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el_make

Veganism, animal rights & factory farming

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RedDagger

You're arguing against a point that no one is making, I'm not sure how exercise is relevant. 

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Flash525

A bit late to the party here; I've watched that Earthlings documentary, and whilst I felt for those animals, I remain an omnivore. There's no way I'd be able to give up Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Pork or Fish. The documentary highlighted the worst of it, but I'm not quite sure what the documentary serves; simply because even if there was a documentary showing animals being treated really well, at the end of the day they're still killed so that we may eat them, or farmed (milk/wool) for our benefit. I condemn animal torture however (there was a scene or two in the documentary where some animals were literally skinned alive - there's simply no need for that, and it's only done for those men to feel manly (and that's questionable).

 

We've omnivores by nature, and I don't particularly feel the need to go against nature. 

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RedDagger

I suppose you also reject other opportunities to encroach on your natural behaviours, such as modern houses, electricity, supermarkets, transport, etc. As before, the essence of humanity is the agency we have instead of just going "that's our nature" like we ascribe to every other living being. You can't really bring up an argument for nature unless you can show that it actually matters whether it's natural or not, since humans very clearly are doing a lot of stuff "against nature". 

 

There's also the fact that there's a very good chance your consumption of animal products is in itself going against nature; bred on farms, processed, packaged to supermarkets or butchers; milk from cows that it isn't natural for us to consume; animals artificially bred to produce far more than would be natural to absurd degrees, be it meat, milk, eggs, wool or otherwise; the way we consume animal products is pretty hard to argue as being a system that isn't going against nature, even though that doesn't matter in the first place. 

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Flash525
59 minutes ago, RedDagger said:

I suppose you also reject other opportunities to encroach on your natural behaviours, such as modern houses, electricity, supermarkets, transport, etc. As before, the essence of humanity is the agency we have instead of just going "that's our nature" like we ascribe to every other living being. You can't really bring up an argument for nature unless you can show that it actually matters whether it's natural or not, since humans very clearly are doing a lot of stuff "against nature". 

 

All of those things have allowed life to become more convenient; they're not necessarily taking away from anything - other than (maybe) our natural survival instincts, but if those were natural in the first place, we'd not lose them by changing our living conditions.

 

1 hour ago, RedDagger said:

There's also the fact that there's a very good chance your consumption of animal products is in itself going against nature; bred on farms, processed, packaged to supermarkets or butchers; milk from cows that it isn't natural for us to consume; animals artificially bred to produce far more than would be natural to absurd degrees, be it meat, milk, eggs, wool or otherwise; the way we consume animal products is pretty hard to argue as being a system that isn't going against nature, even though that doesn't matter in the first place. 

You're probably right, but as a species, we should only ever eat fresh and organic foods, and only when we're hungry. It's society that has placed meal times and bowls/dishes/plates (allowing for portion sizes) to regulate diets and the like. Even a Vegan/Vegetarian doesn't need to eat specifically when they do, nor do they necessarily need to eat as much/little. You can buy all your Vegan/Vegetarian products from a supermarket too, or even grow them yourself, but you can't be absolutely sure they they're not packed with foreign agents either, so where exactly is it that we draw the line? It's not just animal products.

 

Not to change the subject of the topic too much, but if nature had it's way, there'd be a better balance, and in turn, less of us. The only reason animals are farmed in the way they are is due to demand; a demand set out by the human race because we can't keep a balance on our reproduction. 

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RedDagger

The point was more than using nature as an argument doesn't really make sense from multiple perspectives. There's nothing wrong with not being natural since that's like half the point of this whole humanity thing, but that also means you can't fall back to "we're omnivores" when we have the agency to break from that.

 

As for demand, the demand is more for animal products than as an innate demand forced by reproduction. We could reproduce as we are without the demand for animal products - the entire point of veganism is to remove the demand for and thus the practise of as much animal farming as possible. 

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trip

The problem is the toothpaste is out of the tube so to speak here.  Mankind has tasted meat and now will never be able to give it up.

