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Oldiesfreak1854
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« Reply #75 on: December 19, 2015, 06:26:05 pm »
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I don't think I would ever choose to be a vegetarian.  To me, there is a huge moral difference between a human and an animal.  I don't think our obligations towards animals is to respect their rights.  Animals don't have rights because they're not part of society. 

Can you expand on that a little?  I assume you also think humans should have rights, even if they are incapable of understanding and fully participating in society.  Why do you grant rights that way, and if you do, do you think animal cruelty is morally acceptable?  It doesn't necessarily make sense to oppose animal cruelty as "morally disordered" if animals aren't rights-bearing, after all.

The relevant principle is suffering, and I think you agree.  It's wrong to make an animal suffer in a sadistic way that goes beyond the natural order of things.  Animals get eaten in nature, and they nasty, short, brutal lives.  We don't have a responsibility to raise them up beyond that and take care of them.  But, if we're going to farm them and eat them, we should do it in a conscientious way that doesn't cause more suffering than necessary.

It's not like the alternative here is that they're going to be frolicking in the forest.  We specifically breed these animals to slaughter.  The question in determining the morally superior outcome is whether mass-breeding them for consumption is a morally superior outcome than not doing so.  Even with "conscientious" mass-farming techniques (which, despite how often people pay lip service, almost no one does) I doubt that's the case; I expect they always cause more suffering than "necessary."

Essentially, we have to make uncomfortable trade-offs between human gain and animal suffering.  There's no easy principle there.  The more human-like, the more we care.  For example, I think it would unconscionable to farm apes for food.

I think it's dangerous to start delineating moral rights based on a subjective standard of how much entities resemble us, versus how much they possess the substantive properties that we think justify rights.  For instance, I don't think we should justify ignoring the cognitive advancement of pigs with subjective dissimilarity -- their lack of superficial visual similarity seems a lot more important.  I mean, would you support the "subjective similarity" standard when granting rights to people instead of analyzing substantive properties?  I think the "subjective similarity" standard is directly responsible for a lot of the moral atrocities of history.

And, it's the level of suffering versus the gain for people.  The worst factory farming practices are too cruel to impose on a pig or a cow, I'm sure.  The exact dividing line between ethical farming practice, I don't really know.

Do you really think there's a remotely credible argument that it's anywhere near what we're doing now?  It seems like the whole "the line is hard to draw" response almost always ends up being used as a convenient rationalization to not draw a line at all, and put zero or near-zero effort into being conscientious. 

And, you're right I should do my research and be more conscientious about my diet.

Fair enough.
Animals should have some rights, but the needs of humans must come first.  I don't like to kill animals, but if I have to in order to protect myself and my family, or to provide for them, then I will.
Now your argument about factory farming is relevant to me, and I certainly think the cruelty of those conditions needs to be addressed.  Free range, grass feeding, etc. is much uses far fewer natural resources than grain feeding animals on factory farms, and it produces meat with much higher nutritional value.  Grass-fed beef, for instance, is one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat.
If you want to go vegetarian, then by all means do.  (And don't judge other people because they choose not to.)  It just means more meat for the rest of us. Smiley
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« Reply #76 on: December 19, 2015, 06:42:43 pm »
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Using the "If I have to kill animals to protect or provide for my family" argument doesn't hold up in the modern world where you can provide for your family by eating a vegan diet plus a couple vitamin supplements and protecting your family simply means doing nothing but seldomly calling 911.

It's all about choice.  I choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy.  I think such a diet comes completely naturally to me (someone of generally northern European descent).

But I support humane practices and policies that will make those items more expensive in general (not if you're already buying humanely treated meat/eggs/dairy). 

"Animals should have some rights" is so vague.. especially when you give the caveat of what conjurs an image of you traipsing through the woods in animal furs fighting off deadly cougars and bears and bringing the meat to your helpless wife and children back at the lean-to.

We can afford it.  Animals should have the right to humane treatment that allows them to live as stress free as possible.  And our slaughter practices should be painless and swift.

If price becomes an issue for the poor, then we should subsidize such costs with a tax on the wealthy or provide more food stamp allowances.

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« Reply #77 on: December 19, 2015, 08:04:03 pm »
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Free range, grass feeding, etc. is much uses far fewer natural resources than grain feeding animals on factory farms, and it produces meat with much higher nutritional value.

How do you figure?  The more space you require for animal agriculture, the less space you have for competing natural habitats.  The leading cause of tropical deforestation is making way for feedlots and the growing of grains to be fed to livestock.  If we moved away entirely from industrial beef production to free-range, grass-fed production without reducing the demand, there would be no space.  This idea that you can simply remove all of the remaining forests (natural carbon sinks) and replace them with endless methane-emitting grazing cows is one of the greatest fantasies ever told.

Grass-fed beef, for instance, is one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat.

It's actually a colossal waste of resources for the amount of nutrition produced.  If you're interested, you should check into how much water is required to produce beef and dairy.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2015, 08:12:55 pm by Ebowed »Logged

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« Reply #78 on: December 20, 2015, 06:21:52 am »
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Oldiesfreak: Don't you ever wonder if, when you're constantly abandoning arguments and shifting to new ones, you might be rationalizing something you actually can't defend particularly well?

