Eating Meat Is Wrong Essay Help


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Why I Eat Meat (And Why You Should, Too)

I started writing about food because I was tired of vegetarians and vegans telling me I should stop eating meat all together as my carnivorous consumption was inhumane and contrary to humanities’ evolution as a species. I eat meat. I will continue to eat meat. And I think you should too.

One of my quickest responses to the vegetarian/vegan anti-meat rhetoric is that if we were all vegetarians, there would be no fertilizer and then eventually no plants. If we only consumed plants, all the farmland now used to raise livestock would have to be used to raise edible plants, which could mean no livestock and in turn, no fertilizer from that livestock. In the long term, this would mean no plants. Or plants only raised on artificially produced fertilizers, which would also mean polluted waters.

Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than this. And there are much better arguments for why to eat meat. Vegetarians and vegans often focus their anti-meat campaigns on the cattle industry, so I am going to focus mostly on beef production.

Before I continue, there is bad beef and good beef, and I only eat good beef. We have all read the news articles and watched the horrifying videos about cows who are so sick and malnourished that they cannot walk or even stand up, but are then pushed by a forklift to be slaughtered and made into steaks. I don’t eat these and I don’t think you should either. There are such things as happy cows – cows raised on grass-only diets in open, green pastures.

Bad beef is raised on corn meal, which cows stomachs have not evolved to digest properly, which often leaves cows with serious stomach problems. On the other hand, cows’ ruminant digestive systems are well evolved to digest grass; The cow’s digestive system has two stomachs in which the food is softened first before being fully digested in the second stomach. In this manner, feeding cows food other than grass messes with their natural digestive process; one of the reasons why cows are given so many antibiotics now is because feeding them corn and other food that their stomachs aren’t meant to digest causes an upset in their bodies natural chemistry, thus opening them up to infection.

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Jacky Hayward

Jacky is an omnivorous eater, food writer, social media nerd, and the founder of Jilli Ice Cream. She currently lives in San Francisco and maintains a blog called OmniEater, which she started in response to the large number of vegetarians and vegans she’s encountered in San Francisco and because of her belief in the importance of omnivorous consumption. To read what else she’s up to, go to her website

Most mornings, Jacky starts her day with a glass of raw milk, a cup of Kona coffee, and two to three pieces of buttered, sour dough toast.

You can follow Jacky on twitter @jackyhayward and friend her on Chef’s Blade here

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Having haemochromatosis is another good reason. Also, I object to your statement that animals don'thave morality. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:49, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Good point, thanks!--talk 05:53, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Vegetarian or vegan? I suggest starting with some definitions.--ZooGuard (talk) 05:55, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Splitting those hairs doesn't interest me, and aren't really important. Under the heading about how animals are killed during grain production, I will address concerns about degree of vegetarianism (so to speak).--talk 06:05, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree with ZooGuard about definitions, you need to state what you consider as a 'sentient' animal. Simply by existing you're responsible for the death of untold numbers of microscopic animals, I assume you rate the continued existence of some living creatures as having more worth than others? It should address the need of humanity to kill some animals for reasons other than meat (for example, pest control). Also most of the points raised are arguments against the eating of meat, not the benefits of vegetarianism. I like the concept behind your essay, but you should focus a little more on why being a vegetarian is better, not that eating meat is bad (a subjective value). Otherwise, rename your essay Why you shouldn't eat meat. I look forwards to reading the section on why our evolution as omnivorous creatures requiring certain essential amino acids found almost exclusively in animal fats shouldn't prevent us from being vegetarian. Natman (talk) 07:51, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

I titled the essay the way I did for rhetorical purposes: I like the way it sounds now, better. I recognize that the essay lacks rigor, as does my breezy avoidance of defining my terms precisely. Generally speaking, I am trying to be conversational in tone. Looking at my use of these words, I also think it doesn't really matter. The definition you have for "sentient" is probably the same as mine. If it really seems to matter at some point - if someone's argument hinges on the meaning of something - I will define it.--talk 23:05, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
You should include a section on the cost to resource ratio of meat production. When you eat meat you're also in effect consuming the resources used to rear said animal - the feed that the animal consumed also required land and resources to produce. It's a less efficient substance to eat on a land use to calorific value. From an efficiency viewpoint in modern, western farming it's much better to use the land that the animal required to grow the equivalent calorific value in crops.
I should point out that I am not a vegetarian. I disagree with a lot of the points you raise, specifically about the morality of it all; I have no moral qualms at all about an animal dying to feed me, it's not unnatural and so long as there was no undue suffering my conscious is clear. Either a living creature is sentient, or it's not. Given I kill millions of living organsisms everyday, just by living, getting guilty about one or two larger lifeforms seems a little pedandic. However, I am of the opinion that in an overcrowded world, until we perfect vat-grown meat (mmmm, taste the nutrient broth), raising animals for foodstuffs is simply inefficient and will become more expensive as land becomes scarcer. I agree on a vegetarian diet on practical grounds, but in no way do I oppose the eating of meat. Eating meat is a very efficient form of calorie, nutrient and by-product production for subsistence farming, however, as that form of farming is done in areas with very poor arable prospects and you couldn't grow crops with a sufficient density and quality to survive. Natman (talk) 12:19, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
It's true that there is an enormous waste of resources in meat-production. Plus, it's arguably riskier from a health perspective - bioconcentration ensures that the poisons that are increasingly rampant in our world become a thousandfold (literally) more dense in meat than plants. I will definitely include such information as I expand this essay.
I understand your reasons for not feeling guilty, believe me. There is certainly a degree of consideration that must be taken - I will always help the wounded child over any number of wounded animals. But just because you can't live a life perfectly free from carnage doesn't mean you can't at least reduce the number of animals who suffer and die for your tasting pleasure. You can't avoid killing bacteria when you brush your teeth to maintain your own health, but you can certainly get a Veggie Delight rather than a Club at Subway.
Clearly there are some issues with your stance, because you don't like "undue suffering." That's a good start, but why should suffering matter at all? If it's "either they're sentient or they're not" then their suffering is immaterial. In other words, if you can raise up a cow in pain and then kill it for the pleasure of eating its flesh, then you should be equally free to have it tortured if it improves the taste of the meat.
In Korea, once upon a time they would hang a dog by its hind legs and then beat it to death, since the belief was that the fear and pain made it taste better. They still do this in some rural areas. If an animal's pain matters, then this is wrong - and accordingly, causing animals pain and death when you have easy alternatives is also wrong. If the animal's pain doesn't matter, then you shouldn't have any qualms.
That nugget of inconsistency is something you should take a look at. And remember how great a vested interest you have in the outcome of your reasoning, and be strict with yourself. With pork in the fridge, it's easy to convince yourself the pig didn't matter.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Why you should eat meat.[edit]

