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Reluctant Vegetarianism And Meat-Eating, Combined!
November 5, 2003 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Wannabe Vegetarians Or Hypocritical Carnivores? Do you enjoy eating meat but hate the way it reaches your table? (More inside.)
posted by MiguelCardoso (90 comments total)

 
*straightens chainmail, adjusts helmet... takes a deep breath*
posted by Witty at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2003


Are you no longer mollified by humane, organic, free-range or call-it-what-you-like breeding and slaughtering methods? And yet still eat it once in a while? Do you feel yourself becoming a reluctant vegetarian?

Do you half-heartedly congratulate yourself for eating less and less? But still enjoy shellfish and fish, because you (doggedly, of course!) believe their nervous system is too simple to feel pain? Or they'd eat each other anyway?

Yes, it's all questions in this case. What to do about us wishy-washy, undecided and hypocritical "inbetweenies" who have the right track in sight and are walking towards it, but still aren't on it? In Lenin's old phrase - which wasn't a question, mind - what is to be done? (First link from Bifurcated Rivets; requires Flash or Shockwave.)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:12 AM on November 5, 2003


This should be fun.
posted by xmutex at 9:13 AM on November 5, 2003


Hello Leo - I am Moofeus.

That was great. Very well done. Anything that helps bring awareness about the issue of animal welfare in a humorous, non-threatening way is welcome and necessary, IMO. Need to check out the resources.
posted by widdershins at 9:25 AM on November 5, 2003


Heh, I do like a bit of humour in my propaganda.

However, this family farmer meme seems a very US-centric concept. For myself, in the UK I'm quite happy for the right-wing rural communities to be decimated when they finally sort out the CAP (or whatever other reason). 1) It will give them a taste of what the Tories did to many other industries and communities with their support and 2) Perhaps some of these yokels will move to the city where they might figure out how to live with people who aren't from their own narrow social strata.

One likely solution to the pollution problem seems likely to be biogas production from pig excrement, the economics are already moving that way, the technology is improving and it gives pig farmers an extra revenue stream.
posted by biffa at 9:26 AM on November 5, 2003


I have been calling myself a half-assed vegetarian for a year now...very cool.

The less I eat, the less eating meat appeals to me. Seeing stuff like this encourages that trend...
posted by jacobsee at 9:37 AM on November 5, 2003


Clever. And their info. on where to get non-factory farmed meat, eggs, etc. is good. It even includes the little farm we get our eggs and chicken from. Here's another animation about factory farming in the US by Mark Fiore. By the way, if you've only had eggs from the grocery store--including free range, hormone free, etc.--you've never had a real egg. The eggs we get from our CSA share have really thick shells, almost orange yolks, and NO EGG SMELL at all. To me it's like the difference between fresh caught fish and fish sticks--one is already rotting, hence the smell.
posted by lobakgo at 9:40 AM on November 5, 2003


Thanks for the link, Miguel (Reluctant Vegetarian column - I had already seen the animation). The point that author makes about us not being in a desert-island kill-or-be-killed situation is the basis of Gary Francione's Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? which I recommend to anyone interested in moral philosophy, even though it's a little repetitive and even though I personally reject the term "animal rights."
posted by soyjoy at 9:53 AM on November 5, 2003


That's awesome, though some of the statements made in it lack statistics ("eventually there will be no independent family farms" really? when?).

The local finder at the end was nice, I shop at the listed local store with natural food but I wasn't aware of a dairy in town that did organic stuff, so I'll have to check them out.
posted by mathowie at 9:57 AM on November 5, 2003


we are kidding ourselves if we think ourselves different from Simon in this way. We suffer from a type of "moral schizophrenia." On one hand, we regard animals as members of the moral community. On the other hand, we believe that our pleasure or amusement is sufficient justification to cause the pain and suffering--the downright torture--of billions of animals every year.

Thanks too, soyjoy.

Matt: I told you after all these years and all the trouble I've caused you I'd finally be of some use to you. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:05 AM on November 5, 2003


Nicely executed site!

Do you enjoy eating meat but hate the way it reaches your table?

Yes.

the right track

Unsupported assumption.
posted by rushmc at 10:10 AM on November 5, 2003


This is right up my alley, though I feel the best description might be Conscientious Carnivore.

My belief is that wether life is short or long doesnt really matter, for humans or animals. The main importance is quality of life not quantity. I try to treat other beings as i'd be treated, So, I don't see anything wrong with killing an animal for food, but do see something wrong with torturing it.

I believe factory meat farming in the US is torture. I avoid pretty much all factory farmed meat if I can. Some ways I do that are to never eat fast food, avoid non free range chicken, avoid pork products. I only tend to eat meat for an average of a meal or two a week in any event, health wise some meat is good, but too much is bad.

Really, If I could I'd be a hunter. That is, to me, the best way an animal can go. Living happily in its natural surroundings then *pow* its meat. Problem is I'm too squeamish and my girlfriend, a vegetarian, is a bit illogical about the lack of moral difference between hunting and buying a steak. I'd like to eat fish more, maybe even catch it myself, but the taste just doesn't appeal to me.

In the end, it is up to each of us to do what we are comfortable with.
posted by jester69 at 10:22 AM on November 5, 2003


Metafilter: Living happily in its natural surroundings then *pow* its meat.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:28 AM on November 5, 2003


damn hippies
posted by tiamat at 10:32 AM on November 5, 2003


I try to treat other beings as i'd be treated, So, I don't see anything wrong with killing an animal for food

Wonders what wine would be good with Jester.......
posted by Dick Paris at 10:37 AM on November 5, 2003


Wonders what wine would be good with Jester.......

You'd have to catch me first, not let me kill you in self defense, and avoid prosecution. If you got all that out of the way, I'd guess a nice Merlot.
posted by jester69 at 10:42 AM on November 5, 2003


I'm tempted to think that we need a new dietary category, to go with the vegan and lactovegetarian and piscatorian. I don't have a catchy name for it yet (humanocarnivore?), but this is the only sort of meat eating I feel comfortable with these days.

- Michael Pollan's NYT Magazine piece An Animal's Place, which I assumed had been discussed here but couldn't find. So, here it is.
posted by soyjoy at 10:44 AM on November 5, 2003


I think that labels ("lactovegetarian" et al.) are for the newly initiated. If it comes up, it usually suffices for me to say that I don't eat meat accompanied by a facial expression that warns against questions.

As for the site, it's a noble cause and very good execution, but it doesn't matter. The corporations will win in the end. The corporations always win in the end.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:58 AM on November 5, 2003


I'm sort of a guilty vegetarian. I would forego the eggs and dairy, but it's a hassle to work in a professional environment and go out with friends without, occasionally, eating that stuff. At home I can at least try to get organic products, but restaurants present a lot of difficult choices.
posted by subgenius at 11:08 AM on November 5, 2003


What does this FPP have to do with vegetarianism? There is plenty of meat available that is humanely raised. I buy most of my meat from the Amish in Lancaster County, PA. They really do have nice little happy family farms and you can buy from them via mail-order or co-op.

