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The moral case for veganism.

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The moral case for veganism.
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Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3179Joined: 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 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,

:shock:

Evolution has everything to do with why we eat what we eat - to deny this is naive, to say the least.

Vego wrote:mostly with the fact that we are alive and need food to stay alive (that would still be true without evolution).

Perhaps - but as we are the result of evolution...

Vego wrote: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).

Modern humans have only existed for a few hundred thousand years, and it is this recent evolution that affects what we can, and can't, eat. As evolved hunter-gatherers, we're omnivores.

Vego wrote: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.

And a omni diet can be healthy, just like a vegan diet can be unhealthy.

Vego wrote:There is no link between evolution and morality here.

I'd argue that it is a factor.

Vego wrote:
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.

Veganism is a form of vegetarianism. In fact, in India vegetarianism is veganism - it's just that in the West (particularly America), the latter term is used.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote: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.

[...]

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

And yet the same article lists health issues associated with diets that exclude animal sourced foods - why would it have such if veganism was such a panacea?

These include, amongst others, a correlation for increased incidence of "depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorder, although causality cannot be established".

Vego wrote:
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 ):

[...]

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:No - see above.

Yes (to my claim), see above.

As a diabetic, I have a device that allows me to monitor my blood-glucose on a daily basis - you're not going to be able to do that as a vegan.

The problem with trying to follow a "well-planned" vegan diet is that you would have to visit your doctor at regular intervals to ensure that you're not suffering from dietary deficiencies.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote: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.

I was referring to your claim about international shipping.

Vego wrote:
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).

The point being there was no moral imperative to switch to vegetarianism just because it might be more economic.

Just to clarify where I stand: I no longer eat red meat but do eat white meat, particularly fish. Due to my diabetes (Type II), I've stopped drinking milk (which has the same levels of sugar as fruit drinks - 10g), and switched to soya (0.1g) for cereals, and tea.

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:33 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Dragan Glas wrote:
Vego wrote:Our need for a healthy diet is a biological imperative that little to do with how we evolved,

:shock:

Evolution has everything to do with why we eat what we eat - to deny this is naive, to say the least.

I do not deny that we are the product of evolution, and that it made us what we are, including constraining things that we can and cannot eat. And yet, regardless of how we evolved/were created by FSM/appeared ex-nihilo last Thursday, we still need a healthy diet. Not because we evolved, but because we are alive and need to eat.

Dragan Glas wrote:As evolved hunter-gatherers, we're omnivores.

That only means that we can eat many things, not that we have to.

Dragan Glas wrote:And a omni diet can be healthy, just like a vegan diet can be unhealthy.

You are missing my point here: a healthy diet does not have to include animal products, and an omni diet is not automatically healthy (same for vegan or vegetarian). Unless someone has some kind of allergy to plant products (it happens), there is no biological imperative for animal products, and a moral imperative for a healthy diet does not result in a moral imperative for animal products.

Dragan Glas wrote:And yet the same article lists health issues associated with diets that exclude animal sourced foods - why would it have such if veganism was such a panacea?

Can you quote me saying or even implying that veganism is a magical cure-all?

What I quoted previously indicated potential, scientifically observed, health benefits of a vegan diet. Any diet (vegan, vegetarian, omni, whatever) can be associated with health issues. Vegans are not superhuman, we can still get sick for any number of reasons, including and not limited to dietary ones. And still there is nothing inherently unhealthy in a proper vegan diet.

Dragan Glas wrote:These include, amongst others, a correlation for increased incidence of "depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorder, although causality cannot be established".

As you judiciously noted, correlation isn't causation, and the sentence just before ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetaria ... _disorders ) suggests that, in the special case of eating disorders, the cause may not be the diet.

Once again, there is nothing inherently unhealthy with any properly balanced diet (vegan, vegetarian, omni).

To recap: you have provided nothing that suggests that veganism is inherently unhealthy. And you can't do that because it isn't, there is no clear evidence for it (if anything, there is evidence pointing the other way), and there isn't even a plausible reason for why we should expect it to be.

Dragan Glas wrote:As a diabetic, I have a device that allows me to monitor my blood-glucose on a daily basis - you're not going to be able to do that as a vegan.

Why?

Dragan Glas wrote:The problem with trying to follow a "well-planned" vegan diet is that you would have to visit your doctor at regular intervals to ensure that you're not suffering from dietary deficiencies.

I think it is a good idea to get regular checkups, so if that option is available please do so.

But let's say you are correct (although you are probably not) and that is is impossible to be a healthy vegan without regular visits to your doctor. I have been explicit many times in this conversation: veganism is an option that is not currently available to everyone. If, for whatever reason, someone can't be vegan then these concerns about morality, health, environment become less important. This whole conversation makes sense mostly for people who can actually choose a vegan diet. And in that context, there is nothing inherently unhealthy in being vegan.

Dragan Glas wrote:The point being there was no moral imperative to switch to vegetarianism just because it might be more economic.

I agree (well, I suppose an indirect argument could be made...). I kept the moral focus on animal exploitation, although there is a role for market pressure in there.
Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:13 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3179Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Greetings,

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote: :shock:

Evolution has everything to do with why we eat what we eat - to deny this is naive, to say the least.

I do not deny that we are the product of evolution, and that it made us what we are, including constraining things that we can and cannot eat. And yet, regardless of how we evolved/were created by FSM/appeared ex-nihilo last Thursday, we still need a healthy diet. Not because we evolved, but because we are alive and need to eat.

... in accordance with our biology - regardless of how that came about.

We're omnivores, not herbivores or carnivores: we get our nutrients from both plant- and animal-protein.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:As evolved hunter-gatherers, we're omnivores.

That only means that we can eat many things, not that we have to.

As I pointed out above, it means that we get our nutrition from both plant- and animal-protein.

Restricting our diet to either extreme - plant-protein only is just as bad as ASF only.

The ancient Greeks held that Man should live in accordance with Nature.

This is my argument, and my basic objection to extreme diets.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:And a omni diet can be healthy, just like a vegan diet can be unhealthy.

You are missing my point here: a healthy diet does not have to include animal products, and an omni diet is not automatically healthy (same for vegan or vegetarian). Unless someone has some kind of allergy to plant products (it happens), there is no biological imperative for animal products, and a moral imperative for a healthy diet does not result in a moral imperative for animal products.

Our biology has evolved to digest/process both plant- and animal-protein - therefore, there is a biological imperative for both being included in a balanced diet.

A moral imperative exists if one's biology is "designed" for animal-protein.

If we were carnivores, we could not argue against eating meat on the grounds of the "morality" of doing so.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:And yet the same article lists health issues associated with diets that exclude animal sourced foods - why would it have such if veganism was such a panacea?

Can you quote me saying or even implying that veganism is a magical cure-all?

What I quoted previously indicated potential, scientifically observed, health benefits of a vegan diet. Any diet (vegan, vegetarian, omni, whatever) can be associated with health issues. Vegans are not superhuman, we can still get sick for any number of reasons, including and not limited to dietary ones. And still there is nothing inherently unhealthy in a proper vegan diet.

And there is nothing inherently unhealthy in a proper omnivorous diet.

You are arguing for a vegan diet over others, given that you cite various scientific evidence in support of this.

You appear to take issue with my going with biology, rather than with a purely ethical argument against including ASFs in our - or, perhaps just, my - diet.

I'm getting the hints of a crusade.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:These include, amongst others, a correlation for increased incidence of "depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorder, although causality cannot be established".

As you judiciously noted, correlation isn't causation, and the sentence just before ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetaria ... _disorders ) suggests that, in the special case of eating disorders, the cause may not be the diet.

Once again, there is nothing inherently unhealthy with any properly balanced diet (vegan, vegetarian, omni).

To recap: you have provided nothing that suggests that veganism is inherently unhealthy. And you can't do that because it isn't, there is no clear evidence for it (if anything, there is evidence pointing the other way), and there isn't even a plausible reason for why we should expect it to be.

