Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Pork. The other white meat.
April 7, 2004 12:24 AM   Subscribe

The PETA sinks to a new low. This time drawing parallels between the gruesome Pickton murders and the the slaughter of pigs for meat. Many of the human remains of Pickton's victims are still being found at the Pickton pig farm. They were drugged and dragged across the room... Their struggles and cries went unanswered... They were slaughtered and their heads sawed off... Their body parts were refrigerated... Their bones were discarded.
posted by PWA_BadBoy (154 comments total)

 
If they keep up all this baiting, we'll be demanding human meat.

Seriously, why doesn't peta come out against pet ownership? Of all the abuses out there I'm guessing there is a lot more going on with people treating their pets like shit than the chicken sandwich I'm eating. At least from looking at the almost unbelievable number of strays here in Chicago.

They can't have their cake and eat it too. Of course they're hypocrites and all their advertising is over-the-top, but it would be a nice change of pace if they made sense once in a while, especially considering the huge amounts of money they get. Money better spent at the anti-cruelty society I think.
posted by skallas at 12:30 AM on April 7, 2004


Last I heard PETA *IS* against pet ownership.
posted by Ryvar at 12:43 AM on April 7, 2004


ANIMAL LIBERATION!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:50 AM on April 7, 2004


After a little searching I found some quotes, but no real indictment against pet ownership or a call to arms to get rid of your pets. In fact, the few PETA people I know have more fucking pets than they can handle.

Also, they seem to advocate pet ownership except its not "pets" its "animal companions."
"I don’t use the word "pet." I think it’s speciesist language. I prefer "companion animal." For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship – enjoyment at a distance."

-Ingrid Newkirk, PETA vice-president, quoted in The Harper's Forum Book, Jack Hitt, ed., 1989, p.223.
In other words "Keep your pets and make sure your next one is from the shelter! and don't say pets! Send your checks here!"
posted by skallas at 12:52 AM on April 7, 2004


Also, if PETA is a serious (which I doubt) they could deny donations from pet owners and cancel memberships from pet owners. Why not? They love trying to shame people who eat chicken sandwiches but your average PETA cat lady is hand's off.

Well, I can think of one reason. Who is going to give them money? Its pet lovers that fuel PETA. That and the hate of non-vegetarians. At least that's how it looks to me.
posted by skallas at 1:36 AM on April 7, 2004


I have a feeling they adopt the above 'phase it out over time' stance because, while their more hardcore members would like to see all pet ownership ended, they do (as you just said, on preview) rely on pet owners for their primary income.
posted by Ryvar at 1:54 AM on April 7, 2004


This time drawing parallels between the gruesome Pickton murders and the the slaughter of pigs for meat.

I watched the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre last night. Why, I couldn't tell you. But it was doing precisely the same thing, if not referencing Pickton explicity, of course.

But, you know, the difference was that in the movie there was a screaming, wet t-shirt clad young actress running around, (crypto-bovine) breasts a-wobble and kept lingeringly in-frame by the cameraman.

All hail the new flesh, huh?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:56 AM on April 7, 2004


PWA_BadBoy : So PETA believe that all living things, both animal and human have a right to life. Can you provide a rational argument in support of your implied thesis that pigs have less of a right to life than humans do?
posted by biffa at 2:01 AM on April 7, 2004


Yeah, and those stupid anti-abortionists who equate abortion with the Holocaust. Not to mention those damn feminists who equate sexism with racism; and the absurd anti-circumcisionists who equate circumcision with female genital mutilation. Or the native rights people who equate the conquest of North America with the Holocaust. And those assholes who equate Republicans with Democrats. Dresden and Hiroshima. Sodomy with bestiality.

...

It's amazing how incredibly fucking stupid are the people who don't share one's assumptions and moral reasoning, huh? It's quite clear to all of us, isn't it?, that every one of these stupid people should be rounded up and shot.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:08 AM on April 7, 2004


"Can you provide a rational argument in support of your implied thesis that pigs have less of a right to life than humans do?"—biffa
I can. I can also provide a rational argument for the contrary position. What's your point?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:10 AM on April 7, 2004


I think the point is that biffa's asking you to do so. A request masked as a yes/no question. Whether you do or not is up to you, of course....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:12 AM on April 7, 2004


No, I think his intended implication was that such an argument is difficult to produce. Otherwise, he would have asked for the actual argument rather than asking whether an argument was available. And the request wasn't directed at me.

A rational argument for or against animal rights is easy to produce, depending upon from which plausible and commonly accepted assumptions one begins. Smart, thoughtful, informed, and rational people of good-faith disagree on this matter. My point was that it's neither fair nor true to imply that either position is irrational.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:39 AM on April 7, 2004


At least they didn't mark the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide by talking about how 800,000 cows are butchered every day. I guess one disgusting campaign was enough.
posted by Dasein at 2:44 AM on April 7, 2004


>Can you provide a rational argument in support of your implied thesis that pigs have less of a right to life than humans do?

As a member of homo sapiens sapiens I care, or that is my body and the bodies of my peers, to pass my DNA along. I cannot mate with pigs (the American south has tried, but alas it hasn't worked), thus my own "selfish genes" as Dawkins would say means that I am much more concerned and occupied with the betterment and reproduction of humans related to me than of another species.

That doesn't mean we can't be humane to animals, but its foolish to ignore that we care first about ourselves, secondly about our offspring, thirdly about our lesser relatives, and lastly about everyone and everything else.

On a more practical front, being humane means taking care of humans first. Happy and healthy humans are better equiped to help our animal friends. PETA et al seem to be jumping the gun, they assume we can have human poverty, civil wars, hatred, AND somehow make a huge social change for animals, which not only serve us but provide us with meat. Its very "first-world" to assume we can live without animal servitude.

Hey, someday the Jetson's like food-pill will be here or nanotech will feed us through the electrical outlet, but in the meantime I'd like to eat a chicken sandwich without being called a murderer, thank you very much.
posted by skallas at 2:57 AM on April 7, 2004


Of all the abuses out there I'm guessing there is a lot more going on with people treating their pets like shit than the chicken sandwich I'm eating.

According to this, more than a quarter million chickens were condemned post-mortem as "cadaver" in the US back in January (last month for which a report was available), which is "caused by improper slaughter cuts or inadequate bleeding time" (from here). If the chicken survives until defeathering, it drowns in scalding water.

You MURDERER!
posted by eddydamascene at 3:03 AM on April 7, 2004


eddydamascene: You MURDERER!

Oh make no mistake about it, I am what PETA calls a "speciesist" and find no shame in it. Of course there is room for animal rights and there should be many protection but equating them with human rights and human law (murder) is beyond the pale.
posted by skallas at 3:07 AM on April 7, 2004


Selfishness? That's it? That's the best argument?

Anyway, describing the similar method in which these people and pigs were killed is an interesting thought, and PETA's point is that the more people know about where their food comes from the less comfortable they'd be with it. The knee-jerk reaction, that it's somehow sacriligious to do so, strikes me as being much more irrational than PETA themselves.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:20 AM on April 7, 2004


"...thus my own 'selfish genes' as Dawkins would say means that I am much more concerned and occupied with the betterment and reproduction of humans related to me than of another species."&emdash;skallas
That's descriptive, not prescriptive. Given that biffa invoked the language of "rights", I strongly suspect he was looking for a prescriptive rationale. If, however, your moral philosophy is built upon a foundation of the primacy of your personal reproduction, that's just spooky.

Assuming he thought an argument was forthcoming.
Not that such an argument isn't possible. It is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:21 AM on April 7, 2004


As a member of homo sapiens sapiens I care, or that is my body and the bodies of my peers, to pass my DNA along. I cannot mate with pigs (the American south has tried, but alas it hasn't worked), thus my own "selfish genes" as Dawkins would say means that I am much more concerned and occupied with the betterment and reproduction of humans related to me than of another species.

That doesn't seem very logical, surely if your concern is with passing along your genes you'd be happy to see rival humans of your own gender killed in order to reduce your competition?

Ethereal Bligh: My point, aimed specifically at PWA_BadBoy, was to question the assumptions made in the FPP that the slaughter of pigs wasn't comparable with the slaughter of humans. The FPP was entirely one-sided and with no attempt made to address the PETA perspective, which is clearly 'slaughter of humans bad - slaughter of pigs also bad'. I'd like to see PWA justify the perspective that this in some way offensive.
posted by biffa at 3:24 AM on April 7, 2004


"If they keep up all this baiting, we'll be demanding human meat."—skallas
Mmmmm. Long pork: the other, other white meat.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:27 AM on April 7, 2004


On a more practical front, being humane means taking care of humans first. Happy and healthy humans are better equiped to help our animal friends. PETA et al seem to be jumping the gun, they assume we can have human poverty, civil wars, hatred, AND somehow make a huge social change for animals, which not only serve us but provide us with meat.

The implication here seems to be that it is impossible or worthless to solve certain problems while much worse, yet unconnected problems exist. Human poverty, civil wars, hatred etc all existed in 1833 yet do you not think it was a positive step that slavery was abolished? Why stop polluting rivers, hunting whales or catching dolphins in tuna nets? We need to get our priorities right and stamp out murder before we start on these, lesser concerns.

Hey, someday the Jetson's like food-pill will be here or nanotech will feed us through the electrical outlet, but in the meantime I'd like to eat a chicken sandwich without being called a murderer, thank you very much.

Bit of a false problem here, either we have hugely advanced nutritional technology OR we continue to eat meat all we like. But, you are not eating a chicken sandwich because you need to eat a chicken sandwich to survive or stay healthy. (In fact, you’d survive and stay even healthier if you ate a vegetarian alternative.) You are eating a chicken sandwich simply because you enjoy the taste. You consider your indulgence worth more than the life and quite probably intense suffering of a chicken. It would be inconsistent to hold that belief and then say it would be wrong for me to torture a cat to death simply because I enjoyed that.
posted by ed\26h at 3:33 AM on April 7, 2004


but equating them with human rights and human law (murder) is beyond the pale.

/ . . . realizes he's been in this conversation before, quickly looks around for an exit.

I'm still unclear how the philosophical basis of this argument differs from that used in the past to justify any number of abuses against, you know, "minorities," but that's ok.

Ok, I'm not "equating" slavery with factory farming (two different situations) but the ideology supporting both is the same.

Different from me? Well then, no rights for you!
posted by tr33hggr at 3:46 AM on April 7, 2004


"I'd like to see PWA justify the perspective that this in some way offensive.—biffa
There are many ways to do this. One would be to argue beginning with one of the the various assumptions that humans are qualitatively distinct from all other living creatures. That we have souls, perhaps. (This is a common belief, of course.) Or, one could argue, as skallas probably intended, that absent some metaphysical moral absolutism exclusively linked with Man, a moral philosophy built upon the foundation of selfishness expanded, perhaps, species-wide, would in its anthropocentricism see a qualitative difference between humans and pigs. In this view, to compare the two is to implicitly assume a qualitative similarity, is deeply offensive to the dignity of humanity, and implicitly demeans human rights as being on the same level as porcine rights.

It boils down—as it always does in the question of recognizing "rights"—to whether or not one perceives an essential similarity between a group conventionally recognized as possessing a set of rights and a group conventionally denied as possessing that set of rights. The issue is about whether there's a qualitative distinction or not; and this issue is most often decided not upon a chain of reasoning or evidence, but upon which starting assumptions one feels are self-evident. In this sense, "rationality" does not enter into it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:47 AM on April 7, 2004


Or, on preview, what ed\26h said.
posted by tr33hggr at 3:47 AM on April 7, 2004


The FPP was entirely one-sided and with no attempt made to address the PETA perspective

You may not have noticed, but there are very few fpp that are not one sided or that attempt to address both perspectives, especially when it comes to sensitive issues or politics.

I cannot mate with pigs (the American south has tried, but alas it hasn't worked)


Come on man, its CHICKENS, not pigs. Pigs are messy and slippery and gosh darn hard to control. When bringing up stereotypes and your little pet prejudices its best to get your facts straight or risk looking ignorant, and I know you don't want that.
posted by justgary at 3:52 AM on April 7, 2004


The problem PETA's ads highlight is not meat-eating, per se, but corporate farming. "Factory" slaughtering didn't occur when this country was fed by the work of small family farms, because such farmers relied on the well-being and humane treatment of all thier livestock in order to survive. Corporate farming is awful for animals and farmers.

That said, PETA prmote and unhealthy relationship between humans and animals based on the (false) idea that rights language can make animals "equal". But rights are either conferred by a deity or by social contract, and so unless one believe God made animals in God's image or a majority one's society agrees that animals and humans are similar enough to share the same political protections, PETA's use of rights language is self-defeating.

