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On Veganism

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BoogieMonster
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« on: April 04, 2019, 17:00:41 PM »

Yes, I think this should be moved. The story so far (from my side) ...

Vegan: Humans shouldn't eat meat, even though animals do eat meat, because humans aren't animals.
Same Vegan: Animals are sentient just like humans, thus we shouldn't eat them.

Considering the horrors that factory farming perpetrates on animals, I have no problem with veganism as such. Not so enthusiastic when they get all pseudo-scientific.

My gripe above is mostly about the contradictory logic being applied. But, I do have some gripes with Veganism, in that much of it at this point is more of a religious movement than anything else. Non-ethical treatment of animals is not a necessary outcome of farming or eating animals. It relies on self-contradictory logic and is VERY prone to confirmation bias.

Moreover, lots of animals die during the production of plant foods also. Pesticides, automated Harvesters chewing up critters, etc... Not to mention where some of the fertilizer comes from....

The thing is Vegans as we find them on social media address these about 0% of the time. They don't actually want to look at or contemplate REAL changes to HOW food is produced, they'd rather insist everyone changes their diets completely and ignore any ethical remedies to their concerns outright. As such I find it more of a ego-masturbation exercise. (Especially when they're claiming, as in the above, to be "above" the natural order)

And thricely, I've seen more and more youtube videos lately by ex-vegans explaining how their religious certitude in veganism destroyed their health and nearly killed them. Before they finally capitulated to the pressure of healthcare professionals to eat some meat and got better within DAYS sometimes... That is a meaty topic that I'm sure can only be fully addressed by going online and searching for them. They're out there, and their numbers are growing.

-----

Brian, if you could, take your comment from the irksome thread and rather move it in here?
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brianvds
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2019, 04:26:19 AM »

Brian, if you could, take your comment from the irksome thread and rather move it in here?

It's irksome, but I'll do it... :-)


Vegan: Humans shouldn't eat meat, even though animals do eat meat, because humans aren't animals.
Same Vegan: Animals are sentient just like humans, thus we shouldn't eat them.

Considering the horrors that factory farming perpetrates on animals, I have no problem with veganism as such. Not so enthusiastic when they get all pseudo-scientific.

My gripe above is mostly about the contradictory logic being applied. But, I do have some gripes with Veganism, in that much of it at this point is more of a religious movement than anything else. Non-ethical treatment of animals is not a necessary outcome of farming or eating animals. It relies on self-contradictory logic and is VERY prone to confirmation bias.

I agree: I do not have a problem with killing and eating animals as such, only with current practices in much of the industry. And yes, many vegans display signs of being cult members, blissfully out of touch with all reality. I have even seen them argue that prehistoric people did not eat meat, and thus it is "unnatural."

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Moreover, lots of animals die during the production of plant foods also. Pesticides, automated Harvesters chewing up critters, etc... Not to mention where some of the fertilizer comes from....

True, but considering that much of the plant food is produced specifically to be fed to animals, the slaughter of wild animals can be reduced if we don't use animal products.

Quote
The thing is Vegans as we find them on social media address these about 0% of the time. They don't actually want to look at or contemplate REAL changes to HOW food is produced, they'd rather insist everyone changes their diets completely and ignore any ethical remedies to their concerns outright. As such I find it more of a ego-masturbation exercise. (Especially when they're claiming, as in the above, to be "above" the natural order)

And in the process they achieve little more than alienating people who might otherwise have listened to them. I think a lot of it is just virtue signalling. I don't think they actually genuinely want everyone to become vegan, because then they wouldn't be special anymore.

Quote
And thricely, I've seen more and more youtube videos lately by ex-vegans explaining how their religious certitude in veganism destroyed their health and nearly killed them. Before they finally capitulated to the pressure of healthcare professionals to eat some meat and got better within DAYS sometimes... That is a meaty topic that I'm sure can only be fully addressed by going online and searching for them. They're out there, and their numbers are growing.

As far as I know it is possible to remain healthy on a vegan diet, but some supplements need to be taken, and it has to be a varied, healthy diet: you cannot simply stop eating meat and eat breakfast cereal instead. Which is apparently what some of them do. Even worse, they sometimes insist on feeding their babies vegan diets, thereby killing them.

But just as eating meat does not automatically need to imply unethical farming, so veganism does not need to imply being part of the religious vegan cult. I actually saw an article the other day in which a vegan implores his fellow vegans to stop being so judgemental and fanatic. And for meat eaters to consider cutting down rather than cutting out.

As for me, I am increasingly uncomfortable with the way in which animal products are produced. But my current arrangement with my landlady includes meals, and they are not vegetarians, so the whole issue is kind of moot. I cannot afford not to make use of the deal. My suggested compromise position: cut out products derived from mammals, seeing as they are our closest relatives, and the more intelligent animals.

Our entire attitude to animals is actually thoroughly schizophrenic and irrational. I think I have related the story here: on holiday in Mozambique, my sister in law finds a guy burying a little dog alive. She went absolutely ballistic. And yet, she has no problem munching on a juicy steak, produced in a manner actually not much different at all from the way in which the little dog was being tortured. And derived from an animal with a mind not much different from that of the dog either.

I feel the same bemusement when I see people going apeshit over yet another rhino poaching. On one recent Facebook post I even saw the dead rhino fetus (a pregnant rhino was poached) referred to as "an innocent little baby." And of course, everyone gets emotional and suggests we string poachers up in the nearest tree. But almost all of these irate people are enthusiastic meat eaters, and never spare a thought for the suffering their steaks go through before ending up on the plate. It simply doesn't make any sense.

Upon reflection, it appears to me that our relationship with animals is tribal. That is to say, it similar to the relationship most humans had with other humans for most of history: the basic rules of morality ("do unto others" etc.) counted only for your own tribe; everyone else was fair game for exploitation, enslavement or genocide. Today, this is how we deal with animals: some species or individual animals are declared part of our tribe; the rest we can freely exploit. Rhinos are our tribe, and thus we get emotional when one is slaughtered; cattle are not, and thus we can freely eat them. Similarly, poachers are not of our tribe, and thus it is okay if they are shot down like the animals they are.

Seeing as this was our attitude for most of history, there is perhaps nothing wrong with it. It would serve us well though to be honest about it. Like it or not, the vegans are probably actually more internally consistent than the rest of us.