Before you go down the vegetarian track, I know more than a few former vegetarians who did it for 20 years plus who blame their chronic health conditions at an older age on the lack of proper nutrients in their younger more idealic age. Not that it can't be done, but it is not easy or cheap to do it right. There is no native vegetarian culture in the world or history it is a modern invention and your body is the result of thousands of years of fine tuning eating non-vegetarian.

Philosophically I have no problem using animals so long as it is done with respect. I don't believe animals or plants are equal with humans. Sorry.
posted by stbalbach at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2003


> Wonders what wine would be good with Jester.......

Depends what he's been fattened on. I once tried some wild-collected seagull eggs. These were perfectly fresh, indeed only minutes out of the nest, but when cooked they smelled and tasted like every sort of rotten thing that ever floated in a bay. Considering my own pasturage history, then, I expect I'd go best with one of these. Or perhaps all of them, before, during, and after.
posted by jfuller at 11:27 AM on November 5, 2003


After visiting allcreatures.org this summer, I finally became vegan. I found the Cattle and Chicken galleries to be the most disturbing.
posted by iconomy at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2003


The problem with the Francione link that soyjoy posted is that it isn't a critique of human carnivority, it's a critique of heterotrophism. I still can't fathom why a moo-cow has a right-oid not to be tortured and eaten by me, but not a right-oid against torture and consumption by, say, badgers. If eating meat is wrong for us, it must simply be wrong, and our duty is to protect animals (at the very least) against predation, and to modify predators so that they are no longer dependent upon immoral food sources. If predatory animals are unable to make moral choices, like small children, then we as their guardians must make them for them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2003 [1 favorite]


While the ideal of the "small family farm" may be appealing, it is a point to remember that such farms are a possible cause behind the semi-regular outbreaks of farm animal diseases (foot-and-mouth, mad cow) in the british isles.

Partially since smaller farms have laxer health standards to live up to, and partially because animals were transferred between farms in an attempt to gain more government subsidies, thus spreading the contamination.

I'm all for treating other living things with dignity and respect but, on the other hand, I have to eat too.
posted by spazzm at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2003


I'm surprised no one has made some sort of meatfilter.com joke yet.
posted by Hackworth at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2003


I've been dipping my toe in the local, organic food movement for the past year. Seasonal is a whole different thing altogether.

But this winter I'm buying fifty pounds of organic, pasture-grazed beef from Harmony Valley Farm. I even got several chances to help feed the cows over the summer.

If you're willing to devote the effort and money to it, you can discover food that tastes better because it's been raised better. I can get organic, pasture-raised beef, pork, and chicken in my area, which is to say nothing of the abundance of vegetables. Since I started canning this summer, I've got the tasty harvest packed in my basement, waiting for me to dig in!
posted by rocketman at 12:27 PM on November 5, 2003


If you got all that out of the way, I'd guess a nice Merlot.

I have to disagree...I'd say pinot grigio.
posted by rushmc at 12:29 PM on November 5, 2003


> If predatory animals are unable to make moral choices, like
> small children, then we as their guardians must make them
> for them.

Hee hee. Rou, it's really vulgar and insensitive of you to derive logical conclusions so relentlessly.

It won't be an issue much longer, though. Those who're willing to eat GM food will be able to grow their steaks and chops directly, in tissue culture tanks. Those who won't eat GM food can eat open-pollinated heirloom beans, and eating meat from whole-organism farms will become a tiny underground niche market for a handful of especially twisted pervs.
posted by jfuller at 12:37 PM on November 5, 2003


jfuller: you been reading too much Culture recently?

As a lapsed vegetarian after 4 years, these links make me a tad uncomfortable. I stick to freerange or organic meat when possible, but the kebab shop is always too tempting when travelling home while plastered.
posted by arha at 12:45 PM on November 5, 2003


I still can't fathom why a moo-cow has a right-oid not to be tortured and eaten by me, but not a right-oid against torture and consumption by, say, badgers.

When did badgers start factory farming?

But to the philosophy of the question - I think it's dangerous, ROU, to draw these universal lines of comparison. I once had a female hamster who gave birth to a little, and proceeded to eat all their heads off one night. Did the hamster act wrongly? Or should we all adopt this practice?

I make moral choices for myself only, and 13 years ago I found it was outside of my morality to eat living creatures.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:51 PM on November 5, 2003


Litter, not little dammit.

Though it was a little litter . . ,
posted by tr33hggr at 12:52 PM on November 5, 2003


> you been reading too much Culture recently?

Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

posted by jfuller at 12:53 PM on November 5, 2003


For any 'normal' individual for whom cooking is enjoyable enough, but not necessarily their life's passion. I have to say that a vegetarian diet is not too great taste wise. (From the "reluctant vegetarian" link)

I'm not a vegetarian and yet I disagree completely with the above. I might cook a bit more than the average, but cooking is not my life's passion nor do I spend lots of time on it. On the other hand, I do think that eating well constitutes one of life's greatest pleasures and, to a certain extent, an obligation - just like reading books, listening to music, visiting museums or watching movies.

I respect and often share many of the concerns expressed by "political" vegetarians. But when the minute they hint any kind of sacrifice on their parts, they've lost me. In my opinion, eating dull because you eat vegetarian shows an alarming lack of interest in an activity most people perform several times a day, when they can afford it. Very impractical, but hardly sacrificial.

Which brings me to the health argument. Please give it a rest already. Even if we look at life quantitatively (as in stacking piles of years vs. actually looking at how satisfying those years have been), I am always surprised to find at the top of the age expectancy pile nations that have "terrible" eating habits (not to mention enormous rates of smokers, which would go into another discussion). "Terrible" as in eating plenty of animal fat, for instance. Surely there must be something much more relevant (and probably more complex too) involved. My guess is that the overall composition of the diet, from the range and quality of raw materials to draw from all the way to the past and present memory bank of flavors and scents has a lot to do with how your body reacts physiologically to food intake. I do know that some of those terrible countries at the top of the longevity pile feature excellent and very varied national cuisines. Incidentally, they are all great sources for very tasty vegetarian dishes - all you have to do is look for them (hints: Japan, Spain, Italy).

As for the actual political stance, I have two thoughts. One is that factory farms have grown with the help of politicians which call them family fams and subsidize them. This is hardly breaking news.

The other is a warning not to fall for anthropomorphic images. We do not know if wild animals are "happy". In fact there are good reasons to think that at least some of them could very well spend their lives pretty much "terrified", being at the constant mercy of predators and conditions that ensure that only a tiny number from their species match their theoretical life expectancy. People that work closely with wild animals will tell you that nature ain't kind. At all. Come to think of it, that applies to farm animals as well.

