Saturday, October 3, 2015

Moral Vegetarianism/Veganism: What's The Beef With Eating Meat?


About a month ago, popular YouTube user Kalel uploaded a video entitled "Why I'm Vegan [+ how you can be too]." The subject is self explanatory: Kalel explains, in plain terms, why she is a vegan and attempts to convince the audience of why going vegan is a preferable choice. This is generally unproblematic, but becomes something of importance when she makes her arguments on moral grounds.

This isn't an uncommon tactic. Plenty of organizations supporting veganism or vegetarianism on the grounds of animal rights have jumped on the moral high ground by claiming it is morally fallible for a person to eat meat and, for vegans, to use the products that come from their bodies (e.g. eggs, milk, etc.). For example, part of the "Compassion for Animals" statement by The Vegan Society goes as follows: 
Non-human animals are living beings seeking life and freedom, and avoiding harm and danger. In every 'livestock system,' no matter how high the welfare standards are supposed to be, non-human animals will suffer. The Five Freedoms, frequently used to measure welfare, will never be met completely.
Avoiding comment on the use of more conceptual terms such as "freedom," the general message is clear. Animals are mistreated as livestock, and every animal has a right to life that we take away when we make them products for our consumption. Both of these factors play a pivotal role into why one should become a vegan (or vegetarian). Kalel's video echoes these sentiments and uses many typical arguments/talking points to make her case. Here, I am going to respond to them in detail and analyze the flaws in the moral vegetarian/vegan argument.

You might be asking, "Why Kalel?" Is she really that important? Do I have some kind of beef with her? The reason I am using Kalel's video as the center of my rebuttal is because of convenience. Her arguments are not very different from any other moral vegetarian/vegan, and so it doesn't really matter who I choose. Her video is just more recent, and has received a lot of attention. One could also review the fact that she is (or was) a spokesperson for PETA, but other than an inward vitriol for PETA, it doesn't provide much of a prompt. Beyond this, I have no personal issues with Kalel.

I will be addressing her arguments in order, so if you are following along with the video, it shouldn't be too hard to keep up. Her video is nearly half an hour long, but the argumentative portion of it only lasts for the first 8-10 minutes. That said, there is a lot to address, and thus this will probably be a long post. [Fair warning.]

Let's begin.


These first few points are relatively small, but nonetheless need to be addressed in my opinion. Kalel begins her video by requesting that nobody comment on their love of meat or anything of the sort in response to her video, and if they had any intention of doing so (or are "too closed-minded to let this information into [their] mind"), then to leave, because it's insensitive. Admittedly, Kalel has the right to put a prior restraint on anything she wants when it comes to her YouTube videos and her channel, because they are just that -- hers. However, I would argue that this in itself is a rather closed-minded outlook. It isn't insensitive to bring criticism or alternative opinions to a video for vegans or potential vegans; rather, it's an exchange of ideas that should be valued, not shunned.


Kalel makes a brief point here about "conditioning" when talking about the importance of watching videos and gaining information. She claims we have been socially conditioned into thinking that it's okay to "torture, rape [and] murder" farm animals, when in fact it isn't. Very briefly I want to say the following:

(1) There is nothing wrong with being socially conditioned to believe something. It happens all the time, and most of our personal beliefs and inner values are a result of social conditioning.

(2) Saying that it is, in fact, not okay is a personal statement. Only an individual can make a determination of whether or not something is truly "wrong." We tend to agree on most issues whether or not something is wrong, but we will have differences, as shown by the very existence of this article.

I won't address the use of the loaded terms "torture, rape and murder." In short, they evoke certain feelings in us that try to force us to sympathize with animals on a level that we typically reserve for humans. Kalel likely finds this to be acceptable, and precisely the point, but I have more reservations when it comes to that.

Why kill an animal when you no longer need to do so in order to survive?

This is actually pretty interesting, because it makes two implicit arguments: That we no longer need to eat animals in order to survive, and that we should only eat an animal if necessary to survive.