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2019, 13:12:48 PM »

On "factory" farms the animals are well treated. Stress will delay them from putting on weight. So for a few weeks, months or years (chickens, sheep, cows), they live like kings. The farmer does not bond with them like with a pet, so when they are sent off to the slaughterhouse there is no sense of loss. Ok, the individual animal dies in the end, but for the different farm animal species, farming was and is a very good thing. Without farming their numbers would be way down. The consumer, buying at a modern supermarket, just see the packaged tjops or steaks. A whole chicken still sorts of look like a chicken, but packaged into wings, drumsticks and so on, it's also just pieces of meat. Again, usually no bond and no feeling of loss about the original animal. Obviously, I've got a bond with my pets, but when I see a lost dog or cat on the street I am concerned. It is a living animal out of place. I am not going to hunt it and have a cat braai tonight.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2019, 14:20:26 PM »

Quote from: briansvds
And in the process they achieve little more than alienating people who might otherwise have listened to them. I think a lot of it is just virtue signalling. I don't think they actually genuinely want everyone to become vegan, because then they wouldn't be special anymore.

Ahhh, the 'ol Goth creed: Come be an individual by being exactly the same as us.

Quote from: briansvds
Quote from: BM
And thricely, I've seen more and more youtube videos lately by ex-vegans explaining how their religious certitude in veganism destroyed their health and nearly killed them. Before they finally capitulated to the pressure of healthcare professionals to eat some meat and got better within DAYS sometimes... That is a meaty topic that I'm sure can only be fully addressed by going online and searching for them. They're out there, and their numbers are growing.

As far as I know it is possible to remain healthy on a vegan diet, but some supplements need to be taken, and it has to be a varied, healthy diet: you cannot simply stop eating meat and eat breakfast cereal instead. Which is apparently what some of them do. Even worse, they sometimes insist on feeding their babies vegan diets, thereby killing them.

Sorry, but, from what I've been seeing lately, it smacks a little of: "Socialism would work if only people did it right". Unfortunately, the videos I'm referring to are people who went DEEP into supplementation, tried every vegan diet known to man, kept trying for years, decades, etc... people who really, really did their upmost and tried to the point of nearly killing themselves and spending ludicrous amounts of money trying to figure out why they're always sick, in pain, etc... Guys who apologise profusely in their videos for abandoning their principles, etc.

These people happily delve into all the gritty details in confessions that sometimes last hours, Have a spin....


Quote from: brianvds
But just as eating meat does not automatically need to imply unethical farming, so veganism does not need to imply being part of the religious vegan cult.

Humans have incisors and all our direct cousins are omnivores, as have we been for all living and written memory. Saying that this not true, to me is science denial plain and simple. But sure, in principle, veganism as a choice is perfectly fine. However, the way it's sold by 99.999% of it's adherents: it is religion.

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My suggested compromise position: cut out products derived from mammals, seeing as they are our closest relatives, and the more intelligent animals.

You are free to try and live to that standard but I would point out that your criteria is murky to say the best. Humans have enough laughs trying to discern and act on intelligence differences BETWEEN HUMAN INDIVIDUALS.

Quote
Our entire attitude to animals is actually thoroughly schizophrenic and irrational.

I think so too. But I wouldn't say "Our" I'd say "their". Smiley

Quote
I think I have related the story here: on holiday in Mozambique, my sister in law finds a guy burying a little dog alive. She went absolutely ballistic. And yet, she has no problem munching on a juicy steak, produced in a manner actually not much different at all from the way in which the little dog was being tortured.

Personally I would prefer a bolt to the head over live burial. However, Dogs and cats have specifically EVOLVED to appeal to our sense of pity. She is being manipulated by 1000's of years of co-evolution.

Quote
And derived from an animal with a mind not much different from that of the dog either.

That pesky intelligence and consciousness criteria again....

Quote
I feel the same bemusement when I see people going apeshit over yet another rhino poaching. On one recent Facebook post I even saw the dead rhino fetus (a pregnant rhino was poached) referred to as "an innocent little baby." And of course, everyone gets emotional and suggests we string poachers up in the nearest tree. But almost all of these irate people are enthusiastic meat eaters, and never spare a thought for the suffering their steaks go through before ending up on the plate. It simply doesn't make any sense.

That does NOT make sense but what DOES make sense is trying to preserve biodiversity in the name of rational self interest, which does mean focussing one's efforts  on the more endagered animals kicking about. I do think the human proclivity to hunt everything to the brink of extinction is our scarcity genes run amok... and they need to be rung in a little.

Quote
Upon reflection, it appears to me that our relationship with animals is tribal.

Yes, and as an exhibit I submit your attempt to define criteria based on how human-like an animal is (in one dimension or another).

Quote
That is to say, it similar to the relationship most humans had with other humans for most of history: the basic rules of morality ("do unto others" etc.) counted only for your own tribe; everyone else was fair game for exploitation, enslavement or genocide. Today, this is how we deal with animals: some species or individual animals are declared part of our tribe; the rest we can freely exploit. Rhinos are our tribe, and thus we get emotional when one is slaughtered; cattle are not, and thus we can freely eat them. Similarly, poachers are not of our tribe, and thus it is okay if they are shot down like the animals they are.

It's almost as if it's all arbitrary and doesn't really matter.

Quote
Seeing as this was our attitude for most of history, there is perhaps nothing wrong with it. It would serve us well though to be honest about it. Like it or not, the vegans are probably actually more internally consistent than the rest of us.

I completely and utterly disagree. Being an animal, in the animal kingdom, humans acting exactly like any other animals do, would, and could.. is entirely consistent with our natural, and messy, evolution. It's just not a very PLEASANT way to think about things, but that's the way it always was and still is. Animals kill, but protect their own, they fight war over territory and resources. Humans are animals, in more senses than the human ego ever bears to accept.

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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2019, 02:54:41 AM »

On "factory" farms the animals are well treated.

It's not impression I get.

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Stress will delay them from putting on weight.

I doubt it. They are bred to be perpetually hungry, and to grow at an accelerated rate.

