Catch the cattle train

*A declaration of interest – in my pond I am the top of the food chain, any flies come near me, I swallow them.*

A while back I was travelling with a hard-core vegan. A hedgehog was on the road ahead and I swerved to avoid it. My passenger thanked me for my consideration, to which I responded that if it had been a possum or a rabbit I would have swerved to hit it. Cue the classic two-hour argument between Permaculturalist and Animal Rightist – does the individual animal’s right-to-life take precedence over the interests of the entire ecosystem which its very presence is compromising? (There are many shades of Green).

With that in mind, BBC’s Newsnight last week featured an item on Sweden running trains and buses on bio-gas made from cow’s fat and organs left over from the meat production process. Tim Franks writes:

You have to tell yourself the cows are going to die anyway.

Inside the abattoir at Swedish Meats in Linkoping, the cows stood patiently, occasionally nuzzling the lens of our camera.

From there, it was a short walk past the white-walled butchery, down the steps to the basement where the raw material for biogas, slid greasily down a chute.

Still bubbling and burping, and carpeting you with an acrid stench, came the organs and the fat and the guts. Enough, from one cow, to get you about 4km (2.5 miles) on the train.

Bovine methane is thus being turned into a (untaxed) resource and unlike carbon sequestering, this anti-global warming technology is already here.

If you’ve got broadband and are not squeamish, I recommend the full BBC item on video, which you can click through to from the text version.

93 Comments Posted

  1. Sorry-

    Godwin’s law (you can google both) is basically that when a thread devolves so that comparison is made to Nazi’s and/or Hitler, there is no point in following it anymore. The thread is done. The law is that as the thread grows longer the probability of such a comparison being made approaches unity. I tend to use the extended version.

    Here’s a link, says it better. Also gets the name right – Godwin’s law. Gresham’s law is “bad money drives out good money” – my apologies again. Both start with G and I am sorry I get weary of taking without giving back in kind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    respectfully
    BJ

  2. To SPC: Actually, with all the publicity over Rosa Parkes’ death, it should be apparant that it took an extremely long time for slaves to become integrated into American society, and even longer for their former masters to accept them.

    Integrating domesticated farm animals would be comparatively much simpler. They would not be able to breed and will be allowed to live out the rest of their natural lives in peace.

    As for your arguments on abortion, homosexuality etc. I can’t see the relevence to animal rights, and this is not the thread to bring them up. But is seems that you are willing to dismiss the views of an entire religious group simply because they are a member of a religious group, and not because you have carefully examined the arguments.

    To BJ: I agree the argument should be closed. I just have one question; who is Gresham and what was his/her law?

  3. as (possibly) a last word…nothing that has been said against the various theses presented/supported by kiore , tony, and myself…has been refuted imho….

    there were diversions….but the basic ideas of… the environmental destruction wreaked by farming animals for flesh….the negative health impacts on consumers and consumed……the horrendous suffering and pain endured by many of those farmed creatures(short and brutal lives)..and the ‘addictive’ properties of taste and texture inherent in the consumption of flesh..still stand..

    conclusions..of course any changes (as in consumption) are a personal matter/journey…and therefor cannot be subject to legislation…cannot be dictated..can only be shown..

    but as an incremental advance/lessening of suffering….those horrendous conditions (and pollution) created/sustained by farmers of flesh can be remedied/ended by legislation/regulation……(something for the green pollies to focus on this term..eh..?..)

    and as for the effort put into this opus….now..if asked any questions about the reasons for my being vegan….i can just mutely point the inquirer over here….

    thanks to the supporters and the foils for making it happen….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  4. Those calling meat eating an addiction, accusing others of drama-queen tendencies?

    This thread is now complete.

  5. “..Is there no end to this?..:)

    you haven’t been roped into the iraqi oil scandal….have you…?

    um…have you ever been accused of drama queen tendencies..?..:)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  6. You talk about me having dealers and being paranoid and now of working for the Meat Board. And of also lacking a sense of humour. Is there no end to this?

  7. phil

    You talk about me having dealers and being paranoid and now of working for the Meat Board. This obvious lack of respect for those who don’t agree with you …

    I always worry about those who seek to impose their values on others, when they lack this respect for others in the public policy debate. As I pointed out earlier, being a vegan/vegetarian – does not require respect for any sanctity of human life.

    My point to Kiore is that, it would be a ridicuous world that banned humans killing animals for meat, but which allowed the continued deaths of human beings.

    SPC Surely a moral position – respect for life, posed as a truth for humanity to accept, applies across all related areas?

    SPC So why do you have a problem with my referring to the moral position as truth line of those arguing for the sanctity of human life? Surely it is only in the establishment of right to life (no death sentence law, no abortion, no war, feeding the poor, overcoming disease in the third World), that would underpin any campaign to extend this to animal right to life?

    You call this comparing “apples and oranges”?

  8. spc..i know you are addressing kiore so i’ll leave him/her to answer..

    one question ..why do you persist in talking apples and oranges..?

    what has the abortion debate got to do with what we have been talking about..?

    why all the red herrings..? (you don’t work for the meat board ..do you..?..:)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  9. phil

    phil jum..i never said all/any sex outside of procreation is evidence of addiction.. you drew that long bow….i would never make any such claim….

    What I said was, if it is claimed that meat-eating, being a choice and not a necessity, is indicative of an a ddiction. Then sex not for procreatrion would fall into the same category. So you admit that you make arguements against meat-eating, you would not use against other human choice activities. My point I think.

    phil and of course….you totally skate around the key issue…the horrendous conditions/lives of creatures bred for their flesh….and the gratuitous/indulgant whims of humans…seemingly blinkered to the consequences of their actions….

    Vegan choices are personal choices, public policy is built around group need (if land for other use becomes of vital importance, this may change public policy). I said that animal treatment issues are already in the public domain – accepted as part of public policy discourse. This is where any movement on the issue will occur. Vegans can convinve consumers to take this issue into account. And influence public policy developments.

  10. kiore,

    SPC You are using the same tactic as the extreme religious right – who pose that any liberalism of standards would result in all sorts of threats emerging. If one allows gays to marry, “then next it will be allowing pedophilia?. Or if we use existing embryo stem cells for research, “next we will be farming babies?.

    SPC We all know the real agenda of those involved, is to oppose any sex outside of (sacrament) marriage and to ban homosexual marriages. That they want conception to be the start point of life, so non medical abortion is criminalised.

    kiore, no doubt thinks he/she has scored a resounding victory by comparing me with the Christian right, a clear case of using name calling in place of argument. In any event, the views of right wing Christians, like those of any other group need to be examined on their merits, not summararily dismissed out of hand.

    I was criticisng the tactics of moralists – the way they slur their opponents.

    My other point – there is more than one group claiming there moral position is revealed truth to the rest of us. Why should your’s be accepted as the basis for public policy and not their’s?

    The fact that you see my reference to others of a moral position truth, as a slur by association, shows how well my point was made.

    Now then, lets look at where the two opines converge.

    kiore says that we should not breed livestock and then kill them (and that meat-eating is an addiction*).

    The Catholic Church opposes sex outside marriage (also any use of contraception – it allows rhythm cycle knowledge to be used – but does not prohibit knowledge of it to eanble sex when the woman is not fertile – so makes some allowance for sex for non procreative purpose* within marriage) and calls abortion murder.

    There is actually a fairly close moral parallel in the two positions (to the extent that vegans give livestock animals the life right not to be killed and eaten, but tolerate omnivores and carnivores of the natural habitat doing this – arguing that humanity rises out of it’s earlier levels of behaviour and becomes more and more different to other life forms on earth. While conversely claiming animals should have recognised rights, as we humans give each other).

    So my question of vegans, would they ban sex outside of marriage and abortion, when they brought in an end to livestock farming? Or would they pose a greater protection for animals – guarding against our meat-addiction with a prohibition of raising up animals for this consumption (criminalising it, the way we do illicit drug supply) while allowing our “addiction” to non procreative sex to continue to produce unwanted children for abortion?

    Humanity appears to have always been meat-eating. Livestock farming began about 10,000BCE – it enabled an alternative in hunting for the gathering of meat. It resulted in purpose bred varieties (note the treatment of wool and milk flocks is a separate matter – there is farming of the latter which reduces natural life-span substantially).

    The difference (which renders your whole point moot) between human slaves and domesticated livestock, is that slaves once liberated had a place in their natural society (human civilisation) whereas the livestock then had no natural habitat to live in.

    kiore 2. It is not wrong for human beings who have brought other things into existence to kill them for their own use. 3. Premise 2 does not count when the things in question are members of the species Homo sapiens, but it does count when they are members of any other species.

    We have the parallels of abortion and stem cell research from embryos and the accusation that this could result in farming unwanted pregancies.

    The question is really, for vegans to argue alongside those opposing abortion. If opposing people eating any meat (including animals which died naturally) also opposing stem cell research – any profiting from any loss of life (to avoid farming embryos not implanted).

    Surely a moral position – respect for life, posed as a truth for humanity to accept, applies across all related areas?

    So why do you have a problem with my referring to the moral position as truth line of those arguing for the sanctity of human life? Surely it is only in the establishment of right to life (no death sentence law, no abortion, no war, feeding the poor, overcoming disease in the third World), that would underpin any campaign to extend this to animal right to life?