Dragan Glas wrote:As a diabetic, I have a device that allows me to monitor my blood-glucose on a daily basis - you're not going to be able to do that as a vegan.

Why?

Dragan Glas wrote:The problem with trying to follow a "well-planned" vegan diet is that you would have to visit your doctor at regular intervals to ensure that you're not suffering from dietary deficiencies.

I think it is a good idea to get regular checkups, so if that option is available please do so.

But let's say you are correct (although you are probably not) and that is is impossible to be a healthy vegan without regular visits to your doctor. I have been explicit many times in this conversation: veganism is an option that is not currently available to everyone. If, for whatever reason, someone can't be vegan then these concerns about morality, health, environment become less important. This whole conversation makes sense mostly for people who can actually choose a vegan diet. And in that context, there is nothing inherently unhealthy in being vegan.

I'll address the several points above as they're related.

The "why" is answered in the next paragraph - that one needs to visit a doctor for regular check-ups.

And I don't mean for a chat - you'd need regular blood-tests on a monthly basis, at least - to ensure you're not suffering from any deficiencies that would lead to health problems (particularly mental health problems, which are more difficult to detect). Scurvy and "rickets" are easily diagnosed, and treated - mental health issues due to dietary deficiencies critical to a healthy brain are more serious, and less obvious.

This is perhaps my main concern of one-sided diets.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:The point being there was no moral imperative to switch to vegetarianism just because it might be more economic.

I agree (well, I suppose an indirect argument could be made...). I kept the moral focus on animal exploitation, although there is a role for market pressure in there.

I'm not sure whether your objection is based on killing animals or the manner of farming. Would you mind clarifying this?

As the Wiki article notes:

Ethical objections based on consideration for animals are generally divided into opposition to the act of killing in general, and opposition to certain agricultural practices surrounding the production of meat.

Which one are you?

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:24 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Dragan Glas wrote:... in accordance with our biology - regardless of how that came about.

That is precisely why evolution is not relevant here.

Let's say we don't know anything about evolution, we have no idea how we came to be. This whole discussion about veganism (including concerns about morality*, health and environment) would be more or less the same without any understanding of our evolutionary history.

*I think that common descent might slightly help for emotional appeal in the moral case

Dragan Glas wrote:we get our nutrition from both plant- and animal-protein.

This phrasing is ambiguous. We do not need animal products to live healthily (except as I noted for people with special medical conditions).

Dragan Glas wrote:Our biology has evolved to digest/process both plant- and animal-protein - therefore, there is a biological imperative for both being included in a balanced diet.

No at "therefore". Our ability to do something does not translate into an obligation to do it.

Science and technology give us the ability to not be slaves to our environment. Even if people 100 years ago could only get their B12 from animal products, today we don't have to.

Dragan Glas wrote:If we were carnivores, we could not argue against eating meat on the grounds of the "morality" of doing so.

We could still argue against it, but it would be more difficult to address: without an alternative (factory-produced nutritional equivalent) there would be no veganism in that alternate reality, and the industrial exploitation of non-human animals would be sad but necessary. In our reality, we have the choice, therefore we bear the moral responsibility for our purchase decisions.

Dragan Glas wrote:And there is nothing inherently unhealthy in a proper omnivorous diet.

It is not my claim that a diet that includes animal products is inherently unhealthy (some vegans argue that, and they use scientific evidence to support their claims).

Dragan Glas wrote:You are arguing for a vegan diet over others, given that you cite various scientific evidence in support of this.

Should I not cite evidence if it is available?

As I said in my very first post, the health argument is a difficult one to make. It is not because of its potential health benefits that I argue for a vegan diet (although I could, and some do).

Note that I am not qualified to recommend anything: if you choose to go vegan, you are going to have to figure out on your own how to get there.

Dragan Glas wrote:You appear to take issue with my going with biology, rather than with a purely ethical argument against including ASFs in our - or, perhaps just, my - diet.

I have no issue with going with biology, and a vegan diet can be healthy and easily compatible with our biology: the biology is on the vegan side. The issue is that your arguments do not support the claim that a vegan diet is inherently unhealthy (that seems to be the implication when you mention being omnivore).

It was also my understanding that you wanted to focus on the health aspect rather than the moral aspect of veganism. This discussion is titled "moral case for veganism", but I don't mind talking about health and environment if you think it is relevant.

For the moral case, I think it is enough that veganism is not inherently unhealthy (the health benefits are a bonus).

Dragan Glas wrote:I'm getting the hints of a crusade.

Is anyone proving you wrong a crusader?

I am promoting veganism because I believe it is the right thing to do. There is a need for such promotion because people misunderstand what it is (as you have demonstrated).

Maybe I should make my claims more explicit:
(a) Assuming proper access to adequate food sources (including supplementation), it is possible for humans in general to live healthily on a vegan diet (I am not saying that there is only one vegan diet that works for everybody).
(b) Unnecessary exploitation (including but not limited to killing) of sentient beings is immoral.

The implication of (a) is that we don't generally need to eat animal products. That and (b) make the moral case for veganism. I do not know precisely how much sentience a cow has, but it is likely to be far more than a potato.

Also, food is not the only problem (animal products are used for many things).

Dragan Glas wrote:And I don't mean for a chat - you'd need regular blood-tests on a monthly basis, at least - to ensure you're not suffering from any deficiencies that would lead to health problems (particularly mental health problems, which are more difficult to detect).

If you are claiming that an unsupervised vegan diet is likely to cause mental health problems, you need to provide some evidence (not just "correlation but not causation").

Some people go into veganism thinking that they can just eat carrots everyday (caricature), but that is a misunderstanding of veganism. Veganism generally requires the ability to make informed decisions (if you live in a country were you don't have access to animal products, then your diet might technically be vegan but I can't say much about nutrition and health).

Dragan Glas wrote:This is perhaps my main concern of one-sided diets.
...
Restricting our diet to either extreme

This is another misconception that people have against veganism. A vegan is not someone who eats only carrots everyday (that would be unhealthy). Eating only fruits or raw foods is doable but risky, difficult and expensive, and considered extreme by some vegans (and I agree with that). Vegan diets can have fruits, cooked foods, baked foods, spices, oils, and more, giving a large variety of options for taste and nutritional value.

Just because a vegan diet lacks animal products doesn't justify the negative implications of the word "extreme" that you used.

Dragan Glas wrote:I'm not sure whether your objection is based on killing animals or the manner of farming. Would you mind clarifying this?

I object to unnecessary suffering and lives cut short prematurely. That includes industrial animal farming practices and unnecessary killing in general. I don't think a binary classification is useful, but if you absolutely want to do that then I think I would fit in the second category because I don't object to killing on its own (I need to know about the circumstances).

I also do not advocate for a binary choice: I fully support the mere promotion of reducing the consumption of animal products (food or otherwise). Actually taking steps to reduce it is even better, and veganism is just a natural endpoint due to our scientific and technological limitations.
Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:05 pm
MarsCydoniaUser avatarPosts: 878Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:15 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Vego wrote: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.

So it is the meat production process that is "immoral"?

The means of production for commercial honey and eggs also cause animal suffering and deaths. The Vegan Society for example, object to their consumption. Do you abstain from from "egg-eating" or "honey-eating" because of the egg and honey production processes? Wouldn't their means of productions, be immoral and as such, consumption of such products would be encouraging immoral processes and therefore be immoral itself?

Vego wrote: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.

The remark was not about "human brains" but about a brain-dead person but this correction shouldn't change much about the issue:
So why would you only eat human flesh if your life depended on it? I would be surprised if the reason is a matter of taste as I doubt you have tasted it. It cannot be a matter of immoral production as you said animal products can be acquired morally (such as "accidental roadkill") and we were not talking about a person part of any "meat production process". So why would morality be concerned here in a way where it is a puzzling to you?

Vego wrote: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).