As far as I can work out, stress doesn't help overweight people lose all the pounds either.
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brianvds
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2019, 03:45:30 AM »

Sorry, but, from what I've been seeing lately, it smacks a little of: "Socialism would work if only people did it right". Unfortunately, the videos I'm referring to are people who went DEEP into supplementation, tried every vegan diet known to man, kept trying for years, decades, etc... people who really, really did their upmost and tried to the point of nearly killing themselves and spending ludicrous amounts of money trying to figure out why they're always sick, in pain, etc... Guys who apologise profusely in their videos for abandoning their principles, etc.

And I have seen similar ones from people claiming to have been vegans for decades now without any ill effects. It is even possible that nether group is lying, because people differ and may have different reactions to diets. As far as I can work out, the official medical opinion is that one can remain healthy on a vegan diet as long as one takes certain supplements (particularly Vitamin B 12, if I remember correctly).

Given that we need some meat: how much? Probably vastly less than we actually consume. We consume meat largely because we like it (and I will not deny for a moment that I like it!) If we ate only enough of it to keep healthy, it would probably be far easier to meet the demand via 100% ethical farming methods (and as added bonus, there would be far less impact on the environment, if it is indeed true that cattle-produced methane plays a significant role in climate change).

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Humans have incisors and all our direct cousins are omnivores, as have we been for all living and written memory. Saying that this not true, to me is science denial plain and simple.

I quite agree: such a claim is blatantly false. But then, not all vegans make it.

Apologies for the following formatting; when replying I kind of got completely lost in all the quotes and couldn't work out anymore how to clearly separate who said what via the built-in quoting system, so now I'll just do it manually and explicitly:

Quote
ME, PREVIOUSLY:
My suggested compromise position: cut out products derived from mammals, seeing as they are our closest relatives, and the more intelligent animals.
BM:
You are free to try and live to that standard but I would point out that your criteria is murky to say the best. Humans have enough laughs trying to discern and act on intelligence differences BETWEEN HUMAN INDIVIDUALS.

Yes, it is indeed a bit arbitrary. But then, a lot of this stuff seems somewhat arbitrary anyway.

Quote
ME:
I think I have related the story here: on holiday in Mozambique, my sister in law finds a guy burying a little dog alive. She went absolutely ballistic. And yet, she has no problem munching on a juicy steak, produced in a manner actually not much different at all from the way in which the little dog was being tortured.
BM:
Personally I would prefer a bolt to the head over live burial.

It's not the bolt to the head that's the problem; the animals are frequently mistreated long before they get to the bolt. Not always, of course.

Quote
However, Dogs and cats have specifically EVOLVED to appeal to our sense of pity. She is being manipulated by 1000's of years of co-evolution.

Yes, we allow ourselves to be thus manipulated, but that is partly my whole point: our attitude towards animals isn't entirely rational. We have, arbitrarily, or based on emotional manipulation, declared some species to be more equal than others. :-)

Quote
ME:
And derived from an animal with a mind not much different from that of the dog either.
BM:
That pesky intelligence and consciousness criteria again....

I have been wondering what other criteria there are. I think most of us intuitively accept the "sapience test". Think, for example, of such fields as scientific research, which even some very vegetarianish people will accept as necessary. Few of us have many issues with using fruit flies in experiments. Most of us will agree that very strict rules are necessary when using chimps or even dogs. Some would even feel we shouldn't use primates at all.

Which criteria are they using? I would think they would all argue the same way: fruit flies are probably not really conscious, whereas mammals are. I am not sure such an argument is invalid either, though it does open up a can worms, because some individual humans are no more intelligent than dogs, and presumably no one thinks it's okay to use them in experiments.

Quote
That does NOT make sense but what DOES make sense is trying to preserve biodiversity in the name of rational self interest, which does mean focussing one's efforts  on the more endagered animals kicking about. I do think the human proclivity to hunt everything to the brink of extinction is our scarcity genes run amok... and they need to be rung in a little.

I quite agree. But the Facebook armchair conservationists going on about "innocent little babies" are not engaged in rational self interest, or rational anything, for that matter. (In my opinion, they are probably actually making the rhino situation worse, because all the emotion will lead to more draconian laws, which will drive up the price of rhino horn, which will attract ever more ruthless people into the poaching business. But that's another story.)

Quote
ME:
Upon reflection, it appears to me that our relationship with animals is tribal.
BM:
Yes, and as an exhibit I submit your attempt to define criteria based on how human-like an animal is (in one dimension or another).

Indeed. I think that may be exactly what is at work in society's relationship with animals, though perhaps at a somewhat unconscious level. When I try to consciously and explicitly articulate why we treat the various species of animals as we do, I find it difficult to see any careful reasoning behind it. Much of it is just tradition; some of it is driven by emotion, and some by the perhaps somewhat arbitrary "how human are they?" notion.

Quote
ME:
Seeing as this was our attitude for most of history, there is perhaps nothing wrong with it. It would serve us well though to be honest about it. Like it or not, the vegans are probably actually more internally consistent than the rest of us.
BM:
I completely and utterly disagree. Being an animal, in the animal kingdom, humans acting exactly like any other animals do, would, and could.. is entirely consistent with our natural, and messy, evolution. It's just not a very PLEASANT way to think about things, but that's the way it always was and still is. Animals kill, but protect their own, they fight war over territory and resources. Humans are animals, in more senses than the human ego ever bears to accept.

Now that's a perfectly good argument too, and has the added advantage of actually being honest instead of trying to sugarcoat things. You'd make a good LaVeyan Satanist, by the way. Cheesy

One might also add something else here (or perhaps it is just another way of saying what you say above): considering that a rhino will not hesitate a second to trample an innocent human baby if his life or even just his convenience depended on it, we could quite legitimately argue that we owe rhinos not a thing. What have animals ever done for us? Nothing, that's what, and they never will either, and thus it is perhaps silly to get too sentimental about them. This goes even for our beloved pets, which quite possibly are not nearly as in love with us as they appear to be, or as we are with them, and are in fact also mostly creatures of instinct, going through motions which have been bred into them for thousands of years.

In the end, perhaps Lord Voldemort is right: "There is no good or evil. There is only power." Of course, in the case of human relations, you gotta be careful about how you use this power, because the wheel of fortune may turn on you. This was demonstrated at Nuremberg: once the shoe was on the other foot, the Allies engaged enthusiastically in a bit of revenge. The reason why the Nazis so thoroughly abused their power was perhaps because at the time, none of them thought for even a moment that they might end up losing the war. If they did, they may have thought twice before doing what they did.