    Until then being vegan, is just a chosen lifestyle – one advocated to others the same way religious choices are. But not a public policy issue.

  11. um..i never said all/any sex outside of procreation is evidence of addiction..

    you drew that long bow….i would never make any such claim…..

    (speaking of creating strawman arguments..)

    and of course….you totally skate around the key issue…the horrendous conditions/lives of creatures bred for their flesh….and the gratuitous/indulgant whims of humans…seemingly blinkered to the consequences of their actions….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  12. SPC we have protection of natural habitat and animal treatment regulation measures in place..

    phil, yeah ..they are all going really well aren’t they…..is it 95% of our lakes and rivers that have a problem…?(much of that problem caused by farming practices..).and that’s right..we still use particularly barbaric farming practices that have been stopped in more advanced countries..

    My point is that, the arguement for protection of the natural habitat and for animal treatment regulation, has been established as valid enough to determine public policy. The extent to which it is applied, is an on-going debate.

    I was referring to the natural habitat, as in regard to the environs of native species – not so much the waterway environment around livestock farming and such – which is a battle of the moment not yet sufficiently accepted in public policy (yes where we have big business obstructionism) – we need bridges across all waterways crossed by stock for starters and only starters and “at least” some research about the safe distance from waterways of chemical use, as a basis for informed policy.

    On our stock management, as compared to overseas – our field farming is way in advance of most foreign types (know of cubicle farming cows for milk at three times our yields and the short life span of them?).

    phil so..spc..as far as you are concerned eating flesh is just a matter of ‘choice ‘ for you..eh..?…considerations of the treatment of what you are eating and the big environmental footprint you leave by supporting these provingly unsustainable farming practices don’t even come under consideration..eh..?..

    You are building up a strawman position to debate rather than my own. Livestock farming has been going on for 12,000 years – the question of its sustainablity, is when we cannot also maintain crop food reserves in the event of regional famine (the question of crop food capacity, both regional and possibly worldwide, is water resource availability). Animal treatment, is an independent issue to meat-eating, it is already in the public policy domain.

    phil and re your denial of addiction to sexual practices by some being a problem for them….go google..do some reading on the subject…on that you are speaking/repeating from a position of ignorance…

    Once again, a deliberate distortion of my arguement. I was simply stating that if meat-eating is a choice (not a necesssity for human life), then so is sexuality, that is not for the purpose of procreation. You have described, meat-eationg as an addiction, by your logic all sexuality unrelated to the intent to procreate (women are fertile only a few days a month and for part of their life) is also such. Is this “your” arguement? I am aware that no expert on sex addiction supports the underlying premise of your arguement. So are you, yet you choose to distort the issue to confuse that and ignore the point I have made.

    phil making these choices is an individuals’ decisions….and often comes down to information not previously known….(which can be as simple as being shown/told what is being done in the name of their dietary ‘choices’.)
    .and yes..i can’t separate talk of (for many) minor slivers of enlightenment being a component of that individuals’ decision to stop eating flesh…
    (can i recommend a little booklet called ‘why vegan’..?….copies of which i have…and will place in the ak green office….)

    You are on safer ground making the health case for vegetarian/vegan living and raising the impact of meat-eating on other land use opportunities and raising animal treatment issues. But meat-eating is a cultural behaviour pattern inherited across generations – not an addiction of many/some within our generation.

  13. kiore – The “they wouldn’t be here if if weren’t for us” argument IS fallacious, and this thread is DONE – Gresham’s law.

    respectfully
    BJ

  14. SPC no doubt thinks he/she has scored a resounding victory by comparing me with the Christian right, a clear case of using name calling in place of argument. In any event, the views of right wing Christians, like those of any other group need to be examined on their merits, not summararily dismissed out of hand.

    Once again, SPC is begging the question by asuming that the principles of giving moral standing to animals is fallacious, when this is the point under discussion.

    The “they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for us argument goes something like this:

    1. Farm animals would not be here if it were not for the activities of (some) human beings.
    2. It is not wrong for human beings who have brought other things into existence to kill them for their own use.

    Therefore: It is not wrong to kill farm animals.

    If one accepts both premises then the conclusion follows logically. But the same argument can be used for children and for slaves bred on a farm.

    Premise 1 would be reworded

    1b. Children/slaves would not be here if it were not for teh activities of (some) human beings.

    Premise two would stay the same, and once again the conclution would follow logically if both premises were true.

    I think nobody can doubt the truth of premise 1b, so it is only possible to come to a different conclusion for slaves/children if one inserts a new premise.

    3. Premise 2 does not count when the things in question are members of the species Homo sapiens, but it does count when they are members of any other species

    It is premise 3 that needs to be proved, not assumed. So far I can’t see how anyone has given a good argument in favour of premise 3. All arguments that allow exploitation of animals could allow exploitation of humans under some conditions. Conversely, all arguments that exclude all humans from exploitation exclude many animals as well.

  15. Phil – You called ME an addict. You make ME the subject. You turned the debate into a personal attack, not on my ideas but myself and your profanity must give pause to all who read it.

    Using the word ‘I’ means that a conclusion is singular. You asked why McDs is popular, you received an opinion which was couched in the first person to indicate that it was an opinion. You would prefer lectures in the abstract? We’re discussing opinions.

    Perhaps when you calm down we will continue, but there’s not much point in continuing now. My choices for whatever reasons, are mine to make. Your presentation and confrontational methods are important reasons why your argument fails to change my decisions. Animals are treated in ways that make your hair stand up… but the object is to show how this is bad for me, bad for society, bad for the planet. There ARE reasons. You aren’t using them, you are making personal attacks instead of arguments.

    Bad for society because the treatment of the animals tends to desensitize us to similar treatment of any hapless minority. Bad for the planet because the eco-footprint is so much bigger. Bad for me because of cholesterol and BSE… but it doesn’t cut much ice to just be insulting.

    This thread is SO done.

    BJ

  16. oops..dont know why that popped up….(luddite confusion over here..i just tried to link to this debate ..from over at my place…wtf..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  17. spc..”..we have protection of natural habitat and animal treatment regulation measures in place..”

    yeah ..they are all going really well aren’t they…..is it 95% of our lakes and rivers that have a problem…?(much of that problem caused by farming practices..).and that’s right..we still use particularly barbaric farming practices that have been stopped in more advanced countries..

    when talking about this issue in nz you come smack up against the fact this country has a foundation stone of exploiting our natural resources/animals for commercial gain/sustainability…so challenge that….and you run into big problems..and much incoherent spluttering..

    so..spc..as far as you are concerned eating flesh is just a matter of ‘choice ‘ for you..eh..?…considerations of the treatment of what you are eating and the big environmental footprint you leave by supporting these provingly unsustainable farming practices don’t even come under consideration..eh..?..

    can i point out to you what i pointed out to bj…it isn’t just all about you…eh..? and your ‘choices’..

    but..surely ..if you are concerned about green issues..surely some reflection will show the above comment by you to be right off the mark..

    and re your denial of addiction to sexual practices by some being a problem for them….go google..do some reading on the subject…on that you are speaking/repeating from a position of ignorance…

    but i agree with your last paragraph….

    making these choices is an individuals’ decisions….and often comes down to information not previously known….(which can be as simple as being shown/told what is being done in the name of their dietary ‘choices’.)

    .and yes..i can’t separate talk of (for many) minor slivers of enlightenment being a component of that individuals’ decision to stop eating flesh…

    (can i recommend a little booklet called ‘why vegan’..?….copies of which i have…and will place in the ak green office….)

    and can i thank frog for the use of this forum…and for froggy efforts to link the debate to keep it alive….

    even if only one or two people wade through this opus..and start the questioning/thinking process over this issue..my advanced case of rsi will be all worth it..:)

    cor..!..i think i’m nearly done…but you could well prove me wrong….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  18. phil

    My point, is that those who adopt a higher moral position and choose to be hostile to those who do not agree with them, are adopting the values of a worthy to rule party of dictatorship.

    The issue in our society, is when moral position is imposed by law. When it chooses to over-ride individual choice. Since the end of the pre democratic Christian order, society has moved to acceptance of choice of moral position, rather than having them imposed by law. The balance is weighted to freedom of choice, until there is harm to another or some threat to the wider community (on this issue it is sufficiency of land for food, if so much is in livestock farming).

    Sure vegans who call meat eating an addiction, might well concede then one can also view non procreative sex as an addiction – but my point is – there is no way to enforce certain moral positions is there?

    And insinuating that Greens who don’t agree with you, have dealers and are paranoid, shows a divisiveness in the appraoch taken (briefly I will note the tactics of FBI operatives infiltrating left wing USA groups under J Edgar Hoover – how’s that for paranoia?).

    Yes I am well aware of how human rights and civil liberties have been extended across the centuries, as the the moral order of the Christian throne was replaced with democratic order values.

    On animal rights issues, we have protection of natural habitat and animal treatment regulation measures in place and under on-going review). But like choice to engage in non procreative sex, drink alcohol or coffee, some also eat meat, even if others do not do so.