It tastes fucking great. Aceof Spades 23:45, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree! I wish I could still eat it - ignorance was bliss.--talk 23:49, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Oh I ain't ignorant it just my enjoyment of meat supersedes any moral argument against eating it. Amorality is bliss...Aceof Spades 23:55, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
All vegetarians should be forced to eat a sausage/bacon/egg bagel. Punishment has never been kinder. EddyPGreat King! Disaster! 00:10, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
The best thing was steak. Get a good quality cut from the tenderloin (Chateaubriand!) or maybe the chuck well-trimmed. Rub it with some fresh-cracked pepper and salt and a bit of olive oil and leave it sit out for a half-hour at least. Put some cured cast iron on the stove at medium-high, and when the iron is hot, slap the steak on there. Thirty seconds to a side. Absolutely delicious!
Still, I can no more snap up one of those than I could take my neighbor's Xbox. Alas.--talk 01:32, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
There's a vegetarian in my house who's never eaten steak. It's not ideal. EddyPGreat King! Disaster! 10:22, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
My wife hasn't had steak, I don't believe. She became a vegetarian a long time ago, and she has a visceral repulsion to the idea of eating meat. She thinks steak looks gross.
I actually envy her. It would be nice not to know what I was missing. It's probably a lot like drugs - I've never tried pot or the like, since I was always working the sort of job where I was regularly tested (first in a group home and then as an elementary school teacher). So I don't know what I'm missing, and it's really easy for me to ignore it.--talk 02:52, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Nature & Ethics[edit]

Your "animals eat meat, but they do plenty of bad things and shouldn't be taken as an example" might not be a strawman, but a bit too simplistic for me. You could expand on what is natural, what is ethical, and when do they overlap. Is it right, or wrong, to feed your cat a vegan/vegetarian diet, regardless of health and balanced diet issues? Editor at CPmały książe 13:10, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

I will certainly oblige you and expand this argument. But to be frank, the argument is a simple one. "I did it because some animals do it, too" is just not a great argument, so it doesn't require too clever a debunking. I will add more, though, since there are some other points.
About the cat thing, I'd like to avoid getting sidetracked by such things, I'm sorry. There are a host of such points: vegan or vegetarian; wearing leather; medical testing on animals; "scavenger"-style meat-eating; etc. Almost inevitably in discussions like these, they turn into a "gotcha" game. The other party finds something that seems inconsistent - and that maybe is inconsistent - and seizes upon it to declare that the other person is a hypocrite.
Don't get me wrong: these are important and good discussions. But they're also extremely effective distractions and justifications for avoiding my real points.
I don't want to appear to be just avoiding these things, or ducking the points. But I don't think anyone's decision should or will hinge on whether or not they could ethically feed their cat some fish.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

If everyone ate as much meat as most Americans do, everybody would die.[edit]

Not really an argument against eating meat as much as it is against eating a lot of meat, but still, there's no way the planet could sustain meat-based diets for all of us. P-Foster (talk) 13:16, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Very true.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Stop Proselytizing[edit]

This is why I dislike vegitarians, because many of them insist on preaching to everyone the evils of eating meat. There is nothing that pisses me off more than being in wholefoods and having some jackass come up to me and call me evil because I bought my self a steak. Many places that raise animals for meat treat the animals like shit, yeah we get that, but a growining number of places now raise their animals in a humane manner. I have yet to hear a compelling argument beyond that as to why I should not eat meat, so please if you don't want to eat meat then good for you, mad respect, but please leave those of us who do want to eat meat the fuck alone--BenB (talk) 13:19, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

When I burst into your house, balaclava on my head and knife in my hand, I should have known this was coming. Sitting in the bushes, eyes pressed to the bottom edge of your window where I could see in below the curtain, I had ample time to think about the problems in my behavior. Is this the right thing to do?, I asked myself as I whetted my knife's edge. Am I going too far?
I know, Ben, that I shouldn't have held my knife to your throat and hoarsely commanded you to type in this URL. I shouldn't have watched your eyeballs for the slightest deviation, drawing a ragged line of blood from your throat when you appeared to stop reading. It was wrong of me. If you didn't want to read my essay, I should have just left you alone. Forcing you to read it at knife-point was wrong.
I apologize, Ben.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
"I have yet to hear a compelling argument beyond that as to why I should not eat meat." One way to live your life is to behave as you think everybody should behave. If all 6,775,235,700 of us ate meat as much as most Americans do, the strain on the environment would be enormous. Not eating meat at all is one way for individuals to lessen the strain that they put on the system. P-Foster (talk) 13:56, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
To be honest I think that the environmental arguments are unanswerable, though AD usually tends to go with moral ones. As for "Proselytizing" - one of the reasons for essay space is to allow people to present arguments. There is no obligation upon users to read them if they don't wish to.--BobSpring is sprung! 14:00, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I might add more of the environmental things, but I've never felt they were my strong suit - and they're certainly not what convinced me. It seems to me like most people can just shrug and argue that they buy small amounts of ethical meat. If you would like to propose some arguments for that, though, I would welcome them.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Cow burps? It seems that they aren't a big contributor to GHG emissions though.Especially when compared to dino farts.Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 02:49, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I think you just have to dig up the stats for how many pounds of grain/acres of land/gallons of water/gallons of fuel/carbon emissions it takes to produce a pound of meat as opposed to a pound of beans. P-Foster (talk) 02:52, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I'll do that. Thanks :) --talk 02:55, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

I just don't care[edit]

From the essay

“”I think many people are like that. They know instinctively that there is something rotten in their thoughtless acceptance of the flesh they fork into their mouths, but... hey, what's on TV?! Oh, awesome, that episode of Friends when Chandler has to get into that box on Thanksgiving! What was that about animals? Hey, maybe later, okay?