PETA remind me of those pathetic people who bring their poodles into restaurants and let them eat from their plates, etc. Having anthropomorphized animals, they can't understand why everyone else doesn't see the similarities.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:52 AM on April 7, 2004


a moral philosophy built upon the foundation of selfishness expanded, perhaps, species-wide, would in its anthropocentricism see a qualitative difference between humans and pigs. In this view, to compare the two is to implicitly assume a qualitative similarity, is deeply offensive to the dignity of humanity, and implicitly demeans human rights as being on the same level as porcine rights.

But is the PETA campaign based on the recognition of human/animal rights or is it based on the recognition of (needless) animal suffering? PETA's point seems to be that the murderer in the Pickton case was inured to the suffering of the victims in much the same way that humans are inured to the suffering and death of the animals they kill. I acknowledge that in the anthropocentric moral philosophy you describe it is possible to see a comparison of human and animal deaths as offensive, though I do not subscribe to that philosophy. (Perhaps more on this later, mucho work to do)
posted by biffa at 4:11 AM on April 7, 2004


I'm a vegetarian (and it's AWESOME!). but I sorta wish PETA would uh break up.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:09 AM on April 7, 2004


eustacescrubb: FYI, the Pickton farm wasn't involved in corporate/factory farming. It was a small operation where most of the meat was given to friends/family. Those who were given the meat better be careful.

More on the Pickton case here. [self-FPP link].

Btw, this is definitely a new low.
posted by trillion at 9:20 AM on April 7, 2004


I'm almost entirely vegetarian (I eat whatever my parents are serving the two or three times a year I visit them), but I cannot for the life of me figure what just what PETA is trying to achieve with campaigns like this one, the attempt to make the Green Bay Packers change their name, the other campaign equating meat farms with the Holocaust, etc..

It's just a stupid, ill thought-out strategy. No matter how "righteous" their cause, they're not going to win over (m)any converts to vegetarianism with this shrill, hectoring approach. When is PETA going to wake up to this? Large societal changes, like the move away from smoking, are not achieved overnight, and they're not brought about by insulting the morality of the group whose behavior you're hoping to change.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:28 AM on April 7, 2004


If the chicken survives until defeathering, it drowns in scalding water.

MMMM, soup.

Hey, someday the Jetson's like food-pill will be here or nanotech will feed us through the electrical outlet, but in the meantime I'd like to eat a chicken sandwich without being called a murderer, thank you very much.

The Jetson's food pill would suck, since I imagine that both carnivore and herbivore enjoy the sensual pleasure of eating.

But the nanotech thing coincides with a conversation I had awhile back. If nanotechnology was perfected to the point where we could arrange ambient molecules into cheeseburger, would it be okay for vegetarians to eat it? On the one hand it is meat, but on the other no animals were harmed, theoretically. I swear I'm not baiting anyone here, just curious about people's take on it.

Oh, and PETA are their usuall numbskulled selves. They also have a new spokesperson to join the usual crew. That bunch just oozes credibility, huh?
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on April 7, 2004


PETA is the Madonna of food-related organizations. I'll withhold my comments until next month, when their next "outrageous" campaign shows up, once again, on MeFi's front page.
posted by soyjoy at 9:30 AM on April 7, 2004


If anyone out there has Showtime-on-demand watch the Penn and Teller's Bullshit episode about PETA, truly some funny stuff.

Their VP takes insulin, which has animal products in it, which PETA wants to ban.
posted by Mick at 9:30 AM on April 7, 2004


biffa, i think what makes this odious isn't necessarily the central thesis behind it, which you mention, but that they're invoking a particular tragedy--with specific victims, some of whose remains are still being found as the post mentions--to politicize.

from the link:
Family of victims are disgusted by the association.

"All they're talking about is the pain of the animals, they don't care about the pain of the families," said Laurie Isberg. "They're torturing us. They're torturing us like they say everybody tortures animals."


if i was a member of any of the victims' families, i'd be quite upset. and i am disgusted that they do this, of course, while trial proceedings are going on. it's socially gross. one of peta's problems, aside from just being a joke due to its shock tactic m.o., is that in cases like this it puts animals quite squarely BEFORE people. before these victims, and before their families.
posted by ifjuly at 9:30 AM on April 7, 2004


Aside from the inane stereotypes of the south (of which I am surprised intelligent MeFi members seem to perpetuate), I love these discussions. Ethereal Bligh, are you a fellow philosophy major? I disagree that the equality of animals and humans is "deeply offensive" to humanity but you sure to talk like a philosopher.

And friends, whether you are vegetarian or not (I am vegetarian), ed/26h is spot on. Accept that the only real reason you "must" eat meat is because you enjoy it. There is no other reason physical, ethical, aesthetical, or spiritual to regularly consume animal flesh. I can't argue the "I enjoy it so I eat it" argument, but to couch your rationale in the absolution of responsibility is just spurious.

Keep it up guys! I love this stuff!
posted by Dantien at 9:33 AM on April 7, 2004


If people would just start viewing PETA as performance artists instead of activists, they would seem a lot more entertaining.
posted by agregoli at 9:33 AM on April 7, 2004


Good for them. I hope they keep this stuff up. PETA's extreme actions will eventually change people's minds about animal rights. They've already changed my mind about wearing fur.

I used to be against it.
posted by bondcliff at 9:34 AM on April 7, 2004


If you're familiar with Showtime's series "Pen & Teller: Bullshit" the latest episode focuses on the idiocy and hypocricy of PETA.

They tell you a lot of things that I already knew, but one shocking thing I didn't know was that PETA gave over $70,000 to Rodney Cornado in 1995. This is according to PETA's tax records from that year, which are public record since they're a non-profit organization.

Rodney Cornado is the poster boy for the Animal Liberation Front with a history of arson in the name of animal rights. He's basically an all-around terrorist. One more reason to be disgusted with PETA.
posted by tomorama at 9:36 AM on April 7, 2004


I eat PETA members!!

And those damn Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People keep fucking with me!
posted by mcgraw at 9:42 AM on April 7, 2004


Free the Tamworth Two!
posted by quarsan at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2004


Great, compassionate minds say:

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
Albert Einstein

"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men."
Leonardo da Vinci

"Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends."
George Bernard Shaw

"Now what is it that moves our very hearts and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes?...They have done us no harm and they have no power of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their sufferings so especially touching. Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God.... There is something so very dreadful, so Satanic, in tormenting those who have never harmed us, who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power."
Cardinal John Henry Newman

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Vivisection is the blackest of all the black crimes that man is at present committing against God and His fair creation. It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures."
Mahatma Gandhi

"I am in favour of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."
Abraham Lincoln

"I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil."
Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic

"I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with the innocent blood I count as of no consequence."
Mahatma Ghandi

"To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. ... I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to the protection by man from the cruelty of man."
Mahatma Ghandi

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."
Francis of Assisi

"Whenever animals are impressed into the service of man, every one of us should be mindful of the toil we are exacting. We cannot stand idly by and see animals subjected to unnecessary harshness or deliberate mistreatment. We cannot say it is not our business to interfere. On the contrary, it is our duty to intervene in the animal’s behalf."
Albert Schweitzer, The Teaching of Reverence for Life

"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or woman created for man."
Alice Walker

"Merely by ceasing to eat meat, merely by practicing restraint, we have the power to end a painful industry. We do not have to bear arms to end this evil, we do not have to contribute money, we do not have to sit in jail or go to meetings or demonstrations or engage in acts of civil disobedience. Most often, the act of repairing the world, of healing moral wounds, is left to heroes and tzaddikim, saints and people of unusual discipline. But here is an action every mortal can perform—surely it is not too difficult."
Roberta Kalechofsky

"To the truly ethical man, all of life is sacred, including forms of life that, from the human point of view, may seem lower than ours."
Albert Schweitzer

"I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."
Abraham Lincoln

"We don't eat anything that has to be killed for us."
Paul MacCartney

"Since visiting the abattoirs of Southern France I have stopped eating meat."
Vincent Van Gogh

"Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you anymore."
Franz Kafka (while looking at a fish.)

"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all national disasters and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of real food for real people, you'd better live real close to a real good hospital."
Dr. Neal Barnard

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings we are still savages."
Thomas Edison

"Vegetarianism is a healthier diet."
David Stroud of the American Meat Institute

"Flesh eating is unprovoked murder."
Ben Franklin

"It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions. Heaven is by favor; if it were by merit your dog would go in and you would stay out. Of all the creatures ever made ... [man] is the only one ... that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot."
Mark Twain

"I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants."
A. Whitney Brown

"It has recently been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."
Unknown

You, of course, may think as you will.
posted by Shane at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2004


"PETA remind me of those pathetic people who bring their poodles into restaurants and let them eat from their plates, etc. Having anthropomorphized animals, they can't understand why everyone else doesn't see the similarities."—eustacesrubb
...not to mention the same regarding women, blacks, and children. Disgusting, really. What are those crazy people thinking, letting these animals eat from a respectable table and with their whining about "rights" and "cruelty"? Pathetic, just pathetic. Probably the sign of some form of mental illness.

Listen, folks: it is not irrational or pathetic to have one of these opposing views, and the people on the opposite side of the fence are not deserving of your ridicule, as much as you may enjoy it. One can start from a variety of well-regarded, common assumptions about reality; apply some careful reasoning and a lot of observation; be very earnest about discerning what's "right" and "true"; and come to either a pro- or an anti-animal rights conclusion.

For my part, as a liberal, I prefer to err on the side of an inclusive, rather than an exclusive, recognition of "rights". In both the case of animals (in general) and fetuses (in general) my considered judgment is that neither qualifies for the rights recognized as inherent in human beings. However, there is not in my opinion a clear dividing line; and many people of intelligence and good-faith differ on these matters; and so, preferring to err on the side of liberal caution, I would prefer when uncertain to recognize rights that are "really" not there as opposed to fail to recognize rights that are. And from my view of history, this puts me on the side of angels...

...something to think about for the cavalier and smug pro-choicer or the cavalier and smug anti-animal-rightser. One can honestly, knowledgeably, and rationally disagree with the pro-lifers and the animals-rights activists; but one should take their arguments seriously and respect their earnestness because they believe they are defending the defenseless in a deeply hostile world—an effort I find deeply honorable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:48 AM on April 7, 2004


I have fond daydreams about space aliens coming to domesticate us for their own purposes. Communication with us is too ineffiecient, given their own pressing needs, so they take what they want by right of superior force and intellect. Many aspects of the new regime are beneficial as there is overlapping interests, some are nuetral, still others are spectacularly bad. It's most fun to imagine how different cultures adapt, how the aliens' behavior would be rationalized among the domesticated ("I, for one, welcome..." etc), and demonized by those who are or desire to be "wild" (or "free" as they prefer to be called). Since the aliens can't be bothered to communicate with us much less make contracts by mutual consent the domesticated have to trust that they are complying with their own sense of ethics in the matter as much as possible.
posted by wobh at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2004


That's 2 mentions of Pen & Teller: Bullshit, can we get a third to complete the set?
posted by Outlawyr at 9:53 AM on April 7, 2004


PETA pisses me off because they make vegetarianism so god-damn unappealing. They're a bunch of uptight fundamentalist freaks (at least, the ones I've met were), and they probably do more to turn people away from vegetarianism than any other group.

...are they secretly funded by the beef council or something?
posted by aramaic at 9:55 AM on April 7, 2004


If nanotechnology was perfected to the point where we could arrange ambient molecules into cheeseburger, would it be okay for vegetarians to eat it? On the one hand it is meat, but on the other no animals were harmed, theoretically. I swear I'm not baiting anyone here, just curious about people's take on it.

A lot of ethical vegetarians are irrational and fanatical about being vegetarian. They don't think in practical terms, they just treat it like a religious code that must be followed blindly. (The type who will never eat off of cookware that has been used with meat, etc.) I don't think that sort could bring themselves to eat artificial meat... I think they'll invent some reason why it would still be wrong.

As an ethical vegetarian, I wouldn't have any qualms about eating "grown" meat. Actually, given that we're getting better at growing tissues in lab conditions, it may not be completely out of the realm of possibility that in the future large scale "growth" of beef and whatnot would be more economical than raising the actual animals.

And this FPP is horrible by the way. PETA makes all of us vegetarians look bad, but their theatrics are coming from a simple premise that animal life is of value. Given that, there is genocide of a scale greater than the holocaust all around them. I'm glad they stick to tacky PR stunts instead of gunning down McDonalds patrons.

