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Vegetarian?
Posted: 04 April 2008 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Do any of you have any thoughts on being vegetarian, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent and whether it is morally supportable when one becomes a vegetarian on principle? I have no issue with eating meat (I certainly love a good steak) but my diet is increasingly moving away from a traditional meat centred one towards fish, white meats, dairy and vegetarian products so I’m just curious.

Kyu

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Posted: 04 April 2008 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I am a vegetarian.  Have been most of my life, because I’ve never liked meat and I also have a soft spot in my heart for animals.  The moral value I think depends on the individual though and no matter how much one’s ideas concerning the consumption of meat bothers me, I don’t impose my views on others.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 04 April 2008 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I stopped eating meat alltogether about 4 years ago. I do still eat eggs and dairy, though when I can I try to find sources produced in less abusive ways than mainstream food animal agriculture. I have a combination of reasons, some pragmatic (lots of heart disease in the family) and some ethical. I’m not miltant about it, but I do think strong cases can be made for vegetarianism as a positive ethical stance.

In terms of environment and economics, it costs a lot more per calorie, takes a lot more land, and produces a lot more pollution to grow meat than plant sources of food. We could feed more people more cheaply and with less environmental harm on a plant-based diet. And while growing children and lactating women have to work pretty hard to meet their nutritional needs on a strict vegan diet, it’s pretty easy for everyone else, and trivial if one includes dairy, seafood, or other animal protenis, so there’s no strong argument that we have to eat as much meat as we do. It really is a case of learned preferences.

As far as animal welfare, as a vet I am quite familiar with industrial agriculture, and it’s pretty brutal. I think it is possible to produce animal products in ethical ways, but it is not economically competitive so most meat and other animal food production is undeniably abusive and causes a great deal of suffering. Again, as this is primarily to satisfy preference rather than need and for economic reasons, I don’t think it is easy to argue that such suffering is justifiable. Most people just follow the simply strategies of not thinking about ti or deciding arbitrarily that humans come foirst so it doesn’t matter.

Sadly, there are a lot of nutcases who champion vegetarianism, which makes it a difficult stance for a rationalist to be associated with. Many of the arguments for it involve the natural fallacy and all sorts of mythological nonsense or junk science. But sifting through that, there are some ecological and ethical arguments I find pursuasive. Peter Singer is a good one to look at for the ethical side of things if you’re interested in reading on the subject.

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Posted: 04 April 2008 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The reason I don’t eat meat is because I don’t like it. I do feel sorry for the animals but I still wear leather shoes, belts, I own a leather sofa and a car with leather seats. I am inclined to believe that eating meat will one day appear immoral. Lately I have been also having difficulty with cutting a Christmas tree or buying fresh flowers. I don’t feel any compassion for fungi or bacteria.

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Posted: 04 April 2008 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Brennen,

Are many veterinarians vegetarians? I imagine it must be difficult (or at least it would be for me) to try to fix a parrot’s wing and then go for a lunch and order chicken wings. But maybe it is a stupid question as male gynecologists, for example, must be able to see a woman as a patient and at other times as, well, a woman. Friend of mine once told me that his father who is a surgeon couldn’t operate on him when he suffered from appendicitis, but was present during the operation — but maybe that’s something different.

[ Edited: 04 April 2008 10:42 AM by George ]
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Posted: 04 April 2008 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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what do you guys think about the “meet your meat” video? I am not trying to cause any trouble but only appealing to your intelectual maturity here nothing more, I’ve heard that vid is this or that. When I saw it, it simply turned my stomac inside out. thanks. I also love animals but it’s really hard to break the meat eating habit.

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Posted: 04 April 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve never seen that video, but if it has a lot of cruelty in it, I probably could not handle it.  I’m also an animal rights activist too.  No, not like PITA, they take it a bit too far, IMO. More like the ASPCA, Jane Goodall, and alike groups.

