Where are your limits?
March 18, 2002 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Where are your limits? Inspired in part by mikhail's earlier post on the gelatin used in Guinness (and Bass), for those with voluntary diet restrictions (kosher, halal, vegetarian, etc.), what unexpected choices have you faced? Does it go beyond food? Toothpaste? Collagen injections? Silk? Buying a car with leather seats? A used car with leather seats?
posted by NortonDC (59 comments total)

 
I want to hear about how the implementation of your values led to unexpected choices, instead of advocacy or a defense of those values.

For me, Pop Tarts were a pisser. So were the Doritos. And one I really did not see coming was fish glue in color LCD's.

But on the other hand, if I'm naked, the bug dies. And if you need someone to hold the bunny while testing mascara in it's eyes, I'm your guy.

I used to grill an orthodox Jew I worked with about kosher stuff. He never did say if using Chapstick (petroleum-based, and therefore from a meat source) meant he couldn't have dairy for two hours.
posted by NortonDC at 7:57 PM on March 18, 2002


Huh? Petroleum=mineral, not animal.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:09 PM on March 18, 2002


It's a fossil fuel, baby.
posted by NortonDC at 8:10 PM on March 18, 2002


Wow. For a second, I thought my official Reform Judaism non-education had betrated me. But from the site http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-vegetables-wax.htm
comes the following:

Petroleum based waxes including paraffin, mineral oil, and polyethylene are inherently Kosher and Pareve. These waxes are commonly used on melons, stone fruits, and tropical fruits and in a variety of vegetables.

It's not that fossil. Actually, fossil fuels are from PLANTS.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:23 PM on March 18, 2002


Although I've never actually been strict enough to be called a vegan (I eat dairy and eggs, although not frequently) I try to be conscious of what is in things. I stopped eating most jelly candies (although cherry blasters, fuzzy peaches, etc are vegan) and gelatin in general. Poptarts were a disappointment for me too, as well as Junior Mints. Cheese unfortunately contains rennet, which is like gelatin, but I'm not ready to give that up right now. (If i wasn't a poor student, I'd buy rennet-free cheese, which is available. But for the time being it's grocerystore-brand for me.)
For a very long time I wore no leather at all, but I've recently begun to think in slightly different terms. Basically, My shoes are canvas, but my winter boots are leather. Somehow freezing my toes off and buying a new pair of fake leather boots every year (because they never last), seems more needless and wasteful. I feel I can justify having a good pair of leather (byproduct) boots which will hopefully last forever.
By the way, the kicker for me was film. (the emulsion on negatives contain gelatin) But being a photographer, I've had to get past that one. I can't give that one up.
posted by paultron at 8:30 PM on March 18, 2002


I keep pretty much kosher, which I find a happy medium between vegetarianism (which seems to physically depress me and not be natural) and mainstream carnivorism, which disgusts me in its modern, industrial, fast food form. No shell fish for me either. Never loved the stuff anyway....

By the way, in case anyone's curious, kosher (the rules of kashrut) are not primarily for health purposes. They are viewed as spiritual; essentially kosher food is food as having positive energy. Also, they are for the purpose of discipline; essentially on the premise that if you can't control your appetite, you won't have the discipline for other things in life.

And for all the Pop Tart-disillusioned, there are kosher Pop Tart-like toaster pastries. Not as good as the real thing, I suspect, but close.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:56 PM on March 18, 2002


I actually did try going vegan for a few months some time ago. The hardest things to give up were dairy products. I did transition into a lot of products free of animal byproducts. I was lucky enough to be living in a town that made that lifestyle easy. I had soaps, deodorants, blah blah, blah, and wound up reading more labels than I ever cared to. Carob instead of chocolate, no coffee (since I only like it with cream), even honey in tea became out of the question. I never went so far as to bring clothing, fabrics or cloths into it. I simply tried to alter what was alterable. I didn't last as a vegan. I've known quite a few people who lived that lifestyle completely, but for me, it was too extreme.
posted by mikhail at 9:13 PM on March 18, 2002


Carob instead of chocolate? Isn't dark chocolate sans lait?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:17 PM on March 18, 2002


I used to grill an orthodox Jew I worked with...

[blink]

I had to re-read that. For just a moment, what with having just finished talking about a number of food products, I thought you were engaged in cannibalism...

If a person were gonna have a freak-out at the thought of rubbing dead dinosaurs on his lips (aka "fossil fuels"), one would have to wonder if he shouldn't also freak out about eating carrots.

