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Carnivorous vs Herbivorous

  1. Oct 20, 2014 #1
    On one hand I see the videos of animals being mistreated and think of course meat eating is wrong. On the other hand, if treated properly, I see that farm animals live much better lives than if they were out in the wild. Well fed, plenty of socialization, and death is quick and painless while in the wild it would probably be torturous. Plus, and this is conjecture, I suspect that humans need some sort of meat intake solely for evolutionary reasons.

    So what are some of your opinions on this. Do you eat animal products, and if so, how do you ensure that they have been treated well?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2014 #2
    I eat big fishes so that small fishes can live happily ever after.
  4. Oct 20, 2014 #3
    First of all, your vision of cows wandering freely in green pastures and farmers cheerfully throwing feed out to the chickens as they peck about the yard in idyllic peace and living a happy life until the butchers blade comes is very naive and distorted. Yes, many smaller farms which produce what you might call organic products offer their animals a very comfortable existence, but the modern farming industry is rife with cruelty and most animals live in terrible conditions.

    This is how a typical hen which produces most of the eggs you'll find at the grocery store spends her life:
    Confined to a cage where it can do nothing but eat and lay eggs. When egg production declines, I assume it's slaughtered for meat. Do you care? This is a personal question, and honestly the ethics of modern farming methods are only a secondary issue in my opinion.

    The real concern with animal consumption is environmental. A huge fraction of pollution, deforestation, and CO2 production directly stems from the production of meat. For every pound of beef chicken and pork produced, some number of acres of forest had to be destroyed to produce farmland to grow the feed for those animals. Soy farming, for the production of cattle feed, is the leading contribution to the destruction of rainforests in South America (at least circa 2009 when I did research on this subject).

    That being said, do I eat meat? Yes I do. Mainly because at this point in my life, to substitute the nutritional benefits of meat (i.e. the amount of lean protein I require to achieve my athletic goals) with a purely vegetarian diet would be cost prohibitive. Veganism is extremely fashionable, and frankly expensive. It's very easy for me to grill up a chicken breast and get a good 40-50 grams of protein with having to consume a huge amount of food. I don't know how to accomplish that with just vegetables. I don't know of a single person who is vegan and successful at strength-related sports who is not of very small stature (i.e. has below average caloric requirements).

    So yes, I eat animal products, mostly out of selfishness. Ultimately, however, I think there is no real ethical justification for consumption of meat. We just value, as a society, personal vanity, expression, dietary preference and athleticism above animal suffering and environmental destruction.
  5. Oct 20, 2014 #4
    Ya, I figured I was rationalizing. Is there anyway to ensure humane treatment of the animals you're eating? I had an unsuccessful Google session so thought I'd ask the forum instead.
  6. Oct 20, 2014 #5
    That's the main reason I'm trying to eat 'vegetarian' dishes 2-3 times a week. It's also for my health but that's of less impact lately (running to the rescue).
    I wonder what the actual/real cost of our massive meat consumption, mostly in the west, regarding the environment is.

    However I can't imagine not eating meat ever again. Think of all the ribs and steaks.
    Also how about getting together with your neighbours/friends/relatives/... and together buying like a cow or pig which you let a decent farmer raise (over here they exist). My grandparents used to do that, but it is quite a bit of work when it comes back from the slaughterhouse e.g. bag it, make black pudding etc.
  7. Oct 21, 2014 #6
    I am 83 year's old. I try to eat meat of some sort at least twice a day. I believe that this is necessary for my brain to function at an optimal level. I base this belief on experience.

    I have no reliable way of knowing how my food was raised, anymore than I have any reliable way of knowing whether my underwear was made in some sweat-shop. Consequently, I do not worry about it.

    The vast majority of all environmental concerns can be traced back to simple overpopulation. The world would be a much nicer place if the world population were only one billion. Any volunteers? (Don't look at me!)
  8. Oct 21, 2014 #7


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    I'm surprised, that should make you worried. It sounds more you assume it's done correctly, are there no quality systems that score the products or organizations that could encourage such a practice? I donate money to an organization that checks the quality of farm animals and checks the source of meat in stores. I don't eat meat, my diet does not require it.
  9. Oct 21, 2014 #8
    No, Monique, I am too old to believe that it is or ever will be done correctly--not as long as it is done by human beings. I believe that societies can improve, but that human nature (whatever that is) will remain pretty much the same. Some people are naturally cruel, and will subject living things in their care to cruelty, many more are simply ignorant of better ways of doing things, quite a few are simply lazy and will do their job the easy way rather than the right way. Indolence, ignorance, and malice will always be with us to some degree.