Animals should have some rights, but the needs of humans must come first.

No one is arguing that animals should have equal or greater rights to humans.

I don't like to kill animals, but if I have to in order to protect myself and my family, or to provide for them, then I will.

You don't.

Now your argument about factory farming is relevant to me, and I certainly think the cruelty of those conditions needs to be addressed.

You don't seem to show much interest in addressing these issues.  You seem to outright refuse to restrict your diet at all, and besides vague references to maybe preferring organic food (which barely does anything to address the concerns here), you seem unwilling to make any changes that have more than the slightest cost to you.  Am I wrong?

Free range, grass feeding, etc. is much uses far fewer natural resources than grain feeding animals on factory farms, and it produces meat with much higher nutritional value.  Grass-fed beef, for instance, is one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat.

As Ebowed points out, you're not going to be able to square this circle -- it takes more energy and resources to provide nutrition for the cultivation of lifestock than it is to consume the energy put into livestock cultivation more directly.  Trophic levels, dude.  It's a massively inefficient use of resources.

It's kind of amazing: you just used inefficiency as an argument against vegetarianism, and when someone points out that the inefficiency argument works against meat-eating, suddenly you're like "well, there are things we can do to limit the inefficiency!"  How can you not realize you're rationalizing here?

If you want to go vegetarian, then by all means do.  (And don't judge other people because they choose not to.)

I think you're doing something unethical and can't defend it well intellectually.  Even when you recognize ethical problems, you seem unwilling to bend much to mitigate them.  Now you seem to be complaining that other people might think that reflects poorly on you...

It just means more meat for the rest of us. Smiley

That's obnoxious.  You do realize that you're basically saying "well, if you don't do this thing I think is unethical, I'll just do it more"?  Try that with something else: well, if you're not willing to partake, more orphans for me to punch!.

It's especially annoying considering I've spent a lot of time replying to your various arguments in this thread, including one which required trawling through a bunch of academic articles, and you've abandoned each of them without even recognizing that you don't have a defense.  Now you're being patronizing, as if I were the one who can't substantiate my position here.
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« Reply #79 on: December 20, 2015, 08:44:07 am »
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Free range, grass feeding, etc. is much uses far fewer natural resources than grain feeding animals on factory farms, and it produces meat with much higher nutritional value.

How do you figure?  The more space you require for animal agriculture, the less space you have for competing natural habitats.  The leading cause of tropical deforestation is making way for feedlots and the growing of grains to be fed to livestock.  If we moved away entirely from industrial beef production to free-range, grass-fed production without reducing the demand, there would be no space.  This idea that you can simply remove all of the remaining forests (natural carbon sinks) and replace them with endless methane-emitting grazing cows is one of the greatest fantasies ever told.

Grass-fed beef, for instance, is one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat.

It's actually a colossal waste of resources for the amount of nutrition produced.  If you're interested, you should check into how much water is required to produce beef and dairy.
If you feed animals on their natural diet instead of feeding them grains, you free up more of those grains to feed to people.  Of course, research is showing that grains probably aren't all that good for you, but if we're trying to feed starving people in the developing world, it's better than nothing.
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« Reply #80 on: December 20, 2015, 09:16:29 am »
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If you feed animals on their natural diet instead of feeding them grains, you free up more of those grains to feed to people.  Of course, research is showing that grains probably aren't all that good for you, but if we're trying to feed starving people in the developing world, it's better than nothing.

Are you, or are you not, arguing that it is less resource-intensive to cultivate livestock for human consumption than it is to have those same people eat a vegetarian diet?

Do you realize how resource-intensive it is to raise livestock?  Also, do you understand that -- whatever you feed livestock -- some of those resource are wasted on the livestock living?  You're basically adding a "middleman" that wastes the input energy to maintain homeostasis.  How can that possibly be more resource-efficient (unless the source food can't be consumed by humans and the resources involved can't be transferred to something that can), putting aside the other resources (like water use) required?
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« Reply #81 on: December 20, 2015, 09:51:12 am »
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Oldiesfreak: Don't you ever wonder if, when you're constantly abandoning arguments and shifting to new ones, you might be rationalizing something you actually can't defend particularly well?
No; I'm just stating the facts as I understand them.  I may not be the best-informed, but I will tell you what I do know.

Animals should have some rights, but the needs of humans must come first.

No one is arguing that animals should have equal or greater rights to humans.

This much, I will concede to you.  Although there are probably some extreme vegetarians who believe animals should have the same or greater rights, they're a pretty small subset of the population.  Even my vegetarian, animal-loving aunt (whom I am very close with) rejects that position.

I don't like to kill animals, but if I have to in order to protect myself and my family, or to provide for them, then I will.
You don't.
There have been some instances where I have.  If hornets were nesting on the roof of my house, would I not have to kill the nest to protect myself and my family?  If mice and/or rats were infesting my house, would it not be right to protect them (and me) from the diseases they could potentially spread?  Or, how about this: if a bear attacked you in the woods (also most likely in self-defense), would you not try to kill the bear in some way to protect yourself?