Which, after all, must surely contain a fair bit of carbon that originally came from ol' sweet Brontosaurii.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 PM on March 18, 2002


Say, speaking of milk, there's a farm 'round here-abouts that installed a robotic milker.

Basically, whenever the cows want to get milked, they go wander over to the machine, which then gives their udder a wash, slaps on the suction cups, and milks them.

The rest of the time they get to wander around eating and socializing and sleeping and doing whatever other crazy things cows get up to when they're not being milked.

Milk production is up 30%.

One might argue that cows like giving milk.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 PM on March 18, 2002


ParisParamus: By the way, in case anyone's curious, kosher (the rules of kashrut) are not primarily for health purposes.

No. According to the bible, they came from God, and he does not go into detail about their purpose, other than saying that they are part of the covenant. If you don't believe they come from God, then we're all free to make guesses about what motivated their creator(s). I'm not saying a decent argument can't be made for your case, ParisParamus, but it's hardly something that I feel should be stated so flatly.
posted by bingo at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2002


More on five fresh fish's automated milking systems.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:49 PM on March 18, 2002


Bingo, true, but the commentaries point to what I wrote, and the Judaism is more than the Torah; my main point is to refute what you usually hear about those laws; that they have some rational basis--they don't.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:52 PM on March 18, 2002


ParisParamus: Unless they actually come from God, which is, after all, the original claim, and that claim is directly related to why the tradition itself has lasted so long. If they did come from God, then there may indeed have been some rational basis. And even if they didn't, we're talking about a set of dietary laws over 2500 years old. Assuming that there was such a person as Abraham to begin with, we have only a vague idea of what kind of person he was, and what his life was like. The concept of having a "rational basis" for anything was still many hundreds of years away. No scientific method, no laws of nature, no understanding of the world beyond fifty miles or so of where you are born, no reason to think the world isn't flat and that the idol in the nearest temple isn't actually in control of the weather. If God handed down the laws of kashrut, then as far as we know, he may have been offering "his" people a bit of practical knowledge that they were hardly in a position to attain themselves. And if the laws didn't come from God...then who the hell knows who they came from, and what that person's motivations were, what system of beliefs he had, what political agenda, etc. To say they had no rational basis is, it seems to me, to assume that we know for sure why the laws were created, and we don't.

but the commentaries point to what I wrote, and the Judaism is more than the Torah...

None of this changes the fact that the laws we're talking about come from the Torah. They either came from God, or they did not. They either were created for a reason, or they were not. If they were, that reason was either reason X, or it was not. There may have in fact been a reason. They are pretty darn detailed and specific. There are a lot of theories with good arguments attached, and I'm not saying that your idea of the laws being mainly connected to spirituality isn't one of them. But short of a revelation from God or a time machine, we're not going to know for sure.
posted by bingo at 10:27 PM on March 18, 2002


I'm sure everyone will be happy to know that you can also make felt from your belly-button lint.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:46 PM on March 18, 2002


Damn, I never could get that "link-to-the-middle-of-the-page-thing right!
posted by Dick Paris at 10:47 PM on March 18, 2002


"What are your limits". This is a Good Question. Glad you asked.

I used to have qualms about hurting any creatures, but now I routinely choose to make mincemeat out of dumb humans who think it's cool to exploit animals. So I guess you could say "my limits" are expanding.

~big wink~

Sorry. No seriously, I used to be a carnivore and thus an animal abuser/user ("without limits" I guess you could say), but I kept encountering these unexpected choices in that capacity, damnit. Unexpected and annoying choices, you know? Do I eat the beef with antibiotics and develop gut flora with resistance to the drug, or do I go sans boeuf-tetracycline and risk the E. coli? Should I get the steak with growth hormone, or the chicken with salmonella? Buy fish with mercury or pork with trichinosis? Do I rape the land with beef overgrazing, or confine them there little calves to steel cages for the duration of their natural lives? Death from fat clogging my arteries, or death from a tumor clogging my colon? Milk with a chaser of pesticides (Salud!), or with a brace of herbicides? Creutzfeldt-Jakob or Campylobacter?

You see? What a nightmare of difficult and unexpected choices just on a practical day to day level.

And then there were the unexpected damned ethical choices and questions that arose during my "no limits" years. For example, sitting around over a few hamburgers, nobody could explain to me why it was cool to butcher some dumb fatted calf for the grill, but not OK to skin, gut, and dress out some poor human child born with an IQ less than a gherkin (I suspect those chubby little tykes really do "taste good", you know).