At the end of the day, to me the most alarming part of the process is adding antibiotics and other random alien elements to the feed. With all the epidemic-scale health problems that we are regularly bombarded with, that is just plain stupid. This is a weak point in the structure. The antibiotics are needed to keep the figures in the business side just right. If the public health argument gains enough thrust, these fellows might have to change the way they do their enterprising.
posted by magullo at 1:17 PM on November 5, 2003


Are we not Men?

We are DEVO.
posted by tr33hggr at 1:18 PM on November 5, 2003


Excellent thread, Miguel! It's something I've been thinking about lately. I'm hoping science saves us and creates some synthetic, but tasty, meats, so I can have my steak and eat it too.
posted by The God Complex at 1:31 PM on November 5, 2003


rocketman, way to go, the food revolution continues. I've been looking into canning as well but worried of nutrient loss so have been trying to stick with fresh even though it takes more work. Eventually will find a balance, it sure is nice having non-processed fast food.

magullo, "Terrible" as in eating plenty of animal fat -- yeah it is interesting how we are told animal fat will kill us, yet the people who eat it a lot live a long time. Perhaps the establishment is wrong that the problem is animal fat. There is a growing pro-fat movement including Atkins and others. The right kinds of animal fats are better for us then many of the vegetable oils forced on us.
posted by stbalbach at 1:33 PM on November 5, 2003


stbalbach:

1) The fact that there are some ex-vegetarians who blame their ill health on vegetarianism is bogus - I have friends in their mid to late fifties who have been vegetarian since the 60's who can still run sub 3 hour marathons.

2) I think that you'll find that there are significant parts of the Indian sub-continent that have have been vegetarian for thousands of years. My other half's family in the Punjab have farmed for generations, they have never raised animals for meat and there is no access to meat.
posted by daveg at 1:42 PM on November 5, 2003


daveg, your examples do not preclude other other prejudicial vegetarian diets (and I hate to say it, but that includes those of many clueless Western adolescents). Likewise, not all meat eaters will die a horrible death.

Indian cooking is just another fantastic place to find veggetarian recipies. Spicy lentils with lemon aroma - love 'em.
posted by magullo at 2:04 PM on November 5, 2003


Lisa: I can't eat this! I can't eat a poor little lamb!
Homer: Lisa, get a hold of yourself. This is lamb, not "a" lamb.
posted by obloquy at 2:05 PM on November 5, 2003


Do you enjoy eating meat but hate the way it reaches your table?

Only when it's overcooked.
posted by languagehat at 2:06 PM on November 5, 2003


I just learned that the spell-checker doesn't catch repeats ...

/Shifts blame blame

posted by magullo at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2003


magullo: sorry, that was kind of my point, I was using a counter example simply as evidence that the original argument was ill thought out - a bad diet is a bad diet whether or not it has meat in it.

Does the spell check also not spot double 'g's? ;< )
posted by daveg at 2:15 PM on November 5, 2003


I really dislike the idea of factory farming, and that's why I try to buy free range meat as often as I can. I don't like the fact that animals might have to suffer so I can have meat, but I don't think I would ever stop eating meat, I'm not focused enough on nutrition as it is, and would likely not pay attention on how to supplement a meat free diet.
posted by wintereclipse at 2:16 PM on November 5, 2003


I don't really know where to start, so I'll just throw in some responses to various statements.

The main importance is quality of life not quantity. I try to treat other beings as i'd be treated, So, I don't see anything wrong with killing an animal for food, but do see something wrong with torturing it.

By this logic, if you'd lived a happy life until now, it would be perfectly ok for me to shoot you from behind (so you didn't know it was coming), then roast you up. The problem here is that we certainly wouldn't want that logic applied universally, would we? I know I wouldn't, so please, no sneaking up on me, shooting me and eating me, ok?

I still can't fathom why a moo-cow has a right-oid not to be tortured and eaten by me, but not a right-oid against torture and consumption by, say, badgers. If eating meat is wrong for us, it must simply be wrong, and our duty is to protect animals (at the very least) against predation, and to modify predators so that they are no longer dependent upon immoral food sources. If predatory animals are unable to make moral choices, like small children, then we as their guardians must make them for them.

Personally, I think the salient difference between us and animals is that we have this notion of ethics, morality, right action - whatever you want to call it. Rights imply corresponding duties. If one animal has no conception of morals or ethics, it can't have a duty not to eat other animals. If we were more insensate, we could ourselves avoid that duty!

Philosophically I have no problem using animals so long as it is done with respect. I don't believe animals or plants are equal with humans. Sorry.

I don't believe animals or plants are equal with humans either. That doesn't mean that I think it's ok to eat animals. I don't see how it's at all possible to eat a sentient creature "with respect" - it's going to end up as a pile of your shit!

That said, I don't think it's especially effective to proselytize vegetarianism. Changing one's diet is one of the hardest things to do, I think, and pushy vegetarians are just as annoying as ex-smokers. I've been a vegetarian for a long time, but I've never been able to make a clean break to becoming vegan, and I still wear leather shoes. I realize my own inconsistency, but I'm willing to acknowledge that these are bad actions on my part, rather than trying to rationalize them by talking about the primacy of man or the food chain. I'm also willing to live with the fact that people disagree with me, and that I really can't change that very easily.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:22 PM on November 5, 2003


Are we not Men? We are DEVO. -- tr33hggr

Darn it, you beat me to it. ;)


And me, I've lived on a cattle ranch...I've branded, castrated and driven beef to the slaughterhouse. I'll take mine rare, with a good cabernet, thanks. ;) I'm unapologetically omnivorous.
posted by dejah420 at 2:26 PM on November 5, 2003


If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?
posted by Wet Spot at 2:29 PM on November 5, 2003


I really dislike the idea of factory farming, and that's why I try to buy free range meat as often as I can.
Notice, "....... superstores", all the meat packages weigh the same, all the same price why. Way too freaky so I put the meat back on the shelf. Odd today yet one day will seem normal: at the local store; good bye Mr Butcher, hello Mr Meat Clerk, cookie cutter.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:56 PM on November 5, 2003


daveg, running marathons doesn't mean much about your real state of health. In any case you have misunderstood what I said. I said Vegetarian diets are difficult to pull off correctly. It takes a lot time and effort and knowledge. You can get away with a lot by supplimention but there is evidence that is not the same as whole food.

As for India they are not entirely vegetarian they eat animal products. Has the population of India been takeing B12 suppliments for thousands of years? Even cows eat animal protein in the form of bugs and bug eggs in the grass and it is not an insignificant amount, that is how cows get B12. A human who ate only vegetarian would be the only mammal on earth to do so, and without supplimentation would either be a dead human or one unable to have healthy offspring. I mean if the evidence for the need of B12 found only in animal food is not enough that humans are meant to eat animals I don't know what is.
posted by stbalbach at 3:29 PM on November 5, 2003


Moo?
posted by homunculus at 3:44 PM on November 5, 2003


Moo!
posted by homunculus at 3:47 PM on November 5, 2003


I said Vegetarian diets are difficult to pull off correctly. It takes a lot time and effort and knowledge.