    Convincing others that eating meat is wrong is possible, but unlikely to change public law. Land resource use issues may one day change public law – as may efforts in confronting animal treatment in livestock industry (check the consequences of increasing milk production to 3 times our farm levels in cubicle farming). But frankly the arguement against eating meat, is more one for “converting” individuals one at a time – when they can find it in themselves to reach the “enlightenment” of choosing against eating meat.

  19. bj..count up the i’s in your last comment….and all your other ones…..who really gives a flying fuck wether you like mc donalds or not …and what the fuck does your opinion on mc donalds and their bloody sauce got to do with anything……it’s all fucken you you you bj….try and lift your focus off your own fucken navel for awhile eh…

    i think we know enough about the patterns of your meat eating..thanks..

    btw…do you mistake repetition of the same two or three lines for presenting/refuting an argument..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  20. Actually I fenced Saber, foil was always too delicate for me 🙂

    I don’t know why people crave McDs except for a really good marketing plan and a convenient place for kids to play… They serve cardboard meat and sweet buns and sauces that a real carnivore has trouble with.

    If I never ate another cow I wouldn’t miss it… The thing about the above that isn’t indicative of the behaviour pattern is that the none of the above applies. I haven’t got meat “cravings”. I eat where I can easily cope with my kids.

    Which is probably a good part of the reason this argument has so far been missing its target. Not everyone who eats meat is addicted to meat. Not everyone who smokes pot is addicted to pot. Not everyone who has a glass of wine is a wino. Not everyone who denies is in denial. Some are just telling you what’s true for them. The important part of this though, is that the use of the word addiction weakens your ability to make your point.

    I think this thread is officially over. Gresham’s law.

    respectfully
    BJ

  21. gee katie..slaughterhouses and chicken concentration camps make the hair on the back of my kneck stand up..

    “.. to be able to exercise one’s own rights of choice in every arena…”..are you trying to redefine fatuous..?

    “..escaped those dark times…”..have you tried writing potboilers..?

    as for taking a chill pill….?…fuck off..you are giving every appearance of being as deep as a bloody petrie dish….blah blah bloody blah..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  22. Jeez guys, time out already!! This thread was interesting when I first jumped in, but reading catchup has been excrutiating

    – phil, take a chill pill. I can talk the philosophy of vegan diet, but I too find it harder to live than to like; my personal health situation makes protein choices narrow at times, and while I have a lot of veggie and vegan friends, it’s not something I stick with on an everyday basis (although when the power bill is due, we get pretty veggie..)

    Dogmatism of any sort makes me feel the hair standing up onthe back of my neck; please guys just allow that we live in a free country and that’s what freedom is – to be able to exercise one’s own rights of choice in every arena. I joke around about anarchy, but it truly looks a lot better than vegan facism, which I’m beginning to suspect in the water here!!!

    BJ, you sound like you’ve had a few too many serious experiences of addiction to condone misuse of the word;for those of us who’ve escaped those dark times, flippancy is not how you deal with another person’s honesty and ability to face up to the reality of bad things happening.

    Enough! I’m signing off to look out the window in the dark,and see if any of the local larrrrikanshave set the gorse on fire… yay skyrockets…. 🙂

  23. bj..you have been a foil..for that..thank you…

    um..’cheapen the word addiction..?’

    btw..why do you think people crave ..say ..mcdonalds..?..is it for the poppy-seed bun..?..the delicious salad..?

    flesh-eating..it’s a ‘habit’..eh..?…you get cravings for ..say..roast beef..or whatever type of flesh rings your bell..if you have the ‘habit’ you ‘hang out for it’..eh..?
    and most carnivores..if you walked up to them and told them that they weren’t going to be able to have any more meat..they would panic..eh..?

    you are such a serious case of denial bj….what about the above is not indicative of patterns of behaviour around addictions…?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  24. Phil – He’s my brother. What he said was not ambiguous nor did it mean what YOU are alluding to. He said it was “harder to quit cigarettes”. He didn’t say it was less painful, he said it was harder. If he’d been talking about pain he would’ve said pain. He’s quite precise, better than I am because I haven’t been that exact until now.

    But is this a reason to call meat eating an “addiction” and cheapen the word? Which was the reason we got off on this topic… you almost certainly DO know more about addiction than I do, as I’ve never even smoked. I recollect you telling us about your struggles… so why cheapen the word?

    I am still an American, from NYC originally. More recently from Pasadena, which is where JPL is located. I’ve not been here long enough to take citizenship, but that is in the plan.

    You know, it is right for you to be passionate, and I don’t mind that in general, but when you find someone you want to convince of something the last thing to do is insult them. Your passion has led you to do that, and it really is a bit of a handicap, no matter how important you feel it is.

    The objective is to persuade others to adopt some idea of yours. The best arguments aren’t about making them feel bad. The best tactic isn’t to insult them. Hell, even an engineer knows that much.

    respectfully
    BJ

  25. get a grip..hitler was a vegetarian too..so what…stalin was a carnivore..so bloody what..

    btw..your paranoia is showing..and the weaving of snide allusions to anti-semetism don’t reflect well on you either..

    re your addiction to sex question…yeah…i think that’s reasonably well documented…

    kiore is not the first to make the link between how we mistreat/exploit/abuse animals ….and how the victims of slavery were/are treated/viewed….

    with ..in it’s time slavery/young children working in horredous conditions in factories/mines etc etc were all accepted as the norm by the society/culture of the time..with those opposed to these practices vilified as extremists etc..and a threat to the very economic foundations of the country etc etc….much the same arguments we hear now about those opposed to the gross abuses we as humans inflict on our fellow living/breathing creatures…creatures with a will to live a life far removed from the horrors we inflict on them….

    but this is a very difficult subject for many to confront in themselves..as it calls into question many givens we have accepted ….they have to be questioned/dismantled..so it’s a bit of a journey…eh..?

    and for me..to get where i am now…wasn’t a result of some revelation on the road to damascus or anything…..it was a gradual process over years as i shed the various practices…

    what tipped me into going vegan..was my daughter..who i had raised as vegetarian..
    she returned from global travels..fixed me in the eye and said “why aren’t you vegan..?”..i found her arguments irrefutable…the daughter came back and taught the father..that was very very cool….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  26. phil u

    Once again reminding us that extremists of all sorts, resort to personal abuse of those not on side with them. Himmler was a vegetarian – so use of violent force against those who eat Passover meat is not unknown.

  27. I suppose I could express my dissent from the, pure clean vegan “and” the meateaters line, with – whose moral position, is the truth?

    The issue in our society, is when moral position is imposed by law. When it chooses to over-ride individual choice. Since the end of the pre democratic Christian order, society has moved to acceptance of choice of moral position, rather than having them imposed by law. The balance is weighted to freedom of choice until there is harm to another or some threat to the wider community (on this issue it is sufficiency of land for food, if so much is in livestock farming).

    As to kiore linking animal husbandry, with human slavery and making shoes out of babies – a moral position relativism to discredit opposition to the vegan line (a bit like using opposition to child molestation to argue against the de-criminalising of homosexuality).

    For one thing the land allocated for animal husbandry would not be similarly available for a natural habitat for these purpose bred animals. Second, those slaves would have bred within human society once no longer slaves – so the parallel is facetious. Their place in this world and their sexuality were not dependent on being slaves.

    kiore “experimenting on or making shoes out of my children (who would not exist if I had not brought them into the world), then I do’t think the courts would be very impressed.”

    You are using the same tactic as the extreme religious right – who pose that any liberalism of standards would result in all sorts of threats emerging. If one allows gays to marry, “then next it will be allowing pedophilia”. Or if we use existing embryo stem cells for research, “next we will be farming babies”.

    We all know the real agenda of those involved, is to oppose any sex outside of (sacrament) marriage and to ban homosexual marriages. That they want conception to be the start point of life, so non medical abortion is criminalised.

    I note no vegan has been prepared to discuss the idea of all sexuality aside from procreation being an addiction (by the logic of their position on the unneccessary choice to eat meat) – is this because, it’s an “addiction” they still have?

  28. and thank you very much to kiore and tony….your input was notable for clarity of thought and ideas…..explained with lucidity…

    it can be a lonely battle at times…..the vegan one…..tag-teaming like that cheers the soul….and helps clear the mind….cheers

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  29. that’s right it was tobacco withdrawals…my bad…an equally fatuous comparison….or he was just pulling your chain..?.being macho..? who the fuck knows..(or maybe he just didn’t want to tell you about the actual ins and outs of day three…it’s not pretty…)

    oh..and if i’ve got any questions about implant prosthetics..i’ll keep you in mind….:)

    btw..are you american bj..or from here and just there a long time..?

    (btw..i’ve lived in new york..sante fe ..and santa cruz…..oh and i did manage to fit in a few months in china..)..if we’re doing ‘show and tell’…

    (btw..sorry to hear your wife is unwell…hope she gets better soon…)

    and as for you taking offence..well…i am not talking about just some philosophical debate here…..the way animals are treated and eaten really fucks with me….and is perhaps the political/social issue i feel strongest about…..so i argue it with a passion…(and really value a format such as this ….to possibly sew seeds/ideas/questions….)

    so..my bad bj..but no..you are correct….i am not thinking of your sensibilities/sensitivites….it’s just not in the same ballpark..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  30. Phil – I don’t know WHERE you got this “no worse than the flu” line, but it was not mine, NOR have I repeated it. You have. It wasn’t worse than the cigarettes for him (that was what he told me) but you should’ve seen him in withdrawal from the smokes. He was one sick boy…

    You know I DON’T know everything and I do limit myself to stuff I know *something* about. Sometimes I learn stuff here, and sometimes I get some new ideas and sometimes I just say to someone else, “well said”.