And animal testing...gad, does that ever open up a Pandora's veal stall (sorry) of unexpected choices. You take your average rabbit, mentioned in the original post above. Now, you look at some dumb bunny-hopper sitting twitching its nose and think, so what? What could be simpler than a goddammed rabbit? Aha, but you haven't encountered the "unexpected bunny choice"; to wit: corneal ulcers in thousands of creatures in full possession of all their nerve endings, versus losing forever the utter joy and importance of yet another major new brand of cosmetic?

Yeah, choices even at the rabbit level. I just know there must be a rationalization that allows us to use those dumb bastards as we damn well please, but frankly none have plumbed the doublethink required to countenance burning out the eyes of warrens of rabbits for such significant ends as the vanity of tired old women and Max Factor's bottom line.

So in answer to the question, I'd have to say that eating meat and using other creatures that breathe and feel pain and fear death presented me with many, many, many more dilemmas and "unexpected choices" than I ever encounter now in choosing to try to minimize suffering.

I'm not sure that was the answer you were looking for.

But thanks for asking.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:24 PM on March 18, 2002 [1 favorite]


My understanding of the laws of Kosher (AKA "What I was taught in Hebrew School"):
The laws of kashrut have three main purposes:
1.) Solidarity amongst Jews everywhere
2.) Self-discipline, constant reminder of Jewish-ness
3.) Health purposes that may perhaps now be outdated, but at some point eating shellfish and swine put one at high risk for disease.
NortonDC: You might be surprised to learn that not all animal sources are considered "meat" when it comes to kashrut, for example eggs are neither meat nor milk. Also consider milk products, they come from animals but are in their own category.
Also, rather than going kosher as a "more reasonable" form of vegetarianism, I have gone vegetarian and therefore kosher. Think about it: No need for "meat dishes", no worries about mixing meat and milk. Kill two birds with one stone (without killing anything at all, ha!)
posted by bonheur at 11:46 PM on March 18, 2002


fold_and_mutilate: bitter sarcasm is usually the best tool for making people see the error of their ways. it's totally not the kind of thing that creates that pesky anti-vegan and anti-vegetarian backlash and misunderstanding. no no, that kind of thing happens when you don't get in peoples' faces enough!

anyway, keep up the good work. you're doing us all a great service.
posted by chrisege at 11:56 PM on March 18, 2002


I disagree, chrisege. I thought fold_and_mutilates's exposition was quite convincing. It employs Aristotelian rhetoric very well. First, he identifies with the meat-eaters, via his former self, then he intelligently folds together the two concerns of health risks and cruelty to sentient beings, to finally mutilate the idea of limited "limits".

Try to imagine the comment without the sarcasm/honesty and it would be intolerably patronizing.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:22 AM on March 19, 2002


I'm suddenly reminded of an Andres Serrano piece called "milk, blood." Here's an image of it. That image isn't so hot, though; you can find another on this (Korean-language?) page.

I thought of it because of the Kosher talk, but I'm only very sketchy on Kosher rules so I'm not going to try to explain why the piece can be considered so provocative -- I imagine someone else can do a much better job.
posted by cortex at 12:29 AM on March 19, 2002


Food labelling laws and peoples' confusion over what vegetarianism is are both stumbling blocks. An email exchange I had with Knorr a few years ago illustrates both points:

>We recently purchased some Knorr vegetarian stock cubes, only to
>find gelatin listed in the ingredients.

>Why?

Thank you for your e-mail. As you may already know, there are various types
and levels of vegetarians. The accepted definitions include:

Semi-vegetarian: Eats dairy products, eggs, chicken and fish, everything
except the flesh and organs of mammals.

Pesco-vegetarian: Eats dairy products, eggs and fish, but no other animal
flesh (also called pescetarian).

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Avoids eggs and animal flesh, but will eat dairy
products.

Ovo-vegetarian: Avoids dairy products and animal flesh, but will eat eggs.

Vegan: Eats no animal products of any kind. This includes gelatin, whey
and any derivative of an animal product.

Based on this information, it is clear that some individuals who consider
themselves vegetarins, would have no issue with consuming a product
containing gelatin.

Also, the gelatin is present in a minute amount, and according to federal
regulations, it would not be required to even declare it as an ingredient
in our bouillon. However, as a service to the consumers, we have it listed
so as to provide them with the ability to make a choice as to whether or
not to consume the product.


I didn't know what to make of that at the time, and I still don't now. Are they hopelessly confused? It looks like a cut and paste stock response but is so selective in what is [inaccurately] described that I was left wondering. I should have written back but felt I wouldn't actually achieve anything, and never got round to it.
posted by southisup at 12:46 AM on March 19, 2002


I didn't know what to make of that at the time, and I still don't now.

