A contest called Put Your Ethics Where Your Mouth Is by The New York Times, has recently tried to figure out who can write the best argument supporting the idea that meat is ethical. Panelled by Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer, Andrew Light, Michael Pollan, and Peter Singer, I was eager to read what their picks would be.
Overall I must admit that the finalists are better than I had expected, but nonetheless they have yet to make a truly good argument. I was surprised that the majority of the essays were written by ‘ex-vegans’ and ‘ex-vegetarians’. It’s easy to see why, as they obviously are familiar with both perspectives and are able to give a more rounded opinion on the subject. Though many of the points made were refreshing compared to the usual “where do you get your protein” arguments I am so used to hearing every day, I found so much wrong with the essays that I felt the urge to write a response to give a vegan’s point of view on the subject. In the six finalist essays I noticed a few recurring themes:
Theme #1: Meat is ethical as long as it is “humane”
“There is an ethical option — a responsibility, even — for eating animals that are raised within a sustainable farm system and slaughtered with the compassion necessitated by our relationship. That, in essence, is the deal.” ~ This Is the Deal We’ve Made
“Many animals, however, while they can be well off or poorly off in certain ways at particular times (e.g., by experiencing pleasure and pain), seem unlikely to be capable of becoming better off in their lives considered as a whole — or at least not once they have had certain basic needs met. While they may be capable of relationships of a kind, it is doubtful that these can grow and develop in the ways ours can. Indeed, it is uncertain whether most animals even have identities that span weeks, let alone years. If all this is right, then once such an animal has had her basic needs met, a painless death cannot harm her, at least not in the sense in which harm is necessary for an event to be bad. Since it is not bad to kill such animals, it cannot be morally wrong.” ~ Meat Is Ethical. Meat Is Bad.
To understand why “humane meat” is unethical we must understand what pain is and why it exists. Pain didn’t just become a part of our biology for no reason — it serves a very valuable purpose: pain exists to help us learn from mistakes. As children, many of us have put our hand in a flame and felt the incredible heat of the flame set off pain nerves in our hand which travelled up to our brain. This taught us the valuable lesson that putting our hand in a flame is a bad idea, and we are sure to be more wary of repeating the behavior in the future.
The part of the brain that is activated when a sentient being encounters painful stimuli is located very near to the center of the brain. The further into the brain you go, generally, the more primitive the function. All sentient beings have had this amazing function for millenia because it is very effective at teaching us what to avoid, enabling us to live long enough to procreate and pass our D.N.A. on to the next generation. This isn’t something exclusive to humans; this is one of the most basic functions of almost all animal life on our planet. Continue reading “My Take on New York Times ‘Ethical Meat’ Contest”
Vegans are called many names by non-vegans, a few common names include “annoying”, “judgemental”, and “extreme”. I’ll examine the reasons behind this name-calling and explain how these names can be applied to non-vegans as well. We all might even learn something in the process.
Have you ever heard the idiom “the pot calling the kettle black”? If you know it already, skip ahead to #1.
There are two interpretations:
1) The first is about a pot and a kettle, who have both become equally blackened by being hung over a fire. When the pot calls the kettle black in this interpretation, it is accusing the kettle of a fault they both share.
2) The second is about a pot and a kettle as well, but in this case the pot has been kept over a fire (resulting in a dirty, sooty exterior), whereas the kettle has been kept on hot coals (resulting in a clean, shiny exterior). When the pot calls the kettle black in this interpretation, it is accusing the kettle of a fault that only itself possesses, as it is the pot’s own sooty reflection it sees in the shiny exterior of the kettle.
* Note that what is written below is about a large number, though not all vegans and non-vegans. There is an exception to every rule. I am not trying to generalize, but for those of you who can identify with this (and you know who you are) the following applies to you:
Have you ever said any of the following about vegans?
1. “Vegans are judgemental”
The very statement “vegans are judgemental” is judgmental in itself. However, there are a few differences in the reasons and type of judgement that is going on between us.
a) We are judgemental of you because you are causing the torture and murder of sentient beings, which is something many vegans morally object to.
b) We often are not judgemental of you as a person, but of your actions. You could be the nicest, sweetest, most caring person in every other respect, but the fact that you don’t show this side of yourself to animals who have done nothing to you is something that we tend to view as being inconsistent with your claimed ethical beliefs. Continue reading “Pot vs. Kettle”
The term “vegan” has been loosely thrown around to mean ‘someone who doesn’t use or consume animal products or by-products’. This is in fact true; however, it is much more than just that. Veganism does not start on your plate or your body — it starts in the heart and mind. Vegans are just people who believe that we should respect all living beings, ourselves and our environment. Veganism is simply these beliefs put into action — we boycott industries that conflict with our beliefs. These beliefs are the foundation of veganism. Without them failure is inevitable.