Now in the case of animals, there isn't really any danger of a Nuremberg situation: they are not motivated by revenge, at least not in an organized fashion. Even if we were to lose our current position of dominance, there will be no trial. But the whole thing did set me thinking.

Suppose we are invaded by aliens, which proceed to treat us like we treat farm animals. Which arguments are we going to use when we appeal to the Galactic Council to enact laws to protect us? It is all fine and dandy to argue that might is right. But it also means we lose all right to complain if and when the shoe is ever on another foot.

Anyway, I am doing what I always do, namely ramble on and on. I have not quite worked out my own attitude towards all of this yet, so I am not so much arguing for this or that as bouncing ideas off some other heads to see what will emerge...
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2019, 15:56:07 PM »

It is even possible that nether group is lying, because people differ and may have different reactions to diets.

Indeed, I did not say any group was. But saying veganism is the only moral way to live does not fit these facts. S'all.

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As far as I can work out, the official medical opinion is that one can remain healthy on a vegan diet as long as one takes certain supplements

I'd like to see that medical opinion?

Quote
Given that we need some meat: how much? Probably vastly less than we actually consume.

Well sure that and sugar and ice-cream and chocolate and probably a bunch of stuff.... Most of the food we eat is not for survival. Across the board.

Quote
We consume meat largely because we like it (and I will not deny for a moment that I like it!) If we ate only enough of it to keep healthy, it would probably be far easier to meet the demand via 100% ethical farming methods (and as added bonus, there would be far less impact on the environment, if it is indeed true that cattle-produced methane plays a significant role in climate change).

I wonder if these vegans have a problem with lab grown meat that produces no methane?


Quote
But then, not all vegans make it.

Sure, I'll admit there may be some vegan exceptions, as there always is in anything.

Quote
Quote
ME:
I think I have related the story here: on holiday in Mozambique, my sister in law finds a guy burying a little dog alive. She went absolutely ballistic. And yet, she has no problem munching on a juicy steak, produced in a manner actually not much different at all from the way in which the little dog was being tortured.
BM:
Personally I would prefer a bolt to the head over live burial.

It's not the bolt to the head that's the problem; the animals are frequently mistreated long before they get to the bolt. Not always, of course.

Right, this is what I was getting at earlier. The fact that we eat meat doesn't relate to the ethics of the farming methods used.

Quote
I have been wondering what other criteria there are. I think most of us intuitively accept the "sapience test". Think, for example, of such fields as scientific research, which even some very vegetarianish people will accept as necessary. Few of us have many issues with using fruit flies in experiments. Most of us will agree that very strict rules are necessary when using chimps or even dogs. Some would even feel we shouldn't use primates at all.

I'll also admit the worst I've probably ever felt was looking into the eyes of a chimp in a zoo. That was a bit toooo close to home.


Quote
[....] In my opinion, they are probably actually making the rhino situation worse, because all the emotion will lead to more draconian laws, which will drive up the price of rhino horn, which will attract ever more ruthless people into the poaching business. But that's another story.

I completely agree. This is exactly why some rational thinking needs to be brought into these things. Are we trying to optimise the outcomes or make ourselves feel better?

Quote
Quote
ME:
Seeing as this was our attitude for most of history, there is perhaps nothing wrong with it. It would serve us well though to be honest about it. Like it or not, the vegans are probably actually more internally consistent than the rest of us.
BM:
I completely and utterly disagree. Being an animal, in the animal kingdom, humans acting exactly like any other animals do, would, and could.. is entirely consistent with our natural, and messy, evolution. It's just not a very PLEASANT way to think about things, but that's the way it always was and still is. Animals kill, but protect their own, they fight war over territory and resources. Humans are animals, in more senses than the human ego ever bears to accept.

Now that's a perfectly good argument too, and has the added advantage of actually being honest instead of trying to sugarcoat things. You'd make a good LaVeyan Satanist, by the way. Cheesy

Read some of it.... some truth, some bs, not really all that interesting. I'd rather think about and develop ideas than *SUBscribe to yet another theology.

Quote
One might also add something else here (or perhaps it is just another way of saying what you say above): considering that a rhino will not hesitate a second to trample an innocent human baby if his life or even just his convenience depended on it, we could quite legitimately argue that we owe rhinos not a thing. What have animals ever done for us? Nothing, that's what, and they never will either, and thus it is perhaps silly to get too sentimental about them. This goes even for our beloved pets, which quite possibly are not nearly as in love with us as they appear to be, or as we are with them, and are in fact also mostly creatures of instinct, going through motions which have been bred into them for thousands of years.

Err, don't look too deep into that rationale, you may find your significant other(s) fit the bill. IOW: If you use the word "just"... you are being a bit down on nature. Natural explanations for phenomena don't need to remove the magic. I find human's insistance that their feelings need to transcend natural explanation quite puzzling.

Quote
In the end, perhaps Lord Voldemort is right: "There is no good or evil. There is only power." Of course, in the case of human relations, you gotta be careful about how you use this power, because the wheel of fortune may turn on you. This was demonstrated at Nuremberg: once the shoe was on the other foot, the Allies engaged enthusiastically in a bit of revenge.

This is my riposte to the frequent meme of "If we gave up religion we'd all be raping and pillaging naked in the streets". One I've had to employ often in real life, I assure you.... "Well, if I did that, wouldn't be too long before the town had about enough of me and strung me up, no?"

Quote
Now in the case of animals, there isn't really any danger of a Nuremberg situation: they are not motivated by revenge, at least not in an organized fashion. Even if we were to lose our current position of dominance, there will be no trial. But the whole thing did set me thinking.

In fact, bacteria and fungi may kill us all yet, and with good reason given of how many of THEM we've killed....

Quote
Suppose we are invaded by aliens, which proceed to treat us like we treat farm animals. Which arguments are we going to use when we appeal to the Galactic Council to enact laws to protect us?

Assuming there is a galactic council that gives 2 fucks about our moral codes and appeals to fairness at all.

Quote
It is all fine and dandy to argue that might is right. But it also means we lose all right to complain if and when the shoe is ever on another foot.

Guess so. But as said above, nobody might be around who cares.

Quote
Anyway, I am doing what I always do, namely ramble on and on. I have not quite worked out my own attitude towards all of this yet, so I am not so much arguing for this or that as bouncing ideas off some other heads to see what will emerge...