Nonsense. You're just flat out wrong. Eating a wide variety of foods (exclusive of meat) pretty much guarantees a better diet than you'll get any other way - lower in fats, lower in calories, lower in nasty exogenous hormones, lower in antibiotics, higher in vitamins, etc etc etc. Speaking from my own personal experience and those of other vegetarians I've known, it takes NO additional time, effort, or knowledge to eat healthy.

Eat a vegetarian diet and you'll reduce your risk for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and many types of cancer. These diseases are by and large the killers in our society.

Cows and other sources of human-consumed "meat" do not get their B12 from eating "bugs and bug eggs in the grass." Vitamin B12 is synthesized by bacteria in the guts of animals, including humans (although that is not a source of bioavailable B12 for humans). You can find B12 in yeast and yeast products (beer, bread), other fermented cereal products, and of course in dairy products, fortified cereals, etc.

Claiming herbivores are really omnivores because they occasionally get a stray ant in their salad, and so it's therefore ok for us to slaughter whomever we please, is, um...really, really, reaching. And many become vegetarians not necessarily for the healthier diet provided for the individual and the planet as a whole, although that's a wonderful side effect. Many merely seek to reduce the immense, unconscionable suffering that meat consumption produces.

Frankly, if a vegetarian diet were inconvenient in some way (which it is not), most would continue to refrain from eating meat just out of compassion for other beings that feel pain and fear death.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:21 PM on November 5, 2003 [1 favorite]


A human who ate only vegetarian would be the only mammal on earth to do so, and without supplimentation would either be a dead human or one unable to have healthy offspring.

What am I - chopped liver?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:50 PM on November 5, 2003


some more info about the health benefits of going vegetarian
posted by deadchia at 5:03 PM on November 5, 2003


I take a half-worked-out ecological angle. Eat meat, but only a once or twice a week. I've got no problem with intensive farming, and no problem with the whole killing animals and tearing the raw flesh from their still quivering limbs thing. However, I think that the western world eats way too much meat, and I think it's harming the ecology. Vegetarianism is proven to be more environmentally friendly.

For me, this goes double for fish. I'm more than a little worried about fish stocks, and there's nothing more annoying to me than the person who's vegetarian YET eats fish. I hate those bastards.

There's also the whole issue of bio-diversity, but that just makes make brain hurt.
posted by seanyboy at 5:42 PM on November 5, 2003


Nonsense. You're just flat out wrong.

No, actually he isn't. I've known doctors who damaged their bodies/health through poorly thought-out/followed through attempts at vegetarianism. You'd better do a bit more research before encouraging people to undertake what could prove to be a damaging course of action.
posted by rushmc at 6:00 PM on November 5, 2003


Fold, you seem to equate a meat eaters diet with someone who eats at McDonalds. This FPP is not about attacking Vegans or Meat eaters so I'll try to stick to dispelling common misconceptions.

lower in fats - as I said earlier low-fat is not always a good thing. Fat (from good sources such as those mentioned in the FPP) is not a bad thing. Fat is good for you, it provides energy and vitamins and minerals and cholesterol that your body needs. People on low-no fat diets often do so because they have a medical condition to worry about, or for political reasons that have nothing to do with health. Fat is as natural to eat as vegtables. Eating fat does not make you gain weight unless you overeat or have a condition.

lower in calories - I have control over how much I eat and my weight. In any case Atkins if you believe him would tell you carbs (vegetables) will make you gain more weight than animal fat. overeating vegetables turns to fat in your body either way.

lower in nasty exogenous hormones - See the FPP for sources of hormone free food.

lower in antibiotics - see FPP. You don't need to eat meat with anti-biotics or hormones that is your choice.

higher in vitamins - which vitamins and minerals? You mean the fat soluble ones? I guess with all that low fat diet and no animal fats your absorbing tons of fat soluble vitamins. In fact animal fats are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed. What you eat and what gets absorbed are two diffrent things. Fat soluable vitamins such as D and E from animal sources are the most easily absorbed. I also wonder how much D your getting as a vegetarian in particular during the winter, somthing vegetarians should be concerned about.

B12 - B12 is added to brewers yeast and bakers yeast. Drinking beer or eating fortified bread is no different than supplementation, which is a synthetic chemical additive and in my mind natures way of saying this aint natural kind of a warning flag.

dash_slot - I don't know about chopped liver, other than it being loaded with B vitamins. But I bet your mom ate animal products. Show me multiple generations of healthy people who ate no animals products.
posted by stbalbach at 6:20 PM on November 5, 2003


deadchi - I read the link in the first paragraph it says

breast cancer rates are dramatically lower in nations, such as China, that follow plant-based diets.

I didn't need to read further. Have you ever been to China? Have Chinese friends? Been to a Chinese restaurant? They are some of the biggest meat eaters around, they eat everything. Much of the rest of the article is strawman statements.
posted by stbalbach at 6:38 PM on November 5, 2003


Here's an honest and blunt account of the head-in-the-sand attitude by Mr.Cutlets, a food writer who specializes in meat. (Even though he can't spell Morrissey...)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:46 PM on November 5, 2003


stbalbach: foldy specifically said lower but you respond as if he'd said low.

In the high-fat category, olive oil, cashews and other oils and nuts can beat anything meat or fish can offer.

You just haven't lived, btw, if you haven't tried potato chips (double) fried in fresh, young olive oil, sprinkled with fleur du sel and, if you're feeling wicked, tossed with a couple of crushed garlic cloves and flecks of freshly-cut parsley. :)

*heads off to kitchen*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:55 PM on November 5, 2003


"Show me multiple generations of healthy people who ate no animals products."

That's an interesting point. My parents were vegetarians during the birth and early childhood of my older sibling - and she turned out a great deal shorter than the rest of us kids, even though the first-born child is normally the largest.

This is only anecdotal evidence, of course. Anyone have some stats?
posted by spazzm at 7:15 PM on November 5, 2003


stalblbach, i'm half chinese... most chinese don't eat a lot of meat if any, they can't afford it... chinese eat substantially less meat than in western countries. also, check this china study out.

rush, i've known doctors who've damaged their bodies through poorly thought out attempts at omnivorism (i'm always amazed at how many fat, unhealthy looking doctors there are!)... doctors generally don't get a whole lot of nutrition education so aren't necessarily the best authority on what you should be eating...the problem you're talking about sounds like people who don't plan their diets well, which is hardly unique to vegetarians.
posted by deadchia at 7:35 PM on November 5, 2003


stbalbach, since you're basing the whole "this aint natural" "warning flag" on B12, it's worth pointing out two facts:

1) Prior to the modern age, most humans ate plants without much washing, keeping adequate amounts of B12-carrying soil on what they were eating. That's not an option now because of the amount of contaminants (both organic and non-organic) in most of our soils worldwide.