Granted, these are hypothetical, but there have been many cases where I have had to remove nests of stinging/biting insects from my house and yard, and plenty of times where we have had to work to keep mice out of the house.

Now your argument about factory farming is relevant to me, and I certainly think the cruelty of those conditions needs to be addressed.

You don't seem to show much interest in addressing these issues.  You seem to outright refuse to restrict your diet at all, and besides vague references to maybe preferring organic food (which barely does anything to address the concerns here), you seem unwilling to make any changes that have more than the slightest cost to you.  Am I wrong?
I would love to switch to organic, free range, grass fed, etc. if it were possible, but in many cases it is cost-prohibitive for me, not to mention many other people who would be inclined to purchase those foods.  I actually think we should quit subsidizing factory farms and agribusiness, and instead provide incentives for more sustainable farming methods.

Free range, grass feeding, etc. is much uses far fewer natural resources than grain feeding animals on factory farms, and it produces meat with much higher nutritional value.  Grass-fed beef, for instance, is one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat.

As Ebowed points out, you're not going to be able to square this circle -- it takes more energy and resources to provide nutrition for the cultivation of lifestock than it is to consume the energy put into livestock cultivation more directly.  Trophic levels, dude.  It's a massively inefficient use of resources.

It's kind of amazing: you just used inefficiency as an argument against vegetarianism, and when someone points out that the inefficiency argument works against meat-eating, suddenly you're like "well, there are things we can do to limit the inefficiency!"  How can you not realize you're rationalizing here?
I'm familiar with trophic levels and the efficiency argument.  But there are many plants that use resources inefficiently as well, such as strawberries.  Humans have been eating meat for thousands, maybe millions, of years.  Certainly, we have been eating it longer than grains, and longer than we've been farming.  In those days, an entire group of people could survive for several days on the meat of a single animal.  If it wasn't inefficient to eat meat in the days before factory farming and big agribusiness, then doesn't that imply that those things are the problem rather than meat itself?

Besides, the way we grow crops in this day and age is hardly a good use of natural resources.  Most farmers today grow their crops in huge monocultures that attract pests (thus requiring more pesticide use) and use countless amounts of water, fertilizer, etc.  Palm oil, for instance, has led to the destruction of rainforests at a similar rate as cattle ranching.  Companies like Monsanto, Cargill, and ConAgra get millions of dollars in corporate welfare subsidies from the government to continue these practices.  At a time when our national debt and deficit are at all-time highs, that seems like an easy place to start cutting back.  I don't care how much they may wail and whine--their business practices are unethical, unhealthy, and unsustainable.  That's not exclusive to meat production; that goes for farming practices in general.  If you feed a cow grass instead of grain, the meat will have more nutritional value because the animal is being fed on its natural diet.  Humans don't eat grass in the first place, so the grains that would have been fed to the cow can now be fed to us.  If you go the grass-fed route, the entire issue of trophic levels disappears.

If you want to go vegetarian, then by all means do.  (And don't judge other people because they choose not to.)

I think you're doing something unethical and can't defend it well intellectually.  Even when you recognize ethical problems, you seem unwilling to bend much to mitigate them.  Now you seem to be complaining that other people might think that reflects poorly on you...

It just means more meat for the rest of us. Smiley

That's obnoxious.  You do realize that you're basically saying "well, if you don't do this thing I think is unethical, I'll just do it more"?  Try that with something else: well, if you're not willing to partake, more orphans for me to punch!.

It's especially annoying considering I've spent a lot of time replying to your various arguments in this thread, including one which required trawling through a bunch of academic articles, and you've abandoned each of them without even recognizing that you don't have a defense.  Now you're being patronizing, as if I were the one who can't substantiate my position here.
The simple fact is this: people are going to eat meat, whether you like it or not.  If you choose not to, then more of the meat that is produced can be consumed by people like me.  It's a simple equation of resource allocation.  If you use less of the available resources, then I can use more.

As for the issue of trying to rationalize my behavior, maybe there is an element of that.  I come from a long line of hunters in my extended family, and their carnivorous appetites may have rubbed off a bit on me.  But how is it unethical to eat meat when you kill plants for your food?  Given, you may not always kill plants when you eat, but some plants do die when you pick them.  Life is life, whether it's a plant, an animal, a microorganism, etc.  Based on your logic, you could argue that it is unethical to use paper, lumber, or other wood products because it kills trees, or to use soap and hand sanitizer because it kills bacteria.  If you were merely killing an animal, plant, etc. for fun, with no intention of using it, then that would raise ethical issues.  But if you're killing the animal to feed yourself and your family, then how is that immoral?
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« Reply #82 on: December 20, 2015, 10:44:09 am »
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There have been some instances where I have.  If hornets were nesting on the roof of my house, would I not have to kill the nest to protect myself and my family?  If mice and/or rats were infesting my house, would it not be right to protect them (and me) from the diseases they could potentially spread?  Or, how about this: if a bear attacked you in the woods (also most likely in self-defense), would you not try to kill the bear in some way to protect yourself?

Granted, these are hypothetical, but there have been many cases where I have had to remove nests of stinging/biting insects from my house and yard, and plenty of times where we have had to work to keep mice out of the house.