The former may be true for some of us, but certainly not all of us. Many people need to eat meat for vitamins/nutrients because they can't afford the numerous dietary supplements required otherwise. The alternative, "vegan" products are expensive. In addition, some have to eat meat as a matter of convenience. There are few vegetarian/vegan options at fast food restaurants, but some people have to order quick food from such places because time is valuable, and they don't necessarily have the time to cook a meal at home for their families. I'm speaking exclusively of America, but this is true for many westernized nations, and doesn't even get to the issues with extending this argument to people across the globe from impoverished nations or indigenous cultures.

But one could make the argument that it'd be okay for them to eat meat because it's necessary, right? That conflicts with two of the moral vegetarian/vegan propositions:

(1) That animals have the same rights we do.
(2) That killing animals is a moral wrongdoing.

Moral codes are universal. The morality of an act does not change depending on time and location. One could argue it changes in context, but then we would be conceding that there are some times where eating meat is okay because it's for our survival. We would, however, then be prioritizing our right to life over an animal's. Who are we to make such a decision? More on that later.

But this all embraces the premise that one should only eat meat when it's necessary for survival. Turning outward, I don't agree with this premise at all. We do many things as humans that are not necessary for our survival and find no moral contentions with them. We build extravagant houses (or sometimes, simple houses) in the territories of other creatures. We buy multiple cars and drive them profusely even though it contributes to global warming. Our nation and our society is not founded on the principle of "do only what you must." There is a threshold where we try to honor the sanctity of the environment around us while, at the same time, pursue our own interests. As humans we balance, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that because otherwise we would ultimately have to inhibit humanity's development, return our societies to the lowest common denominator, and deal with the disease/starvation that naturally comes with that. We would, indirectly, be promoting the torture of our own species.

Something's gotta give.

Which ones are okay to eat?

Here is another interesting argument. The picture in the video, shown to the side here, shows ten animal eyes and prompts you to say which ones are okay to eat. The average person isn't able to identify an animal exclusively by its eyes, and so the viewers find themselves in conflict. The animal identities are listed below for the curious person, but here half the eyes belong to dogs. It's fairly clear what the point is, though: Because you can't identify the difference, it's because they're all animals, and we can't differentiate between them. I completely agree, because they're all okay to eat.

Sure, it's hard for the typical westerner to say that it's okay to eat dogs, but really there's nothing wrong with it. Plenty of cultures do, and you know why? Because while objectively there is no difference between these animals insofar as what's okay to eat, we have determined that there is. Our society has determined half of these meats to be edible, and half of them inedible. Other societies think differently. The point is, however, that we make determinations of the edibility of creatures based on our personal thoughts. Dogs have been given a higher status than pigs in our culture. Other cultures are capable of differentiating between a pet dog and a dog meant for food. In America, we can actually keep pet cows, but still eat burgers. That's only the case because we've decided there's a difference.

Think about it: Why have dogs, cats, canaries and fish become more popular as pets than pigs, muskrats, otters and sparrows? We've just decided that the former four are more suitable as pets. Of course we've domesticated dogs, and cats are partially domesticated, but these are general statements, not particularized ones. There's no justification for us having decided that a guinea pig is a better pet than a muskrat, but we made that determination, and nobody bats an eye.

When pressed, we can differentiate between animals and make value judgments based on that differentiation. Kalel, at the very least, can understand that.

Continuing, this is also why Kalel's "man beating a dog" argument doesn't work. While we wouldn't want any animal being beaten, we've prioritized the welfare of dogs because they're not going to the dinner table. In a public setting, however, animals are almost always understood to be pets. A man beating a pig, a dog, a cow, or any animal in public will likely get backlash because he is interpreted to be beating a pet, not an animal for food.

This isn't to say that beating animals in farms is okay either. It certainly isn't, but we've at least made it a priority to address animal cruelty in the public sphere because the setting is different. It's illegal for two men to fight in the streets -- fisticuffs -- and yet millions of people around the country will sit around and watch two men brawl it out in the ring (e.g. boxing, wrestling, UFC) and nobody thinks there is a contradiction. The reason is that there isn't a contradiction. We've just decided one is okay, and another isn't.