I think it's nice that they listed gelatin on the label when they didn't have to. I also think that if you're concerned about the presence of gelatin in your food, you're probably used to checking labels.

all that aside though... you'd think "vegetable stock" would work just as well if not better than "vegetarian stock" as a product description.
posted by chrisege at 1:05 AM on March 19, 2002


fold_and_mutilate: bitter sarcasm is usually the best tool for making people see the error of their ways. it's totally not the kind of thing that creates that pesky anti-vegan and anti-vegetarian backlash and misunderstanding. no no, that kind of thing happens when you don't get in peoples' faces enough!

I do so agree with you. So much talk today is so very unpleasant, don't you think?

I tore up the recipe for pablum long before tossing the recipe for bistec ranchero.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:34 AM on March 19, 2002


This doesn't seem to be a particularly Metafilterish post&thread. It's more like a chat topic.

I'm vegan. I do as best I can. Toothpaste, foods, clothes, etc. I wouldn't buy or wear a second-hand leather jacket. Medicine is probably my limit: next month I have to have my wisdom teeth out, and the anesthetic may be tested on animals and/or made from animal products. If there is a vegan alternative, whether or not it costs more, I'll take it - but I really don't want to be conscious for this operation.
posted by kv at 3:13 AM on March 19, 2002


fold_and_mutilate - I haven't seen anything about your boundaries yet. Do you refuse to use computers or other devices with LCD screens? Do you refuse rides in vehicles with leather seats? Do you refuse medication with gelatin coatings? Do you refuse medication that was tested on animals? Do you refuse rides in vehicles crash-tested with pigs? Do wear a face mask to keep from inhaling insects? Do you refuse all travel modes that imperil insects?

There's a lot of opportunity to contribute here. I encourage you to avail yourself of some of it.
posted by NortonDC at 6:30 AM on March 19, 2002


hmm...wasn't there something about early crash tests being done with human cadavers? Or was that rocket sled tests? I will have to go look that up.

Oh and about dark chocolate; it depends. Many still use lecithin as one of the ingredients. Lecithin can be derived from a couple of different sources, some of which are animal based.

In the end it all becomes a vicious cycle, and you can either go mad checking everything or you wind up making justifications for all kinds of things.
posted by mikhail at 7:57 AM on March 19, 2002


I read an article a while back in Discover that listed the mind-boggling array of things they make from cows. I can't even begin to list them all.

But after reading that I'd have to say it's nearly impossible to go animal-free in this society.

(I eat meat, in case anyone is wondering)
posted by O9scar at 8:06 AM on March 19, 2002


Figuring that five million years of evolution can't be wrong, I'm wholeheartedly omnivore.

Cows are omnivore. Much to my complete surprise, I learned that in British Columbia we have cows that go fishing. There have been authenticated reports of cows going down to the creek and eating up spawning salmon. Their milk must taste awful after that.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:13 AM on March 19, 2002


Cheese is a difficult one. Most commercial chooses these days use bacterial or fungal cultures. However it is really hard to tell due to current labeling. Shoes are probably going to be a problem because I have picky feet.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:23 AM on March 19, 2002


Thanks for bringing up carob, mikhail and Paris and conjuring up some weird childhood memories. Around age 7 I was diagnosed as hyperactive, to go along with the echophenomena. Before they put me on Ritalin for a spell, the doctor pitched my mom a diet based on an early edition of this book
The main thrust of the tome was that hyperactivity was caused by food additives, so naturally my beloved junk food had to go. Whenever I wanted a 3 Musketeers, mom would give me these carob bars from the health food store at the mall which tasted all grubby and mealy. After about two months, mom got tired of me begging for Froot Loops and everything went back to normal.
But the carob bars are still around, huh? I can respect being a vegan, but that stuff justs tastes awful, espousing new principals is no reason to punish your taste buds.
posted by jonmc at 9:39 AM on March 19, 2002


> Figuring that five million years of evolution can't be
> wrong, I'm wholeheartedly omnivore.

For most of that period, the right image is of primates living mostly on roots, nuts, berries, grain, etc., with occasional windfalls of animal protein -- a nest of baby birds, some termites, a nice fat scorpion. As for ice-age cavemen feasting on wooly mammoth, while this may actually have happened I doubt it had nearly the importance to human evolution that pop science gives it. I expect that the best diet for physiologically modern humans is the one we've actually been used to for so long: mostly veggies, with the occasional bite of beast for the sake of complete protein and fat-soluble vitamins.