OK, but what's your point?  None of these cases have anything to do with the topic at hand, and the idea of self-defense is hardly novel even with other humans.  There are some distinctions between the two instances (we prohibit vigilante self-defense in cases where a risk is non-imminent), but I don't see why those distinctions make this example any more relevant to the topic at hand.  Dairy cows are not doing anything to you or your family.

I would love to switch to organic, free range, grass fed, etc. if it were possible, but in many cases it is cost-prohibitive for me, not to mention many other people who would be inclined to purchase those foods.  I actually think we should quit subsidizing factory farms and agribusiness, and instead provide incentives for more sustainable farming methods.

This seems completely shallow to me.  Vegetarianism is not really especially difficult for most people -- I've been doing it for years -- so why should I consider this anything but hand-wringing?

I'm familiar with trophic levels and the efficiency argument.  But there are many plants that use resources inefficiently as well, such as strawberries.

So what?  This started because you argued that a meat-consuming diet is more efficient than a vegetarian one.  The fact that strawberries aren't particularly resource-efficient doesn't negate that.  (Strawberries are obviously a trivial part of anyone's diet, since they have virtually no calories.)  If your argument is that it's unreasonable to demand that a diet absolutely maximize resource-efficacy, OK, sure.  But you were the one who led with resource-efficacy as an objection to vegetarianism!  As far as I can tell, you're criticizing your own argument now that it realizes it runs against your conclusion.  This is ridiculous.

YOU ARE RATIONALIZING.

Humans have been eating meat for thousands, maybe millions, of years.  Certainly, we have been eating it longer than grains, and longer than we've been farming.  In those days, an entire group of people could survive for several days on the meat of a single animal.  If it wasn't inefficient to eat meat in the days before factory farming and big agribusiness, then doesn't that imply that those things are the problem rather than meat itself?

This is like the 25th consecutive half-baked argument you've provided.  Please, dude, think through your arguments before replying.  Obviously, the reason meat-eating was effective back in the day was because we didn't have systematized agriculture.  It would have been more resource-effective if we could get our caloric and nutritional requirements from one source, but we got it from a central source (meat) instead, because we didn't have the resources to grow a diversity of crops.  That's obviously not the case anymore...as exemplified by the availability of the very mass-scale agriculture we're talking about.

Besides, the way we grow crops in this day and age is hardly a good use of natural resources.  Most farmers today grow their crops in huge monocultures that attract pests (thus requiring more pesticide use) and use countless amounts of water, fertilizer, etc.  Palm oil, for instance, has led to the destruction of rainforests at a similar rate as cattle ranching.  Companies like Monsanto, Cargill, and ConAgra get millions of dollars in corporate welfare subsidies from the government to continue these practices.  At a time when our national debt and deficit are at all-time highs, that seems like an easy place to start cutting back.  I don't care how much they may wail and whine--their business practices are unethical, unhealthy, and unsustainable.  That's not exclusive to meat production; that goes for farming practices in general.  If you feed a cow grass instead of grain, the meat will have more nutritional value because the animal is being fed on its natural diet.  Humans don't eat grass in the first place, so the grains that would have been fed to the cow can now be fed to us.

A lot of this is mostly irrelevant, but OK...

You do realize that the reason these companies feed grain instead of grass is probably because it's cheaper, i.e., less resource-intensive?  I gather you're arguing that, even if that's the case, the resultant meat is so much more nutritionally rich that it not only justifies the greater resources required by a "natural" diet, but it also eliminates the efficiency gap between getting energy through meat and getting it through vegetable matter.

If so, please provide any sort of citation for this claim.

If you go the grass-fed route, the entire issue of trophic levels disappears.

No, it doesn't.  Why would it?  You clearly don't understand what trophic levels are.  You're BSing your way through this exchange, and you probably know you are, yet simultaneously are committed to not changing your mind.

The simple fact is this: people are going to eat meat, whether you like it or not.  If you choose not to, then more of the meat that is produced can be consumed by people like me.  It's a simple equation of resource allocation.  If you use less of the available resources, then I can use more.

That's not how supply and demand works.  Do you somehow think that, if half the world became vegetarian, you would respond by consuming twice as much meat?

As for the issue of trying to rationalize my behavior, maybe there is an element of that.  I come from a long line of hunters in my extended family, and their carnivorous appetites may have rubbed off a bit on me.  But how is it unethical to eat meat when you kill plants for your food?  Given, you may not always kill plants when you eat, but some plants do die when you pick them.  Life is life, whether it's a plant, an animal, a microorganism, etc.  Based on your logic, you could argue that it is unethical to use paper, lumber, or other wood products because it kills trees, or to use soap and hand sanitizer because it kills bacteria.  If you were merely killing an animal, plant, etc. for fun, with no intention of using it, then that would raise ethical issues.  But if you're killing the animal to feed yourself and your family, then how is that immoral?