As I said previously, "simpler" would entirely be dependent on the subject. You may have less to worry because you appear to have already drawn a line (rather than having no line) but I have not drawn such a line and I would have to:

Is veganism about reducing the suffering and death of animals as I maximally can?
Is it reducing suffering and death of animals only where the consumption of meat is concerned?
Is it somewhere between?
Do I ignore the suffering and death that comes with the consumption of eggs as being "sadly, necessary"?
Do I ignore the suffering and death that comes with the consumption of honey as being "sadly, necessary"?
Do I ignore the suffering and death that comes with the consumption of vegetables as being "sadly, necessary"?

If veganism is only "do not eat meat", veganism might be "simpler" but as others have advocated veganism to be about "reducing the suffering and death of animals" (in appearance, only to some extent rather than to the maximum possible), there is a line that needs to be drawn. So "no, it does not depend on the subject" is entirely wishful thinking.

Vego wrote: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.

They're only unavoidable if the aim of veganism isn't about "reducing the suffering and death of animals" but about "reducing the suffering and deaths of animals to the extent where human survivability is not impacted" (and even then, veganism doesn't even fully look like that but more like "reducing the suffering and deaths of animals to the extent where human are nourished as per vegans' desires").

We have that line again...

So there is nothing unfair about asking vegans to explain their standards:
If it is ok to kill animals in order to eat vegetables, why isn’t it ok to kill animals to eat meat? Why is some food accepted despite causing the suffering and death of animals while other food isn’t?

If vegans willingly cause the death and suffering of animals and believe those deaths to be morally acceptable, they need to justify what distinguishes the suffering and deaths that are morally acceptable to those who aren’t. Claiming “unavoidability” doesn’t change that because they are avoidable, those animals do not have to die unless the lifestyle of humans is placed as being higher in importance than their well-being and lives.

So vegans are creating a separation where the death of some animals is morally acceptable while the death of others isn’t while at the same time being critical of omnivores for doing the exact same thing. If they want to hold omnivores accountable to for the deaths of cows and fish, they need to demonstrate a moral reason that isn’t that they just personally prefer to be to not be held accountable for the deaths of rodents and other pests.

Vego wrote: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.

As I read this, I cannot help but think it ends with "because veganism isn't about reducing the suffering and death of animals but about reducing the consumption of animal products, food or otherwise".

That illustrates my point I made in that comment and that I again expressed here: veganism is reducing the suffering and death of animals only to a certain extent. At least as long as it does not impact their "animal-indirectly-impacted" consuming habits such as transportation, internet, etc.

Vego wrote: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.

So your value scale is getting clearer, the lives of rodents and insects do not have the same moral value as cows, chickens, fish, etc.:

Don't you think that you have actually drawn a line and believe you drew it at the right place?

Vego wrote: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).

Freeganism reduces the impact more than veganism. Yet there are a lot less freegans than there are vegans.

Vegans interested in reducing the impact on animal products to a greater extent would be freegans.

Vego wrote: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.

I was still talking about what the default position should be, not about its morality.

Vego wrote: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.

Not only is an omnivorous diet a realistic option, I do not see how "realism", "simplicity" (when it isn't in fact simpler), etc. are the deciding factors of what the default position should be.

Vego wrote: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).

- I would say "certainly not"
- And I suspect that Matt Dillahunty, just like I, would be suspicious of values that lead one to conclude there is nothing morally wrong with eating human flesh.
(which might not apply to you even though you said that "the mere act eating meat isn't immoral" but it does apply to other vegans).

So we're still left with the moral issue of which, if any, industrial food products is “moral”.

Vego wrote: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.

Did not follow that point, sorry.

Vego wrote: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)...

...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.

So you would exclude "rocks, objects, probably plants, maybe insects" from being able to experience human-like suffering "but probably not cows or pigs, and definitely not primates", so aren’t we in agreement that there is scale?
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Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:09 pm
leroyPosts: 2030Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:30 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

If we were all vegans there would be less animal suffering (assuming that they suffer) less starvation in the world, less contamination and less health problems.

So the most ethical thing to do is to at least try to become vegan.
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Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:02 am
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

MarsCydonia wrote:So it is the meat production process that is "immoral"?

Yes, because we can avoid it.

MarsCydonia wrote:The means of production for commercial honey and eggs also cause animal suffering and deaths. The Vegan Society for example, object to their consumption. Do you abstain from from "egg-eating" or "honey-eating" because of the egg and honey production processes? Wouldn't their means of productions, be immoral and as such, consumption of such products would be encouraging immoral processes and therefore be immoral itself?

Yes, I am a vegan, not a vegetarian, and I avoid animal products (meat, animal milk, eggs, honey). Honey is one of those edge cases where I just play it safe. I don't think insects are highly sentient, and maybe there are ethical ways to collect honey, but I don't know and I don't really miss honey anyway.

MarsCydonia wrote:The remark was not about "human brains" but about a brain-dead person but this correction shouldn't change much about the issue:
So why would you only eat human flesh if your life depended on it?

Because I don't want to die. Please don't ask me to justify that too. The truth is I don't know for sure what I would do if I were put in an extreme survival situation. Maybe I would just chicken out and starve, I don't know. Hopefully I don't have to find out.

MarsCydonia wrote:I would be surprised if the reason is a matter of taste as I doubt you have tasted it. It cannot be a matter of immoral production as you said animal products can be acquired morally (such as "accidental roadkill") and we were not talking about a person part of any "meat production process". So why would morality be concerned here in a way where it is a puzzling to you?

What I meant is that it is easy to come up with all kinds of artificial situations where I don't have any clear answer (puzzle: is killing one cow better than killing two chickens?).

I am not interested in tasting human flesh. Why? I don't know, I am just not interested. Would it be immoral? Maybe. Can I prove that it is immoral? I don't know, what if I can't? Even if you give me a corpse and tell me that there will be no consequence whatever I do, I have no compulsion to eat it and the question of morality is irrelevant unless I am forced to choose between eating it and dying myself. And it doesn't change anything to the moral case for veganism, which is mostly about non-human animals.

MarsCydonia wrote:As I said previously, "simpler" would entirely be dependent on the subject. You may have less to worry because you appear to have already drawn a line (rather than having no line) but I have not drawn such a line and I would have to:

No, it is simple math. Here is an example to illustrate:
Person A has an omnivorous diet including food-stuff-1 (non-animal products) and food-stuff-2 (animal products).
Person B has a vegan diet including the same food-stuff-1 but none of food-stuff-2.
If Person A is worried about the morality of their diet, they have to question food-stuff-1 and food-stuff-2.
Person B only has to question food-stuff-1: there is less to worry about from a moral standpoint.

MarsCydonia wrote:Is veganism about reducing the suffering and death of animals as I maximally can?

Yes, as long as you don't destroy your life in the process. Veganism is not martyrdom.

MarsCydonia wrote:Is it reducing suffering and death of animals only where the consumption of meat is concerned?

I don't understand. Veganism is about avoiding animal products in general, not just meat.

MarsCydonia wrote:Do I ignore the suffering and death that comes with the consumption of eggs as being "sadly, necessary"?
Do I ignore the suffering and death that comes with the consumption of honey as being "sadly, necessary"?

Vegans generally don't consume eggs and honey (honey is debatable), so as a vegan you wouldn't have to worry about those: simpler.

MarsCydonia wrote:Do I ignore the suffering and death that comes with the consumption of vegetables as being "sadly, necessary"?

Only if you want to, but there is nothing that you can do about it.

MarsCydonia wrote:If veganism is only "do not eat meat",

It isn't only that. I only use "meat eating" as a shortcut because generally you don't get to eat meat unless some form of animal exploitation occurred beforehand. The real issue is that exploitation, not the "meat eating" itself.

MarsCydonia wrote:as others have advocated veganism to be about "reducing the suffering and death of animals" (in appearance, only to some extent rather than to the maximum possible),

Not just others, I also advocate that.

And it is not "in appearance only": worldwide, the number of likely sentient animals (from chicken to bison) purposefully killed for food each year is more than 60 billion ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sl ... Statistics ). So a vegan would save about 10 animals a year (napkin math, may not be accurate). It may not seem like much to you, but it accumulates with other vegans.