This is why the thread was made. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2019, 06:23:47 AM »

I'd like to see that medical opinion?

Here's one from the British national health service - admittedly a nation of pale, worm-like creatures. :-)

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/vegetarian-and-vegan-diets-q-and-a/#

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Well sure that and sugar and ice-cream and chocolate and probably a bunch of stuff.... Most of the food we eat is not for survival. Across the board.

And it is true that it is not only animal farming that causes harm to the environment. Thus, one could argue that if vegans want to be completely internally consistent, they should also give up such luxuries as chocolate and coffee, which we don't really need, but the farming of which does require us to clear natural land. A valuable little nugget to keep in mind next tome someone tells you meat is murder.

Of course, one needs to separate conservation and animal welfare issues. The two simply aren't the same, and are sometimes directly in conflict.

I think a vegetarian diet really does tend to be kinder to the environment than a meaty one, though it does depend to some extent on where you are. E.g. in South Africa a lot of beef cattle are kept on lands not suitable for growing crops anyway, and it is my understanding that the methane problem occurs mostly in grain fed animals (admittedly our beef cattle are usually "finished" for a few months in a feedlot).

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I wonder if these vegans have a problem with lab grown meat that produces no methane?

So do I. I suppose it will depend on the individual. Some vegans may happily take up eating lab grown meat, while others will point out that the original cells to grow the meat from were taken by biopsy without permission from animals, and thus it's all wrong. Vegans tend to display varying levels of fanaticism.

Another anecdote: my brother knows an Indian lady who grew up vegan simply because she grew up in a Hindu community which happened to be vegan. So to her it was never a moral issue; it was just what she was used to. Then she developed mild anemia, and the doctor told her she could take supplements, or just try out eating meat. Adventurously, she took the latter option. And has never looked back since. :-)

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Right, this is what I was getting at earlier. The fact that we eat meat doesn't relate to the ethics of the farming methods used.

Indeed. As I may have noted, I have no problem with killing and eating animals; I have a problem with cruel treatment of said animals. The irony about it is that I hold to this stance precisely because I grew up on a small farm where we produced almost all our own meat. But our animals were well treated, and did not spend days of discomfort and/or terror before finally getting a bullet in the brain. They were perfectly happy one moment, and in cattle heaven the next, without noticing a thing.

My father was very strict about this; he couldn't stand cruelty to animals. We had a railway line running past our house, and once, a bunch of railway workers wanted to buy chickens from us. He refused, knowing that the chickens would be kept alive in some small cage somewhere, perhaps for days, without food or water, before being slaughtered. But he had no compunctions about slaughtering animals as such, and us kids happily assisted. Some of my very earliest memories are of me helping him slaughter pigeons for the table; I was probably no older than four or so.

He also had no problem with my brother and I and our pals hunting birds with slingshots or air rifles, but he had one rule: you eat what you shoot. No indiscriminate slaughter just for the fun of it. We kept to this rule, and I have happy memories of us making little fires in the veld to barbecue a sparrow or two.

Some years ago we visited the farm with some city kids. They wanted to know if they could shoot birds with their air rifle. "Sure," I said. "But you eat what you shoot." They promptly lost their interest in hunting. :-)

We learned from personal experience that farm animals have no concept of death and do not fear it: cattle would calmly graze within meters of where we were slaughtering one of their herd, without any alarm. Thus, I grew up having no problem with the killing as such. But I do have a problem when animals are tortured in life and then tortured to death. Perhaps torture is too strong a word, but I can't imagine that they are happy about the conditions they are sometimes kept in.

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[....] In my opinion, they are probably actually making the rhino situation worse, because all the emotion will lead to more draconian laws, which will drive up the price of rhino horn, which will attract ever more ruthless people into the poaching business. But that's another story.

I completely agree. This is exactly why some rational thinking needs to be brought into these things. Are we trying to optimise the outcomes or make ourselves feel better?

As it happens, I recently had a question on Quora about the rhino situation: there was a recent case in which a poacher was killed by animals in Kruger Park. The questioner wanted to know what people thought. Predictably, lots of answers from armchair conservationists expressed great glee, so I gave them all a piece of my mind, which you can read here if you really want to:

https://www.quora.com/Whats-your-take-on-a-suspected-rhino-poacher-that-was-killed-by-an-elephant-and-eaten-by-lions/answer/Brian-van-der-Spuy

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Now that's a perfectly good argument too, and has the added advantage of actually being honest instead of trying to sugarcoat things. You'd make a good LaVeyan Satanist, by the way. Cheesy

Read some of it.... some truth, some bs, not really all that interesting. I'd rather think about and develop ideas than *SUBscribe to yet another theology.

Satanism is a bit of a hoot, and I'm pretty sure LaVey invented it for no other reason than to have a bit of fun at the expense of his society, and perhaps make some handy cash in the process. He succeeded on both counts, and is probably giggling in his grave to see how seriously some take it now, not to mention the schisms that happened in his church (has there ever been ANY frickin' church or ideology which did not promptly experience angry schisms?)

He did make some good points, mind you...

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Err, don't look too deep into that rationale, you may find your significant other(s) fit the bill. IOW: If you use the word "just"... you are being a bit down on nature. Natural explanations for phenomena don't need to remove the magic. I find human's insistance that their feelings need to transcend natural explanation quite puzzling.

I quite agree on that, but what I meant was that perhaps when dogs look soulfully into the eyes of their owners, they are actually not feeling much of anything besides hope for a snack. I have noticed this in my landlady's little Maltese. I'm always the one who give him his evening snack, and he awaits that moment with great anticipation, looking for all the world like he is filled with love and gratitude. This year, my landlady is mostly overseas for work. The dog seems to miss her all day long. But come snack time, all his depression disappears in a flash. So how much of it is "real" and how much just a simulation, like those Japanese crabs Carl Sagan once mentioned, that look like Samurai warriors?

I suppose we may never know. Reminds me of that scene in the film A.I., in which robots are cruelly and gleefully murdered in an arena, for the pleasure of spectators. But are the robots actually scared, or just mindlessly following programming? No one can tell. It's an interesting philosophical question, in a film that was otherwise perhaps a bit too sentimental for its own good.

Now in the case of animals, there is evolutionary continuity between them and us, and we thus have every reason to think they experience at least some of what we do. Thus we are horrified to learn of Descartes' vivisection of dogs, for example. Still, we probably get too sentimental.

