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Veggie Prop

Bill Koslosky points to some clever vegetarian propaganda: The Meatrix. And he links to a less light-hearted commentary on meatiness: The defeat of legislation that would have required that “downed” animals be killed humanely and that would have prohibited their slaughter for human food.

Sure, people are suffering, too. But we ought to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain. (Go ahead, try to argue against that one!) I see no reason to think that we escape that moral obligation when it comes to non-human animals. The argument ought to be over what makes pain necessary and exactly what it means to avoid inflicting it. For the past 25 years or so, I’ve voted with my digestive system that eating factory-farmed meat fails that test. Hell, I wouldn’t even eat a Republican.

Happy vegetarian new year to all my sentient animal friends!

23 Responses to “Veggie Prop”

  1. THANK YOU, David. In their capacity to experience pleasure and pain, desire and aversion, animals are certainly no different than us. How anyone could support the needless abuse, torture, and slaughter of fellow sentient beings is simply baffling.

    Please consider listening to or reading Bruce Friedrich’s Veganism in a Nutshell for an excellent overview of the issue.

    A few pertinent quotes:

    "A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral." – Leo Tolstoy

    "In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people." – Ruth Harrison

    "What is it that should trace the insuperable line? …The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?" – Jeremy Bentham

    "Flesh eating is unprovoked murder." – Ben Franklin

    "Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission–to be of service to them whenever they require it… 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." – Saint Francis of Assisi

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

    "People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times." – Issac Bashevis Singer

  2. Actually, what I like most about the Meatrix is that it doesn’t push vegetarianism down the viewer’s throat. Instead, it encourages the viewer not to purchase factory farmed animals.

  3. I enjoyed a great piece of prime rib this week.. From a steer I’d put “down” .. If you whiney vegans would get some real protein in your system you would not be so brain dead..

  4. Other animals hunt, kill, and eat other animals. Why can’t we human animals also hunt, kill, and eat other animals too? I know for a fact that if we humans wern’t on the top of the food chain, other animals would not hesitate to do the same to us.

  5. Les, I think your argument doesn’t hold water: Other animals rape. Why can’t we human animals also rape?

  6. Eating the flesh of other animals is as natural as sex. We may want to place social morays on activities that have a basis in biology, but it ain’t gonna do much good.

  7. There is no logical reason to suppose that humans should not eat other animals. Why is it cruel to kill and eat an animal if you are a human, but not cruel if you are NOT a human.

  8. Sub_Coder, by your reasoning why does morality count at all? Animals kill one another so why shouldn’t we? Animals rape, so why shouldn’t we? Some ants keep slaves, so why shouldn’t we?

    Pointing out that animals do things is just no argument in favor of humans doing them. It is, in fact, an implicit argument against all of morality: Animals have no moral sense so why should we?

  9. That is just slippery slope reasoning. Basically you are saying that if we are going to decide that one thing is moral because we feel that it is a natural part of being an animal, that we MUST decide that ALL things that might be a natural part of being an animal are allowed.

    We are able decide as a society which things we feel are ok and which things are not…and as a society, we have decided that eating animals is ok..

    Besides….my first post still stands…

  10. I’m not saying that, Sub_Coder. I’m saying that because X is “natural” doesn’t automatically mean that it’s ok. So, your pointing out that some animals eat meat tells us nothing about whether it’s morally ok for humans to eat meat.

    Your second posting asks a question. “Why is it cruel to kill and eat an animal if you are a human, but not cruel if you are NOT a human.” Change “cruel” to “immoral” and the answer is, IMO, that humans are different from other animals in that we can make moral choices. It’s not immoral for lions to eat meat because lions have no choice about it. We do. We can think about what we’re doing and decide to do otherwise. We can choose to be vegetarians.

    I think this addresses the point in your first post, as well.

    But so far this post only says that because X occurs in nature doesn’t mean that it’s morally ok for humans. Let me go further. Here’s an argument against raising animals for meat the way most are in the US:

    1. It’s wrong to cause unnecessary pain and suffering to living creatures.

    2. Raising animal for meat in factory farms causes them pain and suffering.

    3. We don’t need to eat meat.

    Therefore, it’s wrong to raise animals for meat in factory farms.

    I believe this argument is valid. And I also believe its premises are true. Do you think any of the premises are false?