Pequest Trout Hatchery
Here's a more on point example: Fishing. There are numerous regulations for the treatment of fish while fishing (e.g. no intentional foul hooking), for the stocking of fish in specific waters (to ensure they are given a proper environment), for the proper disposal of your equipment, etc. We have decided that all of these things are legal imperatives, and yet we can feel no moral conflict when we impale the fish through the lip with a metal hook. When we look at trout stocking programs, we see the exact opposite happening as well: Small spaces, little concern for their freedoms, and after raising they will eventually be dumped into lakes, rivers and streams where all of them will either be caught and killed for food, or will eventually die come the summer heat. Is this cognitive dissonance? No, because we decided that it's okay for these fish to be raised in this way and used for this purpose, but all other fish (for the most part) to live a much more comfortable life. This is why anglers can practice catch and release for all game fish, and yet still keep stocked trout.

But let's say that we should treat all animal cruelty in the same way, and cruelty in farms should be treated the same as cruelty on the streets (something I agree with). This gets to Kalel's next point (well, actually first -- we haven't even gotten to the main part of the video yet). Here, she begins to illustrate the four main reasons to go vegan, and so now we're finally getting to the heart of the subject.

What's nice, though, is that we already have the tools necessary to address some of these claims. If I were to highlight the most important point to rebut the moralist vegetarian/vegan position, it is this: Disassociation. You have to learn not only to disassociate yourself with the emotionalism and moralistic arguments, but also learn to disassociate two things that seem related, but actually aren't. Namely, this is the disassociation between eating meat and animal cruelty. What exactly do I mean by that? We'll see in a moment.

Reason 1: Animal Torture

In Kalel's own words, one of the biggest reasons to go vegan is seeing how animals go through "fucking pure hell" on the typical farm. Chickens have their beaks seared off, cows have their horns cut off, baby male chicks are thrown in a grinder, baby cows are ripped away from their mothers, and so on. The argument is that eating meat is perpetuating this practice and by eating meat, we are encouraging and giving our consent to this torture.

I agree, this is a disgusting practice and it shouldn't be encouraged, however this argument is flawed for the following reasons:

(1) It assumes that by not eating meat, we will stop this practice.
(2) It assumes that this is the best way to stop this practice.
(3) It assumes that by indirectly participating in this practice, we are endorsing it.
(4) It assumes that it is wrong to eat meat because of the associative burden that goes with it.
(5) It assumes that eating meat is the only avenue that leads to this moral conflict, or that vegetarianism/veganism are exempt from this moral conflict.

(1) It assumes that by not eating meat, we will stop this practice.

None of these assumptions are true. For the first assumption, there is no evidence to suggest that not eating meat will help prevent the perpetuation of this practice. As an example, while veganism/vegetarianism is at an all time high (about 5% of the total US population), overall meat production is increasing. The reasons for this are numerous, but mainly it's this: When consumption of meat by the US population goes down, the meat industry finds other ways to sell its meat. They'll export more meat to other countries, find new consumers across the globe -- indeed, citizens of America spend less of their disposable income on meat than any other country in the world -- or even resource their products for other purposes or markets, such as including it in dog food. The trend in vegetarianism/veganism has had no tangible effect on the production of meat in America.

(2) It assumes that this is the best way to stop this practice.

Let's assume, however, that going vegetarian/vegan did lower meat production in the United States. One would have to argue, then, that this is the best possible way to protest the cruel treatment of animals in America. I would argue it isn't. There are numerous, more lasting approaches to this issue that would help endorse the proper treatment of farm animals. You can elect members to your state legislature that will pass laws at the state level to protect animal rights, you can lobby members of Congress or your particular member of Congress to pass laws at the federal level, and then create federal agencies that enforce these laws. Even if you personally don't have the political clout to make this change happen, you can endorse advocacy groups who will have a much greater impact. The point is, however, that there are many avenues besides going vegetarian or vegan to protest the cruel treatment of animals in farms, and the latter isn't even the most preferable or effective way of doing this.