No, seriously, I just don't care. I try to eat ethically but I really can't get worked up about the welfare of cows, or pigs, or sheep or... Also I think you overstate the suffering in farming. OK, so factory farmed chickens have an apalling life but the average sheep lives quite nicely until it's time for mint sauce. Jack Hughes (talk) 13:26, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

It's unfortunate that you don't care, but I understand. I don't want you to think I'm patronizing you, either: I really and truly do know exactly what you mean. I felt the same way for a long time. It's just a sheep, so who gives a damn? They live good lives on their farms, eating and having sex, and when they die it's quick.
It took a while before I started to question not caring, though. I guess a lot of it was becoming an atheist. As I made the transition from questioning Catholic to deist to agnostic to atheist, over the course of ten years or so, I decided I didn't want to coast by on what was just customary, ethically speaking. I took the point of one Christian apologist to heart when he argued that most atheists have no real morals, and that they just go with the flow. I wanted to live an upright life, and have reasoning behind it.
It wasn't until then, when I tried to decide what was right and what was wrong, that I started to question conclusions about animal rights that were so thoughtless and so self-serving. And that took a very long time.
I will say this, though: death is a bad thing, and undesirable. Having your life taken away is unfortunate, especially when this is the only life there is. You don't want it. Sheep don't want it. You're killing them, because you think they're tastier than a veggie burrito. It just seems wrong to me. Sorry.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I rather suspect that they find the "slaughterhouse event" distinctly unpleasant though.--BobSpring is sprung! 13:49, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I seem to recall that in Terry Pratchett's recent documentary he said he'd find a slaughterhouse-style death (quick bolt through the brain) preferable to what they do at Dignitas. EddyPGreat King! Disaster! 14:56, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
True. Although there are some horror stories about slaughter, like abbatoir workers attesting that often cows aren't killed by the boltgun but are instead just stunned and then strung up to be skinned alive, I think by and large the ideal death at a slaughterhouse is quick and painless.--talk 02:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
My impression is that the bolt to the brain does not always work, but I've never been to one so I don't really know. I've seen pigs killed in the traditional way here in Spain can assure you that it's distinctly unpleasant for the pig. It's decidedly unpleasant for those watching or listening as well but I think the pig has it worse.--BobSpring is sprung! 05:47, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

The underpinning assumption here is that causing pain to an (nonhuman) animal with a purpose, is inherently wrong. I would flatly disagree with this. I think causing an animal pain with no purpose is wrong (but don't consider it a particularly egregious wrong). (I don't think it's necessarily wrong to cause humans pain either, although the situations where it's okay are much more narrow.) But in situations where there is a reason, it then depends on what that reason is. I consider exposing oneself to and appreciating life's diversity to be, if not quite a moral purpose, at least integral to the human experience. And while it's only a small part of the diversity of life, eating meat is part of that diversity. The argument as written here doesn't strike me as particularly appropriate for a rationality wiki either, since it seems to really heavily on what feels wrong.— Unsigned, by: ‎ / talk / contribs

I do not believe you have accurately described the principle involved (which isn't really an "assumption" since I explicitly argue on its behalf), which is that it's wrong to cause animals pain for a taste preference. I would not argue that it is wrong to cause an animal pain for any reason, because that would be a silly argument. Neutering your cat, for example, involves some pain but is almost always a good and moral decision.
There is a spectrum involved, both for animal pain and (as you mention) human pain. There are good reasons to cause both sorts of creature deliberate pain, and so a blanket moral ban is a bit of a straw-man that I have never advocated. Instead, my argument is that regardless of where you might draw the line on what is necessary - animal testing, milk production, etc. - that line almost certainly cannot embrace deliberately inflicting lifelong misery and death on many animals for the sake of the sensory pleasure of improved taste (the customary response here from educated omnivores is to point out that animals are also harmed or killed in such-and-such; the point of course is that it would also be good to reduce such harm, but the unintentional death of field mice during harvesting is very different from raising animals specifically for the purpose of pain and death).
I would also point out that your argument on behalf of the "diversity of life" is very difficult to refute, because it is so vague. That may be by design, but it might behoove you to think about what else can be justified in those terms - including many horrible acts.--talk 13:43, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Beer + Cheeseburger[edit]

So fucking yummy. That it is all. Although, I will mention I am not a huge beef eater- I prefer chicken. They're smaller, and there are many more of them, which make them more environmentally friendly due to less methane released compared to cows; not to mention they're leaner in fat and very high (like all meat) in protein. I can't live on soy protein. RatMasterháblame 02:27, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Of course you can live on non-meat protein. Tempeh, lentils, peanuts, almonds, black beans, quinoa, rice, potatoes, and so on. In fact, both soy protein and whey protein have a higher bioavailability than beef protein: you end up digesting more of it, and so you get more protein![1]--talk 21:38, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
I also echo Ben above, there has been a huge emphasis on grass-fed cows and a more responsible focus on the environment in recent years. Only mega-corps still abuse animals, such as Tyson, as shown in Food Inc. RatMasterháblame 02:30, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
It's true that only megacorporations like Tyson find it necessary to factory farm. Unfortunately, megacorporations like Tyson produce at least half of all beef, a majority of pork, and most chicken.--talk 21:38, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Heres a question...[edit]