    OTOH, my life has been what its been, and I know Engineering, Psychology, Software and AI, Navigation, the Military, Spectral Analysis, Climate Change, Implant Prosthetics, US Politics… I have 3 separate degrees in different fields and my last job was with NASA on the Mars Exploration Rover, which is STILL running up there. I’ve traveled through most of the “civilized” world (I am missing China and Japan). My Dad died of a stroke, my wife is in the Hospital and I’m taking care of the kids and working, and my brother had a LONG term bout with Heroin, nearly died, DID go to jail and is now OK, married with kids and reasonably stable.

    In Other Words, I’ve been around. I don’t comment on movies, art, sports, TV shows, Chinese culture, Indian culture, Muslim theology and many other topics, but they don’t come up that much here. This blog is for people who look at the future and have relatively sophisticated world-views. People who are hard to lie to. People with good “crap detectors”. I LIKE it here… and I’m far more addicted to posting here than I am to being carnivorous.

    I am not damaged by your error. Go on thinking of me as something I am not, but please refrain from misuse of the word addiction with respect to the pepperoni on my pizza. That usage damages your credibility, your cause (which I continue to give some credence to despite your best efforts) and the language itself.

    I do learn here Phil… I’m just finding it really hard to listen to you at the moment (I have certainly liked your contributions better in the past). Have you examined what you’re saying with respect to its LIKELY effect on me, or is it merely the satisfaction of having said it that you are taking pleasure in?

    BJ

  31. bj..you are telling me he was into heroin for ten years…(wot..once or twice a month or something..?)..and he told you withdrawals were no worse than the flu…?

    i’m sorry bj..to describe heroin withdrawals as being no worse than the flu..sorta leaves me speechless..and you repeating/speaking from a position of utter ignorance..

    btw..sorry you’ve taken offence bj….but i get somewhat impatient with people who know stuff all about something banging on as though they do….and then repeating their ignorances over and bloody over….

    y’know bj..you don’t have to have an opinion on/be an expert on..absolutely bloody everything do you..?

    if the discussion was about engineering all you’d hear from me is ..’ooh..nice bridge..’

    can i ever so respectfully suggest that if you know fuck all about something…shut the fuck up..and maybe listen and learn..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  32. Stuey

    Yeah, I’ve been there. It’s pretty disgusting. Beef here tastes better too. As I said above, there are plenty of reasonable things we can argue, and the health aspects are one of them. If I ever push back the pepperoni it will be for health and eco-footprint reasons. Not because someone thinks it’s cool to call me an addict with half-formed opinions.

    Our uberreactor needs to focus on the argument, not on his desire to offend me.

    respectfully
    BJ

  33. Phil – Since you DON”T remember don’t make stuff up. He was addicted for more than a decade. I have tried REALLY hard not to return your insults and BS, and I suggest that you cease before I put you in the P-Box. I LIKE you in most other ways, but on this subject you are beyond reasoning. Which is why I regard it as a sort of religious conversion you expect people to have. Get over it. I am not going to play anymore.

    – BJ

  34. oh that’s right bj..your brother was the one who flirted with smack for six months or so..?..and describes heroin withdrawals as no worse than the flu…?.(that contention somewhat destroyed his credentials as an expert on the subject..eh..?)..i wouldn’t rely on his opinion/views too much ..eh..?

    as i say..stop relying on your own half-formed opinion and anecdotals..and do some reading…(respectfully..of course..:)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  35. you are right stuey..that this is the time to roll out the animal porn…..those wanting to find out more about the realities and impacts of their addictions to flesh could also visit peta..or here in nz…safe…(warning..this can be traumatic for sensitive souls..and could result in them resolving to ‘kick it’..)

    ben..”..heroin reputedly gives the most intensely pleasurable and rapid high known to man..”

    (ahem)..some would say that cocaine mixed with heroin (intravenous)actually gives that..fyi…the cocaine sends you up on a rocket..(far too intense to use that way alone..cocaine)….and the heroin gently rolls in just as the cocaine eases..and settles around you like big pink clouds of cotton wool….all your problems are gone….replaced by one big problem….maintaining your addiction…(that’s where it all starts to get a bit sticky..eh..?..)

    and this is all great during the honeymoon period….(but the marriage itself.. and the eventual divorce..are circles of hell in their own right…..if that weren’t the case..i’d possibly still be doing it…:)(and hey..no animals suffered/died in the production of this heroin..:)..so who’s addiction does the most harm..?

    btw..a television series in australia called hypothetical…posed the question to a group of medical professionals…”you are in the outback..you have had an accident…you need an operation….there are three surgeons there of equal abilities..one is an alcoholic..one is addicted to tranquillisers…one is addicted to heroin..who would you choose to operate..?..”

    they were unanimous..the opiate addict….(make of that what you will..:)

    btw2..bj..methinks thou doth protesteth too much..eh..?….think on..(and do that reading….eh..?)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  36. Phil – My brother was a heroin addict and a smoker and for a while psychologically addicted to pot. I am sure I did post it here at some point. I grew up in the 60’s and watched those addictions in others in every way possible. Addiction is not the correct word to use for casual ingestion of meat, nor is it a correct description of my attitude towards it. I have told you that it is the wrong word in several different ways now and I am weary of your obstinance in trying to “confront” me with something that is of utter indifference to me in the end.

    Don’t degrade the language by misusing a word we NEED to describe the effects of Heroin to describe the fact that steak tartare tastes good to some of us. That’s it. DON’T DO THAT! You can tell me that eating meat makes me smell bad, is disgusting and will kill me early, and I can tell you that eating beans and fruit doesn’t do my cubicle coworkers any favours either. We can discuss health, weight control, environmental footprint and our duty to be kind to dumb animals… all fine and somewhat persuasive reasons for some level of abjuring the eating of meat,

    I might even get around to doing it someday… but right now I am working on the TimTams 🙂

    respectfully
    BJ

  37. Phil, yes I tend to avoid battery eggs. But I don’t go so far as to do detailed research into everything I eat to find out if an animal suffered somewhere along the chain. As I said, that’s not my taste. It’s irrational and somewhat hypocritical but I was claiming that most moral views are. I also use medication which was probably tested on animals, and am much healthier as a result of it.

    I agree with bj that the word addiction is used very loosely. Especially when you talk about a major food group well known to have been part of the human diet for millions of years as an addiction. The word starts to lose it’s force when it just means ‘something people like’. Do I have an extremely mild case of television addiction because I watch Downsize Me while I’m eating dinner, and otherwise shun it completely? Do I have an addiction to taking my dump in the morning? Am I addicted to slim pretty ozzie girls? Should I widen my diet to NZ Made mullets?

    That said, I think there is much in common with even strong addictions like heroin and nicotine use and many milder ones, like having a fast car or eating tasty little animals so I don’t disapprove of the usage. I just think that it puts the stronger addictions into starker light – they are not unusual or evil because they are addictions. They are an expression of liking something. A strong like that is almost overpowering. It’s only bad when it wrecks someone’s life. And it’s the life-wrecking, not the addiction, which is bad. On the contrary, the addiction is usually because there’s something really good about it – heroin reputedly gives the most intensely pleasurable and rapid high known to man – something that in itself is not a bad thing. Nicotine soothes and stimulates, and give you something to do with your hands. Obviously inhaling hot smoke particles or lying around all day doing nothing but be high are bad for you, but I can’t see that we’ve got a right to get bitter on it if no one else suffers.

  38. bj..you really only get pleasure from addictions during the ‘honeymoon ‘ period…..the rest of the time is usually maintenance/staving off withdrawals..

    as i said ..you need to do some reading on the subject..can i respectfully suggest you do that research before claiming expert status on a subject you obviously know very little about..(i know it’s the only subject…but..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  39. No phil, NOT an addict. I don’t generally get ANY pleasures from eating nor pay much attention to what it is I eat. As my wife has reminded me, “I’m an engineer, I have no taste”. I have often bitten my tongue to keep the obvious rejoinder from reaching my lips. (Is that meat eating? 🙂 ) The pleasure of the steak is not nearly as great as the price difference between it and the swiss cheese… and not having to work out amino acid balances to ensure that I’m getting enough of all of them. The difference between this and addiction is as night and day. I have to work very hard to keep all the balls in the air now, and adding trying to explain to the Babushka (who speaks no english) this new idea? Nope… I just eat whatever she buys and cooks. At least until Christmas

    respectfully
    BJ

  40. ben..”..battery chickens seem to have too hard a life to justify my patronage…”

    an admirable attitude….i trust that extends to the eggs from those chooks…y’know that are sold in supermarkets..used in baking..and nearly all manufactured products containing eggs..?..otherwise bah humbug..!..eh..?..you may as well eat the chooks as well..miserable life/existance notwithstanding..

    bj….perhaps you could/should do some reading on the nature of addictions..

