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# Philosophy: Should we eat meat?

by physicskid
Tags: meat, philosophy
 P: 4 [QUOTE=For me, I couldn't become a vegetarian because of my weighlifting and powerbuilding/boxing. It truly is detrimental to you physically in that respect. It really is unhealthier to be vegetarian. Those people who say "yeah well you get the smae amount of proteins from bla bla bla" don't know enough about nutrition. It's not *just* some number you can compare like that. There are many many other things to know, other than what the food label has to tell you. Also on another note, if a person is vegetarian for religious reasons, that's fine with me, no questions asked. I'm not trying to make a 'barbaric' argument...it may be mistaken as that. I really think protestant vegetarianism is futile. There are much greater things you can do to help out.[/QUOTE] I have been a vegitarian my entire life and am the prosses of going vegan. I am an athlete as well and workout. i have never encountered any physical problems with my being a vegitarian. it is quite easy to get all that is required for a healthy diet. I am also quite curious to see what you so aptly called other things that one must take into consideration. i agree that you must be more carful but it is quite easy to do. I would also like to know what other things you would suggest to do. and in respose to what.
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P: 2,195
 Quote by KingNothing It really is unhealthier to be vegetarian. Those people who say "yeah well you get the smae amount of proteins from bla bla bla" don't know enough about nutrition. It's not *just* some number you can compare like that. There are many many other things to know, other than what the food label has to tell you.
Be careful there . . . I don't think you can make your case when you say it is less healthy to be vegetarian. I know nutrition quite well, and I also can compare the first 25 years of my life as a meat eater, and the last 32 years as a vegetarian. I can report there is no comparison, not even close! I feel much better, digest food easier, have more energy (e.g., I play racquetball for 3 hours without a break, not bad for a 57 yo), get over the few colds I ever get faster, and more.

Healthwise, I am convinced the vegetarian diet wins hands down (obviously it has to be eating good food and a well-rounded diet . . . an all Twinkie diet is vegetarian). But I still can't see how it is anybody's business whether others eat meat or not, and so cannot be considered a "should" socially. If you want to eat dead, rotting flesh and have it sit around in your gut for days, weeks, even years . . . be my guest! One thing I can agree with Dan about is to work for more compassionate treatment of slaughter animals.
P: 3
 Quote by KingNothing It really is unhealthier to be vegetarian. .
Well, many doctors and scientists have done numerous experements on whether it is unhealthy or not. I'm assuming you've read or gotten information that its unhealthier? maybe by personal experience?
But It has been PROVEN that vegetarians are much more healtheir. Did you know that heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and other diseases have all been linked to meat and dairy consumption. In fact, the risk of developing heart disease among meat-eaters is 50% higher than that of vegetarians. One more thing, Vegetarians and vegans live, on avegerage, 6-10 years longer than meat-eaters.
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P: 2,195
 Quote by russ_watters Until I see an argument based on science: evidence, logic, reason, I won't be swayed either. There are a lot of glossed-over questions by the vegitarians.
When a friend introduces me to someone and teasingly says "he's a vegetarian," I always deny it and say instead, "there is simply no meat [nor fish or eggs] any of the dishes I eat."

If they ask me why I say, "because I don't like flesh [or eggs]."

They might continue by saying how "good" meat tastes, etc. To that I say, "maybe, but I feel better when I don't eat it."

There you have it. Fully justified with evidence, logic, and reason . . . no glossing over. Of course, I am not a vegetarian either.
 P: 8 I definately agree with Dan's side of the argument here (and well done to him by the way for all the great points he's making) as I'm a vegetarian myself. Firstly I don't know how people can say a vegetarian diet is less healthy than a meat eaters diet. I agree with KingNothing in that you can't just see protein on a food label and think that is enough, but I don't agree that eating meat is the only way to gain all the essential amino acids you need. And as for the rest of your argument, you are basically saying let's do it because we can. Hitler was the dictator in Germany and killed millions of Jews. Because he was top of the Chain, does that make it right?
P: 496
 Quote by Alliance but I don't agree that eating meat is the only way to gain all the essential amino acids you need.
It isnt. Soy contains the essential eight amino acids and higher amount of high-quality proteins.