2) Recent studies have shown that certain plants themselves can be sources of B12 if the soil is rich enough in it, drawing it up from the soil into the leaves and such. However, modern farming has depleted much of our formerly rich soils, resulting in extremely weak, nearly sterile soil, so this is now not an option on any large scale.

In sum: The lack of natural B12 in modern vegetarian diets is in no way proof that the diet is "unnatural."

Conversely, even if we are originally designed to fully capitalize on the nutritious wonders of animal fats, they are not, in the 21st century, a good option, if only due to the chemical saturation of our environment. Being higher on the food chain than plant fats, animal fats are more concentrated sources not only of vitamins but also of deadly toxins like DDT, PCBs and dioxin. This may be why every month brings another study specifically tying red meat and saturated fat to breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, etc, etc.

And back to the health/longevity issue, I can accept that many pioneer vegans were not as attuned as we now are to the balance of nutrients necessary and so may not have capitalized on potential health benefits. The importance of Omega-3 fats (of which flax, hemp and walnuts are a great, PCB-free source) only recently came to light. So we may need to wait until someone with access to all these options has lived a full life to get the real picture of what's possible.
posted by soyjoy at 8:24 PM on November 5, 2003


Let me add, though, that I don't base my choice on perceived health benefits or "naturalness," as our designers' "original intent" doesn't seem to me to matter so much as what's available, in what form, here and now.

And now for an oldie-but-goodie (way upthread)...

I still can't fathom why a moo-cow has a right-oid not to be tortured and eaten by me, but not a right-oid against torture and consumption by, say, badgers. If eating meat is wrong for us, it must simply be wrong...

This is exactly why I object to "rights" terminology. If an animal "has" a right, or even a right-oid, that's something centered in that animal, which is being abused no matter who is acting upon that animal. Of course we don't find it to be a violation of "rights" for a lion to eat a gazelle or an owl to eat a mouse. So we get bogged down in silliness by looking at it from the animal's perspective. The only thing we need to see from the animal's perspective is that it can suffer, and that it has an interest in holding onto its own life.

Instead I suggest "humanity" - a concept that centers the decision where it really is, in us, in what we know about constructing morality and observing sentience. The question isn't whether an animal has a right not to be killed, but whether we have a right to kill it if we don't need to. The only reason the health question is key is to back up the fact that we really don't need to.

And again, Francione isn't asking you to reconfigure your moral community to include animals - you already do, if you agree about Simon and the blowtorch. All he asks, and this is admittedly the hardest part, is a little consistency in applying it.
posted by soyjoy at 8:45 PM on November 5, 2003


But it strikes me as stupid to think that it would be bad for me to have someone else hit a cow on the head with a hammer, but it's fine for it to be torn apart and consumed while dying by a pack of wolves.

And surely if we can construct morality and observe sentience, it behooves us to do so as well for creatures that can't. If the lion won't lie down with the lamb, then we should fix the lion so it can.

The question isn't whether an animal has a right not to be killed, but whether we have a right to kill it if we don't need to.

*shrug* We have the same right to predate as any other omnivore. What you will not take steps to actually prevent bears from eating, you ought not prevent me from eating. Note that this could be used, probably rightfully, to condemn hog factories, etc.

Francione isn't asking you to reconfigure your moral community to include animals - you already do, if you agree about Simon and the blowtorch. All he asks, and this is admittedly the hardest part, is a little consistency in applying it.

It raises a false dilemma. I can easily condemn taking a blowtorch to puppy by saying that blowtorching puppies is a pleasure that we condemn, unlike the pleasure of eating meat, in much the same way that me putting Mr. Happy in a lady who's happy to see him is good, but putting him in a lady who's unreceptive is bad even if I like it very much indeed.

I could also note that even if we assume for purposes of argument that blowtorching a puppy has all the inherent moral significance of blowtorching a rock, we might still condemn or punish blowtorching a puppy because taking active pleasure in the dispensing of pain* is an immoral activity, and because it has been demonstrated to lead to blowtorching humans. Even if I think that all puppies are merely someone's property or unowned resources, I might ban blowtorching puppies because it has undesirable consequences for humans, or even simply because I find it unsightly and stinky.

*We could even extend this to blowtorching rocks. If there were substantial numbers of people who got off on torturing rocks, sincerely believing that the rocks were suffering somehow, we might condemn or ban it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:23 PM on November 5, 2003


If the lion won't lie down with the lamb, then we should fix the lion so it can.

I guess I'm not quite getting where this reductio ad absurdum argument has landed, because that part's certainly absurd, yes, but I can't tell what it's making fun of. You're not literally saying we should intervene in all animal relations - so what are you saying? That if we can't, we should therefore do nothing? Talk about your false dilemmas.

Maybe I'm still missing something, though.

I can easily condemn taking a blowtorch to puppy by saying that blowtorching puppies is a pleasure that we condemn, unlike the pleasure of eating meat,

But that would simply be begging the question, since the whole issue is what is or isn't condemned and why.

in much the same way that me putting Mr. Happy in a lady who's happy to see him is good, but putting him in a lady who's unreceptive is bad even if I like it very much indeed.

And here's where I really get lost. The lady who's unreceptive is the puppy, and the happy-to-see-him one is the meat? How so? What's the connection? Is there some other way you could phrase it without invoking Mr. Happy?

No, seriously, I get the sense you're arguing at some higher level of satire that I ought to be able to follow, but I can't.

Even if I think that all puppies are merely someone's property or unowned resources, I might ban blowtorching puppies because it has undesirable consequences for humans, or even simply because I find it unsightly and stinky.

True, but Francione explicitly addresses that and calls that bluff: All of these possible reasons for condemning it don't turn out to be why most of us would condemn it. For most of us it would be the immorality of torturing a sentient being for entertainment. Maybe you're different though, I can't say.

As for blowtorching rocks, now that's one I can get behind. Blowtorching rocks!
posted by soyjoy at 10:14 PM on November 5, 2003


But it strikes me as stupid to think that it would be bad for me to have someone else hit a cow on the head with a hammer, but it's fine for it to be torn apart and consumed while dying by a pack of wolves.

In the same sense, of course, it strikes me as stupid that it would be bad for me to torture and kill somebody who disagrees with me, but it's fine for me to leave them to eat themselves to death on fast food, die of cancer, get hit by a car, fall down a flight of stairs, etc.

Which is to say that your point is, well, beside the point. Perhaps it would be better if these cattle or pigs or chickens were allowed to live a reasonably long life grazing in a field, doing what they'd naturally do in the wild, before humanely killing them. Note that this isn't the same thing as keeping them in cages, pumping them with steroids, and dragging them from trailers if they're too weak to stand.
posted by The God Complex at 11:40 PM on November 5, 2003


I've seen reasonable arguments for killing animals, and reasonable ones for not killing them. I think people should be informed before they make a decision. I also think factory farming should be open for full inspection, so everyone can see the type of disgusting activities that take place in some of these places.