You're being obtuse.  I never argued that non-sentient, non-conscious, non-thinking life warrants the same protection from suffering or killing.  You've already conceded that you think it's wrong to impose unnecessary cruelty on animals, and here you are, making virtually zero effort to avoid doing it.  We could have a discussion about why we think it's intrinsically wrong to kill a human, even in the absence of suffering, but not other animals, and whether I think it's intrinsically wrong to kill self-aware, non-human animals.  But you're defending eating a meat-based diet, and there are much less philosophically complex issues with what you're doing than a debate over the intrinsic wrongness of killing.
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« Reply #83 on: December 20, 2015, 12:19:40 pm »
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Supposing that animals actually do have rights, the most fundamental among them would certainly be the right to life. Would every member of Kingdom Animalia be entitled to these? What would the human responsibility be to protect those rights? Do animals have rights protecting them against intra-species violence, or merely against the slings and arrows of Homo sapiens? It's a concept too problematic to be meaningful.

I think that animals have "deserts", i.e. a measure of respect owed to their autonomy and intelligence. This is a far more subjective and fluid concept than the idea of rights, though a more accurate one, since the idea of rights is incompatible with the occasional human need to kill animals. The concept of desert requires that when killing animals is unnecessary, humans should refrain; similarly, our treatment of living animals ought to be more reverential than it is repressive. Otherwise, animals generally deserve to be left unmolested.

In this mode of thought one can find plenty of zoocentric justification for vegetarianism, though I think there's probably a stronger case to be made for an anthropocentric justification. Humans would probably be better off, to say nothing of other animals, if we ate less meat. Energy, water and land could be used more efficiently, calories could be produced more cheaply and on a broader scale, and no one would have to live downwind of a lagoon of pig shit.

n.b. Be wary of conflating "animals" with "mega-" or "meso-fauna", though certainly there's an unconscious temptation to do so.
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« Reply #84 on: December 20, 2015, 12:36:52 pm »
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Supposing that animals actually do have rights, the most fundamental among them would certainly be the right to life. Would every member of Kingdom Animalia be entitled to these? What would the human responsibility be to protect those rights? Do animals have rights protecting them against intra-species violence, or merely against the slings and arrows of Homo sapiens? It's a concept too problematic to be meaningful.

I think that animals have "deserts", i.e. a measure of respect owed to their autonomy and intelligence. This is a far more subjective and fluid concept than the idea of rights, though a more accurate one, since the idea of rights is incompatible with the occasional human need to kill animals. The concept of desert requires that when killing animals is unnecessary, humans should refrain; similarly, our treatment of living animals ought to be more reverential than it is repressive. Otherwise, animals generally deserve to be left unmolested.

In this mode of thought one can find plenty of zoocentric justification for vegetarianism, though I think there's probably a stronger case to be made for an anthropocentric justification. Humans would probably be better off, to say nothing of other animals, if we ate less meat. Energy, water and land could be used more efficiently, calories could be produced more cheaply and on a broader scale, and no one would have to live downwind of a massive, unstable reservoir of pig shit.

n.b. Be wary of conflating "animals" with "mega-" or "meso-fauna", though certainly there's an unconscious temptation to do so.

I think this is a very reasonable way of looking at the underlying issue.  The idea of a "right to life" is even slippery when it comes to people, and I think we mostly think of it as unequivocal because we live in a stable society that emphasizes disallowing individual violence.  However, there are plenty of instances (war, perhaps capitol punishment) where we think the state can revoke the "right to life."  That's not to say that I don't think differentiating "rights" and "deserts" isn't reasonable.  I just mean that the "right to life" is even a somewhat confused concept when it comes to people, and that doesn't prompt us to abandon it, so I don't think "it's hard to conceptualize rights/deserts for animals" warrants abandoning the concept for them.  (I know you seem to agree...it's just a common argument, so I figure it's worth addressing preemptively.)
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« Reply #85 on: December 20, 2015, 12:52:40 pm »
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OK, but what's your point?  None of these cases have anything to do with the topic at hand, and the idea of self-defense is hardly novel even with other humans.  There are some distinctions between the two instances (we prohibit vigilante self-defense in cases where a risk is non-imminent), but I don't see why those distinctions make this example any more relevant to the topic at hand.  Dairy cows are not doing anything to you or your family.
True, but if I have to kill and eat a cow to provide food for my family, then I will.

This seems completely shallow to me.  Vegetarianism is not really especially difficult for most people -- I've been doing it for years -- so why should I consider this anything but hand-wringing?
To each his own.  What I was saying is that buying free range and organic foods is often too expensive for most people to afford.  But I'm not going to give up meat simply because it's not grass-fed or free range, although that would be my preference.

I'm familiar with trophic levels and the efficiency argument.  But there are many plants that use resources inefficiently as well, such as strawberries.

So what?  This started because you argued that a meat-consuming diet is more efficient than a vegetarian one.  The fact that strawberries aren't particularly resource-efficient doesn't negate that.  (Strawberries are obviously a trivial part of anyone's diet, since they have virtually no calories.)  If your argument is that it's unreasonable to demand that a diet absolutely maximize resource-efficacy, OK, sure.  But you were the one who led with resource-efficacy as an objection to vegetarianism!  As far as I can tell, you're criticizing your own argument now that it realizes it runs against your conclusion.  This is ridiculous.