MarsCydonia wrote:They're only unavoidable if the aim of veganism isn't about "reducing the suffering and death of animals" but about "reducing the suffering and deaths of animals to the extent where human survivability is not impacted"

Vegans do not wish for the destruction of humanity. Somebody lied to you.

MarsCydonia wrote:(and even then, veganism doesn't even fully look like that but more like "reducing the suffering and deaths of animals to the extent where human are nourished as per vegans' desires").

You need to give up the idea that vegans want to force people to destroy their lives: it is not true.

MarsCydonia wrote:If it is ok to kill animals in order to eat vegetables, why isn’t it ok to kill animals to eat meat?

Animals eat vegetables. The animals that are killed to grow vegetables (for people or animals) are killed regardless of your diet (vegan or omni). The animals that are killed for an moni diet are not killed in a vegan diet.

Neither omnis nor vegans can do anything about the animals killed for vegetables.

MarsCydonia wrote:Claiming “unavoidability” doesn’t change that because they are avoidable, those animals do not have to die unless the lifestyle of humans is placed as being higher in importance than their well-being and lives.

I do not consider starving as an acceptable option.

We cannot live without vegetables. Even if we all became strict meat-eaters, the animals would require vegetables.
We can live without eating animal products (meat/milk/eggs).

MarsCydonia wrote:being critical of omnivores for doing the exact same thing

It is not the same thing.

MarsCydonia wrote:If they want to hold omnivores accountable to for the deaths of cows and fish, they need to demonstrate a moral reason that isn’t that they just personally prefer to be to not be held accountable for the deaths of rodents and other pests.

Let's say that we all agree that rodents are sacred and it is forbidden to kill them: we all die (because we can't grow vegetables without killing them).
Let's say that we all agree that cows are sacred and it is forbidden to kill them: we all live (because we don't need cow meat to live).
The situation is not symmetric.

MarsCydonia wrote:As I read this, I cannot help but think it ends with "because veganism isn't about reducing the suffering and death of animals but about reducing the consumption of animal products, food or otherwise".

The consumption of animal products, food or otherwise is an important cause of animal suffering, not because of the "eating" but because of the market pressure that forces farmers to perform questionable acts.

If you can come up with some synthetic equivalent of animal products that does not require animal suffering in its production, I would consider that appropriate for an "ethical vegan" diet (not everyone will agree with me on that, that is just my opinion).

MarsCydonia wrote:Don't you think that you have actually drawn a line and believe you drew it at the right place?

I haven't drawn any line, I just don't want to die. Why is that even a question? Do you need a justification for every breath you take?

MarsCydonia wrote:Freeganism reduces the impact more than veganism

Sounds great, do you have a reference for that?

MarsCydonia wrote:Not only is an omnivorous diet a realistic option, I do not see how "realism", "simplicity" (when it isn't in fact simpler), etc. are the deciding factors of what the default position should be

I do not claim that an omnivorous diet is unrealistic.

The main point is this: if you can show that a vegan diet is not possible (unhealthy) then the moral case for veganism crumbles.

MarsCydonia wrote:Did not follow that point, sorry.

My point is that, as a vegan, I do not know how to prevent the death of rodents without killing myself in the process.
Preventing the exploitation of cows is easy: reduce consumption of cow products (meat, milk).

MarsCydonia wrote:so aren’t we in agreement that there is scale?

Yes. There is a good chance that plants (and other simple organisms like mushrooms and bacteria) are not sentient. Anything "above" that is unclear or clearly sentient and vegans just play it safe. The distance between "probably not sentient" and "maybe sentient" is much larger than the one between "maybe sentient" and "probably sentient" (I don't have any numbers here, it is just my impression).
Last edited by Vego on Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:23 am
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

leroy wrote:If we were all vegans there would be less animal suffering (assuming that they suffer) less starvation in the world, less contamination and less health problems.

So the most ethical thing to do is to at least try to become vegan.

Yes. :)
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:25 am
thenexttodiePosts: 894Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:59 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

I think there are few things people who choose a Vegan lifestyle to limit animal suffering do not normally consider.

1. It probably makes more sense for the world to maintain a diverse food supply which includes various livestock. That way if disaster happens to strike a single food source it would not affect us as much.

2. Some people are allegic to some or most vegatables and grains.

3. Health officials in many countries have consistantly warned people against following the advice given by pro-Vegan organisations, like PETA, on raising Vegan babies.

4. the source and method of obtaining organic fertilizer.

5. Animals in the wild do not simply lie down and die a peacefull death when the time comes. Most either starve to death or are eaten alive. Both of which are horrible.
“..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
Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:17 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

thenexttodie wrote:1. It probably makes more sense for the world to maintain a diverse food supply which includes various livestock. That way if disaster happens to strike a single food source it would not affect us as much.

Good thing vegans have a very diverse diet (necessary to get all the nutrients). And as things are right now, if disaster happens to strike chickens (a single food source), people rioting might be more problematic than lack of food (half-joke).

Here are a few things that non-vegans should also consider:
* a disaster affecting plants could negatively impact the animals too (what do you think they eat?), so without plants, we are in trouble, vegan or not
* diseases can be more easily transmitted to humans from animals than from plants (prion, bird flu, etc.)
* overuse of antibiotics by farmers might actually lead to a health crisis in the future.


thenexttodie wrote:2. Some people are allegic to some or most vegatables and grains.

I agree, and I did mention that in a previous post. That said:
* some people are allergic to meat, so it doesn't really change the debate one way or the other
* vegans generally eat the same non-animal foods as omnis, so a large-scale intolerance to some plant food would already reduce the demand and availability of the plant.

But let's say that it can be demonstrated that only 10% of the world population have the right genetic makeup/gut flora to live healthily as vegans. These 10% going vegan would still make the world a better place. Limited veganism is still better than no veganism.

thenexttodie wrote:3. Health officials in many countries have consistantly warned people against following the advice given by pro-Vegan organisations, like PETA, on raising Vegan babies.

Get informed and do what you think is best for your child. The moral case for veganism only involves people old enough to make informed decisions.

thenexttodie wrote:4. the source and method of obtaining organic fertilizer.

This is a complicated issue, but vegan food doesn't have to be "bio"/"organic".

thenexttodie wrote:5. Animals in the wild do not simply lie down and die a peacefull death when the time comes. Most either starve to death or are eaten alive. Both of which are horrible.

And none of which are our responsibility (unless we are starving them), which makes that fact mostly irrelevant to the moral case for veganism.
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:55 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

leroy wrote:If we were all vegans there would be less animal suffering (assuming that they suffer) less starvation in the world, less contamination and less health problems.

So the most ethical thing to do is to at least try to become vegan.

Its important to make the distinction that animals still suffer whether or not humans consume their produce. The idea that the suffering that humans inflict upon animals is worse than that which mother nature can inflict is misleading. One might argue that someone raising animals in farming is removing the horrible chaotic relationship that all animals have in exchange for being killed and then consumed. Not killing an animal and deciding to set it free in nature doesn't necessarily reduce it's suffering.

This is quite an important point. Vegans are against humans inflicting suffering on animals. But are presumably ok with them suffering under the harsh conditions of nature. It's not completely about animals, it's about the impact of our choices and complicity in the suffering of animals. Some might argue that our complicity is all that matters, others say given the appropriate regulations we have a contract with animals to ensure they are fed, and free from predators, we have a contract with them that net reduces their suffering.

I'm not sure where I stand on that, but I don't think it's as clear as vegans wanting to reduce animal suffering. Just our role in it. Presumably they would be okay if all farmed animals were released to die naturally in the wild by whatever horrendous means nature can devise. But as long it's not on our conscience it's okay.

That is not to say they are incorrect, it's just not as clear as "I don't want animals to suffer" it's more like "I don't want humans to cause animals to suffer" there's quite a lot of subtle, but important difference.