(3) It assumes that by indirectly participating in this practice, we are endorsing it.

On the third point, it's a bit difficult to address this. Most people would implicitly agree that by participating in a system which endorses a practice, we are endorsing it ourselves. This isn't true, however. When I fill out my Census form and put in information for my race, I am not endorsing the idea of categorizing humans by race. I'm simply endorsing the idea of using social categories for demographic/informational purposes that could be useful. I am being cooperative, not complicit. Similarly, a vegetarian or a vegan can pay their taxes which, in part, go to the regulation of the meat industry without having to concede that they are endorsing that industry. As such, I can eat meat without endorsing the practices that go into producing said meat. People participate in systems they don't agree with all the time, but as practical creatures, we operate in such a way that is beneficial for ourselves and does not burden our ability to properly function in society. If the average vegan or vegetarian accepted, in full, that participation in the system is endorsing it, every one of them would have to commit a federal crime via tax evasion.

(4) It assumes that it is wrong to eat meat because of the associative burden that goes with it.

The fourth point is similar to the third point, but carries different weight. The primary assumption behind these arguments is that the cruel treatment of animals is a reason that eating meat is wrong. This is the very nature of this first point Kalel makes: You shouldn't eat meat because animal cruelty is wrong. However, this says nothing about the morality of eating meat. It only speaks to the morality of cruelly treating animals. If we were to reach a point where all of our farm animals were treated ethically and with dignity, then there would be no objection to eating meat under this argument. More realistically, these arguments do not extend to the morality of eating meat that is produced from small, local farms that do not abuse their animals.

(5) It assumes that eating meat is the only avenue that leads to this moral conflict, or that vegetarianism/veganism are exempt from this moral conflict.

The last point regards the inevitability of violating animals' rights. Implicit in the vegetarian/vegan moralist argument is that eating meat is the only route through which someone is violating the rights of a living creature. But there are insects or pieces of insects in every jar of peanut butter, microorganisms on every stalk of celery, and some foods can even have pieces of mice or rats. Save for the last part, the finding of insects in your food is almost always inherent to the harvesting and manufacturing process. Bugs get into the food because we neglect to prevent that, and we have all come to accept that this is okay. But what about those living creatures' rights: The beetle that finds his way in your chocolate bar, the mouse that drowned his sorrows in your can of baked beans, or the microorganism riding your tongue like a slide when you bite a carrot? Do they not matter?

There are a few possible objections to this argument:

(1) These are incidental occurrences that can't be avoided, as much as accidentally crushing an ant on your walk to school.
(2) These animals aren't tortured by humans. They, by their own actions, fly into our food and die.
(3) Insects, while living, are not typically conscious, and are much more impulsive creatures.

Objection 1 is rather lazy. These things aren't avoidable as a part of our daily lives, and so we shouldn't be concerned about the moral implications? One could easily ask the objector why our lives need to take priority over these animals' lives. There seems to be nothing which suggests that our lives are more important than theirs; and if one concedes that our lives are more important, then they accept that sometimes it's okay to kill an animal for the benefit of our own lives. You would then have to ask why cows and pigs don't fall into that gray area, which we'll get to in objection 3.

Objection 2 seems to accept that if an animal is killed by its own agency, even if our actions are the root cause of their death, then there is no moral dilemma. But as said, we are the root cause. That tasty tub of Toblerone would not be in that factory building for the fly to suffocate in if we didn't put it there for our own benefit. We know the risks it poses for the fly, who will be too enamored by the bounty to think of the risks and thus suffocate once it dives head first into the vat of chocolate, but we don't care. We don't avoid a moral dilemma by blaming the fly for its own agency, because we set up the environment for it to die in, knowing the risks involved. Our negligence to take precautions to ensure its survival is what led to its death.

Objection 3 involves hierarchical claims. As we saw earlier in this article, even individuals like Kalel can be pressed to thinking in terms of speciesism and learn to prioritize some living creatures over others. Such a mindset is antithetical to the moral vegetarian/vegan philosophy, but is also unavoidable.