As for non-nutritional reasons to be vegetarian I have no problem with any kind of self-discipline; I wish there were a lot more of it than there is. Nor am I in favor of cruelty to animals, as a general thing, but I need to mention that I also hear spinach scream when people boil it. It's really hard to fathom the moral blindness of spinach-boilers.
posted by jfuller at 11:20 AM on March 19, 2002


I've been vegan for more than four years, and I've had a devil of a time finding appropriate shoes. Try finding a pair of synthetic, size 10 (women's), A or AA width, orthopedic shoes (my knees give out when I go too long in substandard shoes). On that topic, New Balance is a godsend.
posted by isomorphisms at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2002


I agree carob is kinda nasty.

The documentary based on this book was the initial catalyst for my going vegetarian.

I am no longer vegan or veggie, but I am happy I went through it. I learned alot, and experienced some great foods that I would not otherwise have tried. I didn't ever feel I lost anything by either lifestyle. They actually widened the possibilities.
posted by mikhail at 11:35 AM on March 19, 2002


ParisParamus:

> Huh? Petroleum=mineral, not animal.

NortonDC:

> It's a fossil fuel, baby.

ParisParamus:

> fossil fuels are from PLANTS.


Natural petroleum deposits ("crude oil") are created from the remains of both animals and plants (if you're an old-style animal-vegetable-mineral sort of person) or from remains of all five basic life forms -- animalia, plantae, fungi, protista, monera -- if you're a five-kingdom fan, as I am.
posted by jfuller at 12:32 PM on March 19, 2002


Re: omnivoria. It's figured in some circles that termites were a major food source in our pre-history and that, indeed, the human race would not have done at all well had it not been munching those tasty little grubbers.

Re: cows eating salmon -- has anyone else read about this? I came across the story in a cross-country ski magazine (or maybe it was a Beautiful BC magazine). Did a quick Google search, but came up with nothing.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:07 PM on March 19, 2002


fold_and_mutilate - I haven't seen anything about your boundaries yet. Do you refuse to use computers or other devices with LCD screens? Do you refuse rides in vehicles with leather seats? Do you refuse medication with gelatin coatings? Do you refuse medication that was tested on animals? Do you refuse rides in vehicles crash-tested with pigs? Do wear a face mask to keep from inhaling insects? Do you refuse all travel modes that imperil insects?

~chuckle~

Ah. Right. Typical. Pitiable. Fallacious argument tu quoque.

Please, allow me (obviously you're just an amateur at this):

"You say you're against killing...and yet (gasp) I saw you wash your hands with soap! Hypocritical bacteria murderer!"

How'd I do? Yes...check me...that does makes sense. Those who would wash may not, therefore, be critical of killing.

"Boundaries". "Limits". Yeah. I understand your curiosity. I know I'm kind of curious about the "boundaries" of people who would...oh...say, volunteer to hold rabbits while caustics are applied to their eyes. Sure, we've already seen that inflicting pain on creatures is worth it if we can do something really important -- like darken women's eyelashes. But...unless I'm wrong about rabbit anatomy, the beasts have a few more orifices in addition to their eyes. Are there "boundaries" or "limits" for these rabbit-restraint folks, or do the they routinely "use" other bunny orifices as well? I mean, it would just be more beast use for human pleasure, right? And that supersedes all, right? What I'm trying to ask is, what are the limits of these people?

As you mentioned, there's a lot of opportunity to contribute here as we explore these "boundaries." I encourage you to avail yourself of some of it.

~wink~

There is no end to suffering, but some choose to minimize it. Do let me know if there is something about that particular "boundary" that just confuses the hell out of you.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:41 PM on March 19, 2002


I know I'm kind of curious about the "boundaries" of people who would...oh...say, volunteer to hold rabbits while caustics are applied to their eyes.

Don't be silly, I'm sure they clamp the rabbits down or something, rather than asking someone to hold them.
posted by kindall at 11:50 PM on March 19, 2002


And for all the Pop Tart-disillusioned, there are kosher Pop Tart-like toaster pastries. Not as good as the real thing, I suspect, but close.

There are some store-label brands which are OU certified. You just have to look for them. I don't want to go too far out on a limb, but Wal-Mart (Sam's Choice) brand may be one of them.

You might be surprised to learn that not all animal sources are considered "meat" when it comes to kashrut,

Indeed, fish are also considered pareve, neither meat nor dairy. I never did quite understand that one.