I'm sure some of you have fair arguments in favor of the indiscriminate killing of animals for pleasure, but the simple idea that this is not justified is not deserving of such derision. It's a painfully obvious lashing out against something that makes you uncomfortable.
posted by tirade at 9:55 AM on April 7, 2004


shane, for some reason you neglected to put any quotes from Hitler in your list. why?
posted by quarsan at 9:59 AM on April 7, 2004


I have fond daydreams about space aliens coming to domesticate us for their own purposes.

Heh, me too, wobh.

shane, for some reason you neglected to put any quotes from Hitler in your list. why?

Shut up, Quonsar quasran ;-)
posted by Shane at 10:08 AM on April 7, 2004


I'll do it then: "the world of the future will be vegetarian" -- Adolf Hitler, November 11, 1941.
posted by aramaic at 10:11 AM on April 7, 2004


HANDY BANDWIDTH SAVER!

From now on, whenever a PETA thread pops up, use these convenient numbers:

1: "PETA are a bunch of morons, as is self-evident from the FPP"
2: "PETA are a bunch of morons, as is evident from last month's FPP"
3: "Cats/dogs/farm animals AREN'T PEOPLE! DUH!"
4: "Thanks to PETA, now I eat MORE MEAT! TASTY ANIMALS FOR EATING!! LOL!"
5: "blah blah blah Kant Mill Franklin Gandhi"
6: "Animals are like minorities, you're a racist/sexist/homophobe!"
7: "I am a vegetarian, but PETA are dumb"
8: [some attempt to explain a rational basis for the actions described in the FPP, which will be ignored]

Using these numbers will save valuable bandwidth without any loss in information content. Thanks!

By, the way: 5 8
posted by jacobm at 10:11 AM on April 7, 2004


shane, no i won't. why should i?
posted by quarsan at 10:14 AM on April 7, 2004


Yet another PETA thread makes me want to kill a pony. At the very least Matt should get some sort of compensation from their advertising budget. Gah.
posted by gwint at 10:16 AM on April 7, 2004


You know, I wish Star Trek logic worked. Then I could point out to PETA that their express goal (treat all animals ethically) conflicts with their actions (attempting to turn an omnivore into a herbivore) and they would then vanish in a puff of smoke.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:17 AM on April 7, 2004


i actually remember speaking with some animal rights activists who said that the rwandan genocide wasn't entirely a bad thing because it reduced pressure on the mountain gorillas.
posted by quarsan at 10:38 AM on April 7, 2004


This may well be ignored, but I have to bring it up. The "selfish gene" argument doesn't convince me. The way I see it, whether you eat meat hinges on this issue: whether or not you think animals can feel pain and suffering and if you care about it.

It seems pretty indisputable that factory farming practices are bad for animals' well-being and health (as well as exacerbating, if not creating, things like mad cow and bird flu). But, if you don't believe that animals experience pain or discomfort, then that would seem to be a valid argument (but one I find intuitively unlikely). Or, if you accept it but simply don't care, then I could understand (but deplore) your position.

Personally, I find strict vegans as baffling as people who eat factory-farmed meat and animal products. But, hey, if you think animals can't feel pain or you don't care that they do, then at least your reasoning follows from some principle.

The question is, what other so-called "rational" arguments exist for eating meat from a factory farm?
posted by statisticalpurposes at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2004


The question is, what other so-called "rational" arguments exist for eating meat from a factory farm?

The meat is cheaper.
posted by aramaic at 10:43 AM on April 7, 2004


You know, I wish Star Trek logic worked. Then I could point out to PETA that their express goal (treat all animals ethically) conflicts with their actions (attempting to turn an omnivore into a herbivore) and they would then vanish in a puff of smoke.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:17 AM PST on April 7

'We no longer enslave animals for food'
Commander Ryker (Star Trek the Next Generation)
posted by Shane at 10:43 AM on April 7, 2004


So, Shane, if the above scenario were to come about, would you resign to being domesticated or would you struggle to be free? Or would it depend on the conditions of the domestication?

I see an analogy to be made with being drafted into the army or some other form of arbitrary but mandatory service. Anyone see likewise?

My own answer to these questions is that I would probably resign to domestication (or "duty" in the case of a draft). I'm too lazy to struggle much.
posted by wobh at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2004


And friends, whether you are vegetarian or not (I am vegetarian), ed/26h is spot on. Accept that the only real reason you "must" eat meat is because you enjoy it.

This is spoken as if it was a given that homo sapiens are built as non-meat eaters.

Pardon me if this is a stoopid question, but has this position been accepted as fact?
posted by papercake at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2004


Bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:56 AM on April 7, 2004


So, Shane, if the above scenario were to come about, would you resign to being domesticated or would you struggle to be free? Or would it depend on the conditions of the domestication?

Dunno. But I'd appreciate the irony, and I'd wish I'd paid more attention to the characters in Animal Farm. I might've learned a thing or two ;-)
posted by Shane at 11:00 AM on April 7, 2004


PETA - People for the Eating of Tatsy Animals. God wants us to eat animals, that's why they're made out of meat.
posted by LowDog at 11:13 AM on April 7, 2004


From the Vegetarian Resource Group website, here's a few quotes:

"All the available evidence indicates that the natural human diet is omnivorous and would include meat. We are not, however, required to consume animal protein. We have a choice."

"Humans are classic examples of omnivores in all relevant anatomical traits. There is no basis in anatomy or physiology for the assumption that humans are pre-adapted to the vegetarian diet. For that reason, the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns."

Those quotes apparently are from Dr. McArdle, described as "a vegetarian and currently Scientific Advisor to The American Anti-Vivisection Society. He is an anatomist and a primatologist."

The whole "you only eat meat because you enjoy it" argument is ridiculous. I could demand ed/26h (et al) admit that they only eat whatever the hell they eat because they enjoy it. But what would that accomplish?

Of course we eat what we eat because we enjoy it. That's kinda the whole point. You can debate it from the "ecological, ethical, and heath" perspective, but humans are omnivorous animals, and it is perfectly natural for us to eat meat.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:20 AM on April 7, 2004


...it is perfectly natural for us to eat meat.

Well, this has been hashed and rehashed, but you do have a long digestive tract like a vegetarian animal, and that meat does rot in your stomach pretty disgustingly. Then again, hell, colon cancer never killed anyone! Um... But it's your choice.

PETA - People for the Eating of Tatsy Animals. God wants us to eat animals, that's why they're made out of meat.
posted by LowDog at 11:13 AM PST on April 7


See, LowDog knows he's going to get criticized for that idiotic comment. From his profile:

Get a life dickhead so you can be doing something other than criticizing other peoples comments!

Guess I'm a dickhead, heheh.
posted by Shane at 11:30 AM on April 7, 2004


What about the ethical treatment of plants? Do they not feel pain? Are they not murdered by the millions? (billions?)

How many different plants were brutally killed in order for you to eat a single salad or veggie burger?

f'ing plant murderers!!!
posted by diVersify at 11:38 AM on April 7, 2004


Yes, humans are 'designed' to eat meat. The evidence is in the importance of vitamin B-12 to human health and the fact that B-12 is found naturally in animal foods.

http://www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/supplements/vitb12.html
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:44 AM on April 7, 2004


Bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.

Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherf*ckers.
posted by Cyrano at 11:51 AM on April 7, 2004


PETA - People for the Eating of Tatsy Animals. God wants us to eat animals,
that's why they're made out of meat. - LowDog

Is there an age limit for the new signups?
Should grade schoolers really be allowed?
(certainly the language in some posts shouldn't be viewed by children)
posted by milovoo at 11:52 AM on April 7, 2004


Darn it I wish I had the time to go hunting for this... but haven't there been some studies published which suggest strongly that one of the main reasons we have our big brains (made of meat) with which we think about things like this and posit about them via our technological marvels (figured out and built using our big brains made of meat) is that we started... eating meat?

High-protein food is high-energy food, and may in fact have energized our evolution and brought on the development of homo sapiens... even organically-grown free-range meat has growth hormones in it.

Some background: When I was a kid, we moved to Maine. On the day after we got there, I went down to the nearby neighbor's house to play with their kids (whom I'd met previously when we were looking for houses). Shortly after I arrived, the whole family industriously began slaughtering their chickens - nearly a hundred of them. Talk about culture shock... I'm originally from Newark, NJ, where we got our meat from Kings supermarket, wrapped in plastic on styrofoam pallets.

During the time I lived there, I witnessed or participated in the slaughter and dressing out of a number of other animals, chickens, ducks and pigs, and in the dressing out of deer that others had shot while hunting. I guess it's possible I'm one of the few MeFites who has actually done this up close and personal.

Did I stop eating chicken, duck, pork and venison? Nope. I'm a confirmed meat-eater (and love fish too). But there is definitely a difference between doing it yourself and trying to be as humane as possible about it, and factory farming. In the "family farm" scenario, it's just kind of... a thing that you do. There's a Tool song with lyrics, "This is necessary... life feeds on life, feeds on life, feeds on life." That's the rationale applied.

Anyway, I've rambled, so my point is that if hominids hadn't started eating meat (either voluntarily or through forced privation), we humans may not have some to exist, nor argue about whether eating meat is ethical or not.

BTW in the Star Trek world, they've perfected technology which does indeed create cheeseburgers from ambient molecules. Someday we'll probably have something like that, or at least be able to grow meat cultures without having to raise and kill animals. For now... I'll have a Double-Double, please. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 11:54 AM on April 7, 2004


Uh, have *come* to exist. Heh.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:57 AM on April 7, 2004


well, i've said some of this elsewhere (if you care to follow yet another obnoxious stunt by PETA thread), but:

(a) unless you can produce energy from sunlight (ie, are a primary producer in ecological terms) you must kill to survive. whether you kill vegetables, bacteria, or furry mammals, you end a life when you eat. (and no copping out on the fruit argument. if eating fruit etc. doesn't count because it doesn't kill the tree, then eating eggs, cheese, milk, using wool, etc. doesn't count either, 'cause it doesn't kill the chicken, cow, goat, sheep etc. plus quite often when you eat a fruit you're killing an embryonic plant, you evil bastard...) if you eat only plants, you may be a more efficient user of resources but you still kill to survive. is it more moral to kill plants? who knows. plants are alive, they respond to damage, they communicate with each other, just as animals do. if we hold life as sacred, we can't draw a line and say that its ok to kill this form of life but not that form because, well, it's not as important/doesn't feel pain/etc. (really, PETA is going to start going after makers of antibacterial soaps next, 'cause bacteria are alive too...)

and

(b) humans are omnivores; best evolutionary evidence states that our large brains are in large part due to the result of extra energy gained from a high-fat diet made possible by tool use, scavenging kills made by carnivores and eating marrow they couldn't reach. see, you ever notice that animals that are vegetarians have smaller brains, less complicated social structures, etc. than they carnivores or omnivores that hunt them? (going back to the "all animals are equal" argument that PETA makes, why is it immoral for me to eat a deer, but OK for a mountain lion, which is equal to me, to do the same? please explain. if i'm better than it because i can think of the morality issue, it's not equal to me - and thus i'm better than it and can safely eat it...)

finally

(c) if we all lived in desperate, third-world starvation conditions, would PETA exist? i think not. when you either eat what you can get or you starve, nobody cares to sit back and question the ethics. this doesn't mean that it's wrong to question the ethics, nor does it mean that it's right to continue eating whatever. it just means that until the entire world has the same standard of living that most of us in the west do, PETA can shut the hell up and start helping out the less fortunate rather than doing crap like this and proving just how pointless and vapid an organization they really are.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:00 PM on April 7, 2004


HANDY BANDWIDTH SAVER!
From now on, whenever a PETA thread pops up, use these convenient numbers:

jacobm they're discourteous which is a standard rule for being ignored.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:01 PM on April 7, 2004


B12 in the vegan diet. As long as you have nothing against eating bacteria.

...Some vitamin B12 appears to be found in organically grown plants, but in extremely small amounts....

(I do not work for red star yeast, but I do love them)
posted by milovoo at 12:01 PM on April 7, 2004


milovoo - yeast aren't bacteria, they're a mishmash variety of single-celled sac fungi (ascomycetes). eukaryotes, like us. bacteria are prokaryotes (no nucleus, single round chromosome).

but yeast, growing on a plate of media, smell just like fresh-baked bread. which makes the yeast genetics class i'm teaching smell nice, at least...
posted by caution live frogs at 12:05 PM on April 7, 2004


The question is, what other so-called "rational" arguments exist for eating meat from a factory farm?
The meat is cheaper.

There's also shit in it.