    (ranging from the strong physical addiction…to say heroin..to the psychological addiction..to say cannabis.. )
    on that sliding scale i would put meat in with cannabis…i don’t really need it….i just really like it..and would really miss it if i didn’t have it..so i do..:)

    (without presuming to speak for most people…i would contend that would be the attitude/feelings towards eating flesh..(that is if they even think about it)..

    face it bj…you’re an addict..(albeit a conflicted one….:)..recognition is the first step..eh..?..:)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  41. “After all the livestock would not exist , but for this farming.”

    I feel I have to renege on my promise that my previous posting would be the last after reading this futher justification.

    Exactly the same argument was used to support slavery after slavers found they could churn out their commodities more profitably by breeding them than importing them at greeat expense from Africa. After all, those slaves would not have existed if they had not been bred for the purpose.

    And by the way, if I use that logic to excuse eating, experimenting on or making shoes out of my children (who would not exist if I had not brought them into the world), then I do’t think the courts would be very impressed.

  42. Those of you who CONTINUOUSLY refer to meat eating as an “addiction” need to seriously consider the difference between eating meat and shooting heroin, or smoking cigarettes. Addiction involves a serious problem for the organism when the addicting substance is withdrawn. You cannot show any mechanism for that in this case and you really need to alter your language, as the intended shock is also accompanied by a feeling that you’ve “jumped the shark”.

    My Philosophy days are far enough in prehistory to be irrelevant, but there’s a lot of thought behind what I said respecting intelligence, social bonding and living together being the basis of the concept of “rights”. The fact that “rights”, particularly in terms of “right to life”, are a concept that is foreign to most if not all animals should be a warning sign that we’re not talking about abstract ethical laws, but a social development. I know you see the signs.

    Again, note that chimps and other primates, dolphins and whales, dogs and cats all sometimes help one another and sometimes help humans (without being trained to the practice). The survival benefit of cooperation is not lost on observers of history and cannot be lost on this group. The difference between Green philosophy and Libertarians is largely the fact that Greens believe in collective survival and responsibilities where the Libertarians almost worship the individual. The advantage to our approach is that no individual, no matter how remarkable, is as capable of survival as a group working together.

    How does this relate to the ethics of eating meat? Simply in that having formed the idea of “rights” with respect to humans in society it is a natural extension to consider that all elements of our society have similar rights. So some animals have “rights” and we start having some confusion about what those rights are.

    I think we need to examine where they come from to know the answer to this question. I don’t think animal “rights” relates in any way to my ingestion of pepperoni. Humans do feel a sense of duty towards other species and this figures in our animal cruelty laws but it is a social development, not a philosophical requirement.

    On the subject of weight and addiction, how can anyone lose weight in a country where it’s legal to sell Tim-Tams over the counter? 🙂

    respectfully
    BJ

  43. Addiction schmaddiction. There’s nothing morally wrong with having addictions. They could be unhealthy, but that does come down to individual choice. Anything we do to excess could be called addiction, even if it’s giving 3rd world children free cataracts operations. Addicted to feeling good about helping people. The only real problem with them is when they impinge on the rights of others, as when the smoker blows his poison around an enclosed space, or the piss-drinking hard-partying won’t-let-anyone-else-drive-their-car stoner falls asleep at the wheel and smashes themself, their family and friends into a tree.

    The question of who has rights is where the real debate about the *morality* of flesh eating begins. The science of whether it’s healthy is rather inconclusive except to say that excessive eating of one food group is probably unhealthy. All arguments from evolution are both interesting, informative, and bunk. Sure we were omnivores. We’re also brain-users, and if we can work out how to get sustenance straight from rock or sunlight, then all power to us. Evolution is still at work, no matter what. Don’t let it stop you having a good time, or trying to beat it, if you can. We weren’t evolved to live huge amounts of time, but we sure *want to*, and have massively improved our ability to through many artificial means, and most of them in evolutionarily insignificant amounts of time. God didn’t put fluorine in the water supply or teach us about pasteurization.

    So, about rights: I feel shamefully unable to contribute to this discussion, despite my undergraduate degree being in philosophy. I made the terrible mistake of taking metaphysics and logic more seriously than ethics. Which meant when we were posed with the possibility that ethical statements are merely statements of taste, I found that compelling, and subsequently found all ethical arguments to be statements of unfounded intuition, statements of taste, ultimately. Saying ‘that is wrong’ reduces to ‘I don’t want you do do that’, or something like it. Since taste is not rational, it is not amenable to rational argument.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t have tastes. I like the taste of Rule Utilitarianism, personally, and the Harm Principle in particular – hence my statements above regarding addictions. I find any discussion about rights spurious, since they always end up contradicting each other, and any choice of ordering between them is just a question of taste. Is liberty more important than justice or happiness? Depends who you ask, and what they’re ‘addicted’ to.

    As for Virtue Ethics, I couldn’t make head or tail of it. It seems as confusing as the New Testament, and about 400 years more ancient. Aristotle was certainly a genius, but he was also the death of western philosophy for about 2000 years, and bringing him back and wading through his tedious sermons seems like stepping back to when people could be sentenced to death for ‘impiety’. No thanks. Naturally I got a C- in ethics, and considered myself lucky, having ragged out Aristotle far too much for my virtue ethicist lecturer’s liking.

    What does this have to do with eating beef? Well, I argue it’s a question of taste. Everyone weighs up various competing tastes. I find beef DELICIOUS, I’m sorry to say, and tomorrow lunchtime I will no doubt prove that again with my customary once-per-week-total-addiction-indulgence-fest. I won’t go into exactly what all the addictions are, since many are illegal and environmentally unsound. The amount of water I use washing my sportscar is an outrage. Every time the turbo’s boost maxes out I’m violating vehicle safety standards, and creating noxious fumes and horrible burning rubber smells. I travel huge distances at great speed towards the best barbecue beef buffet in town, which generates tons of garlicky smoke and is powered by natural gas. I studiously avoid the vegies and carbos. After that I break all standards of political correctness by ogling sidewalk girlies as I digest the beef down into energy. It makes me feel great. Really empowered in every way, at the awesomeness of this country we live in and the standards of life it makes possible. Where else can you get 300bhp for only $4000, with all the ‘standard modifications’? After burning rubber and fossil fuels again and indulging in a relaxing game of billiards (whose balls are made from animal products, I think), I bail back home to my orchard for light afternoon snacks, in preparation for my sport of choice, a popular form of institutionalized violence, which gets the adrenalin and testosterone flowing. The evening is typically spent indulging in many ‘luxuries’, all the sweeter because the next morning starts at a civilized hour.

    Are these luxuries addictions? Or are they merely virtues that have not turned to vice because I hold them in tight balance? There is no ‘true’ answer to this question. The calf no doubt suffered briefly as it was slaughtered, but the life it had would never have been, if it wasn’t destined for my (and many other people’s) plate, so it would never have got those few joyous months of frolicking in the fields, made suckful only once when some nasty farmer cut their nuts off. The cow was probably distressed at being separated from the calf, but all parents go through that pain sometime. A lot of greenhouse gasses were no doubt created in the process, but since our main argument about their badness hinges around their affect on human quality of life, then that must be counterbalanced by the enjoyment given from eating delicious beef. Some people may get a similar joy from felafels, but I’m just not one of them.

    I tried being a vegetarian, honestly. For about 6 months. I lost weight, although that was possibly from increased exercise too. But ultimately, I just liked the taste of meat too much to forgo it for ever. But I’m not a complete dinosaur – I would not touch battery beef and battery chickens seem to have too hard a life to justify my patronage. Why do I care about their suffering? Again, it’s a question of taste. It ‘feels’ wrong, and that’s all the explanation I can give.

    Which is why I originally said I have little to contribute to the moral balances argument. I just can’t see that it’s ever resolvable – we all do what ‘feels’ right for reasons that don’t bear much scrutiny. All of our moral theories have their roots in our feelings, and when a theory leads us down a path that violates other moral intuitions we have no rational means to arbitrate between competing intuitions. We only have intuition.

    It’s a crap theory, I know. But I also think it’s true. It doesn’t give us much to go on, other than to say that moral arguments are attempts to align other peoples intuitions with our, at the risk of finding our own intuitions moving towards theirs. Roar, says the lion, and quack goes the duck. And I’m not really expressing anything deeper than that, despite sitting up half the night to do it. We humans kid ourselves a lot.

    ‘Night all.

  44. triffid

    I was dealing with the addiction arguement.

    As to the ethics/morality of life and death – if animals die to feed carnivores and natural habitat omnivores, why not pastoral farming omnivores. After all the livestock would not exist , but for this farming.

    Otherwise it’s the human societal case (more efficient use of land, if there should be a feeding the human population issue).

  45. There’s a difference, though – sex (assuming you’re not passing on diseases and that we’re talking consenting adults) doesn’t hurt anyone. Animals are dying every day to feed a human addiction to meat, or just a liking for it.

  46. I wonder what comment, those who say eating meat is proof of an addiction, would say of the act of sex which is not for procreation.