Also, rather than going kosher as a "more reasonable" form of vegetarianism, I have gone vegetarian and therefore kosher. Think about it: No need for "meat dishes", no worries about mixing meat and milk. Kill two birds with one stone (without killing anything at all, ha!)

Being vegetarian does indeed make things much simpler. Keeping kosher also lends itself to a general healthier diet if only because the majority of the pre-processed "convenience" foods and junk foods aren't kosher. However, there is always the Entenmann's...
posted by Dreama at 12:02 AM on March 20, 2002


Don't be silly, I'm sure they clamp the rabbits down or something, rather than asking someone to hold them.

Probably bunny clamps *are* used, but apparently some wish to dream anyway:

And if you need someone to hold the bunny while testing mascara in it's eyes, I'm your guy.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:34 AM on March 20, 2002


And another thread not wholly devoted to the veneration of animals as holy, untouchable beings goes completely to shit, courtesy the Bitterest Buddhist. Love the subtext about how the rest of us advocate the *maximization* of suffering.
posted by darukaru at 12:46 AM on March 20, 2002


And another thread not wholly devoted to the veneration of animals as holy, untouchable beings goes completely to shit, courtesy the Bitterest Buddhist. Love the subtext about how the rest of us advocate the *maximization* of suffering.

Yikes. I see I touched an exposed nerve somewhere with all this.

(I forget that you don't want to even mention words like "limits" or "boundaries" as they might pertain to rabbit orifices around some people. It's just like screaming "soy products ONLY" on a tabletop in MacDonald's.)

Aw, lighten up a bit...don't want you to stroke out on me, now. (See, I even want to minimize *your* suffering).

"Bitterest Buddhist..." I kinda like the sound of that, even if technically using such an epithet is at the same intellectual and moral level as calling someone "Jewboy" or worse. It has a sort of "say a word of Zen and I'll spare the cat" feel to it. And the meter's not bad either.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:25 AM on March 20, 2002


Petroleum based waxes including paraffin, mineral oil, and polyethylene are inherently Kosher and Pareve

Yes, but steric acid, used in most all candles to give them strength, is primarily derived as an animal byproduct (because, well, it's cheap). Steric acid is derived when glycerine is removed from animal fats, leaving behind the two acids (oleic and steric). It can be manufactured from plants, but is not as cheap. Therefore....

A vegan, already struggling to find shoes (per above), now has to go without candlelight in the event of a power failure (unless they go with strict paraffin). I'm guessing that even beeswax candles would be a problem?

Oh.....and....

fold_and_mutilate: Actually, I think it is a good question -- what are your boundaries for animal product consumption? Do you accept that, once an animal was slaughtered for food (painfully, in your opinion), the byproducts might as well be used? Would you wear leather? Would you eat gelatin? Or, do you try to avoid things as carefully as possible, but taking some measure of reason? I know that vegetarian soaps exist. I know that petrochemicals are considered to be a non-suffering animal product. But, as a matter of curiosity, how do you draw the lines? No snideness here -- I'm really trying to understand.

You see, many of the rules of Kosher involve not causing pain, either. Slaughter of food should be done with the sharpest knife possible, so that the animal feels little, if any, pain. These rules were set into place thousands of years ago, before many vegans came along to throw blood on fashion mavens, so God obviously has some interest in it all... *grin*
posted by dwivian at 7:20 AM on March 20, 2002


fold_and_mutilate:

> (I forget that you don't want to even mention words
> like "limits" or "boundaries" as they might pertain to
> rabbit orifices around some people.

Reluctant to mention limits? Why, not at all, not at all! I (and I'll bet others) are just intensely curious about your limits, since you're easily the most enthusiastic, in this thread, about "minimizing suffering." Now then, I've said right up front where I draw the line -- I eat mostly veggies but do indulge in an occasional Bite of the Beast (and on the other hand I'm distinctly uneasy about murdering my Vegetable brothers.) So how about you? What counts as "mimizing" for you? C'mon, don't be ashamed to set a bold example, show us where we fall short. Draw us a line in the sand. And -- most interesting -- tell us why you draw the line there and not somewhere else even more extreme. Is it all right to wash your hands with soap? And if so, why? God is in the details.


> "Bitterest Buddhist..." I kinda like the sound of that,
> even if technically using such an epithet is at the same
> intellectual and moral level as calling someone "Jewboy"
> or worse.