From one perspective veganism is more about people than animals. Once you open that door you can see how there isn't just one possible motivation for being a vegan.
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Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:14 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Laurens wrote:Its important to make the distinction that animals still suffer whether or not humans consume their produce. The idea that the suffering that humans inflict upon animals is worse than that which mother nature can inflict is misleading.

It is misleading because it is irrelevant. The moral case for veganism involves recognition of our moral responsibility. We are not necessarily morally responsible for things that we are not causing.

Laurens wrote:One might argue that someone raising animals in farming is removing the horrible chaotic relationship that all animals have in exchange for being killed and then consumed. Not killing an animal and deciding to set it free in nature doesn't necessarily reduce it's suffering.

Letting animals go free would be an option in the case of fishing and hunting. That said, I also understand and accept the need for population control (of wild and feral non-human animals, please don't go into something else here).

Laurens wrote:This is quite an important point. Vegans are against humans inflicting suffering on animals.

Yes and yes.

Laurens wrote:Some might argue that our complicity is all that matters, others say given the appropriate regulations we have a contract with animals to ensure they are fed, and free from predators, we have a contract with them that net reduces their suffering.

We don't have a contract with our farm animals. We own them, control them from birth to death. They have no say whatsoever. And they are not just "fed", they are sometimes force-fed and fattened. We don't protect them from predators because we care for them, we protect them from predators because they are our property. This kind of "contract" is more like exchanging the frying pan for the fire.

Laurens wrote:Presumably they would be okay if all farmed animals were released to die naturally in the wild by whatever horrendous means nature can devise. But as long it's not on our conscience it's okay.

I would not be okay with such an irresponsible "solution". Those 60+ billion farm animals renewed every year would wreak havoc on ecosystems. I don't even think we could take care of all of them properly; there are small-scale efforts, which I find commendable, but it just cannot scale.

The problem with your argument is that you seem to be assuming that farm animals are a natural phenomenon: they are not. We make them on purpose, more and more every year. The only reasonable way to manage the current stock is to kill them. The only morally acceptable long-term solution that I see is to _not_ make them in the first place, which is why reducing the market pressure is so important. The animals that we have made so far are mostly doomed. Veganism might save the ones that haven't been made yet.

Laurens wrote:That is not to say they are incorrect, it's just not as clear as "I don't want animals to suffer" it's more like "I don't want humans to cause animals to suffer" there's quite a lot of subtle, but important difference.

Yes.
Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:24 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

The point about animal suffering in nature is a relevant one. If we agree that a main point in the debate is animal suffering, then we can legitimately ask the following question:

Do animals suffer more or less at the hands of humans than they do in nature?

I don't think the answer to this is clear. I think certain farming practises are cruel and should be regulated against. If we assume that the farming is done in a humane way then the point is by no means clear. Wild animals often go hungry, get injured and die slowly, or get torn to shreds. So far as being out there in the wild, the depths of suffering are pretty grim. Contrast this with farming, they get food with zero effort (less than most people), protection from predators, protection from disease, and a quick death. Its important not to project human qualities onto animals. They have no concept of what a 'free' life would be like. They don't see their eventual death on the horizon. So its difficult to say that they suffer because of their lack of freedom and eventual death. The death they are given is I would posit a fair deal better than their prospects in the wild. I'd take a bolt to the head over starving any day.

I don't understand your point that farming isn't natural. Human civilisation is a part of nature, the fact that some animals are more susceptible to domestication than others is a natural phenomena, the fact that humans stumbled upon this is part of our natural evolution. It might not be good in your eyes, but its nature. Ants farm fungi, other animals develop mutually beneficial relationships. Animal husbandry was a point on the course of our evolution. It's likely we wouldn't have civilisation if it never happened.

If you dismiss that question as irrelevant then you are essentially saying that animal suffering isn't the issue. It's about people, and how they relate to animals. If ending farming was measurably worse for animal welfare than continuing would you still advocate for veganism? If so why? If not then why is the question not important to the debate?

I think Veganism is fine, but it's way more about people than a lot would like to admit.
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Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:29 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Laurens wrote:Do animals suffer more or less at the hands of humans than they do in nature?

I don't think the answer to this is clear. I think certain farming practises are cruel and should be regulated against.

I agree on both points, but they are unrelated (more below).

Laurens wrote:If we assume that the farming is done in a humane way then the point is by no means clear.

On what basis would you assume that? Let's say that you have never seen any shock-video (like "The Extremism of Veganism" that I linked to in my first post), or that you believe that they are all fake fear-mongering. Is it unreasonable to expect that in an extremely competitive market with global demand and international competition some farmers might be tempted to cut some corners? If a country has a dubious track record of respecting basic human rights, how serious do you think they might be about animal welfare?

Our modern farming methods are not designed to care for the animals, they are designed to process them. They have to be, in order to deal with the tens of billions of animals every year. The more animals we raise, the more difficult it is to provide them with "humane" care. Depending on how demand increases with emerging countries, things may get even worse.

Laurens wrote:Wild animals often go hungry, get injured and die slowly, or get torn to shreds. So far as being out there in the wild, the depths of suffering are pretty grim. Contrast this with farming, they get food with zero effort (less than most people), protection from predators, protection from disease, and a quick death.

In a sense, we are their predators. Protection from disease? We are causing disease that they may not have gotten otherwise (udder infections, brittle hen bones, mental troubles). As for a quick death: it depends. You don't know how the meat you bought died. Ethical slaughter does not guarantee 100% success. And some religions complicate things even more (kosher slaughter).

And remember, we are not just talking about the mom and pop's farm next door. We are talking about a worldwide industry driven by strong economic incentives. Information is likely to be sugar-coated in some way. From a moral perspective, I would rather play it safe than assume it's all fine if I can't verify it.

Laurens wrote:Its important not to project human qualities onto animals.

Either they suffer because of us or they don't. If they don't, then that is the end of the moral case for veganism (veganism would then only be good at improving our health and the environment).

If you think that farm animal suffering is a myth, do you also think that cats and dogs are just disposable gadgets, toys whose emotional worth is entirely in the brain of the owner? Dogs are food in some countries. And some people have pet cows, pet pigs, pet chickens. Are these people loonies? Does any of that make sense?

Laurens wrote:its difficult to say that they suffer because of their lack of freedom and eventual death.

They suffer because they feel physical pain. They suffer because they feel mental pain (anguish, stress, fear). This suffering is recognized by the farming industry (farmers are humans, not monsters) and the regulations aimed at reducing it (for example stunning before killing).

They suffer because of us, and it is not difficult to say.

Laurens wrote:The death they are given is I would posit a fair deal better than their prospects in the wild.

Animals in the wild get the opportunity to live until the end of their natural lives. Farm animals don't, they are killed when they have served their purpose with virtually no chance to escape. Being stuck in a box for extended periods could be stressful for many animals. Getting forcibly separated from their child/parent is emotionally painful for many mammals.

This is an upsetting topic, and I don't want to dwell too much on it, but I think you are underestimating the magnitude of the issue. It is bad.

Laurens wrote:I'd take a bolt to the head over starving any day.

They don't get to choose anyway, and some say it's important not to project human qualities onto animals.

Laurens wrote:I don't understand your point that farming isn't natural.

It's not about being "natural" or not. It's about something that we are doing, even though we don't have to. Most of the farm animals would not exist if it weren't for farming. We make them in such quantity that killing them is pretty much the only option. The suffering is not the goal, but it is a byproduct. We are consciously manufacturing suffering, and we don't have to.

Laurens wrote:If you dismiss that question as irrelevant

I do. It is not clear to me that the suffering is actually "less" than in nature. But why does it matter? We create these animals, even though we don't have to, and we impose a lot on them. Comparison with nature doesn't change that (more on that below).

Laurens wrote:It's about people, and how they relate to animals.

Without people to defend them, animals are helpless against us. But the moral case is about animals because vegans recognize them as sentient beings with their own intrinsic value.

Laurens wrote:If ending farming was measurably worse for animal welfare than continuing would you still advocate for veganism?