If the argument is that an insect, being an unconscious, impulsive creature made up of nothing but nerve cells, has fewer rights than a cow, capable of much more complex thoughts, then we have established conditions where some animals are okay to eat, but others aren't. Where do we draw the line at, then? Mice are very simplistically minded creatures as well, but they have a bit more complexity than a praying mantis. Is it okay to kill the mouse? If the answer is no, then why? If the answer is yes, then we move on to a rat, then a guinea pig, then a squirrel, and so on until we find where the line is drawn.

But let's assume the line is objectively drawn at the point of insects, however: Insects are okay to kill because they have no conscious thoughts. They don't process pain and the concept of living the same way a cow does. What if we anesthetize the cow, then? It feels no pain, it falls asleep, and then we kill it. It isn't processing any of those emotions or thoughts at the time of its death. Is it okay to eat beef from such a cow?

Let's say this is flawed too, and the cow still isn't okay to eat because intrinsic to its existence is the capability, in the proper state of mind, to process these emotions and thoughts. Because it can think of these things, then it doesn't matter that it wasn't thinking of them at the time of its death. Well, then what happens if we genetically modify a breed of cows that are essentially brain dead? We feed those cows through tubes, they sit in a box all day and night without a thought going through their brains, and are then eventually killed for their meat. It never had and never would have had the ability to conceive of pain, loss, suffering, death, and so on -- its brain functions the same as a centipede. Is it okay to eat then? Why wouldn't it be? We have established that this creature, in all matters of its existence, is the same as an insect, which we have already deemed okay to eat. What's the difference here? There is none.

No matter what, a hierarchy is impossible to avoid. We decide what has the right to live and what doesn't, and in the end, living beings die as part of our need to survive, and our preference for our own survival. We prioritize some creatures over others, and even a vegan can't avoid this. The moral dilemma is not solved by choosing to not eat meat, because other animals are at stake as well.

Reason 2: You don't need meat to be healthy.

The second reason Kalel provides for not eating meat is that it isn't necessary to be healthy. She claims you can get all of your nutrients, including protein, from a plant-based diet, and that such a diet can prevent or even reverse disease. Let's assume that her claims of health and nutrients are true. Just because we don't need meat doesn't mean we shouldn't eat meat, or that eating meat is morally wrong. Necessity does not determine the morality of these acts, although to some people it can provide legitimate justification. The problem is that "health" isn't even the primary concern for many people who eat meat, it's just survival. The average person who needs to make a financial decision involving buying a bundle of vegetables from a grocery store miles away from their urban home over buying fast food beef, chicken, etc. down the block isn't going to be thinking about nutrients. To suggest that this is a reason that it's morally wrong to eat meat ignores the struggles that millions of people face around the country, and even the world, every day.

Moreover, it assumes that the average person not facing financial struggle cares about nutrition when making dietary choices anyway. It's pretty well known that America has an obesity problem, and this doesn't stem from us habitually being concerned about whether or not we're getting the proper nutrients and vitamins in our oh-so-healthy diets. In reality, nobody thinks about nutrition most of the time. That's why we have junk food culture, and that's why I indulge in it willingly. Nutrition isn't on my mind when I eat a Twinkie. Food is. Convenience is the biggest problem, not nutrition.

Reason 3: Animal agriculture is destroying our planet.

Kalel's factual statement here is, once again, correct. Animal agriculture is the main contributor to greenhouse gases which is, in turn, the leading cause of climate change. By cutting back on eating meat, the argument goes, we can reduce the production of greenhouse gases and slow down climate change.

Once again, however, going vegetarian/vegan does not reduce the production of meat and so has no visible effect in this realm. The imperative isn't there. Moreover, once again, this has to deal with intensive agricultural practices. It says nothing about local farms that produce meat the same way we've been producing it for thousands of years. Lastly, and most importantly, this isn't necessarily a problem for our future. Genetic modification can lead to the creation of farm animals that do not produce anywhere near as many CO2s as our current livestock does. We can also genetically modify trees and other plants to enhance their natural processing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to offset this greenhouse gas production. Scientific advancements can lead to the same agricultural practices without the harmful effects on the environment.