Dipsomaniac:
Traditionally, getting this vitamin has not been difficult. In cultures with plant-based diets, the microorganisms that produce B12 grow in the soil and cling to root vegetables, and traditional Asian miso and tempeh contain large amounts of the vitamin. But with industrialized production and improved hygiene, this source of B12 has been eliminated.

and

Vitamin B12 is produced by micro-organisms in the soil. In the past, root vegetables contained adequate amounts of B12. Today root vegetables are cleaned so well that all traces of B12 are removed.

and

The biological argument for vegetarianism has greater validity than the moral one. It may well be that the human body is not designed to subsist on meat (as the Lankavatara Sutra claims). The two aspects of the human anatomy may suggest that vegetarian food is the normal food for humans. The first is the composition of human teeth (where molars are more important than the incisors), and the other is the rather large ratio of the length of the intestines to the body length in humans. Carnivores have incisor teeth to tear the flesh, and short intestines as the putrefying meat has to be expelled from the body as soon as possible. The human body is closer to that of herbivores, but not exclusive herbivores who have a different structure to their stomachs. In fact the human anatomy is a compromise between the pure herbivore and the pure carnivore - in fact it is that of an omnivore. Also the harmful effects from the consumption of animal products (e.g. cholesterol) are not counterbalanced by the alleged lack of high grade protein in vegetarian diets. On balance the biological argument seems to favour vegetarianism over meat-eating.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:06 PM on April 7, 2004


even our Prime Minister is speaking out against it:
Martin says anti-meat ads 'unacceptable'
posted by diVersify at 12:10 PM on April 7, 2004


"neither [fetuses or animals] qualifies for the rights recognized as inherent in human beings" - the mentally retarded are in big trouble then, huh? We need a new modest proposal...

It can be simplified as this: Is your motive your own pleasure, or your desire for virtue?

What you do or do not do may or may not be more harmful than another choice, but did you choose your action to please yourself or to aspire to virtue as you understand it?

Meat eaters invariable choose meat for pleasure. Other pleasurable things: Lying, Cheating, Killing, Stealing. Carry on.
posted by ewkpates at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2004


Caution live frogs, read the link first, I was discussing the possible sources, sorry if that was not clear.

Also, I'm just wondering, is it possible that you've had to do some rationalization to yourself (as it looks like you do animal reseach as a career) and your reasons are logical and rational to you, which make it harder for you to see your points as opinions and not universal truths?
posted by milovoo at 12:15 PM on April 7, 2004


PETA - People for the Eating of Tatsy Animals. God wants us to eat animals,
that's why they're made out of meat. - LowDog

Is there an age limit for the new signups?
Should grade schoolers really be allowed?


LOL. I really thought I had wandered into Fark by mistake.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:20 PM on April 7, 2004


Meat eaters invariable choose meat for pleasure. Other pleasurable things: Lying, Cheating, Killing, Stealing. Carry on.

I guess drugs and sex would also fall into that catagory then?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:22 PM on April 7, 2004


LOL. I really thought I had wandered into Fark by mistake.

Although I did make an incorrect assumption, lowdog has actually been here a long time,
which is the weird part. I hope I didn't offend any noobs.
posted by milovoo at 12:27 PM on April 7, 2004


Lord C - I think you're missing the point. I've been in situations where lying, or even indeed killing someone, seemed a pleasurable choice. But I didn't, because I'm able to understand that my pleasure isn't sacrosanct. It has ramifications.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:32 PM on April 7, 2004


Drugs and Sex... hey, they can help, they can harm. Best to do them well.

Please note that pain relievers block proteins associated with muscle recovery, so beware... some drugs can bum you out.
posted by ewkpates at 12:48 PM on April 7, 2004


While one can appreciate the attempts above to somehow grasp for a rational basis for killing sentient beings, they're all merely tired decorations and variations on a single overarching theme: self interest.

Let us know when it becomes acceptable to raise humans for food and compulsory medical experimentation. Perhaps a nice line of children with genetic anomalies would be appropriate, given the importance of nucleotide consonance to some above.

If DNA semblance trumps all, some of you may want to argue for dressing out and omnivoring (hey, it's natural.... our teeth are designed to rip and tear meat!) your second cousins, but not brothers and sisters. That should be entertaining.

Animals and humans demonstrably feel pain. Animals and humans demonstrably fear. Under any rational and compassionate system of ethics, those simple similarities suffice for rights inclusion.

Certainly, as noted above, there are two "rational" sides to every issue. Every robber and murderer, every rapist, every child abuser has his or her story and "rational justification" for their actions.

Almost always, it is merely that same tired mantra: self interest. Almost always, it is a desire to merely take what can be taken, in the name of self interest and greed.

Enough.

Killing and eating animals is not necessary for the health of humans, and is actually demonstrably unhealthy. Killing and eating animals causes immense suffering in this world.

Pray tell us again: why do you eat meat, and use and abuse animals?

I used to eat meat. I was wrong. Once upon a time, noone enjoyed a good steak more than I. Nevertheless, I choose to eat foods I often enjoy less, simply because there is a horrible, inexcusable, lazy wrong in causing suffering and taking life for the sake of my own pleasure.

I support PETA wholeheartedly for their stances, and for their tactics. They are completely consistent in their policy on pets, recognizing that certain animals now have been unfortunately changed by humans. They certainly seem to have a way of getting the public's attention, including doing so quite regularly here on MetaFilter. A measure of the effectiveness of their efforts is the level of guilty indignation they consistently provoke, including doing so regularly here on MetaFilter. The first step in any revolution is raising consciousness about issues. The pioneers blaze (sometimes harshly...wink) trails and inroads, and leave the less adventurous but no less valuable camp followers to finish shaping the new landscape.

Every moral, ethical, and spiritual teaching through millenia says something about the relative importance and virtue of "self interest". You may be aware that, often within these teachings, there follows a disturbing discussion of other mysterious catalysts:

Empathy. Kindness. Sacrifice. Fellowship. Mercy. Grace. Charity. Love.

Pray tell us: where lies greed amid the constellation of these?

There was more here than profaned the eye or ear or nose or heart. There was more here than mere destruction. The Americn soul itself was involved, its anthropology.

We are born with buffalo blood upon our hands. In the prehistory of us all, the atavistic beasts appear. They graze the plains of our subconscious, they trample through our sleep, and in our dreams we cry out our damnation. We know what we have done, we violent people. We know that no species was created to exterminate another, and the sight of their remnant stirs in us the most profound lust, the most undying htared, the most inexpiable guilt. A living buffalo mocks. us. It has no place or purpose. It is a misbegotten child, a monster with which we cannot live, and which we cannot live without. Therefore we slay, and slay again, for while a single buffalo remains, the sin of our fathers, and hence our own, is imperfect.

But the slaughter of the buffalo is part of something larger. It is as though the land of Canaan into which we were led was too divine, and until we have done it every violence, until we have despoiled and murdered and dirtied every blessing, until we have erased every reminder of our original rape, until we have washed our hands of the blood of every lamb in the blood of every other, we shall be unappeased. It is as though we are too proud to be beholden to Him. We cannot bear the goodness of God.

-- Glendon Swarthout.

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:15 PM on April 7, 2004


Not outraged. Don't think it's a new low. Think it's entirely consistent with their worldview. Believe people have a right to say things that make you or I uncomfortable. Perfectly valid to draw parallels between human on human killing and human on animal killing considering their beliefs equality of respect for species (and the particulars of this case).

Stuff like this won't really do much to convert the savages, though. :)
posted by Blue Stone at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2004


Well, that's it then. I capitulate. I now adore Fold_and _Mutilate.

Right on man. I've got your back.
posted by Dantien at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2004


"(first quoting me): '...neither [fetuses or animals] qualifies for the rights recognized as inherent in human beings' - the mentally retarded are in big trouble then, huh? We need a new modest proposal..."—ewkpates
You may be interested to note that I quite deliberately used the qualifier "generally" against both those groups; and, as it happens, my view is that specifically, third-trimester fetuses and primates do qualify for (some/most/all) the rights recognized as inherent to human beings. And, from the same reasoning, this is even more true for the mentally retarded.

It's not true for the brain dead. These are my own personal judgments.
"It can be simplified as this: Is your motive your own pleasure, or your desire for virtue?"—ewkpates
Not at all. That is an entirely unfair characterization of anti-animal-rightsists. They may reasonably have concluded that there is no virtue in sparing animals and that, furthermore, that there is vice in doing so.

Would I agree with what I imagine is your supposition that most meat-eaters have failed to think carefully about this issue out of a certain selfishness? Yes, I probably would. But being a meat-eater is not necessarily to be selfish and hedonistic. That's an unfair and dishonest characterization.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2004


I don't get one thing about the moral issue for vegetarians. For a moment, I'm going to assume that we're equal to animals which is why a lot or moral vegetarians are against eating meat. some animals also kill other animals to maintain their diet. If we are on equal footing as others animals who kill to sustain life, what makes us so different from them that we cannot also kill to live. Or is it because we have the intellect to see that it is in fact wrong to kill- but even if one supports this, they in fact admit we are not on equal footing with other animals in the first place. But
On another tangent, I also have no problems with humans eating animals because I see ourselves as the top of the food chain. The food chain is a natural biological process of the "highest order" of animals (assuming they're carnivores or omnivores), of which I would venture to say humans are at the top of. To ignore the food chain is to ignore how life on this planet is sustained in the first place.
Note: I only defend the practice of eating meat, NOT the process of how the food ends up from being alive to being in out mouths.
posted by jmd82 at 1:39 PM on April 7, 2004


...none of this has yet developed a justification for the wholesale slaughter of plants (in the trillions per year). Taken by itself, plant slaughter dwarfs all other forms of macroscopic suffering on the planet.

I enjoy eating plants because their suffering is irrelevant to me; this is the same reason why I am able to enjoy eating an animal from time to time.

fold_and_mutilate: how do you justify killing plants? Studies have shown they react to damage, and can therefore be understood to suffer.
posted by aramaic at 1:40 PM on April 7, 2004


Almost always, it is merely that same tired mantra: self interest.

Self-interest is normal and healthy.

"if I am not for myself, then who will be for me"- Rabbi Hillel.
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2004


I'll answer that. Aramaic, try surviving as long as you can not eating plants (or anything that comes from plants). Go on. Try it.

Point is, yes. Something must die in order for something else to live (unless you photosynthesize). But while we can assuredly claim that animals suffer, we are not sure plants suffer. And since to not eat plants is to die, there is a case for the justification of wholesale plant slaughter. As a 14 year vegetarian and 8 year vegan, ive survived just fine. I cause less suffering on this planet than meat eaters. That's all.

The least amount of suffering is the goal. Eating plants does not justify eating meat. And i could bring up the behavior argument. Animals behave like they suffer and plants do not (i don't see trees running from the lumberjack). We don't know if plants suffer, but we can assume that they probably don't.

Sigh, I'm rambling. People, just try to be more compassionate.
posted by Dantien at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2004


jmd82 - we are also animals. And some non-human animals eat their young, so why don't you (or, we)? There is also biological evidence that I pointed to earlier that we are not well-suited to eat flesh.

The food chain argument is ridiculous, so I'm not even going there. If you really believe we're at the top of the food chain, I'd like to see you go at it with a grizzly.

aramaic, I'm not answering for foldy, but seriously. Plants don't have a central nervous system. Sure, they react to their environment, but I believe that our consciousness is intimately connected to our brain and nervous system. By the term "consciousness", I am referring to the ability to feel sensations such as pain, suffering, and a desire to live. Once a person is brain dead, he is no longer able to feel such sensations. Therefore, since plants do not possess anything even remotely resembling a nervous system, I believe it is extremely unlikely that plants can feel pain or suffering.

Furthermore, plants do not exhibit any behavior which would indicate consciousness, nor does the ability to feel pain give plants an evolutionary survival advantage. An animal's survival depends on reacting to situations which may cause pain and suffering. On the other hand, plants can not run away from a predator, nor can plants change their position to avoid a forest fire. Therefore, it is unlikely that plants would develop the ability to feel pain when it confers no survival advantage.

posted by tr33hggr at 1:52 PM on April 7, 2004


We aren't sure plants suffer? Wrong. It's been clearly shown that plants react to damage by releasing various chemicals.

How is that different from the ways in which vertebrates suffer?

(here's a hint: it isn't. Perception of pain is a matter of chemicals, the neural-electric response is a mechanism for achieving rapid chemical action at a point far removed from the point of damage.)

Just because you can't understand the suffering doesn't mean it isn't happening.
posted by aramaic at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2004


The whole "you only eat meat because you enjoy it" argument is ridiculous. I could demand ed/26h (et al) admit that they only eat whatever the hell they eat because they enjoy it.

