ethical stance that killing and eating animals is wrong?

  • Pamela

    JewishAtheist-

    Being a vegan isn’t hard, especially now. Maybe 10 or 20 years ago it was hard. I’ve been vegetarian 10-11 yrs and vegan almost 6. We can have our cake and eat it, too.

    Cheese isn’t really good for you at all so I am not sure why you’d list it in those “healthy” items of yours. And in terms of cruelty, eggs are pretty high up there in terms of suffering-> output of product. Also the fact that the egg producers themselves are able to label their eggs as “cage free” and whatnot and have no guidelines for what that means for the average consumer is sketchy at best. The fact that they are menstrual waste is enough for me to not eat them.

    But I do agree with you that complex carbs are the way to go (even though I loves my sugah). No one said that Cheetos and Soda or fries and Kool Aid (while vegetarian) are healthy.

    GullWatcher- Maybe I should have been more positive :) I just expected more from this group. It is good to see other vegans/vegetarians speaking up. I just get really tired of being confronted in daily life w/o provocation by people who know diddly about vegetarianism. It’s especially awesome to hear my anti-choice dad go on about Obama and being “pro life” while he eats dead animals.

  • Pamela

    I hear what you’re saying, but, in the end, it comes down to this: since meat eating is not a necessity, is it ethical to breed animals, humanely or not, so that we can kill them for our own pleasure?

    “Why wouldn’t it be? Given an ideal world, where animals could be raised and slaughtered with absolutely no suffering, what would be the foundation of the ethical stance that killing and eating animals is wrong?”

    It isn’t an ideal world. You also cannot qualify only pain as suffering-I know you didn’t say it was, I am making a point. Being force-bred, being unable to perform natural instinctive behaviors, being confined, being in your own feces..all this constitutes suffering. It is all unnecessary as well. By your standards, humans kept in a decent manner would also be available for eating, if we treat them well enough.

  • http://jewishatheist.blogspot.com JewishAtheist

    Pamela:

    But I do agree with you that complex carbs are the way to go (even though I loves my sugah). No one said that Cheetos and Soda or fries and Kool Aid (while vegetarian) are healthy.

    I’m not convinced brown rice, whole wheat, etc., are much better for you. Broccoli, etc., are fine — the non-starchy vegetables. It’s the starch that concerns me.

    It may also be the case that it’s only a subset of humans that has issues with starch — the obese, the diabetic, those with high blood pressure, etc. Maybe the rest have evolved to handle it just fine.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    I’m bowing out for the time being since I really need to get some school work done. But before I go, I figured I’d give Gullwatcher a link on FAQ’s (granted, it’s from a pescetarian, not vegetarian website, but I think you’ll find most of the information applies) with a bucketload of links to studies and information I’ve found to be most useful in covering some of the points that have been, and will likely be, made.

    Have a great week everyone!

    http://pescetarianlife.com/faq.php

  • Awesomesauce

    Wait, why is eating fish ok? Am I only against eating animals with fur or feathers? Why don’t scales count? Can I still eat bugs as a vegetarian? On the moral principal, should I reconsider being pro choice? When does the slope cease being slippery?

  • Grimalkin

    I’m not a vegan for the same reason that I’m not religious – I’ve looked at the arguments from both sides of each issue and neither group has been able to convince me that it’s worth bothering with.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Wait, why is eating fish ok?

    Who said eating fish is ok? I only provided the pescetarian website FAQ’s as a source for data and studies about the perils of meat consumption. The home page of the site states that although it is a site for pescetarians, the information within is drawn from studies on vegetarianism.

  • Jacob Dink

    It isn’t an ideal world. You also cannot qualify only pain as suffering-I know you didn’t say it was, I am making a point. Being force-bred, being unable to perform natural instinctive behaviors, being confined, being in your own feces..all this constitutes suffering. It is all unnecessary as well. By your standards, humans kept in a decent manner would also be available for eating, if we treat them well enough.

    But the “it’s not an ideal world” argument could work equally well against the vegetarian/vegan. Not eating meat, since it has little to no effect on the industry (and therefore the animals), is completely irrelevant. It’s idealistic to think that the industry is gonna go away. Etc.

    An analogy with humans doesn’t work either. Humans have rights, because they have responsibilities and an intellect. There are moral values there that animals simply don’t possess.

    A vegan and a meat-eater who supports humane treatment of animals–both of them are striving towards somewhat unrealistic ideals. But the humane treatment of animals is a FAR more realistic and workable ideal than either the belief that the industry is going away, or the belief that one person ignoring it could possibly make a difference.

  • Grimalkin

    Oops, I wanted to comment on the “animals suffer to produce meat” argument. Yes, they do. However, how do we know that plants don’t? It’s true that they don’t have a nervous system like we do, but how do we know that you have to have a nervous system to feel pain? For all I know, plants do feel pain just as much, albeit differently, from animals. So how can I justify not eating meat but eating plants instead? I can only do that by saying “plants are not like me, therefore I don’t care.” It’s to hypocritical for me. And I have to eat something, so… I just eat everything.

  • http://veganrepresent.com Dan D Lion

    FYI don’t kid yourselves about the welfare of animals who provide milk and eggs. Think about it. You have these products that are created from 50% of a population. What happens to the other 50%? What happens to these animals after they are spent? How can agriculture see to the welfare of every animal and still meet demand? *

    This brings me to this good point:

    Gullwatcher: When anyone tries to start a conversation about humane treatment of farm animals, it immediately gets sidetracked on to “we shouldn’t be eating them at all”. They are such fanatics that there doesn’t seem to be any room for a middle ground, and it’s the animals that pay for that.

    This is a divisive issue within the vegan/animal rights movement; abolition verses welfare. Animal rightists contend that non-human animals have at least a right to life free from human oppression. It’s akin to other social justice movements where a minority strives to gain rights (i.e. human slaves). Did human slaves want better treatment or did they require freedom? Does getting better treatment setback freedom as people are assuaged of their guilt? Does a little bit of both work? Neither? These are questions that vegans are hotly debating.
    Were abolitionists of human slavery “fanatics”? Would we now consider them heroes?

    Here’s another important point about atheists and vegans:
    Assuming most of you agree that a god did not imbue humans with magical brain powers and soul possessed vessels you might wonder what separates you from that animal you eat. Since we do not require to eat animals to thrive why do we impose such demands upon another when we are separated only by a handful of DNA fragments? Does might make right?

    I’m uninterested in arguing why everybody should be vegan here. As an audience of assumed intelligent and rational people who have thought enough about things to come to atheism i would hope you could similarly look into these questions and come to your own rock solid conclusions without the same logical fallacies so that you can honestly say:

    Here’s my defense for eating meat: Mmmm.
    I rest my case.

    *hints: male chicks are killed, calves are killed, the animals themselves are eventually killed, humane standards are nonexistent and unsupervised, animals are teated like shit (but of course everybody buys eggs and milks from farmer joe down the street who has the happiest goddamn chickens and cows just shitting themselves to provide their bodies for your enjoyment.)

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    how can I justify not eating meat but eating plants instead?