Like George, I do eat eggs and dairy products.  As long as the animal doesn’t have to die, I’m fine.  As for eggs, if there is no rooster around there is no life.  It’s just like human female eggs.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 04 April 2008 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Mriana - 04 April 2008 12:34 PM

I’ve never seen that video,

it’s very brutal, also, not just that but the living conditions of the animals are worse than filthy, which brings one to think that if eating an animal now a days is not wrong for ethical reasons, then it certainly is for sanitary/ health ones.

but if it has a lot of cruelty in it, I probably could not handle it.

it does, thanks for pointing this out.

I’m also an animal rights activist too.  No, not like PITA, they take it a bit too far, IMO. More like the ASPCA, Jane Goodall, and alike groups.

I don’t like extremism in anything either. But my heart goes out to those poor helpless creatures,  they feel, hurt and rejoice just like we do, and I think pigs’ goal to make as much money as they possibly can spending the least in growing and processing those poor creatures sets new low for human evil and rotteness.

Like George, I do eat eggs and dairy products.  As long as the animal doesn’t have to die, I’m fine.  As for eggs, if there is no rooster around there is no life.  It’s just like human female eggs.

I long time ago, quit meat but without doing any homework or preparation, my little advanture lasted for 2 months and went back to eating meat. When I saw that video, my motivation came back but eventually faded away again. I don’t eat as much meat as others do tough. I admire you Mriana. I wish I could have the strength to abstain from eating meat all together.

[ Edited: 04 April 2008 01:54 PM by Daisy ]
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Posted: 04 April 2008 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Well, I’ve been pretty much a lifelong vegetarian.  My mother had the opposite problem of most mothers. Instead of eat your vegetables, it was “Eat your meat.”  She finally gave up trying to get me to eat meat when I was around 11 give or take a little.  Too much of a battle.  However, besides not liking meat, my reasons to not eat meat has grown since then.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 04 April 2008 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I am also a vegetarian Kyu, and I make no excuses for others.  I think that it is entirely unethical for humans to eat meat, and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a well reasoned argument to the contrary.  That is why I don’t eat it.  It’s not nice to hurt others plain and simple, whether human or animal.  I am also an active PETA member, as well as a supporter of the HSUS.  I think that meet your meat should be required viewing for all meat eaters.

I can understand and appreciate how difficult it is to kick meat addiction.  When I quit smoking several years ago I experienced, more or less, identical psychological challenges to what I experienced when I quit eating meat.  But in both cases the cravings dissipated over time.  Our bodies adapt.  I think that the best way to kick such addictions is to do so gradually.  It’s not easy to go cold turkey.

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Posted: 04 April 2008 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Primates in general are ominvores, but most get the majority of their food from vegetable sources.  I will eat meat, but I try to eat as little as possible, both for health and ethics.  My main complaint is that most vegetarians have, to quote Tom Lehrer, had their tastebuds shot off in the war.  There’s no reason why vegetarian recipes have to taste like you’re eating plain tofu.

Occam

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Posted: 04 April 2008 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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You are absolutely right Occam.  The enjoyment of good food is a fundamental aspect of a life well lived.

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Posted: 04 April 2008 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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My food isn’t tasteless, even if I do cook with tofu.  I add spices and alike for flavour.

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 04 April 2008 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Oddly enough, I didn’t find it at all hard to give up meat. Sure, I miss bacon, most Mexican food, and the corned beef half of the corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, but honestly I haven’t felt like it’s a temptation I have to resist. Now, if I had to give up chocolate or Scotch for ethical reasons, well I’d be goin’ straight to hell! grin

George,

I think, with no evidence but only personal experience, that there may be a few more vegetarians among vets than the population at large, but most aren’t. Enough of us that there’s always plenty of vegan options when food is served at meetings and conferences. Still a lot of the meat eaters among us seem a bit awkward when the subject comes up but seem to just avoid thinking much about it, or claim as some do that it’s too hard to give up.