I am sorry if you have answered this/haven't got to it yet but say I have myself a nice quarter acre piece of land with a few chickens and pigs roaming as they please. Then I decide to eat the pig (say, for a spit at a wedding or what have you) and trundle on down in my gumboots, shoot the fucker in the head (or slit its throat) and serve it to my waiting guests/family. How is this morally wrong? Aceof Spades 02:42, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

You're killing an animal because you like the way it tastes. Even assuming this ideal scenario, in which animals live happy lives and then are killed immediately and painlessly, it's still a bad thing to die. It's better that you're not torturing it first and that it's happy, but ending its life is still something that is still tragic for the animal.
Animals want to live. They want to live even more than they want to avoid pain, in most cases. A dog will walk the streets at night, claws clicking on the asphalt, scrabbling through trash cans for a few scraps to keep it alive. Even as its ribs stand out through manging fur and as it limps from a broken limb, it will cling to life. Just like a person does, an animal wants to breathe and eat and fuck and live. Taking that away is wronging that animal. It's only a question of whether or not it matters that the animal is being wronged. I think it does, is all.--talk 02:48, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't buy it I'm afraid. What you seem to be essentially arguing is it is wrong to kill anything, not the actual eating meat part so let me ask you this...would it be alright to kill an animal to put it out of its misery (for whatever reason) and then eat it? Even though as you say the animal is still "clinging to life". Aceof Spades 02:55, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, I don't know. That's a tough one. In my essay, I say this, though:
"Please note that I will be speaking of meat-eating as it exists today: dominated by factory farming but with some minor availability of alternatives. I am also not making any rhetorical distinction between killing animals and meat-eating - while it's hypothetically possible to raise animals in perfect happiness and eat them after they die of old age, this is not a practical solution in any way right now. ... We can't defer making the right choices until it becomes convenient to do so."
So I guess my answer is that I'm not sure, Ace. If that's the only way you eat meat, then I guess that's a question you have to figure out. But I'm not sure that this is really an important question, is it? I understand the value of these extreme hypotheticals, because sometimes a hypothetical lets us get at the root of a moral issue. But in this case, it seems like it's kind of beside the point. I bet there are lots of ways it would be ethical to eat an animal, if we put our minds to it. There are lots of ways it's ethical to eat another person, too - and that doesn't make cannibalism a good idea.
Is this the only kind of meat you eat?--talk 03:03, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I am not saying that it the only way to eat meat, I am giving you a hypothetical: I am live on a few acres with some pigs. One of the pigs has suffered a serious accident and, even though it'll hang on to life and want to breathe, eat and fuck, it isn't going to make it. So I kill and eat it. Is this morally wrong. And if yes, then do you believe euthansia is wrong? In particular in a case like Terry Schivago. Aceof Spades 03:08, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
  • On your first question, I already answered to the best of my ability. I don't know.
  • On Schiavo: to the extent to which I am familiar, the issue was actually one of legal custody. Her husband, who held her decision-making power legally, wanted to let her die. Her parents argued that he shouldn't actually hold that power because she was conscious. So it was more of a question of fact that of ethics.
But I know what you mean. And no, I don't think euthanasia in that circumstance was wrong. I think that, generally speaking, people have the right to decide if they want to kill themselves. Unfortunately, this is a very sticky issue. If someone has a living will, then it's case closed. But when someone else is deciding for them and they might benefit, then it's a hard thing to make the rules.
It's hard to sort out this last thing, because when people have a vested interest in the outcome, they tend to decide in a way that benefits them. There were accusations that Terri's husband would benefit financially, and I believe he wanted to marry again... it's hard to trust his judgment when he stands to gain. It's a lot like the meat thing, really: I have a vested interest in deciding that it's okay to eat beef, because I really want to do so.--talk 03:18, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, I didn't really want to debate so much as raise some interesting points. Which I think I did. Now I need to go start preparing the mince for the cottage pie I am making for dinner. Aceof Spades 03:22, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Continued from the top[edit]

Your references to pain assume that pain is a black and white, yes or no, condition; that if pain is there, it's always as bad and should be avoided at all costs. I disagee, all creatures experience pain and suffering at some point, and to not eat an animal on the off-chance that its death was slightly more painful than that time it banged its leg on the ground is a little pedantic. Most (and I mean most) farmed animals live lives of unparralled luxury compared to their wild counterparts, they are better fed, get medical treatment and avoid the stresses associated with predation. If their entire purpose of existence is to die to provide meat, the animal is totally unaware of this and probably remains so, at least until those microseconds before death. Animals are not humans with the ability to envisage the future and imagine their fate and the varieties that we've created using thousands of years of selective breeding are deliberately thick-witted and docile.

I'll repeat it, in case you think I'm totally opposed to your arguments - I think in more populated, affluent parts of the world, where land use is critical and we have the economics of choice, eating meat is a luxury that we could avoid if we so wished and, from an efficiency viewpoint, probably beneficial. To try and make this argument on moral grounds, however, is never going to work. Humans are a predatory species, our psychology is set-up to enjoy the thrill of the hunt (it's fun to give people a fright, yes?) and our biology requires certain micro-nutrients that only animal fat contains. Yes we can provide suitable alternatives using modern farming and production, but that should make your argument one of practically, not morality. Morality is always subjective and you'll never convince some people (like me) that killing animals to eat them is any worse than killing bacteria using antibiotics or killing a potato for chips.