If someone considered themselves a vegan for a number of hours, days, weeks, months, or even years and then went back to consuming and using products made from animals then they were never vegan to begin with. How is this so? Because there is a very big difference between Continue reading “Vegans Never Say Die!”
This is the newest advertising strategy from the dairy industry: let’s brainwash consumers to think that unless they are buying OUR product, they are only buying a cheap, sub-par imposter.
Hey dairy industry, your cheap tricks won’t work on me. Why? Because I’m smart enough to know that the ‘fake’ milk I drink (ie: almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc.) doesn’t have to be ‘real’ milk to be worth my hard-earned money. You see, the ‘fake’ milk in my refrigerator is a far better product than that ‘real’ milk you guys are slinging. Unlike your ‘real’ milk, my ‘fake’ milk doesn’t harm animals, is better for the environment, provides more per serving of calcium and fiber (something your ‘real’ milk lacks) as well as a formidable amount of protein, at the same time as providing less saturated fat and zero cholesterol, contains much healthier phyto-estrogens (plant-based estrogens) rather than animal estrogens as well as more manganese (necessary for bone formation), thiamin, niacin, and magnesium, and it simply tastes better (got phlegm? not from the milk I drink!). Continue reading ““Real” Milk Comes From Cows”
While reading an article titled The Illogic of Animal Rights, written by J. Neil Schulman, I was reminded of meat-eaters and the reasons many of them site for their belief that humans should be able to keep exploiting animals. If there would have been a way for me to write a comment to the author I surely would have, however there wasn’t and so I will have to vent my frustration here. Hopefully others with Schulman’s opinion will come across this post and possibly rethink their views on animal rights.
In his article, Schulman argues his point from two standpoints based on what he feels are the core ideas of the animal rights movement. He does this to show how they contradict each other as well as try to prove how, when held apart from each other, each premise still does not equate to animal rights being a “logical” conclusion. These are the basic premises of animal rights, according to Schulman:
- Humans are no different from non-human animals
- Humans have an ethical obligation not to exploit non-human animals
He states that these premises are a fallacy because they contradict each other, and thus cancel each other out. He further argues that even if these premises are true in their own right, animal rights is still illogical because the end result of either premise will always lead to human animals having the right to use non-human animals to our gain.
“If human beings are no different from other animals, then like all other animals it is our nature to kill any other animal which serves the purposes of our survival and well-being, for that is the way of all nature. Therefore … human animals can kill members of other animal species for their usefulness to us.
It is only if we are not just another animal — if our nature is distinctly superior to other animals — that we become subject to ethics at all — and then those ethics must take into account our nature as masters of the lower animals. … ‘Animal rights’ do not exist in either case.” Continue reading “The Logic of Animal Rights”
Cheese-etarians. We’ve all met at least one: lacto-vegetarians that say “I’m pretty much vegan, but I just can’t live without my CHEEEESE!”. I get it. Cheese is delicious. There is a cheese for literally any kind of flavor food you are preparing and it has a way of making an otherwise unappetizing dish suddenly seem strangely appealing. There’s no doubt that cheese is tasty, but when the enjoyment of cheese becomes more of a compulsion, especially when you know about factory farming and animal exploitation and yet still eat it anyway, it is no longer a simple ingredient in a dish — it is a full-blown addiction.
How to know if you are a cheese-etarian:
- You don’t eat meat, eggs or any dairy — except cheese. You might call yourself an “almost vegan”.
- You’ve tried giving up cheese, but have always eventually succumbed to the temptation of the beckoning calls of your beloved friends Gruyère, Gouda, Brie, Parmesan, Langres and Cheddar.
- You tell your vegan friends that you don’t eat much cheese, but your actions prove otherwise. It’s possible that you don’t even know how much cheese you actually consume.
- You think that meat is disgusting, and even try to teach meat-eaters and non-vegetarians about the horrors animals face in the meat industry, but you don’t give a second thought to your cheese consumption.
- You know why dairy is bad and yet still choose to eat cheese despite knowing that it is against everything you claim to stand for. You may genuinely feel guilty for eating cheese, but can’t seem to find a way to stop.
If at least one of the above statements sounds like you, you are most likely a cheese-etarian.
If more than one of the above statements sounds like you, you are definitely a cheese-etarian.
If all of the above statements sound like you, you need an intervention! Continue reading “Are YOU a Cheese-etarian?”