I haven’t seen the video, but then I’m already in the choir. I can’t support cruelty or self-righteous contempt in the service of compassion, so I don’t have much sympathy for the more extreme animal rights folks. I did behavioral enrichment for captive primates for a few years before vet school, and was involved in helping to organize and set up some humane housing for former research and pet chimpanzees, and I think there is a lot of good work to be done on the animal rights front. The Great Ape Project is an excellent collection of essays on the general topic of how one decides who’s a person and who isn’t, and what sort of “rights” make sense for different categories of personhood. And I think showing people how brutal the system is is important. But letting a bunch of lab ferrets loose to starve and harrassing or even harming people who do research is missing the whole point of a humane, compassionate life stance. I understand the anger and the pain at seeing how animal suffering is ignored by most Americans, but I think the culture has changed mightily already, and that change will likely continue. As Pinker describes it, our circle of who is “us” and who is “them” is expanding historically, and I think it is best to encourage the growth of compassion with compassion, not with rage and violence.

And Occam, when I stopped eating meat, I found a handful of pretty good cookbooks, and I promise you there’s plenty of tasty veggie food out there.

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Posted: 05 April 2008 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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i have been a vegetable for around 25 years (since i was 8-10 years old). It was roughly the same time as my atheism was asserting itself. I do not push this on others. I have a number of reasons for it.

1. i do not like the industrial nature of meat supply from an animal dignity/rights side
2. i do not the the industrial nature of meat supply from a health perspective - (see bse, e-coli, meat that is bulked up by injection of protein slurry… for why)
3. i cannot make enough of a moral distinction between humans and other animals to justify killing them without it being a survival necessity.
4. as a kid, i did not like many of the meat dishes prepared. I therefore wanted to leave them. my step-father (the religious one in the family, a coincidence? hmmm!) was a wanker, and insisted on my finishing it before i left the table. If you force a kid to eat something, they will HATE it for the rest of their lives. this happened a few times, and at some point i realised that i wasn’t eating animals, and I really liked that idea so i stated that i am vege and then flatly refused to eat anything meaty. After a few months of struggle with my family it was accepted.

and yes, looking back i was a difficult child, which i put down to my step-dad being a wanker. I wish i had been much more difficult as a kid!

Ski.

oh, and after much experimentation, i found a really good way to saute tofu, so it actually tastes good!

[ Edited: 05 April 2008 02:07 AM by SkiCarver ]
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Posted: 05 April 2008 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I am trying to become a vegetarian. 

I found that when I quit smoking, a whole new world of flavour opened up to me, and after my heart attack I started eating a lot more veggies and found the vast array of textures and flavours amazing. Meat is rather bland in comparison to fruits and veggies, imo. But I still crave that rare t-bone from time-to-time and I love seafood.

I wouldn’t want to force the issue on others. What right do I have? I don’t think eating meat is really a moral issue. We *are* animals after all and happen to be meat eaters by nature. I think there has been a lot of disconnect between what we really are and what we perceive ourselves to be. The world is, *cough* by design, cruel and violent. Violence and struggle seem entrenched, almost as if lifeforms competed against each other for dominance and survival (go figure).  But I imagine, given enough time, even lions would question the whole killing for food/survival thing.

I think that it is simply incredible that we can reflect and act contrary to our base natures. We no longer rape for fun and profit (well not in North America as a general rule), and rape is basic to our natures and nature in general. We can overcome a lot of basest instincts, and I personally have issues with killing animals when it seems apparent that animals are self-aware in many respects - we just deny emotions and thinking in animals and label it training or instinct. But I guess, as long as we can rationalize eating thinking creatures that love and hate, that show altruism and the like, we will continue to eat meat with abandon as a race. I do however, have more and more issues with meat, both health-wise AND ethically.  I however, do not have any illusions about what and who were are a species. We ARE apes, we ARE animals.

[ Edited: 05 April 2008 05:58 AM by goodthink ]
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