If we ever develop meat grown in a vat, cloned and nerve-less, would that solve your own personal ethics of eating meat? Or would that provide you with different ethical issues? Natman (talk) 07:56, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

"to not eat an animal on the off-chance that its death was slightly more painful than that time it banged its leg on the ground is a little pedantic"
First of all, I think you're being wildly optimistic about the lives of the animals you eat. But even if they do live "lives of luxury," they are also killed almost immediately upon reaching maturity (generally speaking - some cattle are allowed to grow a couple more years to put on weight, and lambs are killed at five or eight months). Death is a bad thing (which sounds ridiculous to even have to say!) and to deal out death every day because you would rather eat some chicken pieces than a salad seems hard to defend.
Secondly, I don't think it's pedantic to want to minimize the amount of suffering and death your taste preferences cause.
"Most (and I mean most) farmed animals live lives of unparralled luxury compared to their wild counterparts"
We are not responsible for all animals; we are only responsible for our actions. The fact that wild animals suffer shouldn't have an impact on our own choices about whether or not to impose additional suffering on animals because we like the way they taste.
"Humans are a predatory species, our psychology is set-up to enjoy the thrill of the hunt (it's fun to give people a fright, yes?)"
Men are a predatory gender, our psychology is set-up to enjoy the thrill of rape.
As you can see, it's a pretty treacherous to draw conclusions based on your idea of "human nature." The same argument can be made for assault and battery - when I get very angry at someone, I want to hurt them, maybe even kill them. Our baser impulses are no way to arrive at a system of morality, and I think humans have proven we are capable of rising above them.
"and our biology requires certain micro-nutrients that only animal fat contains."
Not true, inasmuch as I know, especially with modern supplements. And while I am not a nutritionist, I can also attest that I have been feeling (and looking) hugely better since I became a vegetarian.
"Morality is always subjective and you'll never convince some people (like me) that killing animals to eat them is any worse than killing bacteria using antibiotics or killing a potato for chips."
You're making a general argument that people shouldn't even discuss issues of morality? That's... um, peculiar. I like to think that reasonable and informed people can have civil discussions and may even change each other's minds. I certainly once felt eating meat was okay, and after reading (i.e. engaging with someone else's ideas) I changed my mind and my lifestyle. If you're saying you're not open to that, that's fine, but it's a long way from a general rule.
"If we ever develop meat grown in a vat, cloned and nerve-less, would that solve your own personal ethics of eating meat?"
I apologize, but as it says in the first part of my essay, I am not interested in engaging in any of the numerous hypotheticals that can arise. When we develop in vitro meat, I'll decide about whether or not I think it's ethical.--talk 09:01, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Mmmm, you've taken a couple of my points out of context and ignored the proviso's that I attached to them (notably the point about fat-based nutrients and subjective morality) but no matter. This isn't about semantical point scoring and I'm not gonna fuss, you do raise good issues.
You do seem to have an opinion that death is a Bad Thing. For myself, one who doesn't believe in an afterlife, death is a natural progression for all living creatures and the non-being of an entity is less of an issue than the impact the loss of said entity has on dependants and those emotional bound to the entity. When a human dies, there is emotional distress from family members and close friends, as there should be, a human death has ripples through other non-consenting beings who are able to appreciate the loss incurred from that death. For the human who has died, they have no such feelings, they're dead, so taking their opinion about the issue is a little pointless. Don't go thinking I advocate murder/death penalty/etc though, informed consent is an important moral tool and should prevent murder and the like.
Animals, however, especially farm reared animals with carefully managed production of offspring, have no such emotional construct and their death impacts no one but themselves. There is no creation of grief from those close to it, there is no emotional and psychological ripples stemming from the death of the creature and it certainly has no opinion on the matter, it's dead.
For those reasons, the death of an animal has no moral impacts. If the suffering is minimal (as it usually is in good farming practice) you have an animal with a relatively high standard of living that does what? Not live as long as some others? Given the animal has no way of appreciating this and there are no emotional dependants who'd suffer from its demise, then I have no issues at all with its death. Death is not a Bad Thing, there is no animal hell for it to suffer in for not leading a good animal life, to that animal, it is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. Its a stiff! Bereft of life, It rests in peace! Its metabolic processes are now history! Its off the twig! Its kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile. It is an ex-animal. :-) Natman (talk) 09:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not a vegetarian, but the people here arguing against vegetarianism are doing everything in their power to make me one.  Blue ve NeerWith a grin like roadkill / and the bloody power of kings 09:37, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
"you've taken a couple of my points out of context and ignored the proviso's that I attached to them (notably the point about fat-based nutrients and subjective morality) but no matter."
I didn't intend to, sorry. I didn't always quote the whole sentiment, but I tried to reply to the whole sentiment.
"informed consent is an important moral tool and should prevent murder and the like."
This is an interesting line of thought. So in your view, death is a neutral occurrence, assuming it's consensual and isolated? That seems pretty easy to trip up as a set of moral guidelines - for example, someone who has agreed to give their life to save a sinking ship will almost certainly consider death to be a very bad thing, even though they're dying willingly and they might have no family or friends. "Psychological ripples" or not, life is a wonderful thing and having it taken away means that everything that goes with it will be taken away. Even if there is no afterlife to reflect on that loss, the loss remains. I know that if I died, even though I also believe there is no afterlife, I would have lost the pleasure of waking up early on a cold morning and going back to sleep, folded under the warm covers. I would have lost the crisp snap of my teeth into an apple. I would have lost quiet moments spent reading on a sunny beach while the surf sundered down among the rocks. I wouldn't know I had lost those things, but I would have been harmed just the same. Animals lose a lot when they die as well. Death is a bad thing.--talk 09:44, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
The point I think you're trying to make is that at the moment, whilst you're alive, you can envisage not being able to enjoy those things that make life worth living when you're dead and that inflicts a feeling of loss for your future dead self? You're displaying one of the only traits that sets us apart from animals right there. To my knowledge (which is flawed) animals have no capacity to make those kind of complex thoughts (well, perhaps some, like elephants and cetans). They have a fear of death but do not have an empathy with their dead self.
It's a complex thing, but is the main reason why I have no moral qualms about an animal dying to feed me - they have no comprehension of their loss, nor any way of envisaging a future loss, they have no emotional dependants who would feel a sense of loss from their death and as such are not, have not and inflict no loss on anyone. It's an important moral distinction between why it's okay to kill an animal, but not a human.
I should reiterate, however, I don't advocate extra suffering in any circumstances (to eliminate it entirely from life is impossible), and always make sure my foodstuffs are ethically produced. I also suspect neither of us is going to convince the other, I just wanted to state that I recognise some of your points, but think the moral aspects aren't an issue. The moral guidelines of informed consent have done me well for a long time and whilst I don't want to die (and I hope! Hope! my family would object to it as well), when my (natural!) time comes I hope I can accept it as an inevitability and not something to attempt to avoid by some irrational belief in an afterlife. If someone tries to kill me though, I'll kick their nuts into next week though! Natman (talk) 10:11, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
"The point I think you're trying to make is that at the moment, whilst you're alive, you can envisage not being able to enjoy those things that make life worth living when you're dead and that inflicts a feeling of loss for your future dead self?"
No. That was explicitly not my point. And given this and your other statements, you don't seem to have actually read what I said at all, which is frustrating for me - especially when you reiterate an argument I just answered. Here it is again:
This is an interesting line of thought. So in your view, death is a neutral occurrence, assuming it's consensual and isolated? That seems pretty easy to trip up as a set of moral guidelines - for example, someone who has agreed to give their life to save a sinking ship will almost certainly consider death to be a very bad thing, even though they're dying willingly and they might have no family or friends. "Psychological ripples" or not, life is a wonderful thing and having it taken away means that everything that goes with it will be taken away. Even if there is no afterlife to reflect on that loss, the loss remains. I know that if I died, even though I also believe there is no afterlife, I would have lost the pleasure of waking up early on a cold morning and going back to sleep, folded under the warm covers. I would have lost the crisp snap of my teeth into an apple. I would have lost quiet moments spent reading on a sunny beach while the surf sundered down among the rocks. I wouldn't know I had lost those things, but I would have been harmed just the same. Animals lose a lot when they die as well. Death is a bad thing.
Note: I am challenging your statement that human death is a neutral event - not a bad event - if it is consensual and there is no effect on anyone else. I even give an example in which this is emphatically not the case. Someone dying for a cause, willingly and knowingly, still considers their life to be a precious thing. It does not matter if they are afterwards able to reflect on that loss. Knowledge of harm is not necessary for harm to have been done: if I smash your windshield while you're at work, you are harmed at that time - you're not harmed two hours later, when you see your car for the first time.--talk 10:22, 23 June 2011 (UTC)