No, or at least not for moral reasons (health and environment are still valid).

Laurens wrote:If not then why is the question not important to the debate?

Because it is enough to compare farm animal welfare with itself before and after whatever decision we make (animal welfare before decision vs animal welfare after decision). How it compares to something entirely external doesn't change whether the decision leads to an improvement or not.

The moral case for veganism wouldn't change whether "the wild" is heaven or hell for wild animals.

Laurens wrote:I think Veganism is fine, but it's way more about people than a lot would like to admit.

It is not my place to be normative about veganism. People can be vegan for any number of reasons, voluntary or not.

Ultimately, we only care about what we care about. But that does not mean that something has no value (especially a sentient being) simply because nobody cares.
Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:04 pm
LaurensSocial EditorUser avatarPosts: 2995Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:24 pmLocation: Norwich UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

First off I don't claim to know that farming is bad for animals, merely that the case could be put forth for examination and a conclusion might be drawn about whether or not a life in the wild is worse. My current reasoning would be that ethically sourced meat may not be so bad, but factory farmed stuff ought to be avoided. I think this is a fair position on the ethics of the animal industry, and is currently my own.

I never said farm animal suffering was a myth, I posed the question of whether it was worse than the suffering in nature, I didn't claim any knowledge of this. I was arguing based on the possibility of this being true, to illustrate what I think is an important ethical question. What do we do with all the animals? I stand by what I said about an animals inability to understand its own death, or think about the fact that it would like a different life. That doesn't justify all farming practises, but it does mean that an animal farmed under the best possible conditions might objectively suffer less than if it was set free. I don't know that for certain, but it's worth considering. If its true then ethically sourcing your meat is not as morally objectionable as some might posit.

Again to reiterate, I'm not actually arguing for a position I necessarily hold. As I mentioned in a previous post I am considering at least vegetarianism once I have lost sufficient weight on my current diet. I guess my point is that if you were to source your meat from ethical farms (if you go to a butcher more often than not you can ask directly what the conditions at the farm is, if not visit it yourself) that do really care about their livestock, you might have a case for eating meat that is in line with a certain standard of morals.

My point about it being more about people is that the motivations are ostensibly "free the poor innocent animals", but as with anything there are shadow motivations. If its intrinsically about people and what they do, then its easy to see how veganism can be motivated by wanting to look like a good person. Please don't think I posit that of you personally. I just want to put that out there. Some people eat meat and don't give a fuck about animals, some people eat meat and give a fuck about animals. Some people are vegan and give a fuck about animals, other people are vegan and don't really give a fuck about animals.
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Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:41 am
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

EDITED because I mixed up some answers the first time

Laurens wrote:First off I don't claim to know that farming is bad for animals,

I have high confidence, but not 100% (I am convinced that grave problems exist, but maybe they are somehow limited). But I think at the very least it is a morally safe position for a vegan.

Laurens wrote:the case could be put forth for examination and a conclusion might be drawn about whether or not a life in the wild is worse

That sounds fine, except that it looks like a false dichotomy (we don't have to either farm them or release them in the wild), and releasing animals in the wild may not be a realistic option because there are way too many. In addition, as a result of artificial selection, we have created genetic shackles that prevent some animals from surviving without us, so it would be immoral to just release those in principle.

Laurens wrote:My current reasoning would be that ethically sourced meat may not be so bad

That only means that you arbitrarily decide that whatever is being done is acceptable if farmers claim it is the best they can do. Farmers may be correct, but that still doesn't make what is being done acceptable (it may be, it may not be).

Laurens wrote:factory farmed stuff ought to be avoided.

I agree. And that is also unrealistic for non-vegans given the increasing global demand for animal products.

Here is a thought experiment: imagine what it would take to realistically humanely raise a cow, to give it a life worth living, as free of stress and pain as realistically as possible while still getting to use its milk and meat at some point, but without regard for market pressure. Now try to figure out how to scale that up to meet global demand while avoiding the issues of high stocking density ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle#Ef ... ng_density ) and dealing with competition, various regulations in various countries, logistical issues, worker training and pay, etc. And then do that for all farm animals (chickens, pigs, etc.).

I don't generally object to thought experiments and theoretical idealizations to argue points. But veganism is not some theoretical mathematical construct. It is a real-world attempt at solving an extremely difficult real-world problem. Maybe I am too pessimistic. But what kind of error would you rather make: believing that we are harming animals when we are not, or believing that we are not harming them when we are? There is no moral equivalence here.

Laurens wrote:I think this is a fair position on the ethics of the animal industry

I don't think so, for reasons explained in this post.

Laurens wrote:I posed the question of whether it was worse than the suffering in nature, I didn't claim any knowledge of this.

I don't blame you for not knowing (or anything really, I am actually grateful for the conversation). But even guesses can be unreasonable or morally dubious (like the assumption of ethicalness).

I don't claim such knowledge either, and it is still irrelevant. Here is another thought experiment: let's say we have figured out how to accurately compare animal welfare, and we discover that welfare in the wild is better than welfare in farming. Farmers are already doing their best, and nothing can be improved. Then a rogue scientist secretly releases a virus in the wild that increases violence. At the next measurement, we discover that welfare in the wild is now worse than welfare in farming. Has farming become more ethical, even though farmers haven't changed anything?

Laurens wrote:What do we do with all the animals?

We kill them. We have created a messy situation where that seems to be the only reasonable option.

Laurens wrote:I stand by what I said about an animals inability to understand its own death, or think about the fact that it would like a different life.

I don't necessarily agree, but I don't know for sure, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. Either way, I don't think it actually changes much (more below).

Laurens wrote:an animal farmed under the best possible conditions might objectively suffer less than if it was set free.

I can follow you up to that point, but it seems like you are setting up a false dichotomy. The animal would fare even better if we could setup special "retirement farms" to take care of it properly. Not realistic on a large scale, but neither is releasing tens of billions of farm animals (maybe hundreds of billions if we account for different stages of life).

Veganism cannot do much for the existing animals, but it can help prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.

Laurens wrote:If its true then ethically sourcing your meat is not as morally objectionable as some might posit.

You are jumping a few steps here. In addition to your false dichotomy and arbitrary ethical judgement, you completely ignore the fact that stopping farming today would save an indeterminate number of animals spread over the remaining lifespan of our civilization. So, even with your condition, "ethically sourcing your meat" is still morally objectionable.


Laurens wrote:I am considering at least vegetarianism...

Good idea. Then you can start thinking about how it is that animal milk and eggs are so cheap. (I mean no snark here, this is serious business too)

Laurens wrote:if you go to a butcher more often than not you can ask directly what the conditions at the farm is, if not visit it yourself

Do butchers have that information? (I don't know the answer) Would they be honest with you? What if practices/staff/regulation change, how often do you need to check? Are you going to do that for all animal products (eggs, milk, fish, chicken, pork, beef, etc.)? What about restaurants, or supermarket foodstuff that contains animal products (non-vegan ice cream, frozen foods, sauces, etc.)?

Even though it can be an inconvenience, veganism seems comparatively easier (we just avoid all that stuff).

Laurens wrote:you might have a case for eating meat that is in line with a certain standard of morals.

This is too vague. It is precisely the problem with the OP's position: what if my moral standard is defined so that I can conclude that whatever we are doing is morally acceptable? That by itself seems morally objectionable to me.

Laurens wrote:"free the poor innocent animals"

Maybe that is what some or even most (doubtful) vegans think, I don't know, I don't speak for others. I believe it is wishful thinking, but I also believe that sentient beings have an intrinsic moral value: unless we have a very good reason, we should not prevent them from getting a life worth living (not "The Walking Meat").

Laurens wrote:its easy to see how veganism can be motivated by wanting to look like a good person.

Somebody who doesn't care about (or secretly hates) animals but actually (no lying) manages a vegan lifestyle for reputation points, is actually doing some good. So if you are considering becoming vegan for PR: go for it (but don't neglect your health).
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:45 am
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3179Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Greetings,

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:... in accordance with our biology - regardless of how that came about.