  11. I am not making cases for or against or addressing the issue of factory farming, I am only addressing whether it is right or wrong to eat animals as humans. I agree that factory farming needs to be changed, but that is a seperate issue from whether or not it’s right or wrong to eat them. Now i know that the two are obviously tied to each other when you look at the choice to eat animals from these farms..but the issue of eating animals right or wrong is not this issue.

    As for the premises…

    1. It’s wrong to cause unnecessary pain and suffering to living creatures.

    I believe this to be false. For instance, I would have absutely no problem bounding, gagging, and repeatedly beating a man who had killed my wife or daughter in my basement for weeks on end without a second thought. Is it unnecessary, absolutely…is it wrong….myself and many others would say no….and if that seems to extreme….here is a more tame example..most people would not say it was wrong if I only beat the guy up once in a parking lot for doing that to my wife or daughter… again…not necessary…but far from “wrong”.

    Also, this is false because you cannot satisfactorily define “necessary”. To use a topical subject.. Is it necessary for US counter terrorism forces to torture and beat a confession out of a terrorist in order to stop a plan to deface a building/monument with paint to make a political statement? probably. is it wrong to do it to stop them from killing a person? killing a plane full of people? Because the definition of necessary cannot be absolute, then the premise can in no way be absolute.

    2. Raising animal for meat in factory farms causes them pain and suffering.

    Yes. I agree with this.

    3. We don’t need to eat meat.

    Again, you cannot define “need” to the point to make this true.

    So i guess I would accept 1 of 3 of those premises as true.

  12. First paragraph..last sentence…

    “….but the issue of eating animals right or wrong is not this issue…”

    should be “..IS the issue..”

  13. Iyou think it’s ok to circumvent the law and to torture someone whom you believe hurt someone you love, then we disagree so fundamentally about what it means to be moral — not just the content of morality but what it means to be moral in the first place — that we’re not going to come to agreement on the first premise.

    As for premise #3: Yes, we can find lots of situations in which “need” is ambiguous. But I don’t think it’s ambiguous here: If we don’t eat meat, we can still live healthily.

  14. #1

    It’s not just me who disagrees fundamentally with you about what it means to be moral…

    Yes..that is the extreme….how about the beating the guy up one….99% of people I know would say that was just fine. Point is…..it disproves the premise.

    no…it IS ambigious. Tell Inuit natives, who absolutely must have seal and whale products in order to survive on their own that they don’t NEED to eat animals. The point being, without that animal food/other products, then they die…not to mention many african/central american natives who absolutely rely on killing animals…and even more so eating insects to live. I would say that if anything it’s unambigous that the DO NEED to eat animals.

    The bottom line is that I’d say no one is really qualified to correctly and completely answer these questions…..but….the vast majority of americans and indeed humans are on my side on this one….so that’s the way it’s going to stay for the forseeable future…

  15. 1. The fact that 99% agree with a position doesn’t make it right or even put it within the moral universe, although it certainly should give one pause.

    2. I disagree with you that 99% would say that it’s alright to beat the shit out of someone you think hurt someone you love. Maybe 99% would say that it’s understandable, but a bunch of us would try to restrain you and tell you that this is why we have courts.

    3. Yes, Inuit natives need to eat meat, so the argument doesn’t apply to them. And some people need animal products to live – insulin, for example. And if you are one of those who genuinely need animal products to live, then the animal rights argument I gave doesn’t apply. But for the vast majority of us, it does apply. More particularly, you’ve given no reason to think that it doesn’t apply to you.

    4. As to no one being really qualified to answer these questions: Sure. I may well turn out to be wrong. That’s why I put forward the argument. But saying “No one is qualified” doesn’t, IMO, exempt people from having to make the best choice they can. I mean, “I raped her because no one is qualified to decide and no one has the absolute answer” would be a ridiculous position, don’t you agree? So, yeah, it might turn out that animals like living in what seem like cruel conditions because they know how much we like meat, and maybe that would change my mind. But, given what we know, we have to make the best decision we can.

    5. As to whether the vast majority of humans agree with you about eating factory-farmed meat: A very healthy percentage of the planet is vegetarian. It’s growing in popularity. And even if you’re right about the numbers, why does that matter? The vast majority of Americans supported slavery at one point. So that makes slavery ok?

  16. The only reason that I give the majority rule arguments is not that it makes it right…especially, when it is clearly wrong(I was just waiting for the slavery argument)…but this is NOT by any means a clear cut case…and in the end, the will of the masses wins out…

    Again…I am not discussing METHODS of killing animals…I am mererly arguing the point of the right/wrong – ness(is that a word(s)?) of eating animals.