What about them? Scientifically they are animals not plants, but to me they seem more plant-like than animal-like. I'm quite confident they don't have minds which can feel pain, so I don't think there is any animal rights reasons not to kill/eat them. (((Zack Martin))) 10:33, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Before I answer: are you saying that you agree with me and are a vegetarian, but that you've decided that bivalves are okay to eat? Or are you just trying to catch me an inconsistency rather than addressing my arguments? I'm just curious - I don't mean to be insulting, but many people engaged in discussions about this sort of thing like to pose "gotcha" questions not out of any genuine desire to engage, but only by way of making the other person look like a hypocrite (as if personal perfection was required for an argument to be valid).
As for my answer, I think it's certainly more okay to eat bivalves then it is to eat mammals, but it still might be wrong to eat them. I'm not sure. We would still be killing them, which I think is probably wrong, but they're such simple creatures that it also seems like less of a big deal (there are degrees involved, of course, which is why I'm also okay with pest control).--talk 10:43, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, actually I'm speaking as someone who used to be a vegetarian, isn't one any more, but still has some sympathies in that direction. If anyone is inconsistent, I think it's me, I think I'm terminally inconsistent. I know you don't like "artifical meat hypotheticals", but I look forward to them, as technology eliminating one of my moral dilemas. (((Zack Martin))) 10:49, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually, some food for thought (bad pun). To decide if meat-eating is ethical or not, you need to work out your ethics. Meat-eating/vegetarianism is a question of applied ethics; as such it is dependent upon the positions we take in normative ethics (what are the basic principles of ethics we are going to apply, the starting points of ethical argument?) and meta-ethics (what actually is ethics? is it objective somehow? or just subjective opinion?). The normative ethics question may well turn on what things have minds, or what things can "feel pain", which then brings us into philosophy of mind territory (e.g. materialism vs dualism vs idealism) — to decide whether and which animals have minds, we must decide what it means to have a mind and what a mind is. So really, the answers one arrives at here, may well depend on one's basic philosophical starting points. (((Zack Martin))) 11:12, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree that someone needs to work out their ethics to decide. That's why I tried my approach in the essay: I want to address as many different objections as there could be to my argument, depending on viewpoint.--talk 21:27, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

A couple questions[edit]

So, AD, do you also oppose the use of animals, such as rats, for laboratory experimentation of things such as pharmaceuticals? Also (and this is where my examples become more localized to my region of the world), how do you feel about people who hunt and meat as a means of ecological control? For example, catching and eating certain species of fish here in Minnesota that are invasive species or the annual deer hunt which helps control an otherwise overpopulous deer population? Would hunting and eating meat in these cases be in-humane? And what about the ecological costs (and again, these may be examples localized to Minnesota) of mass-scale vegetable farming? To my knowledge, one of the greatest and hardest to control water pollutants in this region is chemical fertilizer and pesticide runoffs that then flow from the crops into the water table and currently are the single largest pollutants of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. The Spikey PunkI'm punking my punk! 11:29, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