Thought experiment: you keep a hundred prisoners in solitary confinement. For a year, their only companion is a cute and cuddly soft toy. At the end of the year, as price of their freedom, they have to burn the toy. I wonder how many of them will wince a bit, or indeed even be traumatized. Will any actually refuse? Hopefully the experiment will never be carried out.

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This is my riposte to the frequent meme of "If we gave up religion we'd all be raping and pillaging naked in the streets". One I've had to employ often in real life, I assure you.... "Well, if I did that, wouldn't be too long before the town had about enough of me and strung me up, no?"

Yup, as social creatures, most of us are aware of the social costs of what we do. And real psychos are not stopped by religion anyway. On the contrary, they sometimes enthusiastically take up religion precisely because it puts them in a position to do their worst and get away with it.

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In fact, bacteria and fungi may kill us all yet, and with good reason given of how many of THEM we've killed....

They have every reason to hate us. Lucky for us, they are not burdened by such emotions. :-)

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Assuming there is a galactic council that gives 2 fucks about our moral codes and appeals to fairness at all.

Yes, indeed. In the end, might really does make right. And thus, when a vegan tells you eating meat is murder, perhaps the best answer is this: "Yes, you are right. Lucky for me, it is currently perfectly legal for me to murder and eat animals." That will really piss them off. :-)

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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2019, 11:17:04 AM »

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Right, this is what I was getting at earlier. The fact that we eat meat doesn't relate to the ethics of the farming methods used.
Some years ago we visited the farm with some city kids. They wanted to know if they could shoot birds with their air rifle. "Sure," I said. "But you eat what you shoot." They promptly lost their interest in hunting. :-)

Clay pigeon shooting is a blast though!

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I suppose we may never know. Reminds me of that scene in the film A.I., in which robots are cruelly and gleefully murdered in an arena, for the pleasure of spectators. But are the robots actually scared, or just mindlessly following programming? No one can tell. It's an interesting philosophical question, in a film that was otherwise perhaps a bit too sentimental for its own good.

I would highly recommend "Ex Machina".

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Thought experiment: you keep a hundred prisoners in solitary confinement. For a year, their only companion is a cute and cuddly soft toy. At the end of the year, as price of their freedom, they have to burn the toy. I wonder how many of them will wince a bit, or indeed even be traumatized. Will any actually refuse? Hopefully the experiment will never be carried out.

Isn't this some rumoured reccie training technique? Where soldiers are given dogs that they have to kill at the end of their training?

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In fact, bacteria and fungi may kill us all yet, and with good reason given of how many of THEM we've killed....

They have every reason to hate us. Lucky for us, they are not burdened by such emotions. :-)

They are evolving rapidly to be immune to our treatments regardless and are already starting their deadly work. To jest on your previous statements: Is the emotion real if the effect is the same? Tongue

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Assuming there is a galactic council that gives 2 fucks about our moral codes and appeals to fairness at all.
Yes, indeed. In the end, might really does make right.

My intent is of course not to come off like a psychopath but to ask important questions that may guide our actions. In this instance, it may be wise not to rely on the apathy of unknown galactic beings and instead, perhaps, anticipate the extreme and be prepared to deal with it.
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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2019, 14:38:38 PM »

Isn't this some rumoured reccie training technique? Where soldiers are given dogs that they have to kill at the end of their training?

I heard that same rumor. I have no idea whether it's true.

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My intent is of course not to come off like a psychopath but to ask important questions that may guide our actions. In this instance, it may be wise not to rely on the apathy of unknown galactic beings and instead, perhaps, anticipate the extreme and be prepared to deal with it.

If the aliens do decide to wipe us out, I fear we'll stand not the slightest chance whatever. But yes, one must be prepared to consider all possibilities. People tend to be very reluctant to accept that might makes right - doesn't that promptly lead to the rape of all by all? History suggests that it doesn't, for reasons we have discussed: rape everyone, and sooner or later they will come for you. Even chimps know that.
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« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2019, 04:23:51 AM »

As it happens, I get the following article in my Medium feed this morning. Perhaps they are spying on me:

https://medium.com/@roshannpradhan/the-consequentialist-case-for-soft-vegetarianism-2738f5a8646e

The consequentialist case for ‘soft’ vegetarianism
Roshan Pradhan

I have been struggling with the moral implications of being a non-vegetarian for a while now. The reason I decided to write this blog post is that I needed to gather my thoughts and figure out for myself where I stand on this, with the added benefit of being accountable for any conclusions I draw.

Let me start off by declaring just how much I love eating meat. It’s so incredibly delicious, and soft, and succulent. In fact, I’m salivating just writing this draft. Which is why I have continued to eat meat for as long as I have. I am not unique in possessing this personality flaw; in fact, even the most morally upstanding and rational people I know choose to ignore the ethical ramifications of eating their favourite meal. So, in this blog post, I will attempt to make a rational case for soft vegetarianism based on a consequentialist ethics framework. This is not one of those PETA blogs that will attempt to tug at your heartstrings by showing horrific videos of slaughterhouses. I want to appeal to your cognitive compassion, not your empathy.

First, let me explain consequentialism for the uninitiated. Consequentialism is a philosophy of decision-making that weighs the morality of actions based on consequences. This is in contrast to deontology, which weighs morality based on whether the intention behind the action adheres to some set of moral principles. In some cases, deontology seems to be the more demanding moral theory, and in other cases, consequentialism. Personally, I lean much more towards consequentialism, since it is less prone to contradictions. However, it is also more open to interpretation, leaving more wiggle room to sneak in justifications for truly appalling actions. Anyways, more on this in a future post; now back to the point.

The first moral question we have to grapple with is the principle of killing animals for food when we have a choice not to. A good example is the hunting of wild game. These animals have led happy lives till that point and probably would have suffered more if they had starved, died of illness, or have been killed by any other carnivore. And if we can’t hold carnivores ethically culpable for murder, why do the same for humans?

We aren’t carnivores though. Humans as a species have been spectacularly successful in breaking the shackles of natural selection, and moving past the Darwinian edict of ‘survival of the fittest’. Without any evolutionary compulsion, it falls upon us to question the ethics of depriving an animal of a chance at a continued existence. The whole thing swings on how much value you attach to the inherent life of the animal over the bump in well-being you get from eating it. The jury is still out on this one, but it doesn’t really matter. Because unless we decide to go live in the woods, all our meat is going to come from domesticated animals.