It's hardly ridiculous. I enjoyed eating meat, but I stopped because I believe it's wrong. I'm sure I would still enjoy the taste of it if I had some today.

The popularity of "meat substitutes" among ethical vegetarians supports my position. Trust me, no one's eating those because they taste better than meat.

... my point is that if hominids hadn't started eating meat (either voluntarily or through forced privation), we humans may not have some to exist, nor argue about whether eating meat is ethical or not.

That's hardly an argument to say that their behavior was ethical, by our standards. One could make similar arguments about all sorts of past human behavior: slavery, colonialism, etc.

if we all lived in desperate, third-world starvation conditions, would PETA exist? i think not. when you either eat what you can get or you starve, nobody cares to sit back and question the ethics. this doesn't mean that it's wrong to question the ethics, nor does it mean that it's right to continue eating whatever. it just means that until the entire world has the same standard of living that most of us in the west do, PETA can shut the hell up and start helping out the less fortunate rather than doing crap like this and proving just how pointless and vapid an organization they really are.

That's patently ridiculous. By your logic, there can only be one right cause that everyone should agree upon, until that cause is solved.

I've met a few people in PETA and similar organizations, and most of them were also deeply involved in other, more traditional causes. I suspect that if you compared the involvement in these causes of PETA members to those who complained about their pointlessness and vapidity, the PETA members would win handily. (I still remember attending a vegetarian conference where they wouldn't serve coffee because of solidarity with a coffee growers' strike, or something like that.)

Finally, I think it's worth pointing out exactly who is the least fortunate among us - those who we eat.

They may reasonably have concluded that there is no virtue in sparing animals and that, furthermore, that there is vice in doing so.

I would be interested in hearing that line of reasoning.

If we are on equal footing as others animals who kill to sustain life, what makes us so different from them that we cannot also kill to live.

We are not on "equal footing." We are moral agents. Animals are not. In my opinion, this alone differentiates us from other animals.

Self-interest is normal and healthy.

I take it you'd be happy in the Hobbesian state of nature, then? That's what unchecked self-interest gives you - the war of all against all.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:04 PM on April 7, 2004


Rocks suffer too. If you throw one real hard, it breaks open and makes a screaming sound. Liberate the rocks!

Seriously, read again what Dantien said. The least amount of suffering. I'm not god incarnate, and I know that nearly everything I consume or purchase has blood on it, is linked to someone or something suffering. It's the basis of capitalism.

But I can make choices to alleviate and reduce that suffering, and that's what my vegetarian brethern and sistern are saying here. If you don't care about how much suffering your enjoyment causes, well, fine. Ignore it, or placate yourself with making fun of vegetarians. I don't give a flying fuck.
posted by tr33hggr at 2:07 PM on April 7, 2004


PETA is idiotic and sensationalistic. The Penn & Teller Bullshit show the other night made that clear.

Dantien, you're close but you make a couple of errors in your logic. Just because we can't measure or otherwise tell that plants don't feel pain, doesn't mean that they don't. It is entirely possible that its excrutiating for vegetables to be harvested. Ignorance of that pain doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

And assuming plants don't feel pain is a rationalization.

With all of that said, no, I don't think it causes more suffering to eat plants than animals. But my goal isn't to impact the world as little as possible. My goal is to take care of my family. I eat meat, my wife doesn't. Does that make me a worse human being? In some eyes, maybe. But not mine and that's really all that matters (that and the guy who approves home loans, his opinion's pretty important too).
posted by fenriq at 2:17 PM on April 7, 2004


I don't give a flying fuck

Liar. You wouldn't have posted if that were the case.

You can directly and immediately reduce the level of suffering on this planet by ceasing to exist. Care to do it?

You can directly and immediately reduce the level of suffering on this planet by not using a computer, because that requires electricity which creates pollution and various ugly heavy metals are used in the manufacturing process. I see you're using a computer, may I assume that you don't care to minimize suffering?

Do you drive a car, or even ride in any motorized vehicle? I'll spare you the long rant on that one, as I imagine it will be filled in for me.

All this talk about minimizing suffering, and you haven't really done anything meaningful to minimize suffering. Oh boy, you eat fractionally fewer animals than I do. Real big step there -- wanna maybe address how your daily actions increase the suffering of fellow humans?

Do you own more clothes than you can wear at any one time? If so, you're enjoying an inappropriate excess and should be either donating those clothes to another person or else shouldn't have bought them in the first place.

Do you live in a space with enough room to walk around? If so, your space is too large and you're taking more than your fair share.

...and so on...

Vegetarianism should be a resource-based choice, not a moral choice, because the moral angle is simply dripping with hypocrisy.
posted by aramaic at 2:24 PM on April 7, 2004


If you really believe we're at the top of the food chain, I'd like to see you go at it with a grizzly.

I don't know if you're aware of this, but humans kill grizzly bears on a fairly regular basis. Your example would be better if you used an animal that humans can't kill, except there aren't any.
posted by kindall at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2004


You're right. I'm an insufferable hypocrite, and people like me would do the world a favor if we killed ourselves. Bye.
posted by tr33hggr at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2004


Ok, I'll throw in the 3rd Penn and Teller reference...I love the statistics that they showed about how the vast majority of animals "rescued" by PETA were subsequently euthanized at PETA headquarters. Nice.

And while were on the subject of PETA, did I ever tell you the story about my Mom and the PETA people? Long story short, my mother was wearing an antique fur coat and was walking into a store. PETA people came charging towards her with a bucket of red paint. My mum, bless her soul, is always heavily armed. As these kids come running and screaming at her, she pulled out a big shiny gun, cocks it, points it at the leader and says "How strongly do you feel about your convictions, boy?"

They scattered like the punks they are. She holstered her gun and carried on into the store. Now, would she have shot them? I don't know. Probably not...but my mom isn't really one of those people you want to spook...so I can't say for sure.

I've been a meat eater, I've been a vegetarian, I even went through a macrobiotic vegan stage. But no matter how or what I choose to eat...I don't have the right to demand that other's do the same. And neither does PETA. They don't have the right to firebomb buildings, they don't have the right to terrorize little old ladies, they don't have the right to frighten children, and they certainly don't have the right to assault people.

And they'd have a lot more credibility if the founder didn't depend on animal products to stay alive, and if they weren't funding wanted terrorists who blow up labs that make medicine. Insulin, anyone?
posted by dejah420 at 2:41 PM on April 7, 2004


Well, if our goal is to alleviate as much suffering as possible, then even the timely slaughter (and later consumption) can be a good act. I raised chickens once upon a time, and after they grew, I took each one, put it's head through the bottle neck of a cut up clorox bottle, then took a knife, cut the throat, and bled the chicken to death. After about an hour I had transformed about eight hens into the store-bought look you see at Albertsons. For maybe a few seconds of sensation. Certainly, they lived a good life until then, and they might even be spared the ravages of age, which some roosters we had, fell to. Why can't the same argument be said about our elderly? Because the chickens don't fear, they don't dread, they don't anticipate death, they don't act sorrowful that they will leave the world, thier family don't mourn at thier grave. In short, while the animal can feel pain, can suffer, it can't experience the same type of emotional anguish we are wired for. We grieve, while I doubt a chicken can.

So, I ate those chickens, and I didn't feel guilty about it. Not to say that everyone should feel the same, and eat meat, I only propose that the humane slaughter (ha, that's an odd combination of words, eh?) for food wasn't an unjust action. I don't feel like I contributed to the suffering of the world either.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2004


As already has already been mentioned, plants don't have a central nervous system. Plants have no way to feel pain. Yes, chemicals are released in response to damage, but thats simply an a-->b process. There isn't a brain which interprets the sensation of pain. The plant doesn't think for one iota "dude, this HURTS. I'm going to run away!" Its like a Venus Flytrap: when it "eats" its pray, it in no way thinks about eating it. It is simply a trigger response for a closeby fly. On the other hand, when a spider traps its fly, it can actually see and sense its prey there. It can interpret whether or not to let the fly stay out there for longer stave off future hunger pains. A Venus Flytrap has no such options. And, yes, the Flytrap can store nutrients in cells, but so can the spider. Lastly, I don't see this as supporting that plants are "lesser than or equal or greater than animal argument. Plants have simply developed over the years to best fit their nutritional needs, as that is one of the main driving forces in evolution. Those that can sustain life have their genes passed on- those which cannot survive do not. Plants are suited for their role- photosynthesis as collectors of nutrients. Animals are suited for our role- scatters of nutrients, as plants need animals just as much as we need them to keep the cycle moving.
posted by jmd82 at 2:55 PM on April 7, 2004


Lord Chancellor, well put.

Its not just about the sensation of pain. All living creatures register pain. The difference between humans and animals is that we possess the ability to remember the past, plan for the future and contemplate the present. I'm sure some animals do do this but the vast majority do not.

The hypocrisy of the founder of PETA having to use insulin and the fact that PETA kills more animals than they save in their own offices pretty well undermines any moral or ethical authority they might have once had.

Thier assault tactics to scare people off of meat are stupid, short sighted and, ultimately, work against their cause. I'd be far more interested in conversating with a reasoned and rational PETA person rather than some rabid spray can toting screamanoid.
posted by fenriq at 3:03 PM on April 7, 2004



You can directly and immediately reduce the level of suffering on this planet by ceasing to exist. Care to do it?

You can directly and immediately reduce the level of suffering on this planet by not using a computer ...

Do you drive a car, or even ride in any motorized vehicle? ...

Do you own more clothes than you can wear at any one time? ...

Do you live in a space with enough room to walk around? ...

Vegetarianism should be a resource-based choice, not a moral choice, because the moral angle is simply dripping with hypocrisy.


Really? So, if a person is bad in many ways, they wouldn't be better off from an ethical perspective if they ceased behaving badly in one of those ways? Well, by that logic I might as well be an axe murderer, I guess.

Leaving aside the difference between consuming resources that others might use and directly causing pain and death to other sentient beings, your statement strikes me as being extremely nihilistic.

And while were on the subject of PETA, did I ever tell you the story about my Mom and the PETA people? Long story short, my mother was wearing an antique fur coat and was walking into a store. PETA people came charging towards her with a bucket of red paint. My mum, bless her soul, is always heavily armed. As these kids come running and screaming at her, she pulled out a big shiny gun, cocks it, points it at the leader and says "How strongly do you feel about your convictions, boy?"

They scattered like the punks they are. She holstered her gun and carried on into the store. Now, would she have shot them? I don't know. Probably not...but my mom isn't really one of those people you want to spook...so I can't say for sure.


And while we're on the subject of responsible handgun ownership, your mother should've been arrested, as she committed a serious crime. Was her life in danger from these people, punks that they are? How strongly would she have felt about her convictions if she'd accidentally popped one of them? I strongly support the right to self-defense, and the right to keep and bear arms - I have fired a handgun at an assailant in self-defense - and people like your mother who abuse that right are the problem, not the solution.

But it's ok to threaten the life of those crazy PETA folks, I suppose. After all, they're so crazy! And it's fun to brandish cocked guns at people with whom you disagree!

Its not just about the sensation of pain. All living creatures register pain. The difference between humans and animals is that we possess the ability to remember the past, plan for the future and contemplate the present. I'm sure some animals do do this but the vast majority do not.

There are plenty of people who don't possess the ability to remember the past, plan for the future, or contemplate the present. Can I eat them? Some of them look tasty!
posted by me & my monkey at 3:58 PM on April 7, 2004


All this talk about minimizing suffering, and you haven't really done anything meaningful to minimize suffering. Oh boy, you eat fractionally fewer animals than I do. Real big step there -- wanna maybe address how your daily actions increase the suffering of fellow humans?

So, what have we learned today?
If you can't solve the world's problems completely right now,
it's best to not do anything, ever.
posted by milovoo at 3:59 PM on April 7, 2004


No, what we've learned is that you shouldn't get all high-and-mighty moralistic on people when they aren't any less moral than you are.

That's the real lesson. If you can't see it, then perhaps it's because you're just too busy feeling morally superior to everyone else.
posted by aramaic at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2004


I take it you'd be happy in the Hobbesian state of nature, then? That's what unchecked self-interest gives you - the war of all against all.