Tut tut. It's on the same intellectual/moral level as calling someone a "hate-filled Christian," for example -- i. e. it's an accusation that person X claims to have certain principles, but his behavior contradicts his claim. The justice of the accusation stands or falls on objective facts.
posted by jfuller at 8:16 AM on March 20, 2002


Reluctant to mention limits? Why, not at all, not at all! I (and I'll bet others) are just intensely curious about your limits, since you're easily the most enthusiastic, in this thread, about "minimizing suffering." Now then, I've said right up front where I draw the line -- I eat mostly veggies but do indulge in an occasional Bite of the Beast (and on the other hand I'm distinctly uneasy about murdering my Vegetable brothers.) So how about you? What counts as "mimizing" for you? C'mon, don't be ashamed to set a bold example, show us where we fall short. Draw us a line in the sand. And -- most interesting -- tell us why you draw the line there and not somewhere else even more extreme. Is it all right to wash your hands with soap? And if so, why? God is in the details.

Nonsense, as usual. You haven't at all said what your limits are, just what your habits are. Would you eat anencephalic children, if properly prepared? If not, why not? Are you into rabbit pain as well? C'mon, don't be ashamed to set a bold example and erase any lines in the sand and show us how people really care way too much about suffering and not enough about pleasing themselves at the expense of others. God is in the details, you know.

Tut tut. It's on the same intellectual/moral level as calling someone a "hate-filled Christian," for example -- i. e. it's an accusation that person X claims to have certain principles, but his behavior contradicts his claim. The justice of the accusation stands or falls on objective facts.

Tut tut. Kind of like when white-supremacists/racists whine that those who oppose them are actually just prejudiced against racists and therefore "hate filled" themselves. Congratulations. Nice company.

(Ok, one thing I can admit to is...I am getting kind of curious about what mincemeat tastes like, since there's now so much of it now spread around here.)

~smile~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:18 AM on March 20, 2002


put a little agar in the toilet :)
posted by kliuless at 10:25 AM on March 20, 2002


> getting kind of curious about what mincemeat tastes
> like, since there's now so much of it now spread around
> here.)
>
> ~smile~

fold, my rabbit read your comments while I was away getting a brew and you killed her! Dead! My Ghod, what did you say to her? Place looks like an abbatoir. I hope you're satisfied. You can go back to saying your mantram now.
posted by jfuller at 10:45 AM on March 20, 2002


fold_and_mutilate: Actually, I think it is a good question -- what are your boundaries for animal product consumption? Do you accept that, once an animal was slaughtered for food (painfully, in your opinion), the byproducts might as well be used? Would you wear leather? Would you eat gelatin? Or, do you try to avoid things as carefully as possible, but taking some measure of reason? I know that vegetarian soaps exist. I know that petrochemicals are considered to be a non-suffering animal product. But, as a matter of curiosity, how do you draw the lines? No snideness here -- I'm really trying to understand.

Pain isn't the only issue. If it were, why would we prohibit the harvest and consumption and many potential uses of the other white meat, i.e. you? The knife's just as sharp at your throat, after all.

What I've suggested here is that questions about "boundaries" and "limits" (or, sadly, lack thereof) are infinitely more important at one end of the ethical spectrum than at the other. And many of us will continue to vigorously question the ethics and unconscionable "limits" of those who remain at the level of children pulling wings off flies for entertainment.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:50 AM on March 20, 2002


fold, my rabbit read your comments while I was away getting a brew and you killed her! Dead! My Ghod, what did you say to her? Place looks like an abbatoir.
I hope you're satisfied. You can go back to saying your mantram now.


Buddy, given what I've read here, I'd like to ask you to somehow reassure me that dumb bunnies are just reading my comments, and not posting some of the responses to them as well.

~wink~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:00 AM on March 20, 2002




Here's something some of you may find interesting. If you keep Kosher, you can't mix meat and milk at the same meal. This derives from a biblical reference to milk. And yet you cannot mix milk and poultry. The reason: it might tempt you to mix other (permitted) meats with milk.



posted by ParisParamus at 11:09 AM on March 20, 2002


Poultry isn't meat?

Some of the talks I had with my orthodox coworker were really fascinating. There's an automatic exemption for life-threatening situations from the rules (straying from food here, but it's still about personal boundaries), so it was fine for him to drive his wife to the hospital on a Saturday when she was in labor for one of their nine (oof) kids, but after parking the car he had to ask someone else to turn the key to turn it off because once they were there it was no longer a life or death situation.
posted by NortonDC at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2002


Paris: you can mix fish and milk. A lot of what has been said about kashrut here isn't strictly true, at least for the Orthodox. Even vegetarians are expected to eat a little fish or meat on Shabbat because G-d allowed us to kill certain animals for food, although the concern for suffering should make us limit the occasions. Much more telling, along with the injunction not to eat meat with milk, because it's a great sin to eat "a kid in the milk of its mother"(I forget the exact words), is the fact that you can eat meat an hour after eating dairy and six hours the other way round. That and the prohibition on blood in meat. Though not in fish.