It’s a whole different ball game when we talk about domesticated animals. Their entire existence is predicated on us continuing to enjoy their meat. I am immediately reminded of an SMBC comic:



Whenever animal n is slaughtered, animal n+1 takes its place. The deprivation of continued existence argument doesn’t apply here, because the existence of animals n+1 onwards is dependent on us continuing to enjoy our cheeseburgers and butter chickens.

Ask yourself this question though — what is the limiting point of suffering after which you can conclude it would’ve been better not being born? A common utilitarian view is simply the point at which the level of suffering cancels out the level of accumulated happiness. I disagree with this materialist world view because I think there is inherent value in simply being human and being alive, which needs to be considered in the consequentialist calculus. While I do not personally attach the same significance to animal life, even if I did I would rather those animals not exist, given the level of suffering we feel free to inflict upon them.

Consider this. When you decline the juicy steak in front of you because of your morals, who is it you are actually saving? The cow that was the source of the steak is already dead, and all the cows currently alive in the cattle farm face certain slaughter. What you are essentially doing is preventing the next cow from being born. You make a moral judgement that due to the prohibitive amount of suffering it faces, the life of the unborn cow is not worth living. Ironically, the less inherent value you think the life of a cow has, the easier it is to refuse the steak offered to you and cause said cow never to be born.

An afternoon of researching the realities of the relentless, high-volume suffering manufactured by the multi-billion $ factory-farming industry, and there is no moral uncertainty left in my mind. I’d rather an entire species of domesticated animal die out in the wild than live only to spend every waking minute in unending suffering and misery, all in the service of the taste-buds of their human overlords. Consider for a moment future generations pondering the moral horrors of our generation, the way we ponder the horrors of genocide and slavery. Would factory farming and our treatment of animals not rank topmost on that list?

{MY COMMENT: It occurs to me that I don't actually know to which extent the South African meat industry is guilty, and I don't know how to find out either.}

Free-range meat, you say? Unfortunately, free-range is a myth. If it was properly executed on a large-scale, and the animals lived good lives before being killed painlessly, the cost associated with free-range farming would be simply too prohibitive. Even if you could afford the exorbitant prices, the added burden on the environment would in the long run (not so long anymore) do plenty more harm than good. And considering that many meat-eaters turn vegetarian due to concern over the role the meat industry plays in accelerating climate change, I certainly am not going to be the one to risk having slippers hurled at me by telling them to try out free-range.

I have been ruminating these views for quite some time now, and if indeed I do find eating meat morally indefensible, why have I continued to do so? My hypothesis is that the problem lies with our deontological moral intuitions. If you are convinced that eating meat is morally reprehensible, then the only permissible moral decision that aligns with this principle is quitting entirely. Whereas, a consequentialist viewpoint dictates that you ought to cause the total meat consumption in the world to be minimized. Let me present a thought experiment (taken from this podcast) –

Suppose you have 3 choices in descending order of utility:
(a) Staying at home and doing your homework, (b) Going to the pub with your friends, and (c) Staying at home and watching TV.
Knowing yourself, you are certain that if you stay at home you will end up watching TV. What then ought you to do — stay at home or go to the pub?
This is where Actualists and Possibilists differ. The former take the view that since you ought to stay home and study, you ought to stay home irrespective of what you finally end up doing. The latter hold that you ought to go to the pub in an effort to maximise utilitarian outcome.

For someone who loves meat as much as I, turning vegetarian can seriously impact quality of life. I have seen my vegetarian friends suffer from not being able to find good food in foreign countries, failing to try the local cuisines when they travel to new exotic places, being the butt of jokes at dinner parties, and in the long run, missing out on the profound meaning that food brings to life. I don’t want to be that guy, the cost is too high. Vegetarians like these discourage others who have arrived at similar moral conclusions from following through on them. However, if you halve your meat consumption starting today, and convince a friend to do the same, then from a consequentialist framework, you have achieved an identical moral outcome to quitting entirely.

That is what I intend to do. I will not consume meat when it does not translate directly into a high-enough bump in my well-being. Don’t get me wrong, I will likely still have the most exotic dish on offer when I go out with my friends to one of Singapore’s famous hawker centres. And I will reluctantly consume meat when it is too inconvenient to find a vegetarian option that doesn’t suck.

Here’s my prescription — whenever you eat meat, make sure it’s bloody worth it. Follow this, and halving your meat consumption is child’s play. You can make up for lost well-being by ordering the tastiest and most expensive dish when you do decide to let your hair down. And if you can demonstrate, both to yourself and the people you influence, that this way of life is sustainable and involves negligible sacrifice, then they too will feel encouraged to follow through on their own moral conclusions. Also look up pescetarianism as an option and make up your own mind about it.

The best is the enemy of the good — Voltaire.
Most important of all, drop me a line if you decide to pursue ‘soft’ vegetarianism. The only justification I have for not quitting something I find morally reprehensible is that I can achieve a better outcome through the arguments I present to the world.

MY COMMENT: If only for environmental reasons, limiting meat intake is not a bad idea. But you'll have difficulty making it fly in the world capital of the Braai. :-)

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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 08:40:53 AM »

I'm doing a thesis on "Pasture Raised Chicken Eggs" for my MBA...

I had the dubious pleasure of being inducted in everything chicken in the last year and if I never eat another chicken it will be too soon.

I'm not going to talk about the chicken hatcheries, its plain ugly. I will however happily chat around the Pasture raised chickens which is a different thing altogether from Free range, free range are still in hatcheries and are subjected to artificial light to increase laying.  I had to schlep all the way to Magalies to go see this little farm but it was a pleasure.  The chickens are kept in flocks of a 1000 in a pen of around 1000 sq/m which gets moved around as the ground gets depeleted, the laying hatch is on wheels and gets moved along accordingly.  Once the pen has been moved, the ground gets cleared of the poop and passed along to the neighbour for his mielies, he in turns provide food to the chickens.  Not a single thing gets wasted, feathers get collected and cleaned and passed on.