Obviously, not everyone can afford to buy organic and free range food. Choose your battles, do the best you can. There's no sense giving up entirely because you can't win outright.
posted by The God Complex at 11:42 PM on November 5, 2003


I guess I'm not quite getting where this reductio ad absurdum argument has landed, because that part's certainly absurd, yes, but I can't tell what it's making fun of.

I'm not exactly making fun of anything. I think it's silly to say predation by humans is immoral, but predation by any other organism is morally neutral. Predation is predation, the prey end up just as dead irrespective of the animal that kills them. A world where all organisms were vegetarian or autotrophic through human intervention really could make a serious claim to be morally superior to the one we live on.

For most of us it would be the immorality of torturing a sentient being for entertainment. Maybe you're different though, I can't say.

I'd be willing to concede that my objections to blowtorching puppies are at base emotional, and that emotions are a suboptimal basis for law, and that arguably a more rational law would treat puppies and rocks about the same; as mere property or unowned resources. I'd certainly agree that eating dogs should be as legal as eating any other non-endangered animal.

I object to blowtorching puppies because I like puppies and have all manner of schmoopy feelings for them, and also because going out of your way to harm something is, I think, different from being basically indifferent to its suffering in the course of some other goal. I only like cows insofar as they're tasty and innocuous, and find chickens to be pretty nasty little animals, so I don't mind at all seeing them on my plate.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 AM on November 6, 2003


I don't base my choice on perceived health benefits or "naturalness," as our designers' "original intent" doesn't seem to me to matter so much as what's available, in what form, here and now.

This is where we differ. I believe our bodies are the result of evolution and that we should be eating what we have been eating for the past few thousand years or so. It is a branch of science known as nutrigenomics which looks at this on an individual basis.

Let me give an example. People of European ancestry often have trouble eating plants from the nightshade family such as potatoes, peppers which are New World foods only recently introduced -- it is clinically proven to cause inflammation and aggravate arthritis. People who have been eating nightshade for thousands of years have evolved so it is not a problem for them.

Another example is milk. Many Northern Europeans have evolved to be able to properly digest cow milk proteins while others can not and are thus lactose intolerant.

Now, I would feel most comfortable eating the foods my body is best able to digest and handle without experimenting with my own personal natural selection. Philosophically that may be selfish but I want to make sure my DNA is as healthy as possible to pass on to the next generation without worrying about did I make the right or wrong choices. As for meats aggregating pollutants that is true which is why I buy meat from clean sources and keep my immune system in top notch shape.

deadchia - the China Study is very controversial there is a lot of debate on the methodology used, as with any scientific study with a pre-set goal in mind you can come up with the results you want, in particular when you look at where the money for the study is coming from and who the players are. I can point to other articles (and did above) that show Chinese consumption of animals products exceeds plant-based, it really is a shell game when you start quoting studies.

Overall I have no problems with vegetarians as there are some excellent environmental and political reasons to do so. I do have a problem though when they try to twist the health issue around to fit the political agenda.
posted by stbalbach at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2003


the problem you're talking about sounds like people who don't plan their diets well, which is hardly unique to vegetarians.

That's certainly true, but the point is that it is easier to avoid negative consequences with a haphazard or ill-informed approach to diet if one is omnivorous than if one limits oneself to a vegetarian diet.

I object to blowtorching puppies because I like puppies and have all manner of schmoopy feelings for them

That is not a sufficient reason—or rather, it may well be a sufficient reason for YOU to avoid such behaviors under neutral conditions, but it is not sufficient to put it forth as an enforceable moral absolute. If billions of puppies suddenly appeared and began to ravage the environment and kill humans, you'd be blowtorching them left and right to protect your life and the lives of your family/community members.
posted by rushmc at 7:42 AM on November 6, 2003


In the high-fat category, olive oil, cashews and other oils and nuts can beat anything meat or fish can offer.

Nut fat, Olive Oil fat, fish fat and meat fat are all entirely diffrent. Learn the diffrences, why they are diffrent, what the upsides and downsides are, what they contain nutritionally and what good sources are and recommended amounts. You really need to know a lot about nutrition to be a healthy vegetarian since your removing such a large amount of nutrient sources from your diet menu. On preview, what rushmc said.
posted by stbalbach at 7:49 AM on November 6, 2003


I think it's silly to say predation by humans is immoral, but predation by any other organism is morally neutral. Predation is predation, the prey end up just as dead irrespective of the animal that kills them.

Well, OK, you may disagree with it, but calling it "silly" seems a little strong. If you look at it from the point of view of the "predator," there's a quantum difference between one that lives in a world that includes a moral framework and one that doesn't. When you put the focus back on the prey, you're regressing to that point of view I already disavowed in rejecting "animal rights."

arguably a more rational law would treat puppies and rocks about the same; as mere property or unowned resources.

Yet we know very well that they're not the same. Unless you're going to argue for some cosmic possibility of sentient rocks, there is a significant difference between them, one that makes puppies and other mammals much closer to us in terms of moral concern than are rocks. Francione argues, and I agree, that most of us, even if we do have an emotional reaction to the puppy-blowtorching, also have a moral objection that underlies it. Your mileage may vary, of course.

And stbalbach, you know perfectly well that the China Project is of a scope and thoroughness outweighing nearly every other study done on Chinese diet (Science Magazine called it "The most comprehensive survey of food, environment, social practices and diseases ever made in China and one of the largest epidemiological studies ever done anywhere." Got a credible source that disputes that?)There's no "he said, she said" debate about whether the Chinese population's diet is mainly plant- or meat-based. Economics alone makes the case: most of that population still can't afford to eat anywhere near the amount of meat we eat.

I can point to other articles (and did above) that show Chinese consumption of animals products exceeds plant-based

Except you didn't. You linked to two files: A picture of dead dogs (my, that's an intriguing statistic!) and an article about how the Chinese are eating more meat (and more fruit) than they used to. Even so, though, the tables in this very article show that even high-income city-dwellers eat eight times as much fruits, vegetables and grains as they do meat. There may very well be some data out there somewhere that challenge the China Project's findings; but this sure ain't it.

Also, if you want to argue in favor of eating in ways that reflect last-minute developments in evolution (ability to comfortably digest milk, which still does not apply to 3/4 of the world's adults), why, as we gain knowledge, should we not help direct this evolution by consciously choosing our diets according to current options?
posted by soyjoy at 7:53 AM on November 6, 2003


If you look at it from the point of view of the "predator," there's a quantum difference between one that lives in a world that includes a moral framework and one that doesn't.

But part of living in a moral framework is enforcing that moral framework on or for those who are not capable of doing so themselves.

Is it moral for a severely retarded person to eat meat? For a young child? Both lack the capacity to engage in nuanced moral judgment of the sort you're making. But I don't think you'd think it was okay for people to let their young kids run around tearing puppies apart for food.