YOU ARE RATIONALIZING.
I never said that a meat diet was more efficient than a vegetarian one.  I said that there is really no difference.  But eating grass-fed meat is much more efficient that grain-feeding, because humans don't eat grass, but they do eat grains.  If you quit feeding grain to animals, then humans will be able to eat the grain.  If you grass feed, the trophic levels argument is irrelevant because you can't eat grass, even if it provides more energy than a steak.

Humans have been eating meat for thousands, maybe millions, of years.  Certainly, we have been eating it longer than grains, and longer than we've been farming.  In those days, an entire group of people could survive for several days on the meat of a single animal.  If it wasn't inefficient to eat meat in the days before factory farming and big agribusiness, then doesn't that imply that those things are the problem rather than meat itself?

This is like the 25th consecutive half-baked argument you've provided.  Please, dude, think through your arguments before replying.  Obviously, the reason meat-eating was effective back in the day was because we didn't have systematized agriculture.  It would have been more resource-effective if we could get our caloric and nutritional requirements from one source, but we got it from a central source (meat) instead, because we didn't have the resources to grow a diversity of crops.  That's obviously not the case anymore...as exemplified by the availability of the very mass-scale agriculture we're talking about.
It may not be more resource-effective to eat from a single source, but it does not provide all the nutrients your body needs.  You statement is exactly the point I was trying to make.  The unsustainable farming practices we use in the present day apply to both meat and plants, and both are very inefficient at using resources.  I am advocating for more traditional forms of agriculture to increase resource efficiency.

Besides, the way we grow crops in this day and age is hardly a good use of natural resources.  Most farmers today grow their crops in huge monocultures that attract pests (thus requiring more pesticide use) and use countless amounts of water, fertilizer, etc.  Palm oil, for instance, has led to the destruction of rainforests at a similar rate as cattle ranching.  Companies like Monsanto, Cargill, and ConAgra get millions of dollars in corporate welfare subsidies from the government to continue these practices.  At a time when our national debt and deficit are at all-time highs, that seems like an easy place to start cutting back.  I don't care how much they may wail and whine--their business practices are unethical, unhealthy, and unsustainable.  That's not exclusive to meat production; that goes for farming practices in general.  If you feed a cow grass instead of grain, the meat will have more nutritional value because the animal is being fed on its natural diet.  Humans don't eat grass in the first place, so the grains that would have been fed to the cow can now be fed to us.

A lot of this is mostly irrelevant, but OK...

You do realize that the reason these companies feed grain instead of grass is probably because it's cheaper, i.e., less resource-intensive?  I gather you're arguing that, even if that's the case, the resultant meat is so much more nutritionally rich that it not only justifies the greater resources required by a "natural" diet, but it also eliminates the efficiency gap between getting energy through meat and getting it through vegetable matter.

If so, please provide any sort of citation for this claim.
Yes, I realize that grain feeding is cheaper and fattens the animals more and quicker.  What I am advocating is that we provide incentives for meat producers to grain feed and end factory farming practices.

If you go the grass-fed route, the entire issue of trophic levels disappears.

No, it doesn't.  Why would it?  You clearly don't understand what trophic levels are.  You're BSing your way through this exchange, and you probably know you are, yet simultaneously are committed to not changing your mind.
Please see my above comment on trophic levels.

That's not how supply and demand works.  Do you somehow think that, if half the world became vegetarian, you would respond by consuming twice as much meat?
That IS how supply and demand works.  No matter how many vegetarians there are in the world, there will still be people who eat meat.  I was making a joke with that comment (hence the smiley face), and you are taking it seriously.

You're being obtuse.  I never argued that non-sentient, non-conscious, non-thinking life warrants the same protection from suffering or killing.  You've already conceded that you think it's wrong to impose unnecessary cruelty on animals, and here you are, making virtually zero effort to avoid doing it.  We could have a discussion about why we think it's intrinsically wrong to kill a human, even in the absence of suffering, but not other animals, and whether I think it's intrinsically wrong to kill self-aware, non-human animals.  But you're defending eating a meat-based diet, and there are much less philosophically complex issues with what you're doing than a debate over the intrinsic wrongness of killing.
Certainly we need more humane slaughtering methods, but what is the difference between killing an animal for food and killing a tree for wood?  What is the difference between killing an animal for food and killing bacteria to protect your health?  Whether you made that argument or not is irrelevant; what I was saying is that the same logic can be used to make those arguments.
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« Reply #86 on: December 20, 2015, 01:54:29 pm »
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True, but if I have to kill and eat a cow to provide food for my family, then I will.

You don't.  Period.  It's moderately more convenient to you and fits your taste preferences.  I don't know why you keep invoking ideas like self-defense as if this was anywhere near a necessity.

To each his own.  What I was saying is that buying free range and organic foods is often too expensive for most people to afford.  But I'm not going to give up meat simply because it's not grass-fed or free range, although that would be my preference.

"To each your own" is a pretty bad defense when we're talking about something that causes unnecessary suffering.  The point is that this does affect other entities (albeit non-human ones), and you've already conceded it affects them in an undesirable way.  Why do you keep reverting to acting like this is some matter of personal preference, instead of an ethical concern?