    Ok, last one, and I’m going to shut my laptop off! :o)

    The idea behind vegetarianism is to do the least amount of harm. Plants, based on scientific evidence, do not feel pain, nor emotions, so, this is a ridiculous argument from the start. None the less, the idea is to do the least amount of harm. It takes far more plants to produce a steak than a plate of plant based food. So, if one is looking to live a life that creates the least amount of harm, one would choose vegetarianism because less things have to die to feed a vegetarian than a meat eater.

  • Richard Wade

    And now for a mucical interlude. Everybody sing!

    All together now, to the tune of Ray Stevens’ 1970 hit, “Everything is Beautiful”….

    Everything is edible, in its own way.
    Everything is having something else on the menu today.
    Even microbes have a snack, when in the mood.
    People think they’re at the top, but they’re just bacteria food.

    The carbon cycles round and round, even your lunch.
    The sound that’s heard around the world is the sound of “Crunch!”
    Whether you have caviar or devil an egg,
    The molecules in that hors d’oeuvre were once in a caveman’s leg.

    Killing is the way of things. It’s like a bad dream.
    Vegetarians are folks who can’t hear celery scream.
    Everything is edible in its own way.
    If you don’t eat the rest of us, then you’ll be tomorrow’s entrée.

  • J Myers

    Felicia,

    J Myers, I’m confused – how do you prove the nonexistence of something? Can you prove that Russel’s Teapot does NOT exist? It may be possible to prove a negative, but not nonexistence – that’s a special case, surely?

    Here’s a decent essay by Richard Carrier on this subject. I don’t much like that he refers to “choosing what to believe,” but I think he opted for that imprecise but convenient wording to get his larger point across. Still…

  • http://purplebard.livejournal.com Drew

    Humans evolved to eat meat. It’s why teeth are the way they are. They’re called “incisors” for a reason.

  • mikespeir

    All together now, to the tune of Ray Stevens’ 1970 hit, “Everything is Beautiful”….

    Wish I had your gift for doggerel, Richard. ;) Pretty clever.

  • Lynx

    Let’s break it down then:
    “It’s natural”
    – Meat: Undoubtedly. Scientific research clearly shows that humans are naturally omnivores, not herbivores.
    – Religion: Not demonstrated, though there are indicators that would indicate that possibility, like the occurrence of religion in virtually every human civilization, including very isolated ones.

    Why does it matter? It doesn’t, at all. Wearing clothes is not genetically encoded in us, neither is monogamy. That something occurs or not in nature is not necessarily an indicator of it’s value.

    Everyone does it:
    – Meat: No, as vegans and vegetarians clearly demonstrate.
    – Religion: No, as agnostics and atheists clearly demonstrate.

    Why does it matter? Again, it doesn’t. There was a time when slavery was commonplace and also a time when animal sacrifice was common. On the other hand people who thought men and women should be equal were a tiny fringe minority. That something is popular does not make it right.

    You need it to be healthy/moral
    -Meat: It depends, actually. Some people are more able to handle a meat free diet than others, depending on metabolism. It’s much harder to maintain a dairy-free meat-free diet in health, but some people do manage it, though it’s almost a full time job and NOT good for people with special needs (children, the sick).
    – Religion: Demonstrably false.

    Why does it matter? This one matters, but the person using this argument needs to be armed with more than the phrase “everyone knows that…”.

  • Lynx

    Ah I might add that many (most?) vegans are so not out of a misguided notion that this is more natural, but because of ethical reasons.

    True, the more fundamentalist vegans will argue that meat is horrible for your health and that schoolchildren shouldn’t be given milk, but fundamentalists tend to be wacky everywhere.

    Your run-of-the-mill vegetarian or vegan will choose their lifestyle out of a rejection of animal abuse, especially their butchering but also sometimes their exploitation (milk, eggs). They may argue that they are more healthy, but that simply has to do with the fact that most people eat far too much meat (and excess meat is unhealthy) and that both vegetarians and vegans spend a lot more time thinking about food choices and healthy eating than your average person.

  • Pamela

    teeth? plants having feelings so we may as well eat meat? Are we kidding?

    Okay, teeth-
    I don’t consult my teeth before making any ethical decision and would have hoped you all don’t either. Our teeth are nothing compared to true carnivore’s (like cats). But even so, it’s irrelevant because we have the intelligence and means to choose an animal-flesh-free diet and still get everything we need. When was the last time you drug down animal with your bare claws and ate it raw?

    Regarding plants- the majority of plants go towards feeding animals that are eaten by people. If you TRULY are using this argument (that plants have possible sentience and we should respect that), then surely you can realize that killing fewer plants would be more ethical than killing many plants.
    Eating meat causes more plants to be destroyed than eating plants directly. Meat is like an assembly line in reverse- a lot of input and not much output. It takes a lot of plants to produce a small amount of meat.

    However, I don’t truly think people making the “weep for the plants” argument are truly in it for the plants. It’s just another poorly-thought out argumentative statement people like to pull from a hat. It’s a tired and sad argument as well.

    uh, I hate arguing on the internet but I’ve been hearing this $#!t forever now and it is just so old.

  • BornAgainHeathen

    Vegetarian (ovo-lacto if you want to know) atheist here to throw in my take on the subject.

    I chose to be vegetarian, er…11ish years ago, but I’ve never felt that I chose to be atheist. I was a non-theist at birth and was allowed to remain that way (thanks Mom & Dad!). I never chose theism. Atheism and vegetarianism are mutually exclusive, although I do totally appreciate the cartoon. I can’t tell y’all how many times I’ve had those same conversations!

    Whew! All the talk about veg vs. meat is substantive…health, humane animal treatment, etc, but when I get down to it, I have to say that my defense for my personal lifestyle choice is (with thanks to Lisa Faires): I can’t eat meat because eewwwwww! To me, meat is yucky-tasting, and I came to “feel wrong” when I ate it, so I stopped eating meat. Don’t I sound like the religious person who, despite all rational arguments against her religion, choses religion because it “just feels right”? Yeah, so I’m like that with my vegetarianism. Odd, right?

    Thanks for allowing me to share!

  • Rocketroach

    I would argue that the dogmatic assumption that “animal flesh/products are inherently evil and harmful, regardless of their quality, quantity and provenience”, its annoying proselytism (the argument used in this comic usually comes up when vegans question other people’s diet, not the other way around) and the emphasis on purity/guilt renders veganism more similar to a religion than to atheism.

    Besides the questionable health arguments, vegans (often deliberately) ignore that Industrial agriculture, and the urban lifestyles most of them conduce also cause a large amount of animal suffering.

    They’ll denounce your steak all day long, but don’t you dare to take away their Ipod.

    Vegans also like to claim that their diet causes the “least harm”, but they never bother to define or quantify/approximate this “harm”:
    -are all animal lives worth the same (cow vs field mouse)?
    -do all animals suffer in the same way?
    -are you concerned with animal death or with animal suffering?
    -is animal death/suffering inherently evil, even when its natural?
    -is animal death inherently evil, even when it’s painless?
    -would you approve of practices which tamper with the environment to reduce natural death/suffering?
    -do you realize that a large amount of animals die even in organic farming?

    I could add more questions, but the point is that I (and other people) don’t care about what you eat or don’t eat, but I would have more respect for your choices if you thought them through more, before putting yourself on a pedestal.