Whether I'm happy with it or not is beside the point. Reality does not require our consent, merely our presence. Look at the news lately, we're in that Hobbesian state and more or less have been since the beginning of humanity.
posted by jonmc at 4:38 PM on April 7, 2004


My cat constantly tries to sleep on my chest, suck on my shirt collar, and dig its claws into me. This morning, with a temperature of 102.5, I picked the cat up, walked it to another room, and set it on a couch. I walked back into my room and fell back asleep. AM I A MURDERAR???//???/??/
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:49 PM on April 7, 2004


Now allow me to give a more educated opinion:

PETA has always been a little 'extreme' from my memory, which makes it hard for them to display themselves as anything but to most Americans. This advertisement is over the top. How do you expect to turn a nation of meat eaters into a nation of vegetarians overnight? In 10 years? In 50 years? Being extreme wont do it, unfortunately.

It is going to take a catastrophe, a natural catastrophe. To people who eat meat (such as myself), i've grown up with it, find it is relatively cheap and quick to prepare (to the chagrin of the people who understand why it is so cheap) and like the habit of peeling out my car in backwood roads, hard to let go.

To truly get americans to stop eating meat, they have to personally see someone die from it. Nothing short of that, other than quadrupling the funds to every high school and hiring hippie teachers for 3 generations, is going to do it.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:06 PM on April 7, 2004


just let me add:

1) I never said plants don't feel pain, i said we DON'T KNOW whether they do and therefore have to CHOOSE.

2) to argue for meat eating by pointing out the hypocrisy of a vegetarian argument does NOT defend your position. don't point out how I cause suffering by using a car as a defense of your position. Tell me how meat eating contributes to the overall well-being and happiness (the hedonistic calculus) of human beings and other sentient creatures.

3) I'm freakin sick and tired of meat eaters insulting vegetarians while vegetarians try to communicate their feelings. If a vegetarian says "you are bad for eating meat" then you have every right to return the favor saying whatever ("you are holier-than-thou"). But if a vegetarian says "I don't eat meat because it's bad for me" then you shouldn't insult them. I don't care who eats meat. Just don't feed it to me and don't try to stop me from communicating and setting examples.

Maybe im seeing it from my own perspective, but people! Why the hostility? its MORE MEAT FOR YOU!!! why not embrace vegetarians and thank them for giving you more all-you-can-eat ribs and buffalo shrimp??? All you do when you insult us is sound like a defenseless child.

Why can't we just friggin embrace our differences? why are we so sensitive to this subject?

ah, forget it. Let's go back to All Your Base/CrapFilter/Where's Quonsar/ etc.
posted by Dantien at 5:06 PM on April 7, 2004


Let's not forget that PeTA funded $70,000 to Rodney Coronado, the infamous self-proclaimed "Enemy of the United States".

This SEVEN TIME loser admitted to and was convicted of being an arsonist.

Indirectly, PeTA wants humans to die. Because that's what an arsonist wants. And when you fund arsonists, you're funding murder.

And let's not forget the $9,000 CORPSE FRIDGE PeTA has on their tax filings. Sends chills through the spine.

BTW: As far as being a vegetarian, forget about it. I'm about to try the Atkins diet, and if that works for me as well as he suggests it does in his book, I'm damn well going to be the happiest man on earth. Happy enough I'll actually be able to squeeze into a leather-boy outfit.
posted by shepd at 5:08 PM on April 7, 2004


Whether I'm happy with it or not is beside the point. Reality does not require our consent, merely our presence. Look at the news lately, we're in that Hobbesian state and more or less have been since the beginning of humanity.

I'm not sure I get your point. If it's simply to say, "life sucks," point taken I guess. But you previously stated that self-interest is normal and healthy, and my response was that unchecked self-interest is bad, bad, bad. So, are you saying that it is bad, but that's just the way the world is, or are you saying that it isn't bad?
posted by me & my monkey at 5:09 PM on April 7, 2004


But if a vegetarian says "I don't eat meat because it's bad for me" then you shouldn't insult them.

I agree entirely. PETA, however, doesn't say that. Most "ethical vegetarians" don't say that. They say "I don't eat meat, and you wouldn't either if you were just as smart/moral/ethical as I am".

...which is what pisses me off. I'm especially irritated by it because it happens all the damn time to me -- I'm almost (but not quite) vegetarian, and I'm fucking sick of people preaching at me because I eat flesh a couple times a year.

Meat-eaters, by contrast, don't seem to give a damn when I order all-veg items. I might get a joke or two, but I don't get a goddamn forty-minute speech on how evil/stupid/monstrous I am.

Vegetarians are, in my experience, the only people who wig out when I eat in ways they don't approve of. Not all of them, mind you, but a hell of a lot of them.
posted by aramaic at 5:20 PM on April 7, 2004


Vegetarians are, in my experience, the only people who wig out when I eat in ways they don't approve of. Not all of them, mind you, but a hell of a lot of them.

Maybe you just need to find some new dinner companions there on Bizarro World. My experience, and that of a lot of other vegetarians I know, is the direct opposite. I've been a vegetarian for ethical reasons for about fifteen years, and never once have I lectured anyone else about their diet, nor have I seen any other vegetarian do so. On the other hand, I literally can't count the number of occasions where my admission of vegetarianism - coaxed out by "why don't you try the steak ..." - hasn't opened the floodgates of questions asking why not and statements telling me that it's perfectly ok to eat meat, that it's natural, and so on, when I just want to be able to eat my goddamned dinner in peace.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:40 PM on April 7, 2004


Maybe you just need to find some new dinner companions there on Bizarro World

...the same could be said of your experiences.
posted by aramaic at 5:44 PM on April 7, 2004


Dantien: Why the hostility?

I thought you whole-heartedly back f&m's post. Maybe it's just me, but that post seemed a tad bit hostile. not that f&m usually isn't hostile or anything...

I think most people (there are, of course, always exceptions) aren't too antagonistic towards the opposing meat-eaters/vegetarians group. The main problems occurs when people start feeling like they're under attack (i.e. "stupid unethical, unfeeling, unhealthy, etc. meat-eaters" / "stupid rabid, idealistic, holier-than-thou, etc. vegetarians"). It almost gets to the point where people assume that the other side is going to automatically criticise, so they preemptively give an explanation of why their particularly outlook makes more sense (to them anyway). On preview: it looks like aramaic and me & my monkey jointly illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.
posted by Stauf at 5:44 PM on April 7, 2004


[Maybe you just need to find some new dinner companions there on Bizarro World]

...the same could be said of your experiences.


Yes, because the vast majority of people are ethical vegetarians, and they're all lining up to criticize your eating habits, right?
posted by me & my monkey at 5:54 PM on April 7, 2004


Yes, because the vast majority of people are ethical vegetarians

In the places I've tended to eat, yes. I take it you think I'm lying?
posted by aramaic at 6:10 PM on April 7, 2004


The main problems occurs when people start feeling like they're under attack (i.e. "stupid unethical, unfeeling, unhealthy, etc. meat-eaters" / "stupid rabid, idealistic, holier-than-thou, etc. vegetarians").

Unfortunately, a lot of people feel "under attack" simply through the acknowledged presence of the other people. I very rarely tell people I'm a vegetarian for ethical reasons, because they often respond with something like "oh, so you think you're better than I am." And, of course, the fact is that in this one respect, I do think I'm better than they are, but I'm not interested in arguing the point with them. I may well be worse than they are in many other respects, of course - I've done (and still do) my share of bad deeds.

As for the PETA ad which started this misbegotten thread, while you may think they're hypocrites or crazy or whatever, I think there are useful analogies to be drawn between the slaughter of people and that of animals, and quite a few similarities on the part of the people doing the slaughtering. We are all, of course, free to disagree, but why do people respond so vehemently to the idea?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:22 PM on April 7, 2004


[Yes, because the vast majority of people are ethical vegetarians]

In the places I've tended to eat, yes. I take it you think I'm lying?


No, I don't think you're lying. I do think you're being unnecessarily obstinate. Most people have no qualms about eating meat. It's quite difficult to surround yourself with ethical vegetarians, given the ratio of meat-eaters to vegetarians. Thus, the "Bizarro World" comment. Do you work at a co-op? Are you trapped on an island populated solely by ethical vegetarians?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:28 PM on April 7, 2004


why do people respond so vehemently to the idea?

This is an interesting question. I'm thinking that it's because people tend to have certain attachments to their foods (emotional memories, etc.). I'm not entirely clear on why people develop these attachments, but it definitely seems to happen.

(and regarding the bizarro world; I've lived in a number of remarkably leftist communities, have worked at coops, and mostly eat in places where it's shockingly easy to surround yourself with ethical vegans. Do you live in Texas or something? Incidentally, I would argue that we're equally obstinate.)
posted by aramaic at 6:39 PM on April 7, 2004


For every animal you don't eat...
posted by LowDog at 6:57 PM on April 7, 2004


why do people respond so vehemently to the idea?

This is an interesting question. I'm thinking that it's because people tend to have certain attachments to their foods (emotional memories, etc.). I'm not entirely clear on why people develop these attachments, but it definitely seems to happen.


As far as I can tell, meat-eaters react against this much more quickly, and more negatively, than people generally do with regard to other hot-button topics like abortion and gay rights. They may hold very strong opinions on those topics, but it takes a little longer for the put-downs to start flying.

(and regarding the bizarro world; I've lived in a number of remarkably leftist communities, have worked at coops, and mostly eat in places where it's shockingly easy to surround yourself with ethical vegans. Do you live in Texas or something? Incidentally, I would argue that we're equally obstinate.)

You don't have to live in Texas to be in the minority, when you're a vegetarian. You can live anywhere at all. I live in DC, actually. Steak houses are all the rage with the business set here.

I may be obstinate in continuing to respond to you, but surely you will admit that there are far more meat-eaters than ethical vegetarians? If you won't admit that, you are clearly more obstinate than I.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:04 PM on April 7, 2004


As far as I can tell, meat-eaters react against this much more quickly, and more negatively, than people generally do with regard to other hot-button topics like abortion and gay rights

OK, you lost me completely there. Clearly our experiences are very different, because I've never seen anyone send letter-bombs to a steakhouse or shoot a butcher, whereas both of those happen in relation with abortion activism.

I absolutely concur that there are more meat-eaters -- that was, I thought, never in doubt. I don't believe *I* implied otherwise, at any rate. If you feel differently I've clearly failed to express my point.

...or are you merely being obstinate?
posted by aramaic at 7:31 PM on April 7, 2004


"and quite a few similarities on the part of the people doing the slaughtering."

Your saying that a person who slaughters pigs may have a lot in common with a person who slaughters hookers on the highway? No dude, and not only on a socially acceptable level. They are completely different people, unless they slaughter hookers for meat.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:22 PM on April 7, 2004


Yes, you said that everyone has their own opinion, but the only way your point makes any sense is on the physcial level, like both human and chicken can be slaughtered with an axe.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:27 PM on April 7, 2004


The most memorable thing in this thread for me was the revelation that dejah420's mom goes around heavily armed. You are a strange lot, my American friends.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:45 PM on April 7, 2004


Guess what! PeTA itself is a TWO TIME loser! LOL!
posted by shepd at 12:10 AM on April 8, 2004


One more thing...

Listen, folks: it is not irrational or pathetic to have one of these opposing views, and the people on the opposite side of the fence are not deserving of your ridicule, as much as you may enjoy it.

Etherial Bligh, sure, ok, I'll let you have that one simply because it gives me the opportunity to make some quotes to show what is pathetic:

"...sometimes the only kind option for some animals is to put them to sleep forever." - Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA President

Did you get that?

One more time, shouting, for all to hear:

"...SOMETIMES THE ONLY KIND OPTION FOR SOME ANIMALS IS TO PUT THEM TO SLEEP FOREVER." - Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA President

"We could become a no-kill shelter immediately. It means we wouldn't do as much work." - Ingrid Newkirk

It's OK for *YOU* to kill to speed up your process of saving animals. But when someone kills a rat to save a human being quicker, that's WRONG???!?!?!?!? WTF PeTA? That makes ZERO logical sense.

In 1999...

PeTA befriended - 2103 animals
PeTA killed - 1325 animals

In Other Words, 63% of all animals taken in by PeTA are KILLED by PeTA themselves.

You aren't going to get around those stats. Choke on that PeTA supporters, and get back to me with a response. Can't?

[sigh] What a surprise. [/sigh]
posted by shepd at 1:32 AM on April 8, 2004


My God, I guess I should have expected a huge reaction. I didn't even bother reading over most of the replies.

Regardless of what you eat, you have to admit that whether or not the PETA stepped over the line in your books, they DEFINITELY stepped over the line with regards to all the victims' families.

Not only do they have to cope with the loss of a loved one and try to make sense of a senseless death, they now have to make sense of how thoughtless some people can be to use their daughters' deaths as a vehicle for an animal cruelty group to spread their message.