    Instead, I concentrate on solving the problems that I can solve, correcting the injustices that I can correct, and teaching the ignorant that there are better ways of doing things. I used to chide the indolent when I was younger, but I now believe that it is a waste of time and energy.

    Animals are treated better now than when I was a boy. I can take no credit for this. Society has progressed, dragging its human components (some of them kicking and screaming) right along with it. The future--one hopes--will be even better.
  10. Oct 21, 2014 #9


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    My impression is exactly the opposite as far as cost is considered. Per gram of protein, meat is much more expensive than legumes and grains - that's how my family saves money, by only eating meat for about half of our meals or spreading the meat really thin across several otherwise vegetarian meals (basucally jusy for taste).
  11. Oct 21, 2014 #10
    What I mean is to eat an equivalent amount of protein while keeping a similar caloric intake, there are very few substitutes available. One would likely have to use expensive protein supplements like soy-protein in addition to a balanced diet.

    Now, if you allow for the consumption of products like eggs and dairy, or include fish, then the issue is rather moot, however fish is quite expensive as far as meat goes.
  12. Oct 21, 2014 #11

    George Jones

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    I sometimes eat vegetarian meals; e.g., last night I had: eggplant; rice; dhal; hot pepers (both dried in the dhal, and raw separately); in vinegar, raw onions, radishes, and cucumbers; achar (South-Asian pickles). I, however, also love eating meat, something that I will never give up.
  13. Oct 21, 2014 #12


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    I do not generally worry about how animals are treated in the food industry. Not because I don't care, but because I have many other things of which I am concerned with and only have a finite amount of time/effort to go around. I leave it to those who have the time and effort to focus on this to make things better, which is what everyone does to some degree since no one can focus on everything they find wrong in the world.
  14. Oct 21, 2014 #13


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    To some extent, I agree; but I admire people who take steps to make the individual contributions in their lives.
  15. Oct 22, 2014 #14
    but it tastes good?
  16. Oct 22, 2014 #15
    I eat animal products, but I do not posess the resources to verify that they have been well treated.

    Although the eggs I buy say they are organic and that their chickens are free to roam on the farm and blah blah blah. Not that I believe them anyway. They could as much have the soil where their chickens walk contaminated and give no detail whatsoever about it.
  17. Oct 22, 2014 #16
    I'm generally ok with meat eaters. I try my best to stick with fish and turkey when I need to eat meat. I do however believe the animals should be cared for as well as they can. I don't mind spending a bit more for that extra treatment.
  18. Oct 22, 2014 #17


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    I'm a strict carnivore; the only pleasure that I derive from eating is in knowing that something died violently so that I could eat it. The perfect fast food consists of a chainsaw and a cow—fire is optional. I wouldn't eat a carrot until sometime in the 70's when some idiot in California came up with a theory that plants were intelligent. (I do have enough Irish blood, however, that potatoes are honorary meat.)
  19. Oct 23, 2014 #18


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    Really all of you are ok with having no idea? At least you can voice that you want to know where your meat comes from and support a change in the system. When consumers don't care, the producers won't care.

    In the Netherlands the animal protection agency is installing a "better life feature", where producers can earn stars by implementing certain conditions. People are encourage to buy products with at least a single star. In my opinion a single star is still a very poor living condition, but at least it installs some kind of an independent measure for the production process.
  20. Oct 23, 2014 #19
    But often these are snapshots, which can be expected/prepared for by farmers. So how correct are these?
    If I ever get enough land, I'd like to keep some (or a single) cows and pigs for meat. Also some chickens.
    Why? Superior meat, rather cheap, you are certain about good treatment (if that's what you want!!).
    Also it makes for some independence from the outside world.
  21. Oct 23, 2014 #20


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    You can say that about everything. I work in a hospital and we are checked regularly to maintain our certificates. When normally we may not always wear a lab coat when walking into a research lab, on such an occasion everyone will. Does that mean it's useless to issue certificates, because it's a snapshot observation? Surely it is not: it sets a standard and everyone is reminded of it regularly. If you fail to keep up with the standards, the certificate is lost.
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