  • Emily

    I am not a vegan because i love bacon and cheese. Simple as that. I disapprove of many farming practices, am vehemently against animal torture and painful killing practices (i try and eat halal meat whenever possible), but daaamn does bacon taste fine.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Rocketroach:

    By painting vegans the way that you have, you’ve done nothing but build a strawman argument. You also conveniently leave out the fact that everyone reading this thread, meat eaters and vegans alike, partake in the industrialized society and all of its ills. Since most of us use electricity, plumbing, cars, industrialized agriculture, and so on, who, then, causes the least harm? Those who use all these things and on top of it all consume meat? I doubt it.

    Every person reading this thread is directly, or indirectly, responsible for the death of animals and the raping of the environment. Every one of us, omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. That being said, some try to minimize the impact they have by either being vegetarian, or giving up the car and using a bicycle instead, some recycle, and some do all of these things together. Most vegans, however, unlike vegetarians like me, or omnivores like you, are also environmentalists. I recycle, and I try to do my part, but I’m nowhere near as dutiful about it as vegans I have met.

    So, why is it wrong to recognize the efforts they make at trying to live more ethical and environmentally friendly lives? Is it out of spite? Guilt?

    Every effort made to minimize one’s impact should be recognized, not denigrated. Even if the persons who have the least impact are arrogant beyond our wildest dreams, this aspect of their personalities does not take away from the fact that the rest of us could learn a thing or two from them.

    Lastly, your claim that meat consumption’s harmful effect on the environment and health is a “dogmatic assumption” speaks volumes about your lack of understanding regarding this subject.

  • Rocketroach

    By painting vegans the way that you have, you’ve done nothing but build a strawman argument.

    A strawman argument is a misrepresentation of the opponent’s argument.
    Do vegans hold the position that all “animal products” are immoral and bad for the health, yes or not?

    You also conveniently leave out the fact that everyone reading this thread, meat eaters and vegans alike, partake in the industrialized society and all of its ills.

    I left it out because it is implied and obvious. But it’s only vegans/ARAS who denounce human caused animal suffering as absolutely evil, which makes your global condemnation of meat arbitrary.

    Every one of us, omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. That being said, some try to minimize the impact they have by either being vegetarian, or giving up the car and using a bicycle instead, some recycle, and some do all of these things together.

    This part of your post summarizes my problem with vegans.

    In order to claim to be “minimizing” anything you need to quantify it first. I have yet to see any vegan even try to theorize a moral system which tries to quantify this so-called “harm”.
    If to produce the nutritional equivalent of a slaughtered cow one mouse needs to die (optimistic guess) in crop farming, on which basis do you decide that the mouse suffered less than the cow or that its death is less important?

    Would vegans adopt a diet which includes animal flesh, if they ever discovered that it’s less “harmful” than a purely vegan one?

    The religious sanctimony they like to cast on everyone else makes me doubt that.

    So, why is it wrong to recognize the efforts they make at trying to live more ethical and environmentally friendly lives? Is it out of spite? Guilt?

    It’s not about recognition but about arrogance and inconsistency.

    Imagine if tomorrow I decided that squatting mosquitoes is immoral and that instead, we should capture and release them humanely.

    Would I be justified to villainize everyone who still kills mosquitoes while deliberately partaking in optional activities, like driving, that cause the mass destruction of insect life?

    The “no meat” line is an arbitrary and the “I am less evil than you” morality doesn’t warrant any bragging.

    Lastly, your claim that meat consumption’s harmful effect on the environment and health is a “dogmatic assumption” speaks volumes about your lack of understanding regarding this subject.

    Speaking of strawmen, I made it very clear with the “regardless of their quality, quantity and provenience” part of my post that my problem with the simplistic vegan dogma is its condemnation of all meat consumption.

    I have no problem accepting that a vegan diet may have positive health effects, compared to the hypercaloric, hyperproteic average western diet.

    I have a problem with the absurd implication (the only one consistent with the “meat is bad dogma”) that the mere presence of animal flesh (even a small amount of boiled/roasted sweet water fish) in your diet is inherently harmful.

    Much like with religion , in veganism, absolute, bold claims predate or defy evidence.

    http://www.beyondveg.com/

    Are you going to dismiss everything written in this site as “evil meatarian propaganda”, or something?

  • Diane G.

    If you’re one but not the other, what’s your reason?

    Huh?

    Hemant, as with religion, it’s those who hold a belief who need to explain it, not those who don’t.

    FWIW, I’m not vegan because our species is an evolved omnivore. Now, if we ever develop rumens…

    (I’ve probably echoed several posters–sorry! Did not have time to read 100+ posts.

    –Diane

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Rocketroach

    A strawman argument is a misrepresentation of the opponent’s argument.

    You painted vegans as ignoring “that Industrial agriculture, and the urban lifestyles most of them conduce also cause a large amount of animal suffering. They’ll denounce your steak all day long, but don’t you dare to take away their Ipod.”

    This exaggerates, and thus, misrepresents the vegan community as whole. In fact, virtually every vegan person I have ever met has pointed out that there are things we all use that are produced with some amount of harm inherent in them. Then, they point out that while we have no say in how a car is made, for example, we do have a say in what we put in our grocery cart at the store.

    If to produce the nutritional equivalent of a slaughtered cow one mouse needs to die (optimistic guess) in crop farming, on which basis do you decide that the mouse suffered less than the cow or that its death is less important?

    A cow consumes thousands of tons of crop material before it is turned into steaks. One pound of cow does not equal its weight in plant material. Sine it takes far, far more crops to produce that pound of cow, it stands to reason that it takes far more dead mice, to use your example, than a pound of plant food.

    Would vegans adopt a diet which includes animal flesh, if they ever discovered that it’s less “harmful” than a purely vegan one?

    That depends. A vegan who is vegan for environmental reasons, probably would. One who is vegan for health reasons, might not. I can not hypothesize about what one who is vegan for ethical reasons would do, but I do not believe there is any way that scenario would ever come to be (that not eating meat is more harmful).

    Would I be justified to villainize everyone who still kills mosquitoes while deliberately partaking in optional activities, like driving, that cause the mass destruction of insect life?

    No, but then mosquitoes do not have frontal lobes, can not feel emotions such as fear, or be sentient. They are also harmful themselves by spreading disease. I think the reason some vegans take the attitude you so much dislike is because they focus on intent. In the vast majority of the cases, it is impossible to eek out an existence in our society without having a car, or some other means of transportation to get to work. It is also virtually impossible, once at work, not to use the computers there, the paper, the ink, etc.

    The idea behind ethics based veganism is to do the least harm within reason. It is not an all or nothing stance. Eating meat is a pleasure people have. It’s not a necessity, like work, or getting to work. Just ask Hindus. They live out their lives without munching on steaks or throwing BBQ parties.

    Vegans choose not to add insult to injury by eating meat. They know that driving a car or making a living is going to be harmful to some extent. They also know that most of us have to do these things. They don’t understand why, then, given that we can’t help the harm we do by merely living in an industrialized society, anyone would want to add to that harm by eating meat. So, I get their attitude. I’m not saying I enjoy being at the barrel end of it (and believe me I have been, since being vegetarian makes me look like some kind of traitor/ coward to some of them, more so than someone who chooses to ignore these things).

