a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by wasoxygen
wasoxygen  ·  3324 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The 4 Ways People Rationalize Eating Meat

    I wasn't trying to make a statement about the morality of eating meat specifically.

This appears to be standard practice on Hubski. At most, there are expressions of concern, but the majority of the discussion has focused on the tone of the discussion, or people in the discussion, or contrived exceptions to the central question.

Very little talk has been given to taking a stand on the question of whether eating meat is morally justified.

I very much appreciate your candor. I think it is a hard subject to be honest about.

I feel like it is not my place to tell you how to exercise your values. I am no authority and I live with a lot of compromise. I'll address some of your questions in case you were curious to know my opinion.

    Does my better understanding of an animal's suffering make me morally culpable whereas a less intelligent carnivore is not?

Not sure if you mean a less-informed human carnivore, or a lion. I think none of us blame animals for behaving according to their nature. Animals are not moral agents, according to the present majority view. (I wonder if the movement to increase recognition of the human-like qualities of intelligent animals like chimpanzees could one day lead to holding a chimpanzee somehow accountable for a harmful action.)

For people, "ignorance of the law" is not a legal excuse, and supporting industrial meat causes the same harm whether you realize it or not. This gives fuel to the activist, who wants to raise awareness so people will at least recognize the effects of their choices. Once you are aware of the harm, I do think it is morally suspect to refuse to acknowledge the harm, refuse to investigate it, and refuse to consider making different choices to mitigate the harm (absent a sound moral counterargument, something more sophisticated than "bacon tastes good, pork chops taste good").

    Is all suffering to be avoided, or can minimizing suffering be enough, and when?

This doesn't seem like such a hard question. You don't have to completely "exit a morally objectionable system" to live more ethically. You can make different choices that lead to less harm. That's the way we approach almost every moral aspect of life; you don't have to be perfect, and inability to be perfect is not a good reason give up trying to do better.

    My father was a hunter

Reading Michael Pollan on hunting makes me want to try it. I have learned a life lesson that deep pleasures can be had by participating in experiences common to our species from the start: running, walking, telling and hearing stories, preparing and eating food, stargazing, sitting by water, swimming. I don't buy the argument that humans are natural herbivores. I believe that "Walking with a loaded rifle in an unfamiliar forest bristling with the signs of your prey is thrilling."

Ethics has shades. Shoplifting is thrilling too.

    Oddly, I don't think avoiding meat would make me feel better about my behavior.

That is odd, especially for someone who supports voting. With some contrived exceptions, like pulling a burger out of a trash can, any time you choose cabbage instead of chicken you are reducing your participation in and contribution to the meat industry. You said you would be "happy to eat vat meat," isn't that the same as feeling better?

mk  ·  3324 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    This appears to be standard practice on Hubski. At most, there are expressions of concern, but the majority of the discussion has focused on the tone of the discussion, or people in the discussion, or contrived exceptions to the central question.

I don't think that's entirely off-base, but feel that part of the matter is that many of these issues are complex, and that it is difficult enough to settle upon a clear opinion, much less successfully communicate and defend one. As a benign example, minimum_wage asked me whether or not I considered horse-riding to be unnatural elsewhere in this post, and I could not come to a satisfactory answer.

That said, it is useless gabbing about such matters if we can't make some sort of progress.

Reflecting upon my motivations to eat meat, and upon my feelings regarding vat meat, I think that a significant part of my choice has to do with my desire to eat it. Taste is a significant factor. However, I have gone for up to a week without meat, and I found myself feeling physically worse over time, and much better after I began to eat it again. I am sure there are psychological components to this, but I also suspect there may be physiological components as well. My wife grew up with a high vegetable, low meat diet (nearly the opposite of mine), and she feels terrible if our circumstances prevent her from getting her veggie diet for days. I am mostly Polish and Finnish by heritage, and my ancestors ate a lot of meat, cabbage, and tubers. I often wonder if that translates into a genetic preference for a diet. We do know what physiology does vary between different peoples and their processing of some foods. In short, I suspect that vat meat could satiate my need for it, regardless of how mental or physical it might be.

I knew that you would call me out about the voting. :) I don't feel dismotivated by the proportion of my small contribution to a meatless society, and I should have phrased that question differently. Rather than 'cannot be changed' I should have written something like 'cannot measureable be changed'. As I mentioned in my reasons for voting, I do believe in the power of collective action. Maybe that's part of why I would feel good about eating vat meat. I would know that I was contributing, and still feel like I was eating what felt right for me.

I would recommend trying hunting. Even if you use rubber-topped arrows, or a slingshot with soft wax bullets.

wasoxygen  ·  3323 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I think that a significant part of my choice has to do with my desire to eat it

I made light of the quote "bacon tastes good, pork chops taste good," but the pleasure of eating bacon is an excellent reason for eating it. Come to think of it ... that's really the only reason for eating bacon, “the candy of meat.”

If someone told me they really loved eating meat, and they were sorry that animals had to die to provide meat, but according to their values the pleasure of eating meat is more important than whatever happens to the animals, I would consider that a sound argument (though I might ask how much they know about the meat industry).

user-inactivated  ·  3324 days ago  ·  link  ·  

don't you dare hold me up as an example of productive discussion

mk  ·  3324 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The fault was all mine ;)