    Usuing the label “clean” – as in next to God, or “dirty with an immorality addiction” into the debate – merely shows a form of purity long associated with religion and imposed moral order is at hand.

  47. I eat meat once or twice a week and I could stop if I wanted to (sometimes I just forget to buy meat and have to do with vegetables and pasta for a week). Not everyone who eats meat is addicted to it. But then I am not easily addicted to anything apart from the internet. 🙂

  48. yeah..i know…i have had those chocolate periods in the life…..

    but i find in general the vegan diet..(if you go light on the choc/pasta/soy ice-cream)…does help with weight control..in the chocolate and the soy ice-cream the sugar is the killer..white death….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  49. oh..and you will shed those unwanted kilos…..

    um.. unless you have a chocolate addiction (Whittakers & Richfields plus some really good soy chocolates).
    There are overweight vegans around, we just tend not to have high cholesterol/high blood pressure/heart problems. 🙂

  50. louis…do you eat meat every day..?..does the thought of having to go without it cause you stress..?…”what..?..where’s the meat..?”

    and if you are walking your talk….you will only be buying local organic meat..eh..?

    if yes to the first two…….and no to the last…..well..i’m afraid you are in denial about your personal addictions..and ‘whistling dixie’ as far as your prescription for change…semantics, semantics…all is semantics…eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  51. Just popped back to see how things are and saw the above post from kiore1:

    “The issue is whether we, as 21st century members of the New Zealand culture (ie not cave dwellers), should continue to rear and slaughter animals in hideously cruel conditions in order to produce something we do not need, that is killing us, killing our environment and killing other sentient beings. ”

    The obvious answer to that is no. But as alexei notes:

    “If deep ecology is the paramount consideration, then I think you are right that eating local produce (meat or vegetables) is the main aim. Eating vegetables from Europe would be a cardinal sin. I just wish that the origin of the food at the supermarket was better labeled! ”

    For many of us who have an ecological bent, it is simply more complicated than saying “no meat”. I agree that
    (i) Industrial Agriculture is a terrible thing as practiced in our present world, and
    (ii) the way we treat many animals – sow crates, battery cages, for example – is awful.

    For quite rational, non-addicted reasons these views can lead me to reach a position which supports eating a diet which includes some locally grown, organically produced meat.

    As frog said at the very beginning –

    “- does the individual animal’s right-to-life take precedence over the interests of the entire ecosystem which its very presence is compromising? ”

    In summary, I agree with your diagnosis but not your prescription. IMHO, there is a big difference between a persuasive argument for eating a locally grown low-meat diet and one for a no-meat diet.

    In moderate doses meat is not unhealthy, and locally produced organic meat is not fundamentally ecologically unsound. Thus I have tried to traverse the other reasons stated for avoiding meat entirely – and for the reasons stated, I don’t fund these other arguments persuasive. I don’t think that makes those of us with this perspective irrational addicts – any more than all wine drinkers are alcoholics.

    Peace be!

  52. well, serves me right for being busy for a coupla days!
    veganism, addiction, hierachical ordering of the sentient kingdoms, it’s all up for offer!

    one thing bothered me;

    BJ, hope your transition home is flowing better; I too am a guyere fan, it gets expensive here because it’s either a) French imported or b) made the slow way, not injected with gas to make the holes like a lot of non-french producers do.

    And I’m hoping that we’re offering you congratulations, when your wife is out of hospital, please don’t be experiencing extreme nasty medical stuff when you’ve just moved back…. 😉 and dosvedanya to your babushka, welington has a russian community [and of course the embassy and all that implies 😉 ]

    Back on to veganism;
    social concerns are also evident in this discussion; cattle take up far more food resource per unit of protein produced, and create a lot more pollution, than growing food crops directly for consumption; this impacts at the source of production, by reducing land availble for subsistence crops for the local population, and is also part of the end-consumer economic effect, as poor consumers cannot afford the expensive proteins produced by such intensive farming.
    Globally, meat production reduces the ability of poorer economies to effectively produce adequate quantities of food ( 1 x cropping cycle for animal growing, vs 2 or 3 cropping cycles for some plants, per annual season)
    The ethics of who has the power to control food production practices in third world countries is a book topic, so I suggest those interested find one that’s already out there, I’m still a bit pushed for time today!

    Frog; it’s ok, my enthusiasm for french cuisine does not extend to jambes de grenouille (frog’s legs, for the monolinguists….) ;-D

  53. This will be my last post on this thread. If I have been unable to convince anyone by my arguments so far, then they will not be convinced by anything else I write.

    I have generally been impressed with the standard of debate on this blog, even from people like Craig and David Farrar who I generally disagree with. But when it comes to justifying meat eating, rational debate seems to go out of the window, which does seem to suggest it is an addiction. Characteristics of addiction include inconsiderate behaviour by otherwise decent people (smokers are not generally any more selfish than anyone else, except when it comes to inflicting their habit on others), irratational justifications from otherwise intelligent and rational people, and a continual craving for something that is unhealthy.

    People have tried to put forward red herrings to detract from the argument in hand. To summarise; the issue is not whether animals have an immortal soul, whether we should eat plants, whether other societies, primative humans, cats, dogs, crocodiles or other creatures should eat animals. Nor is the argument advanced by confusing statements on the exact nature of “rights”. As a virtue ethicists I consider duties, not rights to be more relevent, and utilitatarians like Singer also reject any notion of rights.

    The issue is whether we, as 21st century members of the New Zealand culture (ie not cave dwellers), should continue to rear and slaughter animals in hideously cruel conditions in order to produce something we do not need, that is killing us, killing our environment and killing other sentient beings.

  54. Ah, but phil, you seem to have merely swapped all those addictions for a blogging addiction.

    Virtual methadone, huh?

    Alexei, practically all stablish cultures have a philosophy of living within the ecosystem, but that’s because if they don’t have a philosohy of living sustainably they cannot be stable. Look at the initial indigenous culture in Australia, the Americas and New Zealand, very little concept of living sustainably. In every case vast arrays of megafauna were wiped out before those cultures were *forced* to live sustainably, Maori were probably still in the throws of sorting themselves out when Europeans arrived

    (Speaking of Evolutionary theory from the other thread, it’s the cultural equivalent of punctuated equilibrium. Most of the time you see the equilibrium, occasionally, as with western culture you see a punctuation.)

    In the same way, western culture (or agricultural culture) will eventually change to become sustainable, it’s just a question of whether we manage to make it sustainable through technology and smart thinking – allowing a level of civilisation that most of us want – or through a crash.

  55. Louis:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Apart from the basic biological arguments about human health that suggest small amounts of meat-eating is prudent, the argument for living sustainably and respectfully within the global ecology as the paramount consideration is a compelling argument for me. The irony is that many indigenous cultures around the world have had this basic philosophy of living as one species among many and living within rather than above the ecosystem. It is something that western culture has got totally wrong. We have all these strange concepts like owning land, as if this planet is somehow ours alone to do with as we chose, rather than shared with all life.

    If deep ecology is the paramount consideration, then I think you are right that eating local produce (meat or vegetables) is the main aim. Eating vegetables from Europe would be a cardinal sin. I just wish that the origin of the food at the supermarket was better labeled!

  56. bj no one is talking about a religous conversion..(whatever that may be..)

    being clean means being clean of an addiction…be it heroin ..tobacco…alcohol..and yes…meat…

    tell me how it is not an addiction..a selfish(?) indulgance..?

    you don’t need to eat flesh to live..doctors tell you to eat less of it ..not more..it’s not good for your health..or that of the creature you are eating..

    i refute the accusation of being ‘strident’….i’m trying for clarity…

    and btw don’t assume you can speak for ‘most people’..bj…(those manifest destiny tendencies are peeking out again..)

    oh..and you will shed those unwanted kilos…..

    it’s all win win …eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  57. Phil – If getting “clean” involves some sort of religious conversion you can leave me out of the process… if OTOH I can manage to lose a few kilos there’s an upside I can understand. You can’t get me interested by getting more strident… it puts most people off. The religious fervor I mean… and while I would be real happy to eat less meat because I know there IS an impact, I can’t put the sort of priority you’d like me to put on it…. to call it an “addiction” is completely off the wall… my relationship to sugar and caffeine might be called addictions, but meat? Not even close.

    …the strong arguments aren’t about rights, or “being clean” they are about health and ecological footprints.

    respectfully
    BJ

  58. pip…possibly correct on the obtuseness..threatened..?..don’t think so..

    rights/schmights/semantics……it just seems to be dancing around the subject….which is the pain and suffering and death inflicted on living breathing creatures to feed human addictions to eating flesh…

    coupled with what kiore pointed out ….that the will to live on the part of those sentient beings is their right to live..eh..?..that’s animal rights…it’s that bloody simple…..

    much of what is being bandied about just seems to be justifications for those addictions to flesh…(‘implied duties’…indeed..)

    and if you think about it…(and this is especially relevant to those addicts who profess to be ‘green’)…..those who are clean are leaving much less of a footprint on a day to day basis..and are therefor less of the ‘problem’….and possibly nearer the solution..?..(that’s the hope…anyway..)

    and it is very liberating to free yourself of an addiction..(now that i have an advanced degree in..almost an honourary doctorate..)

    and just a couple of thoughts….those of us who are clean of those addictions are actually getting more from less…

    and the change from being vegetarian to vegan is as big as the change from flesh to lacto-veg…

    i was really surprised by that degree of change..was vego for ages..and didn’t expect much difference from ditching the dairy/cheese..but it was huge…..

    those others who are now clean will know what i am talking about….

    btw…any readers wanting help with kicking are welcome to contact me….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  59. Phil, my take is that louis is discussing what rights actually are and whether animals can truely be said to have them. Which seeing as this debate is about animal rights to an fairly large extent would seem to be extremely relevant because it is questioning the assumptions that some people are bringing to the debate.