I think you would insist that we restrain these people who are not capable of making the moral judgment that carnivority is wrong, and make that judgment for them, and enforce that judgment on them. And I think this insistence must carry on to others who are not mentally or physically capable of moral choice, such as animals.

How can it be immoral for a 3 year old human to eat meat, but morally neutral for a chimpanzee of approximately the same mental capacity to tear a monkey limb from limb and eat it as it dies?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:43 AM on November 6, 2003


Francione argues, and I agree, that most of us, even if we do have an emotional reaction to the puppy-blowtorching, also have a moral objection that underlies it. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I found the reverse from his argument. Given that I don't object to killing moo-cows and lambs and wee chuckies, it must be the case that my objection to killing puppies is grounded in an emotional attachment to them and not in anything more rational.

(I think something similar applies to the argument for vegetarianism -- given that people view bears killing salmon as acceptable, it is inconsistent to view salmon consumption by other organisms as unacceptable (how can I possibly have fewer rights than a bear does?) -- though objecting to particular practices of animal husbandry would not be inconsistent under this)

Which doesn't mean I favor killing puppies. It just makes me happily inconsistent, or means that I'm happy enough to enforce my own emotional attachments on others around me. *shrug* So I'm a petty tyrant. Sue me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:49 AM on November 6, 2003


But part of living in a moral framework is enforcing that moral framework on or for those who are not capable of doing so themselves.

Not on those who are outside the community. People with retardation are inside our community, which is why we grant them - and even those who are brain dead - "non-edible" status within our moral community even if they are not as smart or self-aware (or whatever objective measure one might use) as some animals. Domestic animals are also within our community as we are responsible for their being where they are and living (or not living) as they do. Bears and salmon are not within our community, so it makes perfect sense to draw an enforcement line that does not include them.

Given that I don't object to killing moo-cows and lambs and wee chuckies, it must be the case that my objection to killing puppies is grounded in an emotional attachment to them and not in anything more rational. [my emphasis]

That doesn't logically follow, however. There are alternate cases possible, such as that your attachment to eating moo-cows, lambs and wee chuckies (huh?) spurs you to override and/or ignore the rational moral framework you apply in the case of puppies. That seems to be the case with some people, part of what Miguel was suggesting with the question "Do you enjoy eating meat but hate the way it reaches your table?" and it was also addressed by the Mr. Cutlets link. So it's not as if that dynamic is impossible. OTOH, I'm not saying it's the case with you. You would be the best judge of that.
posted by soyjoy at 9:23 AM on November 6, 2003


I do agree with stbalbach, though, to the extent that we shouldn't just shrug off the importance of educating yourself in good nutrition when going vegetarian or vegan. There are plenty of well-meaning ones (I was one as a vegetarian) who pay little or no attention to nutrition. That said, there are plenty more "omnivores" who also pay no attention to it, and they may not have to worry as much about vitamin deficiencies (though the big bugaboos - B12, calcium, vitamin D - are all deficient or close to it in most American's diets, and vegans seldom have problems getting vitamins C and E, which many Americans lack) they do have to worry about increased toxin exposure and the effects of higher calorie, protein and fat consumption, as well as foodborne illness, which is almost always generated from animal products. So let's keep it in perspective: It's easy to screw up on either side of the equation - you're just in danger of screwing up in different ways.
posted by soyjoy at 10:30 AM on November 6, 2003


Even so, though, the tables in this very article show that even high-income city-dwellers eat eight times as much fruits, vegetables and grains as they do meat.

If you look all (not just meat) animal products versus all plant products ratios column you will find much diffrent figures. You compared meat only to all plant products using the kilograms column.

I'm not convinced that the Chinese are poor paupars who eat only plants and small amounts of meat. With Chinas growing economy and changeing urbanization and lack of historical statistics it may never be an issue we can solve just by looking at Internet sites. My experience of Chinese cooking and Chinese people and Chinese travelers tells otherwise they like and enjoy animal products just as much as we do, even more weird ones ithan just meat. A better example would be India for a vegetarian-like culture.
posted by stbalbach at 10:58 AM on November 6, 2003


they like and enjoy animal products just as much as we do, even more weird ones ithan just meat

I stand ready to be fascinated by your list of examples.
posted by biffa at 11:09 AM on November 6, 2003


stbalbach:

I would agree with you that (in my experience) China is nowhere near a vegetarian society. The only way I could get close to keeping to a meat free diet was by convincing people that I was indeed a Buddhist - whereas in rural India I have found that animal products (other than dairy, which is a staple) are simply not available.

I'm not sure what you mean by people from different regions having 'evolved' to be able to eat different food stuffs. Other than for orientals' famous inability to handle alcohol, I am unaware of studies showing genetic differences leading to food intolerances. My understanding has been that this has been much more about nurture rather than nature.

By the way, I wouldn't say that the modern diet is any way close to historic diets. If you want to eat what people have 'evolved' to eat then you should vastly reduce the quality of your food, up the roughage, cut out sugar, salt, ...
posted by daveg at 12:34 PM on November 6, 2003


If you look all (not just meat) animal products versus all plant products ratios column you will find much diffrent figures. You compared meat only to all plant products using the kilograms column.

Well, yeah, that's what I did, because I was pointing out that your claim that the Chinese "are some of the biggest meat eaters around" was not borne out by the link you placed right next to it.

If you want to include all animal products now, fine: If you add milk and eggs - and, heck, let's pretend they only ever cook in lard (never soybean oil) and throw all "oils and fats" into the animal-products category - we're still looking at more than four times (302.1 kg to 70.1 kg) as much plant-based food to animal-based - nowhere near Western consumption levels of animal-based foods.

I think you might have gotten thrown off by checking that "ratio" column and thinking it represented the ratio of that food to the total. It doesn't. As footnote "1" makes clear, the "Ratio of purchases" only tells you the ratio of high-income to low-income.

My experience of Chinese cooking and Chinese people and Chinese travelers tells otherwise

That's fine, and I'm not going to try to one-up you on intimate familiarity with Chinese people and culture (though I did do extensive research on this, and talked to a good number of Chinese cooks, for a 6,500-word article last year). I'm just saying that if you're going to knock the findings of a serious study like the China Project, you need to present somethig more than your own impressions.

daveg: There are definite ethnic differences in food intolerances, at least where milk is concerned. You can ignore the commentary at the top; the rest is a Reuters article.
posted by soyjoy at 1:12 PM on November 6, 2003


Quin's wife here, I felt compelled to respond so I stole his account.

ROU_Xenophobe says:
I think it's silly to say predation by humans is immoral, but predation by any other organism is morally neutral. Predation is predation, the prey end up just as dead irrespective of the animal that kills them.