I never said that a meat diet was more efficient than a vegetarian one.  I said that there is really no difference.  But eating grass-fed meat is much more efficient that grain-feeding, because humans don't eat grass, but they do eat grains.  If you quit feeding grain to animals, then humans will be able to eat the grain.  If you grass feed, the trophic levels argument is irrelevant because you can't eat grass, even if it provides more energy than a steak.

...

It may not be more resource-effective to eat from a single source, but it does not provide all the nutrients your body needs.  You statement is exactly the point I was trying to make.  The unsustainable farming practices we use in the present day apply to both meat and plants, and both are very inefficient at using resources.  I am advocating for more traditional forms of agriculture to increase resource efficiency.

...

Yes, I realize that grain feeding is cheaper and fattens the animals more and quicker.  What I am advocating is that we provide incentives for meat producers to grain feed and end factory farming practices.

Sigh, dude.  Of course it's still relevant.  It doesn't matter if we can't eat grass.  It takes resources to produce that grass, which would not be used if we reduced the number of cattle we had to feed grass.  This is one of those instances where you'd really benefit from thinking about your own argument for like 15 seconds before posting it.

You are simply wrong that there is "no difference" in terms of resource intensity.  You keep saying that feeding animals with grass instead of grain somehow removes the problem of trophic levels (animals expending energy as a "middleman" in the food chain), by somehow making the meat so much more nutritious that it eliminates the need to consume more meat to meet nutritional requirements -- or something.  You haven't provided a citation for this, and I think it's obviously untrue that this eliminates the difference in resource-intensity; a lot of resources are required to maintain livestock, and even doubly nutritious meat probably wouldn't eliminate most of this gap.  It's logically impossible for it to eliminate all of the gap.  But, seriously: where does this belief come from?  Do you have any sort of citation that even begins to substantiate this claim?

That IS how supply and demand works.  No matter how many vegetarians there are in the world, there will still be people who eat meat.  I was making a joke with that comment (hence the smiley face), and you are taking it seriously.

Dude, if fewer people eat meat, the demand for meat is lower, so the need to supply meat is less.  It doesn't have to become zero to be less.  You seem to be implying that vegetarianism is pointless, because the amount of meat produced is finite and not responsive to consumer demand.  That's exactly what "more meat for us" means.  That's not true.

I am taking it seriously, because: 1) it doesn't make sense; and, 2) it's literally you saying "I will negate an action you think is ethical," which is dickish.

Certainly we need more humane slaughtering methods, but what is the difference between killing an animal for food and killing a tree for wood?

I already answered this "objection" in the very post you're quoting, but I'll expand on it:

We do not have evidence that trees are self-aware in a way that leads them to suffer.  They may have chemical reactions, but they don't have minds that consciously experience that suffering the way humans and other mammals clearly do.  The same goes for bacteria that pose a threat to your health, which again, cows and pigs don't.

You seem to be arguing that there's not a rational reason to differentiate, say, cutting down a tree from torturing a pet cat or dog.  Do you really think that's the case?  Do you really reject the idea that it's wrong to inflict suffering on beings that can obviously consciously experience its tortuous efects?  Do you actually think that causing suffering to a conscious mammal is more analogous to killing bacteria than it is to causing suffering to a human?  I'm nearly 100% sure that you already know and accept the answer to your own question.  I don't think you actually think that torturing a mammal is clearly the same as cutting down a tree.  Correct me if I'm wrong -- but if I'm not wrong, please stop wasting my time.

I think you're trying to throw every imaginable argument out there, and trying to muddle every issue, hoping that you can act like this is some kind of subjective call.  The problem is that these objections seem totally inconsistent with your expressed positions (like opposing animal cruelty), or seem to obviously be defeated by 45 seconds of pausing to think (seriously, most of these resource use defenses you're giving are obviously nonsensical).

I really encourage you do a little reflection before your next reply.  Do you really think you're doing a fair-minded job of evaluating opposing arguments and equally scrutinizing your own here?  This is like playing Whack-a-Mole -- whenever one of your arguments is struck down, you scramble to pop another one up as quickly as possible, and you seem totally unaffected by any dissonance, considering that all of these arguments keep getting struck down.
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« Reply #87 on: December 20, 2015, 02:52:26 pm »
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oldies, you don't need to justify with bullshit excuses (I can tell they're bull because you're sliding around everywhere in response to alcon). Do what the rest of us meat eaters do, and admit it's a terrible, wasteful vice that we allow to take us because cultural pressure (and meat being tasty) is a strong force. I consider my meat-eating to be a sign of moral laziness and hypocrisy on my part :/ but I still partake.
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« Reply #88 on: December 20, 2015, 05:57:19 pm »
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If you feed animals on their natural diet instead of feeding them grains, you free up more of those grains to feed to people.  Of course, research is showing that grains probably aren't all that good for you, but if we're trying to feed starving people in the developing world, it's better than nothing.

The reason, other than space constraints, that farmers feed grains to livestock is because it is easier to fatten them up on an unnatural diet.  The collective demand for beef goes a long way towards explaining why farmers would find it preferable to feed cows in this manner.  I don't know where you got the idea that grains are unhealthy but that's demonstrably absurd.