    Maybe that’s why you seem slightly threatened by it?

    Or do you hold an advanced degree in obtuseness?

  60. “..someone else..” here…..

    louis …do you have a doctorate in angel/pin dancing…?

    can i politely ask wtf you are banging on about….?..and how does it relate to the current discussion..?..except on an extreme tangent..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  61. Just briefly to icehawk – roughly, in philosophical terms a right is something which you are entitled by virtue of existing. Hence “human rights” are the rights of human beings. But the existence of a right – the right to life – necessarily implies a corresponding duty – the duty not to kill – otherwise the right isn’t a right. Now suppose your rights are being violated – then by virtue of it being a right, you have the ability to bring some claim against the violator. Otherwise it isn’t in any way an operable right – something to which you can stake an unalienable claim. Rights are things which are exercised and which others have a duty to fulfil. Otherwise they aren’t a right – they are just a (possibly) good idea.

    Animals have no means of making rights operable – they cannot actively claim that their rights are being violated. Thus to speak of “animal rights” is a piece of rhetoric with no meaning. Humans can however recognise that animals have interests and arguably have a common duty to take those interests into account. While some might argue this creates an implied right for the animals, what it actually creates is an ability for humans to hold other humans to account for their treatment of animals.

    My reason for doing what someone else described as dancing on the head of a pin is not empty philosophical pedantry. If the notion of a right is to have any moral currency at all, we need to avoid constantly extending and debasing the concept. If the idea of a right becomes indistinguishable from “I want” or “I think” then it has lost any real meaning.

    Ironically it is the very strength of the notion of a right that has led to the language being coopted widely.

    The point is not solely related to animals. A similar argument applies to the “Rights of the Child” – children have only limited agency and others act on their behalf. The Rights of the Child are really a set of statements about adults obligations towards children. For example – the right to a good education is actually a statement about adults beliefs on what children need.

    Talking about rights is useful shorthand but the more people lose the idea that a right for one person implies a duty on others, the less powerful the idea becomes in my view.

  62. Louis said: “As an aside, I am not aware of anyone demonstrating that non-human animals can exercise rights ”

    I’ve no idea what you mean by “can exercise rights”. Rights are something you have, are granted.

  63. I can see SPC now getting desperate – perhaps he/she is close to kicking the meat habit :> Cats, dogs and predators are obligate carnivores. No issue.

    I can see that humans have an obligation to restrict carnage by cats and dogs since we have domesticated them and they are part of our society. However as Phil says there is now vegan pet food on the market, and most peope of a green persuasion would understand the importance of not letting unwanted companion animals breed.

    I really can’t see however why we should interfere with what obligate carnivores do in their natural environment.

  64. um…i don’t want to provide a distraction here….but i have two dogs….they live on a vegan diet…could do a centrefold for dog monthly…sweet smelling breath/coat…the picture of glowing health….(watch them salivate as i cut into an avocado..:)

    those in auckland interested in trying their dogs or cats on a vegan diet can get wicked vegan cat and dog biscuits from the safe shop in st kevins arcade..k rd..

    those out of town could phone/email/order from safe….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

    btw…my dogs love them..the biscuits that is….

  65. So there is the ethical behaviour arguement and then the human societal case (more efficient use of land), concluding with the energy cost of food trade AGAINST the nation which our farms built.

    But what would happen to all those cats and dogs, if there was no meat for them to eat. And if humans were saved from their addiction to meat – who would “save the predators” of the natural habitat – so that none but herbivores survived?

  66. Phil – I think you misread my comment. It was meant to infer that cannibalism is extremely wrong, eating monkey and dolphin and dog is very wrong, eating beef is marginal, eating chicken and fish and mutton is sort of OK, eating eggs is no problem… ethically (The health aspects are another matter). It wasn’t meant to mean “I am at the top of the food chain and that’s the way it’s supposed to be”… cause unless I am cremated, the worms get to eat me. I re-read it though and realized that that impression could have been created by the way I used the words, and that was not my intent.

    I tried going veggie years and years ago… something about the book “Diet for a small planet”… but it isn’t something to do casually and I still like that occasional nearly raw steak.

    It’s often available here for less than the price of Swiss Cheese (can ANYONE explain $15/kilo for Porterhouse vs $20/kilo for Gruyere?).

    I also mainline caffeine and sugar. You haven’t met a lot of New Yorkers who are also SW Engineers… have you 😉

    Maybe when my wife gets out of hospital I’ll have another go, but explaining it to her and to our Babushka is going to be a struggle. They go for the meat section like someone is about to take it away and I am still trying to persuade them that there’s meat in the market EVERY day. After 2 years here and more years in the states they still don’t really believe it deep down where it counts. They think my tofu is simply weird but then I watch them eat fish heads and I sort of give up the idea entirely.

    Everybody is different and every body is different, and for me things get complicated because I’m allegic to a hell of a lot of different fruits and nuts. An apple a day and there’s hell to pay.

    Y’all didn’t read what I said the way I meant it to be read and I should’ve read it and rewrote it so that other meaning wasn’t available to be read at all, but I was in a hurry and I didn’t… and now you know more about my personal health than you needed to… sorry ’bout that 🙂

    I still wonder a bit about the Gruyere. I mean… New Zealand exports cheese. Don’t we? How does that work at this price?

    respectfully
    BJ

  67. Great discussion!

    I hesitate to contribute myself… I’m a, er, non-practising vegetarian.

    I ate no meat for 20 years (after reading Singer, among other events), but I’ve been a filthy backslider for the past year or so… Oddly enough, I feel more integrated with my environment now. I live in hill country, marginal land, which (EU agricultural subsidies notwithstanding) is really only economically viable for beef and dairy, plus a bit of market garden, pigs and chooks etc. Take away the subsidies, and nothing but forestry is viable. Which would be a shame, this particular landscape has lived in managed symbiotic equilibrium with humans and their agricultural practices for a couple of thousand years…

  68. Tony has got it right. As a virtue ethicist I don’t like the concept of rights, I prefer to think of our _duty_ as moral agents. And the duty of moral agents is to first do no harm to all those with a moral claim. This is regardless of whether they are moral themselves or not. So the fact that a crocodile (or a human psychopath) has no concept of morality does not excuse us for not acting morally towards the crocodile or psychopath. And because animals cannot understand “rights” does not mean they don’t possess them. Animals don’t understand DNA, but they still possess it.

    I am also not so certain that animals do not possess a moral sense. It is not so well developed in animals as in humans, but then moral sense is also better developed in some humans than others. Animals are capable of altruism, righteous wrath and affection. It is not logical to attribute these to morality when we observe them in humans, and to mere “instinct” when we see behaviour pointing to the same attributes in animals.

  69. gee bj…why do you reckon i am not the slightest bit surprised at your off-hand ‘manifest destiny’ attitude towards other living creatures..that suffer horribly …just so you can feed your addiction to eating flesh…(y’know..tearing the meat from the bone with your teeth…licking your fingers afterwards…..what i call meat-porn..)

    now you aren’t thick as a plank bj…try and get your head around the fact of a person not having had your particular addictions for some twenty-five years…and how that person feels/reacts watching those who are still addicts indulging their fetishes….and having some strong idea of the barbaraties/miseries inflicted on the formerly living/breathing creatures they are consuming……have i lost you yet..?..bj..?

    a bit like an ex smack junkie stopped for the same period of time encountering someone shooting up…..revulsion would pretty much cover it…eh..?……are you still with me here..?

    now bj…as an intelligent/inquiring individual maybe you could/should have a bit of a read of some of those writers recommended by kiore…

    and if i could just leave you with this thought…..

    do you ever pause to ponder the fact that myself (raised on meat and three veg)..kiore..tony..and the many others who have made these often deeply thought out choices/decisions not to kill and eat other sentient beings have mainly come from where you are now…?

    food for thought…eh….enjoy the reading..and hopefully the scales falling from your eyes….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  70. “Nonetheless it is well documented that non-meat eating vegans in New Zealand risk selenium deficiency ”

    First time I heard of this one! Perhaps you could provide peer-reviewed scientific references. A quick perusal of the Food composition stables published by the Ministry of Health reveals oodles of vegan products simply packed with selenium. And I don’t know where you got your information about amino acids from either. The American Dietetics Association (hardly a radical vegan hippy group) have stated categorically that vegans can obtain more than enough protein from their diet. The only thing vegans have to be careful of is vitamin B12 and lots of products have been fortified with this.

    And yes, humans traditionally ate some meat. We also traditionally hunted on forest margins, communicated in grunts and lived in caves. Most of us have moved on since then.