I wouldn't say its a silly thing to say. There are two key differences I thought of, method and meaning.
The method humans employ by in large to produce meat products is harmful. I won't reiterate the points made here about disease, antibiotic overuse, pollution, etc . . . etc . . . but it can be pretty much agreed upon that they are in fact harmful. Even if your morality only extends to your concern for man, these side effects of the meat industry do harm you. Non human predators on the other hand are going to benefit themselves and most likely the animal they are preying on by keeping their population limited to sustainable numbers. (Perhaps we're in need of our own predators?) Actually, on a tangent, I really hate when hunters make the argument that they are doing the same as natural predators by keeping populations in check. That couldn't be a bigger load of bull. The problem with deer overpopulation stems largely from hunting methods which created a population boom to increase profits gained from hunting. And you don't find many predators capable of taking the healthiest most vigorous animals while choosing to leave the unhealthy, weaker smaller animals alive. But I digress.

Then we have meaning. For an animal to kill, they need to kill to survive. Even the cat playing with a half alive rodent apparently gleeful at the mouse's pain is still just following out its instincts which once and may again be required for it to survive. Most likely, it is not aware the mouse is alive, in the sense that you and I are aware of the lives of other animals. To predators, prey animals are food, no more or less. Humans, on the other hand, anthropomorphize. We think of them as little humans and recognize they are alive and feel, hurt, live, and want to live. Non human animals just don't recognize that. Humans, in recognizing that and being intelligent enough to affect our will onto our diets, have a choice about what they eat. So, when a normal person does eat meat, its a choice of pleasure for themselves over the death of something we are aware feels, suffers, and wants to live.

Whether or not you choose to eat meat is ultimately a choice each person has to make. As the top of the food chain and the dominant species on the planet, there are compelling reasons why one my ultimately decide that these reasons do not outweigh other reasons for eating meat. However, to say that there is no moral difference between a human eating meat and an animal eating meat - now, that is silly.
posted by quin at 1:45 PM on November 6, 2003


I'd agree with the method side. Bears might kill salmon, but they don't farm pigs industrially. Someone might reasonably claim that while we might have the same right to predate as any other omnivore, we might nonetheless *not* have a right to do so in ways substantially more cruel than natural predation.

I don't entirely disagree with the meaning side either. But then you're not objecting to carnivority because it's actually wrong necessarily, you're objecting to it because it arguably does things to the human psyche that are harmful to the carnivore him- or herself, or to his or her neighbors.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:25 PM on November 6, 2003


By this logic, if you'd lived a happy life until now, it would be perfectly ok for me to shoot you from behind (so you didn't know it was coming), then roast you up.

In a nutshell, yes.

It is hard to really explain why I say that. A whole lot of meditation and soul searching led up to that statement. I'm not saying it should be legal, or even encouraging you to do it, but if its my time its my time, and I can think of many worse ways to go. Being eaten alive by cancer or bacteria would be one way. Any sort of long drawn out illness, drowning, or perhaps dying in a fire.

Really this link says it better than I ever could:

"it is necessary for me in my own life to live rightly and well, even and especially when such decisions seem to jeopardize my comfort, security, and rational self-interest, even if, someday, to live rightly is to risk death"

posted by jester69 at 2:42 PM on November 6, 2003


But it strikes me as stupid to think that it would be bad for me to have someone else hit a cow on the head with a hammer, but it's fine for it to be torn apart and consumed while dying by a pack of wolves.

rou, it seems to me the diff. is that in the case of humans the killing of animals is completely unnecessary. we don't need to kill other beings to survive and maintain good health (you might have an argument if you were talking about inuit with no access to supermarkets)... whereas for wolves and other predators it is necessary for their survival to kill, they have no other options, we do.

sure, nature is 'red in tooth and claw' but why choose to support the killing of other beings when such killing is completely unnecessary?
posted by deadchia at 9:53 PM on November 6, 2003


a good number of Chinese cooks, for a 6,500-word article last year

Every Chinese restaurant I've been in "animal products" figure heavily on the menu. Not just the American-Chinese beef/chicken/shrimp take-outs but the real authentic ones like in Chinatown in NY. I just don't get this plant-based stereotype of China. Even if the poor peasants can only afford eggs and occasionally kill a pig, they would much rather be eating more meat.. sorry "animal products".. than they do as evidenced by the richer Chinese increasing "animal product" intakes. I would be curious what conclusion you came to about China being a plant based food culture.

While I do agree China eats less animal protein than the USA, I don't see it as so significant. Compare this to India where it is significant, where are the studies showing the relative health of Indians? Are they more healthy than the animal-eating Chinese? I don't know.
posted by stbalbach at 10:15 PM on November 6, 2003


(the account stealing wife again)
Well, possibly the oldest man alive (unverified) is Indian. Probably not more than a random factoid but interesting none-the-less.
posted by quin at 1:38 AM on November 7, 2003


Every Chinese restaurant I've been in "animal products" figure heavily on the menu. Not just the American-Chinese beef/chicken/shrimp take-outs but the real authentic ones like in Chinatown in NY.

Well, if that's the case with "every Chinese restaurant [you've] been in," I guess you need to expand your scope. Maybe you should take a trip to the Philadelphia are some time. We have not only six completely vegan Chinese restaurants, but a Chinatown in which vegetarian "mock meats" are featured on almost every menu, deriving from centuries-old widespread Chinese buddhist traditions. Again, I'm not disputing that your experience doesn't back up these traditions; it's just that scientific and historical study does.

Even if the poor peasants can only afford eggs and occasionally kill a pig, they would much rather be eating more meat.. sorry "animal products".. than they do as evidenced by the richer Chinese increasing "animal product" intakes. I would be curious what conclusion you came to about China being a plant based food culture.

Well, gosh, a plants-to-animals ratio of over 3-to-1 even among the richest, most urbanized Chinese, as evidenced by your own link, would be enough to justify the term "plant-based." But once again, the issue is not "my conclusion," but that of nutrition scientists who travelled throughout China and gathered data from more than 10,000 people. You may not like their findings - that cancer rates were lowest in areas where the least animal protein was consumed and highest where the most was - but if you're going to seriously dispute them, you need something more than a survey of the restaurants you've been in.

And talking about what Chinese people "would much rather be eating" or saying I called China "vegetarian" is (intentionally?) misleading and erroneous. Other than Buddhists, most Chinese are not intentionally eating small amounts of meat, but that's irrelevant because we're not talking about their diet in terms of ethical choices but in terms of physical effects. You can choose to join the "personal ethics" discussion if you want, but that's a separate issue from the health effects of the diet.
posted by soyjoy at 7:13 AM on November 7, 2003


I think the thread is gonna close out on us. Just wanna say in the US looking at pre-cooked weight I bet its not far from the 3:1 ratio when you consider how much soy, corn and wheat is used in everything processed these days.
posted by stbalbach at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2003


Bets are fun. Actual data is more useful.

Why don't we settle our differences over a nice frosty mug of homogenized, pasteurized milk?
posted by soyjoy at 7:29 PM on November 7, 2003


hehe good idea Amish Lancaster County milk would be middle ground. A MeFi meetup event with pictures otherwise no one would believe it.
posted by stbalbach at 10:16 AM on November 8, 2003


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