    I have a problem with the absurd implication (the only one consistent with the “meat is bad dogma”) that the mere presence of animal flesh (even a small amount of boiled/roasted sweet water fish) in your diet is inherently harmful.

    It is always more harmful than a plant based diet because of the sheer amount of resources necessary to yield that small amount of fish, or chicken, or beef, or whatever. No matter how we look at it, the amounts of water, feed, and pollution necessary to yield a 10 oz. piece of flesh is higher than the amount necessary to yield a plant based alternative. Fish consume less than cows, but they still consume more than they yield. We can have whatever kinds of feelings we want about the people who point this out to us, but it doesn’t change the math.

    Much like with religion , in veganism, absolute, bold claims predate or defy evidence.

    This is precisely how I feel about people who eat meat.

    http://www.beyondveg.com/

    Are you going to dismiss everything written in this site as “evil meatarian propaganda”, or something?

    Actually, as any vegetarian or vegan reading this thread will tell you, the beyondveg website is the laughing stock of the vegetarian community. In my opinion, all the guy has managed to prove with his obsessive gathering of information is that humans are perfectly adapted for a frugivorous, insectivorous, and ovivorous diet. The vegetarian community does not dispute this, nor do vegans. They (vegans) just choose to go one step further and not consume insects or eggs, not that the insect diet is something the West looks kindly upon anyway.

    It would take months to go through all the study-based assumptions and interpretations on that site, just like it would take a lot of time to go through all the study-based assumptions and interpretations the tobacco industry used to justify their products until recently when the public just didn’t buy it anymore (a parallel I do not make lightly).

    Look, I understand your dislike of having vegans take on a holier than thou attitude about your consumption habits. I’ve been where you are and took a bigger hit for it because I’m vegetarian. I also understand why they see me as worse than a meat eater: unlike a meat eater, I do not deny the harm inherent in my life style choices, yet continue to eat eggs and if the cake at the restaurant has milk in it, or cream cheese frosting, I won’t turn it away. I also do not gain any points in their eyes, I’m sure, for defending the way they see things. If anything, I end up looking like a hypocrite. But that’s ok. I don’t have to have their respect to respect their choices. If we put our feelings aside about how it feels to be looked down upon by people who choose a more environmentally friendly life style, we have to admit that their lives really do have less of an impact than our own.

    Not all vegans are part of the vegan police anyway. Most (at least the ones I’ve known) are afraid to come out of the vegan closet unless they are forced into it by a well meaning meat eater who insists on having them try a piece of meat casserole, or whatever. It took me over five years to get over my fear of publicly saying I don’t eat meat, and I’m not even vegan. Based on my personal experience with vegans, there are a lot more out there than we realize, because they don’t make themselves known. They prefer to live their lives doing what they can to minimize harm without drawing attention and judgement from meat eaters.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Threads like this one always remind me of:

    http://www.mattcutts.com/images/duty_calls.png

  • http://veganrepresent.com Dan D Lion

    vegatee: Actually, as any vegetarian or vegan reading this thread will tell you, the beyondveg website is the laughing stock of the vegetarian community. In my opinion, all the guy has managed to prove with his obsessive gathering of information is that humans are perfectly adapted for a frugivorous, insectivorous, and ovivorous diet. The vegetarian community does not dispute this, nor do vegans.

    You do not speak for this vegan. Why is it again i should find that site a “laughing stock”? I applaud his efforts to lift himself up out of the dogma and put forth science based opinions on the matter. Tom Billings does a great job of exposing the weaknesses of raw vegan diets and his commentary on ethical veganism is enlightening and well thought. “Obsessive gathering of information” smacks of anti-intellectualism and ad hominem so i’d tread lightly.

    I do not dispute that we are suitable for an omnivorous diet but we can thrive on a vegan one. It’s a choice of luxury as humans in this time and this place and it behooves us to make this choice. I can bet everyone here couldn’t stand to see animals beat up like they are anymore than they would stand to watch a guy kick a dog. (Michael Vick anybody?)

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    A response to your post requires far more time than I have available. I do realize my mistake in using “any” rather than “most”. I generalized and I apologize. Beyond that, just because someone takes a lot of time researching something to prove his/her point, rather than get at the truth, does not an intellectual make. Virtually any position on any subject can be defended using studies and anecdotal evidence. This does not automatically mean the conclusions are correct.

    The idea is to also try to disprove our own beliefs if we are to make any headway. He does not do this, by any stretch of the imagination. I can honestly say that this is how, so many years ago, I came to the conclusion that dropping meat out of my diet will be healthier for me and for the environment. In fact, the article that got my journey started claimed that red meat was associated with colon cancer. Seeing how my favorite food was filet mignon and all of my cooking revolved around meat I was hell bent on finding the flaws in that dooming statement. Instead of finding helpful evidence to justify my eating habits, I found most of it to be damning. I should also mention that I learned early on to be cautious of how the studies are performed, who funds them, and for what industry they are ultimately meant (can’t say the same about beyondveg). Since I have access to a variety of scientific journals, I got more than I bargained for.

    I stand by my observation that all he has done is support the point that humans are not omnivorous, carnivorous, or herbivorous, but ovivorous, insectivorous, and frugivorous, though, I bet that was not his intent.

    I do not dispute that we are suitable for an omnivorous diet…

    I do.

    …but we can thrive on a vegan one.

    I’m with you there. Humans are not suited for a vegan diet. This does not automatically mean they are suited for an omnivorous diet.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ Bryan

    If you’re one but not the other, what’s your reason?

    I fail to see a connection between the two. The very fact that some religious practise ritual vegetarianism or veganism pretty much kills any claim that there is a link between vegetarianism/veganism and atheism.

    As for why I’m one and not the other – rationalism.

    I don’t think I need to go into the rational arguments for atheism on this board. As for not why I’m no longer vegetarian:

    1) We have evolved as omnivores, pure an simple. The last human ancestor that was likely a vegetarian died out about 4 million years ago. The last human ancestor that was a guaranteed vegetarian lived 6 million years ago. Our whole digestive system is orientated towards high-protein intake, and has lost many of the adaptations vegetarian primates have to maximize nutritional intake from plant sources.
    2) Contrary to popular belief, science has found many medical issues with vegetarianism, and especially veganism. Some of these are simple nutritional deficiencies, but the more serious ones are a direct product of excessive plant intake – specifically of the types of plants used for protein (soy, legumes and pulses). These plants contain high levels of phytoestrogens and isoflavins, which are known to have some serious health issues – decreased fertility in men, increased risk of some cancers, birth defects (particularity in male children).

    3) Most of the health benefits originally associated with vegetarianism have since been shown to be not diet-based, but rather lifestyle-based. Long story short – people who become vegetarians are also more likely to include exercise in their daily lifestyle. So when those initial studies were conducted, using vegetarian and omnivorous groups with equivalent levels of exercise, all of the purported cardiovascular benefits of vegetarianism disappeared.

    For myself, the straw that broke the camels back and ended my vegetarianism was the work I did in my PhD. I was studying defects in the innate immune system during HIV/AIDS. We found among our vegetarian blood donors – myself included – suppression of the innate immune system equivalent to what we were seeing in mid-phase HIV patients. By the end of the study we ended up banning vegetarians as control donors due to these immune defects.