So these are the scenarios, if I have them straight.
I do think human life is more valuable than animal life. So I suppose that's a decision that has to be made on a case-by-case basis. Recently scientists used a modified virus to literally cure cancer in some rats - that will probably save human lives, and the smaller evil of killing mice in the process is acceptable to me. But lipstick production is probably not. I'm not sure there's a good rule here, or maybe I'm just not smart enough to see it. What do you think about it?
Well, let me point out the obvious: this would only be necessary because of human interference. The reason that deer are more populous than ever before in America and are becoming a nuisance, along with wild pigs, is because we've killed all their natural predators. Wolves and mountain lions have been wiped out in a lot of areas, and human monocultures and suburbs have provided a huge amount of food for the deer/pigs.
I'm actually inclined to say that it's probably okay to a limited extent, but it's also vastly inferior to actually helping re-establish the natural cycle to the best of our ability.
  • Environmental damage of vegetable production.
Cows, pigs, and sheep eat vegetables. It takes about eight pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. By eating animals, you're making that environmental damage worse.
Now if I could ask you a question in return: your comments here don't reveal much - do you personally have a reply to my central argument of the essay?--talk 21:38, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
First of all, that last point about "It takes eight pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat" is nonsense because, as anyone who's been involved in farming knows, grain fed to cattle and pigs is the low-grade grain from the harvest that would otherwise be unfit for human consumption. But, aside from that (now that I'm awake, I'll stay on topic), I think that if you have the ability to kill the food yourself (i.e: you've hunted it or know intimately about slaughtering it), you have a far greater appreciation of the suffering of the animals than most people realize. As someone who's both lived on a farm and who's an avid hunter, I think that I could almost argue that I have a far greater appreciation for animals that become food as a direct result of having hunted it and slaughtered it before. Naturally, you'll always have those who hunt "for the sport," but I think the vast majority of people I know who've slaughtered their own meat in some fashion understand the suffering of the animals. However, animals like cows and pigs have been raised by humans for centuries for one purpose: food. To deny this fact is to deny the reason for the populations of these animals. People aren't raising an entire farm of pigs just to have them as pets, and wild pigs are actually very dangerous. So the end result of the "Go Veggie!" movement is that you'll either have populations of cows and pigs that thus run rampant and wild elsewhere and damage the ecosystem thusly after you release them or, conversely, you'll have the other side of nature, which is populations of cows and pigs that are pushed to the brink or extinction, in which case you might as well have gotten some food out of the deal. The Spikey PunkI'm punking my punk! 22:19, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, feed corn is not generally edible by humans. But if they weren't feeding countless animals with it, they wouldn't plant it. They'd plant sweet corn. Or they'd continue to plant feed corn and sell it to make oil and other industrial products, like they currently do. Silage can be used for biomass in industrial applications. But probably they'd just also plant less and ruin the planet less.
I agree that hunters probably appreciate the meat and the killing more than people who outsource it.
I further agree that we have domesticated and maintain these animals for food. I'm not sure it's a good thing, though, that we've warped the shape of these animals and we maintain these versions so we can eat them. Are you seriously suggesting that it is somehow a good thing that we breed up millions of animals and then eat them - as if the world would be poorer without the feed lots and battery cages of the world?
I am not too terrified of wild cattle running amok (we're not exactly overrun with wild horses, are we?) but pigs are already a problem in most places in the States. They escape from those farms and go feral. The presence of pig farms isn't helping stop wild pigs somehow (they don't follow the good examples of their slaughtered cousins) but actively making it worse.
It is possible that the mangled versions of animal breeds that are today's broiler chickens and beef steer would go extinct - maybe even probable. Broilers, for example, have been altered so that they put on a huge amount of muscle in what would have formerly been their youth, a feat only possible with constant feeding. They're also bred to be bizarrely docile, which combines with constant low-light to keep them from going berserk and insane from being crammed into a dense mass with their fellows.
I think it's patently ridiculous to claim that we have to keep raising millions of animals and killing them for their sake.--talk 22:36, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

On Killing[edit]

Hi AD. I agree with a lot of what you say and questions of animal welfare and environmental concerns are obviously important - but you seem to have a big issue with "killing" itself.

But surely every animal dies sooner or later. If we kill it to eat it than it dies earlier than it would have otherwise, but we don't create any "additional" deaths. Furthermore, it almost certainly wouldn't even have been alive if we hadn't brought it into being in order to kill it and eat it.

So I'm not quite sure that I agree that the killing thing is such a big issue. I'd be interested in your response. Cheers.--BobSpring is sprung! 12:43, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