    We do not need to eat meat for health, and it is destroying our environment. I am inclined to agree with Phil that we continue to eat meat through addiction – addicts are very good at rationalising their habit.

    And Peter Singer, together with Gary Francione, Andrew Linzey, Tom Regan and David De Grazia have based animal rights on the concept of sentience. Nothing more is required. In simple terms, if an animal has an interest in staying alive, then that is enough to give it a moral claim. We infer sentience in animals through the argument from analogy.

    Common sense also suffices. If you genuinely think that it is just as logical to infer sentience in plants as in animals (and this is not just an addict’s rationalisation), then try a thought experiment. Imagine you see someone pulling a dog behind a car on a rope at a high speed. What would you feel? Anger? Disgust? Revulsion? Probably all three. Now imagine the same person pulling a Christmas tree pulled out by the roots. What do you feel now? If you feel nothing towards the poor tree, then ask yourself why?

  71. Wow! An argument about degrees of veganism 🙂 …. I always considered that the relative intelligence of the animals that wind up on my plate has something to do with the morality of them being there. That isn’t “similarity” to humans except for our occasional signs of intelligence. That’s the only arbiter of rights of eater and eatee that I really consider, and I don’t consider it very long if I am hungry 🙂

    respectfully
    BJ

  72. tony…..”..As an aside, I am not aware of anyone demonstrating that non-human animals can exercise rights so I am not sure how we can argue for animal rights rather than human duties towards other animals..”

    um..tony..you aren’t a virgo are you..?….an expert on the actual number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin….?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  73. Tony writes

    “Please provide links to the case for a no-soy diet that support the idea it is ecologically better to raise animals and eat meat than to cultivate soy. I imagine any industrial agriculture methods are destructive but I’d love to see support for your statement. It is a specious argument to say we should eat meat because industrial soy production is bad. I don’t see how one follows the other.”

    My point in this case was that the case is stronger for a no-soy diet than for a no-meat diet. I never said one ought to eat meat because soy is bad, rather I was saying that to eat soy as an alternative to meat on ecological grounds is a spurious argument because of the nature of soy production. We are not, to use your words, obligate soy eaters. Yet people focus on meat rather than soy.

    It is reasonably self-evident that local, organically cultivated meat is lower impact that internationally transported soy products. Soy is not a bean that is easily cultivated in all climates which is why it has become a commodity crop, since high demand requires industrial agriculture.

    As to diet, I am glad you are healthy but I am far from ignorant about the facts of nutrition. And as said before I totally agree with the contention that people eat too much meat.

    Nonetheless it is well documented that non-meat eating vegans in New Zealand risk selenium deficiency (the cause of “staggers” in sheep). You may be overcoming this by eating non-organic vegetables or imported food products containing selenium. As to amino acids – our bodies cannot synthesize all amino acids or fatty acids. These are easily obtained from an occassional (say once a week to once a month) meat meal. Careful diet planning may enable one to bypass the need for meat occassionally but I would venture that one would need a convincing reason to do so.

    Peter Singer et al categorically DO apply a closeness to humans test. This is exactly what rejection of a categorial difference means! Hence his argument for greater rights for apes than for intellectually handicapped children. Let me try and explain it by reference to the comparative interests of a carrot and a chicken.

    When taken from the ground a carrot can be killed apparently quickly and painlessly from a human perspective. Indeed we are happy to eat vegetables raw as we derive some benefit from eating them while still alive. A chicken can also be killed quickly and painlessly, yet we are more likely to feel qualms because we can empathise with a chicken more than we can with a carrot. I have no problem with empathy and lack of categorical difference as arguments but they are fundamentally based on degree of similarity to humans.

    An alternative, deep ecological, perspective is that all life is deserving of respect. This tends to lead to a preference for localisation and organic production rather than an absolute preference for vegetables over meat. In some countries a meat-free diet may be best, in others it may not.

    As an aside, I am not aware of anyone demonstrating that non-human animals can exercise rights so I am not sure how we can argue for animal rights rather than human duties towards other animals.

  74. I’m with Louis there. Its painfully obvious that we in NZ are eating too much meat (mainly due to the socioeconomic factors of being a few colonists in a resource rich land, so what used to be the rich man’s sunday dinner in Europe evolved into the daily meal in the colonies, because _we could_), but its also painfully obvious that a no-meat diet is not what humans evolved to eat – we’re basically a bigger chimpanzee, and have the dentition, jaw pressure (Rather high for an omnivore – humans bite with a shearing cut averaging 40 to 70 kg bite force, ranging as high as 150kg; that translates to about 15 tons per square inch, 80% of the force of the largest shark bite pressures yet recorded; Herbivores on the other hand clock in at around 10-20kg bite force) and digestive system of an omnivore. If you look at ideal human diets, we seem to be suited most for something around the chimpanzee line – 50-60% fruits/greens, 20-30% starchy things, 20-25% meats/animal products. We europeans screw things up by going too heavy on the starches, meats and milk products.

  75. There is no logical basis for a meat-free lifestyle as opposed to a low-meat lifestyle. For a start human beings are omnivores and evolved in an environment of occassional meat consumption. We rely on meat to supply a couple of essential amino acids, and really strict vegans need artificial supplements to supply these. Moreover, it really is hugely anthropocentric and illogical to argue for intrinsic animal rights on the basis of similarity to humans. Animals and plants have interests but no ability to enforce them. Moreover we have no way of compelling them to respect our rights – try arguing a crocodile out of eating you. So both reciprocity and enforceability are absent.

    The notion of respect and replenishment have far more to do with a deep ecological approach to sharing the earth than do veganism or even vegetarianism.

    Now none of this is to deny we have a meat addicted culture, which consumes far too much meat for the good of ourselves or the planet. But again this is not an animal rights argument – we are essentially arguing for a massive reduction of the population of cows and sheep, either by slaughter or by curtailing their ability to breed.

    There are good sound health and ecological arguments for eating only a little meat, and far fewer dairy products. However these do not extend to a meat-free or animal product free lifestyle.

    There is far more global trade in soy than in meat for example. And Westerners addiction to soy has driven growth in genetic engineering, herbicide technology, as well as leading to serious hormonal pollution of food chains from phytoestrogens. The ecological case for a no soy diet is much stronger than the case for a no (as opposed to low) meat diet.

    And then there is all the baby beans who give their lives….. according to some folk, Soy Milk is better known as Bean Blood!

  76. Actually froggy dear, in your pond you are almost certainly not the top of the food chain. Herons, bitterns,even ferrets perhaps, would probably relish a good golloop of frog.

  77. Kiore1:
    “ultimate” in hypocrisy? How about the most common form of hypocrisy?

    Agree (and am familiar) with your argument in principle. However, my original post reported a Permacultralist vs Animal Rightest argument, no Industrial Agricultralist views were represented.

    Both a Permacultralist and an Animal Rightest would agree that the food-to-land ratio is not well served by monocultural meat, dairy and other animal production.

    But the latter would say you should get out of eating animals and their excretions for moral reasons, the former would say you should get out monoculture and eat the possum resource for ecological reasons. Whichever justification you use, you do land up making more food per acre, which I suspect is the argument that will ultimately sell it to the masses. The question is though, would all the land freed up then be allowed to return to natural habitat?

  78. ditto to what kiore says…

    and can we start referring to meat addiction/addicts please..

    remember it wasn’t that long ago that talk of caffeine addiction/sex addiction etc etc would have been laughed at…meat is at the crossover point..

    and remember that meat is a drug….we don’t need to eat it to live well..in fact just the opposite applies in that virtually all dieticians/nutritionists say to only eat red meat two or three times a week..what they are saying is “..cut back folks..wean yourself off..this stuff really isn’t that good for you..”…this is therapist talking to addict territory/speak..

    and those lame/arse sad bastards who claim to be “..unable to live with out it..”..”..unable to face a meal without it..”..sound like a smack freak in the full throes of addiction…eh..?

    (other titles up for nomination for “..the ultimate in hypocrisy.” ..must be green party/greenpeace sausage sizzles…”save the baby whale by eating the baby cow..”…gimme a fucken break here….)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  79. Actually the biggest threat to wildlife is habitat destruction by, not a marsupial, but a certain species of primate. If you are really concerned with preventing destruction of native habitat in New Zealand and overseas, then one of the best things you can do is stop contributing to the terribly wasteful system of animal production.

    If everyone became vegan or at least vegetarian (thus allowing for eg. goats to graze marginal lands) we could feed the world on a lot less land and let the rest revert into native habitat. Scapegoating possums and continuing to tuck into a steak seems the ultimate in hypocrisy.

  80. A hedgehog is spiny, and capable of giving me a puncture (albeit rarely). Possums, Rabbits, hares, ferrets, etc, are not, and don’t.

    Besides, when I hit a hare or a rabbit, I stop and pick it up. Free food for the Cat!

  81. Hedgehogs almost certainly have a negative impact on our native wildlife, and not just on invertebrates. They are avid egg eaters.

  82. Hedgehogs aren’t native are they? I thought NZ had no native land mammals…

    Or are you advocating that mammals that have a non-negative impact on the ecosystem escape squashing?

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