    Today I have gone back to my evolutionary roots, and eat an omnivorous diet (granted, I eat a lot less meat than most).

    It is, after all, the rational choice based on our biology.

  • http://veganrepresent.com Dan D Lion

    vegatee: I do.

    Well good luck with that. I’m uninterested in proving what a human should and should not eat since i’m an ethical vegan. At the end of the day it does not matter because i’m not trying to be right for myself, I’m trying to do right for those suffering. There are enough fallacious arguments for dietary and environmental veganism that i have learned better than too include any of that in my arsenal for it would only weaken my case and make me a liar.

  • http://www.reasonablecomics.com Brad

    In an effort to answer the questions I’ve been getting I created this:

    http://reasonablecomics.com/misc/rv.html

    If there is anything you feel I’ve not addressed let me know and I’ll try to do so.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    I was studying defects in the innate immune system during HIV/AIDS.

    Given your background, perhaps you can explain the implications of the following: every time a steak or pork chop is consumed, the immune system sends out the cavalry – antibodies against neu5gc. If meat is supposed to be good for us, it’s interesting that our immune system deems it an intruder. This reaction (due to a mutation resulting in humans having the neu5ac version of the sialic acid) is also the reason why animal to human transplants do not work. What are the implications of having daily immune reactions with our meals?

    Thanks.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    people who become vegetarians are also more likely to include exercise in their daily lifestyle. So when those initial studies were conducted, using vegetarian and omnivorous groups with equivalent levels of exercise, all of the purported cardiovascular benefits of vegetarianism disappeared.

    Forgot to add my (and my husband’s) experience with this. We are woefully sedentary (sit at a desk and computer, nose in books all day, and neither of us exercises, except for the occasional walk around the block). Not proud of this. But we each dropped 50+ cholesterol points. I went from 210 to 156 in the first two years and we’re not alone in this. I realize this is anecdotal information, but wanted to share it none the less. My doctor wanted to know my secret, funny enough, because, apparently, my blood work is stellar in every aspect even though I stay away from supplements like they’re the plague.

  • Valmorian

    “If you’re one but not the other, what’s your reason?”

    I’ve considered becoming vegetarian, but this is a dreadfully simple question to answer.

    Atheism is about an evidence-based worldview on what does and does not exist, and Veganism is a moral (and potentially health) question.

    They are not the same argument, and the writer of this comic does little other than reveal his own ignorance of that.

  • Rocketroach

    This exaggerates, and thus, misrepresents the vegan community as whole. In fact, virtually every vegan person I have ever met has pointed out that there are things we all use that are produced with some amount of harm inherent in them.

    I’ll concede that the vegans I had to deal with were exceptionally annoying/hypocritical.

    But the arguments they use is not any different from what the rest of their community uses.

    Then, they point out that while we have no say in how a car is made, for example, we do have a say in what we put in our grocery cart at the store.

    That is conveniently and selectively defeatist attitude: in the long run, you CAN influence most of these things simply by not partaking in them or promoting the products you like.

    By your reasoning, humans will not stop “oppressing” animals, not in 10, 100 or maybe even 1000 years, therefore veganism is not worth pursuing.

    A cow consumes thousands of tons of crop material before it is turned into steaks. One pound of cow does not equal its weight in plant material. Sine it takes far, far more crops to produce that pound of cow, it stands to reason that it takes far more dead mice, to use your example, than a pound of plant food.

    Even if we assume that cows NEED to be grain/crop fed (as I posted above “quantity, quality and provenience” which vegans choose to ignore), a direct pound to pound equivalence (I wrote “nutritional equivalent” for a reason) doesn’t work.

    Most of what you call “crop material”, is not food that humans can utilize directly.

    And you still haven’t answered my question: cow or mouse?
    It’s pointless to keep using quantitative arguments (“far more dead mice”) if you refuse to do any counting.

    That depends. A vegan who is vegan for environmental reasons, probably would. One who is vegan for health reasons, might not.

    The “animal products” distinction (honey?) only makes sense from an ethical perspective, and makes the notion of “health only” vegans difficult to even entertain.

    I can not hypothesize about what one who is vegan for ethical reasons would do, but I do not believe there is any way that scenario would ever come to be (that not eating meat is more harmful).

    You and other veg*ns are entitled to your beliefs but I have to wonder how categorical they are.
    I constantly reexamine my own beliefs, often accepting positions that I find uncomfortable on a instinctive/emotive level.
    I would have no problems whatsoever accepting that the hypothetical “least harm” may be vegan (if one you ever bother to define this “harm” first, that is).

    The simplistic, accusatory arguments many of you insist on using ultimately only hurt your cause.

    No, but then mosquitoes (…)

    You are taking my mosquito example way too literally.

    I think the reason some vegans take the attitude you so much dislike is because they focus on intent.

    I’m glad that at least that came across.
    But if the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from believing to be helping animals is more important than objective, testable results, doesn’t that make veganism similar to a religion?

    In the vast majority of the cases, it is impossible to eek out an existence in our society without having a car, or some other means of transportation to get to work. It is also virtually impossible, once at work, not to use the computers there, the paper, the ink, etc.

    Wrong. You (and I) are just to lazy to conceive it so you arbitrarily draw a line where your comfort trumps the alleged right to life of animals.

    Which is why i find the notion of “animal rights” silly. If it was people being killed by the millions, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    The idea behind ethics based veganism is to do the least harm within reason. It is not an all or nothing stance. Eating meat is a pleasure people have. It’s not a necessity

    A lot of other things we do (including net browsing for recreation :)) are not necessities but they still cause “damage”.

    Even if we restrict ourselves only to diet, vegans condemn all meat and forgive all veggies.
    By their own standards any fruit or vegetable which is strictly not necessary to human survival and can be replaced by a less “harmful” alternative should have the same ethical status as meat.
    But I’ll be damned if vegans give up their tropical fruit or highly processed soy stuff.

    Just ask Hindus. They live out their lives without munching on steaks or throwing BBQ parties.

    That’s a pretty unfortunate comparison, given that Hindus rejection of cow-killing is famously dogmatic. They don’t show the same regard for other critters.

    It is always more harmful than a plant based diet because of the sheer amount of resources necessary to yield that small amount of fish, or chicken, or beef, or whatever. No matter how we look at it, the amounts of water, feed, and pollution necessary to yield a 10 oz. piece of flesh is higher than the amount necessary to yield a plant based alternative.

    A bold, unsubstantiated claim which assumes that the resources needed for crop farming are negligible.

    Fish consume less than cows, but they still consume more than they yield.

    As hinted above humans are not perfect machines which can process whichever organic matter they want. There are things human cannot or will not eat.
    What are cows consuming?
    What is fish consuming?
    How much of it (if any) will humans eat?
    These questions complicate the issue, stripping generalizations of credibility.

    We can have whatever kinds of feelings we want about the people who point this out to us, but it doesn’t change the math.

    The fact that there’s no solid “math” is one of my chief issues with veganism.

    Actually, as any vegetarian or vegan reading this thread will tell you, the beyondveg website is the laughing stock of the vegetarian community

    Color me surprised.
    TalkOrigins is a laughingstock among creationists too.