I don't think it helps to present Judaism as vegetarianism as it's clearly not true.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2002


A brief, sort of on-topic, diversion.

Anyone ever heard of Jainism or Ahimsa, the non-violence lifestyle of the Jain philosophy?

I believe we all would like to be, or think of ourselves as non-violent, when it comes to how each of us impacts our environment, but that is almost an impossibility. Ultimately life is surviving upon the deaths of other beings, however inconsequential they may be perceived to be. One being dies so that another might live. That's nature. There's no getting around that. The question is how far does that go in our case. Is killing for pleasure a boundary that shouldn't be crossed? A philosophical case could be made that says no. A question about boundaries is not really an ethical or moral question, it's a philosophical one. The line can be seen as, "What are you willing to do, or not do to survive?"

I think it was Nietzsche that talked about choices and things coming down to survival, and each person deciding what it is they need to survive. Or was that pleasure and survival? I can't remember.
posted by mikhail at 1:18 PM on March 20, 2002


Jainism (this link in particular) was the inspiration for my earlier questions about face masks and modes of travel.
posted by NortonDC at 2:03 PM on March 20, 2002


Miguel: Nobody equated Judaism with vegetarianism, I went the other way around. I consider my kitchen to be a kosher kitchen because it has never had any meat in it. I am a vegetarian, and therefore keep kosher. Of course, there are some foods that are unkosher because of the way they were prepared (for instance, some kinds of cookies without any unkosher ingredients aren't certified Kosher because the company doesn't get the proper supervision in the preparation of the food). So, if something like that was in my kitchen, according to the strictest kosher guidelines, I would be in violation. But just like vegetarianism, there are different levels of kashrut, and each person chooses to follow or not follow certain guidelines according to their own personal beliefs.
One example of this is Milk. Milk from unkosher animals is unkosher also. Cow's milk is kosher, but some people worry that there could possibly be another kind of milk mixed in, so they will only drink a special kind of cows milk that has been specially supervised and certified as kosher. Most Jews consider regular milk to be kosher, but a few do not.
So, just as people have different definitions about what is vegetarian, the same is true with Kashrut.
Which is why there are always some ambiguous or difficult choices to make, which is what this thread is really about.
posted by bonheur at 4:10 PM on March 20, 2002


Paris: And yet you cannot mix milk and poultry. The reason: it might tempt you to mix other (permitted) meats with milk.

Again, please see my comments above, about how we have no idea whether there was a "reason" for any of the kashrut laws and if so, what it was. That being said, the Torah doesn't say not to mix milk and poultry, and the Talmud is ambiguous on this point; see for example a couple of paragraphs in the middle of this. It's a discussion about homosexuality and Judaism, but there are some quotes dealing with the meat/milk issue in the middle of it.
posted by bingo at 4:26 PM on March 20, 2002


Bonheur: thanks and agreed. My own problem, living in Portugal, is wine - as we're not allowed to drink wine which hasn't been handled by Jews. I do drink it(I fail a lot)but my observation had to do with Torah - that we are, in a very certain way, obliged to follow G-d's commandments. And eating fish and meat is considered one of them, at least according to the Orthodox(i.e. my Rabbi).

Portraying Judaism as proto-vegetarianism is unhelpful, as it's all about the methods of sacrifice; rather than the object. Kashrut is a code which, however way you swing it, is not only not vegetarian but carnivorous, with limits only on the way of slaughter and the parts of the permitted animals you are allowed to eat.

Most Jewish butchers, for instance, are unable(or take too long)to remove the sciatic nerve from the hind quarters of cows - but if they did they would be allowed.

I speak as a non-observant Orthodox Jew. I still believe it is against the Torah to be completely vegetarian, as it means refusing one of G-d's gifts.

Shalom!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:41 PM on March 20, 2002


The discussion of milk, supra, made me think of the most bizarre aspect of kashrut: insects are not kosher (gee, what a loss...), but honey is!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:48 PM on March 20, 2002


Miguel, I just realized, you must be saphardic. You drink white wine on shabbat, so the other west europeans don't think it's baby's blood, no?
posted by bingo at 2:48 AM on March 21, 2002


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