Kalel also includes a modest point about water usage. She claims that it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, and so anyone concerned about water usage (esp. in times of drought) should stop eating burgers. While this figure is often disputed to some extent, let's assume that it's correct. What happens when we stop eating burgers, then? We've "saved" that much water, but is it enough? Who is to say we shouldn't go further: Let's stop producing bread, since every pound of bread requires 200 gallons of water. With the average person in America consuming 53 pounds of bread per year (and this trend rising due to the swap from beef consumption to bread consumption), we see that we are using about 3.4 trillion gallons of water every year for bread; and this is just for American consumers. Considering that a lot of the bread we produce is exported, that number is considerably higher for overall water usage. This is compared to approximately 64.5 trillion gallons of water currently used for beef production, using the 2500 gallon figure. This number will shift with the increased consumption of bread over the years.

So why don't we stop consuming bread? The answer is that while these figures are scary, they aren't comparative. Who draws the line at how much water is too much, and at what point we can say "Okay, we're good now, we don't need to cut back on any more water usage"? These types of claims are hard value judgments of figures that are otherwise valueless from a moral perspective. If cutting back on water is a moral imperative, however, then we can do this by consuming genetically modified farm animals that do not require as much food/water to properly function.

But more to the point, when Kalel chooses to take a bath or not take a bath, she is directly affecting water usage. Whether or not she chooses to eat beef, as we have displayed, has no visible effect on beef production and thus has no visible effect on water usage. From this perspective, the person who sees it necessary to cut down on taking baths but not cut down on eating meat is actually in the right, because the former will actually reduce water usage, while the other will not. The only recompense offered by not eating meat is being rid of personal feelings of liability. Given the conflict I just illustrated however, personal liability is still not avoided by choosing to take a long bath but not eat meat.

Addressing her point on rainforest destruction, once again this has much more to do with intensive agriculture than it does to do with the inherent morality of farming animals and eating meat. Not eating meat will not solve this problem. Changing farming practices will. There are also numerous other contributors to rainforest destruction that the average person can't avoid, such as finding housing. When you think about it, all of our modern territory was once the territory of wild animals. It's another situation of "something's gotta give" -- if we prioritized every other animal on the planet over ourselves in an unrealistic phenomenon of nature, we would not have anywhere to live at all.

Finally, on choosing to eat meat being bigger than "me and you," as we can see above, it actually isn't any bigger than that. It's a personal choice that has no tangible consequences in terms of the environment. One could argue that on a grander scale, with millions of people making this personal choice, it is a bigger issue, but this isn't a moral claim. This is one of practicality, and it is easily moderated by both the source of your meat (i.e. a local versus a factory farm) and whether or not we choose to go with genetically modified farm animals in the future to cut down on environmental impact. There are many avenues to resolving this issue that do not involve going vegetarian or vegan.

Reason 4: If we stopped eating meat, it would end world hunger.

Kalel reasons that the amount of grain and produce used to raise farm animals could feed every person in the world for several years, and so if we used those resources to feed other people instead of animals, it could end world hunger. The operative word here being could. Even if we somehow shut down every single farm in America, and that grain/produce were not being used to raise farm animals, there is absolutely no guarantee that the food would reach the starving people of the world.

Kalel seems to forget that grain and produce are grown and sold by businesses. It simply isn't economical for a business to spend money to produce grain and other resources, only to then just give it away. Even if we somehow reached that desire to spend money with absolutely no profit or economic benefit, there's still no guarantee that the food we send to, say, Somalia, wouldn't be stolen immediately by warlords or terrorist organizations that would keep it to themselves or exploit access to that resource by charging the average person for its use. Solving world hunger is a much, much more complicated issue than just having enough food to feed people. It has to deal with our desire to send out that food and their ability to receive that food, among many other issues. This was the very source of the Marxist v. Capitalist arguments of the 19th century in the realm of economics: For the first time in history, we had enough food and resources to keep people well fed for the rest of their lives, and yet poverty and famine persisted.