    I would rather appreciate links which address, at least partially address his arguments: my mind is open.

    In my opinion, all the guy has managed to prove (…)is that humans are perfectly adapted for a frugivorous, insectivorous, and ovivorous diet. The vegetarian community does not dispute this, nor do vegans.

    This is patently false, many of the misconception he addresses are still widespread.

    Link

    Look at the video and then look at the comments.

    Look, I understand your dislike of having vegans take on a holier than thou attitude about your consumption habits.(…)

    Thank you for that.

    If we put our feelings aside about how it feels to be looked down upon by people who choose a more environmentally friendly life style, we have to admit that their lives really do have less of an impact than our own.

    I’ll accept (yes, I will) it when they’ll provide evidence. In the meantime condescension is all I’m left with.
    The benefit to animals (let alone the standards on which it is being determined) is not as self evident as you believe.

    Not all vegans are part of the vegan police anyway

    I apologize for over generalizing, but my life experience is pretty horrid.
    Would you put the author of the comic in the “vegan police”?

    From the link:

    What is the difference between eating an animal for pleasure and beating an animal for pleasure?

    Why only focus on diet?

    This is the crux of the problem: like I refuse to accept from a Christian that I’m a sinner and I owe something to this God dude, I refuse to axiomatically accept that eating meat makes me “guilty” and that I need to justify it to you (veg*ns).
    I need stronger arguments than emotional appeals.

    In spite of your satire I feel I explained my position fully, so you can have the last word if you want. “Arguing on the intertubes” is not a habit of mine.

    Thanks for reading (if you bothered).

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ Bryan

    Given your background, perhaps you can explain the implications of the following: every time a steak or pork chop is consumed, the immune system sends out the cavalry – antibodies against neu5gc. If meat is supposed to be good for us, it’s interesting that our immune system deems it an intruder.

    Not that interesting – your immune system has evolved around a pretty simple formula – something is either self or non-self. So long as an antigen does not exist in our bodies (i.e. is not “self”), you can make an antibody against it.

    This includes plant-based antigens. That is what hay-fever is – antibodies released against plant pollen in the air. If I were to take blood from you (or anyone else) we would find antibodies against nearly every food you’ve ever put in your mouth – meat, plant, fungi, etc.

    In fact, the most severe immune responses against foods occur against plant antigens – peanut allergies for example. In comparison to that immune response, the weak immune response against sialic acid is pathetic and weak.

    This reaction (due to a mutation resulting in humans having the neu5ac version of the sialic acid) is also the reason why animal to human transplants do not work.

    That is not the reason why human-animal transplants do not work. If that were the problem, than human-animal transplants would be a walk in the park – hit the patient with some immunosuppresive drugs and away you go. The real reason human-animal antigen transplants do not work is twofold:

    1) MHC mismatch. Our immune system recognisances antigens through molecules called “MHC”. Because of this our immune system does not recognize antigens directly, but rather sees a complex consisting of a MHC and an antigen. Animals have different MHC’s from humans so the two systems are not compatible. And if they were compatible we’d still be stuck; as all animals have proteins which are different than ours, and therefore have targets our immune system can ID.

    Current research into making animal-human transplants are trying to remove the MHC’s from the animal tissues. This would make the tissue “invisible” to our immune system, eliminating the potential for rejection.

    2) Zoonosis. All living organisms have their own viruses which are unique to their species, and not transmitted to other species. All living eukaryots also have viruses which have become trapped in our genomes – ERV’s. If we could overcome problem #1, animal-human transplants would still be problematic due to the dual problems of the risk of transferring animal viruses to humans, and conversely, of making the transplant recipients susceptible to animal viruses.

    We are woefully sedentary …But we each dropped 50+ cholesterol points.

    Your low cholesterol isn’t that surprising – cholesterol levels are mostly due to intake and genetics, exercise has only a minor impact on the grand scale of things. However, cholesterol is only one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and a sedentary lifestyle, regardless of your cholesterol levels, is one of them.

    Bryan

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    In spite of your satire I feel I explained my position fully

    Yes. You pretend the environmental impact of animal farms has not been quantified and use this imaginary lack of evidence as justification for denying the ecological footprints of meat eaters. You seem to believe that the pastures and fields used to grow crops for farm animals can not be used to grow other kinds of food for humans and are only good for growing animal feed.

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Thank you, Bryan, for your reply. I would like to discuss the points you made at a later time, if you will be interested. I don’t know when that will be, exactly, given my schedule, so, I wanted to acknowledge and thank you for the time you took to reply until then.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ Bryan

    You pretend the environmental impact of animal farms has not been quantified and use this imaginary lack of evidence as justification for denying the ecological footprints of meat eaters.

    I know this reply wasn’t to me, but I’d like to point out a common flaw I see in many of these types of arguments. Farming – animal or plant – is environmentally damaging. Monoculture destroys habitat, pesticides and fertilizers kill indiscriminately, farm machinery and food transport releases CO2, etc, etc, etc.

    But for some reason veg’s seem to concentrate on the cost of animal farming, and tend to ignore the cost of plant farming, in their arguments.

    Take, for example, rice farming. It releases 100 to 150 million tonnes of methane every year, making it the single largest human source of methane, about 2x that released by cattle farming (50-100 megatonnes).

    I don’t see many “ethical” vegetarians calling for a moratorium on rice.

    Likewise, transport-based CO2 also tends to be worse for plant-based foods, as these products are more widely transported than are meat products.

    I also notice that vegetarians tend to gloss over the fact that many forms of animal agriculture create less impact than does plant agriculture. Plant monoculture almost always requires clearing the field of pre-existing plants, resulting in the near-total death of all animals living in that area. In contrast, free-range animal husbandry doesn’t require this – in fact, in many areas (western Canada, for example) free-range cattle farming is being credited with habitat restoration, because the cows have replaced the nearly extinct buffalo as apex herbivorous.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to pretend that animal farming doesn’t have some serious environmental costs. I’m simply pointing out the double standard many vegetarians have in this area – plant farming is in many ways as destructive or more destructive than animal farming. A vegetarian buying large amounts of foreign-grown veg and fruit more likely than not has a larger environmental footprint of a omnivorous buying locally.

    So the claim that vegetarianism is more environmentally friendly is wrong – or at least over simplified. How environmentally friendly your diet is depends on more then what you eat – it depends on where its made, where its shipped, and how its produced.

    If you want to have a real impact on the environment, buy local foods, avoid crops grown as monocultures, and if you eat meat eat free-range.

    Bryan

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com vegatee

    Again, Bryan, thanks for your input. This is absolutely my last post here for at least a week. This is turning out to be addictive and I really need to kick myself out of here and get back to working on my homework.

    Have a good rest of the week.

  • Jason

    There’s no really good reason to be a vegetarian nor is there a really good reason to not be. I guess it comes down to the question of if you care about the suffering of farm animals. A lot of vegetarians seem to know a lot about ethics, and I don’t. But I wonder why the suffering of farm animals is of such consequence as opposed to the suffering of microscopic organisms, or insects, or plants. Hypocrites…

  • Diane G.