Spread the message about animal cruelty all they want, but for God's sake, have some respect for people who want nothing to do with it.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 2:00 AM on April 8, 2004


Shepd:

It is hard to identify from your post exactly what it is you were trying to say due to the style in which it was written, but it seems to be based on a couple of fallacies. Firstly, you suggest the Newkirk quote “...sometimes the only kind option for some animals…” is directly contradictory to PETA’s policies. But for your argument to succeed, you require the following to also be true...

Treating an animal ethically and killing that animal are always mutually exclusive actions.

This clearly isn't the case. For instance, if an animal is in the final stages of a painful and drawn-out illness, the ethical option would be to euthanize it.

It's OK for *YOU* to kill to speed up your process of saving animals. But when someone kills a rat to save a human being quicker, that's WRONG???!?!?!?!? WTF PeTA? That makes ZERO logical sense.

This is a false analogy. You have changed the causation on the opposing side of the equation. The correct analogy would read…

It's OK for *YOU* to kill to speed up your process of saving animals. But when someone kills a rat to speed up their process of saving animals that's WRONG???!?!?!?!? WTF PeTA? That makes ZERO logical sense.

In this case, it is correct to say that would make no logical sense, however, PETA have never said that.
posted by ed\26h at 3:14 AM on April 8, 2004


ed\26h, perhaps you have missed the humane society protests funded by PeTA* against putting animals down that are diseased and dangerous (to themselves, humans, and other animals)?

You see, that's what PeTA admits to doing. You can't protest someone else doing it and fund it yourself without seeming at least a teeny bit selfish and hypocritical. Ok, not a teeny bit. A lot.

I'm not basing that part of my argument on equating anything to anything. I'm basing it on the fact that PeTA is founded on duplicitous notions. That's all the evidence anyone needs to require a second opinion on anything they say and, quite honestly, to go elsewhere for information to start with.

In other words, any advertisement by them should be ignored as purposeful misinformation.

That's the missing link that I assumed (wrongly) people knew about.

I should also mention that Ingrid Newkirk is on record having stated that all animals which aren't liberated are enslaved, and that PeTA will not stop until all animals are liberated.

Yet, PeTA admits they hold animals in captivity themselves (2103 of them). PeTA admits to being slave masters, to keeping animals, to preventing animals from being liberated. Thereby they admit that they themselves are the direct cause of their cause never having an ending. Causes without endings are nothing but crusades.

I'll post the appropriate quotes here, if you'd like.

eg\26h, humans *are* animals, so if you want to correct it that way, it still fits the bill. I was simply attempting add clarity to the situation, but if you would prefer it be less clear (yet still applicable), so be it. Animal testing to save non-human animals has been known to be done on animals, too, so sure. Why not.

And yes, PeTA's president made those quotes. Look at the article. Search about. They're mentioned all over and Ingrid's made no moves to correct any "mistakes".

* - 4 times the PeTA funds spent to "protect" animal shelters are funneled to terrorist groups and criminals that commit, among other crimes, arson, assault, vandalism, and property destruction against them (along with other institutions). That is duplicity in action, that's PeTA.

WAIT. There's more. Stop the presses for some juicy quotes from the man PeTA gave $10k in support money to:

Matter of fact, if an "animal abuser" were to get killed in the process of burning down a research lab, I would unequivocally support that, too," -- Quoted in "Activist devotes life to animal rights", Toledo Blade, June 24, 2001

There you go. PeTA gives money to men with murder on the mind. What more do I need to do to convince you they are a danger to society and that it's healthy to an extreme skepticism towards anything they say?
posted by shepd at 4:57 AM on April 8, 2004


well besides the usual gruff, I'm fairly certain there's a PETA quote that goes something like 'of course we think the nazis were doing a good thing. thinning out the human population is never wrong.'

Can anyone find this stumble on this again for me?
posted by angry modem at 5:35 AM on April 8, 2004


ed\26h, perhaps you have missed the humane society protests funded by PeTA* against putting animals down that are diseased and dangerous (to themselves, humans, and other animals)?

Again, this fact does not contradict “Treating an animal ethically and killing that animal are always mutually exclusive actions.”

In other words, any advertisement by them should be ignored as purposeful misinformation.

This is argumentum ad hominem. You are suggesting that were merely need to attack the author of the statements put forward rather than attacking the statements themselves. PETA may well put out a lot of misinformation, but if they were to make an announcement proclaiming “the earth is round!” it would not be wise to immediately assume it is flat.

PeTA gives money to men with murder on the mind. What more do I need to do to convince you they are a danger to society and that it's healthy to an extreme skepticism towards anything they say?

To expand on this a little, in fact, PETA gave money to this man to make anti-fur advert, not, as your post seems to imply, to directly fund the killing of people or any other violent acts. If I could dig out a hateful, outrageous or otherwise unpleasant quote from anyone you may have at some stage purchased goods or services from, you must agree that is not proof you yourself hold or are even related to these ideals.

Finally, PETAs funding may well go to highly questionable organisations, Newkirk may go on record saying a lot of total nonsense and you don't need to convince me at all that it’s healthy to take a sceptical view of anything they say. I already believe that it is. Your argument which purported to prove this but did not, however, this is not what I took exception to.
posted by ed\26h at 5:41 AM on April 8, 2004


Thank God. Someone mentioned Nazis. We can stop now.
posted by papercake at 5:46 AM on April 8, 2004


eh!? Then they won't mind if we start gassing PETA members only right? [that just can't be a real quote...]
posted by dabitch at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2004


I'm a vegetarian, nearly vegan, but if I were starving, there are quite a few people posting in this thread I'd gladly eat.

Not that I'm, like, a brain-sucking zombie or anything. If I were, I'd starve trying to feed off LowDog or some of the others of you.
posted by Shane at 7:30 AM on April 8, 2004


[As far as I can tell, meat-eaters react against this much more quickly, and more negatively, than people generally do with regard to other hot-button topics like abortion and gay rights]

OK, you lost me completely there. Clearly our experiences are very different, because I've never seen anyone send letter-bombs to a steakhouse or shoot a butcher, whereas both of those happen in relation with abortion activism.


I've never seen either of those happen with abortion providers either - they are not what "people generally do." Obviously, some people do these things, but they are a tiny minority. On the other hand, I've been derided in public for being an ethical vegetarian, but not for being openly gay.

I absolutely concur that there are more meat-eaters -- that was, I thought, never in doubt. I don't believe *I* implied otherwise, at any rate. If you feel differently I've clearly failed to express my point.

...or are you merely being obstinate?


If you concur, then why did you disagree with my "bizarro world" comment? Obviously, you have to go out of your way to surround yourself with a tiny, differently-minded minority.

Your saying that a person who slaughters pigs may have a lot in common with a person who slaughters hookers on the highway? No dude, and not only on a socially acceptable level. They are completely different people, unless they slaughter hookers for meat.

Yes, I'm saying that all of those activities require a lack of empathy, a detachment from the suffering of others, that is unpleasant and unhealthy for the person doing the killing as well as those around him. I'll go further and add soldiers in wartime to this category.

I'm not saying that these acts are all morally equivalent - far from it. There are obvious similarities between them, though. It's worth pointing out that may well be a correlation between animal cruelty and the propensity toward violence against humans.

Regardless of what you eat, you have to admit that whether or not the PETA stepped over the line in your books, they DEFINITELY stepped over the line with regards to all the victims' families.

Not only do they have to cope with the loss of a loved one and try to make sense of a senseless death, they now have to make sense of how thoughtless some people can be to use their daughters' deaths as a vehicle for an animal cruelty group to spread their message.

Spread the message about animal cruelty all they want, but for God's sake, have some respect for people who want nothing to do with it.


You may find their message distasteful, or objectionable, but they certainly have the right to say it. Their message doesn't lessen the horror and brutality of the murders. If the parallel between the murders and the routine slaughter of food animals makes them, or you, uncomfortable or upset, perhaps you should think about why it upsets you. After all, if it's total BS, it wouldn't upset you, would it?
posted by me & my monkey at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2004


No hostility at all guys! just frustrated. And once again, my frustration at meat eaters and their teasing and defensiveness in no way supports those vegetarians who endlessly proselytize and harass meat eaters (Steakhouse Baby!). I used to be one of those myself and I've come to regret that.

I imagine alot of it results from frustration. When people turn vegetarian, we tend to think it's a great change for the world and want to share it. However, it comes across as harsh quite often (moreso after some time and no one has heard us). This is not an excuse, but an explanation.

I get teased. I get meat snuck into meals made for me and then the joke is admitted and everyone laughs ("Hahaha! Sean, there was meat in that! Gotcha!"). I know most of you are kind, loving people, but trust me when I say meat eaters can be remarkable cruel to those of us experimenting with a new type of diet. Maybe it challenges people's deeply-held beliefs of food, but ive never forced a single person to stop eating meat. But monthly I get forgotten at picnics (every potluck item has meat), teased at family gatherings, etc. Heck, I went camping a few weeks ago in NC and my fellow campers mocked me endlessly on my diet selections in the woods (tofu..no canned tuna or chicken). From our side, we just want to be left alone.

The Fundies, whether religious, dietary, or whatever, can go Fark themselves.
posted by Dantien at 8:01 AM on April 8, 2004


I get meat snuck into meals made for me and then the joke is admitted and everyone laughs

Dear God, I really would administer the mother of all beatings if someone did that to me. Get new friends I say (and poor you if they're family... :-( )
posted by bifter at 9:23 AM on April 8, 2004


My ex-wife was a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Outside the community of our peers, she got shit all the time for being a vegetarian. On the other hand, in the community of our peers, I've known quite a few really obnoxious self-righteous vegetarians who've given me shit for being a meat-eater. One of the things I really, really liked about my ex-wife was that she was staunchly a vegetarian though was not ostentatious about it. She led by example and it clearly wasn't a lifestyle accessory, as it is with some people. So, honestly, my experience supports both of your conflicting impressions. Depends upon the social contexts. The US (and most other places, for that matter) is not homogenous, you know.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2004


On the other hand, in the community of our peers, I've known quite a few really obnoxious self-righteous vegetarians who've given me shit for being a meat-eater.

... So, honestly, my experience supports both of your conflicting impressions. ...


My point, such as it is, is simply that you can choose the community of your peers a little more than you can shape the beliefs and control the behavior of the majority. I imagine that if I brought a steak sandwich into Vegetable Garden (a nice DC-local Chinese vegetarian restaurant), I'd get some nasty looks and probably comments as well. But, to compare that with the treatment that vegetarians commonly receive in the larger society strikes me as kind of silly - one can't really avoid the presence of society.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2004


ed\26h, yeah, that's an ad-hominem attack. But they're warranted and on topic when:

- Your opponent regularly uses them against you, in extreme ways, even violating Godwin's law suggesting you are a Nazi sympathist.
- Your opponent's "main representation" directly funds arson, and indirectly funds people who are willing to murder for their cause. That is support of terrorism and the fact they are willing to admit to it absolutely sickens me.

If you are double faced enough to say that killing animals is wrong, then kill them yourself you had better be willing to take a LOT of heat and ad-hominem attacks. Because they're wholly deserved. You can't advocate for groups that commit arson and not expect to be ridiculed.

It's simple, really. Since Godwin's been invoked, and since PeTA started it, I can finally say this:

Neo-Nazis burn down buildings and spray paint them with their marks, too.

How horribly hypocritical to fund groups that express themselves as Nazis do, then tell us we support Nazism because we eat meat.

Fuck you, PeTA. You are the most two faced, duplicitous group known to mankind and deserve every last ad-hominem attack I can provably throw your way. It wouldn't be so bad if I were lying, but I'm not making any of that up, am I? I provided more than enough references. And, in the case of this post, I didn't even mention the leader of PeTA. *ALL OF PeTA, assumedly, SUPPORTS ARSON AND IS WILLING TO KILL ANIMALS*. Unless, of course, Ingrid Newkirk herself put down each and every one of those animals and all that money came from her pocket.

Fat chance.
posted by shepd at 5:25 AM on April 9, 2004


If you are double faced enough to say that killing animals is wrong, then kill them yourself you had better be willing to take a LOT of heat and ad-hominem attacks.

So how about people who support the right to euthanasia or abortion? Would they therefore support the right to be an axe murderer or a cannibal? Very few things in life are as simple as you make them out to be.