That is precisely why evolution is not relevant here.

Let's say we don't know anything about evolution, we have no idea how we came to be. This whole discussion about veganism (including concerns about morality*, health and environment) would be more or less the same without any understanding of our evolutionary history.

*I think that common descent might slightly help for emotional appeal in the moral case

Yet you avoid the biological fitness for an omnivorous diet in favour of a vegan one on - what you term - moral grounds.

[I'll come back to this point later.]

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:we get our nutrition from both plant- and animal-protein.

This phrasing is ambiguous. We do not need animal products to live healthily (except as I noted for people with special medical conditions).

Or those for whom access to alternatives are limited or non-existent.

There's also the point regarding the fact that most are not going to be able to do so without professional medical assistance to ensure they don't suffer health problems due to dietary deficiencies.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:Our biology has evolved to digest/process both plant- and animal-protein - therefore, there is a biological imperative for both being included in a balanced diet.

No at "therefore". Our ability to do something does not translate into an obligation to do it.

Science and technology give us the ability to not be slaves to our environment. Even if people 100 years ago could only get their B12 from animal products, today we don't have to.

I grant you Hume's argument but remind you of the restrictions on the vast majority of humans I made above.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:If we were carnivores, we could not argue against eating meat on the grounds of the "morality" of doing so.

We could still argue against it, but it would be more difficult to address: without an alternative (factory-produced nutritional equivalent) there would be no veganism in that alternate reality, and the industrial exploitation of non-human animals would be sad but necessary. In our reality, we have the choice, therefore we bear the moral responsibility for our purchase decisions.

You're back to your "sadly necessary" argument, which undermines your argument.

And our "purchase decisions" in food don't have as much power as you seem to believe, as Is Trafficking in Human Beings Demand-Driven? shows.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:And there is nothing inherently unhealthy in a proper omnivorous diet.

It is not my claim that a diet that includes animal products is inherently unhealthy (some vegans argue that, and they use scientific evidence to support their claims).

Dragan Glas wrote:You are arguing for a vegan diet over others, given that you cite various scientific evidence in support of this.

Should I not cite evidence if it is available?

As I said in my very first post, the health argument is a difficult one to make. It is not because of its potential health benefits that I argue for a vegan diet (although I could, and some do).

Note that I am not qualified to recommend anything: if you choose to go vegan, you are going to have to figure out on your own how to get there.

Which tacitly acknowledges my point that one can't do so without professional medical advice and assistance.

At least eating a well-balanced omnivorous diet doesn't necessitate that.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:You appear to take issue with my going with biology, rather than with a purely ethical argument against including ASFs in our - or, perhaps just, my - diet.

I have no issue with going with biology, and a vegan diet can be healthy and easily compatible with our biology: the biology is on the vegan side.

Only for those with access to alternatives to ASFs.

Vego wrote:The issue is that your arguments do not support the claim that a vegan diet is inherently unhealthy (that seems to be the implication when you mention being omnivore).

Without access to alternatives due to modern technology, it is.

Vego wrote:It was also my understanding that you wanted to focus on the health aspect rather than the moral aspect of veganism. This discussion is titled "moral case for veganism", but I don't mind talking about health and environment if you think it is relevant.

For the moral case, I think it is enough that veganism is not inherently unhealthy (the health benefits are a bonus).

Again, I disagree, for the above-stated reason.

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:I'm getting the hints of a crusade.

Is anyone proving you wrong a crusader?

I am promoting veganism because I believe it is the right thing to do. There is a need for such promotion because people misunderstand what it is (as you have demonstrated).

Maybe I should make my claims more explicit:
(a) Assuming proper access to adequate food sources (including supplementation), it is possible for humans in general to live healthily on a vegan diet (I am not saying that there is only one vegan diet that works for everybody).
(b) Unnecessary exploitation (including but not limited to killing) of sentient beings is immoral.

The implication of (a) is that we don't generally need to eat animal products. That and (b) make the moral case for veganism. I do not know precisely how much sentience a cow has, but it is likely to be far more than a potato.

And here-in lies the contradiction in your posts.

You argue against unnecessary suffering yet are quite alright with, what one might well term, "mass murder", as your reply to Laurens indicates, when you suggest that all the unwanted farm animals be slaughtered.

As he notes about vegans' attitude, your main argument is more about you than the animals - it's about assuaging your guilt over perceived suffering.

Vego wrote:Also, food is not the only problem (animal products are used for many things).[/jquote]
I am not in support of cosmetics tested on animals, and - fortunately - the EU has banned testing cosmetics on animals.

Dragan Glas wrote:And I don't mean for a chat - you'd need regular blood-tests on a monthly basis, at least - to ensure you're not suffering from any deficiencies that would lead to health problems (particularly mental health problems, which are more difficult to detect).

If you are claiming that an unsupervised vegan diet is likely to cause mental health problems, you need to provide some evidence (not just "correlation but not causation").

An unsupervised vegan diet is likely to cause health problems, including mental ones - the correlation with the latter is enough of a warning not to pursue an unsupervised vegan diet.

Vego wrote:Some people go into veganism thinking that they can just eat carrots everyday (caricature), but that is a misunderstanding of veganism. Veganism generally requires the ability to make informed decisions (if you live in a country were you don't have access to animal products, then your diet might technically be vegan but I can't say much about nutrition and health).

Dragan Glas wrote:This is perhaps my main concern of one-sided diets.
...
Restricting our diet to either extreme

This is another misconception that people have against veganism. A vegan is not someone who eats only carrots everyday (that would be unhealthy). Eating only fruits or raw foods is doable but risky, difficult and expensive, and considered extreme by some vegans (and I agree with that). Vegan diets can have fruits, cooked foods, baked foods, spices, oils, and more, giving a large variety of options for taste and nutritional value.

Just because a vegan diet lacks animal products doesn't justify the negative implications of the word "extreme" that you used.

I wasn't referring to any specific extreme diet - I was referring to the fact that since an omnivorous is the default, anything other than that - whether ASF-only or plant-only - is the "extreme".

Vego wrote:
Dragan Glas wrote:I'm not sure whether your objection is based on killing animals or the manner of farming. Would you mind clarifying this?

I object to unnecessary suffering and lives cut short prematurely. That includes industrial animal farming practices and unnecessary killing in general. I don't think a binary classification is useful, but if you absolutely want to do that then I think I would fit in the second category because I don't object to killing on its own (I need to know about the circumstances).

Which goes back to the earlier point originally raised by Laurens.

Vego wrote:I also do not advocate for a binary choice: I fully support the mere promotion of reducing the consumption of animal products (food or otherwise). Actually taking steps to reduce it is even better, and veganism is just a natural endpoint due to our scientific and technological limitations.

All very laudable from a certain perspective but undercut by your acceptance of the killing of animals for human use, which is itself a form of exploitation.

As noted earlier, the manner of the killing makes it all about you - not the animals.

I wonder if you've ever read Singer's Animal Liberation or Herzog's Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat?

Kindest regards,

James
Image
"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:43 pm
leroyPosts: 2030Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:30 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

[Vego wrote:
Good idea. Then you can start thinking about how it is that animal milk and eggs are so cheap. (I mean no snark here, this is serious business too)[


This might sound naïve and ignorant, but why is torturing animals cheaper than having mercy? Can’t farmers simply grab the eggs without torturing the chicken? Isn’t a fast merciful death as expensive as a painful death? I simply have problems in understanding why is more suffering = to more profit for farmers.
"events with a zero probability happen all the time"
Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:54 pm
VegoUser avatarPosts: 94Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

@Dragan Glass: I address your last 2 posts in this one, the second one at the end.
@leroy: I address your post at the end of this one (sorry for the mix-up)

Dragan Glass wrote:Yet you avoid the biological fitness for an omnivorous diet

I am not sure what you mean by that. Omnivores get their diets from the environment, and they might specialize for various combinations of nutrient sources (for example 80% plants, 20% meat). But the nutrients are what is important, not where they came from, which is why we can have foodstuff like Soylent which was not part of our evolutionary history (I have never tried Soylent, I am not promoting it, I am just saying that this kind of stuff exists).