    1. Bryan–Thanks for the EXCELLENT replies. Scientific rationality rules.

    2. Vegatee–Loved the cartoon! Filed it away to use myself as necessary. :)

    3. Valmorian (12:07pm)–Hear, hear!

    4. Wow, good job EVERYONE at keeping things civil!

    5. Why would anyone create a blog comments program that doesn’t number the posts? :[

    6. Does subscription to this thread work for everyone BUT me?

    –Diane (whose 1st post to this thread was at 0125 10/7)

  • Jack

    A lot of vegetarians seem to know a lot about ethics, and I don’t. But I wonder why the suffering of farm animals is of such consequence as opposed to the suffering of microscopic organisms, or insects, or plants. Hypocrites…

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who honestly believe that microscopic organisms suffer, or even feel pain. I’m pretty sure nothing without a CNS suffers in any sense we can understand. Do you really consider kicking a dog and washing your hands similar in their immorality?

  • J Myers

    #122

    5. Why would anyone create a blog comments program that doesn’t number the posts? :[

    Here, here.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ Bryan

    Jason wrote: I guess it comes down to the question of if you care about the suffering of farm animals.

    I’ve always had to laugh at these types of arguments. Factory farming aside – which thankfully is not widely used outside the USA – farm animals live in paradise compared to animals in the wild.

    Few mammals born in the wild reach adulthood – depending on the species, upto 2/3rds will die during childhood as a result of predation, disease and starvation. Those lucky enough to reach adulthood get to spend most of the rest of their lives hungry, chronically infected with a broad range of parasites, and under constant threat of predation. And when it comes time to die, the end is never easy – no slipping quietly into the night. Instead they get a pain filled end – starving to death, and/or wracked with disease, and if really unlucky, torn asunder by the fangs of a predator.

    In contrast, farm animals (or for that matter, lab animals) have it easy – most survive to adulthood, infections and parasitism are rare and controlled, average lifespans on farms exceed those in the wild, farmers make great efforts to avoid suffering (stressed animals don’t produce), and when it comes time to die, death is quick and as painless as possible.

    So from an ethical point of view, if animal suffering is a major concern then domestication is the key to limiting animals suffering. Nature is a far harsher mistress than human kind.

    ========

    But I wonder why the suffering of farm animals is of such consequence as opposed to the suffering of microscopic organisms, or insects, or plants.

    Scientifically speaking, there are marked differences in the way different species experience pain. Plants, insects, even microbes respond to damage – i.e. respond to stimuli which humans perceive as pain.

    The difference is in the way that pain is experienced. Plants and microbes are not self-aware; “pain” responses are generally limited to activating pathways which repair damage, limit the spread of damage, and in the case of motile microbes, cause the microbes to move away from the damaging stimuli.

    In “higher” animals (I hate that term, but that’s another post) damaging stimuli take on another level. Even in the simplest animals with a centralized nervous system (insects, for example) painful stimuli induce more then simple repair/avoid responses. The “higher” you get up in the animal kingdom, the broader and broader those effects are on the biology of the organism.

    When you get into urocordates on upwards (tunicates to man) painful stimuli affect nearly every part of the animals biology – from the immune system, to the circulatory system, to the digestive tract. Basically, damage signals go from being triggers of self-preservation pathways to more generic “lets stress out everything” signals.

    At some yet-to-be-defined point (jawed fish is the likely site) animals become aware of pain at an “intellectual” level. By which I mean they can anticipate pain, and even experience stress (and even pain) at the threat of pain. Scientifically, this threshold is what we use to determine if we use pain-management measures during research – from fish on up we use anaesthetics and analgesics to minimize pain.

    The cutoffs used by some vegetarians are rather arbitrary; the cortex argument for example. IMO, these cutoffs are due more to the Disney effect (i.e. don’t hurt the cute fuzzy ones, damn the rest), rather than any rational reason.

    ========

    I would also like to make one last comment on the “ethical vegetarians”, in regards to limiting animal pain. I feel that the arguments of the “animal pain” vegetarians are very one sided and ignore the huge and entirely detrimental impact that plant farming has on animals.

    Plant farming is very damaging to the environment – you need to clear fields of all native plants to grow your crops (a procedure called monoculture). Toxic pesticides and herbicides are widely used, as it trapping of larger “pests”. This form of farming causes unimaginable pain for the indigenous species in the area. Indeed, plant monoculture is single-handedly responsible for more extinctions than any other human activity. And all those deaths were through starvation, poisoning and trapping.

    I’m not exactly sure how that gets construed as ethical – IMO its pretty horrific.

    Now once again, I’m not pretending that animal farming is impact-free, but keep in mind that conventional free-range farming is preformed without replacing indigenous plants, using pesticides or fertilizers, or trapping pests. Meaning that unlike plant farming, animal farming can co-exist with nature.

    Bryan

  • Jack

    I’ve always had to laugh at these types of arguments. Factory farming aside – which thankfully is not widely used outside the USA – farm animals live in paradise compared to animals in the wild.

    Yes, but in the US, factory farming IS a significant factor, which unfortunately complicates the issue a great deal. It’s naive to assume that farm animals spend all their time suffering, while wild animals prance around the meadows, but it’s also rather naive to assume those in large farms are properly cared for. Those in large farms are, unfortunately, the most profitable, so their numbers increase while the amount spent on them is, in general, whatever amount creates maximum gross profits.

  • Polly

    In CA we get to vote on Prop 2 which will mandate that farm animals get to move around more outside. The opposition seems to think this will allow disease to creep into the chicken population through contact with wild birds. This seems totally unlikely since there are already free-range chickens out there.

    Does anyone know anything about this?

  • http://veganrepresent.com Dan D Lion

    Bryan says: So from an ethical point of view, if animal suffering is a major concern then domestication is the key to limiting animals suffering. Nature is a far harsher mistress than human kind.

    With the numbers of animals being raised there is too much opportunity for suffering. Animal agriculture is not in the business of provide happy fun lives for their animals. The horrorshow they abscond has been well documented and witnessed. Animals do suffer and they are treated horribly. Animals in the wild maybe just as much or worse but at least they have the chance to feel the sun, run, play, eat and live their lives in the horrible harsh natural bosom of freedom. (this leans into animal rights territory but i thought it pertinent)

    Bryan says: The cutoffs used by some vegetarians are rather arbitrary; the cortex argument for example. IMO, these cutoffs are due more to the Disney effect (i.e. don’t hurt the cute fuzzy ones, damn the rest), rather than any rational reason.

    Actually it is the population of animal eaters (in the U.S.) who adhere to the “Disney effect”. Why eat cows and not dogs or cats? I don’t know any vegetarians that eat only the non-cute animals. They in fact eat no animals and draw the line where sentience begins and focus upon the animals that are in the most dire circumstance. Just because we can’t save every animal doesn’t mean we can’t save some.

    Oh here’s a quote:
    Humans–who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals–have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and “animals” is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them–without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeeling toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us.
    -Carl Sagan

    Bryan says:
    I would also like to make one last comment on the “ethical vegetarians”, in regards to limiting animal pain. I feel that the arguments of the “animal pain” vegetarians are very one sided and ignore the huge and entirely detrimental impact that plant farming has on animals.