 

Animals will never win.  The "I'm bigger than you" attitude almost always wins.  Mankind is far from nice and kind.  

 

Sure people may change over time, but evolution is such a long process.

 

 

 

*My wife is a vegetarian by diet for nearing 40 years now.  Not vegan.  She doesn't mind the byproduct of someone else's doing but could never feel responsible for the direct death of an animal for her needs.  I'm not a vegetarian but I don't eat a lot of meat and even then I sometimes get totally weirded out.  You'll never see me eat any seafood because of my emotional attachment to fish.

 

*For the record I'm just jumping in after reading RedDagger's post above... And nothing else in the thread. :)

 

 

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RedDagger

Yeah, it can be pretty daunting looking at a "perfect" goal of veganism in comparison to what we have now,  it's not something anyone can hope for any massive changes over just several years; definitely one of those slow-burning processes. 

 

One problem I don't see touched upon much, is that while veganism/vegetarianism/flexitarianism is on the rise in the Western world and that it does seem to be affecting the intended industries, there's a big ol' developing world out there - plenty of people who are technically vegan due to that being the cheapest option for them (like subsistence farmers) being an emerging market for cheap processed animal products. 

 

Yeah, gonna be a long process.

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Nico

I don't have much to contribute to this particular topic in terms of debate or discussion but I wanted to express something that's related to this subject.

 

I f*cking despise people who try constantly and hardassly to tell you how you're supposed to live your life. Veganism is becoming a thing in my country and I'm perfectly fine with the people who peacefully choose to live this way. I'm personally not willing to give up meat. But those who attack restaurants and angrily yell at everybody who come out of them -either be customers or employees who work hard to earn their income- that they are wrong are not doing anything helpful in my honest opinion. Some people are both overly sensible and outrageous these days.

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RedDagger

Ayjqb3h.png

 

If you're specifically talking about people who harass and terrorise, then, well...I'm not sure how that's specific to veganism instead of an annoyance against those who harass and terrorise for any reason. 

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Lock n' Stock

Just to clarify, I love animals. I love all kinds of animals and forms of wildlife and would never, EVER intentionally inflict any harm on cruelty on them. That said, I am a meat eater, but not an avid one. I mostly only eat chicken, bacon and pork (and fish if that counts). However, I still can't help but feel a bit guilty when I think of the possible fate the animal suffered before getting to my plate.

 

Human beings are really no different than other animals really, alot of us (with just as many exceptions) kill and/or feed on other living things just to get by, much like a lion or a wolf does. I think it's the inhumane treatment and slaughter of animals that gets to many people more than anything, or at least that's how I am regarding the issue. As much as I wish we could live in a world where things are handled differently, it's probably not that simple, sadly enough.

Edited by Lock n' Stock
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Grotti Vigilante
8 minutes ago, Lock n' Stock said:

Just to clarify, I love animals. I love all kinds of animals and forms of wildlife and would never, EVER intentionally inflict any harm on cruelty on them. That said, I am a meat eater, but not an avid one. I mostly only eat chicken, bacon and pork (and fish if that counts). However, I still can't help but feel a bit guilty when I think of the possible fate the animal suffered before getting to my plate.

 

Human beings are really no different than other animals really, alot of us (with just as many exceptions) kill and/or feed on other living things just to get by, much like a lion or a wolf does. I think it's the inhumane treatment and slaughter of animals that gets to many people more than anything, or at least that's how I am regarding the issue. As much as I wish we could live in a world where things are handled differently, it's probably not that simple, sadly enough.

I'm pretty much on almost the same wavelength as you are. I'm even at a point where I'd rather live with animals than people. But even as someone who loves to eat meat, I don't think we can compare ourselves entirely to lions or wolves. For one thing, many of the first world nations have now given us the capacity to go beyond our natural diet and choose to go with vegetarian or vegan. Whether it extends to the second or third world I am unsure, and I've no doubt that if we were still living as tribes in the wild that we wouldn't be having the whole debate, rather we'd be out there exhausting a helpless grazer before stabbing it with our sharp objects. This privilege doesn't extend to lions or wolves though, who unlike humans are very much true carnivores. 