Anyway, these eggs... is just utterly and delightfully wonderful.  Its about double the size of commercial eggs and whereas I would have two for breakfast I can only manage one of these.  The yolk is orange, the white is thick and like jelly and it doesnt run like commercial eggs do when you break them. The guy sells them to some high end restaurants and gets around 800 eggs a day... at R4.50 an egg, it gets hand cleaned and packed and carted off to the various buyers. 

However... happy chickens they might be, until they molt... they are then unceremoniously put into cages and flogged off to be slaughtered in back yards.  All because when they molt they dont lay for a month or two.  So they become food. I'm not sure whether I approve of that, just because there is a "rest" period for a laying hen she now is too expensive to maintain? ummm... its probably the feminist in me.

there are no such thing as humane farming.  Not for any type of food. The above is probably the "nicest" type of farming, but there are premium costs associated with it. Not many people would be prepared or able to pay that price. Its expensive to farm too, labour intensive. 
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 09:39:50 AM »

I'm not going to talk about the chicken hatcheries, its plain ugly. I will however happily chat around the Pasture raised chickens which is a different thing altogether from Free range, free range are still in hatcheries and are subjected to artificial light to increase laying.  I had to schlep all the way to Magalies to go see this little farm but it was a pleasure.  The chickens are kept in flocks of a 1000 in a pen of around 1000 sq/m which gets moved around as the ground gets depeleted, the laying hatch is on wheels and gets moved along accordingly.  Once the pen has been moved, the ground gets cleared of the poop and passed along to the neighbour for his mielies, he in turns provide food to the chickens.  Not a single thing gets wasted, feathers get collected and cleaned and passed on.

We did something similar with pigs when I was a kid, though we only had a few, for our own use. I'm sure our pigs were happier than ones raised on large scale commercial farms. They didn't mind being slaughtered either. :-)

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Anyway, these eggs... is just utterly and delightfully wonderful.  Its about double the size of commercial eggs and whereas I would have two for breakfast I can only manage one of these.  The yolk is orange, the white is thick and like jelly and it doesnt run like commercial eggs do when you break them. The guy sells them to some high end restaurants and gets around 800 eggs a day... at R4.50 an egg, it gets hand cleaned and packed and carted off to the various buyers.

It was the same with our home produced eggs: large, and rich orange yolks, often two or three yolks in a single egg.

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However... happy chickens they might be, until they molt... they are then unceremoniously put into cages and flogged off to be slaughtered in back yards.  All because when they molt they dont lay for a month or two.  So they become food. I'm not sure whether I approve of that, just because there is a "rest" period for a laying hen she now is too expensive to maintain? ummm... its probably the feminist in me.

My guess is they earn more as meat than they would if they were kept until they were laying again.

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there are no such thing as humane farming.  Not for any type of food.

Depending on how exactly we wish to define "humane." And I suppose there is such a thing as "as humane as possible." But humane as possible is not always cost effective.

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The above is probably the "nicest" type of farming, but there are premium costs associated with it. Not many people would be prepared or able to pay that price. Its expensive to farm too, labour intensive. 

Yup, that is the big problem. Contrary to popular opinion, this sort of humane or organic farming is actually much, much worse for the environment, because it requires more land. And as you point out, it is vastly more expensive. There is simply no way we can at present feed the entire planet on such food. Same goes for the various incarnations of the Noakes/palaeo diet.

One cannot really be both green and an animal rights activist; it is one or the other. You see a similar debate around hunting and culling of animals in nature reserves. Is there such a thing as humane hunting or culling? Maybe, maybe not, but without hunting, half of our conservation effort is utterly screwed. And thus, rather ironically, animal rights activists calling themselves "conservationists" are today a major threat to Africa's wildlife.

I have kind of accepted that life itself is brutal. I don't like it, but it is what it is. Perhaps we'll soon have artificially grown meat.

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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2019, 09:55:05 AM »

We did something similar with pigs when I was a kid, though we only had a few, for our own use. I'm sure our pigs were happier than ones raised on large scale commercial farms. They didn't mind being slaughtered either. :-)

Perhaps we'll genetically engineer Douglas Adam's "Major Cow", an animal bred to want to be eaten. It's sole evolutionary drive to want to fulfill the appetite of it's eaters, so it executes itself "humanely" after taking your order quite satisfied that it is being of use.

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However... happy chickens they might be, until they molt... they are then unceremoniously put into cages and flogged off to be slaughtered in back yards.  All because when they molt they dont lay for a month or two.  So they become food. I'm not sure whether I approve of that, just because there is a "rest" period for a laying hen she now is too expensive to maintain? ummm... its probably the feminist in me.

My guess is they earn more as meat than they would if they were kept until they were laying again.

If only we had some kind of MBA type person who was well versed and could calculate that for us. Tongue

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The above is probably the "nicest" type of farming, but there are premium costs associated with it. Not many people would be prepared or able to pay that price. Its expensive to farm too, labour intensive.  

Yup, that is the big problem. Contrary to popular opinion, this sort of humane or organic farming is actually much, much worse for the environment, because it requires more land. And as you point out, it is vastly more expensive. There is simply no way we can at present feed the entire planet on such food. Same goes for the various incarnations of the Noakes/palaeo diet.

The very fact that people have time to muck about with this stuff is the very thing we have to thank modern farming techiques for: So much food we get to think about HOW we get it more than about WHETHER we get it.

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One cannot really be both green and an animal rights activist

Well, technically not true: One can commit suicide. That is, by far, the most environmentally friendly thing a human being can do.
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2019, 12:08:59 PM »

Perhaps we'll genetically engineer Douglas Adam's "Major Cow", an animal bred to want to be eaten. It's sole evolutionary drive to want to fulfill the appetite of it's eaters, so it executes itself "humanely" after taking your order quite satisfied that it is being of use.

"My liver should be very tender by now - I have been force feeding myself for weeks..."

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The very fact that people have time to muck about with this stuff is the very thing we have to thank modern farming techiques for: So much food we get to think about HOW we get it more than about WHETHER we get it.

A great deal of nonsense seems to be born of luxury. On another board, I'm embroiled in a debate with a bloke over the Mandela effect. He takes it quite seriously. That is what happens when people have too much time and too little toil with which to fill it. :-)

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Well, technically not true: One can commit suicide. That is, by far, the most environmentally friendly thing a human being can do.

I have committed genetic suicide by not having any children. Then my brother went and had four, thus neutralizing my effort.
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