http://vegweb.com/articles/monique-1003688934.shtml
 P: 462 This is a little bit more regarding empathy and other life forms here on Earth. I ended up with some parakeets. I am allergic to feathers, and still I ended up with them. They make a comfortable noise, we had them when I was a kid. Anyway, Mr and Mrs Bird had, in their third year fallen in love, and danced at each other, and sang and sang, and daily they were lovers in the afternoon light. Later Mrs. Bird became very ill, and I didn't know what to do for her, though she was three years old, it seemed that she had some problem laying an egg, or so it seemed. I knew she was having a hard time, and on the last day of her life, Mr Bird supported her on the perch, and held her head under his wing. I had a nest for them and everything I could think of to make their life work. There they were in this embrace, and I just remembered that day again, when I came back home she had passed away, and we had the funeral out back, and she rests near Miss Kitty. Mr Bird looked into the mirror for three months after that. HE never sang ANOTHER NOTE. He mourned in silence, until I couldn't stand it any more and I bought another bird to keep him company. Parakeets for sale are so juvenile that it is hard to determine the gender. He perked up within a week, and they seem to get along. But people who question the connection, and sentience of animals as a rationalization well, what other blatant things do they also ignore, for their emotional convenience?
P: 42
 Quote by cragwolf But it isn't ignorance. Everyone knows that animals are killed before they reach the supermarket. Everyone knows that such animals are raised in less than ideal circumstances. Consumers can't use the excuse of ignorance. They are just as malicious as hunters. The main difference is that they let others do the dirty work for them, and so they avoid witnessing the suffering that they are causing. They are cowards and hypocrites (that includes me).
I disagree. I don't think everyone really knows. I certainly didn't know until I decided to become a vegetarian - even when I began, it wasn't for moral reasons. It was simply for health. I didn't even think about what it meant to eat meat until after. It is such a commonly accepted practice that most people just go along with it; if you ask a lot of people why they eat meat, they will simply say it tastes good. To them, it is as though you asked why they breathe air. You might get some silly answers about them "needing" the protein and "important nutrients" etc. but often these people haven't the slightest clue as to what kinds of proteins and nutrients meat contains, nor do they know how much the daily requirement(s) are. They are even less educated about the dangers of such things. This is not to say all meat eaters are uneducated - quite the contrary, a great many know quite a bit about nutrition and I've seen many points favoring an omnivorous diet.

However, I will agree with you that far too many people are cowards and hypocrites. It bothers me quite a bit that the people I know won't even buy organic meat (which benefits their health more than the animals!) People simply do not care. To cause a disruption in their lives is unthinkable.

 Quote by cragwolf That's not good enough. Why can I think of plants as food? Why is it better to eat an insect than a pig? Why is it OK to swipe at a mosquito but not OK to smash a baseball bat over the head of a kangaroo? There must be well-reasoned answers to such questions. I don't want to do things just because they feel good. That's why I continue to be a meat eater today.
A lot of people don't think of plants as food. I should introduce you to my southern US, "fry everything until it looks like charcoal", won't eat anything without an animal product family

My point was, if you feel guilty about eating meat (as you appear to), one of the best things to do is to stop thinking of animals as food. The toughest thing to do is to change your manner of thinking about such a topic. Actually eating vegetarian food is quite simple. Thinking animals aren't food will make it easier when you realize there is no steak on your plate and that's OK.

I needn't reiterate the many points about animals ability to feel pain. That is why you shouldn't consider them food, as opposed to asparagus or what have you.

FWIW, I don't kill insects either.
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P: 3,573
 Quote by russ_watters Ironic choice of words: DD is trying to take the "human" out of the "humane." Agreed. Until I see an argument based on science: evidence, logic, reason, I won't be swayed either. There are a lot of glossed-over questions by the vegitarians.
Have you even looked at any of the ecological arguments made? Granted, what I've posted is nothing but an outline, but if you'd like, I can go into more detail and include some figures.
P: 691
 Quote by russ_watters Ironic choice of words: DD is trying to take the "human" out of the "humane."
How am I doing this?