You're free to dislike the messenger as much as you want, but it says nothing about the value or validity of the message. In that sense, ad-hominem attacks are never warranted, and anyone who recognizes them as such will simply disregard them.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:43 AM on April 9, 2004


Damn I came to this thread late. On the aramaic vs. m&mm getting flak for your diet point, my experience has been that the vegetarian gets maybe one or two questions regarding their diet, and if they're eating among the same group of people later, it never comes up again. My diet of absolutely no vegetables, however, is constantly a topic of conversation...even after years of dining with the same people. I don't really mind as long as I'm not getting attacked, but I get more questions and teasing than vegetarian friends, for sure.

I eat meat for pleasure, and I agree with aramaic about the hypocrisy of demanding people give up meat but not giving up other things yourself that contribute to animal suffering. If you feel justified living your lifestyle at the expense of animal suffering, then you're agreeing that your pleasure is more important than animal rights, and how much pleasure you derive out of that agreement is up to you. I choose to go as far as eating them, you choose to only drive them out of their habitats and pollute their water in order to get the products that you enjoy.
posted by sip at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2004


shepd:

Whether these attacks are "warranted" or not is not something I'm about to contest, that would seem to be purely aesthetic. To say that if your opponent uses fallacy against you, you are free to use it against them is a nice bit of tu quoque, but it doesn't get anyone anywhere. Your second explanation of when such attacks are warranted begs the question, it relies on the truth of precisely the point which is being debated.

Buts lets say I concede and agree with everything on which this warranty relies. We have gone from you suggesting that you have proved PETA should always be dismissed to simply saying that you are free to abuse them with no regard for logical argument. While I find this regrettable, it's not really any of my business.
posted by ed\26h at 6:13 AM on April 10, 2004


sip:

You seem to be relying on the consistency of the messenger to judge the truth of the message. Lets say, two persons indulged in the rape and murder of women. Jeff and Bob. Jeff is happy in this way of life, but Bob has decided it is immoral so while he will continue to rape, he will no longer murder his victims. Would you then say that Bob's new way of life is in no way morally preferable to Jeff's? Would Bob not be speaking the truth were he to say to Jeff "my way of life is morally preferable to yours"?

I am a little concerned that my refutation gives rather too much credit to your equivocation regarding suffering. Namely that directly causal suffering is morally no worse than indirect, incidentally causal suffering: "Since when driving my car, I am polluting the atmosphere and therefore degrading people's health, I may as well just run down as many people as I like"
posted by ed\26h at 6:15 AM on April 10, 2004


I would still think Bob is hypocritical if he says he stopped murdering to alleviate human suffering, and heckled Jeff while he's trying to carry on his murders. If you rape women because you think they're inferior and just there for your pleasure (to an extent), while I rape and murder women for the same reason, then I don't see the moral superiority.

I was actually going to point out the direct vs. indirect point too, when someone mentioned torturing a cat for pleasure. I think eating meat is just as indirect and incidental, since my purpose isn't to cause it suffering, but to obtain the meat. If the meat could come from some other source (laboratory grown, etc.) without compromising quality, at a similar price, I would be happy eating that. Is that so different from you buying wood products that destroy forest animals through loss of habitat? Or metal products that kill aquatic organisms from processing waste discharged into lakes? I happen to buy meat products that necessitate the killing of farm animals.
posted by sip at 1:24 PM on April 10, 2004


while I rape and murder women for the same reason, then I don't see the moral superiority.

Well, you would be correct. There would be none. But in my example, Bob had stopped the murderous lifestyle. Wether you think Bob is hypocritical or not is irrelevant, if a thief were to say to you "it is wrong to steal", his occupation does not affect the truth of what he is saying.

Stating that causing death and suffering is not the point of eating meat does not refute the argument that is it directly causal. The fact is that eating meat directly requires the death and suffering of animals as you accept at the end of your post. Eating a steak directly requires the death of a cow, torturing a cat directly requires the suffering of a cat but purchasing wood or metal products does not directly require anything's death or suffering. Even if it did though, it would still be morally preferable to continue to consume these products while not eating meat.

The very fact that you say you would prefer to consume meat if it could be produced identically in a laboratory commits you to the belief that not killing animals for food is morally preferable to doing so.
posted by ed\26h at 3:45 AM on April 11, 2004


You seem to be relying on the consistency of the messenger to judge the truth of the message.

Sorry I missed this line when considering the analogy initially. So we're agreeing that its hypocritical for vegetarians to make the ethical argument, provided the difference in directness is negligible. I guess I'm confused on your definition of directly causal. If torturing a cat has the same level of directness (in terms of causing animal suffering) as buying a steak from the supermarket and eating it, it doesn't seem much less direct if you're buying wood products that certainly requires killing trees, and any animals dependent on them.

Not killing animals for food may be morally preferable, but to the small degree that my purchase choice is practically unaffected by it. I guess the "I would be happy eating that" should really be "I would be just as happy eating that". It may be morally preferable to set a bug free instead of squishing it, but I generally don't bother, unless it happens to be very convenient.
posted by sip at 8:25 PM on April 11, 2004


Virtue is striving for perfection, not the achievement of it. Hedonism is the preference of pleasure over virtue. Any pursuit of virtue involves a negotiation with it, and an acceptance of failure as a part of the pursuit.

Sip confuses the perfection of outcome with the perfection of purpose, which is regrettable.

If I try to be virtuous (whatever that might mean) rather than doing what I enjoy, then I am human. If I do what I enjoy, then I am an animal.

If I rationalize doing what I enjoy, regardless of the harm it involves, then I am a beast.
posted by ewkpates at 5:46 AM on April 12, 2004


Not killing animals for food may be morally preferable, but to the small degree that my purchase choice is practically unaffected by it. I guess the "I would be happy eating that" should really be "I would be just as happy eating that".

If this is really what you meant, it seems very strange that you should have mentioned it in the first place as it is neither here nor there with regards to the subject. But more to the point, you are basing it's degree of moral superiority (or quasi moral superiority) on whether or not it would cause you to change your buying habits. Since you already have not changed these habits even without the option of such alternatives, this statement is of little worth.

...So we're agreeing that its hypocritical for vegetarians to make the ethical argument...

This is not what I was saying. I was saying that it is irrelevant to the truth of the matter whether they are not. But for what it's worth, no, I don't think they are, but to show this I must first address your next point.

If torturing a cat has the same level of directness (in terms of causing animal suffering) as buying a steak from the supermarket and eating it, it doesn't seem much less direct if you're buying wood products that certainly requires killing trees, and any animals dependent on them.

This is a complex question. I am asked to accept or reject both propositions at once. However, while I agree that buying wood products requires the killing of trees (something there is no moral problem with as long as suitable ecological and sustainability related measures are in place) I do not agree that doing so certainly requires the killing of animals, and the use of the word "dependent" presupposes I accept both the propositions.

For your argument to succeed you require the following to be sound...

It is not possible obtain wood products without causing the death or suffering of animals.

But it is clearly false. Even if I were to concede that with mass scale wooden product manufacture we can never be sure that we do not cause the death and/or suffering of at least some animals, it would be spurious to suggest that this is in any way on or near to the scale known to be caused by the meat industry.

It may be morally preferable to set a bug free instead of squishing it, but I generally don't bother, unless it happens to be very convenient.

This is simply a description of how you, personally behave. It is unconnected with the morality of the behavior itself.

I'm glad though, that we have established that eating meat is less morally preferable than refraining from doing so and that we are merely ironing out the semantics of the consistency angle.
posted by ed\26h at 11:31 AM on April 12, 2004


aint this thread dead yet? jeez.

i do so enjoy how any conversation about whether it's ok to eat meat or be a vegeterian generally ends up in either a shouting match ("meat is murder" vs. "shut up, it tastes good") or a moralistic argument. so i'll avoid both and go back to the biology, since it's what i know best.

from tr33huggr's post:

"The biological argument for vegetarianism has greater validity than the moral one. It may well be that the human body is not designed to subsist on meat (as the Lankavatara Sutra claims)...In fact the human anatomy is a compromise between the pure herbivore and the pure carnivore - in fact it is that of an omnivore."

wasn't at all clear on how this makes it obvious that, biologically, it's better to eat veggies. if we're omnivores, that means that we've been adjusted through millions of years of evolution to eat both meat and veggies. biologically speaking, we're top consumers, and geared to do best when we eat a varied diet - like a chimp, who eats both vegetation, fruits, and will hunt and kill other animals. not like a gorilla, giant vegeterian with massive jaw muscles designed to chew tough plant fiber.

the health argument also isn't so obvious. much of the "meat is bad for you" stems from the fact that cooked meat isn't so good for you. burned flesh can and will contribute to cancer. also, farm raised meat isn't necessarily good for you; fattier, often with additives designed to ward off disease or encourage growth that make it not so good.

the real problem is that our culture has outpaced our intestines. we have changed the way in which we prepare our food, enabling us to live off of a different diet than that which we first evolved to eat. don't believe me? try eating an all-vegeterian diet, without cooking anything. you won't be able to find much to eat at different times of the year. try this somewhere that does not have any available human-modified produce - no corn, just grass seeds. no giant juicy apples, just little hawthorns and rose hips. try actually living on the subsitence diet we all evolved from. you cannot get enough nutrients unless you supplement the diet with easy-to-digest raw meat (which, if eaten immediately, is perfectly safe, and very easy to digest - hence the simple intestine of the carnivore) or cook the plant material to allow your digestive tract to be able to break down the cell walls and release the chemicals you need to survive. herbivores have symbiotic bacteria in their guts that help them break down plant matter (something that we dfo not have) and they also have large fermenting chambers (either enlarged stomach, or enlarged cecum [appendix]) to store this material until it can be digested. the human stomach is single-chambered and quite small, like that of a carnivore. the cecum (appendix) is a vestigial organ in humans. without cooking plants, we can't digest them in any kind of an efficient way.

so what it comes down to is a choice, plain and simple. you can choose to continue eating the traditional human diet, the raw-meat-and-plants one you evolved to eat; you can modify this diet by preparing the food differently (that is, cooking it), even though there are both advantages and disadvantages to this plan; or you can, through our modified methods of food preparation, live entirely off of non-animal food, something that our species has never been able to do until recently.

if you want to put some kind of moral spin on this, that's your right. if you want to be a vegan and feel all holier-than-thou, before you feel too good about your choice try telling people still living on subsitience diets how immoral it is. if you want to go atkins and eat nothing but raw red meat from cows that smoke, you go right ahead, but don't blame anyone but yourself for your terminal halitosis and eventual colon cancer. if you want to argue ad nauseum with everyone who doesn't eat what you eat, i kindly ask you to hush, and mind your own business; doesn't matter which side of the fence you're on, let everyone else eat in peace.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:51 AM on April 13, 2004


For what it's worth, I agree with the biological aspect of your post. Yes, until relatively recently we have been unable to live healthily from a vegetarian diet, but now that we can, as discussed above, we are morally obliged to do so. If our very life or health depended on it, consuming meat would not be a moral issue. But when we are causing death and suffering of animals solely because we enjoy the taste and a suitable alternative is available (as I'm sure applies to at least the vast majority of people who visit this site) it certainly is.

The conclusion implied is that because the practice of eating meat is natural it is therefore justified, (at least that's what I presume the "so what it comes down to is a choice" section of your post means since simply pointing out that our society allows us a choice would not be useful) but while I agree fully that it is natural behavior for a human being to eat meat, it does not follow that because it is natural it is morally justified. For instance, many natural actions are not morally justified once you enter into a social contract such as the one in which we live. It is natural not to require consent before having sex with someone, but I imagine you agree that it would be immoral to act in such a way. It is just as unnatural to refrain from killing people you see as a threat to the dominance of your genetics. etc.

if you want to put some kind of moral spin on this, that's your right.

Suggesting that it is spin would be to beg the question. It seems odd that you say you want to avoid the ethical sections of the subject (perhaps you meant simply to avoid reading them?) and then present this without addressing any of the previous arguments made.

if you want to be a vegan and feel all holier-than-thou, before you feel too good about your choice try telling people still living on subsitience diets how immoral it is.

This is particularly strange. For one thing you seem to suggest that people who have to live on subsistence diets must have some kind of preternaturally omniscient understanding of dietary related ethics. While it would seem rather tactless to approach such a person and announce "If you didn't have to eat meat to live or stay healthy you would not be justified in doing so", that in no way affects the truth value of the statement. Other things which do not affect this value are how many times before you have heard these arguments or how bored or sick they make you feel.

Asking people who have put forward rational arguments which you have not addressed to shut up and go away does little to justify your behavior. I'm sure we can all think of a particularly unfashionable analogous character to whom we could tie that sentiment.
posted by ed\26h at 4:17 PM on April 13, 2004


« Older The Kingdom of Loathing....  |  John Ashcroft's Patriot Games.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments