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The moral case for veganism.

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The moral case for veganism.
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MarsCydoniaUser avatarPosts: 878Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:15 pm

Post The moral case for veganism.

Is it immoral to eat meat?

Do you believe that "it is logically inconsistent to be ok with eating some animals for food, such as cows and chickens, while being opposed to eating humans for food"?

To put my query into context, I've recently watched a Matt Dillahunty video where the comments were filled with the likes of "Matt got destroyed by vegan gains" and "Matt is a coward that won't debate vegan gains". Having watched videos of Matt Dillahunty in the past, this hyperbole was very curious to meas it is very uncharacteristic of my past experiences. So I looked into it and while I do not know if it is a recent phenomena, it appears that a number of vegan youtubers are obsessed/fixated/focused (use the word you feel is appropriate) on Matt Dillahunty. I have no idea for the reason why but one of those vegan youtubers called the Atheist Experience, a web show sometimes hosted by Matt Dillahunty and this vegan and Dillahunty debated the issue of veganism (Atheist Experience 22.03 with Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker, the last conversation of that show).

I may be biased as a meat eater but nowhere in the video did I see "Vegan gains (a.k.a Richard) destroying Matt Dillahunty", I did not even see a case made that eating meat is immoral.

So it may very be that eating meat is immoral but if I am to abandon it, I would need to see a case for why and it would need to go beyond the mere assertion. I had a short discussion with one of the commenters that claimed "Matt Dillahunty was pushed into a corner", I was unimpressed by the argument (and surprised by the admission that eating a brain-dead person would be ok if it didn't cause suffering on someone else).

Do you have any toughts on the subject?
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Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:03 pm
thenexttodiePosts: 901Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:59 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

MarsCydonia wrote:Is it immoral to eat meat?

Do you believe that "it is logically inconsistent to be ok with eating some animals for food, such as cows and chickens, while being opposed to eating humans for food"?

To put my query into context, I've recently watched a Matt Dillahunty video where the comments were filled with the likes of "Matt got destroyed by vegan gains" and "Matt is a coward that won't debate vegan gains". Having watched videos of Matt Dillahunty in the past, this hyperbole was very curious to meas it is very uncharacteristic of my past experiences. So I looked into it and while I do not know if it is a recent phenomena, it appears that a number of vegan youtubers are obsessed/fixated/focused (use the word you feel is appropriate) on Matt Dillahunty. I have no idea for the reason why but one of those vegan youtubers called the Atheist Experience, a web show sometimes hosted by Matt Dillahunty and this vegan and Dillahunty debated the issue of veganism (Atheist Experience 22.03 with Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker, the last conversation of that show).

I may be biased as a meat eater but nowhere in the video did I see "Vegan gains (a.k.a Richard) destroying Matt Dillahunty", I did not even see a case made that eating meat is immoral.

So it may very be that eating meat is immoral but if I am to abandon it, I would need to see a case for why and it would need to go beyond the mere assertion. I had a short discussion with one of the commenters that claimed "Matt Dillahunty was pushed into a corner", I was unimpressed by the argument (and surprised by the admission that eating a brain-dead person would be ok if it didn't cause suffering on someone else).

Do you have any toughts on the subject?


Let me get this right. You think it could possibley be immoral to eat meat, but you will keep eating meat anyway until someone can prove to you it is immoral.

Wouldn't you rather err on the side of caution?
“..the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.” Tolstoy
Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:46 pm
CollecemallPosts: 390Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:53 am

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

I think the vegan is probably right. At least in most cases. That's without hearing his argument but just from my own thoughts on the subject. That doesn't mean I don't eat meat. It means I do it and am conflicted about it. I'm 40 years old and am pretty set in my eating habits. So I won't be making drastic changes over night. I will however attempt to limit my consumption and use alternatives where I can. I like meat and it's an easier choice day to day for the most part. I don't claim to always be right or moral in every instance. I just do my best to try to be.


I think you can take a number of lines of attack on the ethics of eating meat. From the suffering our mass farming causes for animals, to the environmental impact it causes, to the fact that it's inefficient to grow grains to feed to animals to turn grain into meat, to the individual agency of the animals. etc. Any of those is probably enough to overcome the desire I have to eat a tasty piece of meat as a reasonable reason to do so. In our current society there isn't really a dietary reason to eat meat. I'll grant that this might not always be the case. What if you were somewhere that cultivated foods weren't available? Well then I could understand taking another life to extend your own. I don't know that it's "moral" but it's certainly not unnatural. You could go all the way down the rabbit hole I guess and end up asking why is my life any more valuable than whatever animal you are talking about snuffing out. If some alien species landed on Earth and decided we were a food source I don't think our ambivalence would be the same about it. We'd be pretty well opposed to being on the menu or being bred in mass for slaughter.

Those are my feeble thoughts on the subject. I'm sure people with more brain power have better reasons for and against. For sure they communicate them with more ability.
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Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:44 am
VisakiUser avatarPosts: 812Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:26 pmLocation: Helsinki, Finland Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

There is a discussion to be had about the morality and, I think more importantly, the practicality of eating meat. But one thing I do think cannot be removed from this discussion are the other ethical aspects, main one that comes to mind is the morality of locally produced food against globally produced food. It also might be that the question also must include things like human population growth.

That being said, I like steak. And I plan on using part of my coming holiday next week to go ice fishing as I do every winter (ice situation permitting). This might be because I have a point of view of a middle aged man living in the north of the Western World.
Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:14 am
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

I think it has to be understood that a healthy vegan diet is somewhat of a privilege. It's all very well moralising about diet when you can go to the supermarket and buy specialist vegan goods and supplements to ensure you get the right nutrients. A lot of people in the world have to eat what they can get. I do not think that the argument should thus be eating animal produce is always wrong.

It could be argued among privileged people who can more freely choose their diets, ought to be vegan. You could cite environmental and welfare concerns as the imperative.

Personally I don't choose to view diet as a moral question. We need to eat and I do not presume to tell anyone what is and is not morally okay for them to put in their mouths. In any sense. Telling people that they are bad because they eat meat is not conductive to reasoning with them. Getting them to think about their choices based upon the ethics of farming and the environmental impact, without implying that their possible decision to continue to eat meat in light of that information is tantamount to being a barbaric murderer.

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Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:43 am
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

MarsCydonia wrote:Is it immoral to eat meat?

Do you have any toughts on the subject?


You might find it useful to look at some vegan Youtubers who often make response videos to answer the most common criticisms against veganism.
Examples:
* Mic the Vegan is a bit biased, but he often quotes scientific papers.
* Unnatural Vegan addresses specifically that debate with Matt Dillahunty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlORoDPSL5E


From my persepective, there are several reasons to go vegan, morality is just one of them.

1) Moral argument

The fundamental point is that veganism is possible (in a wealthy country at least), which makes animal-based food (and related misery) unnecessary.

People tend to focus on the killing, but in industrial animal farming, death is the most merciful part of the utterly miserable life that we impose on sentient beings for the sake of personal pleasure.

"The Extremism of Veganism" ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUTgZ7s_hiw ) is a pro-vegan propaganda video (graphic images, a few dubious statements and over-simplifications), but I find it interesting because of the simple questions that we could ask ourselves: why do cows produce milk? what happens to male chicks? what are the drawbacks of "optimizing" an animal for resource production?

When engaging in a moral conversation, people tend to start with either an empathetic standpoint (why should I _not_ care?) or a psychopathic one (why should I care?).

When a meat-eater asks "why should I care?" they are essentially asking why they should have empathy toward sentient beings, which seems at odds with Matt's moral views.

Personally, I think meat-eaters should ask that question to their own team: why is "humane" slaughter a selling point to meat-eaters? Why invest money and time into "improving" the quality of life of the animals if it is morally neutral?

2) Environmental argument

Feeding farm animals requires lots of land and water (more than would be required to feed humans only), and farm animals produce methane which is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

Reducing meat consumption is probably one of the easiest ways to have a meaningful positive impact on the environment.

3) Health argument

Eating animal products (meat, milk, eggs) may increase the risk of developing various health problems (excessive weight, defective arteries, colon cancer).

This argument is harder to make because there can be many additional factors (smoking, low physical activity, body type) and it is easy to mess up a vegan diet (not eating enough, lack of nutritional balance).

4) AI argument

This one is more on the speculative side (it is the last one in the list of 5 arguments given by Unnatural Vegan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNugaxb9MQs ): AI experts want to build AI with human values. What kind of value would lead someone to ask "why should I care?" when confronted with the avoidable suffering of "inferior" sentient beings?
Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:58 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Laurens wrote:I think it has to be understood that a healthy vegan diet is somewhat of a privilege.

It has to be understood that not all vegans are loony tree-huggers.

Yes veganism is a privilege, but it is not about price (a healthy vegan diet doesn't have to be more expensive). It is mostly about availability (of plants in general, and fortified food/supplements), and that is partially driven by demand.

Laurens wrote:A lot of people in the world have to eat what they can get.

Yes, but you should not feel guilty by going vegan and making the world a better place morally and environmentally, which will ultimately benefit those who currently cannot afford it.

Laurens wrote:I do not think that the argument should thus be eating animal produce is always wrong.

Unnecessary suffering and killing are always wrong, but survival is not about being morally righteous.

Laurens wrote:It could be argued among privileged people who can more freely choose their diets, ought to be vegan. You could cite environmental and welfare concerns as the imperative.

Yes.

Laurens wrote:Personally I don't choose to view diet as a moral question.

If you live in a so-called first-world country, it is.

Laurens wrote:We need to eat and I do not presume to tell anyone what is and is not morally okay for them to put in their mouths. In any sense. Telling people that they are bad because they eat meat is not conductive to reasoning with them.


Yes we need to eat, but we don't need to eat animal products.

Most importantly, the problem is not what you put in your mouth, it is where you put your money. When you go to the grocery store and you see an animal product, the damage (moral and environmental) is already done. When you buy the meat/milk/egg, you create a market incentive to produce more and cheaper.

If you are a meat-eater in a privileged country (that is to say you have the luxury of choice), then you are morally responsible for the suffering caused by animal exploitation. But it is not because of what you eat or what you like, it is because of how you use your wallet.

Laurens wrote:Getting them to think about their choices based upon the ethics of farming and the environmental impact, without implying that their possible decision to continue to eat meat in light of that information is tantamount to being a barbaric murderer.

As long as you recognize that reducing animal products is feasible and desirable, that is already huge.

It is arguable that the suffering is a necessary byproduct of a limited technology and strong global demand. There is some form of manipulation (food additives, advertising) but mostly the consumers are the primary cause of the whole chain.

I don't really know what to think of the comparisons with murder and genocide. Empathy is about putting ourselves in someone else's shoes, and if farm animals were human, industrial farming (and fishing) would be the most obscenely hideous practice of all times, easily dwarfing any historical war crime. But apparently it's all ok because sub-human meat tastes good.
Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:29 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4347Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Eating animal products (meat, milk, eggs) may increase the risk of developing various health problems (excessive weight, defective arteries, colon cancer).


Worth it.
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Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:17 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

I don't really disagree with many of the arguments in favour of veganism. I am actually considering it myself. My focus currently is weightloss which involves a low carb, med protein, high fat diet aimed at shifting the weight I piled on in my 20s and never lost. The diet works for me because there isn't too much to think about. Anyway once I make substantial progress with my weightloss (it's dropping off already), I do intend to at least adopt a vegetarian diet at that point, if not vegan. You might implore me to begin immediately, but I have a real addiction to certain crappy foods that I need to break by being strict and tyrannical with my eating habits for a bit. Right now to me that is more important. I have been vegan before but the addictions were still there and I didn't lose weight... None of this justifies eating meat I know, as I say, currently my concern is to get to a healthy weight in a way that I can psychologically tackle my addictions.

Anyway personal life ramblings aside. I don't think it's useful to tell people they are doing a bad thing by walking into a shop and legally purchasing goods that they are freely allowed to buy. I think there is a different line of reasoning that would make people more inclined to listen. Eating meat doesn't mean you're a bad person, but you might not know about A, B, and C. If that person values the protection of animals from suffering, and they are honest with themselves they will change their diet. I think the main thing that angers your average McDonalds customer about vegans is this perception of moralising, they see it as holier than thou posturing, and it gets their backs up. You don't change people's minds when you get their backs up.

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Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:46 am
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Laurens wrote:Eating meat doesn't mean you're a bad person

I don't think that people are either good or bad in general, it is more complicated than that. And unknowingly doing something bad doesn't automatically make someone a bad person.

That said, even stopping at "industrial animal farming is partially bad", the implication is there: giving them money is adding fuel to the fire. Eating and enjoying the meat matters little, since I could buy meat, throw it away, and from the meat industry's perspective I would be just another customer.

Laurens wrote:I don't think it's useful to tell people they are doing a bad thing by walking into a shop and legally purchasing goods that they are freely allowed to buy

From my perspective, there is nothing morally wrong with eating meat per se. Even blaming farmers is dubious since I don't think they actually enjoy torturing animals: they are responding to intense market pressure, and the suffering they cause is a logical byproduct.

There is only one part of this chain that is not a logical necessity: consumer choice. As much as it would be unfair to blame people for their tastes, I think it is entirely fair to be considered responsible for what we choose to buy (as long as we have options).

Besides, legality does not imply morality, and in that case I think there is a mismatch.

Laurens wrote:I think the main thing that angers your average McDonalds customer about vegans is this perception of moralising, they see it as holier than thou posturing, and it gets their backs up.

Maybe. I was an omni for most of my life, and I used to think that vegans were oversensitive picky eaters. That was ignorance on my part, and I regret it. The animal blood on my hands is figurative, but it is a fact that I contributed to the problem, what I did was bad, and I do feel some guilt and regret.

The good news is that veganism is slowly becoming more mainstream. To be clear: I would like to see more people becoming vegan, but I fully support anyone who wishes to reduce their consumption of animal products (food or otherwise).
Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:49 am
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Vego wrote:I don't think that people are either good or bad in general, it is more complicated than that. And unknowingly doing something bad doesn't automatically make someone a bad person.

That said, even stopping at "industrial animal farming is partially bad", the implication is there: giving them money is adding fuel to the fire. Eating and enjoying the meat matters little, since I could buy meat, throw it away, and from the meat industry's perspective I would be just another customer.


I agree, perhaps I worded my sentiments poorly. I don't mean to say that you specifically or anyone else for that matter says that people who eat meat are bad. I was more referring to conclusions that individuals might be prone to draw based upon being told that eating meat is matter of personal ethics---the most ethical being not consuming it---thus if they do consume it they must be being unethical. Doing something unethical doesn't make someone a bad person per se, but being told that you are unethical can sometimes lead to the conclusion that the person telling you that thinks you are a bad person. If I were to try to convince someone not to eat meat, I would make a point of somehow presenting them with an ethical problem that they are most likely unaware of, then leading them to answer the question for themselves whether they can justify their habits based upon that information. Thus it would be leading them to strengthen their own ethics off their own back by presenting new information, rather than putting forth that it is unethical.

There is only one part of this chain that is not a logical necessity: consumer choice. As much as it would be unfair to blame people for their tastes, I think it is entirely fair to be considered responsible for what we choose to buy (as long as we have options).

Besides, legality does not imply morality, and in that case I think there is a mismatch.


I agree, my point was that blaming people for a consumer choice that is not illegal, or even frowned upon (like cigarettes). People will immediately be put on the defensive when told they have been making immoral choices. Which to the mind of most people is tantamount to saying 'you are a bad person'. I think this is why there is a negative perception of the "preachy vegan". In having a conversation I have ascertained that you don't think consumption of animal products makes you a bad person----this is an important part of the discussion, because it negates that knee-jerk reaction of 'oh so you think I'm a bad person', which often just shuts down the conversation. Even if it continues they are unlikely to be receptive to your arguments.

Maybe. I was an omni for most of my life, and I used to think that vegans were oversensitive picky eaters. That was ignorance on my part, and I regret it. The animal blood on my hands is figurative, but it is a fact that I contributed to the problem, what I did was bad, and I do feel some guilt and regret.

The good news is that veganism is slowly becoming more mainstream. To be clear: I would like to see more people becoming vegan, but I fully support anyone who wishes to reduce their consumption of animal products (food or otherwise).


I think the issue is that a passionate person doesn't always think about how they come across to someone on the other side on an ideological divide. This is true on both sides, meat eaters do not even consider how normalised it is in our culture, or even that its a bad thing, which clashes with people who think it is perhaps the most important issue. An argument should be framed to cross that divide and help the person to understand from their perspective and then arrive at their conclusions. Shouting "meat is murder" at someone is ineffective because nobody wants to be told they are complicit in murder, especially when they do not see it that way, thus the likelihood that they will listen is very low.

Apologies for poor grammar, nonsense, and random gibberish... I haven't had any caffeine yet
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Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:32 am
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Recent opinion piece illustrating the cognitive dissonance to which some meat-eaters consciously subject themselves: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ient-truth

An interesting part:
Exchanging views with an animal consciousness researcher, she admitted she found it difficult to eat animals that she knew were sentient. As a result, she said, she never ate any species she had studied. And, she added, she would never study cows.


To go back to the OP, I don't think that the AXP is an appropriate venue for promoting veganism, but the challenges faced by vegans mirror those faced by atheists. Given our current knowledge and technology, veganism should be the default position, and it is the consumers of animal products who need a justification.

I agree with Laurens (post above) about the need for common ground in order to get a conversation going. However, I doubt that there could be a one-size-fits-all approach, although I suppose something like Street Epistemology might help to select a category of arguments. Some people will want scientific data, others will be receptive to shocking imagery, and some people will just keep rationalizing their actions until the end.

In the context of making a moral case for veganism, when people go with "why should I care?" or "I don't want to know", it gets very difficult because appeal to empathy (which is what I and other vegans are doing when it comes to morality) is an emotional argument. I don't really know of a way to tell someone that they should have more empathy without sounding like a prick ("what if you were a cow?"). A technical description of maceration doesn't "feel" the same as actually seeing hundreds of chicks being crushed alive in a machine. We can spend all day discussing the neurophysiology and evolutionary purpose of mammalian child care, but seeing a cow scream in anguish because her calf is gone is heart-breaking. It would be like describing sex from a purely biological standpoint if someone asks: what's so fun about that?
Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:04 pm
MarsCydoniaUser avatarPosts: 878Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:15 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Vego wrote:To go back to the OP, I don't think that the AXP is an appropriate venue for promoting veganism, but the challenges faced by vegans mirror those faced by atheists. Given our current knowledge and technology, veganism should be the default position, and it is the consumers of animal products who need a justification.

Why should veganism be the default position?

Why shouldn't vegans justify their position to "carnists" (omnivores) since both positions are responsible for "needless" animal deaths? Why shouldn't vegans justify their positions to freegans as freeganism being the default position?
If "eating meat is moral" is an affirmation that requires justification to vegans, "eating meat is immoral" is also affirmation that should be justified. How did you come to the conclusion that one affirmation should escape its burden?

I was curious that Matt Dillahunty was accused of being "logically inconsistent" by differentiating between thinking animals and sentient animals. I have seen a few arguments against this "logical inconsitency" but what I find surprising is that I have not seen attempts, at least yet, by vegans to explain their logical inconsistencies, that some form of animal suffering and death is possible and practicable but some aren't (the most obvious to them being eating meat).

edited for grammar
"Slavery is morally ok" -
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Last edited by MarsCydonia on Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:53 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3190Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Greetings,

I'd argue that the default position is omnivore, given that we are evolved omnivores, since we get certain nutrients from animal protein.

One might argue that in the developed world we have the option of food supplements but that doesn't change the fact that we're evolved omnivores.

Kindest regards,

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Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:48 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

MarsCydonia wrote:Why should veganism be the default position?

Because it is simpler. Plants are less likely to be sentient than animals, and all the moral conundrums linked to the voluntary consumption of animal products simply vanish in veganism.

MarsCydonia wrote:Why shouldn't vegans justify their position to "carnists" (omnivores) since both positions are responsible for "needless" animal deaths?

I am guessing you are talking about pest control and other creatures killed in the process of growing and harvesting plant food. In animal farming, these unintended deaths happen on top of the intended deaths of the farm animals, because vegetables are used to feed animals. Reducing consumption of animal products would reduce both the intended deaths and the unintended deaths. Apart from starving, there is not much that a vegan can do to reduce unintended deaths. Those deaths are, sadly, necessary.

Something morally questionable in a vegan diet would also be the case in a diet that contains plant foods (including omni and vegetarian). On the other hand, issues uniquely associated with voluntary consumption of animal products don't exist in a vegan diet. The situation is asymmetric.

MarsCydonia wrote:Why shouldn't vegans justify their positions to freegans as freeganism being the default position?

Veganism is safe, moral, legal and scalable; freeganism... not clear. But they don't give money to the meat industry, so +1 for that.

MarsCydonia wrote:If "eating meat is moral" is an affirmation that requires justification to vegans, "eating meat is immoral" is also affirmation that should be justified. How did you come to the conclusion that one affirmation should escape its burden?

I did not come to that conclusion. Simply behaving like a vegan (without making any claim) makes the morality of meat-eating irrelevant.

As for the immorality of meat-eating:
* I consider the mechanical action of chewing and swallowing a non-sentient piece of organic matter morally neutral;
* how that matter was acquired makes all the difference, and that is what I have been focusing on in this discussion.
If you disagree with a specific claim, then please tell me and I will try to be clearer.

MarsCydonia wrote:I was curious that Matt Dillahunty was accused of being "logically inconsistent" by differentiating between thinking animals and sentient animals. I have seen a few arguments against this "logical inconsitency"

There is as much uniformity among vegans as there is among atheists. We don't all agree with each other on everything, and I personally have trouble understanding this argument. Let's say it's not a valid one, then what?

Consuming animal products is unnecessary (in principle, excluding special cases like allergies). The process generating these products also generates unavoidable suffering as a byproduct. So non-vegans are responsible for unnecessary suffering. That seems incompatible with the secular humanism that Matt generally promotes.

There are ways to procure animal-based products that I would consider moral (accidental road-kill, "relaxed" milking and egg collection), but they just don't scale to the global demand.

MarsCydonia wrote:but what I find surprising is that I have not seen attempts, at least yet, by vegans to explain their logical inconsistencies, that some form of animal suffering and death is possible and practicable but some aren't (the most obvious to them being eating meat).

You shouldn't be surprised: the moral case is emotional, and it requires empathy. If you think that you need a reason to care about beings that can experience human-like suffering, and if you think that non-humans are not an appropriate target for empathy, then there is no moral case, you win (you still have to deal with environment and health though).

As for our "inconsistency", I am guessing you are talking about animal testing for scientific/medical purposes. This is a difficult question that goes far beyond veganism, and I don't have a good answer. Sacrificing a thousand animals for science today might save millions of people tomorrow. Meat-eating requires a constant stream of animal sacrifice at an industrial scale today and forever. But number games have their limits, and vegans are not robots deciding everything through mathematical cost-benefit analysis.
Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:04 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Dragan Glas wrote:I'd argue that the default position is omnivore, given that we are evolved omnivores, since we get certain nutrients from animal protein.

How we evolved doesn't necessarily inform us on what we should do, especially when it comes to moral questions.

Besides, there is no nutrient that we get from animals that we couldn't also get from a modern vegan diet (even supplements are unnecessary if you have access to fortified food). But now it becomes a health question, which is trickier to discuss (but I think the advantage would still go to veganism).

The privilege of veganism is the availability of affordable and healthy plant-based food. If you live in the desert and your sole resource is camels (camel fur, camel milk, camel meat), then there is little point debating the moral points of veganism. That said, I imagine that transporting plant-based food over long distances (international trade and food aid) would be simpler and less expensive because it doesn't spoil as easily as animal products.
Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:11 pm
MarsCydoniaUser avatarPosts: 878Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:15 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Vego wrote:Because it is simpler. Plants are less likely to be sentient than animals, and all the moral conundrums linked to the voluntary consumption of animal products simply vanish in veganism.

Wouldn't "simpler" would be dependent entirely on the subject? If one draws the line to "highly cognitive species", what moral conundrums would there be with the voluntary consumption of non-thinking animal products? But if one were to draw the line to "sentient species" then moral do conundrums appears rather than vanish: "why do the deaths of certain animals become unconscionable while the death of other certain animals are accepted as necessary"?

MarsCydonia wrote:Why shouldn't vegans justify their position to "carnists" (omnivores) since both positions are responsible for "needless" animal deaths?

I am guessing you are talking about pest control and other creatures killed in the process of growing and harvesting plant food. In animal farming, these unintended deaths happen on top of the intended deaths of the farm animals, because vegetables are used to feed animals. Reducing consumption of animal products would reduce both the intended deaths and the unintended deaths. Apart from starving, there is not much that a vegan can do to reduce unintended deaths. Those deaths are, sadly, necessary.

Something morally questionable in a vegan diet would also be the case in a diet that contains plant foods (including omni and vegetarian). On the other hand, issues uniquely associated with voluntary consumption of animal products don't exist in a vegan diet. The situation is asymmetric.[/quote]
When it comes striclty to veganism, certainly. But it isn't like vegan abstains from other habits that caused the suffering of animals (numerous items we used in our daily lives were manufactured in a way that cause natural habitat's destructions, from cars to computers).

And I'm not sure I can agree with your assertion of "unintended". If a farmer uses pesticides, or protects his crops from pests by killing them or causing some form of harm, there is certainly intention behind those actions, he knows that his actions will cause harm and death or why perform those actions? He might certainly rationalize them, and those who will benefit from his products, as "Those deaths are, sadly, necessary".

Vego wrote:Veganism is safe, moral, legal and scalable; freeganism... not clear. But they don't give money to the meat industry, so +1 for that.

Freeganism can also be safe, moral and scalable.
An omnivorous diet is also safe, legal and scalable.

The issue is on that fourth word, moral, and on what the "default position" should be. This hasn't cleared that up.

Vego wrote:I did not come to that conclusion. Simply behaving like a vegan (without making any claim) makes the morality of meat-eating irrelevant.

As for the immorality of meat-eating:
* I consider the mechanical action of chewing and swallowing a non-sentient piece of organic matter morally neutral;
* how that matter was acquired makes all the difference, and that is what I have been focusing on in this discussion.
If you disagree with a specific claim, then please tell me and I will try to be clearer.

Well, if the explanation of why "veganism should be the default position" isn't because of your personal consideration, then yes you could be clearer.

Vego wrote:There is as much uniformity among vegans as there is among atheists. We don't all agree with each other on everything, and I personally have trouble understanding this argument. Let's say it's not a valid one, then what?

Consuming animal products is unnecessary (in principle, excluding special cases like allergies). The process generating these products also generates unavoidable suffering as a byproduct. So non-vegans are responsible for unnecessary suffering. That seems incompatible with the secular humanism that Matt generally promotes.

Are you sure you understand Matt Dillahunty's promotion of secular humanism? Because as he explains it, it is entirely compatible hence why the original issue of "illogical inconsistence".

And "consuming animal products is unnecessary" isn't complete and rather misleading. Obtaining some nutrients are necessary for our well-being, those nutrients are found within animal products so the question is rather which way those nutrients are obtained. And here is the issue, how vegans will accept as "sadly, necessary" the suffering and deaths of certain animals to obtain these nutrients, while rejecting the suffering and deaths of certain others. Vegans do not escape the "unecessary suffering".

They just place "sadly, necessary" in a different place on the scale of necessity. So why is their place on the scale the "moral" one while the omnivore's place is immoral?

Vego wrote:There are ways to procure animal-based products that I would consider moral (accidental road-kill, "relaxed" milking and egg collection), but they just don't scale to the global demand.

Can you clarify? Do you not consider the consumption of eggs to be immoral? What about the consumption of honey?

And as mentionned in my very first comment, I still find surprising where and how the "procuration of animal-based products" becomes moral to some vegans. In the discussion I had with a vegan that made me launch this tread, he asserted that he would consider it moral, or at least morally neutral, to consume the flesh of a brain-dead person. So if accidental road-kill is moral, wouldn't any natural deaths also be? Humans included or excluded?

And as an hypothetical, what if farmers were to bred a breed of cows whose senses were genetically or chemically altered as to not feel pain, would that make it ok morally ok to consume this breed as food?

Vego wrote:You shouldn't be surprised: the moral case is emotional, and it requires empathy. If you think that you need a reason to care about beings that can experience human-like suffering, and if you think that non-humans are not an appropriate target for empathy, then there is no moral case, you win (you still have to deal with environment and health though).

Human-like suffering? Non-humans are animals can certainly suffer but I wouldn't go so far as to call all species' suffering human-like. Would you?

There's a scale.

Vego wrote:As for our "inconsistency", I am guessing you are talking about animal testing for scientific/medical purposes. This is a difficult question that goes far beyond veganism, and I don't have a good answer. Sacrificing a thousand animals for science today might save millions of people tomorrow. Meat-eating requires a constant stream of animal sacrifice at an industrial scale today and forever. But number games have their limits, and vegans are not robots deciding everything through mathematical cost-benefit analysis.

No, I was still talking about how some animals' suffering and deaths were seen as "sadly, necessary".

Vego wrote:How we evolved doesn't necessarily inform us on what we should do, especially when it comes to moral questions.

But Dragan Glas was not using how we evolved as what we should do but as the answer to "what should be the default position". It remains a good question, one argues "our nature as omnivore" opposed to the "simplicity of veganism".
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Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:07 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

MarsCydonia wrote:Can you clarify? Do you not consider the consumption of eggs to be immoral? What about the consumption of honey?

I should answer that first to avoid misunderstandings. I do not consider the mere act of eating unfertilized egg or honey immoral. Same for dead meat.

When I criticize meat-eating, it is not because of the mecanical act of eating, but because of the meat production process. If we had Star Trek replicator technology, we would not be having this conversation.

Suffering can be mental, so a mere pain-insensitive cow wouldn't be good enough. Bio-engineering a brainless computer-controlled "zombie" cow would be creepy, but I do not currently see anything morally wrong with it.

As for eating human brains: only if my life depends on it. We can spend days coming up with edge-case moral puzzles to mimic trolley experiments, but the current reality is (for once) far more clear-cut when it comes to pigs, chickens and cows: we are being very mean to them. And we can do something about it.

MarsCydonia wrote:Wouldn't "simpler" would be dependent entirely on the subject? If one draws the line to "highly cognitive species", what moral conundrums would there be with the voluntary consumption of non-thinking animal products?

If I don't eat meat then I don't have to draw lines or ask myself if it is moral to eat meat. And the vegetables that vegans eat are also used by omnis. So no, it does not depend on the subject, it is simpler because there is less to worry about (morally; nutritionally is different).

MarsCydonia wrote:But if one were to draw the line to "sentient species" then moral do conundrums appears rather than vanish: "why do the deaths of certain animals become unconscionable while the death of other certain animals are accepted as necessary"?

The death of field "pests" is required for our survival. Even if it could be shown that rodents have high-level consciousness, if we can't negotiate with them then there is nothing that I can do about it. The death of cows is not required for our survival, and there is something that I can do about it: not buy meat.

It is unfair to say that vegans have a moral responsibility for deaths that they can't avoid; people who have the vegan option but reject it willfully do not have that excuse. If I decide to go back to being an omni, the industry is going to have to produce more animal products which will result in even more of those unintended deaths.

MarsCydonia wrote:When it comes striclty to veganism, certainly. But it isn't like vegan abstains from other habits that caused the suffering of animals (numerous items we used in our daily lives were manufactured in a way that cause natural habitat's destructions, from cars to computers).

That's the dietary vs lifestyle debate. It is a valid concern, vegans are aware of it, and my opinion is that as long as we have the choice then we should reduce our consumption of animal products, food or otherwise.

But I do not claim that we have to be binary about it: reducing meat consumption is easy, does not require becoming a full vegan, and is a compromise that I find admirable.

MarsCydonia wrote:And I'm not sure I can agree with your assertion of "unintended". If a farmer uses pesticides, or protects his crops from pests by killing them or causing some form of harm, there is certainly intention behind those actions, he knows that his actions will cause harm and death or why perform those actions? He might certainly rationalize them, and those who will benefit from his products, as "Those deaths are, sadly, necessary".

Nobody (I hope) raises crops for the opportunity to kill insects and rodents. Failing to deal with them might result in a failed crop and people going hungry. We don't have a choice. We don't just "benefit" from that, it is vital.

Likewise, the animal suffering is unintentional and unavoidable from the farmer's perspective. But here we do have a choice: not buying meat. We can live (not just survive) without meat. There are vegan athletes, vegan restaurants. We don't need to give up social perks (in principle; right now is still difficult).

MarsCydonia wrote:The issue is on that fourth word, moral, on what the "default position" should be. This hasn't cleared that up.

If you define what is morally acceptable by what you are already doing (which seems to be the point of the line drawing that you talk about) then there is no moral conundrum.

Meat-eating per se is not immoral. It is how the meat is acquired that is problematic. But it is only problematic if you recognize that farm animal suffering is a real problem that is worth addressing.

I am not familiar enough with freeganism and I do not want to misrepresent it; what matters for that conversation would be the impact on animal products (reduce: good; increase: bad).

MarsCydonia wrote:Well, if the explanation of why "veganism should be the default position" isn't because of your personal consideration, then yes you could be clearer.

It is dependent on veganism being a realistic option. If it is true that we can live properly on a vegan diet, which is qualitatively a subset of an omnivorous diet, then that is the simplest thing to do, and it doesn't involve moral concerns about animal-based foods, without having to draw lines between animals.

MarsCydonia wrote:Are you sure you understand Matt Dillahunty's promotion of secular humanism?

Maybe not. I value Matt's opinion, his videos had a lot of influence on my thinking. Let's say that Matt is logically consistent with his values. It changes nothing with regards to the morality of veganism, and I would be suspicious of values that lead one to conclude that there is nothing morally wrong with industrial animal farming (the way we currently practice it).

MarsCydonia wrote:They just place "sadly, necessary" in a different place on the scale of necessity. So why is their place on the scale the "moral" one while the omnivore's place is immoral?

Because, as long as the vegan option is available, rejecting it is a voluntary choice.

If I had the choice between a vegan product that is known to have involved animal death, and one which is guaranteed to be animal-death-free, then you might have a point (environmental impact would be an additional thing to consider). But generally I don't have that choice, and it doesn't really seem realistic.

MarsCydonia wrote:And "consuming animal products is unnecessary" isn't complete and rather misleading. Obtaining some nutrients are necessary for our well-being, those nutrients are found within animal products so the question is rather which way those nutrients are obtained. And here is the issue, how vegans will accept as "sadly, necessary" the suffering and deaths of certain animals to obtain these nutrients, while rejecting the suffering and deaths of certain others. Vegans do not escape the "unecessary suffering".

Can you give an example of such nutrient?

MarsCydonia wrote:Human-like suffering? Non-humans are animals can certainly suffer but I wouldn't go so far as to call all species' suffering human-like. Would you?

There's a scale.

I can't read cow minds, but it is easier for me to "put myself in the shoes" of a cow rather than a fly. And this makes sense biologically (we are not cows, but we are close enough to them).

I don't want to derail, but maybe this will help clarify what I mean:
* I think I could convince a rational psychopath that they should follow a moral code because they need to cooperate with others and people can be pretty dangerous;
* I do not think that I could convince a psychopath that killing and torturing animals is morally wrong, because we never really need to cooperate with animals, we can just use and exploit them, and they can't fight back.

It seems to me to be more meaningful to start from an empathetic standpoint (because empathy is a basic human trait, required for child rearing), and exclude things which seem like an overreach: rocks, objects, probably plants, maybe insects, but probably not cows or pigs, and definitely not primates.

MarsCydonia wrote:But Dragan Glas was not using how we evolved as what we should do but as the answer to "what should be the default position". It remains a good question, one argues "our nature as omnivore" opposed to the "simplicity of veganism".

I always find it risky to get any form of moral guidance from evolution, and our nature as omnivores doesn't really tell us anything about the morality of meat-eating.

Even if we were strict carnivores, the concept of animal suffering would still be there (and vegans would not exist). Our nature as omnivores makes it possible for us to have a flexible diet, and crucially for this discussion, to be able to choose to reduce this suffering. In other words, evolution has given us a choice, not a duty.
Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:59 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3190Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Greetings,

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:I'd argue that the default position is omnivore, given that we are evolved omnivores, since we get certain nutrients from animal protein.

How we evolved doesn't necessarily inform us on what we should do, especially when it comes to moral questions.

I'd disagree with this statement on the grounds that eating a healthy diet is a moral imperative - not to do so is a form of suicide.

If one is unable to get the right balance necessary by following a vegetarian diet, then one may well have to eat some animal-sourced foods.

Vego wrote:Besides, there is no nutrient that we get from animals that we couldn't also get from a modern vegan diet (even supplements are unnecessary if you have access to fortified food).

That is not necessarily the case, as a perusal of the above links will show you.

See also the following:

7 Nutrients That You Can't Get From Plant Foods

The three critical ones are vitamin B12, CoQ10 (from beef - critical for the heart), and zinc (second in importance only to iron).

Vego wrote:But now it becomes a health question, which is trickier to discuss (but I think the advantage would still go to veganism).

No - see above.

Vego wrote:The privilege of veganism is the availability of affordable and healthy plant-based food. If you live in the desert and your sole resource is camels (camel fur, camel milk, camel meat), then there is little point debating the moral points of veganism. That said, I imagine that transporting plant-based food over long distances (international trade and food aid) would be simpler and less expensive because it doesn't spoil as easily as animal products.

Again, these are claims without evidence.

Refrigeration techniques for meats are more than adequate for international trade - otherwise, we wouldn't have beef from Argentina or lamb from New Zealand in Europe.

A couple of years ago I posted some links, the key one being this one - Inferno and I had a short chat about it in the afore-mentioned thread.

Kindest regards,

James
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Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:10 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Dragan Glas wrote:
Vego wrote:How we evolved doesn't necessarily inform us on what we should do, especially when it comes to moral questions.

I'd disagree with this statement on the grounds that eating a healthy diet is a moral imperative - not to do so is a form of suicide.

Our need for a healthy diet is a biological imperative that little to do with how we evolved, mostly with the fact that we are alive and need food to stay alive (that would still be true without evolution). Even the "best" diet for us today (if there is such a thing) doesn't have to be related to what we ate millions of years ago (maybe it is, maybe it isn't).

I don't mind seeing a healthy diet as a moral imperative, but a vegan diet can be healthy, just like an omni diet can be unhealthy.

There is no link between evolution and morality here.

Dragan Glas wrote:If one is unable to get the right balance necessary by following a vegetarian diet, then one may well have to eat some animal-sourced foods.

If one is unable to get the right balance necessary by following _any_ diet, then one may well have to eat some complementary foods.

Nothing original here, and still nothing against veganism (which is not the same as vegetarianism BTW), or for the necessity of animal products.

Dragan Glas wrote:
Vego wrote:Besides, there is no nutrient that we get from animals that we couldn't also get from a modern vegan diet (even supplements are unnecessary if you have access to fortified food).

That is not necessarily the case, as a perusal of the above links will show you.

That is actually the case, as actual familiarity with veganism will show you.

Here is a quote from Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegan_nutrition ):
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association), the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada and the British Dietetic Association state that well-planned vegan diets can meet all nutrient requirements and are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, while the German Society for Nutrition does not recommend vegan diets for children, adolescents, or during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics adds that well-planned vegan diets are also appropriate for older adults and athletes, and that vegan diets can reduce the risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease (coronary artery disease), type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, obesity, and chronic disease.


And regarding nutrients:
Special attention may be necessary to ensure that an all-plant (vegan) diet will provide adequate amounts of vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, and iodine. These nutrients may be available in plant foods, with the exception of vitamin B12, which can only be obtained from B12 fortified vegan foods or supplements. Iodine may also require supplements (iodized salt).

You will find that nothing that I have said so far contradicts that, since I was already aware of all that.

Dragan Glas wrote:See also the following:

7 Nutrients That You Can't Get From Plant Foods

The three critical ones are vitamin B12, CoQ10 (from beef - critical for the heart), and zinc (second in importance only to iron).

I don't want to spend too much time debunking long lists of false claims against veganism, so I will only focus on the ones that you find most relevant.

B12
Animals don't produce B12 (cows get theirs from their gut flora, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12#Sources ):
B12 is produced in nature only by some prokaryotes (certain bacteria and archaea); it is not made by any multicellular or single-celled eukaryotes.


And here is a quote from a scientific paper (the quote is from the text which is paywalled: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 2304002610 ):
Several microorganisms, including those of the genera Bacillus, Methanobacterium, Propionibacterium, and Pseudomonas, have been used to produce vitamin B12 on an industrial scale. Since some species of Propionibacterium have been granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status by the United States Food and Drug Administration and produce neither endotoxins nor exotoxins, they are the preferred species for the production of vitamin B12.

Vegans get their B12 from bacteria, just like everyone else. No animal needed here.

CoQ10
"Biosynthesis occurs in most human tissue" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coenzyme_Q10#Biosynthesis ) and there are plant sources (oils, nuts, various fruits and vegetables: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coenzyme_ ... entrations )

Zinc
Not produced by animals, and also available from plants and fortified food ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc#Dietary_intake )


Dragan Glas wrote:
Vego wrote:But now it becomes a health question, which is trickier to discuss (but I think the advantage would still go to veganism).

No - see above.

Yes (to my claim), see above.

Dragan Glas wrote:
Vego wrote:The privilege of veganism is the availability of affordable and healthy plant-based food. If you live in the desert and your sole resource is camels (camel fur, camel milk, camel meat), then there is little point debating the moral points of veganism. That said, I imagine that transporting plant-based food over long distances (international trade and food aid) would be simpler and less expensive because it doesn't spoil as easily as animal products.

Again, these are claims without evidence.

Which ones? The hypothetical about camels? It is a hypothetical illustrating a point about potential special conditions, doesn't really need evidence.

International shipping? I know next to nothing about the topic, but I do know that there is less need for refrigeration when it comes to plant-based products (I can store a lot at room temperature). Less need for refrigeration seems like an advantage to me, maybe I am wrong and it isn't, but you only tried to provide an argument against a claim that I did not make.

Dragan Glas wrote:A couple of years ago I posted some links, the key one being this one - Inferno and I had a short chat about it in the afore-mentioned thread.

Your first link doesn't seem to say anything against veganism, only that animal products seem bad for the environment (I have nothing against that).
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:14 am
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