 Agreed. Until I see an argument based on science: evidence, logic, reason, I won't be swayed either. There are a lot of glossed-over questions by the vegitarians.
What arguments are you looking for? Logical, scientific arguments that animal agriculture causes environmental degradation? Logical, scientific evidence that a vegetarian diet is healthy? Logical scientific evidence that it is ethically wrong to eat animals? All these topics have been addressed. What, specifically, are you looking for?
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P: 21,652
 Quote by Dissident Dan How am I doing this?
By applying it to non-humans.
 What arguments are you looking for? Logical, scientific arguments that animal agriculture causes environmental degradation? Logical, scientific evidence that a vegetarian diet is healthy? Logical scientific evidence that it is ethically wrong to eat animals? All these topics have been addressed. What, specifically, are you looking for?
This thread is about the morality of eating meat - so clearlly the 3rd one. You've asserted a number of times that animals are our equals, but you have yet to show any evidence, not for specific animals or animals in general (a number of people have asked about "the line" and you haven't addressed it). I even stipulated to the intelligence of certain animals, partially as bait of course, and I think thats why you didn't elaborate. And you have completely ignored the next step: developing the philosophical/moral/practical implications (my cat cases - they get pretty comical, but they're for real).

edit: scrolling back, DD, you provided a number of links outlining how animals are treated - but I stipulated to that long ago. I even stated that I don't like the way calves are treated to make veal (for example). What you haven't shown a single piece of evidence for is that that treatment is actually wrong. That's the crux of the argument you are glossing over!

Now, I think I know why: you consider it axiomatic. That's fine for you as a pseudo-religous belief, but I don't hold that as a belief and and the scientific community doesn't either. You need to prove it.

Dayle Record, incidentally was the only one who made an attempt - he posted a link to a scientific study on animals and empathy, but he didn't say anything about it...
 Have you even looked at any of the ecological arguments made? Granted, what I've posted is nothing but an outline, but if you'd like, I can go into more detail and include some figures.
Go for it - I'm not sure I've ever heard an ecological argument on this. If you're just talking about forests being converted to farm/grazing lands - well, I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania where farmland is being converted to subdivisions. I don't see that as a very compelling argument. Quite frankly, it looks like a smokescreen to me.
P: 691
 Quote by russ_watters By applying it to non-humans. This thread is about the morality of eating meat - so clearlly the 3rd one. You've asserted a number of times that animals are our equals, but you have yet to show any evidence, not for specific animals or animals in general (a number of people have asked about "the line" and you haven't addressed it). I even stipulated to the intelligence of certain animals, partially as bait of course, and I think thats why you didn't elaborate. And you have completely ignored the next step: developing the philosophical/moral/practical implications (my cat cases - they get pretty comical, but they're for real). edit: scrolling back, DD, you provided a number of links outlining how animals are treated - but I stipulated to that long ago. I even stated that I don't like the way calves are treated to make veal (for example). What you haven't shown a single piece of evidence for is that that treatment is actually wrong. That's the crux of the argument you are glossing over! Now, I think I know why: you consider it axiomatic. That's fine for you as a pseudo-religous belief, but I don't hold that as a belief and and the scientific community doesn't either. You need to prove it.
Level of intelligence is irrelevant. If it can be shown that a creature feels, then it is wrong to harm the creature. I have stated (briefly, at least) at least 3 different ways of coming to the conclusion that non-human animals are sentient (have the ability to experience):

1) Behavior-
The behavior of all animals with which we are familiar indicates that they are conscious. Furthermore, if you pay attention, you notice personality differences among animals that cannot be attributed to mere "instinct". There are no human behaviors which are evidence any stronger than those of non-human animals.
In the case of mammals, we can see concern for family and anguish when families are torn apart.
2) Structure-
Most animals are structurally like oneself in the relevant ways--those dealing with the nervous system. Animals that have nervous systems with sensory nerves and brains (and perhaps even some with ganglia that can't quite be considered "brains"--it's hard to rule out completely) experience. Neuroscientists have known for a long time now that our basic emotions like fear, attraction, anger, etc. are correlated with activity in the hind- and mid-brain--regions such as the thalamus, amygdalla, and medulla oblongata (I may have misspelled that). Scientists have been able to reproduce the same types of emotionally-correlated behaviors in both mammals and reptiles through neural stimulation. In case you may believe that the cerebrum is necessary, even reptiles have at least small cerebrums. Mammals and birds have rather well-developed forebrains.
3) Evolutionary-
Conscious experience involving pain and pleasure is a necessary part of being an animal. A plant does not need these. They would only be detrimental, as a plant cannot escape a displeasurable stimulus or approach an attractive one. Animals, however, need emotional motivation.
The discovery of evolution serves to let oneself realize how similar oneself really is to members of other species. It was not that long ago, evolutionarily speaking, that the human species branched off from other known species. Humans split off from chimps and bonobos only about 6 million years ago! Knowledge of this common past should do away with preconceptions of fundamentally different humans and "animals".

In all these cases, the relevant data does not have significant differences between humans and nonhumans. If I am to conclude that humans other than myself are sentient, I would be inconsistent to doubt the same in other species.
P: 1,309
 Quote by Dissident Dan We come from a common background at some point. The fact that humans weren't just dropped down from the sky by god, separate from other animals, indicates that other animals have mental capacities similar to my own.
According to Arthur Jensen, intelligence among all animals is essentially the same thing:

The main indices of intelligence in animals are the speed of learning
and the complexity of what can be learned, the integration of sensory
information to achieve a goal, flexibility of behavior in the face of
obstacles, insightful rather than trial-and-error problem-solving
behavior, transfer of learning from one problem situation to somewhat
different situations, and capacity to acquire abstract or relational
concepts. There is a definite relationship between high and low
ratings of animals' performances along these dimensions (all of which
involve a common fact of differences in complexity) and the animals'
phylogenetic status. Numerous ingenious behavioral tests have been
devised to investigate this relationship, tests that permit
comparisons of behavioral capacities of quite differing animals
despite their often vast differences in sensory and motor capacities.
It is possible to give such diverse species as fish, birds, rats,
cats, and monkeys essentially equivalent forms of the same test
problems. In terms of measured learning and problem-solving
capacities, the single-cell protozoan (e.g., the ameba) rank at the
bottom of the scale, followed in order by the invertebrates, the
lower mammals, the primates, and man. The vertebrates have been
studied most intensively and show fishes at the bottom of the
capacity scale, followed by amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Then
comes the mammals, with rodents at the bottom followed by the
ungulates (cow, horse, pig, and elephant, in ascending order), then
the carnivores (cats and dogs), and finally the primates, in order:
new world monkeys, old world monkeys, the apes (gibbon, orangutan,
gorilla, chimpanzee), and, at the pinnacle, humans. Because of
individual differences within species, there is considerable overlap
hierarchy.
from the section "Animal Intelligence" (pp 175-182) from Jensen's book
Bias in Mental Testing.
 P: 309 Why does it matter whether the animals feel pain or not? Isn't it enough that you end their life?...I'm hoping were all agreed that they are living beings... Would killing a guy painlessly make it any better?....ok...cow's not a human....but can't we consider life as sacred?.... I think the same might apply to vegetables....they are also living beings....how can it be justified killing them then? Maybe...just maybe...it can't be justified both ways therefore out of the necessety to eat -its ok to eat meat or just vege's. I'm confused about this 'directiveness' of the morality behind killing animals and vegetables. Whatever you make of use in life - one of you're possible opportunity cost is that you could have let someone/something else make use of it. Same for veges - you could have let it gro and no doubt some animal would have eaten it and extended its life. So what i meant by 'directiveness' (if you'll please excuse term and possibly let me in on the word im looking for...) is that to kill a cow - is horrible for some because the next step is to eat it. But killing a plant isn't so nasty cos you don't see the poor little rat (again sorry .... ) dying earlier than it should. I don't know how many people who campaign for animal food (im just saying this...i don't know any campaigners at all..but im assuming there is no campaign to save the coakroach) to be banned do the same for the fly, mouse, rats, lice, slugs, fleas, and other harmless insects/animals that aren't very appealing (this is an assumption - i might be wrong and i'm using hypotheitcal examples). Meat-eaters shoudn't moral superiority as much as non-meat eaters (sorry...can't remember whose 'carnivourous' and not...done biology long time ago....) As much as non-meat-eaters try and raise the status of animals - they lower the status of humans and vegetables. Humans: because it is said that such a big part of our being human is to do with us having a nervous system that animals should have a share in some of our most basic rights. Sure - we do - but we're more than that otherwise you would have to agree with making lawful a lot of nasty things. Vegetables: because they are reduced in weight of importance compared to animals because it is then ok to eat vegetables as a substitutrw to animals. - lesser evil If people believe in the sanctity of animal life- Why not eat pills and go on a drip etc... etc... and stay alive? If you're body's health will be affetced - that's no excuse. I don't think peoiple's health issues should come into it. We know we can live as non meat eaters and meat-eaters. All because you'll become a little unhealthier does it give you the right to kill living things like plants? Or is it because its impractical to live like that we're going to assume its the lesser evil (somehow)? [I asked a lot of question that might sound rude-I apologise if they cause offence. I am not directing them at any particular person simply because I couldn't read through all the posts]
P: 210
 Quote by quddusaliquddus Why does it matter whether the animals feel pain or not? Isn't it enough that you end their life?...I'm hoping were all agreed that they are living beings... Would killing a guy painlessly make it any better?....ok...cow's not a human....but can't we consider life as sacred?....
Personally, I don't consider life to be sacred. That's why, for example, I support abortion in most cases, infanticide in very restricted circumstances, and euthanasia in some situations. What I consider sacred is quality of life. It is quite reasonable and rational to talk about the quality of life of a cow, pig, chicken, turkey or sheep. Not so for vegetables (and fruits). Because of this difference, when I face the following two choices,

a) Eat animals and plants
b) Eat plants

both of which can sustain my quality of life, I should choose b). Even if one considered all life to be sacred but that animals are more sacred than plants, one should choose b).
 P: 309 I would have thought the state of being alive/dead had an effect on the quality of life :D I see where you're coming from though. You're consistent in that you even support infanticide. But infanticide is a very murky topic. The sacredness of life isn't essential to what I am arguing (I think)...its more the consistancy of the attitude towards animals and vegetables How is an animal 'more sacred' than a plant? ... I understand that this is not your position but I'm asking to those who consider it so ... Surely there's no clear line between an animal's sacredness and a plant's. IMHO I don't think this thing can be argued either way.
P: 691
 Quote by quddusaliquddus Why does it matter whether the animals feel pain or not? Isn't it enough that you end their life?...I'm hoping were all agreed that they are living beings... Would killing a guy painlessly make it any better?....ok...cow's not a human....but can't we consider life as sacred?....
The ability to experience pleasure and pain gives value to a life. Being "alive" is not a good criterion. A plant is merely the equivalent of a growing rock.
Killing a creature takes away its ability for future pleasure (and suffering, too), and that is why there are unethical aspects to it. Would there be any ethical difference between killing a person (terminating biological processes like metabolism) and merely making him/her "braindead"? If someone is already braindead, would it matter if you killed the organism? What was once a person is now merely a lump of metabolizing flesh.

 Same for veges - you could have let it gro and no doubt some animal would have eaten it and extended its life. So what i meant by 'directiveness' (if you'll please excuse term and possibly let me in on the word im looking for...) is that to kill a cow - is horrible for some because the next step is to eat it. But killing a plant isn't so nasty cos you don't see the poor little rat (again sorry .... ) dying earlier than it should.
Realistically, people aren't going to just starve themselves. The rat may very well find something else to eat. The best situation would be where there would not be the competition between a rat and a human in the first place. It is important to realize that problems resulting from plant agriculture are multiplied by animal agriculture, because we grow crops to feed to factory-farmed animals. About 70% of grain consumed in the USA is fed to farmed animals. Eating only plants is therefore better than eating animals.

 As much as non-meat-eaters try and raise the status of animals - they lower the status of humans and vegetables.
That argument is an indicator of the desire to feel superior to someone else--the very desire that leads to racism, sexism, and childhood bullydom. Did it low the status of white people to accept blacks and Asians as their equals?

 Humans: because it is said that such a big part of our being human is to do with us having a nervous system that animals should have a share in some of our most basic rights. Sure - we do - but we're more than that otherwise you would have to agree with making lawful a lot of nasty things.
I'm not sure of what you are trying to say here.

BTW, much of what you have said has already been addressed in previous posts of mine.
P: 210
 Quote by quddusaliquddus The sacredness of life isn't essential to what I am arguing (I think)...its more the consistancy of the attitude towards animals and vegetables
I've already addressed that, but to further elaborate, animals are significantly different to plants. These differences, which have been described by others in this thread, are what I appreciate and value in animals. I suspect this is true for just about everyone, including yourself. Why should there be a consistency of attitude towards animals and plants? Should there be a consistency of attitude towards animals and people? Should there be a consistency of attitude towards inanimate matter and life? We discriminate all the time in our attitudes towards objects or classes of objects. You can't simply demand a consistency of attitude towards two particular subsets of objects; you must provide a justification for it. Without that justification, you can't use it to argue against vegetarianism.

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