 

This is probably where the moral argument comes in really. The fact we could think about ways to kill an animal quicker and more painlessly means we should start questioning some of the inhumane methods brought up. You'll not be able to spare an animal a painless death as a wild predator, but as an intelligent being that's come far enough that I'm here typing this right now we could easily consider it. I'm not suggesting you said otherwise, I'm more or less trying to make sense of some other arguments given. Ultimately though, I am probably not going to willingly stop eating meat in my lifetime. I say willingly because I may just have that nightmare scenario where that tick in America bites me and makes me allergic to it.  Hopefully not though! 

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Eutyphro

People shouldn't feel guilty generally about killing animals, because animals kill other animals, and it is the natural order in the world for it to be so. Being unable to kill an animal for food, means you are alienated from nature. Being alienated from nature causes you to suffer and causes delusion. The delusion more generally that we can have a world where animals aren't killed for food, when animals themselves kill other animals for food. Animals in nature have incredibly tough lives and often die under harsh suffering. In nature sometimes they possibly live tougher lives than some animals in the meat and dairy industry. This is the way nature is, and to want anything else is essentially a denial of life and of nature that is delusional.

That being said, the machinations of the meat and dairy industry are alienated from nature as well. Industrial society generally is alienated from nature. Essential to understanding our moral responsibilities would be to reduce our alienation from nature and to once more get in touch with it.

Edited by Eutyphro
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RedDagger

The reason the nature argument doesn't work is that the one thing that properly separates us from nature is agency; there's not much point making comparisons to animals that don't have the capacity to make higher level decisions about morality - that's why we don't use nature as a baseline for general morality, and why it doesn't apply to dietary choices. We don't use nature as a goal because the entire point of humanity is being able to overcome the restrictions of nature. There's a reason there's an informal separation between animals and humans, and that's the reason why saying "but animals do it" is a bad excuse; we're not animals, that's the entire point. We're able to make informed decisions about our diet, we're able to know that we don't need animal products to survive, we know that it's entirely within our means to do so, and we're able to act on said knowledge.

 

The nature argument falls apart anyway because lol farming, lol unnatural diets, lol processed food etc. If it's an argument that held water and wasn't just used as an excuse to deflect complicity with the farming industry, everyone would be advocating a paleo diet, no?

 

In nature sometimes they possibly live tougher lives than some animals in the meat and dairy industry.

Animals raised for meat are killed with efficiency for the meat they produce, i.e. at the youngest age possible. Most animals live only a matter of months, cattle getting a couple years, if that, before slaughter. Farm animals weren't bred for longevity or healthy living; they'll get a host of health problems if they were left to live their natural lifespan since the traits required to meet demand for how much meat they produce don't mesh perfectly with the traits they'd have in the wild to live a long, healthy life. 

 

 

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Eutyphro
12 hours ago, RedDagger said:

that's why we don't use nature as a baseline for general morality

I am using nature as a baseline for morality, in that I'm claiming alienation from nature causes delusion and suffering. Such alienation and delusion is quite clear in industrial society, where meat and food generally comes in plastic packaging in the supermarket, and we can pretend it never came from nature. I don't really think you are engaging with the most important aspect of my argument, namely the aspect of alienation.
 

Quote

We don't use nature as a goal because the entire point of humanity is being able to overcome the restrictions of nature.

To some extent it is. Humans derive value from using practical rationality to flee the harshness of nature. This is surely true. But we also still live in a natural world. Thus alienation from nature can be harmful as well.
 

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we're not animals

We most definitely are actually.
 

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We're able to make informed decisions

Sure, and I'm not arguing humans should behave like beasts. That would be a caricature of what I'm saying.
 

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The nature argument falls apart anyway because lol farming

The fact that we have technology, and desire using it, does not completely negate the idea that we're natural beings, that are part of the natural world.
 

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Most animals live only a matter of months

This might be besides the more general point, but wild animals don't necessarily live much longer on average. There are quite high rates of infant mortality and predation as a factor for any wild animal.
 