After having addressed the many moral arguments invoked by moral vegetarianism/veganism, I have to stop and look at the biggest question: Why is this important? What was the point of making this article? Was it to invalidate vegetarians and vegans for their beliefs (a label that Kalel rejects), or was it something else?

I take personal issues with universal moral claims. I'm of the camp that believes there's no such thing as objective morality. Moral claims are made within the context of culture and society, and we all implicitly agree to certain rules that govern our behavior without really thinking about the premises behind them. The moralist position of some vegetarians and vegans attempts to override that and claim, as an ultimate moral imperative, that we have to all stop eating meat. Such a change in our way of life has many consequences and implications, and so before I put down my hamburger, I better damn well know I'm doing it for a good reason.

Does it help animal welfare? No, and that's its own issue.

Does it make me healthier? Not necessarily, and being healthy is not necessarily my priority, since I eat plenty of junk.

Does it help the environment? Maybe, but there are many other ways to do that that don't require giving up meat.

Does it end world hunger? No.

There is, therefore, no reason to change my habits, or let other meat lovers come to believe that what they're doing is objectively wrong. Kalel claims that she doesn't intend to attack anyone with her video, but by moralizing the issue, you are essentially trying to convince people that they are committing moral wrongs, i.e. evils by eating meat. That is a personal claim that need not exist here, for the reasons listed above. So to conclude, I say...

Well done.

Why can't we beefriends?


  1. Thanks so much for writing the article for me, Nick. I loved every bit of it and think you touched up on all the most important details, and in just the right spots too. You could spice it up a bit in the second half with another picture or two though, but other than that, it was a great read. The puns were great too.

  2. What a wonderful post... I remember talking to Mykala about this a while back. It's always made me feel uncomfortable knowing that people out there are judging me for doing something that seems so fundamental to being human. This makes me feel much better, and I hope one day I get to use these arguments in front of an audience so others can feel better too.

    One argument I thought of: Bears' diets are 90% nuts and vegetation (and bugs). The other 10% comes from opportunity, not necessity. If a bear can get away with eating something it doesn't need to eat in order to survive, why can't we?

    Let me know what you think! (> ^ o ^) > ^(x n x ^)

    1. I know you were talking to Nick, but I wanted to comment myself and say that I think that's a good point with your bear example! Why aren't we able to eat things simply because we want to, even if we don't have to?

      Your example made me think of vegans' and vegetarians' own choices. There are a plethora of vegan/vegetarian alternatives and substitutes when it comes to meat, like veggie burgers, meatless meatballs, vegan blood sausage, etc. Vegans/vegetarians can eat these when they don't have to, but why do so if they don't need to in order to survive? If they respond with, "Well, because I want to," then a meat-eater, too, may simply say they eat meat "because I want to."

      So yeah, I really liked your point, Jade! XD

    2. Jade:

      It really is a shame when people are convinced unwittingly that they are committing some great evil when in reality, they're just getting trampled on by the moral high horse. People who moralize issues like this need to understand what they're doing to others' psyches -- who needs to have an image of a dairy cow being beaten as they look at a bowl of ice cream when their choice to eat or not eat that bowl of ice cream will not save that cow, or any future cows? It's just unnecessary emotional baggage.

      By their 10% non-veggie diet, I assume you meant their opportunistic meat eating. If that's the case, then you're absolutely right; however, the moralist vegan/vegetarian can't apply the same standards to humans as they do to other animals because humans have a greater concept of diet and moral obligation than the rest of the animal kingdom. Oh hey, look, speciesism.

      Nice job Jade! ^( ^ o ^ )^


      You raise a far reaching point that I really should have thought of when I wrote this post. If the standard for eating is "eat only what you need in order to survive," then a vegan has no excuse to have a dessert, to go to beer tasting festivals, or really do anything besides eat the bare minimum their diet requires in order for them to function in modern society. Thanks for pointing that out!


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