    While I agree that no one being qualified to say what is right in cases like this doesn’t exempt us from making the best decision we can…with a very ambiguous dilemma such as this on it’s important to remember that it is making the best decision we can as individuals….for ourselves..not for other people. To that end..you don’t see(at least I’ve never seen) people who do eat meat trying to force vegetarians through protest to eat meat…so why do so many vegetarians presume to know what is right for other people? (not to say that there aren’t plenty of meat eaters that presume to know what’s right for other people on all sorts of topics), but with this issue….the best you can do, in my opinion is live your life the way you want, but dont’ expect others to have the same system of beliefs that you do..

  17. Right, my argument is against the cruelty that is used to raise the animals that are then killed and eaten. In theory, I’d eat road kill and hunted meat.

    But there’s an obvious reason why you don’t see omnivore humans trying to argue herbivore humans into eating meat: since people who eat meat also eat veggies, obviously they don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating veggies.

    And, yes, we’re all mere mortals so none of us should presume to have the absolute truth, but the consequence isn’t that we all ought to give up on morality or having discussions about morality and “live your life the way you want.” If I see you hurting someone because it makes you feel good, I’m going to try to stop you and I’m going to tell you why I think what you are doing is wrong. And when you say, “We all have to live our lives the way we want,” I’m going to say, “Nope. Not if you’re a slaver, a Nazi, a pedophile, a rapist…”…you get the picture.

  18. Not if you’re a slaver, a Nazi, a pedophile, a rapist…”…you get the picture.

    We are NOT talking about something that concrete as I’ve said before…we are talking about something very, very far from absolute…so in the case of whether or not to eat animals…you still cannot presume to tell others what to do/not to do…

  19. Thank God folks like David are out there judging all or our morality. Not sure who appointed them to this role but they certainly seem to be enjoying it.

  20. Actually the more I think about this discussion the dumber it seems. This has nothing to do with morality, it is about survival and health. A Lion is a carnivore, many animals such as humans are omnivores. Have any of the Vegans even studied anything about human health other than the biased Vegan resources?

    I have nothing against Vegans, but taking a morality stance and comparing people who choose to eat meat to a rapist or Nazi is just about the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. I have tried the Vegan lifestyle, as an athlete I am a much better athlete when eating meat. I am healthier, stronger and feel better. Protein is our friend.

    Go read some real health and fitness resources and educate yourself. Your Vegan view probably is much like your political views. One sided.. Open your mind. You state your opinion, but then slam the door or the possibility of anything else. That is your freedom to do so, but don’t you dare throw morality at people then.

  21. I present an argument. You disagree with one of the premises (that we don’t have to eat meat) and argue for your position. I could equally well “accuse” you of making a judgment, but what’s wrong with making judgments based on openly-stated arguments? Is anyone allowed to hold a moral position without getting accused of making judgments?

    BTW, I’m not a vegan.

  22. Meat is good, but animal fat is better

    so good for you

    But these days, people have become squeamish, and deny their heritage

    This is why they will get sick and die by the thousands

    Vegans always look droopy

    I would never eat one

  23. Where do moral rights come from?

    Is it the society? Sorry, but either way that’s a form of collective moral subjectivism and that doesn’t work. Imagine if society thought it was OK to kill and eat humans of certain ethnicities. That wouldn’t make it moral.

    God? Everyone has their own beliefs about God, but no single belief that can objectively confirmed.

    I think a good starting point for moral rights is reciprocity. If you have a right you also have a responsibility. Therefore, if we grant animals the right not to be killed then they also have the responsibility not to kill and should be held just as accountable. That means halling lions and wolves off to jail for eating animals. That means the pet cat gets arrested if it catches a mouse. If your animal destroys your neighbors property then the animal can be put on trial for vandalism.

    Obviously that wouldn’t make sense. Neither does it make any sense to give animals rights. If it’s OK for animals to do what ever they want without being held accountable then it’s OK for us to use them as food. Humans on the other hand can and should have rights and the responsibilities that come with them.

    If there’s ever an animal that is capable of respecting rights then I’m all for giving that animal rights. Some of the more intelligent animals, such as apes can learn sign language. If they can be taught not to kill then I’ll support giving them the right to life.

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