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 we're able to know that we don't need animal products to survive

We don't need them to survive, but I don't believe veganism is good for your health. You might survive on it, but a decent vegan diet is an incredible challenge, and it highly depends on supplements and processed foods that imitate animal products. You don't need a lot of animal products optimally for health, but some is advisable. We can discuss diet, which I'm ultimately not an expert on, but I do have views on. Vegatarianism is a much better diet choice than veganism in my view. But vegatarianism is also more of a dietary challenge than being an omnivore.

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RedDagger

My usage of "nature" is in reference to the dichotomy of human production and everything else, similar to the, again, informal dichotomy of humans and animals. We derive from nature, sure, but we most assuredly stopped living in a natural world long ago. So little of our lives are deigned to exist under the confines of what would be considered natural, that it doesn't really make any sense to point to nature as a singular reason for anything, unless there's an explicit secondary reason as to why the nature is important. We don't answer to nature for most of what we do, why does it matter here? Why is the alienation bad? How can it be argued that this causes suffering when it's products of humanity that ease the many trappings of nature? 

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Eutyphro
23 minutes ago, RedDagger said:

Why is the alienation bad? How can it be argued that this causes suffering when it's products of humanity that ease the many trappings of nature? 

Surely our modern comfort is also a good. This is undeniable. The reason that the industrial seperation from nature is also a bad is because the resulting alienation undermines our ability to find genuine meaning in the world, or more generally, a 'wholeness' with the world. I'm convinced that being in touch with nature is important for discovering genuine meaning. This is also why I oppose social constructionism as an ideology, because it is a denial of the reality of nature.

If you are vegatarian or vegan because you are unwilling or unable to accept the harshness and suffering that is part of nature then you are not making the choice out of virtue, but out of weakness. If you accept the suffering that is part of life, but intend to minimize it, then no doubt this is a noble motive.

An inability to accept the suffering of life is what I'd consider a denial of nature, a type of weakness, and a delusion that will cause you to suffer.

Edited by Eutyphro

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RedDagger

I feel that the main draw of veganism for most people is the recognition of suffering, and the will to minimise what they view as unnecessary additional suffering - i.e. what happens in nature is fine, and is separate from the suffering we cause which is not fine and is preventable. 

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Grotti Vigilante
2 hours ago, RedDagger said:

I feel that the main draw of veganism for most people is the recognition of suffering, and the will to minimise what they view as unnecessary additional suffering - i.e. what happens in nature is fine, and is separate from the suffering we cause which is not fine and is preventable. 

I think most people would agree on the last part though. If we can find any way to kill an animal for consumption that is painless and/or minimises the suffering then we can do so. I love to eat meat, but as an animal lover as well, if you give me a piece of paper advocating for the use of more humane methods then I’ll sign it. 

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RedDagger

The easiest way to do that is to not eat meat or animal products, though. You don't need an animal rights perspective, just an animal welfare one - the surest way of treating animals the least terrible is by not having to treat them less bad in the first place. Personal enjoyment shouldn't automatically overrule, in the welfare case, the experience we give to animals, no matter how intangible or indirect that chain of responsibility and complicity is. Aiming for a little sticker on the package at the supermarket that says "we don't treat out animals as badly as those guys" does a lot less than just not buying it in the first place. 

 

You don't need bacon to be happy, you can get enjoyment out of foods that aren't bacon, the unique experience of eating bacon can be relegated to the pile of all the other unique experience you don't need to have without much problem. 

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Saggy
1 hour ago, RedDagger said:

The easiest way to do that is to not eat meat or animal products, though. You don't need an animal rights perspective, just an animal welfare one - the surest way of treating animals the least terrible is by not having to treat them less bad in the first place. Personal enjoyment shouldn't automatically overrule, in the welfare case, the experience we give to animals, no matter how intangible or indirect that chain of responsibility and complicity is. Aiming for a little sticker on the package at the supermarket that says "we don't treat out animals as badly as those guys" does a lot less than just not buying it in the first place. 