    Animal agriculture is monoculture too don’t forget and the effects upon the population of flora and fauna can also take a devastating toll. Soy and corn grown for animal agriculture compounds the toll. We could go on all day cherry picking the best form of agriculture against the worst form of another but again it’s a false dilemma to claim it’s all or nothing.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ Bryan

    Dan D Lion wrote: Animal agriculture is not in the business of provide happy fun lives for their animals

    Strange – I grew up working on farms, and every farmer I met had the utmost concern for the well being of their stocks. The reason is simple – stressed animals do not produce – no milk, no eggs, poor growth; all of that equals no profit.

    Why eat cows and not dogs or cats?

    Dogs and cats are consumed in many countries around the world. But generally speaking, it is not a good idea to eat the flesh of carnivorous as they have high parasite burdens.

    Humans–who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals–have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain

    Statements like these are quite insulting, and completely false. Its also taken out of context – animal activists love to use this quote, but strangely never quote the following paragraph. Maybe pick up the book that quote is from – “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” and see why what your quoted is taken so far out of context as to be laughable.

    Of course, the above tactic is what I’ve come to expect from the animal-rights lobby. Forget reality, twist any fact or quote to serve the cause…

    More to the point I’ve been involved in medical research for over a decade, and yes, I have used animals as research subjects (and, if anyone cares, I began this type of research while I was still a vegetarian).

    Pain control and a happy life are quintessential to producing useful and accurate scientific results. We are fully aware of the pain they experience, and the hugely detrimental effect it has on their biology. The “john q publics” who sit on our ethics boards tend to be rather overwhelmed at what we go through to ensure minimal suffering and a happy life. More than once I’ve heard “we don’t even do that for our pets/kids/parents” when we discuss our pain-control and environment enrichment programs.

    For that matter, the last research animals I used (rats) used to come up to the edge of their cages to be petted and held whenever I entered the room – clearly I wasn’t bothering them much. You might even go so far as to say they liked me…

    Likewise, when I worked on the farm, every reasonable attempt was used to minimize pain when working with the animals. From using a spray-on local aesthetic during castrations, to switching from branding to ear tags for ID.

    Had you any experience in either field you would know the above. But you’ve swallowed PETA’s lies hook, line and sinker.

    Ever wonder why all of their anti-research videos are so grainy, and have such poor colour? Its because they were all filmed in the 50′s and 60′s. Guess what – things have changed a lot since then…

    Animal agriculture is monoculture too

    Depends on how its conducted. Free-range farming (the main form of cattle farming, btw) is not monoculture, as it does not require the replacement of natural fauna with a single crop. As I mentioned in an earlier post, cattle farming has been managed in western Canada to actually restore natural grasslands – the cows were used in place of the near-extinct buffalo.

    it’s a false dilemma to claim it’s all or nothing.

    And since I never claimed that, your point would be what? In fact I clearly stated:

    “I’m not pretending that animal farming is impact-free”.

    The “take home point” was simply that the moral high ground that vegetarians pretend to have is a lie. Plant monoculture has killed far more animals, in the most horrific manner imaginable (starvation, poisoning and trapping), than any other form of farming humans engage in.

    And no, I’m not exaggerating. You should read up on the number of rodents each year in the name of soy production (there is an article on that in ingenta). In the US alone more rodents die per year in the name of soy (around 3 billion) than there are cows in the world (about 900 million).

    Bryan

    PS: I used to believe all the PETA pro-veg crap that you seem to. It was when I started thinking for myself, and actually researching (and looking back at childhood experiences) that I realized most of those “facts” so readily put forward by the animal rights and pro-veg lobbies are lies. Maybe you should do a little research yourself; I’m sure if you do you’ll come to the same conclusions I did.

  • http://veganrepresent.com Dan D Lion

    Aww thank you for the suggestion Bryan. After 10 years worth of research myself, i’m still here, vegan. Maybe it’s because I don’t poke rats for a living or lack the imagination of subsisting without animal product or maybe i’m just plain krazie, i dunno. For some reason I just can’t justify the enslavement (and other cruel treatment no matter how much you pretend it’s untrue) of creatures just because i can.
    But anyway your inability to discern what i’m talking about from what PeTA puts out is telling and maybe it is you who lack the experience. Perhaps also you should brush up on Sagan’s book too. Unless you have discovered the difference between humans and non-human animals that allows for us to bend them to our will and whim, you might learn a thing or two.

  • AnonyMouse

    That’s a good point. Let me think for a bit.

    Oh, wait, never mind, that’s absolute bullshit.

    Don’t get me wrong. If “But everyone does it!” is the best excuse someone has for eating meat, that’s pretty pathetic. But those are far from the only arguments against vegetarianism.

    Now here’s where it gets a bit tricky. See, while I eat meat, I am not against vegetarianism in the least. I do not believe that everyone should do it because it’s a natural behavior, any more than I believe that we should all screw like rabbits. I have no interest in talking a vegetarian out of eating meat unless (1) it is having a negative impact on his/her health or (2) he/she has decided to become a vegetarian on some shallow and poorly-researched lark.

    But here’s why I eat meat:

    1: Health. Yes, I know, it’s widely held that humans do not need to eat meat; we can get all the nutrients we need from supplements, yadda yadda yadda. Isn’t this a bit like saying that we don’t need green vegetables because we can just take folate supplements? Thank you, but as far as nutrition goes, I will get mine from a natural source. In addition, while your body may have equipped you quite well to run on beans and vegetables, mine does not seem to have been so generous. It reacts in an incredibly hyperactive manner to many sources of carbohydrates, and rather than using them as fuel like it should, it tends to store them as fat. Naughty little metabolism.

    Meat is not nearly unhealthy as many animal rights vegetarian proponents would have you believe. Compared to processed grains and sugars, it’s actually a remarkably benign addition to the human diet.

    2: Ethics? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you can’t exactly go on living without killing something. If you eat nothing but plants, you must still kill all the small animals that would have invaded the field and ruin the crop. Even if you can somehow avoid this, you are still depriving another animal of a potential food source. If I really wanted to avoid harming other beasties for my own benefit, I would have no choice but to kill myself.

    Which isn’t to say that I support wanton killing of animals or excessive meat consumption “just because”. I believe that living is equal parts cooperation and competition, and to that end I will try and minimize my impact on the world in general. I would much rather eat “industrial waste” meat (like the beef we have in our freezer) or hunted meat than the mass-farmed, impact-intensive stuff you get in the store. I wholly plan on looking into that as soon as I am responsible for my own groceries.

    3: Mmmmmm.

  • http://www.noonespecial.ca/cacophony Tao Jones

    I’m with AnonyMouse for the most part and I’m surprised I did chime in earlier… must have missed this back when it was originally posted.

    I’d like to add to AnonyMouse’s second point. I’m not anti-vegetarianism either but I am against vegetarians who claim vegetarianism is *the* only morally acceptable choice. If we are supposedly equal in importance to non-human animals (as I also believe) then by denying ourselves of our omnivorousness, isn’t that claiming a moral superiority over non-human carnivores and omnivores?

    I just want to live in a way that I am as harmless as a spider or spider monkey. I don’t need to be more harmless. I’m not that special.

    Apparently my spell check says “omnivorousness” is a word. Imagine that!


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