Let's break this down:
1. The reason we grow so many grains is specifically to feed livestock.  If we stopped growing grains to feed livestock, we would have enough grains to feed the human population ten times over.  (Is it starting to click yet how growing meat for nutrition is a colossal waste of resources?)  We obviously wouldn't keep growing that many grains if we didn't have livestock to feed them.  Yes, we would feed the world many times over, but we also wouldn't need to keep wasting land and resources on growing so many grains in the first place.
2. There literally isn't enough land to grow all beef (let alone dairy, my God) in a "free range, grass fed" situation.  If all of the beef eaten in the US alone were grown this way, it would require all of the land in the world, and then we still wouldn't meet supply.  And the majority of the world's population, surprise, doesn't even live in the US!
3. Nobody is asking you to shell out for organic, free range produce that you claim is more nutritious (a dubious assumption that we don't have time to get into) but yet cannot afford.  If you just ate a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains you would get the same nutrients at a reduced cost.
4. Finally, can we address your underlying implication that you should get to eat grass fed beef while the world's poor should only eat grains?  Guess what - it's already the case.  For all this nonsense about veganism being a first world option, the privilege actually lies in being able to choose what you eat.  I don't begrudge people for eating what they know when their options are limited or nonexistent.  What bothers me here is this nasty thing going here where you get to eat the world's beef and destroy the Amazon because you apparently can't see the difference between your personal taste preferences and self-defense, while the world's poor are stuck with grains that you don't even think are nutritious!  That says a lot about you.
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« Reply #89 on: December 21, 2015, 02:16:43 pm »
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People get very... strange... when discussing diet don't they? Leaving aside the morality issue (apparently people have different worldviews, how utterly shocking!), the idea that we are 'meant' to eat this or that is a silly: humans happen to be omnivorous and can (and indeed do) survive on an absurdly wide range of diets. And what's right for me may not be right for thee: like most people of European origin you'd have to prise dairy products out of my cold dead hands, but in much of the rest of the world lactose intolerance is the norm. Occupation can also be a factor: an appropriate diet for someone doing manual work is often rather different to that of a pen pusher. It is also worth noting that, historically speaking, meat was a rarity before the 19th century even in the West and that current levels of consumption would have been bewildering even in the mid 20th century. The typical diet - outside fishing districts - in preindustrial England consisted almost entirely of bread, cheese and split peas. The typical diet in parts of the South of France and Northern Italy revolved around the chestnut. And so on. Not ideal, certainly not 'balanced', but sufficient to survive.
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« Reply #90 on: December 23, 2015, 01:33:13 pm »
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Oldiesfreak?  Snowguy?  Bueller?
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« Reply #91 on: December 23, 2015, 04:32:00 pm »
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The typical diet - outside fishing districts - in preindustrial England consisted almost entirely of bread, cheese and split peas. . . Not ideal, certainly not 'balanced', but sufficient to survive.


Yeah, especially when marching, which was very demanding physically. I absolutely love George Goodwin's Fatal Colours, and he talks for several pages about Medieval diets. When Edward IV marched his army north to Towton, they basically had grain bread, peas, and beans to eat. Meat on that march would have been a delicacy, but there would have been a bit to go around. Protein would have had to come from somewhere, and he suggests that eggs would have been available. Towton, of course, raged on all day (as opposed to the typical 2-3 hours it took to fight a battle) until the Lancastrian line gave way. So it was enough to not only survive, but fight by hand the length of the day in awful conditions (snow and freezing rain).

He also mentions that members of a household, plowmen, soldiers, and other workers had available to them exceedingly large amounts of calories and meat (upwards of 13,000 calories), and also ale, mainly because it was allotted to them for their hard work and toil, but it would be spread around, so no one person consumed nearly that amount. Interesting!

I guess as a nutritionist I'd just say that to sit in front of a computer all day one probably does not need the sugar/calories of a modern diet. Edward IV, who ate and drank from 1471 to 1483, probably died had the symptoms of diabetes, so there you go.
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« Reply #92 on: December 24, 2015, 06:52:37 am »
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When Edward IV marched his army north to Towton, they basically had grain bread, peas, and beans to eat. Meat on that march would have been a delicacy, but there would have been a bit to go around. Protein would have had to come from somewhere, and he suggests that eggs would have been available.

The protein came from the beans and peas you mentioned two sentences prior...
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« Reply #93 on: December 27, 2015, 06:41:51 pm »
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When Edward IV marched his army north to Towton, they basically had grain bread, peas, and beans to eat. Meat on that march would have been a delicacy, but there would have been a bit to go around. Protein would have had to come from somewhere, and he suggests that eggs would have been available.

The protein came from the beans and peas you mentioned two sentences prior...

That army was thirty-five to forty thousand strong (ridiculously and tragically large for its time), so that's a LOT of beans (more than my Super Bowl party!), but I think the point was just that while the aforementioned items with beans were staple elements to a Medieval diet, there were plenty of other sources of nutrition to augment it, like bacon, eggs, dried meats, salted meats, fish, etc., and yes, people would have had access to them.
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