 

You don't need bacon to be happy, you can get enjoyment out of foods that aren't bacon, the unique experience of eating bacon can be relegated to the pile of all the other unique experience you don't need to have without much problem. 

Ok I'm gonna compare what seems like an apple to an orange...

 

Should you be typing on what I presume is a phone right now? Some person in Africa suffered greatly mining the rare metals it needs, and someone in China suffered greatly assembling it.

 

By that token, wouldn't you be minimising their suffering by not purchasing computer electronics? You can be happy without computer electronics as well after all.

 

I guses my point is there are many goods which someone else's suffering is a necessity in order for them to be enjoyed. On the other hand, one could say that these people wilfully accepted that suffering in return for pay, so I think the similarities are not exactly parallel.

 

But I guess the underlying question is at what point does a persons enjoyment justify any living thing suffering? Or more aptly... At what level of suffering does another person's ability to enjoy the fruits of that suffering become wrong?

 

Is it okay to enjoy things like smartphones and tshirts because the sweatshop laborers who made them were compensated under some form of comtract, but not okay to enjoy animal products because an animal can not really enter such a contract?

 

I think one could also argue that the workers in factories like that do not enter those contracts wilfully themselves, but rather because it is the only source of a living around. There are many who would argue their circumstances are more akin to exploitation.

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RedDagger

The difference is that there's no inherent suffering for manufacturing electronic goods; no one has to be killed to produce an iPhone. A worker isn't created to work in a horrible factory; they would still exist and have the same quality of job, iPhone or not. Materials don't have to come from conflict zones; companies can and do source materials to not assist that situation. The people's suffering is because of their situation, which isn't inherently created by electronics companies, the suffering will exist with or without them - alleviating them of their suffering isn't going to be brought about by getting Apple to stop using those workers.

 

Conversely, the suffering and killing of animals is inherent to their existence - they are the product. So if we stop consuming animal products, they stop getting brought into this world just for a few months of suffering then unceremoniously slaughtered. Getting people to stop using animal products is the only way to stop that suffering. 

 

Of course, this doesn't mean that using products of human exploitation isn't without its ethical problems, hence the adage "no ethical consumption under capitalism"; it's just that the two are on completely different, and thus not directly comparable, levels of exploitation. 

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Eutyphro

It is not that I inherently disagree with reducing unnecessary harm. Reducing unnecessary harm is surely a great motive. What I struggle with though is how the animal rights and environmental movements are based on a morality that is mere self renunciation and self denial. The fact that we are born on this world, have desires and ambitions all make us ´guilty´ under this ethic. It´s an ethic that doesn´t embrace life but opposes it. This is ultimately what bothers me about it.

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Saggy
16 hours ago, RedDagger said:

The difference is that there's no inherent suffering for manufacturing electronic goods; no one has to be killed to produce an iPhone. A worker isn't created to work in a horrible factory; they would still exist and have the same quality of job, iPhone or not. Materials don't have to come from conflict zones; companies can and do source materials to not assist that situation. The people's suffering is because of their situation, which isn't inherently created by electronics companies, the suffering will exist with or without them - alleviating them of their suffering isn't going to be brought about by getting Apple to stop using those workers.

 

Conversely, the suffering and killing of animals is inherent to their existence - they are the product. So if we stop consuming animal products, they stop getting brought into this world just for a few months of suffering then unceremoniously slaughtered. Getting people to stop using animal products is the only way to stop that suffering. 

 

Of course, this doesn't mean that using products of human exploitation isn't without its ethical problems, hence the adage "no ethical consumption under capitalism"; it's just that the two are on completely different, and thus not directly comparable, levels of exploitation. 

But just as you say you can source materials from outside of conflict zones to try to mitigate the suffering of third-world workers, can't the argument be made that animals could simply be treated better before their meat and other products are consumed?

 

For example, if you're a farmer with a bunch of chickens and you allow them to run around in your garden because they're great natural fertilizers, then what about the eggs they lay? Would consuming them be contributing to a suffering then?  As well, what happens when those chickens get old, would consuming their meat be causing them to suffer that point?