It's true that every animal dies sooner or later. But if you look up to where NatMan and I are speaking, you can see I address this point. Briefly: wouldn't you agree that the loss of your own life would be a bad thing, even if it was painless and voluntary (i.e. you were sacrificing to save a ship going down)? This and other examples demonstrate that life is itself a valuable thing, and taking it away is a negative thing, particularly when it's only for taste preference.--talk 21:26, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Well yes .... OK. If I asked the animal's opinion I'm sure that it would agree with you in that it would prefer a long life to a short one. But what about the second point - the animal has only experienced the short life it has because we have raised it for our food. If we were not carnivores it wouldn't have existed at all.
So again if we ask the animal it's opinion and give it the choice of never having existed or having had life for a short period it might well opt for a short life as opposed to no life.
So although you say life is a valuable thing there would, in fact, be less (farm) animal life we didn't rear and kill animals.--BobSpring is sprung! 21:36, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
You seem to be thinking of life as some sort of overall quantity, like raising an animal and killing it is better than not raising it at all. And that's a tricky issue, to be sure.
I think the core of my reply is that we are only responsible for our own actions. If we chose not to breed a dozen calves, we're not responsible for the "loss" of those calves any more than you are responsible for the "loss" of failing to donate money to the Red Cross today. But if you bring those calves into being and then kill them, you are responsible for killing them. You might also get credit in your conscience for breeding them into life in the first place, were it not that you intended all along to kill them when they're young and eat their flesh (which makes the act of life-giving rather less noble).--talk 21:48, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Hi Tom. You write. You seem to be thinking of life as some sort of overall quantity ... That was the thrust of my question but it's not my belief. It was based on your statement: This and other examples demonstrate that life is itself a valuable thing, - which led me to believe that it was your opinion.
I now understand you to be saying "Individual lives are valuable." as opposed to "life" in general".
But in that case one one could argue "the more lives the better". For example imagine an animal which would normally live for six years. Imagine that, instead of that, three animals live for two years each because they are killed and eaten. Now you have three individual short lives as opposed to one individual short one. Can you say that one outcome is better than the other in terms of individual lives?--BobSpring is sprung! 07:02, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't seem to follow from "individual lives are valuable" to then say "the more lives the better." We consider human lives valuable and yet no one argues that more humans is thus automatically a better thing. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, for example, is a pretty stark contradiction to that idea. I think you'd have to really show me your line of argument to get from A to B, since as it stands I don't see it. Maybe I'm just slow - could you explicate it for me?--talk 08:24, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
OK. There are a number of strands to the vegetarian argument. Some of them are practical and some of them are ethical. Here are some examples. I am not saying that these are right - just that they are made:
  1. Modern agriculture which is based on the production of meat is wasteful, bad for the planet and unsustainable. This is a practical rather than a moral argument.
  2. Most people eat too much meat and this is bad for their long-term health. Again this is not a moral argument.
  3. Causing pain and suffering to animals is a bad thing. This is a moral argument which most people in society would sign up to.
  4. Causing animals to die earlier than they otherwise would is morally wrong. This is also a moral argument, but is seems to me that it has less force. If the animal is really killed in an instant then it would pass from one state to another without knowing anything about it. In practical terms this is unlikely to happen and the animal would probably suffer - but in that case we are back on the suffering bit. So what, exactly, is the problem if the animal lives a few less years then it otherwise would?--BobSpring is sprung! 16:56, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree with all four arguments. The last is the only one you actually seem to oppose, so I'll address your objections again.
As I have been saying, animal lives have value. The loss of their life, regardless of their capacity to reflect on it, is a loss. I actually thought I had already established my thinking here; it seems like we're going backwards. Were you trying to link A and B from your previous argument (if so, it's even less clear now :S), or did you just abandon that line of discussion? Maybe read the [section] again, so I don't have to just restate it. I've updated it - tell me if it's still insufficient or you see a hole in the logic.--talk 22:13, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Of course I am assuming here that human lives have more intrinsic "worth" than animal (or plant) lives. This may be debatable and you may believe otherwise. Indeed if you believe that animal and human lives have the same "worth" them we have been arguing past each other for the past few paragraphs. --BobSpring is sprung! 16:56, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
We haven't been - I definitely think that some lives are worth more than others.--talk 22:13, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

OK - this question and answer system isn't the best. When I have a moment I'll write an essay on this point. Incidentally I think it's a very important point because it makes the difference between "Eat less meat" (which would be the consequence of the two logical arguments) and "Eat no meat" (which is the consequence of the final moral argument). But I'll write it up later when I have time. Cheers.--BobSpring is sprung! 10:52, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Fair enough :)--talk 01:25, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Peter Singer's view[edit]

What about Peter Singer's argument, that it is OK to painlessly kill non-human animals, because they (or at least many of them) don't understand what death is this and so can't be said to prefer life to death. Despite this, Singer still favours vegetarianism, on the grounds that real world food production is unlikely to result in painless deaths, and is likely to cause painful lives as well. But Singer is a different type of vegetarian (in terms of justifications) from those who base their vegetarianism on the wrongfulness of killing. (((Zack Martin))) 07:48, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

AD, you -- and a whole bunch of other stuff I've read -- have convinced me.[edit]

We should meet up for some tofu kebabs or beans and rice.

P-Foster (talk) 16:18, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

That's great to hear! Yeah, I'd love to meet up - are you in NZ?--talk 22:22, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Canada, then back to the US. So no. But I will take any recipes/menu suggestions you can send ny way. P-Foster (talk) 22:47, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Also, long story short -- I realized that I couldn't stay on my anti-consumerism/pro-environmentalism high horse and continue to eat at the very top of the food chain. Also, I need to start taking my health way more seriously. While I realize that eating vegetarian =/= automatically eating healthy, it will make me more aware of what I eat and give me a reason to recalibrate/re-evaluate the food choices I make. P-Foster (talk) 22:51, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
You should watch Food Inc. if you haven't already seen it. RatMasterháblame 00:58, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Recipe:Stuffed_tofu and Recipe:Kimchi_jiggae are two of my favorites. My wife also likes to make pizzas, noodle casserole, and the like.
It can be really hard when you first begin (I know it was for me!) so don't hesitate to seek out support. What really worked for me was just a radical overall change in my eating habits - trying to just substitute tofu dogs for hot dogs just made me constantly reflect on what I was missing. Far better to make a tasty Recipe:Watercress_and_Avocado_Salad instead, and both experience something new and forget the charred hunks of flesh you're leaving behind.--talk 02:16, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Vegan or vegetarian or....?[edit]

I think I would like to know more about your stance as a whole in order to continue to be able to debate you on these issues, as it appears that I've had some misconceptions about where exactly you stand on animals rights vs. everything else. For example, how far do you take your vegetarianism? To the vegan level or not quite? If you are not a vegan, do you eat things like eggs (which are not actual animals) and drink milk? And how far do you take your animal rights stance? To the level of not even using wool , or do you draw the line somewhere before that (leather and fur perhaps?) I'm just asking these questions because they are of relevance to understanding where you're coming from, AD. The Spikey PunkI'm punking my punk! 13:26, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I buy cage-free eggs. I use wool, and while I don't buy new leather items, I haven't thrown out the old ones. I would not even accept a gift of fur.--talk

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