Our ability to consume meat is only an obligation if meat is the only available source for whatever nutrient we get from it.

Dragan Glass wrote:Or those for whom access to alternatives are limited or non-existent

You keep doing that and I don't know what you are trying to achieve. Go back to my earlier posts, and you will see (discover?) that I explicitely stated, multiple times, that veganism is a privilege, that it requires access to proper food sources (with eventual fortification, maybe supplementation), and that not everyone could do it.

I already acknowledge all that. Yes veganism has drawbacks, I never tried to hide it, on the contrary. If you are trying to make a point, it is lost on me.

Dragan Glass wrote:There's also the point regarding the fact that most are not going to be able to do so without professional medical assistance to ensure they don't suffer health problems due to dietary deficiencies.

Point for which you provide no evidence.

From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ( https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition ... -and-facts ):
Dragan Glass wrote:A well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can meet the nutrient needs of people from all stages of life, including pregnant and lactating women, children and athletes. It's just about making sure you get the nutrients you need.
...
And while most competitive athletes require increased energy, protein and nutrient needs for optimal performance, there's no reason they can't get everything they need nutritionally from plant sources. All it takes is a little diligence in menu planning.

They don't say anything about professional medical assistance.

Dragan Glass wrote:You're back to your "sadly necessary" argument, which undermines your argument.

Do you actually read what I write? I was talking about a hypothetical, your hypothetical, of an alternate reality in which we are carnivores and we lack the technology to avoid eating animals. In such a fictitious world, yes, this specific suffering would be sad and necessary. Nothing there undermines my argument.

Dragan Glass wrote:And our "purchase decisions" in food don't have as much power as you seem to believe, as Is Trafficking in Human Beings Demand-Driven? shows.

You need to help me here: this is a large document, and I don't see how human trafficking connects to veganism or the meat industry.

And yes, "purchase decision" has as much power as I say. I may not be a vegan today if vegan options (fortified foods and animal-free products) weren't available to me. And those options are available because the market responds to vegan demand, as feeble as it is compared to the demand for animal products.

Dragan Glass wrote:Which tacitly acknowledges my point that one can't do so without professional medical advice and assistance.

No need for tacitness, you can ask me to be explicit.

You certainly need reliable advice (something based on scientific/medical research) to get a vegan diet going. How you get that is up to you (registered dietician, official website, ...). Like I said earlier, it is not good enough to think that you can just eat carrots and be fine. Do you need "assistance"? I don't know, it depends on you. I have my own pre-existing conditions to deal with, and erring on the side of caution is the only kind of advice that I feel safe giving.

Dragan Glass wrote:You argue against unnecessary suffering yet are quite alright with, what one might well term, "mass murder", as your reply to Laurens indicates, when you suggest that all the unwanted farm animals be slaughtered.

You must think I am some kind of replicant or something.

Here is how things would play out in my utopia:
* thanks to major worldwide adoption of vegan lifestyle, production of animal products would decline substantially (will not get to zero but that's okay, some people need animal products for medical reasons).
* we would try to peacefully retire as many animals as possible in specialized facilities.

The main issue is the second point: there are at least tens of billions of farm animals. Taking care of them is difficult and expensive. Realistically, I only expect a tiny fraction of the whole to be manageable this way. What to do with the rest? Look the other way and pretend we don't see them while they starve in their boxes? Releasing them and hoping for the best, which could cause ecological disasters? (what happens if you release 50 billion chickens in the wild?) The only responsible thing to do, it seems to me, is to kill them.

I am not "quite alright" with it, and if there is a better way, I would be glad to be proven wrong.

Dragan Glass wrote:An unsupervised vegan diet is likely to cause health problems, including mental ones - the correlation with the latter is enough of a warning not to pursue an unsupervised vegan diet.

No it is not enough. If you want to establish causation between a vegan diet and mental health troubles, your cause at the very least has to appear before the effect. From this paper ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466124/ ):
The analysis of the respective ages at adoption of a vegetarian diet and onset of a mental disorder showed that the adoption of the vegetarian diet tends to follow the onset of mental disorders.

Why is this happening?
Importantly, we found no evidence for a causal role of vegetarian diet in the etiology of mental disorders. Rather, our results are more consistent with the view that the experience of a mental disorder increases the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet, or that psychological factors influence both the probability of choosing a vegetarian diet and the probability of developing a mental disorder.


There is also the ostracization that we get from people wondering what is wrong with our heads. You think being an atheist is bad? Try being an atheist and a vegan. Said more professionally, in the case of religious vegetarians (including some vegans):
Although not all Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarians, vegetarianism is highly valued and commonly practiced among Seventh Day Adventists, giving followers of this diet strong coherence and high status in their peer group. In contrast, most vegetarians in Western societies consciously have to reject the opinions of the majority (i.e., eating meat), an act possibly more isolating from than joining with others.


Correlation is not causation. There are many ways to explain a correlation. Your claim is still unjustified.

Dragan Glass wrote:Which goes back to the earlier point originally raised by Laurens.

No it doesn't. I try to be realistic. I wish to save all the animals. That wish is not realistic.

Veganism is realistic.

Dragan Glass wrote:your acceptance of the killing of animals for human use, which is itself a form of exploitation.

I am confused here, what are you talking about? Are you blaming me for accepting a compromise (not everyone vegan instead of everyone vegan)?

Dragan Glass wrote:As noted earlier, the manner of the killing makes it all about you - not the animals.

And I addressed that point: I believe that sentient beings have an intrinsic value. And the animals can't defend themselves, so if people like me don't speak up, who will? So no, it is not just about me, and it is not just about the manner of killing either. If you think that, then you haven't been paying attention to what I have written (which seems to be the case when I look at your responses).

Dragan Glass wrote:I wonder if you've ever read Singer's Animal Liberation or Herzog's Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat?

No, I already have quite the backlog, but I will take your recommendations into consideration, thanks.

leroy wrote:I simply have problems in understanding why is more suffering = to more profit for farmers.

It is difficult to understand because you are trying to see it as some kind of abstract reasoning. I noticed that difference of perspective when I saw "The Extremism of Veganism" which I mentioned in my first post. In order to make more sense of this whole veganism thing, you need to think about the operational details of the farming industry.

In the case of the eggs, the farmers are not torturing the hens "directly". They practice artificial selection to breed hens that can produce a lot of eggs while not dying from the stress of being stuck in a box cramped with other animals. This egg production requires nutrients, far more than a "normal" hen, and those nutrients (like minerals) are used to build the eggs rather than the hen's skeleton. Neither the farmer nor the hen does that on purpose, it's just biology. But as a result of all of that (confinement, special feeds, exploitation) the hens suffer from mental illness (we drive them mad), skin disease, bone fractures, and other stuff.

Now there are various ways to deal with egg production, not everyone does it the same, and some practices are more "humane" than others. But in the end we are just using them as food factories, and they didn't evolve (heh!) for that.

Like I have said several times: the suffering is a byproduct, but we are manufacturing it nonetheless. And we don't have to.
Last edited by Vego on Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:20 pm
leroyPosts: 2030Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:30 pm

Post Re: The moral case for veganism.

Dragan Glass wrote:
Which tacitly acknowledges my point that one can't do so without professional medical advice and assistance



.Be realistic, what is the worst thing that could ever happen if you go to a “vegan market” and simply buy and eat products that were selected randomly (Without really looking at the nutrients of each product?

If you simply buy products using your own criteria and your own common sense, chances say that you will be ok. You don t need medical assistance unless you where some sort of athlete, or someone that need some sort of special diet for whatever reason.

Besides, you can simply do a google search with the key words “healthy vegan diet” and you will find thousands of websites with information.

Vegans that would eat junk food all the time, would also eat junk food all the time if they don’t become vegan.
"events with a zero probability happen all the time"
Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:46 pm
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