 

But in both examples, consumerism tends to drive demand for lower prices, so both types of suffering-mitigation are economically non-viable. You could say that manufacturers would resource materials outside of conflict zones, but that's about as likely as grocery stories only sourcing chickens that lead lives like the one I described previously.

 

Not every worker is born to put together iPhones, but not every chicken is really born to become a nugget.  I think the difference is that there are billions and billions more chickens born into that destiny because of the odds.  Factory farms have, on an average, millions of birds, and so the likelihood a chicken will live a free-range life versus a factory-farmed life is one of numbers.  But the meat industry keeps this demand alive, so keeps this a lesser likelihood.

 

Likewise, whether a worker becomes a sweat-shop worker is based largely on fate as well.  Of course we should never discount the human factor of free-will, but how able are people actually able to exercise free-will in these places?  In a lot of areas, the choice is, "Work for this company, or don't work at all."  If you asked a coal minder in Appalachia, "Are you going to work in the mines for the rest of your life because it's the only industry around?" you might hear a yes, but you might also hear, "f*ck no I'm going to college."  But what about in Sri Lanka, or Guadalajara, etc.  Do you think many of them can say, "f*ck putting phones together for Apple, I'm going to go get an education and become a lawyer." 

 

I think there's a fair bit of determinism over people's lives that consumer products have that modifies your statement.  If a person is born next to the one monopolized source of income and livelihood in a region, they're pretty much for certain going to become a worker for that entity.  Counting the ones that escape this existence and go on to become something else is akin to counting the chickens that are spared life on a factory-farm.

 

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RedDagger

It's a subtle difference, but farm animals are specifically "created" if you will to be consumed, whereas in the examples you gave the conditions the workers were created is defines their life - there's still a sense of agency there, whereas the animal is intrinsically bound to the fact that they are the product. Of course, this line of thinking shouldn't minimise the awful conditions of the workers and their situation, but because of their agency their conditions are bound to a vast complex of economical, political, environmental, and social factors - but importantly, not their birth in and of itself. Whether not buying certain products will improve the livelihood of those on the lowest rungs can't be solved by the same mechanisms used to justify veganism for this reason; not having animal products will stop the conditions and death of farmed animals, but not having smartphones or even electronics would have a completely different effect on workers, one that couldn't even be easily argued to be a necessarily good one. 

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DareYokel
On 11/16/2018 at 4:16 PM, Eutyphro said:

It is not that I inherently disagree with reducing unnecessary harm. Reducing unnecessary harm is surely a great motive. What I struggle with though is how the animal rights and environmental movements are based on a morality that is mere self renunciation and self denial. The fact that we are born on this world, have desires and ambitions all make us ´guilty´ under this ethic. It´s an ethic that doesn´t embrace life but opposes it. This is ultimately what bothers me about it.

They're not just desires and ambitions either. Eating meat is a health requirement for a lot of people.

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Eutyphro

You are right, because human beings are fundamentally omnivores. We need animal products for optimal health. Not much, but none at all is likely to lead to malnutrition. Combine this with the fact that many people are lactose intolerant, and some amount of meat will become a necessity for optimal health.

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RedDagger

You can get everything you need to be healthy without consuming animal products, the closest is B12 which is like the one thing you have to specifically make sure you're getting when you're on a vegan diet due to the specificity of sources. 

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sivispacem

And Calcium, Iron and Zinc- all of which are tough for vegans (and in some cases vegetarians) to get in decent quantities.

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RedDagger

Things like calcium and iron are more on the level of not requiring much thought, once you've adjusted your mental baseline of what you should be eating the only thing you need to be mildly conscious about is B12 due to the sources. 

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DareYokel
12 hours ago, RedDagger said:

Things like calcium and iron are more on the level of not requiring much thought, once you've adjusted your mental baseline of what you should be eating the only thing you need to be mildly conscious about is B12 due to the sources. 

This isn't true for everyone. Off the top of my head - what about anemic people? Like I said, SOME people NEED meat. It's a health requirement. Healthy people might be OK without it. But we're not talking about them now.

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